One of SEERNet’s aims is to enable alignment of research on digital learning platforms to practitioner needs. Office Hours: A Conversational Series was SEERNet’s first initiative to convene practitioners and researchers in identifying problems of practice relevant to digital learning platforms (DLPs) and co-designing research questions. Participants discussed their experiences, goals, challenges, and vision related to DLP use. The conversations were synthesized and feedback from the participants led to refined research questions. In addition, we asked the participants to reflect on the value of the Office Hours process.
Some examples of co-designed research questions that resulted from Office Hours include:
- How does providing engagement metrics to students affect their ability to answer questions correctly and improve meta-cognition?
- How do existing student motivation self-reports correlate with student behavior and process data in MATHia?
- How does personalizing learning by providing leveled readings and resources affect the learning process of acquiring new concepts?
- What are the effects of the learning environment(s), modalities, or instructional design components on learners?
In reflections, participants highlighted the importance of collaboration between practitioners and researchers. Maggie Deagon, an educator and researcher (a recent graduate from Harvard University), shared, “it was really helpful to have a diversity of perspectives from both researchers and practitioners, who viewed one another as co-creators and collaborators in the process. My experiences in the classroom as an educator were received so warmly. It was affirming to share space and exchange ideas with such a diverse group.”
Sa Liu, researcher at Harrisburg University, also mentioned, “it was interesting to learn about the research interests shared/generated from the fellow participants. It definitely helped me further develop my research questions.”
Kathryn McCarthy, researcher at Georgia State University, shared that “hearing ideas from people who do very different work from my own raised questions that weren’t on my radar at all, but now inform the way that I try to think about my work.”
Arun Balajiee Lekshmi Narayanan, researcher at University of Pittsburgh, also mentioned “while I’m a beginner, I worked with some amazing researchers and practitioners and got exposure to ideas that are applicable in practice.”
Participants shared that they valued the meaningful conversations with individuals across diverse institutions and career levels. The experience opened various pathways, perspectives, priorities, and opportunities in the education research field for them. Based on these reflections, the SEERNet team sees research question co-design as a valuable community-building exercise as well as an important way to realize the SEERNet vision of research on Digital Learning Platforms that is highly relevant to educational problems of practice. SEERNet is committed to creating spaces for long-term interactions across perspectives and bridging the gap between research and practice.