Exploring promising practices for new technologies in arts education through action research
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This study explored collaborative inquiry as a professional learning model for five elementary teachers at an inner-city school in Western Canada. Collaborative inquiry – a branch of action research – was the process used to support teachers’ professional learning in the use of technology in their arts education programs. The research questions were: (a) in what ways has the collaborative inquiry approach to professional learning had an impact on teachers’ learning and thinking about the use of ICT in arts education? (b) in what ways has the collaborative inquiry approach to professional learning had an impact on participants’ changed practice? and (c) how do collaboration and dialogue foster the construction of knowledge related to teachers’ integration of ICT to support their arts education program? The findings suggest that collaborative inquiry was an effective strategy for professional learning and impacted teachers’ learning and thinking about the use of technology in their arts education program in several ways. There were indications that the collaborative inquiry group afforded social-emotional support, a forum for dialogue and collaboration, as well as an avenue to explore alternative perspectives and new ideas. It was also evident that new habits of mind were beginning to emerge. Teachers felt increased confidence and efficacy which led to risk-taking and exploration of new technologies, an increased capacity for evaluating ICT with pedagogical intent, as well as a strengthened ability to think reflectively about their practice. Furthermore, changes in practice were evident in the following areas: subject matter and materials, organizational structures, roles and behaviors, knowledge and understanding, and value internalization. And finally, the findings reveal that dialogue and collaboration are important factors in helping teachers foster their construction of ICT knowledge. These processes helped advance understanding as participants challenged one another, pushing each other to a higher level of pedagogical and divergent thinking. Dialogue sessions offered participants a powerful forum for idea generation, idea sharing, and cooperative problem solving.