Statement of Intent

Classes are up and running and I'm already starting to formulate dissertation ideas. Thought it wise to go back to one of the docs that got me into the PhD: my letter of intent. Brushed it off but the core is still there.

Introduction & Background

In my first year as a middle school teacher I began to notice that many teachers structured their understandings of technology through limiting beliefs and assumptions. At the same time I began an exploratory process that included a great deal of soul searching as well as conversations with past mentors and new contacts about my long term goals and aspirations. Ultimately I was called to explore my questions and approach to pedagogy more deeply through graduate study. Having completed my Masters of Science in Instructional Technology (Kruger-Ross, 2012), I have come to learn that I am called to help children and adults come to love learning, embrace change, and explore what's truly possible.

The questions that drew me into graduate study concerned the relationship between humans and technology. While I am grateful for the guidance and support of the faculty and staff at NC State University, I discovered that the culture and academic climate was not conducive to my research interests. This frustrating realization led me to Simon Fraser University 1and, more specifically, the Faculty of Education. Quickly devouring the faculty profiles and research interests I realized: I had found a home.

Scholarly Influences

While my scholarship is informed by multiple research literatures, Postman & Weingartner’s Teaching as a Subversive Activity and the works of educational sociologist Parker Palmer are foundational. Postman & Weingartner’s (1969) reflections on “what’s worth knowing” and Parker’s (1980; 1981; 1983; 1990; 1998; 2000; 2004) explorations of community, truth, and spirit in education are threaded throughout my research goals and interests. My interest in technology and society has been continually fulfilled through Postman’s (1993) examination of technological change as ecological; put simply: it changes everything.

Situated within the domain of adult education and critical studies, the work of Feenberg (2002), Freire (1970), Kincheloe (2008) and Mezirow (1991, 2000) stems from my initial grounding in the cultural studies of Postman and sociological analysis provided by Palmer. Each author offers a perspective towards challenging traditionally assumed, uncritically accepted beliefs, values, and truths. Together, these scholars have helped to develop my own personal framework for how to approach teaching, learning, and research. I am greatly indebted to the writings of these scholars and a reflection on my own beliefs would be incomplete without a discussion of their influence.

Research Interests & Focus

As an educator and scholar, my research is guided by the overarching question: Does technology transform the educative process, and if so, how does it empower or disempower teachers and learners? Thus, my research interests exist at the intersection of educational and critical theories and learning technologies.

Thus far my journey as a researcher has included explorations of the influence of technology on and technology integration in K-12 education (Ross & Williamson, 2009), philosophy of technology and education (Kruger-Ross, 2012; Kruger-Ross & Farwell, 2013; Kruger-Ross & Holcomb, 2011), alternative ways of knowing, new/social media as transformative (Kruger-Ross, Farwell, & Waters, 2012; Kruger-Ross & Farwell, 2013; Kruger-Ross & Holcomb, 2011), distance education and online learning specifically in regards to technology influence on the sense of place/space (Kruger-Ross, Farwell, & Waters, 2012; Holcomb & Kruger-Ross, 2013; Kruger-Ross & Holcomb, 2011; Kruger-Ross & Waters, 2012), and finally power/critical analyses of technology (Kruger-Ross, 2012; Kruger-Ross & Holcomb, 2012). I am currently working on multiple research projects exploring how Web 2.0 tools influence online graduate students' sense of community and social presence (Kruger-Ross, Farwell, & Waters, 2012; Kruger-Ross & Farwell, 2013; Kruger-Ross & Holcomb, 2011; Kruger-Ross & Farwell, 2012; Kruger-Ross & Holcomb, 2011). An additional strand of my research includes exploring how educational technology can support transformative learning for teachers and students (Kruger-Ross, 2012; Kruger-Ross & Holcomb, 2012).

Building on observations from my early years as a middle school teacher, my Masters Thesis research explored how in-service teachers' philosophies of technology structure and frame educators’ experience of technologies within their classrooms (Kruger-Ross, 2012). Chen (2011), Feenberg (2002), Heidegger (1977), and Kilbourn & Alvarez (2008) grounded and provided the philosophical framework for the study. By encouraging in-service teachers to critically reflect (Mezirow, 1991; 2000) on their relationships and conceptualizations of educational technologies, I will provide a context for greater empowerment and thoughtful integration of technology into the K-12 classroom.

The trajectory of research within the Faculty of Education resonates with my own research goals and questions. Specifically, the faculty associated with the PhD program in Curriculum, Theory and Implementation with a focus in Philosophy of Education have created a progressive space where I will be able to continue in my exploration into the intersection of educational philosophy and technology. I, too, agree that philosophy offers a radical approach to the study of education; an approach that does not often reach those populations who need it most. There exist gaps in current educational scholarship that need to be addressed regarding unexamined and uncritically accepted philosophies of technology and education. Epistemological and ontological considerations of new media and Web 2.0 technologies within education are rarely presented in the literature. I know that Dr. Bingham, Dr. Blenkinslop, Dr. Hai and the Faculty of Education will nurture and mentor my scholarship as I continue to grapple with my questions regarding education and technology.

Conclusion

I bring a unique and much needed, balanced perspective to the table. I am at once a digital native while also a traditionalist, and I am able to keep one foot firmly planted in each realm. I love technology and I am an avid follower of new advances and their educational implications. But at the same time I prefer to toss all of the technology in the drawer every once in awhile and teach face to face with only chalk, pencil, and paper. Being able to stand in both of these places creates the opportunity for rich conversations with peers and colleagues - and makes me a valuable resource for ongoing professional development. My strengths in teaching, communication, writing, and public speaking help tremendously as an educator and scholar. The feedback that I have received throughout my career from students, parents, administrators, and peers has been that I am a strong, successful teacher leader, and I try my best every day to live up to this description.

Outside of education my passions lie in reading, writing, travel, and spirituality. In my life experience thus far I have enjoyed visiting a number of countries in North America and western Europe with my husband - who proposed to me at the top of a Swiss Alp on one of our European adventures! When the time came to exchange vows, we could think of no better place than Vancouver to do so, and therefore it has always felt like home to us. Additionally, we are exploring ways to make our lifestyle more sustainable and minimal, and the public transit as well as supportive community in Vancouver makes the area very attractive.

Upon completion of the PhD, I will pursue a teaching/research position at a university that will support my interests. My husband and I are open to exploring the world via my scholarly interests and are excited to see where life's journey will take us next. I have many questions that I know I will one day, possibly, "live into the answers" - and as long as I work each day to empower others, my work and career will be satisfying. I am excited at the opportunity to learn, teach, and grow at Simon Fraser.

References

Chen, R. (2011). Preservice mathematics teachers’ ambiguous views of technology. School Science and Mathematics, 111(2), 56-67.

Farwell, T. & Kruger-Ross, M. (2012) “Is there (still) a place for blogging in the classroom?: Using blogging to assess writing, facilitate engagement and evaluate student attitudes.” In K. Seo (ed.) Using Social Media Effectively in the Classroom: Blogs, Wikis Twitter and More.

Feenberg, A. (2002). Transforming technology: A critical theory revisited. New York: Oxford University Press.

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Seabury.

Heidegger, M. (1977). The question concerning technology and other essays (W. Lovitt, Trans.). New York: Harper & Row Publishers.

Holcomb, L. & Kruger-Ross, M. (2011). (Manuscript submitted). “Incorporating Web 2.0 Tools to Support a Community of Practice through Group Work in Distance Education Courses.”

Holcomb, L., & Kruger-Ross, M. (2013). Enhancing social presence and communities of practice in distance education courses through social media. In B. Patrut, M. Patrut, & C. Cmeciu (eds.), Social Media and the New Academic Environment: Pedagogical Challenges. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-2851-9

Kilbourn, B., & Alvarez, I. (2008). Root-metaphors for understanding: A framework for teachers and teacher educators of information and communication technologies. Computers & Education, 50(4), 1354-1369.

Kincheloe, J. L. (2008). Knowledge and critical pedagogy: an introduction. Amsterdam: Springer.

Kruger-Ross, M. (2012). Toward a preliminary understanding of educators’ assumptions about technology: a case study. Unpublished Masters thesis, NC State University, Raleigh, North Carolina. Available at http://catalog.lib.ncsu.edu/record/NCSU2671285.

Kruger-Ross, M. & Farwell, T. M. (2012). Risky media: Using subversive technologies in education to question assumptions about power, teaching, and assessment. In B. Patrut (ed.), Social Media in Higher Education: Teaching in Web 2.0.

Kruger-Ross, M., Farwell, T., & Waters, R. D. (2012). “Everyone’s All a-Twitter about Twitter: Three Operational Perspectives on using Twitter in the Classroom.” In K. Seo (ed.) Using Social Media Effectively in the Classroom: Blogs, Wikis Twitter and More.

Kruger-Ross, M. & Holcomb, L. (2011). “Towards a Theoretical Best Practices of Web 2.0 and Web-based Technologies.” Meridian, NC State University, Raleigh, NC. Available at http://www.ncsu.edu/meridian/winter2011/krugerross/index.htm.

Kruger-Ross, M. & Holcomb, L. (2013) (In review). “Educational Technology as a Subversive Activity.” In R. Munger (Ed.), Special Issue of Metropolitan Universities Journal on Web 2.0 Technologies in Higher Education.

Kruger-Ross, M. & Waters, R. D. (2011). (In review). “Predicting Online Learning Success: Applying the Situational Theory of Publics to the Virtual Classroom.” Computers & Education.

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Palmer, P. J. (1980). The promise of paradox: A celebration of contradictions in the Christian life. Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press.

Palmer, P. J. (1981). The company of strangers: Christians and the renewal of America’s public life. New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing Company.

Palmer, P. J. (1983). To know as we are known: Education as a spiritual journey. San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins.

Palmer, P. J. (1990). The active life: A spirituality of work, creativity, and caring. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Palmer, P. J. (1998). The courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Palmer, P. J. (2000). Let your life speak: Listening for the voice of vocation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Palmer, P. J. (2004). A hidden wholeness: The journey toward an undivided life. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Palmer, P. J. & Zajonc, A. (2010). The heart of higher education: A call to renewal. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Postman, N. (1993). Technopoly: the surrender of culture to technology. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Postman, N. & Weingartner, C. (1969). Teaching as a subversive activity. New York, NY: Dell.

Ross, M. & Williamson, T. (2009). “Using Blogs in the Mathematics Classroom.” Middle Ground, August 2009, National Middle School Association.

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