Killick Project: working to improve educational research
by Heidi Wicks
The Killick Project for E-Learning is creating quite a buzz in Memorial’s Faculty of Education. In a world bursting with YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, iTunes, Apple, eBay and thousands of other brands, new and emerging technologies play a vital role in helping educators speak and understand the language of youth.
Dr. Jean Brown, principal investigator of The Killick Project for E-Learning Research, and her team are striving to reach beyond the walls of the university, to work with partners in the education system in order to research how new technologies are used by students for learning.
Though the project has travelled several peaks and valleys during its first year, Dr. Brown is optimistic about continued success.
“I think in the past we were not challenged to think creatively, and we have to consider new ways to relay our research findings,” she said. “I’m looking forward to finding out what those ways are.”
Projects funded through the Community Universities Research Alliance (CURA) are examining youth entering the workforce, changes in the workforce pattern, and e-learning.
During her welcome speech at Killick’s annual general meeting on May 22, Dr. Brown said that for this research to be completed, the gap must be bridged between scholars and community members, and she called for strong alliances between community organizations, the K-12 education system, and postsecondary institutions.
“This will inevitably lead to new knowledge, tools and methods to develop the best strategies for creative e-learning.”
An essential theme of the Killick Project is that e-learning is not only important to rural communities, but also to urban areas of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Learning is lifelong, added Dr. Brown, and can extend to children and adults of all ages, in all facets of the population.
“Although the main focus is on kindergarten to Grade 12, it also extends to post-secondary education,” Dr. Brown continued. “Both collaboratively and individually, project participants are engaged in collaborative research, teamwork, and communications [known within CURA as ‘knowledge mobilization’] as we explore modernized, technical, self-motivated learning through the web.”
The first year of the Killick Project has seen numerous triumphs. In March 2006, SSHRC awarded one million dollars over five years to the project. As well, Killick has received in-kind contributions and extra funding from partners such as the MUN office of the VP Academic, School of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Education, NLTA, CDLI, and school districts.
Additionally, three fellowships (two PhD, one M.Ed.) were awarded to students, allowing them to concentrate fully upon their studies without the burden of financial constraints, and also to enhance their skill-sets.
Although there were successes, challenges remain in keeping the project relevant.
“Consultation and academic reviews of research, publication and dissemination of findings are among the new challenges we still have to address,” said Dr. Brown. “As well, reviewing research findings, the questions of confidentiality and dealing with sensitive findings during the reporting and review stage, how to involve partners, timing of website postings, setting standards and controls, and developing a system of reviewers are other issues to tackle in the coming year, but we’ll get there.”