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Address at Killick Project Launch

By Dr. Jean Brown

Wednesday Feb 21 2007-02-20

This is a day to celebrate! A very happy occasion indeed! In many ways for me, this launch seems a long time in coming. We heard in March 2006 that we had been awarded a $1million SSHRC grant. At the time, I indeed feel like we had won the Lottery.

I think it is appropriate to pause and reflect on what this alliance is that we are creating. Officially, we are the Killick Project for e-learning research. We are funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada under its Community-University Research Alliance (or CURA as it is best known) program. We entered a highly competitive process, and were one of eleven awards across . We are about research, but we are to engage in a new model of research, one in which we, the university researchers, engage with our community, as partners in a research alliance. When I speak of community in this context, I am thinking of a community of interest – in this case, interest in learning through the use of new and emerging technologies, particularly at a distance. In this new model, not only must researchers engage with the community, “they must become more proficient at moving the knowledge from research to action” (SSHRC, 2004). This requires building alliances – with other university researchers, but most importantly, with community partners.

You have been provided a handout that identifies our vision and our goals. The creation of the vision began quite a number of years ago. The man who began it, as far as I am concerned, is Wilbert Boone who is here today – Welcome, Wilbert. On a particular day that I remember, Wilbert was dreaming of what could be – I can hear his words now, “Imagine, Jean! We have DELT already in place, we need CDLI people here, and then faculty researchers! What we could do together!” That vision has never left me. Others shared it. When we reviewed the Centre for Tele-learning and Rural Education (2002), Rene and I were both on the Review Committee. That vision guided our recommendations.

Our goals for the Killick Research Project were arrived at collaboratively in a workshop we held with researchers and partners in July 2005. Janice Cooper, who helped facilitate that workshop, is here today (welcome, Janice). The goals are: build capacity for high-quality research in e-learning; increase the amount of high quality research in e-learning; and build systemic relationships among the producers of new knowledge and the users of it, by developing an equal relationship providing all stakeholders the opportunity to review and contribute to all aspects of the research, making the research relevant for community partners. Stakeholders will “own” the research and be in control of their own learning.

To achieve these goals, we have assembled a very talented group of researchers. I feel honoured to be the Principal Investigator within such a group. It was my responsibility to submit the Letter of Intent and to develop the proposal. I am grateful that I found two wonderful research assistants who worked with me on these proposals: Rojean Williams, now with Alumni Affairs, who is here today; and Rose Neville, a principal at A. P. Lowe Primary School in Labrador , who unfortunately could not be here.

To succeed in this highly competitive process, the application needed to show the strength of the researchers and community partners. I would like to introduce the co-investigators. They are the ones that are responsible, with me, as the principal investigator, for the intellectual direction of the project. In the Killick project, there are nine co-investigators from the Faculty of Education. Most are senior researchers who have now brought in and are mentoring newer faculty members, graduate students, and research assistants. As I introduce them and others who are working with them, I ask that they stand, turn and acknowledge the audience as I mention their names. The biographical information is available in your folder.

First, I would like to introduce two co-investigators who have worked with me not only as co-investigators but as CURA executive members: Dr. Bruce Sheppard and Dr. Dennis Sharpe.

Dr. Sheppard is involved with the Effectiveness Study and also the Leadership Study. I am working on the leadership Study also, as are community co-investigators, Dr. Ross Elliott (Director of Education, Western School District ), and Dr. Darin King (Director of Education, Eastern School District). We also have a doctoral student, Doug Furey, and a part-time research assistant, Darron Kelly.

Dr. Dennis Sharpe is involved with the aboriginal study and the transition study. Joining Dennis on the Aboriginal Study is Dr. David Philpott; and research assistant Nanci Rideout. There is also the possibility of linking this research to our Native and Northern Teacher Education Program (Bernadette Power, collaborator). Working with Dr. Sharpe on the Transition Study, there is Dr. Dale Kirby (not able to be here today) and Charlene Dodd (doctoral student).

Dr. Tim Seifert is largely involved with the Effectiveness Study (with Dr. Sheppard). This is a large scale quantitative study using secondary data from the Department of Education, Memorial University , and the College of the North Atlantic . They are being assisted by Dr. Robert Crocker (contractual), and by research assistant, Richard Mercer. Master’s student, Philip Sheppard, is also involved with this study, as well as Research assistant, Darron Kelly. Community co-investigator Mr. John King is involved as a representative from the College of the North Atlantic, as is MUN’s DELT represented by Anne Marie Vaughan, and collaborator, Kerry Pope, from the Department of Education. Dr. Henry Schultz, has agreed also to be a collaborator as needed in this study.

You will hear from Dr. Elizabeth Murphy later. She is researching the use of new and emerging technologies in classrooms. She is working closely with CDLI, particularly with CDLI teacher, Andrew Mercer, and Faculty member Dr. Andrea Rose (collaborator).

Dr. Trudi Johnson is our historian. She will be conducting historical research in 2009.

Dr. Barrie Barrell is interested in what happens in the classroom when new and emerging technologies are introduced. He is working with Mary Cameron on this research (Mary is one of our newest faculty members). This study is only in the early planning stage.

Dr. David Dibbon is interested in how new and emerging technologies can enhance teacher education through the creation of online Professional Learning Communities. He is joined by Dr. Ken Stevens in this study. The Faculty of Education is a partner (with Dean Alice Collins as a collaborator), and it is of interest also to Alex Hickey (collaborator) of the Virtual Teacher Centre. This study will begin in Spring 2007.

We also have a co-investigator, Dr. Rob Greenwood, whose role will be to keep us focused on rural issues and community economic development. Dr. Greenwood is also bringing the expertise of the Leslie Harris Centre with him. Dr. Morgan Gardner has also agreed to be a collaborator in community counselling, if needed.

In addition to individuals, we are supported by organizations – our partners. An essential partner is the Department of Education, especially the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation (CDLI) who is the focus of much of the research. I thank CDLI administrators and staff for their support and assistance throughout the process. You will see a demonstration of how they teach shortly. We also have the support of Memorial University through the Faculty of Education, the Office of the Vice-President (Research), the Office of Research, the Harris Centre, and DELT (Distance Education and Learning Technologies). We have the support of all five school districts, a considerable in-kind contribution as we do this research. Without their cooperation, much we plan would be impossible. We also have had input from the NL School Board Association and the NL Federation of School Councils. As well, we have the support of the College of the North Atlantic . Last, but by no means least, we have the support of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association. An excellent example of the alliance at work, from a contribution point of view, is that the NLTA designed and printed the promotional materials that you have in your folders. We are indeed grateful – .thank you!

Now I would like to call on Mr. Jim Tuff, who will provide a demonstration of CDLI teachers at work, showing us how students learn in this new environment.