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Bridging the Gap Between Communities of Learning Technology Practitioners and Research/Theorists

Thursday, January 1, 2004


As practitioners of learning technology—be it learner-centered designers, faculty development professionals, or administrators of curricular policy—we are increasingly driven to current learning theory and research to both inform and validate our practices. A model of theory and practice interdependence would presume a tight linkage between the two communities of learning technology research and practice; however, such a relationship is elusive at best. So the saying rings true, "In theory, theory and practice go hand-in-hand. In practice, they just go." Moreover, a comprehensive survey of learning technology research would yield few studies conducted within the classrooms, computer labs, study halls, or dorms of universities. Instead, learning technology research occurs predominately in the K–12 arena. While much of this research can be relevant to higher education, a significant void remains in the theoretical landscape in which we practice. In this focused interactive session, our first goal will be to analyze the nature of the gap between the communities of learning technology practitioners and researchers/theorists. With a deeper understanding of the problem, we will proceed to explore ways in which we can situate our own practices in a research and scholarship of teaching and learning context. Lastly, we will consider ways in which we can develop and support new or existing initiatives designed to bridge these two seemingly parallel universes. Such initiatives may range from simple plans for engaging researchers at our own schools of education to broader initiatives aimed at building mechanisms for our two communities to share, understand, and leverage each other's existing objectives, knowledge, experiences, methods, language, publications, cultural influences, and professional directives.

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