Over the past year I’ve noticed a growing interest among learning professionals in the idea of evidence-informed practice. Like many others, I want to ensure that the practices I use and advocate are effective and grounded in some form of research or evidence. I see a lot of research reports published and wonder whether they are valid. Can I rely upon the findings? How can I assess the quality of the research? What is reliable versus sloppy or just plain marketing hype. Is it relevant to my context and needs? Can I legitimately adapt it and apply it?
Where the Idea Came From
In early February I was listening to the Teachers Education Review podcast. Steven Kolber, a regular contributor, discussed a research reading group for teachers conducted on Twitter using #edureading. The basic concept is that the group discusses one academic research article a month via video posted on FlipGrid (a platform I’ve not used), culminating in a one hour Twitter chat. I was drawn to the idea as a way to read more research, learn from the perspectives and experience of others, and improve my skills in finding, assessing, comprehending and applying research. I like that the commitment is to read just one article per month rather than a whole book. I’ve decided to adopt and adapt their model to set up a research reading group for learning professionals.
I posted about the group on both LinkedIn and Twitter. The level of interest was higher than anticipated, although I know that not everyone who expressed interest will actively participate.
To be clear, I am starting this reading group to support my professional development rather than it being a business activity. As such, I’d like to keep the effort to organise the group low. I’d also like to keep the group open and accessible, making it easy for anyone interested to join in the discussion. At this point I’m reluctant to set up a dedicated forum due to both effort and barrier to access.
I will trial the following discussion mechanisms for the first 1-2 months as follows:
1. Slow discussion over the course of the month on both LinkedIn and Twitter using #LnDReads – I will post the article and discussion questions on my personal Daily Dispatch website on my blog as well as a LinkedIn article.
2. Real time one-hour Zoom videoconference call at the end of the month. No pre-registration required. I will post a link to the call that people can use to join. If there are a lot of people we can break into smaller groups (‘Zoom rooms’) for part of the discussion. The call will will be at a time that suits me in Australia, so may not be convenient for people in US, UK and Europe. If someone in another time zone would like to host a videoconference call at a time that suits their region please let me know so I can support you to make this happen.
Note – my thanks to Michael Osborne (who I don’t yet know :-)) for suggesting the hashtag.
When Will #LnDReads Start?
#LnDReads will launch on Monday 9 March 2020.
I have selected an article about evidence-informed practice as the group’s first read. I will post this with discussion questions on 9 March. This paper is not actually a research paper. However, it will help participants to explore what the term ‘evidence-informed practice’ means, and how to identify good quality evidence. My hope is that this will help us to select our first research paper in a more, well … informed way.
I will shortlist a number of papers. As I said above, I’m doing this for my own professional development – and inviting others to join the party. While I’m open to suggestions from others, the shortlisted papers will be on topics that are of interest and relevance to me. On 23 March I will release a poll for people to vote on which one they would like to discuss in April. Keep an eye out for this on Twitter and LinkedIn posted with #LnDReads. I’ll also include regular updates in my monthly newsletter – subscribe using this link if you’d prefer to stay up to date in this way.