Friday, December 02, 2011

The case study: Storytelling in the industrial age and beyond

Benjamin, B. (2006). The case study: Storytelling in the industrial age and beyond. On the Horizon, 14(4), 159-164.

In this article Benjamin looks at the history of storytelling through to present times. She follows the history of the word ‘story’ and draws the conclusion that storytelling is a way to transfer knowledge from one person to another and a way to keep that knowledge alive. In the words of Wittgenstein (1933) ‘The limits of my language are the limits of my world’. With the advent of the Internet and digital storytelling, those limits are now boundless.

In the history of storytelling, stories were the way that tribes passed down important knowledge to ensure survival. “Their purpose is to ensure that, generation after generation, everyone has access to the wisdom of the past as they live in the present and move towards the future” (Benjamin, 2006, p. 161). Stories take many forms in the present day; for example the digital stories on NZC Online could be thought of as case studies. Harvard Business School’s first Dean, Edwin F. Gay, identified the value of discussing authentic business problems as a method of instruction and used the first case study in 1908 (Benjamin, 2006). Digital stories for education serve as an authentic example of what practice looks like in classrooms, and promote discussions about the practices that were built upon and what the implications are for future practice. As different educators examine the story and think about how that practice might look in their context the wisdom of the past is used to move towards the future. 

Wittgenstein, L. (1933). Tractatus logico-philosophicus. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Multimedia cases

Halverson, R., Linnekin, B., Gomez, L. M., & Spillane, J. P. (2004). Multimedia cases of practice: On-line learning opportunities for school leaders. Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, 7(1), 30-35.

As I read around the use of digital stories for professional development, I came across the term 'multimedia cases'. This seemed like a fitting term for the stories that we produce for NZC Online. They are multimedia cases of actual events in schools and classrooms.

Halverson et al. conducted research around the use of multimedia cases to support the professional development of principals.

They assert that leaders often find it difficult to know where to start when leading change. Good leaders have what the authors term 'professional practical wisdom' which means they reflect on experience to apply solutions to varying problems over time. Professional practical wisdom also involves the ability to transfer ideas into your own particular context. Leithwood and Steinbach (1989) suggest that expert leaders rely on collaboration and information gathering to support their problem solving. This is where NZC digital stories come in.

Leaders need to access rich representations of practice in context. Video makes these rich examples more accessible. Cases can engage readers to relate the situation to their own experience and can act as a catalyst for discussion and reflection on practice. Cases can also be used to produce as well as represent knowledge.

The authors reference Banks (1994) as being skeptical about the benefits of multimedia cases, and counter with Barron Goldman 1994 and Lampert and Ball 1998 as proponents of cases being positive for stimulating reflection on practice.

Banks, M. (1994). “Interactive multimedia and anthropology - a sceptical view.” Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, 1-7.
Barron, L. & Goldman, E. (1994). "Integrating technology with teacher preparation," in B. Means ed., Technology and Education Reform: The Reality Behind the Promise. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 67-89.
Lampert, M. & Ball, D.L. (1998). Mathematics, teaching, and multimedia: Investigations of real practice. New York: Teachers College Press.
Leithwood, K. & Steinbach, M. (1989). “Expertise in principals’ problem solving.” Educational Administration Quarterly, 25(2), 126-61.