writing & publishing

[conference proceedings]

Di Blas, N., Paolini, P., Sawaya. S., & Mishra, P. (2014, March). Distributed TPACK: Beyond Knowledge in the Head. Full paper presented at the 25th annual meeting of the Society of Information Technology in Teacher Education (SITE). Jacksonville, FL.
PDF | Slides | Abstract |

The TPACK framework has received a lot of attention lately.  For the most part, it has been seen as a form of teacher-knowledge residing within the head of individual teachers.  Teaching with technology, however, is a complex task and often requires that teachers tap both social (other people) and cognitive tools (artifacts) successful. In this paper, we challenge the idea of TPACK being resident in just one individual and suggest that in some contexts it may be valuable to consider the idea of distributed TPACK. According to this approach TPACK may be conceptualized as being distributed across individuals (teachers, technologists, students) and artifacts (websites, lesson plans, books, software etc.). We build our argument based on, (a) distributed cognition theory; (b) revisiting prior research; and (c) evidence from two large-scale technology-based educational projects initiated by the Politecnico di Milano. We end with recommendations for future research and practice.

Sawaya. S., & Cain, W. (2014, March). Virtual presence in a synchromodal learning environment. Brief paper presented at the 25th annual meeting of the Society of Information Technology in Teacher Education (SITE). Jacksonville, FL.
PDF | Slides | Abstract |

Presence is an important factor in technology-mediated experiences as it describes an individual’s sense of feeling connected with the virtual environment.  This paper investigates the presence of online students in a Synchromodal Learning Environment: a learning environment where synchronous interactions between online and face-to-face students occur and are mediated by technologies.  Specifically, the presence of online students is examined within the personal portal implementation where the online students (through the use of Skype and iPads) occupy a physical presence in the classroom.  After a brief description of this model and the phenomenon of presence, the paper presents the important findings.  Lastly, we conclude with a discussion of the limitations and implications.

Cain, W., Sawaya, S., & Bell, J. (2014, March). Introducing the linked classroom model in a synchromodal learning environment. Best practice paper presented at the 25th annual meeting of the Society of Information Technology in Teacher Education (SITE). Jacksonville, FL.
PDF | Slides | Abstract |

In this best practice paper, we will describe one type of Synchromodal Learning Environment: The linked classroom model.  We implemented this model in a Master’s level course at a large Midwestern university as it served the need for two instructors to synchronously teach two groups of students each in a separate geographical location.  While a face-to-face instructor facilitated the face-to-face conversations within each group at each location, we put in place technologies to mediate the synchronous conversations across the groups.  In addition to describing the technological setup, we will also share our design considerations, problems faced, and lessons learned.

Cain, W., Bell, J. & Sawaya, S. (2014, March). Supporting diffusion: Engaging the innovation-decision process for synchromodal class sessions. Presented at the 25th annual meeting of the Society of Information Technology in Teacher Education (SITE). Jacksonville, FL.
PDF | Slides | Abstract |

This best practices paper describes activities and initiatives that engage the innovation-decision process associated with a teaching and technology innovation (known as synchromodal class sessions) at the College of Education at a large Mid-western university in the United States. In particular, this paper will discuss how certain activities engaged faculty members at the knowledge, persuasion, and implementation stages of the innovation-decision process, as well as how they have contributed to the continued diffusion of this innovation by faculty members within the College of Education.

Sawaya, S., Bell, J., & Cain, W. (2013, June). Introducing the personal portal model in a SynchroModal Learning Environment. Best practice paper presented at the annual meeting of the World Conference on Educational Media and Technology (EdMedia). Victoria, BC, Canada.
PDF | SlidesAbstract |

Traditional learning environments typically consist of face-to-face instruction, online instruction, or a combination of both approaches (i.e., blended learning).  The Educational Psychology and Educational Technology Ph.D. program at a large Midwestern university; however, is now offering courses where face-to-face and online students interact synchronously with each other and with a face-to-face instructor.  We refer to this type of learning environment as a Synchromodal Learning Environment.  There exist several different ways to implement this type of learning environment, and each model is mediated by a different technological setup.  This best practice paper describes one model of implementation: The enhanced personal portal model.  In the enhanced personal portal model, online students shared their own physical space in the learning environment.  As such, they were “beamed in” to the classroom.  We describe how this model was conceptualized, how it evolved, the technologies used, the process of implementing this model, the design and implementation considerations made, and the lessons learned after a semester-long application of this model.

Cain, W., Sawaya, S., & Bell, J. (2013, June). Innovating the hybrid small group model in a SynchroModal Learning Environment. Best practice paper presented at the annual meeting of the World Conference on Educational Media and Technology (EdMedia). Victoria, BC, Canada.
PDF | Slides | Abstract |

This best practices paper will discuss the process of refinements and adjustments made by the instructional design team during the implementation of a Synchromodal Learning Environment for multiple hybrid small group interactions and discussions. A synchromodal design is one in which face-to-face and online students meet simultaneously with instructors for a single, shared learning experience. This paper will briefly introduce the concept and role of technology navigator (Tech Nav) and discuss in particular the technology support, pre-course arrangements, and the pedagogical and technological considerations for design and implementation that took place before, during, and after the completion of the course.

Bell, J., Cain, W., Sawaya, S. (2013, June). Introducing the role of a Technology Navigator in a SynchroModal Learning Environment. Best practice paper presented at the annual meeting of the World Conference on Educational Media and Technology (EdMedia). Victoria, BC, Canada.
PDF | Slides | Abstract |

This paper introduces the new role of Technology Navigator to support instructors with the particular challenges of teaching face-to-face and online students in the same section at the same time. This role includes the technology tasks often associated with technology assistants, such as ensuring that the needed technologies are functioning for all students. It also includes the pedagogical tasks both in preparation for teaching and in the moment of teaching that have often been left to the instructor.

Sawaya, S. (2013, March). Learning using smartphones: Analyzing what current learners think and do. Full paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Information Technology in Teacher Education (SITE). New Orleans, LA.
|PDF | Slides | Abstract |

Research on mobile learning has given much attention to (a) the affordances of mobility that mobile devices offer, and (b) how these devices are used in classroom learning.  Less attention has been paid to how students/learners perceive and use mobile devices.  This exploratory study focuses on developing an understanding of how undergraduate learners’ interpret learning using their smartphones, in particular learning that is not initiated by a teacher.  The study used a qualitative grounded-theory approach to analyze data collected from 28 undergraduate learners in an introductory educational psychology course.  Analysis of the data suggests that the learners’ perception of the phenomenon of learning with smartphones appears to have three properties: What is learned, why, and when.  Each property can be further characterized along one or two dimensions. We see this study as being a first step towards identifying the nature of learning using mobile devices and its varying dimensions.

[peer-reviewed journals]

Mishra, P., Cain, W., Sawaya, S., Henriksen, D. & the Deep Play Research Group (2013).  Rethinking technology & creativity in the 21st century: A room of their own. TechTrends, 57(4), 5-9.
PDF | Abstract |

In this article, we suggest that undervaluing our users may be to our own detriment as scholars and designers, neglecting as it does the kinds of knowledge and real world experience that “naïve users” (if we may characterize them as such) bring to the process and product of design. This gives short shrift to what has gone before, ignoring historical context, collective and collected knowledge, and the rich experience of past and current users.  We argue that observing and understanding the manner in which educators and learners construct their own (“naturally built”) learning spaces, when provided the opportunity to do so, is something we should embrace. Users who question and subvert existing designs, and recreate them to reflect their own practices, can be a powerful impetus for creativity.

Bell, J., Sawaya, S., & Cain, W. (2014). Synchromodal classes: Designing for shared learning experiences between face-to-face and online students. In International Journal of Designs for Learning, 5(1).
PDF | Abstract |

This paper introduces the efforts of the CEPSE/COE Design Studio at Michigan State University to design and implement synchromodal classes for the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology (EPET) Ph.D. program.  Synchromodal classes refer to classes in which online and face-to-face students interact during shared synchronous sessions.   Our efforts stem from the introduction of a hybrid Ph.D. program in the summer of 2010.  In this paper, we describe the antecedents that led to the development of a hybrid Ph.D. program. We then describe our approach to designing synchromodal classes.  We conclude by discussing the lessons we learned through this design and implementation process.

[chapters in edited books]

Sawaya, S., & Putnam, R. (2015). Bridging the gap: Using mobile devices to connect mathematics to out-of-school contexts. In H. Crompton, & J. Traxler (Eds.) Mobile Learning and Mathematics: Foundations, Design, and Case Studies.
| Abstract |

Cameras, recorders, and storyboard apps on mobile devices make it possible for teachers to create problems that are more realistic, relevant, and engaging for learners, and less dependent on textual presentation.  They also make it possible for learners to create problems themselves, further developing their understanding of connections between the mathematics and situations.  In this chapter, we present an integrated framework that will help teachers design mobile learning activities to connect in-school to out-of-school mathematics.  This framework highlights the importance of considering the interplay, integration, and interdependence between the affordances of mobile devices, the mathematics learning goals, and the learning activity types.

Sawaya, S. (in press). Wearable devices in education. In P. Redmond, J. Lock, & P. Danaher (Eds.) Educational Innovations and Contemporary Technologies. Palgrave Macmillan.
| Abstract |

Computing devices are becoming smaller in size; however, their impact on daily interactions is increasing exponentially.  Wearable devices are the newest addition to the growing family of computing devices and might find their way into classrooms by 2020.  When considering the research on their current applications, these devices have been used for authentic, multimedia, and kinesthetic learning.  When considered from a situated theory of learning perspective, it becomes apparent that wearable devices have the potential for seamless and experiential learning as well.  Despite the excitement in integrating them into teaching and learning, there are several issues for educators to keep in mind.  Nevertheless, wearable devices will positively impact educational practice and educational research in the near future.