Research & Evaluation

Below is a collection of dissertations, evaluations and research studies that have focused on iEARN as an organization, and its impact on teaching and learning. Brief overviews are provided. More detail is available in the full text.

Ph.D. Dissertations

Full texts available for purchase via ProQuest Digital Dissertations.

Anderson, J. (1995). "The International Education and Resource Network: Building A Sustainable Virtual School," University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA. 1995. A study of the directions in educational telecommunications and networking, with a focus on policy, governance and administration of iEARN as an organization. Findings: "Educational telecommunications projects appear to have had a positive impact on the individual user in terms of motivation, skill development, self-esteem, and interpersonal interaction." Factors motivating students' participation included "a sense of efficacy as they develop the initial skills necessary to send and receive electronic mail," and the relevancy of what they were learning as part of the projects. Factors that motivate can also enhance self esteem: tangible products that capture the work of a project and participation in what they perceive as a meaningful activity (which included both direct action activities and discussion). "Initial investigation suggests telecommunication projects focusing on real problems offer strong affective benefits to users."

Bacer, Kathleen and Bacer, Wayne (1999). "A Study To Identify Effective Strategies for Assessing K-12 On-Line Global Learning Environments," Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, 1999. "This study recognized the need for formal assessment to prove to interested stakeholders that the use of educational technology can have a positive impact on teaching and learning....The purpose of this study was to identify effective strategies for assessing an on-line global learning environment. The International Education and Resource Network (iEARN), an international organization on the forefront of developing and implementing global learning projects was selected for this descriptive case study."

Bodin, J. (1998). Proximate Human Contact Through the Internet: A Technography of an Intercultural Global Electronic Learning Network, iEARN (International Education and Resource Network). Department of Multi-cultural Teacher and Childhood Education, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA. An ethnographic study and analysis of iEARN as a model global electronic learning network, with review of its impact on students, teachers, and school curriculum. Research involved interviews with 20 iEARN participants in iEARN in 3 school sites in the USA. This was broken into 3 groups: teachers, students and others (which included iEARN administration, and state and district technology directors). Participating teachers and students indicated an increased awareness of global issues that they were able to directly address through the iEARN projects. They also indicated an increased sense of empowerment through direct involvement. The researcher also found that, despite the technology involved, traditional pedagogy often prevailed in the classroom. Some of the teachers identified obstacles: lack of teacher support locally, existence of technical problems, overabundance of information on the network, hemispheric differences interfering with curriculum planning and implementation, and wait times for responses to student messages. [Authors Note: "In searching out a viable research topic, I soon came to realize that iEARN was a proactive organization on the cutting edge of educational change while embracing a philosophy not unlike that of the critical pedagogists. iEARN was also one of a kind. I had reviewed other sources of electronic global learning networks and found iEARN in a unique role. Its strong philosophy suggested that electronic global networking could be used for purposive and meaningful communication between people all over the world through student collaboration on projects which attempt to improve the human condition."]

Dmitru-Nistor, P. (2005, October 31). What are the benefits and limitations of intercultural email communications in collaborative school projects? A Study of the Context in European Schools, Sheffield Hallem University, UK. A study focusing on the benefits and limitations of email communications. Research involved email interviews with 20 experts in iEARN and Schoolnet Europe. The study found there are 2 major benefits from intercultural email communications in schools: 1. Raising intercultural awareness (“For hundreds of students and teachers, email contacts remain the only possibility of experiencing other cultures”) 2. Gaining intercultural learning opportunities. Major limitation: Curriculum constraints. The study also includes teacher comments about improved student skill levels in 3 areas: ICT, communicating in a second language, and providing a real communications context.

Garibaldi, A.B., (2004). INTERAÇÃO E O ENSINO-APRENDIZAGEM DE LE POR MEIO DE PROJETOS EM REDE. Universidade de Brasília, Departamento de Língua Estrangeira e Tradução, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Lingüística Aplicada. (Portuguese, with English Abstract). This qualitative research focuses on interaction in on-line iEARN projects in a foreign language environment at a public center of languages - Centro Interescolar de Línguas de Taguatinga - Distrito Federal (CILT - DF). The analysis of the data shows that the role of the teacher, as a mediator, is essential for the success of such an on-line project, even in adverse infra-structure, and also the disposition to work in a sharing atmosphere helped the students to achieve the proposed aims. It was observed that interaction may bring an increase of motivation and interest in learning actively and effectively when in on-line environments. An improvement in the reading, writing, and comprehension skills was noticed in all the students' production: poems and texts in English These results point to the possibility that on-line projects may be suitable tools in order to promote interaction, and through it, meaningful teaching and learning of foreign languages.

Khalsa, D.K. (2005). Support for Global Project Based Learning; US Teacher Motivation. University of Maryland, USA. A Quasi-sociological study of the characteristics of iEARN member teachers. The study was done in three phases: A 2 year observation of participation with iEARN; A survey of 30 teachers from 8 states; Interviews with 17 teachers through email. Changes found in how teachers rated their skill levels following online training. Before training, 58% rated selves expert or frequent user. After training = 96%

Lafontaine, E. (1999). "The Implementation of the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) by Argentine Teachers," New York University, New York, NY, USA. Investigation, on a large nationwide scale, of the extent to which iEARN was implemented in secondary schools throughout Argentina, and assessment of factors that affected its implementation. The Ministry of Education in Argentina provided 900 ‘Social Plan’ schools located in 23 provinces in Argentina with iEARN and TELAR access. The study involved 5 provinces, and 296 trained teachers (40% of total population), 178 of whom returned surveys. Findings include an analysis of the difference in the dynamics of adoption versus implementation, with suggestions to 1) plan thoroughly in advance of implementing technical innovations, addressing infrastructure and professional development; 2) offer sustained support, supervision, and assessment of educational innovations (seen as particularly essential in countries with histories of hierarchically structured societies); 3) make use of domestic networks and teachers’ home computer and modem ownership.

Modzelewski, W. (2009). Impact on Teachers as Global Educators After a Professional Development Cluster, Wilmington University, Delaware, USA. This descriptive research study was conducted to determine if the International Education Technology cluster achieved its goals of increasing teachers’ international knowledge, skills, and initiatives in global education. The concept of a cluster was developed by the Delaware Department of Education to strengthen the impact of professional development. The study group was a diverse group of sixteen educators from elementary, middle and high schools across the state. The teachers participated in an online course offered through the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) and integrated an international student project in their classroom. Correspondence for the project was conducted between all international partners through listservs hosted by iEARN.

Program Evaluations, Reports, Journal Articles (chronological)

Evaluation of the New York State/Moscow Schools Telecommunications Project, 1988-1991. Commissioned by the New York State Education Department, Division of Elementary and Secondary Education. (1992, February). MAGI Educational Services, Inc. [Download full report]. An evaluation of the use of iEARN in schools in Moscow and Upstate New York and its impact on classroom instruction, student learning outcomes, intercultural understanding and personal development. The evaluation involved 13 schools in each country. (26 total), using both on-site interviews and survey research. Statistically significant results between control group students and project participants in the following areas: discussing political/social issues and international events and reading international news magazines and books by foreign authors. Survey results identified several obstacles to implementation: scheduling constraints with other classrooms, equipment and communication difficulties, and lack of adequate planning time. Conclusions: the project helped students to improve their intercultural awareness and understanding; helped to increased the amount of time that students spent in intercultural-related activities such as discussions of social and/or political issues and discussions of international events; and helped to improve teachers understanding of international events and their involvement with causes for the betterment of society.

iEARN CIVICS & BRIDGE Evaluation (grant programs funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for expanded connections between schools in the U.S. and those in predominately Muslim countries). (2004, April). Cole, A. and Ortega, S., Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of the outcomes of two grant programs carried out in 12 countries. Surveys and other research tools used with participating teachers and students found that connections built through grant continued after the project because teachers placed value on the online work, and could continue it at little cost and time. As a result, recommendations were to further their collaboration within the projects, continue developing appropriate management procedures for an expanding program, maintain focus on building local capacity, and offering advanced training for participants

Final Report of The Friendship through Education Teacher Professional Development Project “Connecting Classroom Communities in the World” (C3 World Project). (A demonstration project funded by the U.S. Department of Education and launched with 20 teachers in 11 Washington State schools in King County.) (2004). [Download full report] The project generated a model of how teachers can integrate International Education into the curricula using technology to enhance students’ learning in Social Studies, World Languages and other curricular areas, support students in meetings standards of state education goals, and build students’ understanding of our world today. The C3 World project addressed five key questions; 1) Can global education and technology be effectively integrated into and significantly enhance social studies, world languages and other major subject areas of teaching and learning rather than treated as separate and distinct subject areas? 2) Can a diverse cadre of teachers, already stressed by the current demands of teaching, create the necessary time and motivation to learn and apply new international uses of technology in their classrooms? 3) Can a cost-efficient model for teacher development be created that results in positive and significant transformation of teaching and learning in classrooms to promote effective global education and make a positive difference in student achievement? 4) Can teachers, administrators, policy makers, community leaders and citizens within local, district and state educational infrastructure collaborate around the success of this demonstration project to successfully scale-up the project in the following years? 5) Will students demonstrate a significantly higher level of motivation to learn and meet education goals when offered the opportunity to engage in meaningful collaborative projects with other students around the world?. The Summary of the C3 World Project Findings revealed strong results in generating: 1. A Professional Development Model for Integrating International Education in the Classroom Curricula Using Technology. 2. Increasing the Speed and Depth of Implementing International Education into Classroom Teaching and Learning. 3. Achieving District and State Leadership Support for expanded International Education in Schools.

The New York State – Moscow Schools Telecommunications Project -- The Founding Project of iEARN. A Comparative Program Analysis of New York Schools and their Interactions with their Russian and Chinese Counterparts. Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University, Capstone Team: Abby Bush, Sora Chung, William Holton, Michael Kokozos. [Download full report] This study serves as an assessment of the NYS-MSTP, to evaluate the effects the program had on teachers, students and administrators during the years 1988-1993.

A Constructivist Approach to the Design and Delivery of an Online Professional Development Course: A Case of the iEARN Online Course, International Journal of Instruction, January 2012, Vol.5, No.1, e-ISSN: 1308-1470, Lockias Chitanana, Department of Educational Technology, Midlands State University, Zimbabwe. [Download full report] This study examined the International Education and Resource Network Science Technology and Math (iEARN-STM) online professional development course. The study used the constructivist framework as the conceptual model to examine the way in which the constructivist theory has shaped the design and implementation of the course, as reflected by the interactions of a cohort of participants in the course. The participants were 28 educators enrolled in the course, who were either teacher educators or teachers, working in different educational institutions in different countries throughout the world. The purpose of the study was to understand how the iEARN online professional development course supported teachers' learning through effective discourse in an online environment and to identify the constructivist learning principles that were behind the success of the course. The design of the course appeared to have a positive impact on participants' collaboration with peers. Results of the study confirms earlier research findings that the constructivist approach to course design and delivery provides a powerful structure for creating learning environments conducive to the development of professional skills among educators. Results of this study can be used to assist professional development coordinators and administrators to plan effective professional development. The results of the study are also expected to contribute to improvements in the design of professional development course content, instruction, delivery and administration, focusing on factors such as program model, delivery, contextual factors or best practices.

Country Impact Studies

iEARN Egypt Impact Study. Dewidar, A. German University in Cairo, and Khalil, D. Coordinator of iEARN-Egypt. (2004). Research questions: To what extent has iEARN Egypt achieved its objectives? What impact has iEARN had on the teachers, students and community? Survey participants: 60 Teachers, 405 Secondary School Students, 25 participants in the 1st Bridge Regional conference, 6 additional students (support team at BRIDGE Regional Conference). Results: How Egyptian participants view themselves: Most teachers (93.3%) see themselves as different from other Non-iEARN teachers. Most students (85.5%) see themselves as different from other Non-iEARN students. Comments were grouped into categories, and included comments about the impact of participation on knowledge, skills, and attitudes related to "Traditions and customs of other nations, Higher proficiency in English, NGOs and Laws that I never knew before, How to use computers effectively, How to cooperate with others, How to manage projects, How to lead a group to carry out a collaborative task, How to deal with students with different abilities, How to make effective relations with others inside & outside Egypt, How to conduct a workshop, How to make a work plan, How to promote citizenship in my students,Seeing the world from a more positive perspective, Preserving my national Egyptian identity through effective participation on the forums."

Research and Evaluations on iEARN projects

Water Habitat Project. Evaluated by Kristi Rennebohm Franz at Sunnyside Elementary School using the Teaching for Understanding Framework within [Harvard's ENT (Education with New Technologies) Gallery. As an organization, Kristi and iEARN have worked with Harvard University to evaluate the iEARN model of project collaboration in the context of the "Teaching for Understanding (TFU) Framework" (Teaching for Understanding: Linking Research with Practice, edited by Martha Stone Wiske, (Jossey-Bass, 1998), which helps educators to: "formulate generative curriculum topics, define specific educational goals, design performances to help students develop and demonstrate understanding, and integrate ongoing assessment of student performances to monitor and promote learning." The unit's integrated lessons are designed to meet state and National Standards in Environmental Science, Math, Literacy, Geography, Arts, Education Technology, Behavior Studies, and Civics/Government.

The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Education also reviewed the Water Habitat Project in its enGauge Success Story Series: Water Habitat Project. First and second graders conduct a study of their local pond habitat as part of the Water Habitats Project. Assessment Video showcased how the learning that takes place in online collaborative projects is assessed.

Additional background on the Water Habitat Project can be found here and in the video below.

Learning Circles

Riel, M., (1997) Learning circles make global connections. In R. Donath & I. Volkmer (Eds.) Das Transatlantische Klassenzimmer. Hamburg, Germany: Korber-Stiftung (in german) p.329-35

Riel, M. (1993). Global education through Learning Circles. In Global Networks: Computer and International Communication, L. Harasim, (Ed) Cambridge: MIT, 221-236.

Riel, M. (1993). Educational Benefits from Student Writing within Learning Circle Projects. Writing Notebook: Visions for Learning; v11 n2 p32 33

Riel, M. (1992). Learning Circles: A functional analysis of educational telecomputing. Interactive Learning Environments 2, 15-30.

Conference Evaluations

iEARN Annual Conference, 2003. Brent Copen, Columbia University. Survey of iEARN's impact on the students and teachers who attended the 9th International Conference in Moscow 2002. [Download full report] "97 percent felt that iEARN helped students enjoy learning and school either somewhat or very much. One teacher from Uganda said, 'In my school, iEARN helped increase student attendance by more than 50 percent." "Eighty-eight percent felt that their students showed improvement in their academic skills and performance..." "75% said that iEARN helped their students appreciate other cultures very much." "iEARN increases both teacher and student interest in exchange programs." "iEARN improves teachers' attitudes toward cooperative learning projects and strengthens theirmorale as teachers."

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