Amy Ogan’s research informs the design of innovative, next-generation educational technologies while building underlying theories of learning and development. With an understanding that the construction of knowledge is a social process, she addresses not only the cognitive aspects of learning, but the critical social components that are often ignored in educational technologies. As systems move worldwide, they have been shown not to reliably transfer across cultures. Her research investigates the cultural factors that have a strong influence on the behaviors that affect children’s learning processes and outcomes, such as help-seeking and motivation.
My plans for the fellowship period
I will be developing a theoretical framework and design process for the development of culturally-appropriate educational technologies. In particular, I plan to work in classrooms in Latin America and Southeast Asia to understand, design, and develop curricula for educational technologies to better support learning in ways that respect students’ cultural environments. My research has shown that cultural factors have a strong influence on behaviors that affect children’s learning processes and outcomes, such as help-seeking and motivation. Yet, technologies are often exported with little regard for the values, skills, and practices that students bring with them to their educational setting.
This deeper theoretical understanding will lead to the creation of curricula that incorporate edtech in thoughtful ways. In addition, more broadly, it will produce design guidelines that identify places where culture may play a role, with examples of how technologists and instructional designers can adapt educational technology for particular cultural contexts.
How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?
This work will significantly advance our understanding of how to best support youth learning with technology, specifically with respect to applications in cross-cultural contexts. This will provide new insights that are valuable for instructional designers and technology developers, as well as researchers.
I will be observing both student learning as well as other outcomes such as stronger collaboration and deeper engagement with the curriculum that collect evidence for positive long-term impact on youth. Ideally, these outcomes will additionally lead to more sustained engagement with science and math education. My work is done with pre-teens and early teens, age groups for whom peer interactions are critical in their development. Thus, my work will likely move developers away from the one-device-per-child model to an understanding of how technologies can support students in thinking, learning, and experimenting together.
Working to support organizations in continuing to implement curricula after the fellowship, will instigate sustained impact over time and building critical capacity for a network of participating schools. Having teachers and administrators who are advocates for a technology is one of the best ways to ensure further dissemination of a successful intervention.