Why and how to become a teacher researcher

The classroom is a great place to conduct some research. Picture by  Jordan Dreyer

The classroom is a great place to conduct some research. Picture by Jordan Dreyer

In my opinion, every teacher should be a researcher, and I think that especially applies to teachers who have some degree of influence of what education technology is bought and used.


  • It's important to know what's going on in your field. Imagine going to a doctor who last updated his knowledge ten years ago, or even one year ago. 
  • If you hope to convince the powers-that-be to spend more money on technology, you have to be able to prove that it works, or at least that it's likely to work.
  • Research and reflection are good ways to improve one's teaching. The research part helps to avoid the 'echo chamber' situation in which you only know what's going on in your own school.


  • Read the research. This is not always accessible, either because of a paywall or because the language is too abstruse and abstract to be acted on quickly. Solutions:
    • Check whether or not your status as an alumnus (assuming you have a degree) gives you access to academic journals online.
    • Sign up to my newsletter, Digital Education. I often summarise research and review academic books in that, and it's free.
    • Join the Association for IT in Education. Disclosure: I'm on their committee. You receive an academic journal called Technology & Pedagogy in Education, and that's worth a lot more than the subscription fee in my opinion.
  • Attend conferences. A very accessible one in terms of cost, location, and down-to-earthness is Research Ed.
  • Conduct research in your own classroom. You can do this even in a very quick and easy way:
    • Know what the problem is you're trying to solve with the technology.
    • Keep a note on what went well, what didn't go so well, and why.
    • Get the kids' feedback too. I think having kids evaluate the technology is a no-brainer: they're the ones who are going to be using the stuff! I was pleased that John Galloway advocated this in a discussion hosted by the Guardian Teacher Network recently too.
    • Read blogs. Some good ones to start with (apart from mine!) are:

Finally, do share your research and findings, whether from your own research or reading, with other people. If you haven't already done so, start a blog. Or share on Twitter or Facebook. 

You might like my article, Education Technology research, and how it's reported

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