Completing Task One was a challenge. Even though I selected a micro-system with which I was intimately familiar; myself, I still found it a struggle making the connections that Banathy described in his model of a human activity system (Banathy, 1973). For me, many of the things were a stretch. While I feel that much of the research into General Systems Theory and chaos theory and human activity systems does provide a good way to describe and explain the complex systems of education, it should be noted that any system involving humans is extremely complex, and I do not necessarily agree that all human behavior can be explained or mapped into patterns.
Every single system, even the simplest one, has layers of dependency on sub-systems, supra-systems, meso-systems, and exo-systems that surround it. The interaction of the system with its environment and with other systems determines whether that system is open or closed, and how the system responds to feedback to produce change. The result of changes to one system may have an impact on other systems which depend on that system, resulting in a rippling effect throughout the environment.
I was unsure about my research approach. I felt it best to just write freely, uninhibited by the need to search out other sources or cite resources as I went along, even if I knew that something I was writing was not a unique thought. I had copied keywords from Banathy into the document to give my thoughts structure and I used those to direct my train of thought so that I wasn’t just rambling, but I directed my thoughts only along the line of the Banathy model for the bulk of the document until I felt I had thoroughly covered the entire model.
Then I returned through the document and re-read my work. I cleaned up my text where my words needed reframing. I looked for supporting documentation when I knew that what I had said was from someone else’s writings. I went back into the articles I had read before and found additional information to expound upon a particular point I had made or to extend a thought where appropriate. I then did some additional research to finish out my thoughts.
This approach worked best for me but I was not sure it was a valid research approach. I felt better about this approach after validating it with Dr. Cox. I guess what that says about me as a learner is that I am still learning, and I am not sure whether my methods and techniques are acceptable forms of research. I still need training and instruction from my professors before I will feel secure to embark as an independent researcher.
Overall, I feel fairly confident in my performance on Task One. I covered all the elements that were mentioned in the model as explained by Banathy. I found one spelling error after I turned it in, and I forgot to include a mind map despite downloading Mindomo to develop one, so I’ll lose some points on those things, but other than that, I covered most of the requirements in the rubric. It was the appropriate length and included the appropriate number of references, and I believe I did a good job with the writing and provided an accurate depiction of what the assignment called for.
In the future, I will make myself a checklist to go over of all the things I need to be sure and include in the document and check them off as I finish them. That way I won’t forget something like the mind map. That was a stupid oversight, forgotten only because I was feeling rushed. This week, in addition to Task One, this blog, the movie, and all the readings for this class, we had to complete Peer Reviews of our SITE article for EVERY member of our class in CECS6210 and upload our multimedia project proposal. That meant reading and providing helpful comments on 13 papers, plus developing a proposal, instructional design document, and calendar of activities including responsibilities of the team members. I have evenings and weekends only in which to accomplish this, as I work full time during the week and have a 45 minute commute. Subtract from that available time two synchronous class sessions; one for each class, each taking at least two hours, and you can understand the pressure most of us are feeling with these deadlines. I am working until I can no longer pry my eyes open, but there are simply not enough hours in the evening to accomplish it all. So Saturday morning, I got up early and went straight to work to finish Task One, and worked most of the day on it. I had time to complete the mind map, but as I said, I felt rushed by all the other projects I was still facing on Sunday, and turned it in prematurely before checking to ensure I’d completed all the requirements. A checklist would have helped. The rubric, while nice, is not in a format which is conducive to ensuring I didn’t miss anything.
All in all, it was an enjoyable project, and I think I’ll enjoy the further analysis we do in Tasks Two and Three.
Banathy, B. H. (1973). The functions/structure model. In Developing a systems view of education: The systems-model approach (pp. 59–97). Salinas, CA: Intersystems Publications.