Master of Arts in Educational Technology (OMET) Pepperdine University  
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Journal Entry - Sixteen [posted Friday, March 6, 2009]

Journal Entry 16 With the support of the IT Department head, my supervisor and the blessings of my advisor (Paul Sparks), I move my project into the next Cycle. Cycle Two is off to a running start, with or without me. I have started the ball rolling and it has taken on a life of its own. I receive emails every other day (no joking) from Richard Wenn, Director of Information Services, with ideas about how to better my action research project. So far, his suggestions are excellent and I have followed his advice. Richard’s latest email came as a result of the beta testing of our new email system, Zimbra, of which I am a member. From early Monday morning, when the system went live for both beta and alpha testers, the questions immediately started flowing to the help desk. This was definitely a foreshadowing of what is to come in mid April when the new system is rolled out to all WestEd employees.

“Hi Kathleen, Based on our experience with the beta group, I would suggest that you consider organizing your action research project around one or two MST program support groups each composed of about a dozen people when we launch Zimbra in April. IS staff can monitor the group and benefit from the feedback they contribute which can be edited and shared with the rest of the agency. If you would like to we can enable chat for one group as a test. Will this meet your project requirements? Richard”

In a follow-up email, I thanked Richard for his suggestion, and asked him to share with me "what the experience with the beta group" was that made him consider asking me to organize my support group with just MST staff? He responded:

“I think we found the small group discussion in the beta group productive. I suggested the MST group because it is diverse, works across multiple sites and is relatively large, larger that some not-for-profits. It would be easy to organize, and it has teams of people that work together who I think would contribute to our knowledge base. Having one group use chat would also give you a comparison group, which is important because we need to evaluate if we are going to make the chat program available.”

Actually, the thought of having both a control and treatment group sounded like a good idea. It would help with quantitative and qualitative data providing more evidence to validate my action research project. I emailed back both Richard and my supervisor that I am reducing the number to six participants in each control and treatment group for a pilot study. I will send an email to my advisory panel asking them for their input on this next action. I think it is important, at least initially, to muster all the organizational hierarchy support I can. There is plenty of time later for my project to evolve into what I had originally envisioned—a broader support group across offices, departments and programs.