Ph.D. in Education, 2013
School of Education
December 1, 2010
Research Experience in China Inspired Interest in the Impact of Technology Use in Teaching and Learning
Binbin Zheng is a second year Ph.D. student in the Language, Literacy, and Technology specialization. She received her dual bachelor’s degrees in Educational Information Technology and English Arts from East China Normal University in 2006, and master’s degree in Educational Technology from Beijing Normal University in 2009.
Binbin’s interest in education originated from her part time teaching experience. As a volunteer teacher in a rural area of China, Binbin witnessed the scarcity of educational resources, lack of qualified teachers, and, especially, the children’s strong desire for knowledge.
From that time on, I realized that volunteer teaching can only meet children’s short-term needs; more efforts should be made to provide children in rural areas with educational resources and qualified teachers equivalent to what is provided to children in developed areas.
Beginning with her first year of graduate study in Beijing, Binbin worked as a research assistant in the project “Using Technology to Enhance Quality Education in rural China”, which investigated Chinese language teaching and learning transformation due to technology adoption in elementary schools in rural areas. From this project, Binbin learned how teaching and learning were facilitated in the one-to-one laptop environment.
Children had more access to online educational resources; they expressed stronger desire and motivation to read and write both in and out of class; and teachers collaborated with fellow teachers from more developed areas.
This research experience inspired Binbin’s interest in studying the impact of technology use in teaching and learning, especially in language education.
During her first year in the Ph.D. program, Binbin reviewed studies and reports on state-wide one-to-one laptop programs from 2001 to 2010 in the United States, and wrote a research synthesis on one-to-one laptop programs with Professor Mark Warschauer.
In the summer of 2010, Binbin had the opportunity to work with Professor Warschauer and Professor George Farkas as a graduate student researcher on the project “Netbook and Open Tools in K-12 Education”, which examined the use of netbook computers and new media in English Language Arts classrooms in two school districts. Preliminary results from this project were included in the article “Laptops and Inspired Writing”, with Professor Warschauer and research assistant Kathleen Arada.
Currently, Binbin is working with Professors Warschauer, Farkas, and Penny Collins on the project Interactive Science and Technology Instruction for English Learners, which investigates the use of low-cost netbook computers and specialized software in studying science and writing about science in a California school district where approximately half of the students are English Language Learners (ELLs).
Binbin’s current research interests focus on the impact of use of social media (e.g., blogs, wikis, Social Network Sites) on ELLs’ writing process as well as writing outcomes, such as students’ literacy and identity development, motivation for writing, and writing achievements. Her long-term goal is to improve the practice of language education by integrating technology into teaching and learning, and she likes to quote Nancy Kassebaum, U.S. senator from Kansas:
There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if the teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails.