Dr. Molly Lauck: Welcome, everyone. Thank you for coming and joining us for this exciting, uh, presentation. As Dr. Lynn said, my name is Molly Lauck. I’m the director of, uh, Faculty Research and Sponsored Programs in the Center for Research Support. I also have the honor of chairing the committee that is charged with reviewing all of the wonderful dissertations in doctoral studies that are nominated by faculty for this award: the Outstanding Doctoral Study award. Dr. Tedford will present his doctoral study research on Internet usage of rural Guatemalan English teachers. Again, before I let Dr. Tedford come up here, I’d like to share with you some of the review committee’s comments or thoughts on his doctoral study.
They felt that the comprehensive literature review flowed smoothly from general to specific, and its theoretical framework was integral to its content and organizational structure. The methodology chapter was very thorough, and a strong case was made for the use of the participatory rural appraisal approach to qualitative analysis. So he justified well what he was going to do and how he was going to do it. The results were presented in a detailed manner but then were tied together in general terms that enabled the reader to grasp the study’s findings in or findings in its entirety. Finally, the review committee felt that this was a sophisticated and ambitious study. They said this student could have opted to use a simpler approach but instead invested the extra effort, and as a result, it is clear that the study participants—that’s the rural teachers—are at the heart of the study. With that, let’s welcome Dr. Tedford.
Dr. Douglas Tedford: [speaking K'iche' Mayan], I’m speaking to you in K'iche' Mayan. It’s a language of Guatemala, and it was the site of my study. And the transition—translation is, “I express my deep appreciation to Dr. MaryFriend Shepard and to Dr. Laura Lynn, who formed my doctoral study committee; to Dr. Molly Lauck and to Miss Brenda Kruse for their assistance today; and to President Jonathan Kaplan for his selection of my work, Social Capital Influences upon Internet Usage of Rural Guatemalan English Teachers, as the best doctoral study of the last two years in Walden. So I want to say to all of them and to all of you, maltiox. Would you repeat that with me? Maltiox. And that’s K'iche' Mayan for “thank you.”
This was a qualitative study which demonstrated how social capital in three forms, according to Woolcock, bridging, binding, and linking, affected the decisions of indigenous Mayan English teachers in rural Guatemala about using the Internet for online learning. It featured a methodology known as the participatory rural appraisal, an innovative approach to research which foments the—the sustainability through community-driven development, local communities. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchú and her foundation based in Guatemala were my allies in recruiting and preparing teachers for this study.
Like Rigoberta, I once spoke K'iche' as a missionary and as a translator for two years in western Guatemala in the 1970s. I began volunteering with the foundation in 2006. I’m now a member of their education team, executive education team. I live in Mexico City, where I train English teachers today. For two years, my family and I traveled between Texas and Guatemala to provide free educational services in San Lucas Toliman, where the foundation subsidizes a secondary technical school.
While I trained English teachers in principles of constructivism for language teaching, my wife, Becky, and my three girls taught English to the community, and I want to thank my wife, Becky, because she was my support through the whole process. If you don’t mind standing for a second.
Dr. Douglas Tedford: My wife is a quarter Mexican Mayan, and my daughters share in her heritage. Thirty-four teachers participated in my training session over a period of two years, and at one point, the foundation’s education director, and now my good friend, Billman, offered me free usage of their computer room so that I could continue my services throughout that coming year. This is a very important thing no matter what you’re working on. This study grew organically out of the challenges encountered when seeking to serve a population in need.
When I began training the teachers, I had no idea of the wonderful doctoral research opportunity that lay before me. Start-up to the project was successful, but as soon as our face-to-face contact had ended, teachers was faced—were faced with the decision of whether or not to enroll in my free 10-month English teaching course with no-charge Internet usage. To teachers making the equivalent of $200 a month, this should have made them eager and ready to participate. Yet like all of Latin America’s underclass, who seem unable to break out of damaging intergenerational cycles, most of the Mayan English teachers of San Lucas were stuck in patterns of inaction. Traditionally, they have lacked proximity to the infrastructure which supports Internet services. They have lacked buying power to pay for the Internet. They’ve lacked experience. They’ve lacked confidence with technology and specifically with online learning.
So when they were offered free Internet usage at the foundation’s computer technology center, most rejected it. Of 34 teachers who had attended my training workshops face-to-face, only 19 enrolled in my course. After four months, only 11 had continued, and only five completed the course. This lines up with Foth’s assertion as above. Provision of a community of a place such as a community technology center does not guarantee usage of the Internet. Literature mirrored reality. This study was the first of its kind in the world. Very little literature was found to even touch on how to get beyond provision of the hardware of the Internet, on how to encourage and sustain usage of the Internet in a developing world setting.
In fact, although social capital theory had been promoted by researchers, World Bank, and UNESCO for application to this challenge, by the time I got around to this study, no one had taken it on. Here’s something Couch had to say about it. He said, “So far as the education sector has to say about the contribution of social capital at global levels, little research is done to provide measures of social capital accretion and appreciation in the education sector. Are we measuring this macro-policy phenomenon in distance learning? I’ve seen no evidence of it.”
While social capital concepts may seem abstract or disconnected from most educational technology leadership today, technology-enhanced education offers more social capital capacity for our nations than do most subfields in education. I might add that I came across this as—a considerable time after I had begun to explore social capital and had learned of its potential to unlock clues for enhancing innovation in rural developation—rural developing nation settings. The Menchú Foundation was, and continues to be, a primary supporter for development of actions, for social justice based on this study.
Let me play for you a short address from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum. She’s speaking K’iche’, the oldest of 23 Mayan languages spoken in Guatemala. It’s the language of the Popol. Popol is the Book of the People, and it tells how they came from the other side of the sea, from the east, and it tells their story, and it was only repeated in oral tradition because the conquistadors burned every bit of paper writing that they had created, and they were the population, the only population in Latin America to produce an abundance of writing on paper. So she speaks that language. Let’s listen to her very quickly.
Rigoberta Menchu Tum:
[speaking K’iche’ – translations are on screen] I profoundly appreciate the collaboration of Dr. Douglas Tedford for having realized the important study about the social effects of the use of the Internet by teachers of English here in our region of Guatemala. This important study, the first of its kind in all of academic literature, shows the urgent needs of our people for learning another of the most important commercial language of the world via the Internet. Before, it was necessary for people to have to walk long distances to have access to books, to have access to knowledge, and to have access to education.
Now, our people can study English and other subjects online and close to their homes thanks to our honored Douglas. Education is unequal in our country, and the digital divide is wide between cities and towns. My greatest goal is to fight for social justice, equality, and the defense of life in all of its manifestations so that humanity can develop its full potential. I extend my support for indigenous rural teachers to study on the Internet, given that it offers so much knowledge and so much information. We need universal connectivity and computers to donate to teachers in indigenous rural communities throughout our land (Guatemala). We are very happy about the work realized by Dr. Douglas and many of our Mayan brothers still lack the knowledge of new information technologies, but we are making a major effort to bring this knowledge to our towns and our people.
Dr. Douglas Tedford: There is a YouTube connection to this, and you can hear—I hope you listen to the language, it’s such a beautiful language, and I hope you get a chance to go onto YouTube. Just put Rigoberta Menchú and Walden, and it should come up. Four concepts formed the framework for this study. Although social capital represented both a catalyst and a medium for promoting sustainable change from within indigenous communities, it was the choice of Chamber’s participatory rural appraisal, as referenced by Woolcock in World Bank Literature, that sealed this study as uniquely indigenous and community-driven.
Um, Woolcock showed us three ways of looking at social capital, and that was, uh, bonding, bridging, and linking. Among people that know each other, going to experts and people from outside the social system, how did social capital influences as seen through the ideas of an indigenous community of educators affect the Internet usage of its English teachers? I formed questions to understand this in depth, touching on teacher concerns, teacher satisfaction, and social influences, all surrounding Internet usage. This methodology was really the ideal choice, um, because it puts the research process into the hands of those who are affected by a specific impact problem which they themselves have identified.
The researcher becomes a facilitator of the research process. The community selects its methods, conducts research, and interprets findings based on their unique worldviews, and because of that, they’re more likely to put the findings into practice to create action. Um, a culturally sensitive native-speaker interviewer recast my very wordy Western interview questions into shorter, comprehensible chunks. The interviewer digitally recorded the interviewers, the interviews. I sat close by, and I took notes, careful to support rather than distract. Twenty of the teachers, five from each level of participation from zero to full-course completion, were selected in a purposive sample, meaning a random selection from those who were available.
The interviewer did many things to encourage teachers to open up, opposite to my Western no-frills methods. For example, she would spend, at times, 20 minutes in small talk, allow the respondent, when answering questions, to meander, and sometimes the interviews spanned more than one hour. I thought I was going to go crazy.
Dr. Douglas Tedford: But by the time the interviews began to be transcribed from Spanish into written Spanish, I realized the treasures that had been spoken. This chart shows the size of the four participation levels from which the purposive sample of five teachers from each level was chosen. I hope you’ll look at my research. Daily, interviews were transcribed in Spanish. The interviewer and the researcher who also speaks Spanish—myself—extracted key phrases from the transcriptions, recording them on color-coded cards matching the categories of the original research questions.
These cards were then reproduced into five sets for use in what’s called the Permanent Group Interview, PGI. It’s a community meeting which we set up in which the PRA designates that the community will interpret the findings based on the interview data. Uh, here’s a quick list of steps. You’ll find it also in my research, but it shows the steps that I’m describing to you right now. And here’s some of the shots of the actual meeting. You’ll notice I’m hard to find here, like a Where’s Waldo illustration. And I’m over there in the left corner wearing a blue shirt. You can hardly see me, and that’s the way it should be. Here, Vilman, a respected leader among the community is orienting 42 educators to the purpose of the study. Among the educators there are the interview participants.
No one in this local meeting revealed their identify—their identity as interview participants. Uh, this allowed all present to discuss the issues objectively and freer—free of the fear of sanction. Here, Vilman is explaining to the group the meaning of the word “prioritize.” It is an unclear concept in the Mayan languages. Each of the five randomly assigned groups approached the objective of prioritizing and synthesizing key interview responses in very different ways. Some pasted all the responses on their poster. Others were selective, and some derived and recorded their conclusions independently.
The researcher, while available for clarification upon request, never intervened in the organizational process which was led and managed by the local community of educators. The teacher base was relatively 50 percent male and 50 percent female; however, many female teachers tended to be assimilated Mayams, which they call ladinas—not Latinas, but ladinas—speaking Spanish and wearing Western-style clothing. They are favored for employment because of their knowledge of Spanish and because of their appearance. The employment of Mayan-speaking teachers who wear their traditional clothing is on the rise. Yet there is a significant intra-societal discrimination.
Only 14 years ago did they begin to be employed on an equal basis with the ladinas, and it’s still hard for them to get employment over a ladina-looking teacher. Here, Cruz, a teacher who lives in a small hut in the forest—no electricity, no running water—is taking the lead as a presenter for his group. He doesn’t even know how to address an envelope to send a letter. He was one of the teachers who participated for only a few class sessions because of his distance from the computer center. To get there, he had to lose work in a second job as a fieldworker, travel on the back of a flatbed truck two-and-a-half hours, and return to be picked up by 6 p.m. or have to sleep on the street that night and lose more work the next day.
The 42 educators determined the following findings, which are seen here, but I will tell you that family and ICT expert support, buying power, and proximity to ICT infrastructure were found to be prerequisites for sustained online teacher professional development. In other words, teachers who were the farthest away or who lacked any kind of infrastructure, not even having electricity, and who lacked family support or did not feel comfortable seeking expert help, were those that were least likely to succeed at participation.
I hope you will read the story because I filled it with interview excerpts which moved me, and I hope they will move you. While the findings cannot be generalized, this study can be replicated for both Guatemala and in Mexico’s Mayan populations. Governments are calling for local design and implementation of research which addresses problems identified by the community, and this study fulfilled that objective. Please go to http://www.frmt.org/. That’s http://www.frmt.org/.
That’s the Menchú foundation’s Web site, and look at its Campus Virtual. This is one of the many projects in development as a reaction by the community and the foundation due to this study, which employed the PRA as the basis for research. There are current products I hope that you can participate in, either as a choice for study or as an alternate form of social service, and I represent Rigoberta Menchú for a total of seven projects. Let me just explain. These are some key ones. Um, I want to continue to do on-site, twice-a-year training of English teachers in San Lucas Toliman.
You know, it’s been found in research that online learning on its own doesn’t work. There has to be a combination of face-to-face and online. Um, there’s another project which they would like to do, and maybe you’d like to participate with me, and that’s a three-to-five-year project to develop English-language teaching print and audio materials written by local Mayan authors so that it’s suitable for the community that—which will be addressed and used as teaching techniques with which they are already familiar. Um, seeking your collaboration as a volunteer to design an online environment in the FRMT’s Campus Virtual.
It’s a great opportunity, if there’s any—are there any ed tech students out there? Is there a few? Well, this is something you might like to get involved with. It’s a wonderful resume-builder, and you’ll do some fantastic service, and there’s a heavy need, and I can talk to you about it. And, um, of course we need support or referral to donors to provide universal connectivity and green laptops to teachers and students of San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala. This study also won an award from the Association for Education and Communication Technology as the best qualitative study this year, and I’m going to be presenting it in October. I am very proud to represent Walden University. I love this school. I love its purpose.
Dr. Douglas Tedford: It’s a powerful concept, and it really can make a major difference. So, thank you for your time, and now I’m going to open up this to questions, and I want you to just know that if you would like to stay in contact, please do. So I’ve got a couple questions, unless you have something else to address, and just to say, how might this approach, the participatory rural appraisal, help you to affect lasting social change in your area or anything else you’d like to talk about?
Dr. Molly Lauck: And so you have questions?
Sam: All right, um, Sam Husho from, um, from the School of Psychology, School of Psychology Studies, School Psychology. And I have noticed that you got very emotional and very passionate about this thing. And my question, actually, to you, is, um, before and after, how did this dissertation really change your outlook and perspective about this? Not just by what the results showed you but from what it showed you from inside. Do you see things differently about other views and other cultures? Not maybe in Guatemala but in other parts of the world.
Dr. Douglas Tedford: Well, it was very fulfilling because ever since I left Guatemala in the 1970s, I’ve tried to return as much as possible. I’ve worked as an editorial manager for McGraw-Hill. I returned to Guatemala. I returned to do a short study on my master’s degree. I always wanted to go back to Guatemala. But I always wanted to know, what makes an individual succeed when they feel oppressed? And these people are oppressed. When I was there in the ‘70s, you know what they made for 10 hours of work in the field? The equivalent of one dollar and a stack of tortillas. And it’s still pretty much the same. It’s like the feudal system. You see the people going off to the fields with their kids, who don’t go to school ‘cause they need the money, picking coffee berries or bananas with their families.
And they go off without shoes. They have nothing. And I want to know, what makes the difference to support success, supp—the human potential that’s there. And that’s why I became interested in social capital. I began to study it long before I got to the point to realize that it’s called for and had not been used as a medium for research. So it fulfilled something which now drives me. I left my job as research director of—education research director of, um, an agency which is federally funded in the United States. I was doing farm worker English and preschool programs for farm worker children in eight states.
I left that job September 4. We took a big risk and moved back to Mexico City and, um, we took a hit for it, but I really strongly believe there’s so much to do and there’s so many people out there ready to do it. It’s just a matter of collecting those forces together. There’s a person named Romo Rodriguez from Mexico. She’s a theorist who said that without the support of these different entities—intergovernmental private industry, foundations, and individuals—that no one would be able to bring online education to rural areas of Latin America. It has to happen, and it will happen. And I—I know that people are dedicated to different causes out there, but they can all make those things happen. And that’s why I did it, and that’s why I continue to do it. It’s now—this dissertation is my life’s work now.
David: Um, my name is David Ananibuergi. I’m from St. Louis, um, and I thank you for your presentation. I have a, just a little question for you. Um, you said you needed a support, and you made mention of a green laptop. Can you give me a clarification about the green laptop, please?
Dr. Douglas Tedford: Well, there’s a movement out there to bring solar-powered or hand-wound $100 laptops to communities in developing nation settings. We don’t hear a lot about it in the world of buying power because people don’t want us to know that there are cheap laptops available. But there’s a number of organizations, um, that are doing that, and my goal is to—one of my goals is to combine those sources with, um, economic funding. Oh, economic funding—with funding, sorry, uh, to create pockets of universal connectivity in Guatemala, other Mayan areas, other places, because what holds back use of the Internet and progress is buying power. Yeah.
David: Thank you.
Dr. Douglas Tedford: You’re welcome, sir.
John: My name is John Schauffhausen, and I’m with the D.B.A. students. Um, on the lines of the laptops or computers, I noticed you had a classroom of computers in there, um, what—what mostly looked like Dells. How did you get access to all of those computers? Were those donated, or were they something that you had to bring with you?
Dr. Douglas Tedford: Okay. Well, the foundation runs a school, uh, which was originally founded by Luciano Pavarotti. He died a year and a half ago—or almost two years ago—uh, but he was a key supporter of the Rigoberta Menchú Foundation. And the computers, there’s 21 computers in that room, donated by the city of Alcobendas, Spain, and also technically supported by the government of Taiwan. Those computers are there for use of the students. What the foundation did was open up the usage, free of charge, to my 34 teachers, and so that’s where those computers came from.
John: Now, do you feel you would have benefited your study more if you would have had a secondary location where you could have had the teachers just go to a place that they knew wasn’t associated with something or someone else, another entity, where they could go there freely without, um, without being monitored by whatever they would think as being—who’s monitoring them.
Dr. Douglas Tedford: Well, let me clarify before I tell you the second—the first part. No one feels uncomfortable about going to the Menchú Foundation’s school. They are there to make—to ease this transition out of a 40-year, extremely cruel civil war into helping, uh, the communities become productive and, uh, to realize their potential. They feel very comfortable in going there in general. Distance was a significant problem. So, yes, it would—and something we’re trying to work toward is looking at how to develop other sites, um, that could be fulfilling the same function. And it’s a very important point, so thank you.
John: One final question on that. Do you need computers, and do they have to be of certain vintage, of Pentium 3, Pentium 2, Pentium 4?
Dr. Douglas Tedford: Uh, I can work with you to go down there, and we will take the computers. The only thing they ask is, please, ‘cause they’ve had some bad experiences, don’t just send computers that are in parts or don’t work anymore. They don’t want them because they need to work with—with computers that are functionally, functionally. Um, they do not need the top-of-the-line, newest computers.
They do need to function, and they would be overwhelmed with joy, um, to have these, because, um—I can give you more details about that later. I’d like to talk to you.
John: Okay. Um, I have a nonprofit for donating computers.
Dr. Douglas Tedford: Um, I brought a bunch of—just, what was your name, sir?
John: My name is John Schauffhausen. Nonprofit is DOES-IT. It’s Distributing Opportunities and Education to Students Internationally Takes Time. DOES-IT.
Dr. Douglas Tedford: Fabulous. I’ll look for you right now.
Dr. Molly Lauck: All right, this is going to be our last question.
Dr. Douglas Tedford: And I—I brought cards with me also because I want to, uh, make contacts with anyone that would like to have any kind of involvement.
Dr. Molly Lauck: This is going to be our last question, okay?
Richard: Um, uh, Richard Velez. Um, I’m in the School of Public Health.
Dr. Douglas Tedford: Yes, sir.
Richard: Uh, first, just an observation. I want to thank both of you for renewing my faith and inspiration for the school of Walden.
Richard: I believe the two of you embody exactly what we’re all trying to become.
Dr. Douglas Tedford: Yes, sir.
Richard: The last thing is, is it possible to get a copy of your presentation with a voice-over so—I’m an educator also, and I would love to be able to show this to my children.
Dr. Douglas Tedford: Absolutely, sir. Um, I’m going to give you my card right after the meeting. Anybody else, uh, also or please contact me there, and I will send you any, absolutely any information you want. I will stay up and send it to you. So yes, sir, I will definitely send it to you.
Richard: Lastly, thank you for your passion.