This week we will explore:
- Delphi Technique;
- Online Delphi Study tools; and
- Delphi Studies in Research.
Researchers use the Delphi technique to create unique opportunities for experts to share knowledge which can be used to plan, forecast, and as a method for problem-solving in education. The method can be used to collect data from educational technology experts who make recommendations which can be used when creating educational technology plans.
Educational technology remains a difficult task for educators and policymakers. Attempts at implementing educational technologies have sometimes resulted in neither integration of educational technologies, nor increased student achievement. However, educators and policymakers recognise the potential of educational technology use in education to prepare students for further study and careers.
There are many educators and leaders who have experience implementing educational technologies at various levels and a consensus research approaches enable them to share their experience, understanding, and insight. Their unique perspectives and familiarity with past technology implementations enable them to work as experts in identifying strategies and recommendations which can be used to create new educational technology plans.
The purpose of the Delphi technique is to coordinate expert opinion for decision analysis. Developed by Rand Corporation for the United States Air Force, it was first used to study inter-continental warfare. Determined to be a reliable tool for analysis of technology and science trends, its use has expanded to business, government, and education. The Delphi technique is fundamentally a method of obtaining and organising the values of expert panellists to achieve consensus.
The three distinct features of the Delphi technique include: (a) the anonymity of the expert, (b) the structure of the feedback, and (c) the control of the data. Experts are defined as experienced professionals in a specific area, and their knowledge and expertise in that area is a critical component to the success of the research.
Experts in the same field can have different opinions and use of the Delphi technique can help sort through those views. A person’s participation as an expert in a Delphi study is unknown to the other panellists and all experts are asked not to share their contribution to the study with anyone during the study so that both panellists and non-panellists cannot advocate their opinions and influence participants. Preserving the anonymity of the experts is a procedure which creates an environment for participation which is unaffected by outside influences or dominant group members and ensuring anonymity in the setting gives each stakeholder an equal voice because each panellist can participate with equal input.
While there are many approaches to conducting Delphi studies, in once such a modified Delphi technique, the researcher creates the instrument for the panellists to review for Round 1. The first round begins when a researcher-created instrument is shared with the experts. The panellists rate each statement using a Likert scale using 1 to 4 where 4 is the highest value. The experts are invited to add comments which are added to the instrument and shared with the panellists. The mean scores for the statements and comments are shared after each round and the panellists may change their rating after reviewing the scores of each statement or comment. After three rounds of review, a pattern emerges from the collected data and the structured rounds and collection of experts’ comments create a controlled environment for developing consensus. The interquartile deviation of the data provides evidence of change and consensus and an organized method for reviewing the ratings of others ensures that each member’s contribution had equal value and this will be explored next week.
Collaboration is essential for generating ideas. However, interacting groups can be less productive when time limitations reduce the sharing of ideas or provide too many opportunities for a few members to share their thoughts and monopolize the conversation. The Delphi technique is democratic, and each participant has an equal voice and opportunity to share opinions. Using an online instrument to create an anonymous setting also represents a cost-cutting approach to committee work. There are no travel expenses, and the use of a researcher-created online instrument results in more efficient use of time. The confidential nature of the Delphi study requires that panellists do not discuss the statements during the study. The freedom to participate without fear of influence by others is central to the success of the research. The importance of continued participation and the need for confidentiality is emphasised during recruitment because it can affect the results of the study. Critics of the Delphi technique are concerned about the illusion of community building, and that consensus is achieved through the management of opinions until everyone is manipulated to consensus.
The method for identifying potential panellists is important. Educators who represent multiple levels of classroom experience, management, and policymakers can collaborate to discover solutions which improve educational technology integration. The results of current research studies and the feedback from experts can be used to create successful strategies for the implementation of educational technology innovations.
Delphi studies are reasonably common in education, particularly when identifying educational technology trends including the NMC Horizon Report series by the New Media Consortium, the Educause Learning Initiative, the Future of the Internet Report series by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and Elon University and the Top Teaching and Learning Challenges project by Educause. Panels of experts shared their knowledge to create policy, define terms, make decisions, and create predictions about the future of education technologies.
Online Delphi Studies Tools
There exists a range of online Delphi tools that can be used to help manage a Delphi study. In this course, you are using the AllOurIdeas tool, but other tools can manage more complex Delphi processes, particularly in supporting anonymous discussion of options, and that assist in the statistical analysis of the voting processes.
Delphi Studies in Research
The Green (2014) study explores the uses of the Delphi process in educational generally, and Nowrie (2011) study, the use in educational technologies research.
The Van Dyk Gibson (2016) study is not included in the quizzes, but can provide you with a detailed exploration of how a Dephi Study can be used to explore the implementation of educational technologies in K12, and be used as a technique in completing a research masters or PhD.