The spring 2005 edition of the Journal of Research on Technology in Education (JRTE) issued a call for a proactive approach to a research agenda in educational technology. This position paper was collaboratively authored by the editors of six educational technology journals working together under the auspices of the National Technology Leadership Coalition (NTLC). (Editor's note: URLs for all Web sites are located in the Resources section at the end of this editorial.)
This call for a proactive approach was prompted by widespread acknowledgment that a more organized and persuasive body of evidence on the benefits of digital technologies in schools is needed. A subsequent editorial by the NTLC editors in the CITE Journal concluded, "Our most pressing objective is to identify how we can assist the coming generation of young researchers in carrying out research that is needed, relevant, rigorous, and influential in the formulation of educational policies in schools" (Schrum et al., 2005)
Establishment of an Early Career Mentoring Network to facilitate this effort was suggested as one strategy to address this need. It was envisioned that this effort would combine collaborative technologies such as shared audio and video conferencing, shared Web logs (blogs), social book marks, and RSS syndication, with related activities such as "fireside chats" with leaders in the field at associated professional meetings. The objective is to provide a venue for dialog and debate among editors, teacher educator leaders, and, most importantly, researchers in the beginning stages of their educational technology careers.
Consequently, the establishment of the Early Career Mentoring Network is now under way. At the same time, there is a parallel effort sponsored by the SITE Research Committee to collaborate with peer teacher educator associations representing the core content areas to identify the most pressing issues related to technology in each discipline. The outcome of these efforts will thus represent the intersection of editors, content associations, and young researchers regarding research agendas needed to advance the field.
ORIGINS OF AN EARLY CAREER MENTORING NETWORK
The elements of an Early Career Mentoring Network combine a series of convergent activities. This effort originated in a keynote panel at the SITE 2005 conference, "Establishing a Proactive Research Agenda for Educational Technology," chaired by Lynne Schrum. This was followed by subsequent panels at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference and at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC). This series of panels provided a venue for dialog and debate among the NTLC editors and young researchers at the beginnings of their careers.
The NTLC editors discussed conclusions stemming from this series of findings at the National Technology Leadership Summit (www.NTLS.info) in fall 2005. Some of the conclusions are summarized in an editorial in the previous issue of the CITE Journal, "Advancing the Field: Considering Acceptable Evidence in Educational Technology Research" (Schrum et al., 2005), including recommendations for establishing a mentor network.
KEY RESEARCH ISSUES
The twin goals of a mentor network are to facilitate the careers of the next generation of researchers while at the same time advancing the research agenda judged critical by representatives and partners from the 10 NTLC educational associations. The SITE Research Committee working in concert with representatives from the technology committees of the teacher educator associations representing the core content areas launched an initiative to identify key research issues related to technology in each discipline.
An overview of these deliberations will be published in the May 2006 issue of Learning and Leading with Technology. More detailed discussion will be published in subsequent issues of the CITE Journal and other NTLC journals. …