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Research in Practice

February 3rd, 2009 by Graham Attwell

With the proliferation of feature rich social software, the choice of tools is a frequent conversation when talking about teaching and learning. There has been less attention paid to the use of social software for research. So much so that I frequently find that even researchers in Technology Enhanced Learning are not using – or even aware of – basic tools like Skype and Video conferencing for communication and collaboration.
Why should this be so? It seems to me that excepting explicitly collaborative projects – such as those funded by the European Commission – most research is trundling on in a traditional way – individual offices, individual researchers, small geographically based research teams, papers in refereed journals, dissertation defences etc.
Maybe such traditions are good. Perhaps they promote research values and scholarly endeavour. But I think it would be worth re-looking at some of these traditions and considering how the changing practices in teaching and learning – and particularly the use of technology based tools for collaboration – might impact on how we undertake research in practice.

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2 Responses to “Research in Practice”

  1. Frances Bell says:

    Graham,
    There may be an explanation for this. Many people I know use Skype, etc. as everyday desktop tools. 5 or 10 years ago, a video-conferencing system would have merited attention in a project proposal/ report on account of the resource needed to fund it. Now that need does not arise as the tools are ‘free’. Some projects will mention tools that still need funding e.g. JISc Emerge and Elluminate.

  2. I have another take what you are saying there… and it might be this is not the right interpretation, but I think these are great tools to help one in his/her research, without them ( the social software tools) being necessarily the focus of the research.
    We have come a long way when it comes to use social software, and researching about it, but we still haven’t been able to innovate in the ways we carry out that research and especially how we present it. We still go back to the old technology: printed press.
    And now I will be focusing more on my reality as a PhD student.
    I am thinking it would be cool to be able to present my dissertation in a different way rather than the usual ‘stack of paper’ we need to present the jury with. Why can’t I make a movie instead? Why can’t the researchers’ field notes be a blog, and such evidence be presented as such, instead of having to transcribe it then later to a word document? Why can’t a doctoral research also be an interdisciplinary, collaborative project where people from different disciplines could look at the same phenomenon through the lens of the area they belong to?

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