Thursday, 19 April 2007

Do you like your learning in lumps or as a journey?

We've spent a lot of time discussing the structure of the course. We want students to engage in the questions How is ICT in education researched? And How is technology changing the way educational research is conducted? But what is the best way into these questions?

The "learning object" approach has been fashionable in online courses in recent years. For research methods courses, meanwhile, a "foundations - paradigms - techniques" kind of narrative approach has become fairly traditional.

But this is a practice-based course, and the "practice" is that of researching with and about ICT. So we think an approach based on the critical study of original empirical research might offer a refreshing alternative pedagogy.

In this "spiral structure" (inspired by Bruner), you journey through a sequence of readings and activities, with key themes being revisited at a progressively higher level of sophistication each time.

The course themes are:

  • epistemological issues
  • theoretical frameworks
  • the changing nature of research
  • ethics and unintended consequences
  • relationships between research, policy & practice

Perhaps this spiral approach makes it a harder job all round: you have to read original research papers rather than a finely sieved narrative; and we need to create materials and activities to help you to read each research paper critically, while simultaneously drawing out these themes.

But we think it's worth it for the benefits of getting you engaged in the reality of actual research literature from the start, set in their original context, without the predefined filters of an artificially-generated "grand narrative". Of course such narratives have their place...