Friday, March 2, 2007

Research methods

At the moment I am thinking about research methods that could capture the new developments in technology. I am especially interested in personalisation and 'free-roaming' across Internet networks. If students have more control over their learning and move outside the formal educational setting, it will be much harder to track their 'knowledge creation'.

I am thinking of using Social Network Analysis techniques to analyse what actually happens in networks. How easy/hard is it to be accepted in a network and to learn from people and information flows in networks? How important is the communication that takes place? Is 'parallel learning' as mentioned by George Siemens on his connectivism blog at all possible, or as Bill Kerr post in his learningevolves blog, do people advocating 'connectivism' take their thinking too far and deny the importance of the individual and the learning that occurs inside their heads? How dense are these networks and how diverse are the participants?

I am also considering the use of integrated design research frameworks, as advocated by Terry Anderson' at the 'Connectivism' conference, to see if they would capture all aspects of an intervention to move to a more negotiated, personalised online learning experience. As I am most interested in the learner experience, I am not convinced that such a structured approach would be suited to research educational processes as they are usually 'too messy' as researcher, tutor, learner, design and context all interact. This might mean that an ethnographic approach would work better to capture all the connections.

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