So close and so far away

It has been some time that I haven’t been able to write in my blog, although I have been writing so much in my private space.
I have been working very hard in my research design (the image above is the result of that work) which is about all the logistics that I need to follow to connect my findings to the research question. It provides also a blueprint for success 🙂 It guides the process of finding the evidence or the data that will possibly answer the research questions. I also have been thinking about fare ways to invite students to participate in the project not using or taking advantage of my position of lecturer. I already have green light to address them in the core modules discussion time. I am thinking and writing about the benefits students will take advantage of when taking part of this study. I had a good conversation with my former external supervisor Jan van Maanen, a Dutch mathematician, teacher and historian. His advice was very dutch: think about having fun and providing them with time afterwards to have good conversations and a nice snack with drinks. So we decided to call it “the week summit”, I have thought to organise the activities near the end of the week in the student union launch in order to work first and then chill and enjoy the rest of the evening.

We coincide in using the summit in an arithmetic way –> sum-it a sum of activities that will bring us to know more about how students would like to be involved in re-shaping their own informal personal learning space which is the aim of the second phase of the project.

So my design research, the blueprint version 1.1 is ready to go and the idea is to brake my study in two phases. Phase 1 is about mapping students’ current digital practice. Understanding what motivates them when engaging in the Web with different platforms and tools in formal and informal settings. To explore their expectations, views, fears, anxieties in relation to their digital experience within the university and also when they are working from elsewhere.  My potential participants are going to be y-1, y-2 and y-3 students in educational studies, many of which are then taking the PGCE -postgraduate certificate in education-.

The methods I am using are:

  • focus group to start the conversation with students in relation to their experience and expectations,
  • the V+R continuum  approach which will give me an idea of what motivates students to engage in the Web both, in formal and informal settings and how does their informal digital space looks like
  • the day experience adapted by Dr. Mathew Riddle and Michael Arnold (university of Cambridge and Melborune respectively). It was inspired by social and behavioural science methodologies including the Experience Sampling Method (Hektner et al, 2006, Intille et al, 2003), the Day Reconstruction Method (Kahneman et al, 2004) and work on Cultural Probes (Gaver et al, 1999, Arnold, 2004).  The day experience was used on the Learning Landscape Project at the University of Cambridge in 2007. The method is attempt to reduce recall distortion and the ideological biases of other sampling methods such as interviews, surveys and focus groups. It can record temporal and situational information in qualitative and quantitative detail, and may be extended to a longer period if needed. The authors suggest It is particularly suited to those who wish to use a novel qualitative method to examine every day life situations.
  • An online survey

The aim of phase 1 is to capture how are students engaging with the Web, what platforms and tools do they use and for what purpose. Explore into their digital habits. Other aspects to explore are the views, expectations, vision, fears, needs and blocks students have in relation to the digital world and their experience in formal and informal settings. For that I am using Jisc’s cards and posters, both are already tested by other researchers and they seem to work well for starting a fruitful conversation about the topic.

One of the things I am also interested is how can the university digital literacy policy and culture include students’ informal digital habits and in doing so look at ways the university can match students’ digital literacy expectations where possible. Once all this data is collected it will be analyzed looking at what digital skills are revealed and what digital habits emerge. It will provide the study with a comprehensive view, a typology of students in relation to their digital literacies.

I am not only interested in the term “digital literacies” but also in “web literacy” which is an initiative of Mozilla Firefox in order to provide people with tools that will allow people have a proactive and informed attitude towards the web, teaching them the necessary skills to read, write and participate in the Web. How I will integrate both terms, digital and web I am still not sure. Intellectual work that needs to be done but what is clear to me is that both complement very well.


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