Margaret Farren M.Ed. Phd

School of Education Studies, Dublin City University

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eLife Connecting People Project

Dr. Margaret Farren and Ms. Yvonne Crotty. School of Education Studies, Dublin City University.

Summary

This project will build on 'The Development of an Enhanced Integrated Environment for E-learning within Moodle' which provided participants on the M.Sc eLearning with opportunities to access video clips of guest presentations and online tutorials on Moodle. The purpose of eLife Connecting People Project is to share the e-media accounts of practitioner-researchers on the M.Sc Education and Training Management (eLearning) as they ask, research and answer the question, 'how do I improve my practice?' (Whitehead, 1989, 2005). The strength of this action research project is its focus on how practitioners can improve practice and generate knowledge through an action research approach. The focus on the research standards is timely as the theme of the 2007 American Educational Research Association Conference was on educational quality and the appropriate criteria for evaluating the rigor and utility of research. In the UK, there are discussions in the British Educational Research Association about the educational standards used to judge practice based research.

Relevant project url: http://webpages.dcu.ie/~farrenm

Context

The focus of the eLife Connecting People Project is on the collaborative-dialogic approach to learning of the M.Sc eLearning programme. The text based accounts of learning already produced by practitioner-researchers will be extended by including digital video clips that emphasise the production of evidence based explanations of the processes of improving practice. This will necessitate visits to the student workplaces in order to record the student experience of the participants and how technology and action research approaches have contributed to their professional practice. The project relates to the DCU's Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Teaching and Learning Innovation Strategy ensuring that our teaching is informed by educational research and international best practices (p7) and linking to DCU's 'Leadership through Foresight' strategic plan which refers to the distinctive value of being collaborative and networked (p. 3) and highlighting the importance of lifelong learning (p. 7).

The e-media accounts of learning will be made available to a variety of audiences. The website will be made accessible and will illustrate the extended learning that has been synonymous with the ethos of the M.Sc. eLearning programme.

Implementation plan

In his writings on higher education, Barnett (2000) calls for a higher education that embraces knowledge, self-identity and action in its pedagogies (Barnett, 2000, p164). The project will involve pre-production, production and post-production of video clips of practitioner learning and their contribution to knowledge. The project will also involve the design and development of a website. Design issues such as accessibility and usability will also be addressed. Tiffin et al. (2003) point out that with more mature students going to university in order to upgrade their knowledge and skills, they will bring with them a wealth of practical knowledge from their own life and work experience, as problem solvers. It is important to recognise the existing knowledge and values that practitioners bring to practice.

Impact

The eLife Connecting People Project will provide e-media action research accounts/case studies on the effective use of e-learning and action research within the context of a post-graduate programme. Practitioners will demonstrate how they are improving practice and contributing to an 'epistemology of practice' (Schön, 1995). In this way, the knowledge base of professional practice will be brought into the public domain.The educational and scientific significance of this proposal is in showing how e-media representations of educational practices and accounts of learning can open up new possibilities for expressing and communicating living standards of judgment appropriate for practice based research. Participants will show how they define areas for improving learning, develop action plans, act, gather data, judge the learning and redefine the areas for improvement as part of their research enquiry.

The following action research reflection questions will be used to monitor our progress:

Action Reflection Cycles

  • What issues am I interested in researching?
  • Why do I want to research this issue?
  • What kind of evidence can I gather to show why I am interested in this issue?
  • What will I do about it?
  • What kind of evidence can I gather to show that I am having an influence?
  • How can I explain that influence?
  • How will I change my practice in light of evaluation?
  • What is the educational significance of my research?
    (McNiff and Whitehead, 2006)

Dissemination

The e-media accounts of learning will be made available through the 'eLife Connecting People Project' website. There is a debate about what counts as legitimate knowledge and how knowledge is produced. Shulman (2004) points out that scholarship is only a scholarship when we make our knowledge public to a community and share it with others in the community. The different forms of presentation (text and e-media accounts) will act as a resource for the wider research community in demonstrating how the use of technology can enable researchers to be connected, in communication, building on one another's work (Shulman, 2004).

References

Barnett, R. (2000). Realizing the University: in an Age of Supercomplexity. Bucks: Open University Press

Shulman, L. (2004). Teaching as Community Property : Essays on Higher Education San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Schön, D. (1995). 'Knowing-in-action: The New Scholarship requires a New Epistemology. Change, November/December, 1995. pp. 27-34.

McNiff, J. & Whitehead, J. (2006) All You Need To Know About Action Research. SAGE Publications. London.

Tiffin, J. and Rajasingham, L. (2003). The Global Virtual University. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Whitehead, J. (1989). Creating a Living Educational Theory from Questions of the Kind, How do I improve my Practice? British Educational Research Journal15. pp. 3-17.

Whitehead, J. (2005). How Can We Improve The Educational Influences Of Our Teacher-Researcher Quests? Keynote Presentation to the 12th International Conference of Teacher Research at McGill University. 16th April 2005. [WWW] Retrieved 10th July 2005 from http://www.jackwhitehead.com/ictr05/jwictr05key.htm

Last Updated on Saturday, 17 October 2009 21:31