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Journal Article

Moving Outside the Box: Researching e‑Learning in Disruptive Times  pp59-69

Paula Charbonneau-Gowdy

© Apr 2017 Volume 15 Issue 1, Editor: Robert Ramberg, pp1 - 103

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The rise of technology’s influence in a cross‑section of fields within formal education, not to mention in the broader social world, has given rise to new forms in the way we view learning, i.e. what constitutes valid knowledge and how we arrive at that knowledge. Some scholars have claimed that technology is but a tool to support the meaning‑making that lies at the root of knowledge production while others argue that technology is increasingly and inextricably intertwined not just with knowledge construction but with changes to knowledge makers themselves. Regardless which side one stands in this growing debate, it is difficult to deny that the processes we use to research learning supported by technology in order to understand these growing intricacies, have profound implications. In this paper, my aim is to argue and defend a call in the research on ICT for a critical reflective approach to researching technology use. Using examples from qualitative research in e‑learning I have conducted on three continents over 15 years, and in diverse educational contexts, I seek to unravel the means and justification for research approaches that can lead to closing the gap between research and practice. These studies combined with those from a cross‑disciplinary array of fields support the promotion of a research paradigm that examines the socio‑cultural contexts of learning with ICT, at a time that coincides with technology becoming a social networking facilitator. Beyond the examples and justification of the merits and power of qualitative research to uncover the stories that matter in these socially embodied e‑learning contexts, I discuss the methodologically and ethically charged decisions using emerging affordances of technology for analyzing and representing results, including visual ethnography. The implications both for the consumers and producers of research of moving outside the box of established research practices are yet unfathomable but exciting.


Keywords: qualitative research, socio-cultural contexts, ethical issues, critical theory, visual ethnography


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Journal Issue

Volume 15 Issue 1 / Apr 2017  pp1‑103

Editor: Robert Ramberg

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Keywords: academic staff, attitudes, clinical education, communication, communities, competencies, courses, critical theory, decision-making, Distance learning, e-learning, e-learning projects, e-learning research, E-Learning team, ethical issues, ethnography, expectations, formative e-assessment, Foucault, gaps, health promotion, learning analytics, major project issues, mathematics, Mobile eye tracking methods, motivation, motivation to learn, motivational gap, new model, online distance learning, pedagogy, perception bias, power, pre-course, qualitative research, quality, quality indicators, quality of e-learning, research methodology, satisfaction, service, socio-cultural contexts, staff development, STEM, technology, theory development, training management, training motivation, visitor studies, visual ethnography


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