Networked Learning Conference Take-Aways

Almost a week has passed since the 7th International Networked Learning Conference, and I find that I am beginning to make sense and process my experience. There are 3 items I have so far been able to process:

  1. There is a lot of research still to be done in the area of (virtual / digital) identity development and how that relates to communties of practice, which is something I will continue to explore as I approach my doctoral research proposal. The paper I presented, Autoethnographer Communities of Practice, is here until they make it available on the website, and I am planning to take some of the comments I received, as well as what I learned, and continue to develop these ideas.
  2. The area of Networked Learning is still under development, which is clear from Grainne Conole’s work in the Hot Seat before the event (her white paper is here), as well as her ongoing work and comments through the conference.  She quoted Goodyear, Banks, Hodgson & McConnell (2004) for a working definition of Networked Learning — learning in which ICT is used to promote connections: between one learner and other learners; between learners and tutors; between a learning community and its learning resources. As this is somewhat different than a traditional educational technology or learning technology program / usage (at least in the US), and as it is the focus of my eTEL program at Lancaster University, I see a tremendous amount of research opportunities here. These connections flow naturally with Wenger‘s work in Communities of Practice, and with my interests in making sense of our experiences, I see a lot of work and exploration ahead.
  3. Part of this networked learning involves working with the network of researchers and learners, and maintaining some of the wonderful connections I have made is the next tangible step I plan to do.

What a great conference. Interesting that I have not found anything like this in the US; glad I realized at this point in my studies and research that there is an entire world or scholarship on practice out there, and as networks have no borders, neither should I.

Research Interests Thus Far

As I am sitting in one of the lounges in the airport, awaiting my trip to the university for the residential, I want to write a bit more about my research ideas thus far as we were asked to do for a discussion this coming week.

Let’s take the first round at this, and revise a bit more tomorrow while en route:

Interests and Context:

I am interested in issues of identity, and how people experience and process transformative (cf. Mezirow) changes in the learning. I am interested in when these things happen within the context of online communities (cf. Wenger), especially when navigating identity while engaged in adult or higher education. I am really interested in exploring threshold concepts (cf. Land). I am not  sure how I may work critical theory (cf. Brookfield, Marcuse, Gramsci) or Postmodernity / post-structuralism (cEdit Post ‹ Silence and Voice — WordPressf. Lyotard, Foucault) in, though I can envision this being the theoretical lens.


I know I need to firm up the above before I speak about methodological implications and possibilities, though after having enaged in case study, narrative inquiry, and ethnography over the past year in the 3 completed modules (with a heavy area of study being around autoethnography and how people experience it / reflective practice), I think the sky can be the limit (though action learning is probably not among the possiblities right now, since I am so interested in the experiences of individuals).

Oh, to have so many juicy options!

Research Interests for the Residential Next Week

researchI am traveling to England on Sunday for my residential at Lancaster University, and the focus this year is on the methodologies and ideas for the upcoming doctoral thesis (doctoral dissertation in the US) that we hope to begin after the next year of coursework.

One of the assignments we have for next week is a welcome one — we should consider our research interests and prepare a 5 minute presentation to discuss them, their context, and possible methodology. While none of this will be set in stone, it will be the first time we have discussed this together with our cohort.

I have been thinking about this, and believe I will develop this here on my blog over the next few days. I have some ideas, though need to reflect on to process them and determine how I can move forward . . .

Interview Progress for Public Transformations Research

With so many generous participants offering to assist me with my research project, Public Transformations: Adult Learners Who Use Social Media to Express and Understand Their Identities as Developing Researchers, I want to provide a brief update as to where I am with all this.

I have thus far completed 6 interviews (I initially planned for 3), have one more confirmed, and am trying to coordinate 2 additional ones. I will collect far more experiences (data, in research terms) than I need for this course project, and hope this helps me understand the topic more completely, perhaps to assist with my dissertation (thesis, in UK parlance) direction for next year, a research paper I am already formulating, and some really valuable findings to better understand how this all fits together. With so many wonderful people out there willing to open their lives and meaning making to me, I want my work to benefit our community of learners and educators as well.

Next, continue with the transcription steps . . .

Invitation to Participate in a Research Study

As I just received ethical approval for my research study (for one of the modules in my doctoral program at Lancaster University), I want to list the specifics here and begin to look for potential participants. Please let me know if you are wish to volunteer to be a potential interviewee or want to speak about this / get more information. I have a formal research consent form with some additional information. 

I hope to have 3 participants, and will hope to have the interview by the second week of January.

Name of Project:

Public Transformations: Adult Learners Who Use Social Media to Express and Understand Their Identities as Developing Researchers

Dear Potential Participant:

I want to invite you to take part in a research study which is part of my doctoral studies in the Centre for Studies in Advanced Learning Technology (CSALT), Department of Educational Research at Lancaster University. You should understand why the research is being done, and what it will involve for you. Please read the following carefully and decide if you wish to take part. Ask me if there is anything that is not clear or if you want more information.

What is the Purpose of the Study?

The purpose of this study is to explore how people develop as researchers while using social media tools to engage in reflexivity, self-expression, feedback, and collaboration. I am especially interested in knowing how learners make sense of their experiences when they believe they learn something significant that helps them see things in a different way.

Why have I been Invited?

You are invited to participate in this research because you are (or were) an adult learner who communicated with others about your graduate or doctoral research experiences via social media (e.g., via a blog, microblog such as Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

What will Taking Part Involve for Me?

I will conduct one interview, on the phone or via an online conference service, for approximately 60 minutes. The interview will be recorded and the transcript sent to you for your review and edits. The audio recording and transcript of our discussion will be safely stored on my password-protected computer, as will your contact information. The data from this study will be used in the completion of course work in my doctoral programme, and it may also be included in my doctoral thesis, published, or presented at conferences. To safeguard your confidentiality and anonymity, you will be given a pseudonym, and all identifying information, such as the institution or department to which you belong, will be removed. You may withdraw from the study for any reason and at any time. If you withdraw from the study, any data that you have contributed will be destroyed.