Month: November 2015

Phenomenology explained by the muppets

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Epistemology s the study of how we know or of what the rules for knowing are. But, assuming for a moment the stance of a postmodern writer how I see (my epistemology) must precede what I see (my ontology).

How I see shapes, frames, determines and – even creates what I see (Scheurich,1997) p29 that’s why we can talk about ‘beer goggles’ or ‘rose tinted glasses’!

For the postmodern researcher – textuality, fictionality and narrativity or story-telling are all dimensions of research. This may be illustrated through the novels of Umberto Eco (Usher, 1997).

Eco’s novels provide a metaphor for the epistemological quest that drives the modernist project, a quest for knowledge of deep underlying causes, for unitary meaning and the total explanation of phenomenon.

In Foucault’s Pendulum three protagonists though their work as publishers of esoterica, become intrigued by conspiracy through writings that purport to explain history in terms of a grand plan, cleverly hidden by its authors – the epistemological quest taken to its ultimate (and irrational) end. On the assumption that the more unlikely the connection made the more convincing the plot which ensues, they set out to devise a plan of their own using random compeer-generated associations. When the group committed to a conspiracy theory of history hears of the plan it proceeds to hunt them down for their hidden knowledge. the more they protest that there is no plan in reality, the more the group believe there is. They end up meeting bizarre deaths at the hands of this group for a knowledge which does not exist.

The story may offer some insight into the dis/connections between knowledge and power. It certainly questions the modernist separation. While the actual ‘plan’ is a nonsensical fiction – it is nonetheless extremely powerful in its effects in ways unplanned, unpredicted and undesired by the protagonists. Might it be that ‘knowledge’ which claims to explain the world in terms of deep structures and underlying meaning is dangerous and must be treated with caution lest it overwhelms those who create it and those who become subject to it?

Insight is more meaningful than the mastery of understanding.

McKenzie, G. W., Powell, J., & Usher, R. (1997). Understanding social research: perspectives on methodology and practice (No. 16). Psychology Press.



The postmodern researcher as a naked deep-sea diver

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The talented @jaxbartram has been at it again! This one made me smile even more than most.

And I have just spent an evening trying to locate a reference that seems determined to slip through my fingers. But, I couldn’t let this tweet (and image) pass by without comment.

It is possible to undertake research with an open enquiring and creative mind unencumbered by the methodological paraphernalia that can tie you down.  Your purpose – as a researcher – is to explore every possibility, to follow what seems interesting and intriguing, and to work out what’s going on.  This task is made easier when you are free, light footed and able to follow which ever line of flight seems to point in the right direction. The ‘paradigm’ weighs you down with a list  ‘do this and don’t do that’.  To do good research, we don’t need method or paradigms.

‘If the purpose of educational research is to understand education, we don’t really need methods, all we need is good social theory, good intentions and deep hanging out.

Madison p49

The invitation then is to imagine yourself a deep-sea diver. A naked deep-sea diver. One who gets down there and gets on with it.  Deep hanging out and it doesn’t get much deeper than the coral reef.

I’d really like to find out whose metaphor this is but a comprehensive google search, followed up with a trawl through sage research methods online, accompanied by a physical search of the books on my shelves and I have found – nothing. 

Maybe I mis-remembered it, dreamt it or made it up!

My mini booklist for digital methodologies – more or less

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Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (Eds.). (2010). Ubiquitous learning. University of Illinois press.

Bauman, Z. (1993). Postmodern ethics.Blackwell Publishing Ltd*

Barton, D., & Lee, C. (2013). Language online: investigating digital texts and practices. Routledge.

Hesse-Biber, S. N., & Leavy, P. (Eds.). (2010). Handbook of emergent methods. Guilford Press.*

Hine, C. (2000). Virtual ethnography. Sage.

Hine, C. (2015). Ethnography for the Internet: Embedded, Embodied and Everyday. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Horst, H. A., & Miller, D. (Eds.). (2013). Digital anthropology. A&C Black.

Kozinets, R. V. (2010). Netnography. John Wiley & Sons, Inc..

Paulus, T., Lester, J., & Dempster, P. (2013). Digital tools for qualitative research. Sage.

The second principle of digital anthropology:

digital anthropology will be insightful to the degree that it reveals the mediated and framed nature of the nondigital world. Digital anthropology fails to the degree it makes the nondigital world appear in retrospect as unmediated and unframed. We are not more mediated simply because we are not more cultural than we were before. One of the reasons digital studies have often taken quite the opposite course has been the continued use of the term virtual, with its implied contrast with the real.

As Boellstorff makes clear, online worlds are simply another arena, alongside offline worlds, for expressive practice, and there is no reason to privilege one over the other. Overtime we use the word real analytically as oppose to colloquially , we undermine the project of digital anthropology, fetishising predigital culture as a site of retained authenticity.

Miller & Horst (2012) p13

*these books are nothing to do with the digital, but I just liked them so added them to the picture.

This does not pretend to be anything that even approaches a definitive or even comprehensive list. Its just a starting point based on what I had on my shelves at the time to taking the picture.

Academic respect and appreciation

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academic star

By @REFITClass

To be respected and admired is priceless and we all have our own opinions of what it takes to earn respect and be admired. Last weekend I was immersed in an ever growing database of thought provoking book chapters and research papers that provide knowledge, raising questions in my mind about learning technologies and ethical implications. As I close the 4th chapter about ethical decision making in the book ‘Virtual worlds for online learning’ by Delgarno et al (2015) and tag it in my newly created ‘diigo’ library, I am so pleasantly surprised by a series of notifications to my twitter feed.

Within 24 hours of sharing my admiration for a fellow researcher online I receive her recognition of my admiration! How epic! Ultimate respect goes to Lisa M Blaschke, the author of a study on social media and heutagogy (2014) that I was engrossed in this weekend; her acknowledgement to my twitter account has left such a lasting positive impression on me and cements the huge respect and admiration I have for myself and others! It is the little acts in our ever changing, real time and tiny world that provides immense motivation to academic stars.

Heutagogy – the continuum

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heutagogy             heutagogy connections

By @REFITClass

A eureka ‘I didn’t know that!’ moment stems from my analysis of an article read from the journal of research in learning technologies by German researcher Lisa Blaschke (2014). On first thoughts it is a fantastic study that raises many questions as I critique the ethical implications here…However I slightly digress towards another inference that social media indirectly enhances Heutagogy…the act of self determined learning.

As I refer to social media posts on the concept and issue I reflect and raise a thought: due to a vast series of posts there seems to be a continuum between pedagogy and heutagogy …I discover a whole blog site devoted to heutagogy and the more I read the greater I reflect on what it is to be a good educator. I believe heutagogical practice should be common practice! It has always been common in my own practice as a clinician, educator and social being before I even discovered this word!
But then I critique the thoughts…I also summise that heutagogical practice goes hand in hand with self motivation…In my life to date, I have come to realise that my self motivation is higher than ‘the average’…not fully sure why but perhaps background, life experiences, natural questioning persona, desire in furthering self development and a natural wish to be ‘different’ are sure key factors for to self-motivation.
Does everyone wish to be different? Aren’t we different by natural design? Does a key to fostering creativity lie in developing motivation in a heutagogical fashion? Lots of questions, not many absolute answers! Are there meant to be? I will continue to research and educate ‘heutagogically’!