Digital Methodologies in Educational Research Conference
This week unfortunately I have not had a great deal of time for ocTEL but I did attend the webinar and played with some of the OER resource websites. One of the reasons I have been busy is that I attended and presented at the Digital Methodologies in Educational Research Conference which was held in Preston on 10th May. As the theme of the conference very much fits in with the ocTEL themes, I thought I would write a blog post about some of the presentations, while it is all still fresh in my mind.
The conference was held in the Brockholes Nature Reserve near Preston, which was a lovely location for a conference. The conference centre was located in a building surrounded by water, with a lot of bird life around, it is just a shame that the weather was dreadful.
First up was Paul Seedhouse from Newcastle University talking about the French Digital Kitchen and European Digital Kitchen. These projects were set up to teach language skills with the additional advantage of the students acquiring cooking skills. The idea was to teach language skill in a more authentic setting than a classroom. The kitchen was fully equipped with technology to help the students who had to follow recipes in the language they were learning. They were paired up to support peer learning, and could use the technology provided to translate things they did not understand. The utensils they used were all fitted with technology that detected movement in a similar way to wii controllers, so it can be checked that the students were carrying out the correction movements. It is not a technology intervention that others could repeat elsewhere due to the heavy investment needed but was interesting none the less.
Second up was Jeff Bezemer taking about using multimodal framework in educational research. This is something I hadn’t come across before but looks really useful. Its focuses on capturing at all the different modes in the research context, such as audio, speech, images, dress, gesture, gaze, etc and very importantly how these inter-relate. The situation being researched is usually videoed so that all the modes can be captured and later analysed in minute detail. He had applied the framework to research in primary school teaching and operating theatre contexts. He used a software package called Elan to analyse the data, which is time-line based so all the different modes can be examined in relation to each other and when they occurred. The rationale behind using this framework is to make visible/explicit the unspoken, so to explore and identify the tacit/embodied knowledge in the given context.
Next up was Stephen Bax from Bedford University speaking about a project which used eye-tracking software to track how language students read some text to answer questions in an exam. This was fascinating. The students had to locate the answers to questions in the text which was set in their second language. The software could show the order of the elements on the screen that the students focussed on, and the length of time their eyes were fixed on certain places on the screen. The object of the exercise was to compare how successful students read compared to those less successful. The results showed that successful students did have a reading strategy but that the strategies used were very varied, so they all read the text in different ways e.g. some would read the whole text first then look at the questions, other would read the questions through first and then look for answers in the text. The less successful students seemed to have less of a strategy and looked around the screen a great deal, moving forwards and backwards. It was really interesting, and you could see the application to other research projects.
Next were myself and Liz Bennett from the University of Huddersfield and our presentation was about the use of digital tools to support the doctoral process. We particularly focused on the use of social media and Web 2.0 tools and their impact on identity. We argued that use of these tools can be both enhancing and exposing, and these feelings are amplified because of the widespread audiences they reach. We theorised our experiences in terms of the notions of liminality and hybridised identity.
I had to leave the conference after our paper to travel back, but I was sorry to miss Cedric Sarre speak about social network analysis and also the closing keynote which was Stephen Downs via video conference from Canada.
So overall a good conference with some really interesting presentations