Foundational Research

Foundational and background research

Quick links to outputs

  1. Results of research into online knowledge production task (underway)
  2. Results of research into educational issues (underway)
  3. Results of research into current practice (not yet commenced)
  4. Results of research into concepts from Internet research (not yet commenced)

Research I - Online knowledge technologies and techniques for learning

(sites, services, technologies, uses)

Ted Mitew
The first research task involves research to support the goal of Making online knowledge production the central activity in student learning. For the purposes of this research, ‘online knowledge production’ is taken to mean a variety of publications and other activities which are publicly available either with or without moderation. For example, students writing articles for Wikipedia as part of their studies is a task of this kind.

  1. Primarily the research involves gathering examples of what other academics are doing, looking at both exact parallels and analogies. The emphasis should be both on what is being done, but also be very conscious of looking for the way educators explain what they do, theorise it and explore the relationship between the doing of this kind of task, the learning goals, and the way it is assessed. This links to task II below.
  2. The research will also involve finding appropriate places for real-world contribution, as well as some mechanism for keeping track of all of this. There is a need to focus on both ‘commenting’ type places (forums and communities) and also publications places - so that students' online knowledge contribution is not just originating info, but also participating in discourse. To some extent this research needs to be mindful of the impact if students start using them; how official / public are they? Issues here of media-similarity – ie are the online magazines, or more like Slashdot – new media forms?
  3. The research will finally involve consideration of and assessment of the actual technologies that we might use – a massive undertaking, I suspect, but at least the research will generate a large group of such technologies, sites and services, and then assess some of them. The task here is quite pragmatic – lots of record keeping, and quick assessing of technologies.

The research assistant doing this work will not be involved in assessing the final quality, meaning, use of all of this material. He will find, organise and present the results to the lead researcher. There may be followup work exploring selected sites and material in more detail. There will be limited if any attempt to look at peer reviewed and printed materials - the focus is online and publicly available.

Results of research into online knowledge production task


Research II - Educational issues

(assessment, participation, authentic assessment, portfolios)

Mike Kent
The second research task should commence broadly, attempting to survey the field to see what has been written about the particular issues that emerge in assessing online learning participation (not, here, including examination, essays etc – limited solely to that component of online learning which equates to ‘participation’ in on-campus settings and, if they exist, any parallels in relation to ‘real-world knowledge production’). Key questions that will emerge from this research are reflected in the focus areas. The aim of the research is to identify both the foundations and practices: that is, the conceptual basis that will determine how and why to do this; and on examples of it actually being done.

For the purposes of this research, ‘participation’ is taken to include both the private (intra-learning community) and public (external networks of knowledge) contributions that students will make. With reference to the first research task, online knowledge production, one can see how assessing effectively those public contributions will be vital. Online learning is not the only focus however: can we learn, by analogy, from how filmmakers assess the 'doing' of filmmaking? Also, can we learn by analogy how to assess the participation of students in classes? Critically, this part of the research addresses the key component of the project: Defining and understanding assessment of participation in online learning

The research will move from broad survey to focus on the question of how students can be advised to create a ‘portfolio’ that captures their experiences in an exemplary, rather than comprehensive, fashion. It should also focus on the manner in which students can be prompted to reflect effectively on this experience and express this reflection in an assessable manner. It should focus on the particular issues (is it assessable? Formative or summative? Relationship of assessment to learning outcomes) that will guide our comprehension of what we are trying to achieve. Care needs to be taken not to focus overly on ‘participation in online discussion’, though that is an essential component – both because it will be part of the assessment tasks and also because it might contain clues for the different assessment – of real-world contribution.

Most of this research will involve reviewing journals, conference proceedings, books, and online materials with an emphasis on key concepts and examples. Obvious reference points are ERIC and Proquest-Education databases. It should not stray too much into online, non-peer reviewed material which is being covered in (I) above.

Results of research into educational issues


Research III - Current practices and perspectives from network educators

Matthew Allen and Elaine Tay

Through a series of workshops and interviews, information will be gathered about the current practices and perspectives of university academics engaged in online learning and the use of similar techniques to those being developed through this project.

It is planned to hold workshops in several cities in Australia and at 2-3 international conferences. It is planned to informally interview reference network members, other key academics, and staff in Internet Studies at Curtin.

Results of research into current practice


Research IV - Key concepts

(Web presence, Knowledge Networking)

Matthew Allen and ???
Commencing shortly after the completion of Task I, there will be additional research into the broader question of 'web presence', which is a central component of the way the project is going to work out in practice (though this aspect is not detailed in the project brief). It is increasingly clear that the notion of ‘web presence’ underpins significant components of the ‘real-world’ knowledge production and the development of a portfolio based approach. Web presence also includes consideration of knowledge networking.

This research is largely literature-driven and conceptual in nature.

Results of research into concepts from Internet research

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