Constellation of practice in e-learning research (Image from flickr) George Siemen’s post
about the role of blogs in teaching has prompted me to write something about the way we are planning to use blogs on a new course we are starting in February as part of our masters programme. The course is affectionately known as H809
(codes… it’s an OU thing….) or to give it its full title ‘Practice based research in educational technology’. The focus of the course is about researching with and about technologies. Rather than giving the students lots of content on research methodologies and how they are being used in e-learning and in studying the impact of technologies in education, we have decided to adopt a more innovative approach to the delivery of the course. We want the students to “experience” e-learning research, for them to become members of our research community. This fits very much with Wenger’s
Community of Practice ideas and his views on identity and constellations of practice. So instead of “dry content” and our views on what e-learning is about, we have designed the course around a series of seminal research papers which encapsulate some of the key features of e-learning research. We want the students to get a feel for the changing nature of e-learning as a research field, the predominant educational theories and perspectives which underpin it and examples of methodological innovation. But many of the students who are likely to take the course will be researchers or practitioners in the field themselves. So we want to ensure that we can capture and build very much on their expertise as well. Soooo to the role of blogs in the course. We will be asking each of the student to keep a reflective research blog as they work through the course and will be encouraging them to read and comment on each others blogs. We want them to experience the role of blogs in a research context and for them to reflect on their own views of how blogging offers a valuable, alternative communication channel for academic discourse. Hopefully they will find the experience rewarding and maybe even keep on blogging after the course has finished!