Research Practices on the Web in the Field of Technology Enhanced Learning

Last week, I attended Websci’11, the 3rd International Conference on Web Science. It was a great experience to engage with such a diverse crowd; there were people from computer science, information science, social science, psychology, philosophy (and some others that I probably missed here) representing many different aspects from this multi-disciplinary field. I am still not done with going through my notes, reflecting on all the interesting things that I have learned. Koblenz itself was very welcoming to us as well: we had the pleasure to watch the lunar eclipse while sitting on the banks of the Rhine.

Our contribution to the conference was a poster on Science 2.0 practices in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), originating from our research in the STELLAR Network of Excellence. You can get a full sized version of the poster by clicking on the image below.

For this study, we conducted two focus groups to find out about research practices in TEL, and how they are supported by Web 2.0. You can read the accompanying paper here. In a nutshell, we asked people to list their daily tasks and duties in a classification form of their choice. Afterwards, we discussed the most interesting tasks and duties with regards to Web 2.0. In the analysis, we aggregated the results to model a map of the TEL research process. Then we identified the mentioned practices and assigned them to the process steps. Furthermore, we deduced strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats from the discussion. As the main conclusion, we found that in the early stage (“design phase”) and in the late stage (“publication phase”), researchers are very well supported. This is not the case in those process steps where the actual work is being done (i.e. “development”, “implementation”, and “evaluation”).

All in all, the poster was well received. People were able to situate their research within the process map, and they also confirmed that there was little support in the core research work. I got some suggestions for tools that are used in other disciplines. Some of them are well-known, such as myExperiment. Others I had never heard of, because they are only used within single institutions, such as a self-developed social warning system for large physical experiments. One point of critique was that the core process should be displayed as being more iterative, with the possibility to break off after a few steps (which I totally agree with). Of course, these are only the results of a smale scale study which need to be further validated. Nevertheless, I am very happy with the first feedback, and I am looking forward to exploring the subject of research practices in the context of Web 2.0.

Kraker, P., & Lindstaedt, S. (2011). Research Practices on the Web in the Field of Technology Enhanced Learning Proceedings of the ACM WebSci’11

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