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Participation in NERA 2017 with a paper about Boundary Objects in Networked Learning

nera2017

My PhD-supervisor, Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld (AAU) and I have a paper accepted for the NERA 2017 conference. The 45th Congress of the Nordic Educational Research Association (NERA) will be held on 23-25 March 2017 at Aalborg University (AAU) in Copenhagen, Denmark. The theme of the conference is: Learning and education – material conditions and consequences.

Our paper is entitled: Participation and reification through (dis)embodiment as resource and arena for networked learning, and the abstract reads as follows:

In networked learning information and communications technology (ICT) is used to promote connections and interaction: between people and between people and resources, and thus boundaries and boundary work is always prevalent in discussions on networked learning (Ryberg & Sinclair, 2016). Based on two different case studies conducted at the Danish online Master programme on ICT and Learning (MIL), this paper addresses the issue of participation and reification through (dis)embodiment in design for networked learning.

Basically teaching is about designing opportunities for people to learn (Goodyear, 2015, Wenger, 1998), and according to Goodyear, Carvalho & Dohn (2016) there is an important distinction between elements of a learning networks that can be designed (partially, or completely), and processes that are emergent. From a learning perspective, how participants respond to design through their activities and through their use of boundary objects, is interesting. Building on Wenger’s (1998) learning architecture, we analyse how the two designs for learning differ in terms of design dimensions and with regard to potential boundary objects.

In study I, the arena for learning was a 2D virtual learning environment (Dirckinck-Holmfeld, 2006), whereas the arena for learning in study II was a 3D virtual world (Riis, forthcoming). Carlile (2002) proposed a hierarchical typology for boundary objects, and in our analysis, we identify different boundary objects in the two learning arenas. Our findings show that all categories of boundary objects can mediate knowledge according to the typology, which suggests a relational rather than a hierarchical view on boundary objects. Nonetheless, certain boundary objects in the 3D learning arena (study II), in particular the avatar, seem to promote transformation in a more embodied manner, which has implications for identity formation of the participants. Furthermore, the 3D virtual space affords a concrete materialised, albeit virtual, opportunity for reification, which is different to that of the 2D environment. In the paper we will elaborate on these differences and based on the two cases provide a typology of boundary objects serving networked learning organised as problem and project based learning.

As seen in this abstract, we aim to analyse and compare findings from two different studies conducted at the Master’s programme on ICT and Learning (MIL) which is situated at AAU. Study I has been conducted by Lone, where she has focused on MIL students’ use of a conventional 2D virtual learning environment, whereas study II is based on my PhD-research with MIL students in Second Life (SL).

In our current research project on ICT, transfer and boundary crossing in vocational education and training at the Metropolitan University College, my colleagues and I have been inspired by Lone’s (2006) study in which she explores Carlile’s (2002) typology of boundary objects in networked learning. While the empirical settings in both Lone’s study and in my PhD study (forthcoming) differ from our current research project, there are several theoretical overlaps. In should be noted that I did not study boundary objects and boundary crossing processes in my PhD. Nonetheless, when revisiting my PhD-findings this fall, I’ve found it possible and highly interesting to identify and analyse my data from this “new” perspective. And so this paper constitutes my first attempt to combine findings and ideas from my PhD and our current research. Given the differences in terms of target groups, educational settings and research aims, this is not an easy task, but it is quite exciting, and I’m very pleased to be able to collaborate with Lone on this.

According to Star (2010) a boundary object is an artefact that inhabits and bridge intersecting practices. In other words, one could argue that the theory and concepts of boundary crossing and boundary objects actually functions as a boundary object between my different research practices .. very meta ;-)

/Mariis

References

Carlile, P.R. (2002). A Pragmatic View of Knowledge and Boundaries: Boundary Objects in New Product Development. Organization Science, Vol. 13, No. 4, July-August 2002, pp. 442-455.

Dirckinck-Holmfeld, L. (2006). Designing for Collaboration and Mutual Negotiation of Meaning: Boundary Objects in Networked Learning Environments. In Banks, S.; Hodgson, V.; Jones, C.; Kemp, B. & McConnell, D. (eds.). Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Networked Learning 2006: Symposium: Relations in Networks and Networked Learning, organised by Chris Jones. Lancaster University. pp. 1-9.

Goodyear, P.; Carvalho, L. & Dohn, N.B. (2016). Artefacts and Activities in the analysis of Learning Networks. In Ryberg, T.; Sinclair; Bayne, S. & de Laat, M. (eds.) Research, Boundaries, and Policy in Networked Learning. Springer. pp. 93-110

Goodyear, P. (2015). Teaching as design. HERDSA Review of Higher Education, Vol. 2, pp. 1-24. http://www.herdsa.org.au/herdsa-review-higher-education-vol-2

Riis, M. (forthcoming). Avatar-mediation and Transformation of Practice in a 3D Virtual World – Meaning, Identity, and Learning. PhD-dissertation, Aalborg University.

Ryberg, T. & Sinclair, C. (2016). The Relationships Between Policy, Boundaries and Research in Networked Learning. In Ryberg, T.; Bayne, S. & de Laat, M. (eds.). Research, Boundaries, and Policy in Networked Learning. Springer. pp. 1-20.

Star, S.L. (2010), This is not a boundary object; Reflections on the origin of the concept. Science, Technology, and Human Values, 25(5), 601-617.

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice. Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge University Press.

Research on “Ways of Virtual World-making – Actors and Avatars”

Sisse Siggaard Jensen, Professor, Ph.D. of Digital Communication at Roskilde University, Denmark has had her dissertation “Ways of Virtual World-making – Actors and Avatars” accepted for defense for the doctorate degree Dr. Phil. Sisse truly is one of the leading pioneers in this emerging research field, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her many times during my PhD-work, and this is just wonderful news – big congrats Sisse :-)


The dissertation can be purchased as e-book here

UPDATE: Non-native Danish speakers can order the book by sending a request to: academicbooks@academicbooks.dk

l bought the dissertation yesterday and I have been unable to put it aside – it really is fascinating reading for those interested in research in VWs! The dissertation contributes to the research field with an interpretive, constructivist, and semiotic understanding of human actors’ engagement with the virtual worlds of EverQuest and Second Life. The study is aimed at empirical analysis of different ways of engaging with VWs, and it is based on longtime participatory observation and video interviews (from 2002-2009). The overall research question is: In what ways do actors make sense of situations of engagement with virtual worlds? 

Key theoretical and methodological influences in the study are:

  • The concept of metaphors (i.e. Lakoff & Johnson 1980, Johnson 1987)
  • The sense-making approach (i.e. Dervin 2003)
  • The optic of actor-network theory (i.e. Latour 2005)
  • The emphasis on ways of seeing in relation to video analysis (i.e. Grimshaw 2001, 2005)

Besides contributing with models of her own (actor-network diagram, sense-making triangle) that I need to study further, I also noted that Sisse provides some very good overviews of key points of interest in VW research such as; history of VWs, and overviews of research in relation to avatars, identity, and engagement. Further, Sisse’s work with video interviews and analysis hereof also makes this dissertation interesting from a methodological point of view, and in general it is a valuable resource and important contribution to the field.

Sisse will defend her dissertation on Friday June 1, 2012 at 1 – 5 PM (GMT+1) in building 00, at Roskilde University, and it will be streamed on Roskilde university’s website: ruc.dk as well as on the blog: worlds.ruc.dk, which is the blog of the Danish research project “Sense-making strategies of the innovations of Virtual Worlds”.

The opponents for the defense are: Professor Jay D. Bolter, Georgia Institute of Technology, Professor Andrew Burn, London University, Professor Kim C. Schrøder, Roskilde University (chair).

/Mariis

References

  • Dervin, B. (2003): Sense-Making’s journey from metatheory to methodology to method: An example using information seeking and use as research focus. In Dervin, B.; Foreman-Wernet; L & Lauterbach; E.  (Eds.). (2003). Sense-Making Methodology reader: Selected writings of Brenda Dervin (pp. 133-164). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
  • Grimshaw, A. (2001): The Ethnographer’s Eye: Ways of Seeing in Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Grimshaw, A. (2005):  Eyeing the Field: New Horizons for Visual Anthropology. In: A. Grimshaw & A. Ravetz (Eds.), Visualizing Anthropology (pp. 17-31). Bristol, UK: New Media Intellect.
  • Johnson, M. (1987): The Body in the Mind. The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason. Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980): Conceptual Metaphor in Everyday Language. The Journal of Philisophy, 77(8), 453-486.
  • Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (2003 [1980]): Metaphors we live by. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Latour, B. (2005): Reassembling the Social. An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

Grokking Virtual Worlds

On Edudemic‘s site I read about a new tool called instaGrok – a search engine targeted at education – that I decided to try out.

About instaGrok


Start “grokking”

You can start “grokking” immediately, but to be able to use the features properly, you need to log in, and so I decided to log in and do a search on Virtual Worlds;

Search for Virtual Worlds

  1. You can adjust the level of difficulty/detail via the slider
  2. The users’ search history is saved
  3. Search results are shown as Key Facts, Websites, Videos, Images, Quizzes, and Concepts. Key Facts and Quizzes enable clicks on “more” information leading to original sources. Results can be pinned and will show on the graph, in the journal, and under the visited tab.
  4. There are 3 displays to choose from
  5. You can share by e-mail or Twitter (currently there seems to be a bug though; my tweet showed a dead link). Sharing is apparently limited to the original query – not the one you’ve pinned?
Click on the nodes to increase the search
Journal display
Edudemic highlights the quizzes, but I have to admit that I’m not a fan of quizzes – not here, not in general. The questions generated from the search seem to result in some rather strange questions that test the user’s grammatical skills, rather that his/her general knowledge of the topic;

Examples of quizzes

Apart from the quiz section, I think it’s a rather nice tool. I like the fact that you can visualize your queries and the journal feature could also be very useful. Edudemic predicts that Google will buy instaGrok, and that seems very plausible. I think the tool has the potential to evolve into something very useful. Some of the improvements I’d like to see would be:

  • View History without having to do a search first – make available the History tab once the user logs in
  • A “save” tab – it saves instantly, but for the UX I think a tab would seem reassuring (he, but that could be just me ;-)
  • Ability to download the different displays
  • Ability to share pinned queries
  • Ability to co-create
  • More image examples
  • Some sort of ” summarized result” for the quizzes to increase the gamification element
  • Improved search results – i.e. the first pin/example under Key Facts in my search is a wikipedia article on Virtual world language learning …

Anyways, I think instaGrok is a tool to keep an eye on :-) Follow here on twitter.

/Mariis