Chapter 4: Assembling methods #1

Chapter 4 introductory graphic

Pilot study

Early on in the research I conducted a pilot study to to reveal issues and barriers related to recruiting potential participants, to explore the use of oneself as a researcher in a culturally appropriate way and to test and modify interview questions. Although familiar with Twitter as a participant, conducting a pilot study also allowed me to gain familiarisation as a researcher. I tested six different methods which I describe in more detail here. The table below reflects on the outcomes of the pilot methods.Read More »

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Interviewing the nonhumans

“Researching a Posthuman World” flickr photo by IaninSheffield https://flickr.com/photos/ianinsheffield/39930805522 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

Choosing to approach my research with a sociomaterial sensibility requires me to challenge the division between the human and material elements I encounter and with which I work. Since Twitter and the online world is highly mediated, it would be remiss, I’d argue, to fail to adequately account for the material actors. Bringing actor-network theory (ANT) to bear does not, however, mean that I should consider the social and then the material. Instead they are completely entangled and mutually constitutive (Fenwick, 2014), so what they are and what they do is not in isolation, but co-constituted. Herein lies somewhat of a dilemma, since at some points it might be necessary to talk about the effect of particular practice on a teacher or what a specific aspect of materiality (like a hashtag) achieves. What’s important though is not to forget that both of these are themselves actor-networks, or assemblages, and are also part of other actor-networks. For the purposes of analysis, it is sometimes necessary to narrow the focus to a single entity, provided we don’t forget the assemblage that is also being performed.

In the methods section of my thesis I’ve discussed the semi-structured in depth interviews, participant observation (as it is manifest in this context), the blog posts I read and the exchanges with their authors. In reviewing this section and how it fits into the thesis as a whole, it’s clear how anthropocentric my writing was. The transcripts, blogs and even tweets were the words of the human participants … but where was the materiality? To be fair, I hope I’ve managed to surface some of that as a result of my observations and ‘following the actors,’ but once more it’s the (my) human voice that is privileged. How then to do justice to the nonhumans? How to give them a voice?Read More »

Interview – @KristianStill

CPDin140 – Kristian Still Kristian (@KristianStill) provides here a very balanced set of insights and observations of both the bright and darker sides of Twitter. What I do need to add though is that during the brief chat we had after the ‘stop’ button had been pressed, Kristian recalled times past and other activities which…

via CPD in 140 – Kristian Still — EDUtalk

I have to confess to some frustration with this post; not, I should quickly say, with Kristian’s contribution at all. No it was with my ability to ‘clean up’ the audio in post-production to get it to the point where it was acceptable for podcasting. I tried my best in Audacity, but I wasn’t up to the job. Or perhaps the fact that we conducted our chat over the phone, coupled with the equipment I used, meant that the original audio quality didn’t provide much to work with?

I’ve had a few audio blunders during the course of my interviews, although fortunately, few which rendered the contributions of my kind participants unusable for my research. For the most part, I could hear well enough to transcribe the audio, and being able to capture people’s insights is what really matters. Although one might consider publishing the podcast is a bonus, it was for me a fundamental part of trying to bring something new to the research and problematising the notion that participant anonymity is always the most appropriate route. By not providing a crystal clear rendering of my participants’ contributions, I feel I have let them down somewhat.

Interview – @johnmayo

CPDin140 – John Heffernan

With a broad range of experiences, educator John Heffernan (@johnmayo on Twitter) currently finds himself transplanted from Ireland, his home, into Virginia, United States. John discusses the part that Twitter played in that, connecting him with ‘interesting, smart people’ and exposing him to people who ‘have different views and different lifestyles.’…

via CPD in 140 – John Heffernan — EDUtalkRead More »

Extending a space …

CPDin140 – John Johnston For once John Johnston (@johnjohnston on Twitter) finds himself on the other side of the mixing desk, having kindly volunteered to contribute his experiences to the project. John ranged broad and wide, introducing me to new concepts such as ‘continuing amateur development‘ and ‘opinionated‘ software. And what a wonderful way to […]

via CPDin140 – John Johnston — EDUtalk

Some while ago, I made an ethics submission seeking approval to post recorded interviews as podcasts, provided participants gave their permission of course. I’ve posted these through a channel onRadio Edutalk, “a project to gather the voices of educators,” but haven’t yet mentioned that on here, which seems remiss. Time then to set the record straight, so from here forward, I’ll reblog each new podcast posts from Edutalk to here.

In the meantime, let me bring things up to date with a list of the podcasts already created:

Watch out for the next one!

Weighing Anchor

“Anchor” flickr photo by MarcieLew https://flickr.com/photos/91724286@N04/15909947948 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

During a recent interview, Joe Dale mentioned a useful new app he’d found which offered some potential in the context of professional sharing – Anchor. It’s a free (as of Jan 2017) smartphone app (Android & Apple) through which you can create a two-minute audio posting (a ‘Wave’) which others can listen to, then respond, again in audio. Joe (with Rachel Smith) had experimented with it by posting a question posed by one of the #mfltwitterati, then crowdsourcing responses from Anchor users. The final combined thread is then presented as a single, stitched audio stream, where the question and responses form a coherent whole.Read More »