Category: New Literacies (page 12 of 14)

Paradigms within research methodology

Inspired by Bredo’s diagrams in ‘Philosophies of Educational Research’ (within Handbook of Complementary Methods in Education Research – see previous post for reference), I’ve produced the following diagram. Hopefully it will help clarify my thinking when it comes to writing the methodology section of my thesis proposal:

Gliffy diagram?

More on Research Methodologies


There are two main philosophical traditions when it comes to research methodologies: positivism and constructivism. Positivism holds that the world is ‘out there’ waiting for us to discover it, whilst Constructivism holds that ‘facts’ are socially and psychologically constructed labels and descriptions we place upon the world as we experience it. All research methods – apart from perhaps Pragmatism – fall into one of these two camps.

The Wikipedia article on Methodology sums things up quite nicely:

Methodology refers to more than a simple set of methods; rather it refers to the rationale and the philosophical assumptions that underlie a particular study. This is why scholarly literature often includes a section on the methodology of the researchers. This section does more than outline the researchers’ methods (as in, “We conducted a survey of 50 people over a two-week period and subjected the results to statistical analysis”, etc.); it might explain what the researchers’ ontological or epistemological views are.

The following OpenCourseWare resources (found via the very useful website) should help me – especially these in particular:

Some books I shall be looking for to help me with my thesis proposal:?

  • Allison, B., et al. (1996) Research Skills for Students (001.44 RES – Education Library)
  • Cohen, L., et al. (2000) Research Methods in Education (370.72 COH – Education Library)
  • Creswell, J. (2007) Qualitative Inquiry and research design: choosing among five traditions (300.723 CRE – Education Library)
  • Patton, M.Q. (2002) Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods (300.723 PAT – Man Library)
  • Phillips, E. (2005) How to get a PhD: a guide for students and their supervisors (378.240941 PHI – Education Library)
  • Wisker, G. (2001) The Postgraduate Research Handbook: succeed with your MA, MPhil, EdD and PhD (001.42 WIS – Main Library)


Change of supervisor

Stewart Martin

I’ve just found out via a mass-mailing that my current Ed.D. supervisor, Stewart Martin, is leaving the University of Durham next month to become Principal Lecturer in Education in the School of Social Sciences and Law at Teesside University. I’m obviously pleased for him, but it kind of forces me to do what I was thinking of doing on the basis of a rash decision anyway – i.e. change my supervisor.

I can now understand why he was a bit fuzzy about when to hand in my re-written thesis proposal…

Back on the thesis proposal trail…

Trail (Depth of Mist Wood)

After failing my previous Ed.D. thesis proposal (I can see why now…) I’m beginning the process of starting from first principles, this time building towards analysing the concept of ‘digital literacy’. The books I’ll be looking at today are both ones I’ve looked at (briefly) before and are both edited by Ilana Snyder:

  • * Page to Screen: taking literacy into the electronic era
  • * Silicon Literacies: communication, innovation and education in the electronic age

I’ll be putting my notes, as usual, over at in the ‘thesis’ section.

Meeting with Ed.D. supervisor – 24 July 2007


I met with my supervisor today to thrash out the way forward with my Ed.D. thesis proposal. It was a productive conversation and he helped me gain some much-needed focus to my sometimes rambling thoughts.

I’m going to focus on the concept of ‘digital literacy’. This, of course, means that I need to clarify exactly what I – and, perhaps more importantly, other people and organizations mean – by ‘literacy’. I’m also going to discuss whether digital literacy is a functional element which can be understood to reside under the umbrella term ‘literacy’ or whether it is something that can be considered as separate.

The scope of this thesis is potentially huge, so I’m going to have to be ruthless in keeping the whole thing focused. Whilst I can touch on things such as what it means to be ‘educated’, the purpose of education, etc. I need to make sure that it all adds up to a critical and in-depth discussion of whether the concept of ‘digital literacy’ is a useful one and relevant to what is (or should be) going on in 21st century schools.

My supervisor suggested that I might want to go with a historical approach in the introduction, perhaps looking at what ‘literacy’ and ‘to be literate’ has meant through the ages. This would help introduce the notion of literacy being dependent upon society and culture.

Other things to possibly think about and include from the notes I made during the meeting:

  • The Labour government seems to think it can identify the skills that will be needed by 21st century workers. Is this possible?
  • Habermas – argument r.e. serving the system or serving the lifeworld. Should/are students learning to make a living or learning to make a life (links to Citizenship, Every Child Matters agenda, etc.)
  • Is ‘digital literacy’ real or imagined? Different people mean different things by ‘literacy’, never mind ‘digital literacy’.
  • How and why do people respond to new technologies? (threats to established order)
  • Notions of ‘literacy’ are at the heart of education and always have been. Brings with it ideas of competence, being functional in society, skills, and being ‘educated’.
  • Schools don’t currently have a firm idea of why they’re doing what they’re doing.
  • Don’t cite blogs – use as second or third-stage source. Paraphrase ideas.
  • It’s difficult to distinguish between economic and educational importance of ‘digital literacy’ in government pronouncements -> assumption that using computers is important, therefore ‘digital literacy’ important (not necessarily the case -> counter-e.g. of Nissan car plant, Burger King, etc.)
  • Conlon article -> e.g. of cathedral -> each worker gives a different account of what they’re doing.
  • ‘Digital literacy’ implies that it is a skill that can be imparted -> threatens historical concept of teacher? Access vs. connections (relationships)

Possible structure of argument:

  1. What is literacy?
  2. Literacy = dynamic
  3. Why does literacy change (reflecting society vs. something ‘out there’ to be revealed)
  4. Government policy still informed by Victorian model of schooling.
  5. Emergence of term ‘digital literacy’.
  6. What did it mean to be ‘literate’ before and after a new technology (e.g. printing press)
  7. ‘Functional’ aspect of literacy -> is ‘digital literacy’ just another aspect of this?
  8. What do people mean when they talk of being ‘literate’?
  9. What measures and tests are used for gauging whether someone is literate/’digitally literate’?
  10. It makes sense for the government to want to improve ‘literacy’ -> but what do we mean by this?
  11. Go back to literature -> what do we mean by ‘digital literacy’?
  12. Are there/can there be consistent measures for ‘digital literacy’?

My supervisor also pointed me towards the following articles and books:

  • T. Conlon, ‘Visions of Change’ (British Journal of Educational Technology, vol.31, no.2, p.109-116)
  • Castells, The Networked Society
  • F. Coffield, ‘Running Ever Faster Down The Wrong Road’

NESTA ‘Hidden Innovation’ report

NESTA report

Leon Cych over at the Flux blog points to a report which could be handy in the next stage of my thesis research. It’s by NESTA and entitled Hidden Innovation. Looking at six sectors including education, its main recommendations are that ‘the innovation that occurs in these sectors is often excluded from traditional measurements.’

Leon picks out a couple of interesting sections:

The education sector is notable for the extent of school-level innovation that does not reach a larger scale. Combating this will require more ‘D&R’, that is, more development-led experimentation by teachers that might lead to formal research work, rather than the other way around. For this to occur, such work needs to be better funded and supported, and schools and teachers need to be given incentives to engage in it.


Encouraging more innovation will require system-wide change that will only be achieved if re?ected in adjustments to existing accountability and inspection systems. These would need to develop to reflect the collaborative nature of innovation and the importance of locally-generated innovations as well as the implementation of top-down initiatives.

Finally! some recognition that all good things do not come from above; grassroots innovation is just as important, if not more important!

Ed.D. thesis proposal failure

Sad emoticon

Disappointingly, my Ed.D. thesis proposal‘s provisional mark of 48 was confirmed at the exam board this week. This means I have failed the very last module I will probably ever take. To say I am disappointed is a bit of an understatement, having never failed anything academically.

I’m actually somewhat frustrated with my supervisor, who said I would be fine, simply referring me back to my notes. He was also never available to meet with me when I asked for clarification and ideas.

Not that I’m blaming him. It’s my work, and now I’ve got until April 2008 to re-submit…

Ed.D. thesis proposal bibliography

As promised earlier, here’s the bibliography for my Ed.D. thesis proposal. This might prove handy for those looking to read up on the areas of 21st century literacy, what it means to be ‘educated’ in the 21st century, and how educational technology has impacted schools.

  • Abbott, J. & Ryan, T. (2000) The Unfinished Revolution: learning, human behaviour, community and political paradox
  • Abbott, C. (2001) ICT: changing education
  • Anderson, L.W. & Krathwohl, D.R. (eds.) (2001) A taxonomy of learning, teaching, and assessment: a revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives
  • Aviram, A. (2000) ‘From “Computers in the Classroom” to mindful radical adaptation by education system to the emerging cyber culture’ (Journal of Educational Change, 1)
  • Barton, D. & Hamilton, M. (2000) ‘Literacy Practices’ (in Barton, D., Hamilton, M. & Ivanic, R. (eds.), Situated Literacies: reading and writing in context)
  • Beavis, C. (1988) ‘Computer games, culture and curriculum’ (in I. Snyder (ed.), Page to Screen: taking literacy into the electronic era)
  • Bigum, C. (2002) ‘Design Sensibilities, Schools and the New Computing and Communication Technologies’ (in I. Snyder (ed.), Silicon Literacies: Communication, Innovation and Education in the Electronic Age)
  • Blacker, D. & J. McKie, J. (2003) ‘Information and Communication Technology’ (in N. Blake, et al. (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Education)
  • Bottino, R.M. (2001) ‘Advanced Learning Environments’ (in M. Ortega & J. Bravo (eds.), Computers and Education: towards an interconnected society)
  • Burnett, R. (2002) Technology, Learning and Visual Culture (in I. Snyder (ed.), Silicon Literacies: Communication, Innovation and Education in the Electronic Age)
  • Burniske, R.W. & Monke, L. (2001) Breaking Down the Digital Walls: learning to teach in a post-modem world
  • Carneiro, R. (2002) ‘The New Frontiers of Education’ (in UNESCO, Learning Throughout Life: challenges for the twenty-first century)
  • Carr, D. (2003) Making Sense of Education: an introduction to the philosophy and theory of education and teaching
  • Chaiklin, S. (2002) ‘A Developmental Teaching Approach to Schooling’ (in G. Wells & G. Claxton (eds.), Learning for Life in the 21st Century)
  • Claxton, G. (2002) ‘Education for the Learning Age: A Sociocultural Approach to Learning to Learn’ (in G. Wells & G. Claxton (eds.), Learning for Life in the 21st Century)
  • Conlon (2000) ‘Visions of Change’ (British Journal of Educational Technology, 31:2)
    Conlon & Simpson, (2003) ‘Silicon Valley versus Silicon Glen: the impact of computers upon teaching and learning: a comparative study’ (British Journal of Educational Technology, 34:2)
  • Cornu, B. (1995) ‘New technologies: integration into education’ (in D. Watson & D. Tinsley (eds.), Integrating Information Technology into Education)
  • Cromer, A. (1997) Connected Knowledge: Science, Philosophy, and Education
  • Cuban, L. (1986) Teachers and Machines: the classroom use of technology since 1920
  • Davis N., et al. (1997) ‘Can quality in learning be enhanced through the use of IT?’ (in B. Somekh, G. Whitty & R. Coveney, IT and the politics of institutional change)
  • Davis, A. & Williams, K. (2003) ‘Epistemology and Curriculum’ (in N. Blake, et al. (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Education
  • Delors, J. (1996a) ‘The Four Pillars of Education’, in (J. Delors (ed.), Learning: The Treasure Within)
  • Delors, J. (1996b) ‘Choices for Education: the political factor’ (in J. Delors (ed.), Learning: The Treasure Within)
  • Delors, J. (1996c) ‘Education: the necessary Utopia’ in (J. Delors (ed.), Learning: The Treasure Within)
  • Delors, J. (1996d) ‘Teachers in Search of New Perspectives’ in (J. Delors (ed.), Learning: The Treasure Within)
  • Demetriadis, et al. (2003) ‘ Cultures in negotiation’: teachers’ acceptance/resistance attitudes considering the infusion of technology into schools’ (Computers & Education, 41)
  • Doll, W.E. Jr. (1993) A Post-modern perspective on curriculum
  • Dunn, S. & V. Morgan (1987) The Impact of the Computer on Education: a course for teachers
  • Eraut, M. (1991) Education and the Information Society: a challenge for European policy
  • Eyman, D. (working paper, undated) Digital Literac(ies), Digital Discourses, and Communities of Practice: Literacy Practices in Virtual Environments
  • Fisher, C. (2007) – ‘A New Language’ (
  • Friedman, T.L. (2005) The World is Flat: the globalized world in the twenty-first century
  • Glaser, R. (1999) ‘Expert Knowledge and Processes of Thinking’ (in R. McCormick & C. Paechter (eds.), Learning and Knowledge)
  • Golby, M. (1990) ‘The Multiple Functions of Education’ (in N. Entwistle (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Educational Ideas and Practices
  • Grossman, P.L. & Stodolsky, S.S. (1999) ‘Content as Context: the role of school subjects in secondary school teaching’ (in R. McCormick & C. Paechter (eds.), Learning and Knowledge)
  • Haymore Sandholtz, I & Ringstaff, C. (1996) ‘Teacher Change in Technology-Rich Classrooms’ (in C. Fisher, D.C. Dwyer & K. Yocam (eds.), Education and Technology: reflections on computing in classrooms)
  • Hoban, G.F. (2002) Teacher Learning for Educational Change: a systems thinking approach
  • Hogan, P. & Smith, R. (2003) ‘The Activity of Philosophy and the Practice of Education’ (in N. Blake, et al. (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Education)
  • Imison, T. & Taylor, P. (2001) Managing ICT in the Secondary School
  • Johnson, Eilda, J. (1998) ‘Living on the surface: learning in the age of global communication networks’ (in I. Snyder (ed.), Page to Screen: taking literacy into the electronic era)
  • Kapitzke (2000) ‘Information Technology as Cultural Capital’ (Education and Information Technology, 5:1)
  • Kellner, D.M. (2002) ‘Technological Revolution, Multiple Literacies, and the Restructuring of Education’ (in I. Snyder (ed.), Silicon Literacies: communication, innovation and education in the electronic age)
  • Kenway (1996) ‘The Information Superhighway and Post-modernity’ (Comparative Education, 32:2)
  • Kerr (2005) ‘Why we all want it to work: towards a culturally based model for technology and educational change’ (British Journal of Educational Technology, 36:6,)
  • Lemke, J.L. (2002) ‘Becoming the Village: Education Across Lives’ (in G. Wells & G. Claxton (eds.), Learning for Life in the 21st Century)
  • Levin, B. & Riffel, J.A. (1997) Schools and the Changing World: struggling toward the future
  • Machlup, F. (1962) Knowledge production and distribution in the United States
  • Martin, A. (2003) ‘Towards e-literacy’ (in A. Martin & H. Rader (eds.), Information and IT literacy: enabling learning in the 21st century)
  • McCormick, R. (1999) ‘Practical Knowledge: A View from the Snooker Table’ (in R. McCormick & C. Paechter (eds.), Learning and Knowledge)
  • McFarlane, A. (1997)? ‘…and where might we end up?’ (in A. McFarlane (ed.), Information Technology and Authentic Learning: realising the potential of computers in the primary classroom)
  • Meyerson, D. & Martin, J. (1997) ‘Cultural Change: an integration of three different views’ (in A. Harris, N. Bennett & M. Preedy (eds.), Organizational Effectiveness and Improvement in Education)
  • Muller, J. (2000) Reclaiming Knowledge: social theory, curriculum and education policy
  • Newton, L. (2003) ‘Management and the use of ICT in subject teaching’ (in Selwood, Find & O’Mahony (eds.), Management of Education in the Information Age: the role of ICT)
  • Nichol & Watson (2003) ‘Editorial: Rhetoric & reality: the present and future of ICT in education’ (British Journal of Educational Technology, 34:2)
  • OECD (1994) The Curriculum Redefined: schooling for the 21st century
  • OECD (2001) Learning to Change: ICT in Schools
  • Okan (2003) ‘Edutainment: is learning at risk?’ (British Journal of Educational Technology, 34:3)
  • Papert, S. (1980) Mindstorms: children, computers, and powerful ideas
  • Papert, S. (1993) The Children’s Machine: rethinking school in the age of the computer
  • Phillips, J. (200) Contested Knowledge: a guide to critical theory
  • Postman, N. (1993), cited by R.W. Burniske & L. Monke, Breaking Down the Digital Walls: learning to teach in a post-modem world (2001: 21)
  • Provenzo, E.F. Jr., Brett, A. & McCloskey, G.N. (1999) Computers, Curriculum, and Cultural Change: an introduction for teachers
  • Reffell, P. (2003) ‘IT Skills are not enough’ (in A. Martin & H. Rader (eds.), Information and IT literacy: enabling learning in the 21st century
  • Robinson, B. (1997) ‘Getting Ready to Change: the place of change theory in the information technology education of teachers’ (in D. Passey & B. Samways (eds.), Information Technology: supporting change through teacher education)
  • Rodr?guez Illera, J.L. (2004) ‘Digital Literacies’ (Interactive Educational Multimedia, number 9 (November 2004), pp. 48-62)
  • Roszak, T. (1986) The Cult of Information: the folklore of computers and the true art of thinking
  • Rushby (2005) ‘Editorial: where are the new paradigms?’ (British Journal of Educational Technology, 36:3)
  • Sanger, J. (2001)? ‘ICT, the demise of UK schooling and the rise of the individual learner’ (in A. Loveless & V. Ellis (eds.), ICT, Pedagogy and the Curriculum: subject to change)
  • Schofield, J.W. (1995) Computers and Classroom Culture
  • Siemens, G. (2004) ‘A Learning Theory for the Digital Age’ (
  • Snyder, I. (2001) ‘Hybrid Vigour’: Reconciling the verbal and the visual in electronic communication (in A. Loveless & V. Ellis (eds.), ICT, Pedagogy and the Curriculum: subject to change)
  • Snyder, I. (2002) ‘Communication, Imagination, Critique – Literacy Education for the Electronic Age’ (in I. Snyder (ed.), Silicon Literacies: communication, innovation and education in the electronic age)
  • Somekh, B. (1997) ‘Towards effective learning with new technology resources: the role of teacher education in reconceptualising the relationship between task setting and student learning in technology-rich classrooms’ (in D. Passey & B. Samways (eds.), Information Technology: supporting change through teacher education)
  • Somekh, B. (2000) ‘New Technology and Learning: policy and practice in the UK, 1980-2010’ (Education and Information Technology, 5:1)
  • Stetsenko, A. & Arievitch, I. (2002) ‘Teaching, Learning, and Development: A Post-Vygotskian Perspective’ (in G. Wells & G. Claxton, Learning for Life in the 21st Century)
  • Stoll Dalton, S. & Tharp, R.G. (2002) ‘Standards for Pedagogy: Research, Theory and Practice’ (in G. Wells & G. Claxton, Learning for Life in the 21st Century)
  • Stonier, T. & Conlin, C. (1985) The Three C’s: children, computers, communication
    Sutherland & InterActive Project Team (2004) Designs for Learning: ICT and knowledge in the classroom (Computers & Education, 43)
  • Tearle (2003) ‘ICT implementation: what makes the difference?’ (British Journal of Educational Technology, 34:5)
  • Tiffin, J. & Rajasingham, L. (2003) The Global Virtual University
  • Town, J.S. (2003) ‘Information Literacy: definition, measurement, impact’ (in A. Martin & H. Rader (eds.), Information and IT literacy: enabling learning in the 21st century)
  • Tuman, M. (1992) Word Perfect: literacy in the computer age
  • Underwood, J.D.M. & Underwood, G. (1990) Computers and Learning: helping children acquire thinking skills
  • UNESCO (1994) The Plurality of Literacy and its Implications for Policies and Programmes
  • Willis, P. (1990) Common Culture
  • Yip, C.T., Cheung, P.S. & C. Sze, C. (2004) Towards a Knowledge-creating School: a research project on paradigm shift of teaching and learning in IT education

Apologies for the lack of italicization of the titles, but it didn’t carry over from my Word document and it’s a bit of an ask to go through all of those by hand…

Ed.D. thesis proposal finished!


I’ve finally finished my Ed.D. thesis proposal! I shall be sending it off this week to be ripped to shreds. But hey, I’ve only got to pass the module – the real work starts in the summer…

If anyone fancies reading 6,000 words on what I intend to do with the spare moments of my life over the next 2/3 years, feel free to read it here. I shall post my bibliography separately online, as it may be useful for others when searching Google, etc.

Thesis proposal mindmap

I’m coming back this week to my thesis proposal in order to try and get it finished off during the Easter holidays. My supervisor said of my last effort that it included some interesting ideas, but it was not coherent enough nor did it have a logical enough progression.

To help make it better, I’m deconstructing what I’ve written so far so that I can organise it better and add extra material. The following mindmap will help with this:

Thesis proposal mindmap