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H809: Activity 11.5: Categorising new research methods

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H809: Activity 11.5: Categorising new research methods

It was interesting reading and considering what we mean by new methods. I am coming towards the idea that what categorises new methods is that they draw from an interdisciplinary field. Is this a result of improved communication and research abilities? I find that it is so much easier to research now than it was in the 1980s when I spent ages trawling through recent papers in just a few journals. It is so much easier now to draw from other fields, for example writing about Communities of Practice for the H810 EMA, I was interested in borders to the communities and how they can be bridged. I vaguely remembered something I had read about change agents in connection with Everett Rogers (2003) and so I did some research online. This was not enough detail so I searched all three of the local university libraries and then picked up the book. The information I retrieved combined the fields of business and education and threw some light on how educational technology can be brokered into Communities of Practice. Information technology is allowing researchers to break out of their disciplines and use applicable methods from other fields.

Another aspect of new methods is the use of technology to store, compare, analyse and share data. There are many examples of research which are just large-scale literature searches; reliable data is easily reached through organisations such as the UNSD - United Nations Statistical Databases; modelling allows researchers to play with relationships and manipulate large quantities of data.

I am wondering if the result of the ability to store and manipulate all this data is that researchers are more willing to consider all the complexities of a system rather than trying to rule out the context, i.e. whether the move to social constructivism has occurred because we are beginning to develop techniques to be able to handle the complexities.

Looking at the supplied table:



Learning technologies








1. A mail survey of students on a print-based course, asking for satisfaction ratings.

2. Face-to-face interviews with people about their blogging behaviour.


3. An electronic survey of students on a print-based course, asking for satisfaction ratings.

4. Email interviews with people about their use of wikis.

my ideas do not fit well as the development of the original research questions will come from a wide range of disciplines which is facilitated by new technologies. For example the 'old-old' example concerning student satisfaction on a print-based course may be partly answering the research question: 'How do students on the print-based course develop their own support networks?' which may draw from modern socio-constructivist methods and employ post-positivist approaches of mixed methodologies.



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