Saturday 18 September 2010

My revised research proposal, in one post.

Written for Visual Arts educators and curricular advisers interested in the adoption of social media for e-portfolio creation:

The introduction of software affordances into Visual Arts curricula: educators’ curricular adoption and learners’ use of Online Portfolio Social Network Software for e-portfolio creation.

Online Portfolio-focussed Social Network Sites (OPSNS) are being adopted as e-portfolios into the curricula of 11 Western Cape High Schools in 2010. However, how their software affordances are used, the consequences, educator engagement and factors influencing sustained adoption are not well understood. Without an understanding of this new medium’s use, impact and sustained adoption, Visual Arts educators may be unprepared for some aspects of this curricular innovation and less capable of sustaining it. By describing the outcomes of OPSNS use in class and relating this to outcomes, educator understanding and adoption factors, the researcher hopes to improve our understanding, thereby supporting appropriate diffusion and sustained adoption. As a Digital Arts graduate and creative professional, the researcher is interested in exploring aspects of online software’s diffusion and sustained adoption in Visual Arts education.

Research problem
This project aims to describe the aspects of a new medium’s adoption in the Visual Arts curricula at High School. There is a gap in the literature on OPSNS’ inclusion, as these Web2.0-based technologies are a recent phenomenon. By investigating this gap, we can better understand aspects of social media’s use, outcomes, educator-interest and sustainability. Educators and other key decision makers can use this knowledge to support appropriate diffusion and sustained curricular adoption; through maximising positive outcomes and minimising hazards.

Research question (and sub-questions)
What must be considered when introducing a new medium's software affordances into Visual Arts curricula in South African schools?
1.  What are the operational affordances that learners use when creating and maintaining e-portfolios? (Software Affordances, Activity Theory {Tools})
2.  Does the learners' tactical and strategic use of online affordances meet the outcomes set by the educator in his or her curricula? (Software Affordances, Activity Theory {Outcomes})
3.  What impact does mentoring educators in OPSNS use have on their views on the potential of web 2.0 software affordances' role in Visual Arts education? (Activity Theory {Outcomes}, Diffusion of Innovation Theory {Consequences})
4.  What are the key factors that must be considered for sustained use of e-portfolios in the Visual Arts in South African schools? (Diffusion of Innovation Theory)

Aim of study
To explore aspects of OPSNS use as Visual Arts e-portfolios, outcomes, educator engagement and the key factors affecting sustained adoption.

The research project seeks to understand the use of a new medium (OPSNS)’s software affordances for Visual Arts e-portfolio creation and the experience of High School learners and educators using OPSNS-related curricula.


This research explores OPSNS’ novel curricular adoption for High School Visual Arts e-portfolio creation and maintenance. This study may resonate with others involved in similar adoptions, thereby aiding diffusion and sustained adoption.


A Visual Arts syllabus that introduces learners to OPSNS should help them to improve digital literacy; supporting better use of ICT and preparing learners to participate in the knowledge society as aspirant visual artists. Educators and relevant decision-makers may benefit through having novel curricular examples to refer to that resonate with their practice; helping them to be better prepared. Government’s curricular advisers could benefit from understanding aspects of this curricular innovation’s adoption. This may help them with diffusing it more appropriately. Researchers may learn from this project’s contribution to a gap in the literature.

To partially reflect South Africa’s three-tiered educational system, fieldwork will be done at one private and one public High School in Cape Town. Audio-video recordings of Online Portfolio-related classes, research notes, learner questionnaire feedback and an OPSNS progress-tracking spreadsheet will be used to better understand student use of OPSNS’ affordances in class. Interviews with educators, their curricula and progress spreadsheets will be used to understand the consequences of learners’ strategic and tactical use of affordances. Feedback from educators to questionnaires and interviews will be used to understand the impact that use of OPSNS has had on their views about web 2.0 software affordances' role in Visual Arts education. Educators and curricular advisors will be interviewed to understand key factors that do, and could, influence sustained use of e-portfolios in the Visual Arts in South African schools.

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