Tuesday 20 September 2011

Showing my new research focus at the "E-learning Update"

I presented on "Visual Arts students multimodal choices with Carbonmade" at the E-learning update conference today. This presentation gave the background to my current research direction, field research and findings:

A major change in my research direction has been necessitated by student's wide variety of choices in the written fields and imagery of their online portfolios. This should not be suprising for students (a creative class) who have made the unconventional choice of taking Visual Art. However, they all received the same curriculum, used the same software and had the same guidelines. I will be using three student case studies to explore the most varied example of online portfolios; "drawing", "mixed-media" and "media-interest", respectively.

This new approach path has been taken after analyzing screengrabs of each and every online portfolio page that 18 grade 10 students created using Carbonmade. I then used screengrabs of their educator’s free (“Meh!”) Carbonmade membership to list all the choices his students could have made. NVivo 9 software was then used to define and code all students’ choices from top to bottom, left to right for all the three kinds of Carbonmade page: "Home", "About" and "Project Folder Artwork". 

After tabulating the variations for each field choice, it became apparent that explaining guideline variations for the entire group would be impossible, so I have chosen to rather focus on the most distinctive student examples.

After following this process, my research questions now are:
  1. What are the modal choices that the online portfolio software, Carbonmade, affords?
  2. What are the multimodal choices that grade 10 Visual Arts students made with Carbonmade?
  3. What are the resonances of students' online portfolio choices?
  4. What problems did the educator perceive with select modal choices and how can these be explained by the contradictions and tensions that result from a change to the traditional class’ rules, division of labour and community in the new Visual Arts class’ online portfolio activity system.
Although I will be using Activity theory to answer the last question, my research's primary focus has shifted to using Multimodal Theory to explore the choices that Carbonmade affords users, the choices that students make and their resonances. 

Carey Jewitt in "Technology, Literacy and Learning(2006) shows how Multimodal Theory and Activity theory can be used to study the multimodal meaning-making resources that new technologies support. I hope to follow in her footsteps...

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