Past Scholarship

+ Last updated December, 2023 +

Travis' interdisciplinary research has explored: forms of Online Content Creation (OCC) by high school visual arts learners and media studies university students; the connection between African media studies students' informal OCC and the Connected Learning (CL) framework; a multimodal framework for teaching argument in data visualisation; and how cyber harassment by academic cyberbullies can be considered online academic bullying (OAB). His recent scholarship has critiqued the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s infodemic research agenda, and identified noteworthy disparities between four CAQDAS tools and their potential impacts on live Twitter data analysis:

PhD candidate Travis Noakes holds up Jean Bauidrillard's illusion of the end 2010.png
PhD candidate Travis Noakes holds up Jean Baudrillard's 'Illusion of the End' cover, 2010

+ Capital and capabilities framework (2009-18)

Travis’ PhD in Media Studies explored how visual arts learners’ contrasting circumstances in Cape Town shaped the different repertoires they curated in showcase electronic learning portfolios (e-portfolios). His thesis focused on answering two research questions:

RQ1 What digital self-presentation and organisation choices do visual arts students make in their e-portfolios?

RQ2 How do visual arts e-portfolios and visual culture repertoires relate to individual habitus and spaces of production?

The study made a valuable contribution in documenting the practices by students from a broader range of economic backgrounds than those typically described in e-portfolio (Owen, 2009), multimodal (Jewitt, 2008) or new media research studies (Buckingham, 2009. Ito et al. 2010).

For answering RQ1, Travis developed a new method of content analysis for exploring young people’s changes to their self-presentations and portfolio curations over time. It also supported the identification of different patterns in students’ e-portfolio achievements at two sites. His longitudinal research explored teens’ creative personas and the social semiotic spaces they drew on revealing how the extent of teens’ self-presentation and portfolios were tied to the cultural repertoires that their school and home supported.

A ‘Capital meets Capabilities’ framework (2018) was proposed for linking young people’s e-portfolio curations to the opportunities in their different social contexts, or obstacles that they might be able to workaround, or might serve as gatekeepers. Combining Sen’s capability approach with Bourdieusian cultural sociology supported the development of twelve rich case studies that linked young people’s practices to social influences.

+ Upfront critical reflections on educational action research (2021-22)

Little educational action research (EAR) has been done in African schools for facilitating students’ engagements with OCC or Connected Learning. In addition to flagging this concern, Travis’ research has also spotlighted a novel methodological challenge. Although his PhD fieldwork was successful, as an EAR project it was ultimately a social failure for increasing the participatory divide between an elite school’s arts students and their peers at other schools. This inspired the question:

RQ3 What are implications of being more critical in multi-site EAR projects involving OCC?

To answer this question, Travis is working on a manuscript that spotlights a novel negative outcome that emerged after his PhD’s fieldwork. Its EAR intervention grew the participatory divide by assisting already-advantaged students with further opportunities. Arts students at the elite school continue to experiment with OCC in class and are supported with CL, unlike peers at other schools. This scholarship flags the difficulties of minimising disruption with OCC interventions. The article urges researchers involved with multi-site, EAR interventions with OCC to consider the risk that their interventions might contribute to inequality. In particular, researchers could list potential types of EAR failure upfront, rather than simply strategising around potential successes. Scholars are also alerted to the importance of documenting failed EAR interventions. This subject is seldom tackled despite its potential role in raising awareness for scholars regarding interventions that are best avoided.

+ OCC by African students as connected learning (2011-2016)

Little too has been shared concerning OCC in the everyday lives of African university students. As a research assistant (2011-13) for the Student ICT Access and Use project, Travis identified three students who were unusual in being heavily involved in OCC. He suggested Connected Learning (CL) as an appropriate heuristic (2013). Together with Professors Lara Czerniewicz and Cheryl Brown they worked to answer the question:

RQ4 Do the heuristics of CL apply for OCC in the everyday lives of African university students?

CL has largely been applied in US high schools for exploring students’ work as OCC in diverse roles. Cheryl, Lara and Travis showed that this framework also suited developing case studies for African students leveraging well-resourced university environments. CL as a pedagogical framework proved apt for describing students’ interest-driven and academically- oriented OCC practices, as well as their peer-supported and extracurricular/informal ones (2016).

+ A framework for teaching argument in data visualisation (2017-2022)

Travis’ lecturing and research at UCT also contributed to a novel framework for analysing and producing argument in data visualisation (2020). This framework was developed in response to the question:

RQ5 What are the semiotic and rhetorical strategies for realising argument in data visualisations produced by second year journalism students?

Professor Arlene Archer and Travis found that students as novice designers faced many challenges in preparing academic arguments as poster designers. In response, the authors proposed a framework that students and scholars might use for making sounder academic arguments via data visualisations. This framework was taught to journalism students in 2018.

Archer and Noakes’ follow-up chapter focussed on answering the question:

RQ6 How might the framework for analysing and producing argument in data visualisation contribute to informing the teaching of a data visualisation design course?

The authors described how teaching the framework and other curricular changes supported two students with developing meta-languages of critique and argument in their design of infographic posters (2022).

+ Distinguishing online academic bullying (2019+)

Travis' PostDoc (2019-2020) researched how the shift of academic discourse to an online space without guardians has given motivated academic cyberbullies an opportunity to harass susceptible recipients. This research was inspired by his father’s example as a dissident scientist who experienced academic mobbing (Noakes and Sboros, 2017, 2019) and cyber harassment from academic colleagues. In doing a literature review of academic cyberbullying, the authors were surprised to find that research into digital forms of intellectual harassment by academic cyberbullies was non-existent (2020). In response, Noakes and Noakes developed the research question.

RQ7 What is a theoretically grounded conceptualisation of OAB?

As a pathfinder project, the authors used an Emeritus Professor’s extreme case as a convenience sample. The authors researched the key online communication episodes that the professor was involved in between 2010 to 2020 for identifying different forms of cyber harassment. Simultaneously, an in-depth literature review of academic bullying and cyber harassment informed the development of an unambiguous OAB definition and a Routine Activities Theory (RAT) framework that supports a reporting instrument:

To provide an definition of OAB for researchers, the authors proposed that it is ‘a drawn-out situation in which its recipient experiences critique online by employees in HE that is excessive, one-sided and located outside of typical scholarly debate and accepted standards for its field’. This definition was based on extant conceptualisations of academic bullying that have focused on aggression and incivility among faculty members (Keashly & Neuman, 2010).

The OABRAT conceptual framework proved useful for describing the cyber harassment from academics using the example of an Emeritus Professor’s experiences. The authors discussed how this example might also prove useful to those facing online harassment from employees in Higher Education. An OABRAT questionnaire was made available online as a reporting instrument for recipients to use. Through answering its questions affirmatively and describing their experiences of OAB characteristics, victims can generate a report that flags how their OAB experiences are separate from pro-social debate and critique.

A Critique of the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s Infodemic Research Agenda

An opinion piece that Travis co-authored critiqued the WHO’s infodemic research agenda for its lack of earnest discussion on how health authorities’ own rushed guidelines have contributed to disinformation. It flags how rushed guidance based on weak evidence from international health organisations can perpetuate negative health and other societal outcomes, not ameliorate them.

Implications of Noteworthy Disparities Between Four CAQDAS tools for Live Twitter Data Analysis

Little has been written concerning the research implications of differences in Qualitative data analysis software (QDAS) packages’ functionalities, and how such disparities might contribute to contrasting analytical opportunities. 

How do QDAS packages differ in what they offer for live Twitter data research during the
organisational stage of qualitative analysis?

Travis lead the writing of a co-authored paper that addressed this regarding live Twitter (now X) data imports. The article's findings may help guide X social science researchers and others in QDAS tool selection.

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