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  • 2018shukiephd

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A participatory action research investigation into an open, online Community Project exploring how teaching and learning occur in a non-institutional, non-specialist, technology enhanced learning environment

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
  • Peter Shukie
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Publication date2018
Number of pages357
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This Participatory Action Research (PAR) project begins by positing that online networks bring the possibility of meaning-making and knowledge creation developing outside institutions. The project has lasted for four years (and continues as a ‘live’ project) and this research covers the first 18 months of that period.
This project considers what happens when online learning is made possible on a non-institutional platform with roles of teacher and student made open to anyone. The tag line of ‘anyone can teach, anyone can learn, anything at all, for free’ provides a platform for open access that will create opportunities at the heart of the action of this research. It seeks to explore not only ‘how’ learning takes place, but also ‘who’ is involved, ‘what’ in relation to how knowledge is defined and ‘why’ that questions common-sense assumptions of the purpose of education.
Findings reveal complex identities of formal educators seeking space, free of institutional constraints. Community learning approaches reveal groups seeking spaces that avoid community gatekeepers and a desire for nuanced perspectives. Technology is encountered as a complex ecology in which institutional approaches suggest limited use as a deficit yet where project users define it in terms of privacy, ownership and appropriateness.
My original contribution to knowledge is found in the revealing of outsider spaces that are at least as rigorous, reflective and powerful as those located within institutions. The findings reveal contested spaces and a willingness to develop ideas and networks that educate and inform. This is true of those with no links to institutional learning and makes clear the breadth of meaning-making that exists beyond the ‘usual spaces’. Findings also reveal that those working within educational institutions seek out spaces beyond often restrictive standardisation to create new thinking spaces, empower others and distribute opportunities to contribute. My original contribution comes also through the creation of an authentic learning space that proved an effective, if complex and often difficult to maintain, online space. Much of the value of the research comes through the originality of an online platform developed beyond institutional ownership. Participation rather than representation was a key component of this innovation. The alignment of theoretical positions that seek becoming, Deleuzo-Guattarian rhizomatic principles and Freirean popular education approaches, offer a strong foundation that challenges convention while providing a clear and coherent discourse.
The location of the research is crucial in establishing originality of purpose. This research develops the discourse around MOOCS to include those voices beyond the institution. Here, they are not voices on the margins but voices from the centre.