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Exploring the Hype(r) of Languages Learning and Teaching | About this Research Study : Research Methods

About this Research Study

Research Methods

Sources of Data

As described in the "About the Research Study" section, observational fieldwork was an important element of this research study's design. Document analysis, individual interviews and focus-group interviews were also used to inform a “thick description” and contribute to archived data for the ethnography. Archived documents include policy documents from both system and school levels (e.g. LwICT briefs and school ICT rules), memos, bulletins, newsletters, school student diaries, school websites, meeting minutes, and the correspondence participants engage in as part of this research project. However, the emphasis in this study was on participant stories and perceptions, and so audio-visual materials from interviews and observations form the bulk of data collected. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with teacher, ICT coordinator and and LwICT Curriculum Officer participants (the “key informants” (Patton, 2002)), and I conducted focus group interviews with a group of six students at each school. Focus group interviews “have the potential to elicit a great deal of information in a short period of time from those most directly involved,” (Vaughn, Schumm, & Sinagub, 1996, p. 132) and so were highly appropriate for this project.

Recording of Data

Recording strategies included digital still photography, digital audio and video recordings, digitisation of print documents, saving of websites and other online texts, and the creation of ethnographic field notes and reflections. These data were either recorded directly on the research website or transcribed/uploaded to the data archive as soon as possible, with different access permissions (see diagram below). Exploring and exploiting various technological solutions for working with and across a range of different media and data types formed an important part of data collection, collation, analysis and (re)presentation processes.

Metadata will also be added to artefacts (digital objects) upon entry to the Omeka data archive. Both the myself and participants were (and are) able to assign text to contributions that detail the context of that artefact and its recording. For example, image-based data may not capture meaningful elements that were present in the original context such as sounds and details of location and time. This information was added as metadata, facilitated through the EHE for the project, as part of the data storage system.

Storage of and Access to Data

Data collection and collation occured both in the “real world” and the “virtual” one. The EHE for this project (what you are viewing now) consists of three digital “spaces” in addition to the “real life” physical research space of observation and face-to-face interactions. In one "space", research participants have private access to their data (such as interview recordings and transcripts); are able to contribute to the data archive independently; and have the opportunity to participate in both synchronous and asynchronous online discussion with the researcher. This website space requires a login and password for access.

The second “space” of the EHE are the publicly accessible information pages and research blog. Finally, the third space is the “meta space” – the comprehensive EHE that only I have access to that contains links to all research data and so forms my personal hypermedia working environment. Using an online EHE as a primary research space has been a challenging and rewarding investigation into the possibilities and potential of Cloud Compting, which you can read about in the "Reports" section to come.