Researching Scholarly Journals & Communities

Studying in RRU gardens

Studying in RRU gardens
Karam, M. A. (2015). Reflect [Photograph]. Royal Roads University. Victoria, BC.
For our second assignment in our Introduction to Research course at RRU, we were asked to select, read and research several academic articles and uncover their cultures of inquiry, the theoretical framework underpinnings of the research and the specific research methods employed by each journal. We were placed in groups to discuss any commonalities found within our set of selected articles and write a 1,000 word paper to summarize our findings. The articles I read appeared to focus on using technology and knowledge management as tools for productivity in educational institutions and business organizations.

A couple articles that I read caught my interest as I have tried to implement the methods discussed in the past. In Knowledge Management and E-Learning: An International Journal, one of the articles published discussed the factors that impacted a learners’ acceptance of Facebook in higher education classrooms. This article looked at the use of social networking sites, such as Facebook to see if establishing social groups online could be used as a learning management system (LMS).

Facebook was easy to use for my students and it had the capabilities to add notifications, online chat and event reminders.

Back in 2007, I had my students use Facebook groups as a way to communicate with each other and keep up-to-date with any course materials and due dates. My students were heavy users of Facebook at the time, especially during classes. Since my students used Facebook to connect with friends and others in their social groups, I decided to make them use the social network for productivity. Facebook was easy to use for my students and it had the capabilities to add notifications, online chat and event reminders. It had all of the tools that my students needed to keep in touch with each other and keep current with due dates and important messages. At the time, I had no idea that was I was implementing was a LMS. Truthfully, I didn’t even know what a LMS was back then. I just knew that using a tool that was vastly used and simple to navigate was the ideal solution for managing my class in a digital age.

Discussing research at RRU
Karam, M. A. (2015). Garden Research [Photograph]. Royal Roads University. Victoria, BC.
After reading through the articles, I learned more about the psychology of using social networking sites as a LMS. The learning perspectives of adopting Facebook in higher education classrooms appeared to be a mixed method of ethnography, quantitative and behavioural cultures of inquiry. Bentz and Shapiro (1998) define ethnographic cultures of inquiries as a researcher becoming immersed in or participating within a group by interviewing members to obtain ideas, values, meanings, concepts and behaviours within organizations, cultures and social life. I had discovered that the theoretical frameworks commonly used were the technology acceptance model (TAM) (Thongmak, 2014), social constructivist (Siddike, Islam, & Banna, 2015) and behaviourist (Leone, S., & Biancofiore, 2015). There were a variety of research methods used including interviews, surveys and case studies. The basis of the study found that students were more productive using social networking sites as a means of managing knowledge than adopting a more robust and complex system for learning.

Later in the week, we discussed our findings as a collective group. I realized that I had been using social networking sites, such as Facebook, Google+ and even Twitter as a LMS for all of my classes. In addition to using Facebook groups, which have since been used less within my classroom, I use Google Hangouts and Google Docs to work with my students in real-time, establish online discussions and host video conferences/distance learning. I have also used Twitter as a means of staying in contact with my class in addition to posting online resources, and interesting articles. The articles I read support a strong case for adopting social networking sites as a means for LMS within higher education and the business world. Social networks are a cost effect way of keeping small to large groups of people around the world connected in a familiar, user friendly environment.

References

Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful Inquiry in Social Research. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Karam, M. A. (2015). Garden Research [Photograph]. Royal Roads University. Victoria, BC.

Leone, S., & Biancofiore, G. (2015). Leveraging teamwork by Google+ in a lifelong learning perspective. Knowledge Management & E-Learning, 7(2), 215–231. Retrieved from http://www.kmel-journal.org/ojs/index.php/online-publication/article/view/433/256

Siddike, M. A. K., Islam, M. S., & Banna, H. (2015). Use of social networking sites: Facebook group as a learning management system. Knowledge Management & E-Learning, 7(2), 237. Retrieved from http://www.kmel-journal.org/ojs/index.php/online-publication/article/view/277/257

Thongmak, M. (2014). Factors determining learners’ acceptance of Facebook in a higher education classroom. Knowledge Management & E- Learning, 6(3), 316–331. Retrieved from http://www.kmel-journal.org/ojs/index.php/online-publication/article/view/363

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Cultures Of Inquiry: Research Methods and Reflection

mindful inquiry
mindful inquiry
Photo credit: Mark-Anthony Karam (2015)

Cultures Of Inquiry

During the first week of our course, we were asked to complete several readings regarding traditional concepts of research methods. We explored and discovered various perspectives and concepts in cultures of inquiry — including, phenomenology, hermeneutics, ethnography, quantitative behavioural science, action research, evaluation research, historical-comparative research, critical social science, and theoretical research. We were also asked to develop a mind map to visualize our findings and reflect on how some of these concepts relate to our experiences.

As a college instructor and program coordinator in the field of media studies—I must admit—I have never had formal training in the above research methods. The notion of contextualizing some of the concepts to my current and or past experiences felt a bit overwhelming at times. After completing the readings and assignment, I found myself connecting the dots and reflecting on past experiences that I had encountered when I practiced many of these concepts. Although, I was unfamiliar with the concepts, I realized that I had applied most of these concepts of inquiry over my career as an educator.

tree in Oakville's 16 mile creek
Photo credit: Mark-Anthony Karam (2015)

Research Methods and Reflection

As I reflected on the readings, I came away with some very insightful information and methods that would help me identify, plan and solve problems that we are faced with within my program and department. Many of our students come into our program with a post-secondary education from notable colleges and universities. Some are unable to find jobs due to their lack of technological savvy, experience with software applications and web-based languages. e.g., HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP etc…. On the other hand, a good portion of my students are categorized as ‘adult learners’. They have been out of school or the industry for some time and have a steeper learning curve to overcome; when it comes to the use of technology in the classroom and workplace. With such a diverse spectrum of learners that occupy my classroom, I often wonder how can I deliver content in such a way that each student—regardless of age, gender, social status, knowledge and experience—can learn the concepts in a clear, accessible and meaningful way that enables them to achieve their personal and or academic goals?

“Interpreting and explaining the way people in a group, organization, community, and society live and experience their ‘real-world’ situations within their environment.”

— Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful Inquiry in Social Research. SAGE.

Exploring the ethnographic inquiry helped me discover how I developed my own strategy for solving these issues. In my opinion, interpreting and explaining the way people in a group, organization, community, and society live and experience their ‘real-world’ situations within their environment is a key prerequisite to evaluation research and applying an action-based inquiry method. I always found myself to be a facilitator with an action-based approach that tried to guide and influence students in achieving their academic goals and career decisions.

In 2009, I developed an online application system for student applicants who wished to enter my program. The assessment would prompt the students to submit their online portfolio along with a current resume and letter of intent; stating how our program would help them develop their career goals and aspirations. The assessment also had an online computer aided tutorial that would help me understand the applicants level of computer competency. These tools allowed me to not only capture the level of knowledge that our applicants possessed upon entering the program, but it helped me facilitate and deliver meaningful content for the learner as it pertained to their career goals. This made for a better learning environment and allowed for more flexibility in the classroom. I could now instruct the core concepts of design and development but also tailor the lessons and assignments to help our students achieve success in the classroom and beyond graduation.

As I progress in my studies and complete my Masters, I look forward to discovering more about these topics and methods with my classmates and faculty. I can only hope that things get a bit easier to digest as I become more familiar with the methods of inquiries. However, the readings and subject matter of Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful Inquiry in Social Research. SAGE. has provided me with a solid understanding and beginning to this new journey in Education and Technology.

M.

References:
Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful Inquiry in Social Research. SAGE.