Image by mikecogh via FlickrNicola Westbury opened with an overview of the background to the study, and highlighted some issues such as the danger of disconnestion in large classes (Nicol, 2010) and how educators respond to technology education. The researchers used insider research “an individual who posseses intimate knowledge of the community and its members” (Labaree, 2002, p. 100). While aspects identified in this definition offers some great benefits, there are also ethical considerations.
There were 4 large (800 to 1000 students in first year classes, 17 lecturers and 6 key informating, and the initiative was rolled out in 2011 semester one. The use of video conferencing was trialled to simultaneously connect four lecture venues in Auckland. There were quite a few issues, and the initiative has only run in semester 1.
Data was collected via a range of means including group interviews and videoing of the sessions. One of the thing that came out is that teachers are now expected to take on roles as technicians – often involving the carrying around the hardware. Uncertainty was a problem, and technical issues were a constant bugbear – sometimes the technology worked beautifully and other times it didn’t. Emerging themes include changes as teacher, and identity.
Insider research has been powerful and has allowed access to backstage areas of teaching. The repeated contact to collagues has been very positive. The use of implicit knowledge and credibility has grown and there has been a growth in credibility. There are, however, power relationships within the workplace. The data has not been used in an evaluative way, and this means making decisions around, for example, using the data outside the scope of the research study. Limitations also include being too embedded.