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epistemology

v. 30-06-2008, unpublished draft

The new Labour Government’s educational initiatives with the promises “to turn every secondary school in Australia into a digital school” and “boost the research and development capacity” have triggered a range of new discussions about the implications of new political agendas on educational research. Research-related discussions at the ACER and education.au symposia “A digital education revolution” and the Educational Research Futures task group’s discussions initiated by the AARE and ARDEN are just few such examples to mention.

There has been a lot of action on another digital end of research policy and practice, called “e-research”. Among many others, the key developments over the last two years include the release of the Australian E-Research Strategy , the Strategic Roadmap and Investment Plan and the recent announcement of the Roadmap’s Review . These developments, however, have been almost unnoticed by the educational research community and education, as a discipline, essentially has been left out from the national e-research strategies and budgets. Why bother?
E-research has already shaped research agendas of many “soft” sciences. E-humanities and e-social social sciences have become important buzzwords in many research funding games and, in some countries, even got dedicated lines in the national research budgets.

E-research in educational research is a different story...

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Social and cultural aspects of e-research, grid and/or cyberinfrastructure become increasingly an attractive research topic for social scientists and cultural anthropologists. It is not surprising why. Interesting and important research themes can be found almost on the surface of e-research phenomenon. As an example, at least two research questions are represented in the following titles of the papers presented at e-research conferences this year:

  • M. Daw, R. Procter, Y. Lin, T. Hewitt, W. Jie, A. Voss, K. Baird, A. Turner, M. Birkin K. Miller, W. Dutton, M. Jirotka, R. Schroeder, G. de la Flor, P. Edwards, R. Allan, X. Yang, R. Crouchley (2007) Developing an e-Infrastructure for Social Science. Paper presented at the Third international conference on e-social science, Ann Arbor, MI, US. URL

Question 1: Is there a limit for productive collaboration?

  • J. Dalziel, C. Nguyen, R. Warouw (2007) Macquarie University: ASK-OSS, DRAMA and RAMS: eResearch support from MELCOE. Paper presented at the E-Research Australasia 2007. Brisbane. URL

Question 2: Is there a limit for effective(?) technical communication?

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"To design one is nothing,
To build one is easy,
To fly one is everything."

(Otto Lilienthal)

The UK PolicyGrid tries to design and implement a middleware infrastructure that supports policy-related research activities based on social science research. The project called “Semantic Grid Tools for Rural Policy Development & Appraisal” (nb. it’s not difficult to imagine similar policy grid for educational policy decision-making and research). The design of the middleware is based on the provenance architecture. It requires to provide a 'thick' description of the contextual information that allows to interpret data and resources adequately (e.g., Who, What, Where, Why, When, Which and How the resource was created). The concept of the Semantic Grid is central to the design of this project.

Challenging idea?

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This entry is an eclectic summary of the key trends in scientific research methodologies, technologies and practices followed by some reflections about the state of the art and future of the educational research. Essentially this blog is a mashup of ideas from three unrelated in a structured world readings and some outsider's thoughts that link them in a complex world.

Sources:

  • Alex Szalay: Science in an Exponential World. Paper presented at eResearch Australasia Conference, Brisbane, 26-29 June 2007. URL
  • OECD: Evidence in Education: Linking Research and Policy, 12/06/2007. OECD, CERI. URL
  • Uri Wilensky and Michael J. Jacobson: Complex Systems in Education: Scientific and Educational Importance and Implications for the Learning Sciences. Journal of the Learning Sciences. 2006, Vol. 15, No. 1, Pages 11-34. URL

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