Past Event details

Methodology and Ethics for Researching the Digital University

Friday, 17 April 2015

Researching educational digital practice presents particular challenges both methodologically and in terms of ethics, where traditional assumptions about key concepts such as ‘form’ and ‘content’, and ‘public’ and ‘private’ may be blurred. This seminar will feature three experienced researchers who will reflect on their experiences of researching the digital in higher education, referring to a range of projects.


Keynote Speakers:


Research Ethics in the Digital University: Challenges and OpportunitiesBronwyn T. Williams, University of Louisville

As with so many of the activities in contemporary life, research today might be as likely to take place online as face to face. The affordances of digital media have meant some kinds of research practices such as collaboration and response, sampling and remix, publication and distribution, and multimodal composition can happen with ease, speed, and across great distances.  Such online research practices raise new questions about ethics and representation that reach far beyond issues of informed consent. In this talk I will address several of the key ethical concerns involved when researchers have the opportunity to collect, analyze, compose, and publish their work in using digital, online media. I will use case studies from recent research to discuss issues about assumptions of privacy, informed consent and participant agency, data gathering and security, and issues of representation in digital media scholarship. I’ll conclude with suggestions for new models of ethical reflection and engagement that can respond to the new possibilities raised by online research.  


Multimodal and Ethnographic Research in the Digital University: Generating, Managing and Analyzing Data in Social Media and Online Platforms: Myrrh Domingo , UCL Institute of Education

Studying social media and online platforms present both new potentials and challenges for qualitative research. Making meaning across a range of written, visual and other non-linguistic forms of representation is by now a salient feature of online communication. The design potentials of social media and online environments (e.g., professional, personal, community-oriented) make them a rich data source for social scientists interested in conducting research online. The focus of this talk is to introduce a combined multimodal and ethnographic approach able to describe, analyse and explore the modes and media of online communication; and within that, consider methods for generating and managing user-generated data. The affordances of the combined approach for harnessing online materials in terms of both ‘form’ and ‘content’ will be explored. Issues such as capturing and analysing multimodal texts in ephemeral online platforms, such as those appearing in blogs, forums and websites, will be explored using case studies from recent research projects funded by the ESRC on Multimodal Methodologies for Researching Digital and Data Environments (MODE).   

Researching students’ experiences of learning in digital networksChris Jones, Liverpool John Moores University

University students have had a complex set of interactions with their universities and a variety of social and learning networks for many years. Students are neither purely place based nor solely online, and their lives and learning increasingly intertwine with a variety of physical spaces and digital networks. This presentation will examine ways to research these complex and hybrid learning environments in the context of the digital university. I will also reflect back on research that has focused on the student experience over the previous 15+ years and look forward to the kinds of research that is becoming possible, which can trace and map students’ experiences across the ecology of devices, networks and learning environments. I will draw on three projects that used a variety of methods to capture and explore aspects of student experiences of using networked technologies for learning. These methods ranged from stimulated recall to student self-recording of video clips prompted by SMS text messaging. I will discuss the changing demands of research in networked environments and the practical, analytic and ethical challenges these methods raised. I will also introduce questions about what the next steps might be in exploring new research methods capable of finding new ways to access students when they are dispersed across a range of digital devices and networks. 


Network: Digital University
Date(s): Friday, 17 April 2015
Times: 11.00 -16.00
Location: SRHE, 73 Collier St, London N1 9BE
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Chris Jones
Myrrh Domingo
Bronwyn T. Williams
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