ICT as political action – a thesis
This web site presents the possibility of representing a thesis in a way other than the traditional written thesis which usually takes the form of a lengthy typescript or more recently a word processed book. This thesis is offered in a multimedia form as a web site using a wide range of media in an attempt to represent more clearly the research.
The main focus of my research is in examining my educational influence and transforming my embodied knowledge into explicit knowledge and from explicit knowledge into public knowledge (Varela et al: 1993). In making my embodied knowledge public I am responding to Snow’s (2001: 3) call to systematise personal knowledge so that it will be become publicly accessible and contribute to the knowledge base of teaching. In the thesis I show this process in action and explain its significance. In particular I aim to show my educational influence in the learning of others while I support them as students, administrators and colleagues. I explain how ICT have exhibited a transformational quality in supporting my own learning and the learning of colleagues. I explain how my educational knowledge has developed through my practice, as I have engaged colleagues and students in enquiries into their own learning as they ask and research the question: how can I improve what I do?
By asking the question, ‘How can I reconceptualise ICT as political action?’ I am asking whether it is possible to conceptualise ICT as a means of supporting individual human endeavour by people working in collaboration with others in life-affirming practices which enable them individually and collectively to create a new world for themselves.
- Can I provide students and colleagues with an opportunity to design and develop their own multimedia artifacts which are relevant to their own lives?
- By exploring and reflecting on their learning in producing these multimedia artifacts can they become creators of their own learning?
- Are there ways that I could work with colleagues to develop practices that are relevant to our lives and support us in becoming creators of their learning?
- How can I support my students to reach their capacity through the use of ICT?
- How can I use ICT to support political action?
- Can I develop my own theory of learning as I work and support others in their learning?’
- How do I demonstrate the validity of my evidence-based claims to knowledge?
These are the questions that I will address throughout the thesis. . The work of educators detailed in this thesis, although undertaken in the context of a school programme, frequently does not entail formal teaching rather it is, that form of teaching which is, after Buber (Hodes 1972), ‘undertaken most successfully when educators are not consciously trying to teach at all’. It is the form of teaching and learning that involves developing relationships of trust, commitment and friendship rather than focusing on formal curricula, pedagogies and methodologies. Later in this thesis and in the enveloping multimedia version examples will be given of ‘teachers acting spontaneously out of their own life’ through the support given to the Leaving Certificate Applied programme, and in supporting initiatives of the Setanta project. Throughout the thesis there is a struggle to represent wholeness within the confines of the linear linguistic form which we recognise as the format of a traditional thesis. Bohm’s (1979) challenge to fragmentation and the development of his idea of an ‘implicate order’ is reflected in this struggle and in the multimedia representation of the thesis which attempts to provide a non-linear, interactive, unified view of a life which rather than being simple and linear is complex and web-like. The evidence in various multimedia formats is available here.
A multimedia thesis
Originality in the thesis is carried through to the collection of evidence. The evidence base of this thesis draws on the multimedia base to provide evidence using a range of media – video, audio, graphical, text, and hypertext. The multimedia theme is carried through to a representation of the thesis as a multimedia thesis. I regard the linguistic form of the thesis as a subset of the multimedia thesis in the same ways that traditional forms of theory and of pedagogy are subsets of newer relational forms of theory and pedagogy.
An important part of this work has been evidence of the impact of change provided through the medium of the technology. Eisner (1997) has argued for the use of alternative forms of data representation. While this thesis is making a case that technology has a transformational quality within classrooms and in other places of work the case goes beyond that by using technology to transform the doctoral thesis from a purely linguistic form to a living form which enfolds (Bohm 1994) the linguistic within it. As Eisner (1997) has warned, using alternative forms of data representation is not without promise and perils. The promise and perils may be even greater in attempting an alternative representation of the thesis. Nonetheless this thesis addresses one of Eisner’s principal reservations about alternative forms: the constraints imposed by our publication system on material that does not take printed form. The multimedia thesis offers a web based format that offers the promise of clearer representation and wider dissemination than the printed form.
How do I use this thesis?
Buttons on the left of the page
The link at the left of each page represent the chapters of the written thesis. These links take you to pages which offer a multimedia representation of the selected chapter. However if you prefer the written version there are links in each section that will allow you to download an Acrobat version of the chapter.
Links across the top of the pages
The links across the top of the pages take you to section dealing with the practices or political actions that formed the thesis. For the most part these can be represented as projects. For example the 'Setanta Project' or 'Action Learning Project'.
Links to Themes
Under the chapter headings on the left are some key themes and issues from the thesis. These links will take you to pages that address these themes
One of the key themes within this thesis is the issue of validating research. I make the claim that social validation can been gained by presenting publicly the evidence base of research and offering it to public critique. You can read more about this here.
The discussion forum on this web site gives you the opportunity to contribute to this validation process by considering the evidence offered here and critiquing it.