Educational Disruptions

Sharing Research Differently

Things have calmed down a bit for the moment. People are slowly signing up to join the project. Some are telling me that they are excited but nervous. They need support for doing the work. I am assuring them they will have it, and they will.

On Monday I spoke to a class of doctoral students at UNC about my work on this project. One of the things I tried to stress was how I saw this project as an opportunity to push on the boundaries of what research is – what it looks like in practice, how it can be constructed, and how it can be communicated. I explained that I hoped to move away from simply having a standard research article published in a journal as the major outcome of this project. That’s all well and good. I’m not knocking it, but that kind of writing is also getting a bit boring. I like to write, and I want to be a bit more creative in my academic writing. I’m not sure that people normally link creativity and writing with academia unless people are coming from the arts or the creative writing/English department.

I’m not locking myself into what this creative approach should look like. I’m simply keeping myself open to possibilities. Things will unfold over the course of time. I also don’t see myself as being the sole author. I imagine there will be something where that is the case, but I don’t expect it to be that way for everything.

I’ve come across a couple of ideas to get the juices flowing. My first idea, which I was thinking way back when I started blogging, was a scholarly personal narrative (SPN). I explained my interest in writing an SPN to the doctoral students, but I told them I couldn’t clearly articulate what an SPN was. I have read two books on it by Robert Nash. The books are clear. The problem is me and not him. Until I start to engage with and apply the ideas to my own writing I don’t think I can do much more than point people to his work if you want to understand SPN further.

The other idea that I had is a bit nutty. Well, it’s not totally nutty. People do it all the time, but I don’t think they do it in the context I’m putting it in.¬† Here it is: What if (and I’m thinking about this for the 2013-2014 run of the project) I gave cameras to kids and/or teachers and have them do a photo documentary of their experiences with the project? That should be fun to get permissions for. I might want to start that now! :)

But seriously, here’s my thought: Wouldn’t it be cool to have a photo exhibition about the project? Maybe a couple of videos thrown in for good measure. Instead of¬†presenting experiences and findings through the written word, what if we presented them through pictures? The pictures could have captions or extended explanations like you see in a museum. They would obviously have to be presented in a way that made sense. What if you went to a professional conference and instead of listening to me talk to you about this project for 20 or 60 minutes you walked around a photo gallery and interacted with myself, teachers, and potentially students who had experienced the work first hand?

Yes, there are a 1000 problems with this idea and most center around paperwork and getting permissions at multiple levels. If I think this is a good idea then I need to get to work on it sooner rather than later. And these are just two ideas that I have for the moment. There could be others. Both require a substantial amount of work. What do you think?

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One thought on “Sharing Research Differently

  1. Pingback: Nailing Down a Plan « Educational Disruptions

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