Research evolutions in school

icon_moleskine_journalI’m having a series of thoughts about ways of going about research / school dynamics and I just need to get them down if haphazardly right here in a kind of ‘free writing’ mode. I’m struck with how quickly I can move in my own project and the constraints inherent in any institutional advance….

  • JP – mentor at school – is becoming more of a research partner with the passing of each week. Really generative having someone else to bounce ideas off who is similarly committed to the children and is happy to pursue the research during the week when I ‘m not there. As well as liaising with parents via text, he’s offering to ask the kids who aren’t on his ‘case load’ the same questions as those who are. I offered help on this because he said some were just re-regurgitating what they thought we’d like to hear (Vygotsky called it ’empty verbalism’). Ways of countering this? I had an idea about a spoof interview where JP and I would enact both the digital stance and the more trad. stance on education, and see what they had to say about that…? Responding to a performance might provoke a more genuine response and shift their thinking in more explicit ways.
  • I’ve had more thoughts on Participative/Ethnographic Action Research methodology – giving the project a purpose ie. instead of doing a sequel to last term’s short film, they could develop their own personal digital learning (film making?) journal? and set their own research questions in relation to something that interests them? (Am researching  free multimodal Apps.. Moleskin do a nice one … and Adobe Ideas is a good vector graphic app, Explain Everything will be another option, but it’s not free so, there will be many hurdles to jump) … all this with a view to developing digital use in the school. The journals would go on display online after first being presented to the Sr. Leadership Team / Governors as a useful, creative learning tool that could be rolled out to all years. This has been inspired by Kip Jones’ use of physical Moleskin notebooks for a research project at Bournemouth Univ. Work like this goes some way towards a pedagogy of co-design and collaboration, and facilitating the skills of curatorship with digital media and self-reflection – with the specific purpose effecting change and unsettling traditional power relationships.
  • Difficulties with rolling out digital infrastructures and habits across the school…I had a 10 min. slot in a staff meeting to explain  the rationale behind, and demonstrate, the workings of the school website content management system… it was an uphill battle waged in clunky silence and dry handouts, ending with obstructive comments on the school’s ICT safety agenda/policy and fears concerning parental backlash 😦  It couldn’t have been less me. But this is what I was asked to deliver in a bid to get teachers to contribute site content. There’s so much more that could be said here but the school is undergoing major cultural changes and this ‘intervention’ is a positive, if faltering, step towards sharing knowledge and being a more outward facing school. I think you’ve got to be more outward-facing first and then move on to being a more porous environment.
  • Another thought this week was to draft in a friend who used to be a BBC documentary film-maker and have the kids interview him about the editing process in particular. They could then make a film of that process, having previously researched how to film an interview. This they could add to their repertoire of film making skills and techniques.

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