On a first half of a course in Gothenburg

I’m participating in this course about participatory media which brought me for its first half again to the nice city of Gothenburg (Sweden).

It has been very interesting for me to find out that most of my colleagues have a Library and Information Science background and that so many of them are researching the use of social media for educational purposes. I have myself seen this trend to increase in all the international courses and workshops I have attended in the recent years. I think the most important questions posed on this matter within these days are:

  • Why are you doing it?
  • Why does it matter?
  • Which tools are you going to use and why?
  • Philosophical/Epistemological/Theoretical background is extremely complex
  • Of course, you mustn’t ignore that technology is but a tool and does not shape change by itself.
  • The question of how to assess the learning of students is a big question, no easily answerable. It’s one of my concerns in my study, although is not one of the important ones.

I was curious that one colleague is studying the divide between the social media and the real world within a higher education environment, as myself I found in my research that you could have pretty opposite opinions on it from the students “suffering” with these experiments that we researchers do. On one side I have seen that it has been very positive as in such a way that students have told me that they didn’t think about using social media in education before (young participant), that it’s inspiring in a way to enrich his own practice (senior participant); and on the other side, one student (young participant) getting really pissed off because I sent all participants a message about our activities through Facebook’s private messaging system.

Also of note, was the “scientific dinner”, meaning a dinner where colleagues and senior professors gather and speak about research, and well, of course some miscellanea and jokes. I kind of miss that… In any case, I am very happy and grateful to have the opportunity to meet my international peers and have this kind of exchange. It’s incredibly helpful.

I was very glad that after the short presentation of my research I got some of the few and nice words I have myself received towards my choice of research method: Participatory Action Research. Together with an appreciation of the challenges it poses, the resistance in some academic circles to accept it as a valid path, and its peculiarities in how it’s a study of subjectivities, emancipation and the enhancement of human knowledge, practices and experiences.
As it has happened in recent times, I feel the limitations I can have as a member of a research community because of the financial factor. But it’s part of this whole learning experience that I started when I left my country in pursuit of my professional career. Perhaps the best lessons in humility are learned by going through situations of need.

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