|The paradigms of e-Education: An analysis of the communication structures in the research on information and communication technology integration in education in the years 2000–2001|
|Prev||Chapter 5. Analysis of the paradigmatic structures of research on ICT integration in education||Next|
This section summarizes the usage of metaphors in research on ICT integration in education. The root metaphors will be categorized in different “ontologies” based on the fundamental differences in relation to the following aspects:
What is the source domain of the metaphors?
Where it can be rooted?
What is the distinguishing aspect of the metaphor?
In what kind of contexts is it usually related in education (in micro context)?
One specific notion of the metaphorical expressions is that they can be divided into two different categories according to the ontological nature of the metaphors: some metaphors describe the essence of ICT applications in education, and others the capability of the metaphor to include or contain all of these applications. Roughly the metaphors can be divided into categories of essence and container metaphors according to Lakoff & Johnson (1980). Also they can be divided into two categories in respect to do they see the application mainly from individuals’ perspective or from institutions’ perspective.
Applying the definitions of different metaphors (Lakoff & Johnson 1980) the following root metaphors and the metaphorical expressions can be categorised under essence metaphors. The perspective in these metaphors is mainly from individuals’ perspective and therefore they can be rooted also back to the research orientations and epistemologies based on temporal or materialistic perspectives (see Luhmann 1995, 87).
Substance, object: Direct reference to technology as objects relates the research closely to natural sciences and technology. The reference can be twofold: technology as objects in our surrounding and technology as an instrument. The rule that the research is referring to technical substances as physical objects just as any other objects in our environment emphasizes the physical and materialistic aspects of technology.
Web, Internet, ICT (in some cases when speaking technically).
System (technical system, equipment).
Package, book, content (as package), resource.
Software (as package).
Instrument, tool: Very close to substance is the referring to the instrumental usage of these substances. This metaphorical reference to the instrumental usage of ICT can be recognized by applying the rules “by” or “with”. Instrumental metaphors are very common because of the “natural science” orientation of the scientific research, which is also very strong in the research in ICT and education. Educational research paradigms like contextual and radical constructivism have not been able to change this so far.
Software (as a tool).
e-Mail (as a tool).
Assisted, aid, support, enhanced.
Human beings as servants, assistants, agents, etc.
Flow: The essence of ICT in education can be considered as a process or a flow of processes by nature. This can be recognised most of the cases by applying “via” in context of the metaphor. This rule emphasises the fact that something will be “transported” via something. This metaphor is also closely related to communication within the concept of ICT, and continues the tradition of applying communication theory and media research in instructional technology research. It is also connected to the delivery systems of education, where the delivery of educational products can be seen as a flow. This aspect also enhances this category to the inter-subjective and institutional perspective by presuming the interaction of at least two instances that the flow can connect. According to this rule the following metaphors and metaphorical expressions fall in to this category:
Electricity derived metaphors like e-Learning.
The following root metaphors and metaphorical expressions can be categorized under container metaphors because the user experiences being either “on” or “in” the metaphorical container. Container metaphors also presume that the previous metaphors can be included by the container. This specific aspect relates these metaphors to institutional and social perspectives, which are also notable in micro contexts where the metaphors exist in the research articles.
2-dimensional platform: The rule for this category is the preposition “on”, which indicate, that the object of the concept is “a platform” or a foundation by nature which can carry processes, tools and resources. According to this rule, the following metaphors and metaphorical expressions fall in to this category:
Web, Internet (when speaking as platforms).
3-dimensional space: The rule for this category is the preposition “in”, which indicates, that the object of the concept is “a space” by nature, which can be established on a platform and therefore contain of all the previous metaphors. According to this rule, the following metaphors and metaphorical expressions fall in to this category:
According to Luhmann (1995), meaning-giving processes have always a physical dimension, a temporal dimension and a social dimension. Therefore each root metaphor is implicitly connected to a certain understanding of these dimensions or perspectives. Based on the contextual analysis, further interpretation can be made in order to connect the ontology of the metaphors to existing research domains and their theoretical orientation. In the context of this analysis of research communication, the material dimension is understood as a technical orientation, the temporal dimension as learning theoretical orientation and the social dimension as a societal, institutional and cultural orientation in the research articles. The table 11 will summarize the connections between the ontologies of the metaphors and these fundamental dimensions and research orientations.
Table 11. Ontology of the metaphors in connection to research orientations.
|Metaphorical concepts defining ICT integration in education||Relation to the different dimensions of meaningful action in research orientation (see Luhmann 1995)|
|Metaphorical expressions (names)||Ontology of metaphor (root or conceptual metaphor)||Material dimension(Understanding of technical systems)||Social dimension(Understanding of education as institution)||Temporal dimension (Understanding of learning)|
|Cyberspace Virtual world Virtual school Environment Ecology System||Space (in)||Complex information system, open, autopoetically emerging system (a system that learns)||Cultural system, communication, language, institution||(Self)Socialization, emerging practices|
|e-Learning Web based - Internet discussion board On-line - Course site Platform||Platform (on)||Operation management system, combining learning, delivery, materials etc.||Contextual, collaboration||Social construction, meaningful action|
|ICT Conferencing Delivery- Service - mediated - enhanced e-learning (as a process) e-mail (sometimes) Electronic –||Flow (via)||Process, flow management system||Interaction, doing together||Social interaction, collaboration|
|IT Software (Multi)media Agent Tool e-mail (sometimes) - assisted||Instrument (by, with)||Object management system||Dimension, function, the distinct way something works||Cognition Schemata creation|
|PC Technology Screen; Display Message Page Material; Package||Physical object (with)||Technical system, Object (learning object)||Aspect, feature, how it looks||Reacting, memorising, adopting,|
The different root metaphors can also be analyzed within the framework of information and communication system (see figure 5) by using semantic associations. We can consider the layers of the information system (Verrijn-Stuart 2001) as broader categories of concepts intended to structure the multidimensional and more abstract concept of information system. Physical and empirical layers can be easily associated with computers and components as physical systems and objects. The syntactical layer is associated with software and other tools, which are capable of logically managing the objects. The semantic layer relates these capabilities and tools to processes (like learning) and the pragmatic layer integrates these processes to larger operations and platforms for organising learning possibilities, teaching, delivering education. The social layer relates these operations to historically developed institutions like schools, universities, etc. which can have a distinct and emergent way of developing in the society (autopoesis). This means the information systems in education are not only developed intentionally, they are also emerging in the context of development of systems of society. Figure 14 illustrates graphically the relationship between conceptual metaphors in the context of a larger concept of information and communication systems of education.
Figure 14. Conceptual metaphors (inner circle) in the context of information and communication systems (outer circle and dimension arrows, see figure 5).
It is easy to realize that the information and communication system consists of matters, which are currently being studied by different research orientations based on different epistemic foundations. Technology as a research field is mostly based on natural sciences. Information sciences are combining systems theories, and syntactic and semantic theories. Learning research is combining semantics, psychology and social sciences. The research of education as an institution or a social system is related to many branches of social sciences like studies of history, culture, economics, management and society. In methodological discussions constructive epistemologies in social and educational sciences have many times replaced the traditional research approaches and changed our understanding of the education system. As we can realize according to this thesis, natural sciences and realistic epistemologies are still steering the majority of research in the field of ICT integration in education. The paradigms of the research of information and communication systems in education are therefore in a state of flux. The following chapter will bring light to these paradigms by contextualising the root metaphors with the findings in epistemology and interest structures of the research.
|Metaphorical concepts defining the ontology of ICT integration in education||Up||The paradigms structuring scientific communication in research on ICT integration in education|