|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|
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In this thesis the paradigms of the research on ICT integration in education are analyzed through research publications which can be seen as communications of the scientific community. Samples of publications and articles on scientific magazines dedicated to this multidisciplinary research domain are selected as sources of information. This kind of paradigm research can be seen as a second order observation of scientific research on a specific research area where the primary research articles are the first order observations in Luhmann’s systems thinking. It can show, for example, the limitedness or new possibilities of the research, although it has its own “blind spots” as well. (Blühdorn 2000, 347.)
The paradigm analysis of the current research in the area of ICT integration in education will be based on the assumption that the scientific publications like scientific journals, publishing papers and research reports on the field, are forming the core of the scientific communicative social system. In scientific publications the research target is represented differently depending on the general focus of the publication. In the selection of the journals the main criterion is therefore how the journal covers the research domains described in the contextual analysis in general. This chapter describes the criteria and the process of selecting journals and articles forming the primary source (appendix 1) for the paradigm analysis in such a way that the primary source articles represent the research domains in terms of content, quality and availability.
This thesis is based on the qualitative analysis of scientific articles published in scientific journals reporting research and discourses related to ICT integration in education. Since the focus of the paradigm analysis is particularly on the educational applications of ICT rather than in general the phenomena of ICT, education or information society, the selected journals and articles should be combining these problem areas rather than focusing only on one research domain in time. Journals discussing broadly these general themes will therefore not be included, although there might be some articles discussing ICT integration in education, too. This way of selecting articles aims to get the core of the research communication, which is overlapping in terms of theoretical orientations as much as possible.
The fact that the articles represent the intersection of the research domains of learning, technology and social, is part of the theoretical validity of the research. The contextual analysis together with the selection process of the journals to be included in the analysis is critical in this sense. Each of the journals will be analyzed in terms of orientation to guarantee that the articles are in the intersection of the research domains of technology, learning and education as an institution and social system.
International availability is one of the criteria. The primary source articles will be selected from international scientific journals specialized in publishing articles on applications of ICT in education. Articles from journals focusing on ICT and learning, virtual (educational) organizations, new (ICT based) learning communities and cultures, and ICT based learning environments will be selected for more close analysis. The language of the selected journals is English. English is the major language in scientific communication covering approximately 80-85% of scientific publications on the Internet (Peraton & Creed 2000). Language is one factor which is related to availability in terms of broad understanding of the content. It is also related to cultural globalization, which has been discussed separately in this thesis.
The communicative system of a scientific branch cannot be strictly located in any single journal, publication or forum. The scientific discussion changes forum as the branch progresses and the communication environment changes. Some of the journals change the name when the discussion goes beyond the current title and some journals keep the title but change the content of the discussion. For example, “Journal of Educational Television” changed its title to “Journal of Educational Media” in 1995. The change is parallel with the technical development of traditional TV and new emerging digital multimedia and Internet broadcasting. One example of the opposite kind of development is the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, which has kept the name although the content of the journal is more or less about learning in new information and communication networks.
The development of ICT has also changed the operation environment of scientific journals from paper copy delivery to electronic delivery. Some new journals have emerged and some old journals have had problems maintaining the interest of writers and readers. Some indication of this kind of change in the discussion forum of ICT in education can be seen from the statistics of the Institute for Scientific Information - ISI (http://www.isinet.com/isi/), which researches the scientific journals and their impact on the research field based on a number of citations to each article published in a journal.
As an example we can compare the British Journal of Education Technology and the Journal of Educational Technology and Research (figures 8 and 9). The British Journal of Education Technology has the highest ISI impact factor among the journals in the area of ICT in education in the year 2000. The impact factor has increased from 0.111 in the year 1996 to 0.310 in the year 2000 (figure 8). At the same time, the impact factor of the traditionally well-known and trusted journal, Educational Technology Research and Development has dropped from 0.483 in the year 1996 to 0.177 in the year 2000 (figure 9).
Figure 8. The trend graph of impact factors of British Journal of Educational Technology (ISI 2002).
According to ISI (ISI 2002), changes in the impact of a journal can happen because of a change in the format of the journal or the title of the journal. It is obvious that also the delivery mechanisms have some importance in this change. The British Journal of Educational Technology is delivered electronically through one of the biggest on-line-journal portals, which is widely available at universities in all over the world. ETR&D has trusted in the traditional paper delivery much longer and has published the electronic format only recently, that may have affected to the impact factor of the journal (figure 9). It is available electronically for members only. The normal subscribers will receive the journal in paper format only.
Figure 9. The trend graphs of impact factors of Educational Technology Research and Development (ISI 2002).
One possible criterion for selecting articles into the analysis in this thesis could be based on the impact factor ranking by ISI. The ranking could guide the selection to select only articles which really have an impact on the research field. The journals falling to the first criteria, ISI ranking, are the journals presented in the table 6.
The problem in using only the above mentioned criterion is the fact that ISI does not rank all the journals. In fact the ranking requires an agreement between the publisher and ISI. So being on the list does not really guarantee that the journal’s real impact is better than a journal which is not listed but gives some direction only.
Table 6. Journals in ICT in Education ranked by ISI.
|Name of the journal||ISSN|
|British Journal of Educational Technology||0007-1013|
|Computers & Education||0360-1315|
|Journal of Computer Assisted Learning||0266-4909|
|Educational Technology Research & Development||1042-1629|
|Journal of Educational Computing Research||0735-6331|
Another possible criterion is to select articles from those journals which are commonly available for researchers in the field of study and are in a format that supports the idea of ICT integration in education among the researchers. The electronic publication and delivery of journals fits very well with ideas supporting research on ICT in education. The readers and writers of the journals dealing with issues of ICT in education are familiar with electronic publication and most probably are working in an ICT based environment every day. It is supposed that they are among the first researchers who use electronic journals in their work. Therefore it is argued that the journals and articles to be analyzed here should be widely and commonly available through electronic network delivery.
Currently there are many publishing portals available for accessing scientific electronic journals. Many of the journals are also available in paper format but some of the new journals are electronic only. Most of the portals have their specific target groups of scientists and they cover only specific research areas. Education or educational technology does not have a portal of its own for electronic journals.
There is a selection of electronic publications available on the Internet at the moment, which is free of charge and published by a range of organisations and universities. There is no doubt that among those journals there are high quality publications. However, in this research the free web publications will be discarded, because it is extremely difficult to evaluate the quality of each of the journals and make any rule regarding which journal to include and which to exclude. The fact that researchers and universities are willing to pay a subscription fee is at least some indication of the quality and usefulness of a journal. Therefore only commercially published electronic journals will be included in the sample of this research.
Two comprehensive commercial databases of journals are available in the area of education. Ebsco Academic Search Elite provides full text for nearly 1,700 journals covering the social sciences, humanities, general science, multi-cultural studies, education, etc. The database is updated on a daily basis. Elsevier Science ScienceDirect covers over 1200 scientific, technical & medical peer-reviewed journals and over 40 million abstracts from scientific articles.
The journals available in these two large scientific portals of electronic journals (EBSCOhost Academic Search Elite and Elsevier Science Direct) cover 3 of the 5 journals ranked by ISI on the field of ICT and education, and cover well the research domains mentioned in the previous chapter. On the basis of content, availability and quality the journals presented in table 7 are selected to represent the core of the scientific communication in the research on ICT integration in education and as the primary sources for the analysis:
Table 7. Journals in ICT in Education published in Ebscohost and Elsevier electronic journal databases.
|British Journal of Educational technology||0007-1013|
|Computers & Education||0360-1315|
|Journal of Computer Assisted Learning||0266-4909|
|The Internet and Higher Education||1096-7516|
|Educational Media International||0952-3987|
|Interactive Learning Environments||1049-4820|
|International Journal of Instructional Media||0092-1815|
|Journal of Educational Media||1358-1651|
|Journal of Research on Computing in Education||0888-6504|
In some of the journals, all the articles fulfill the selection criteria and in other journals only some of the articles are selected. The selection criterion for articles is simple: it must be a research article and the content of the articles should refer to ICT integration in education and cover at least two of defined three research orientations learning, technology and social.
The selected journals in this thesis are very representative. The nine journals from which the articles have been selected, are well known all over the world. The journals are available also in electronic format in major scientific publishing portals and they cover the research domains very well. There are also some well-known journals which were not chosen for this research because of the paper delivery format, or restricted electronic delivery. We also have to note that there are also research articles on the same research domain available in some more generic journals in the area of education, learning psychology, technology, and sociology and culture research. These articles can be used only for the contextual analysis but not as a primary source.
This thesis is not aiming at analyzing longitudinally the historical genesis of the paradigms but focusing on an analysis of the current formations of paradigms as structures of communication. As Foucault (1972) has argued, this kind of analysis is not an un-historical analysis, because the concepts and structure formations in articles are always historically formed. The meaning giving process is always retrospective.
To keep the sample systematic and representative, the analysis is based on the latest full volume of articles published in electronic format at the time of conducting the analysis (5/2002). The volume of the year 2001 was available in electronic format in all the journals selected except the British Journal of Educational Technology, Educational Media International and Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. From these three journals the articles from year 2000 have been included in the analysis. Only research articles will be selected. No editorials, book reviews, news, etc. are included to primary source articles. The number of the articles selected from each of the journal is presented in the table 8.
Table 8. Number of articles selected from each of the journal.
|Journal Title||Year / vol.||Number of articles selected|
|British Journal of Educational technology||2000/31||26|
|Computers & Education||2001/37||22|
|Journal of Computer Assisted Learning||2000/16||32|
|The Internet and Higher Education||2001/4||23|
|Educational Media International||2000/37||30|
|Interactive Learning Environments||2001/9||7|
|International Journal of Instructional Media||2001/28||24|
|Journal of Educational Media||2001/26||13|
|Journal of Research on Computing in Education||2001/33||17|
All the articles were copied on to the computer of the author and transformed to a rich text format (.rtf) for the further analysis in the NVivo qualitative analysis software. In the analysis and the following chapters code references will be used. The complete list of the articles with the original names and bibliographical details are listed in the primary source list in the annex 1. The detailed description of the steps of the analysis is presented in the chapter 3.3.3.
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