Sebastian H.D. Fiedler Our proposal for a symposium on Educational Design Research has just been accepted for the EdMedia 2016 conference in Vancouver, Canada. The two hour long session is titled “Educational Design Research: methodological blind spots, challenges, and alternative sources for inspiration”. This is the abstract of what we are going to address:

Among contemporary educational technology research and development approaches, educational design research (also called “design-based research”) has gained considerable attention in recent years. While its proponents promote design interventions in various types of practice settings, they often maintain the idea of the primacy of “theory” without making explicit what type of theory and knowledge claims they are hoping to produce. It often appears as if educational design researchers want to maintain an ideal of “scientific” rationale and of universal knowledge claims that does not seem to fit with their own focus on intervention in contextualised practice.
In our symposium we will explore various methodological blind spots and challenges of contemporary educational design research and its application in the field of educational technology. In addition, we will review some potential sources for inspiration that could fuel the further development and fundamental emancipation of educational design research as a system of inquiry.

Beyond the contributions of Tobias Schmohl and myself from the HUL at University of Hamburg, Germany, the symposium will feature work of Robert Fitzgerald and Simon Leonard from the University of Canberra, Australia, Mark W. Johnson from the University of Liverpool, UK, and Beaumie Kim from the University of Calgary, Canada.

Logo of EdMedia Conference

Change that is triggered by human intention is at the heart of design. It is a hallmark of design that human intention is essential and central to the instigation of change in the real world. Human intention is, therefore, a singularly important and consequential cause of change. The idea of cause is complex but key to understanding designed change. Cause is natural (as defined by science, through the conceptualization of chance and necessity). Design, therefore, must accommodate change brought about by natural causes; but the most challenging forms of cause are those that are rooted in human agency. These intentional forms of cause are diverse. The type of intentional cause that is of particular interest here is design cause. Design cause is the consequence of human volition and the capacity for humans to be proactive and purposeful in their interaction with the real world. Design cause is essential both for initiating change that brings new things into existence and for modifying those things that are already in existence… (p. 38).

Reference: Nelson, H. G. & Stolterman, E. (2012). The Design Way: Intentional Change in an Unpredictable World. London: MIT Press

“In sum, stupidity management involves a wide range of actors seeking to restrict and distort communicative action through the exercise of power. This can occur through direct interventions, agenda setting, propagating broader ideological beliefs, and creat- ing subject positions. However, two points of qualification are worth adding. First, these processes of stupidity management are not mutually exclusive: they may work in tandem. Returning to the IT consultancy study mentioned above (Alvesson, 1995), we see that all four modes of power are at work simultaneously. The managerial assertion that employ- ees should criticize only if they have constructive proposals for solutions, can be seen as a direct expression of power (shut up!), agenda controlling (‘postpone raising the issue until you have come up with a solution’), an assertion of ideology (‘be positive and constructive, don’t complain’), and a form of identity creation (‘be a good organizational citizen’). Second, the forms of stupidity management we mention can work through episodic interventions as well as developing more systemic restrictions on communicative action (Lawrence et al., 2012). The former are interventions in specific situations; the latter refer to developing and maintaining the cultural and institutional grounding that supports socialized and/or organizationally ingrained capacities for functional stupidity…” (p. 1207).

Reference: Alvesson, M. & Spicer, A. (2012). A Stupidity-Based Theory of Organizations. Journal of Mangement Studies, 49(7), p. 1195-1220.

“Functional stupidity is organizationally-supported lack of reflexivity, substantive rea- soning, and justification. It entails a refusal to use intellectual resources outside a narrow and ‘safe’ terrain. It can provide a sense of certainty that allows organizations to function smoothly. This can save the organization and its members from the frictions provoked by doubt and reflection. Functional stupidity contributes to maintaining and strengthening organizational order. It can also motivate people, help them to cultivate their careers, and subordinate them to socially acceptable forms of management and leadership. Such positive outcomes can further reinforce functional stupidity. However, functional stu- pidity can also have negative consequences such as trapping individuals and organiza- tions into problematic patterns of thinking, which engender the conditions for individual and organizational dissonance. These negative outcomes may prompt individual and collective reflexivity in a way that can undermine functional stupidity…” (p. 1196).

Reference: Alvesson, M. & Spicer, A. (2012). A Stupidity-Based Theory of Organizations. Journal of Mangement Studies, 49(7), p. 1195-1220.

Sebastian H.D. Fiedler Our EDeR – Educational Design Research Journal project is moving along quite nicely. Some contributions for the first issue have now made it through the mentoring process and have been submitted for Phase II (blind peer review) of our workflow model. We will have to see how well the OJS system is playing along.

Our Editorial Review Board is also growing and getting more diverse. The most recent additions have been Thomas C. Reeves from the University of Georgia, USA, Kalle Juuti from the University of Helsinki, Finland, and Mònica Feixas from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain.

Sebastian H.D. Fiedler We have two papers accepted for the the British Educational Research Association’s BERA Annual Conference 2016 in Leeds, UK.

The paper titled “Educational Design Research as a mode of knowledge production” is co-authored with my HUL colleague Tobias Schmohl.

The other paper is titled “Emancipating learning activity in the light of the digital transformation” and tries to link back to some work that I did around my PhD.

It has been a good while since I have been presenting anything in the UK. So, I am kind of looking forward to this.

Sebastian H.D. Fiedler As part of our ongoing effort to develop a research collaboration with colleagues at the Institute of Education at Tartu University, Estonia, Tobias Schmohl, Emanuele Bardone, and myself put in separate proposals for the “Reflective Minds and Communities” conference in Tartu. The conference is organised by the EARLI SIGs 10, 21 & 25 and will take place on August 28 and 29.

All three papers passed the review process. Now we are trying to set up a shared session at the conference for our contributions.

We are also pondering to run an Advanced Research Seminar on Educational Design Research in Higher Education before the conference at Tartu Uni. In fact, we are currently waiting to hear about a small funding proposal we have submitted in March for this purpose. Let’s see…

“Students in the having mode of existence will listen to a lecture, hearing the words and understanding their logical structure and their meaning and, as best they can, will write down every word in their looseleaf notebooks-so that, later on, they can memorize their notes and thus pass an examination. But the content does not become part of their own individual system of thought, enriching and widening it. Instead, they transform the words they hear into fixed clusters of thought, or whole theories, which they store up. The students and the content of the lectures remain strangers to each other, except that each student has become the owner of a collection of statements made by somebody else (who had either created them or taken them over from another source).

Students in the having mode have but one aim: to hold onto what they “learned,” either by entrusting it firmly to their memories or by carefully guarding their notes. They do not have to produce or create something new. In fact, the having-type individuals feel rather disturbed by new thoughts or ideas about a subject. because the new puts into question the fixed sum of information they have. Indeed, to one for whom having is the main form of relatedness to the world, ideas that cannot easily be pinned down (or penned down) are frightening-like everything else that grows and changes, and thus is not controllable.”

Reference: Fromm, E. (1976). To have or to be? London: Continuum

“The student has her educational being only insofar as she has a will to learn. The will to learn may not be everything, but without it nothing is possible, no knowing of any profundity, no acting with any seriousness, no meant engagement with those around her…(p.67)”

Reference: Barnett, R. (2007). A will to learn. Maidenhead: McGraw Hill