Sebastian H.D. FiedlerThis week we have kicked off our reformed Master of Higher Education (MoHE) programme.

The last day of the introduction week features a “project conference” in which a variety of research projects on aspects of teaching and learning in higher education are presented.

project conference of the Master of Higher Education programme at HUL

Over time, the project conference is meant to bring different cohorts of programme participants together. Those who are about to finish off their own research projects will present their work to the new incoming participants.

I am particularly happy that for this first project conference we were able to integrate a presentation of Emanuele Bardone from the Educational Science department of the University of Tartu, Estonia. I hope this will help to set the stage for a more international outlook within our MoHE programme and invite our participants to look beyond the confines and particularities of our system of higher education.

Sebastian H.D. Fiedler Step by step the first issue of the EDeR Journal is taking shape. Four contributions have successfully passed the second phase (blind peer review) of our workflow and review model. One is basically ready for publication, while the others are currently reworked by their authors.
For two additional contributions we are still in the process of completing the blind peer review phase.
An additional submission requires major changes. Not sure if this will still make it into the first issue. We are looking into this right now.

We are also already eliciting contributions for the second issue. If your work falls broadly in the framework of “design based research” in education, feel free to get in touch.

Sebastian H.D. Fiedler On Thursday and Friday (08.09 and 09.09.2016) we held our first in-house conference at the Hamburg Center for University Teaching and Learning (HUL) in collaboration with researchers from the Competence Center for Educational Development And Research in Higher Education (CEDAR) at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

The event was titled “Perspektiven und Zukunft der Forschung zum Lehren und Lernen an Hochschulen” (Perspectives and future of research on teaching and learning in institutions of higher education) and catered to German speaking researchers who work in the area of research and development of teaching and learning in higher education.

The final programme (in German) offered 4 parallel tracks of “symposia” that grouped a number of related contributions from a variety of German and Swiss institutions.

HUL in-house conference 2016

An interesting element of the overall event was labeled “conference phenography” which Gabi Reinmann had initiated as part of the conference design. Teams of two observed and participated one particular conference track, took notes, and finally recorded a conversational commentary on video that is finally going to be shared with the other participants. I had the privilege to go through this exercise with Frank Vohle (Ghostthinker company) and my HUL coworker Eileen Lübcke. It’s going to be interesting what others make out of our short video snippets.

I will try to write up my overall impressions in the coming days.

In the meantime, I can already point to a commentary (in German) that my colleague Tobias Schmohl has published on the matter and a small selection of photos that I took during the event.

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.

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.