Research Reflections & Making Connections
What a month! I can hardly believe it’s almost October. It goes without saying that this semester is flying by at record speeds, so taking the opportunity to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m heading is crucial. In the process of learning to be a facilitator of action research, I have stumbled upon some important revelations, both in regards to my own understanding of action research, and also around the role of action research in educational technology.
As I have learned more through our readings and discussions, I can’t help but compare my developing understanding of action research with the more traditional research resources I have come across in my scholarly critiques. Reflecting on these resources, I see that the traditional model of research doesn’t really allow for or promote the depth of inquiry that action research allows. I have become more a part of the community I am focusing my study on, and I feel very invested in my research. I feel this is a significant advantage to action research, as we situate ourselves in the communities we are working with rather than study them from afar.
The preliminary “Reflection and Action” activity suggested by Stringer was an important way for me to synthesize the idea of being embedded in the community I am working with. My experience was helpful in understanding how important it is to establish rapport with the community before I begin collecting data. So far, the response to my initial interactions has been positive, but it also has shown me that the community is very diverse and I should not anticipate the process of recruit participants to happen overnight. I am deconstructing my preconceptions about this process and realizing that not everyone shares the same enthusiasm and interests for research, despite their interest in engaging on the platform.
Another activity that has been particularly helpful in developing my understanding of the role of action research in educational technology happened just this past weekend. In an effort to build a well balanced set of participants for my study, I attended TwitchCon, the inaugural convention for the live stream video platform my study is focused on. Attending the very first of these conventions allowed me to experience how this emerging media is being supported by a passionate, participatory community. Meeting broadcasters at this event allowed me the opportunity to make connections with important stakeholders in the Twitch community.
On the long drive home from San Francisco, I reflected on the formal and informal educational possibilities of Twitch, and considered the challenges that might come along with it. Pursuing action research related to emerging technologies has the potential to shape and form how we approach engagement in the community, classroom, and online.
In networking and sharing with my UC Denver peers, I have received valuable input and suggestions that have helped immensely in clarifying the focus for my research. Between the suggested iterations of my research question, sharing of resources, and overall support and interest of my budding research, I wouldn’t be where I am at today without these interactions. I have even made social media connections with researchers from other institutions who have studied live stream video platforms, who have shared their insight and ideas around research on this topic. For example, I made contact with one researcher on Twitter who shared her support for my study. We engaged in a brief but critical interaction that resulted in my realization of the limited research available related to live stream video platforms.
The question I am asking myself at this stage is really focused around what the potential impacts are for my study. Within an emerging field with limited existing research, I am realizing that my findings could have a significant impact on future research on live stream video. This realization is both exciting and also a bit nerve wracking as I consider who might read and benefit from my study.
As I move forward with my action research, my enduring curiosities around this process relate to understanding who the stakeholders are for this study. While initially I might limit the stakeholders to be those who are participating or the broadcaster channels I might include in my study, couldn’t it be said that my findings might have a significant impact outside of those who are already engaged in the community? My mind races through the potential audiences that could benefit from a greater understanding of this emerging media and how it promotes engagement and participatory communties. I envision a multitude of applications for engaging through this platform. Now I just need to get people to read the study, and articulate this potential in a way that captures the minds of those who are in a capacity to create new opportunities to engage and interact.