This is an ongoing critiques and reflections of the Handbook of Research For Educational Communications and Technology (2014 version) . This handbook has greatly helped me reflect on my educational research and practices; yet, as the education is a system of complexity, and the field of educational technology is ever-changing, I believe it is critical to consistently think about, critique, and reflect on ideas and perspectives proposed by predecessors. Therefore, as I read this handbook, there are some critiques and reflections in this handbook I want to point out to reflect the changing attribute of our field. Right now, this critique/reflection is organized in this way – I first present the original statement from the Handbook, then propose my critiques and reflections on the statement. [I may write a journal paper in terms of this critique write-up, trying to find a way to thread these scattered ideas together]
Orig. statement: Intensive electronic networking, and social media reflect more recent changes in society that are expected to add value through a common purpose and deliberate collaborative action in a community of learners and practitioners … This is why socio-constructivist theories and technology-supported communities of learning and practice have become dominant, at least as a frame of reference within the community of educational technologists (p. 5, Chapter 1 Bridging learning theories and technology-enhanced environments: A critical appraisal of its history).
My critique: From the philosophical perspective, human learn both through their cognitive thinking (supported by cognitive constructivism) and through interaction with others and external world (supported by sociocultural constructivism). I believe no matter how technologies change and develop, people always learn in these two ways. In the past time without social media, people finds ways to interact with and learn from each other in the face-to-face community context; nowadays, with advancement of communication technology, people just are equipped with more network channels to communicate with each other. So I don’t think it is the development of technology (e.g., social media) that fosters relevant community theories (e.g., community of inquiry, community of practice, community of knowledge building), but it is the reverse direction that make the relationship – community learning is always one of the important ways through which people learn. It is also important to be aware that cognitive/radical constructivism and social or realist constructivism are not contradictory, they should be viewed as a dialectical interaction and functional unification (Liu & Matthews, 2005); that is, community learning and individual cognition are two ways people learn.
ref: Liu, C. H., & Matthews, R. (2005). Vygotsky’s Philosophy: Constructivism and Its Criticisms Examined. International Education Journal, 6(3), 386-399.
Orig. statement: Results may also be different depending on the period in which the research has been done. For example, in the 1960s sound research was done on differences in achievement motivation between boys and girls. Nowadays, these results are worthless because the feminist revolution has worked its way through society— changes in context have changed the results of the interaction under study (p. 27, Chapter 2 Research paradigms and perspectives on learning).
My critique: I believe different paradigms/theories/methodologies can be used in an integrative, complementary way. I don’t see them as completely incompatible neither do I see prior knowledge as worthless. I would like to see every researcher as an important contributors of knowledge production in educational research. Each way of knowing (and their ways of researching) offers important but different and thus partial truths about the world, and all ways of knowing are equally legitimate and important (Taylor, Taylor, & Luitel, 2012). To capture the complexity of a phenomenon under study, it is important to understand research conducted from different research paradigms and perspectives. I also believe it is very important to help graduate student researchers (novice researchers) build up their professional identity by helping them engagement with the diversity of educational research, build open-minded thinking toward their own research and others’ research and practice, and allow new research questions, new methods and new theories emerge. However, the authors further stated at the end of this chapter that “researchers should always have an open mind for research based on competing theories and paradigms, because radically new ideas and perspectives will most likely develop at the interface between paradigms” (p. 28), which is consistent with my reflection .