About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Creating a Research Agenda

I have been following the online conference created to help develop research on e-learning in Canada. I have tried to only be a "lurker" as I am not Canadian and I think the conference is targeted towards Canadian researchers and educators.

However, I am very interested what is going on in Canada's e-learning community for three reasons: 1) living in a state that borders Canada, I have had a number of students that either live or work (or both) in Canada. Many have been in my distance learning classes. 2) While doing a comparative analysis of educational, economic development, R&D, and technology policies, I was surprised at the lack of policy analysis on Canada. I thought the conference might be able to give me direction on resources or studies in this area. 3) I find the idea of many researchers coming together to try to come up with a common research vision very interesting.

The debate

As an outsider, I did not want to join too much into the debate on a structure. However, I did post that I felt the role of this organization should be to coordinate research, helping to identify holes in the research and making research available at a central location.

Steven Downs replied that he did not want to be "coordinated".

However, my intention was not that anyone be coordinated (have coordination inflicted upon them), but rather there be an entity where researchers could identify potential partners, resources, funding, and findings from other researchers. As I mentioned in my post, the analysis I did on how successful countries have developed a knowledge economy is to have a mechanism for the coordination of education, economic development, R&D, and ICT policies. I found that the most successful countries created a mechanism that worked for them (for example, Ireland uses local groups that are a combination of public and private entities under a loose national umbrella while Singapore uses strong centrally public controlled policies). I did not mean to suggest that Canada should use the same mechanisms that were established by the Scandinavian countries or Ireland or the Netherlands, but rather see how they created a national research mechanism. In fact, I feel by "taking" their system and trying to fit it into Canada, the system will never work.

I do feel, however, that there needs to be some way to exchange ideas, coordinate research and research findings over multiple contexts, and give multiple stakeholders a forum to discuss research needs and resources. The fear always in an endeavor such as this conference is that the same voices will be heard, groups will continue to stay within their small context and fail to cross geographic, academic, and disciplinary borders, and there is a lot of good research going unread (or a lot of poor research making the media rounds).

However, the question is how to coordinate without intimidating. That balance is delicate, but there are some areas that have managed to do so. The most important thing is to continue what the conference is currently doing: encouraging dialog and the exchange of information and ideas.

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