This guest post from Alexandra Mihai (IES, Brussels) was originally published on her blog, The Educationalist
Having been working for about nine years on designing and delivering technology-enhanced courses on European Studies, I became familiar with the community of politics/ IR scholars who adopted technology and integrates it- to different degrees—in their teaching practice. Very soon I came to realise that this is actually “a bubble within a bubble”, a small part of the group of academics interested in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, i.e. in reflecting on and conducting research activities surrounding their pedagogical practice.
While regularly attending various international e-learning conferences, I quickly became aware of the fact that, while social sciences in general were less represented, politics/ IR were a pretty rare occurrence. This intrigued me and prompted me to look around myself, talk to my colleagues and peers and try to find out if this is indeed the case, if politics scholars are slower and more reluctant in adopting technology and using it in teaching than their peers from other disciplines. A few years and many conferences and workshops later, my experience confirms what I had intuitively known all along.
But there is one aspect to this puzzle that engaged my attention and eventually became the starting point for my PhD research. What are the driving factors behind technology adoption amongst politics professors? And what are the main barriers that lead to non-adoption? (How) can these factors be linked to the nature of the discipline and the specific knowledge building and knowledge transmission mechanisms? Can a link be established between one’s vision of education and of one’s role as an educator and the likelihood of integrating technology in the classroom? And how about external factors, such as support, resources available, training/ professional development, to what extent do they influence the decision to adopt technology or not?
An Interdisciplinary playground
Through my background at the crossroads of political science end educational science, I have the privilege (but also the challenge) to be exposed to both communities, with their own theoretical constructs and research methods. While this interdisciplinary “playground” can be sometimes confusing, it also equips me with both the access points and the necessary analytical tools that allow me to get a better grasp of the driving forces behind technology adoption and use.
I am currently conducting the empirical part of my research and I am very curious to find out which of the above factors play a stronger role in the case of my target group (political science/ IR professors). I am using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, starting with a survey on teaching practice in political science, with an emphasis on the use of technology. Later I am planning to use Focus Groups to complement and further explain some of the survey findings and to offer a clearer and more complete picture of the factors influencing technology adoption within my target group.
Besides filling a gap in the specialised literature, my research also aims to provide practical insights into how to innovate teaching politics/ IR, not least by using technology in a meaningful way, to enhance and bring added value to the methods already used.
Are you a politics/ IR/ European Studies scholar interested in teaching and learning? Regardless whether or not you use technology, it would be great if you could bring your contribution to my research by filling in my survey:http://surveys.ies.be/index.php/977915/lang-en And if you are interested in the results of my research, I would be happy to share them with you in the following months.