October 23, 2006

getting myself organisised

I’m now getting into the literature review for the PhD. I’ve only done two days so far (one last weekend and one the weekend before that) but it seems that nothing I’ve read really takes any notice of anything else. I’m looking at the definititions of presence, and sub-categories of presence, and it seems that people are using the same phrases to mean different things, and different phrases to mean the same things. I’m having to go through defining my terms as I go, because there’s no shared understanding of what those terms mean.

I guess partly it’s because “presence” as a a concept is trans-disciplinary – and the people looking at presence in the sense of telepresence (in videoconferencing and using teleoperators) haven’t thought about it in teaching terms, and those who’ve thought of it in teaching applications seem to think of online learning only in terms of text-based asynchronous learning platforms. One writer even said something along the lines of an added problem being that in online teaching the professor can’t challenge misunderstandings when they arise. What? That’s true but only in some situations. And the third group of people whose work I’ve looked at – those analysing gaming – have a lot of insight into aspects that really fall into the category of presence, but don’t seem to really use the term.

The weirdest aspect is that there seems to be no clarity between the different aspects of the idea, like the authors have merged it all into one, or drift from one aspect to another without defining their terms. Is this general for education research, or have I just started with some of the sloppier thinkers? Is anyone else finding this?

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