Action research as an investigative approach within a computer based community of learners


The purpose of this paper is to outline the method of research used in a PhD project where the aim was to determine the extent to which computers enhanced learning when implemented within a distributed learning environment (DLE). When learning is distributed, cognition is not solely an individual pursuit but is shared with mediating resources found within the learning environment. A type of communal environment is developed within which students, together with other students and resources, construct new knowledge and understandings. In this instance, analysis was based on the nature of discourse to emerge from student interactions around the computer. It was essential, therefore, to adopt a research methodology that would carefully detect the discrete levels of understandings evident within these collaborations. Given the capricious nature of social interactions however, the methodology also needed to be flexible and accommodating. As such, a tentative action research plan was devised to manage these issues.


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