Proximate human contact through the Internet: A technography of an intercultural global electronic learning network, I*EARN (International Education and Resource Network)
Joanne Susan Bodin, The University of New Mexico, United States
The University of New Mexico . Awarded
This qualitative study investigated 20 participants who were involved with the Internet-based intercultural global electronic learning network, I*EARN (International Education And Resource Network). Participants were selected through a “snowball effect,” in which key informants referred other participants who, in turn, referred other participants, etc. Three participants groups were investigated; teachers, students and others (which included I*EARN administration, and state and district technology directors). Three sites we're selected and named accordingly to insure confidentiality: the Yucca site, the Province site, and the Other site (which included participants from the I*EARN administration as wen as the state and district technology directors).
Data was collected through a variety of sources including e-mail, land-mail, face-to-face tape recorded interviews, lumaphone (speaker-phone with digitized video image), tape recorded interviews, researcher's reflective journaling, I*EARN publications, and I*EARN web pages.
Because this research study followed the precepts of ethnographic methodology and data analysis, it was termed an educational “technography”—an ethnographic study of a technological phenomenon. This technographic method was derived from an emerging field of contemporary social science inquiry called science and technology studies (STS) which had its roots in social/cultural anthropology (Hess. 1992).
Through data analysis of emergent themes, research findings indicated the following: (1) I*EARN provided an example of how classroom settings could use electronically enhanced learning environments to develop proximate human relationships on a global scale through intercultural communication exchanges between students as part of curriculum-based project collaboration. (2) Traditional pedagogical practices which prevailed within the schools ultimately resisted and subverted attempts to expand technology beyond classroom walls. (3) Teachers and students who were able to have successful experiences with the I*EARN program indicated an increased awareness of global issues that they were able to directly address through the I*EARN projects. They also indicated an increased sense of empowerment through direct involvement. (4) The phenomenon of electronic learning environments as part of traditional classroom pedagogy suggested the need for a paradigm shift toward transformational pedagogy. This shift would maximize opportunities for intercultural understanding through curricular telecommunication exchanges.
Bodin, J.S. Proximate human contact through the Internet: A technography of an intercultural global electronic learning network, I*EARN (International Education and Resource Network). Ph.D. thesis, The University of New Mexico.
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