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What is Research? Re-visited

12/08/2011

The good researcher is not ‘one who knows the right answers’ but ‘one who is struggling to find out what the right questions might be’. (Phillips and Pugh (2005:48) cited in Dawson (2009:15))

Yep, I’m definitely struggling to ask the right questions. What are my questions? What are virtual worlds? How they enhance teaching and learning? Especially in language learning? I must narrow it down, must narrow it down…

Maybe I could start from the start…If I may…

One day, about a year and a half ago, I walked into my class of English through Computing at the beginning of a term, and asked my students, ‘What would you like to learn?’. Of course they all said ‘English!’, which was great, of course. It confirmed that I was in the right class. When I narrowed down my question (it was easier back then), I asked again, ‘How would you like to learn English?’. ‘Here we are in a PC Lab, with access to the Internet. Is there anything you’d like to learn?’ I also made it clear to them, that they’d be teaching it to their peers, so must choose carefully. Some of them said ‘Facebook’, others said ‘Photoshop’, and a couple of students said ‘World of Warcraft’.One said ‘Second Life’.  ‘Hmmm’, I thought to myself, a tough crowd! So we played with Facebook for a while, then looked at Photoshop. We even went up to the Mac lab to ‘play’ with the Garage Band, to make a music video for YouTube. All this was spread over the semester, i.e. we didn’t look at them all in one lesson! (Thought I’d made that clear).

I didn’t know anything about WoW. I didn’t know anything about PC games, full stop. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever played a PC game. Oh, I mustn’t forget Packman, but that was another lifetime 🙂 But I knew of Second Life, and I knew it wasn’t a PC game, though it could be used as one.

So I did a bit of  research. Only to find that Second Life was actually available in that very Lab. I thought to myself, ‘Here we go, for better or for worse’ and created an account. The rest is history. Well, almost. After 1 semester, SL was gone. But I managed to learn more about it by enrolling into a MUVE course. That was definitely a wise decision. Otherwise, it would have taken me a whole lifetime to learn what I learned in the course. You see, I didn’t know what I didn’t know 😉

Now, I’d like to think I know a little bit more, or should I say ‘I know what I don’t know’, which brings me to this point. I’ve decided to stay in Res300 (that’s Research with capital R), so that I can at least try to find out what I should know as I continue on this road of virtual worlds. The road not taken, as it’s often referred to.

What is it that I want to find out about virtual worlds? Perhaps why the students asked for these options, the options of learning English through computing. In particular Second Life. Yes, it was only 1 student who requested it, so I’m already biased in choosing this field as my research topic. (I’m a pragmatist, by the way. I liked the sound of that approach). But there something there, something waiting to be discovered. It won’t be me to discover it, but I’d like to have a go.

I’ll think about the question later on. For now, making the decision to stay has been the biggest hurdle.

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2 Comments
  1. Clare permalink
    15/08/2011 8:37 pm

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood……..one of my most favourite poems of all time! How did you guess 🙂 🙂

    • 17/08/2011 3:55 pm

      Thanks Clare! They say ‘Great minds think alike’ 🙂

      I got involved with virtual worlds by NOT attending one of your workshops! For me, SL will always remain the ‘Road not Taken’.

      And, yes, I’m glad I’ve persued this road. There’s a surprise at every turn!

      As for Res300, it is also another road not taken. But if I abandon it now, I may never come back. I feel as though I’ve become an ‘accidental IT student’. I look forward to travelling on this road!

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