Sunday, 26 May 2013

Reflection on a Search Process

H817 OU: Activity 12 Block 3

This activity asked us as individual team members to  review one or two case studies or a theoretical framework each, as a means of creating a knowledge base for  our project.

Pre-search Phase

We decided to create a shared document in Google Drive for this as part of the preliminary search process. This seemed a logical approach to take as it ensured that:                            
  •  we were not doubling up on research papers
  •  it meant that we could already start comparing and reviewing each others contributions before uploading them to our website
  • it offered another means of asynchronous communication and hence a space where we could freely brainstorm as a team
  • we could follow each other's progress
In conjunction with Google Drive, we maintained daily communication via Twitter and shared additional links here for immediate review or for later viewing. Communicating via Twitter has been invaluable as we have been able to stay closely knitted as a team and it has helped speed up the process in some areas of project work.

Initial search phase

I commenced my search by browsing through the OU library and through the JISC website. I am quite familiar with the latter as it has a wealth of useful resources and toolkits that I have been able to implement in my field of work in the past and hence knew that it would also be a reliable source for this particular exercise. 

In the OU library I immediately found a few relevant case studies and saved and deposited them into Evernote. I then browsed through the JISC site in their 'Assessment' section and found more robust case studies and once again added them to the notebook that I had created in Evernote. After scanning  and skimming through all of the papers I found that one particular framework kept emerging in discussions in relation to formative and summative assessment. It was Laurillard's Conversational Framework (1993, 2002, 2007). Much of the discussion revolved around its usefulness as a framework in varying contexts such as face-to-face, online and blended learning environments. Suggestions were made concerning how the framework could be modified and adapted to suit specific contexts and illustrations were provided to support this. I have come into contact with Laurillard's framework before and so decided to refresh my memory.

I returned to the OU library, Google Scholar, YouTube and Slideshare and was successful. I searched the latter two platforms for multimedia artefacts that I thought might offer a suitable visual representation to share with my team and also with the thought in mind, that the resources might be useful for our project site. Sometimes with these kinds of projects where teams are expected to constantly review each others work, a visual representation can offer a bit of relief from so much text. It can also aid in clarifying difficult concepts. I found several papers written by Laurillard in relation to her framework as well as a YouTube video with a link to an interactive model of the framework and a slide presentation by Yishay Mor, again offering another perspective.

Second search phase

Wanting to know where Laurillard's ideas initiated I returned to the OU library and Google Scholar and read up on Conversational Theory (Pask, 1973) and followed a trail of papers up to Laurillard, using hyperlinks and reference lists as an aid.

The research process is never a short and linear one. It is important to locate papers with varying perspectives that also offer useful critique in oder to establish how rigorous and credible a case study or theoretical framework is. Having satisfied myself that this is an influential framework and one that could be useful for our project, I wrote and posted a summary about it; uploaded it to our project site for review by my team members; invited other students to have a browse through it via the OU tutor group forum and notified my own team via Twitter that a framework is ready for further analysis.

These references are papers which I explored during the second stage of my search process i.e. papers which relate to Laurillard's Framework and to Conversation Theory in general:

Harri-Augstein, S. and Thomas, L.F. (1991) Learning Conversations, Routledge, London.

Laurillard, D. (1993) Rethinking University Teaching: A Framework for the Effective Use of Educational Technology, Routledge / Falmer, London.

Laurillard, D. (2002) `Rethinking Teaching for the Knowledge Society`  EDUCAUSE Review, Vol. 37, No.1. pp.16-25 [online] Available at: (Accessed 24. 05. 2013)

Laurillard, D. (2007) ‘Pedagogical forms for Mobile Learning’,

in: Pachler, N. (ed) (2007) Mobile learning: towards a research agenda. London: WLE Centre, IoE.  [online] Available at:

Pask, G. (1976) ‘Conversational techniques in the study and practice of education’, British Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 46, pp.12–25.  [online] Available at:
(Accessed 24. 05. 2013)

Scott, B. (2001) ‘Gordon Pask’s Conversation Theory: A Domain Independent Constructivist model of Human Knowing`, Foundations of Science,Vol.6, pp. 343-360 [online] Available at:

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