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Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010
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Interdisciplinarity report draft v0 8 21th apr 2010

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  • 1. Technology
enhanced
learning

 as
a
site
for
interdisciplinary

research
 Draft
Version
0.8
 
 Gráinne
Conole,
Eileen
Scanlon,
Paul
Mundin
and
Rob
Farrow
 Institute
of
Educational
Technology,
The
Open
University,
UK
 Email:
g.c.conole@open.ac.uk
 Contents
 
 1 Introduction.................................................................................................................2
 2 Methodology ...............................................................................................................3
 These themes are discussed in greater detail in Section Four........................................4
 3 Locating the research in the wider literature...............................................................5
 3.1
Definitions
and
key
concepts...............................................................................5
 3.2
The
challenges
of
doing
interdisciplinary
research .............................................9
 3.3
Epistemological
and
methodological
issues ......................................................12
 3.4
The
use
of
technologies
to
foster
interdisciplinarity .........................................13
 3.5
Capacity
building
‐
interdisciplinarity
in
undergraduate
programmes..............17
 3.6
The
online
discussion
fora .................................................................................18
 4 Perspectives on interdisciplinarity from TEL researchers ........................................20
 4.1
Origins
and
current
academic
roles ...................................................................20
 4.2
Influences,
beliefs
and
theoretical
perspectives ...............................................24
 4.3
Methodologies,
methods
and
tools...................................................................27
 4.4
Challenges
to
Interdisciplinarity ........................................................................35
 4.5
The
benefits
of
interdisciplinary
working ..........................................................44
 4 Conclusion ................................................................................................................48
 
 
 1
  • 2. 1
Introduction
 The
impact
of
the
Internet
on
working
practices
and
the
way
we
share
information
 and
communicate
has
been
profound.
Recent
web
2.0
technologies
appear
to
be
 leading
to
a
similar
seismic
shift
in
patterns
of
user
behaviour
–
in
terms
of
how
 people
communicate,
collaborate
and
network,
and
in
terms
of
the
perceptions
of
 content
in
a
world
where
it
is
free
and
multi‐faceted
(Conole
and
Alevizou,
2010).
 
 This
leads
to
new
challenges
for
the
delivery
of
education
across
technological
 platforms
in
their
many
guises
(Technology
Enhanced
Learning,
Networked
Learning,
 e‐Learning,
Learning
Technology,
and
Virtual
Learning
Environments).
Consequently,
 there
has
also
been
a
growth
in
research
into
the
use
of
technology
in
education
to
 meet
these
challenges.
This
has
drawn
together
research
teams
from
many
 disciplines,
including
educationalists,
computer
scientists,
psychologists,
information
 scientists,
and
educational
technologists,
as
well
as
subject
matter
experts
(see
 Conole
and
Oliver,
2007
for
a
description
of
the
emergence
of
the
e‐learning
field).
 
 In
parallel,
increasing
prominence
has
been
given
to
interdisciplinarity
as
a
means
of
 addressing
cross‐discipline
research
challenges,
where
researchers
from
two
or
more
 disciplines
bring
their
approaches
and
adapt
them
to
form
a
solution
to
a
new
 problem.
Indeed,
interdisciplinarity
has
become
increasingly
important
as
a
means
of
 attempting
to
address
complex,
real‐world
research
problems
and
grand
challenges.
 This
is
particularly
true
of
research
concerned
with
the
use
of
technology
for
learning
 and
teaching,
which
by
its
nature
brings
together
researchers
from
different
 discipline
perspectives
(education,
computer
science,
psychology,
information
 science,
etc).

 
 This
is
evident
in
recent
policy
rhetoric,
which
encourages
greater
use
of
 technologies
to
support
learning.
Interdisciplinarity
appears
to
be
supported
as
the
 favoured
means
of
undertaking
this
research,
such
as
in
the
Technology
Enhanced
 Learning
(TEL)
programme
(ca.
£15M
over
five
years)
funded
by
the
EPSRC/ESRC.
At
 its
core,
the
TEL
programme
is
about
tackling
these
challenges
of
educational
 significance
from
an
interdisciplinary
perspective.

The
vision
for
interdisciplinarity
in
 a
TEL
context
for
this
programme,
as
outlined
in
the
original
call
was:

 
 Technology
enhanced
learning
(TEL)
requires
interdisciplinary
collaboration
across
the
 disciplines
of
learning,
cognition,
information
and
communication
technologies
(ICT)
and
 education,
and
broader
social
sciences…
To
achieve
the
highest
ambitions
for
education
and
 lifelong
learning
we
need
to
exploit
fully
what
new
technology
offers
–
for
personalising
 learning
and
improving
outcomes…
for
creating
more
flexible
learning
opportunities
and
for
 improving
the
productivity
of
learning
and
knowledge
building
processes.
But
to
do
this,
we
 need
a
more
explicit
understanding
of
the
nature
of
learning
itself,
both
formal
and
informal,
 and
the
way
it
is
responding
to
changes
in
society
and
the
opportunities
created
by
new
 technologies…
[This]
will
support
innovation
from
both
research
areas,
each
challenging
the
 other,
to
rethink
ways
of
making
learning
more
effective
and
to
develop
the
new
technology
 solutions
to
make
that
possible.
Such
interdisciplinary
research
is
intended
to
help
build
new
 understandings
of
how
technology
can
enhance
learning.
(This
is
no
longer
available
online,
 but
is
cited
in
Conole,
2008)
 
 2
  • 3. However,
to
what
extent
is
this
vision
grounded
in
existing
practices
in
research,
 teaching
and
learning?
What
is
the
nature
of
interdisciplinarity
in
TEL
research?
 What
are
the
perceived
benefits
and
the
identified
challenges?
What
strategies
can
 be
put
in
place
to
promote
better
interdisciplinary
approaches?
These
are
some
of
 the
key
questions
that
are
addressed
in
this
report,
which
is
divided
into
five
 sections.
This
introduction
sets
the
scene
for
the
report
and
provides
an
overview.
 The
research
questions
and
methodology
are
described
in
Section
2.
Section
3
 locates
this
work
within
the
broader
research
literature.
The
main
findings
from
 eighteen
interviews
with
TEL
researchers
are
discussed
in
Section
4.
Finally
Section
5
 provides
a
conclusion
to
the
report
and
suggestions
for
further
work.

 2
Methodology
 The
aim
of
this
research
was
to
explore
if
there
is
anything
specific
about
 interdisciplinarity
in
a
Technology
Enhanced
Learning
(TEL)
research
context,
and
to
 identify
strategies
for
supporting,
communicating
and
documenting
 interdisciplinarity.
In
particular,
we
were
interested
in
what
interdisciplinary
working
 might
bring
to
multi‐discipline
research
teams
to
help
them
address
challenges
that
 are
too
broad
or
too
complex
to
be
solved
by
a
single
discipline.
The
project
set
out
 to
explore
what
disciplines
contribute
to
research
into
Technology
Enhanced
 Learning,
to
document
their
cognate
disciplines
and
to
elicit
their
diverse
 epistemological
beliefs,
methodologies
and
approaches.
It
also
set
out
to
identify
the
 main
research
challenges
for
interdisciplinary
teams.
 
 The
research
consisted
of
three
main
activities.
Firstly,
Robert
Farrow
carried
out
a
 literature
review
of
interdisciplinarity
in
general,
and
more
specifically
research
into
 Technology
Enhanced
Learning.
Secondly,
broader
consultation
with
the
TEL‐ research
community
was
conducted
through
two
online
fora.
The
first
was
as
part
of
 a
series
of
‘hotseats’
associated
with
the
Networked
Learning
conference.
A
 positional
paper
on
methodological
issues
in
Networked
Learning
was
used
as
a
 starting
point
for
the
discussion,
along
with
a
series
of
questions,
including
a
number
 specifically
around
interdisciplinarity
in
TEL
research.
The
paper
and
associated
 discussions
can
be
found
here
 (http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/index.php/forum/forum?id=8).
In
 parallel
a
similar
set
of
questions
was
posed
on
the
social
networking
site,
 Cloudworks
(http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloudscape/view/1954).
Thirdly,
eighteen
 interviews
were
conducted
with
senior
researchers
within
the
field.
The
interviews
 were
conducted
and
initially
analysed
by
Paul
Mundin.
The
following
methodology
 was
used
to
identify,
gather,
analyse
and
report
on
the
information
from
the
set
of
 interviews.
The
initial
set
of
questions
arose
from
the
discussions
on
the
Networked
 Learning
hot‐seat
forum
and
the
discussion
on
the
Cloudworks
site,
and
from
themes
 emerging
from
the
literature
review.
The
questions
were
constructed
to
explore
an
 interviewee’s
experience
in
interdisciplinarity,
and
the
nature
of
interdisciplinarity
 both
for
research
more
generally
construed,
and
specifically
in
Technology
Enhanced
 Learning.
The
questions
covered
the
following
areas:
 
 • The
interviewee’s
current
role,
their
original
discipline
(undergraduate
degree),
 their
career
trajectory,
and
any
changing
of
disciplines
throughout
their
career.
 3
  • 4. • The
interviewee’s
experience
of
interdisciplinary
research
and
what
they
felt
was
 distinctive
about
interdisciplinarity
in
Technology
Enhanced
Learning
research.
 • The
challenges
and
benefits
of
working
in
interdisciplinary
teams.

 • The
factors
that
have
influenced
their
approach
to
working
in
an
interdisciplinary
 fashion
(and
in
particular
the
people
and
key
research
texts
they
draw
on).

 • The
theoretical
perspectives,
methodologies
and
methods
they
use.


 • How
are
they
using
technologies
to
support
their
research
practice,
both
in
terms
 of
finding,
managing
and
using
information
and
for
communicative
and
 collaborative
activities?

 
 A
version
of
the
questions
was
trialled
internally
at
the
Open
University
and
revised
 before
twenty‐six
possible
interviewee
candidates
were
identified.
The
factors
for
 inclusion
included
their
experience
of
doing
interdisciplinary
research
and
 involvement
in
TEL
research
either
as
a
researcher
or
at
policy
level.
In
addition,
we
 attempted
to
draw
interviewees
from
across
the
HE
sector
with
a
mix
of
old
and
new
 universities
and
different
subject
disciplines.

From
the
list
of
candidates,
eighteen
 interviews
were
agreed
and
were
set‐up.
The
interviews
were
held
between
1st
 February
2010
and
4th
March
2010.
Eight
interviews
were
held
face‐to‐face,
and
ten
 interviews
were
held
over
the
telephone.
The
interviews
were
coded
[IntA]
to
[IntR].
 All
of
the
interviewees
agreed
to
their
interview
being
recorded,
and
for
the
output
 of
the
interview
to
be
used
anonymously
as
part
of
the
Interdisciplinarity
project
 deliverables.
Each
interview
was
transcribed
into
a
MS
Word
document.
The
 research
team
then
jointly
reviewed
three
of
the
interview
transcribes
to
agree
on
a
 set
of
emergent
themes.
A
document
containing
a
list
of
twenty‐two
themes
was
 created.

This
covered
interdisciplinarity
areas
such
as
the
origins,
experiences,
 challenges,
benefits,
and
methodologies
of
the
interviewee.
The
interview
 transcripts
were
manually
‘tagged’
and
copied
to
the
appropriate
theme
or
themes
 in
the
document.
The
twenty‐two
themes
were
then
refined
into
five
groupings
 covering:
 
 • Origins
and
career
trajectories
 • Influences,
beliefs
and
theoretical
perspectives
 • Methodologies,
methods
and
tools

 • Challenges
to
Interdisciplinarity
 • The
benefits
of
Interdisciplinary
working
 
 These
themes
are
discussed
in
greater
detail
in
Section
Four. 4
  • 5. 3
Locating
the
research
in
the
wider
literature
 This
section
locates
the
research
reported
here
in
the
broader
literature
on
 interdisciplinarity.
Section
4
discusses
the
findings
from
the
interview
data
in
terms
 of
this
larger
body
of
knowledge.
The
review
of
print
and
online
research
literature
 was
primarily
conducted
by
Robert
Farrow.

The
key
focus
was
to
get
an
 understanding
of
the
nature
of
interdisciplinarity
in
general
and
the
particular
forms
 it
can
take
in
a
TEL
research
context.

Five
main
themes
of
relevance
to
this
research
 were
evident
from
the
review
i)
definitions
and
key
concepts,
ii)
the
challenges
of
 doing
interdisciplinary
research,
iii)
epistemological
and
methodological
issues,
iv)
 the
use
of
technologies
to
foster
interdisciplinarity
and
v)
capacity
building
–
 interdisciplinarity
in
undergraduate
programmes.
 
 It
should
be
noted
that
we
do
not
attempt
in
this
report
to
prescribe
a
final
answer
 to
the
subtle
and
complex
epistemological
problems
raised
by
the
term
 interdisciplinarity.


Rather,
our
focus
in
on
understanding
the
nature
of
 interdisciplinarity
in
TEL
research.
In
addition,
we
will
explore
the
ways
in
which
the
 technologies
themselves
are
being
used
in
TEL
research
to
facilitate
interdisciplinary
 working
through
communication,
collaboration
and
networking.
 3.1
Definitions
and
key
concepts
 This
first
section
helps
provide
a
definition
for
interdisciplinarity,
considering
it
in
 relation
to
individual
discipline
knowledge.
Interdisciplinary
working
brings
together
 expertise
from
different
realms
of
knowledge,
and
applies
individual
discipline‐based
 skills
to
a
specific
research
problem.
This
multifaceted
or
synthetic
approach
is
often
 advocated
by
those
who
believe
that
drawing
on
multiple
disciplines
is
likely
to
lead
 to
a
more
comprehensive
or
holistic
understanding
of
complex
problems
which
do
 not
themselves
respect
disciplinary
boundaries.
Interdisciplinary
researchers
 acknowledge
that
no
one
discipline
can
provide
an
exhaustive
account
of
all
 phenomena,
and
that
interdisciplinary
collaboration
can
lead
to
findings
that
could
 not
have
been
achieved
in
other
ways.
Successful
interdisciplinary
projects
are
those
 that
tend
to
have
a
clear
vision,
and
have
safeguards
to
ensure
that
projects
are
not
 realigned
according
to
the
disciplinary
interests
of
one
party.
 
 To
understand
the
nature
of
interdisciplinarity,
it
is
first
necessary
to
understand
 disciplinarity.

In
order
to
‘discipline’
knowledge,
domains
of
inquiry
must
be
 conceptually
separate
from
one
another
so
that
knowledge
can
be
created
in
 discrete,
repeatable
units.

The
term
‘discipline’
draws
on
the
notion
of
specialised,
 valued
knowledge
that
necessarily
excludes
some
other
forms
of
inquiry:

a
 confluence
of
knowledge
and
power
(Moran,
2010:
2).

Interdisciplinary
research
 works
by
combining
or
recombining
these
discrete
units
of
data.

Yet
this
simplistic
 formulation
obscures
a
number
of
important
questions
about
the
nature
and
scope
 of
knowledge.

For
instance,
there
remains
considerable
disagreement
over
the
 precise
nature
of
interdisciplinarity
and
how
it
is
to
be
distinguished
from
other
ways
 of
combining
research,
such
as
transdisciplinarity,
poly‐disciplinarity
and
multi‐ disciplinarity.
(See
Franks
et
al.
(2007:
172‐3)
for
a
detailed
typology
of
 interdisciplinarity.)
 5
  • 6. 
 
 6
  • 7. 
 Figure
1:
Typologies
of
interdisciplinary
teaching,
learning
and
research
(taken
from
Franks
et
al.,
 2007,
pp.172‐173)
 
 7
  • 8. 
 
 The
last
three
hundred
years
have
seen
greater
and
greater
degrees
of
academic
 specialisation,
with
some
disciplines
becoming
increasingly
inaccessible
to
non‐ 8
  • 9. specialists.
Yet
the
traditional
disciplinary
boundaries
that
strengthened
in
the
first
 half
of
the
20th
century
gradually
gave
way
to
a
general
project
of
knowledge
 integration
as
a
result
of
education
reform
in
the
1960s
and
1970s
(certainly
within
a
 UK
context
at
least).

This
ongoing
commodification
of
knowledge
is
closely
linked
to
 the
growth
in
the
computability
of
knowledge,
and
communication
technologies
 increasingly
mediate
and
validate
the
forms
of
knowledge,
which
are
necessary
for
 the
‘knowledge
economy’
(Oliver
et
al.,
2007;
Lyotard,
1979).


 3.2
The
challenges
of
doing
interdisciplinary
research
 In
practice,
however,
‘true’
interdisciplinarity
is
rare,
and
can
often
be
little
more
 than
a
cosmetic
exercise.
Achieving
true
interdisciplinarity
is
difficult
for
a
number
of
 reasons,
not
least
because
academics
tend
to
be
very
much
rooted
in
their
cognate
 discipline
and
its
associated
epistemological
and
methodological
tenets.

It
is
difficult
 to
establish
standards
of
validity
across
subject
domains,
and
this
presents
 researchers
with
a
challenge
as
they
can
lack
effective
criteria
for
evaluating
or
 planning
interdisciplinary
research.

Because
academic
vocabularies
and
practices
 are
often
discipline‐specific,
there
remain
real
challenges
around
managing
the
 transition
between
disciplinary
and
cultural
boundaries.
Spelt
et
al.
argue
that
 interdisciplinary
thinking
is
a
complex
cognitive
skill,
which
integrates
disciplinary
 knowledge
to
produce
a
‘cognitive
advancement’
that
would
have
been
unlikely
 through
individual
disciplinary
means.

Thus,
interdisciplinarity
is
integrative,
and
is
 associated
with
‘boundary‐crossing
skills…
for
instance,
the
ability
to
change
 perspectives,
to
synthesize
knowledge
of
different
disciplines,
and
to
cope
with
 complexity’
(Spelt
et
al.,
2009:
366).

 
 A
perceived
problem
with
the
increasing
shift
towards
disciplinary
specialisation
is
 that
the
way
knowledge
is
produced
and
used
within
the
modern
knowledge
society
 is
increasingly
disconnected.

Frodeman
and
Mitchum
have
argued
that
the
paradox
 of
modern
interdisciplinarity
is
that
‘no
attempt
at
interdisciplinarity
has
produced
a
 viable
understanding
of,
or
ongoing
counterpoint
to,
specialization.
Instead,
each
 effort
at
interdisciplinarity
has
served
as
a
preamble
to
further
disciplinary
 specialization
and
production’
(2007:
510).
The
modernist
disciplinary
research
 philosophy,
they
suggest,
can
only
overcome
its
self‐imposed
epistemological
limits
 by
becoming
critical,
circumscribing
disciplinary
overproduction
and
moving
into
 dialogue
with
the
public
and
private
sectors
and
other
community
stakeholders.
 
 This
dialogic
model
may
be
understood
with
reference
to
‘mode
two’
knowledge
 production,
which
is
characterised
by
being
carried
out
in
the
context
of
application,
 bringing
heterogeneous
skills
and
expertise
to
problems,
and
by
transdisciplinarity
 (Nowotny,
2001;
Oliver
et
al.,
2007).

The
commodification
of
knowledge
has
been
 complemented
by
a
shift
from
‘mode
one’
to
‘mode
two’
knowledge:
from
‘is
it
 true?’
to
‘what
can
it
do?’
(Giddens,
1999
cited
in
Oliver
et
al.,
2007:
23).

Nowotny
 makes
the
case
that,
with
the
right
kind
of
communication,
a
‘feedback
loop’
 between
science
and
society
that
will
encourage
more
relevant
and
more
effective
 research
may
be
established.

As
such,
the
base
of
those
considered
‘users’
of
 science
must
expand
beyond
the
scientific
community
and
into
contexts
of
 application.
 9
  • 10. 
 Advocates
of
interdisciplinarity
typically
see
it
as
a
reflexive
practice
(Romm,
1998).
 However,
there
are
a
number
of
challenges
to
any
account
of
reflexive
 interdisciplinarity.

Firstly,
there
is
the
problem
of
applying
reflexivity
when
 assumptions
and
values
often
remain
opaque
to
those
who
hold
them.
Secondly,
 efforts
must
be
taken
to
ensure
that
epistemological
differences
do
not
split
or
 diminish
research
groups
and
their
activities.
Thirdly,
there
is
always
a
risk
that
 political
or
entrepreneurial
interests
might
dominate
purportedly
academic
inquiries.
 Funding
and
policy
drivers
dictate
to
a
large
extend
what
research
is
possible.
The
 shift
to
commodification
of
knowledge
and
the
knowledge
society
(see
above)
is
also
 part
of
the
problem.
Fourthly,
there
is
a
need
to
consider
and
incorporate
‘the
 improved
focus,
breadth,
and
creativity’
of
interdisciplinary
inquiry
(Payne,
1999:
 180).
 
 Blackwell
et
al.
(2009:
15‐17)
report
on
a
successful
interdisciplinary
innovation.
 They
framed
the
difficulties
facing
researchers
from
different
disciplines
in
terms
of
 ‘bounded
knowledge’:
the
knowledge
that
is
contained
within
a
defined
discipline
 and
‘bounded
off’
from
others.


In
order
to
cross
these
boundaries,
the
authors
 argue,
interdisciplinary
teams
need
to
develop
shared
values
and
culture.
 A
number
of
researchers
have
studied
the
nature
of
interdisciplinarity
in
academia.
 Traditional
approaches
to
understanding
disciplinary
practices
tend
to
emphasise
the
 ‘tribalistic’
way
that
individuals
are
brought
into
a
discipline
through
a
process
of
 cultural
acclimatisation
or
socialisation
(Becher
and
Trowler
2001;
Ylijoki
2000).

 Brew
(2008:
424)
suggests
that
this
so‐called
‘anthropological
approach’
over‐ emphasises
notions
such
as
shared
identity
or
the
pursuit
of
common
ends.

She
 goes
as
far
as
suggesting
that
disciplinary
labelling
is
flexible,
largely
rhetorical,
and
 often
subordinated
to
other
institutional
requirements
(such
as
research
 assessment,
or
securing
funding).

Brew
argues
that
we
need
to
keep
our
 understanding
of
disciplinary
boundaries
‘open’
in
order
to
allow
for
frameworks
 that
can
adequately
describe
and
differentiate
interdisciplinarity,
transdisciplinarity
 and
multidisciplinarity.


 
 Augsburg
and
Henry
argued
that
interdisciplinarity
in
the
‘strong
sense’
 (characterised
by
pedagogical
experimentation,
and
rigorous
scholarship)
has
been
 supplanted
by
‘weak’
interdisciplinarity
which
only
has
the
appearance
of
genuine
 cross‐disciplinary
collaboration
and
is
largely
politically
motivated
(and
is
often
 manifested
in
departmental
closures,
setting
strategies
which
adhere
to
market
 driven
trends,
and
cultivating
outside
sources
of
funding).
Specific
strategies
likely
to
 promote
interdisciplinary
research
include
mechanisms
to
support
‘self‐ consciousness
about
interdisciplinarity
and
integration’
(Augsburg
and
Henry,
2009:
 238‐239);
giving
interdisciplinary
programmes
their
own
funding
streams
(even
if
 they
do
not
exist
in
a
dedicated
department);
and
ensuring
that
it
is
clearly
 communicated
that
this
type
of
research
is
not
being
perceived
as
a
threat
to
 traditional
departments.

 
 This
may
suggest
that
the
obstacles
to
successful
interdisciplinarity
are
primarily
 institutional,
rather
than
epistemological
in
nature.

However,
problems
with
the
 10
  • 11. methodological
validity
of
studies
that
transcend
disciplinary
boundaries
remain.

 One
reason
that
these
are
rarely
addressed
directly
is
that
effective
forms
of
 interdisciplinary
collaboration
are
situation‐specific,
and
hence
unpredictable.

 Interdisciplinary
inquiry
is
both
diverse
and
highly
specialised,
and
the
specialised
 nature
of
interdisciplinary
study
means
that
it
is
hard
to
describe
general
rules
for
 effective
interdisciplinarity.

Some
disciplines
(or
combinations
of
disciplines)
are
 more
compatible
with
each
other
because
they
work
from
similar
assumptions.

For
 those
interdisciplinary
configurations
which
incorporate
less
compatible
 methodologies,
however,
the
problems
are
compounded.
 
 Another
way
in
which
issues
surrounding
interdisciplinarity
have
come
to
the
fore
is
 in
debates
over
academic
freedom.

With
the
boundaries
between
the
public
and
 private
sectors
becoming
increasingly
unclear,
the
academic
freedoms
once
 guaranteed
by
classical
Liberalism
are
increasingly
marginalised
in
favour
of
 entrepreneurial
activity
and
the
empowerment
of
managers
(Slaughter,
2007).

 Working
within
a
single
discipline
means
being
subject
to
increasingly
inflexible
 institutional
rules:

but
once
released
from
disciplinary
contexts,
different
kinds
of
 research
questions
and
methods
become
available
to
researchers,
who
are
thus
able
 to
take
more
critical
attitudes
towards
institutional
and
disciplinary
structures.
 However,
supporting
and
fostering
such
interdisciplinary
approaches
remains
an
 intransigent
problem.
 
 Because
interdisciplinarity
need
not
respect
the
long‐standing
traditions
of
subject
 disciplines,
it
is
sometimes
referred
to
as
a
‘deviant’
or
‘transgressive’
form
of
inquiry
 (Nowotny,
2001).

According
to
Moran,
one
of
the
virtues
of
interdisciplinarity
is
its
 ability
to
disrupt
and
challenge
the
‘deceptive
smoothness’
of
the
disciplines
 (particularly
the
notion
that
the
sciences
represent
a
value‐neutral
form
of
inquiry).
 The
vision
of
interdisciplinarity
subsequently
endorsed
is
a
way
of
living
with
the
 disciplines
more
critically
and
self‐consciously,
recognizing
that
their
most
basic
 assumptions
can
always
be
challenged
or
reinvigorated
from
elsewhere.

The
 corollary
to
this
is
that
academics
working
within
established
disciplines
need
to
 remain
‘permanently
aware
of
the
intellectual
and
institutional
constraints
within
 which
they
are
working,
and
open
to
different
ways
of
representing
and
 understanding
their
world’
(Moran,
2010:
181).
However,
the
transgressive
qualities
 of
interdisciplinarity
raise
problems
for
gauging
validity
and
quality
assessment:

 effective
quality
control
is
normally
ensured
by
disciplinary
standards,
but
these
are
 precisely
what
are
subverted
by
transdisciplinarity.


 
 Lattuca
(2001:
14‐15)
notes
that
the
tendency
toward
academic
specialisation
 among
disciplinary
researchers
is
set
against
a
growing
boldness
among
 interdisciplinary
researchers
to
demolish
disciplinary
boundaries.
For
 interdisciplinarity
to
succeed,
Lattuca
suggests,
we
need
to
revise
our
definitions
of
 interdisciplinarity
and
construct
a
better
understanding
of
interdisciplinary
work,
 especially
in
light
of
the
claim
(Klein,
1990)
that
the
majority
of
literature
on
 interdisciplinarity
is
largely
anecdotal
rather
than
empirically
grounded
or
 epistemologically
reflective.
 
 11
  • 12. From
the
perspective
of
‘transgressive’
interdisciplinarity,
the
traditional
vision
of
 interdisciplinarity
supported
by
open‐mindedness,
inclusivity
and
tolerance
(e.g.
 Szostak,
2007)
may
seem
naïve.

But
these
are
simply
two
perspectives
within
a
 much
wider
debate
about
the
opportunities,
challenges
and
validity
of
 interdisciplinary
research.
 3.3
Epistemological
and
methodological
issues
 Despite
the
fact
that
the
idea
of
successful
interdisciplinarity
has
become
widely
 accepted
across
academia,
interdisciplinarity
rarely
fulfils
its
promise
in
practice
(see
 Klein,
1990:
111‐118
for
a
brief
history
of
interdisciplinarity).

To
some
extent,
this
is
 because
academics
tend
to
remain
wedded
to
their
cognate
disciplinary
mindsets,
 and
rarely
embrace
the
kind
of
epistemological
or
methodological
holism
required
of
 truly
interdisciplinary
researchers.

A
further
compounding
factor
is
that
there
has
 been
relatively
little
research
into
how
to
foster
and
promote
interdisciplinary
 research
groups.

 
 The
challenges
facing
interdisciplinary
research
include
the
way
that
disciplinary
 norms
and
a
culture
of
specialisation
have
been
embedded
in
higher
education,
the
 difficulties
surrounding
any
attempt
to
define
interdisciplinarity,
establishing
 alternative
forms
of
peer
review,
the
problem
of
obtaining
consensus
among
 researchers
from
different
disciplines,
the
need
for
a
common
language
that
can
 facilitate
reaching
mutual
understanding,
and
the
difficulties
of
securing
financial
 and
institutional
support
for
interdisciplinary
research.

Achieving
effective
co‐ operation
between
different
specialists
or
organisations
thus
necessitates
effective
 methods
for
communication,
collaboration
and
evaluation.
 
 The
complexity
and
diversity
of
contemporary
research
means
that
disciplines
are
 often
brought
together
around
a
single
research
question,
but
disciplinary
practices
 are
seldom
properly
understood
outside
of
the
communities
within
which
they
 usually
take
place.

This
is
one
prominent
reason
why
the
familiar
mechanisms
of
 disciplinary
academia
can
be
so
difficult
to
transcend.
It
is
unreasonable
to
expect
 interdisciplinary
researchers
to
master
more
than
one
discipline
to
the
same
 standard
that
a
disciplinary
researcher
would
be
expected
to
attain.

Disciplinary
 experts
may
be
useful
for
assessing
disciplinary
contributions,
but
not
the
 relationships
between
the
contributions
of
the
different
researchers,
or
materials
 from
outside
their
home
discipline:

interdisciplinary
activities
should
be
“judged
on
 how
well
they
achieve
their
objectives
and
how
well
they
integrate
knowledge”
 (Østreng,
2010:
67).


 
 Consequently,
interdisciplinary
researchers
need
to
engage
with
complex
 epistemological
and
methodological
questions
about
the
emergence,
status,
and
 validity
of
knowledge.
Since
these
constitute
the
background
to
a
given
discipline
–
 indeed,
to
a
large
extent
these
are
what
define
a
discipline
–
they
are
rarely
the
 focus
of
those
who
work
solely
within
particular
disciplinary
boundaries.

Lunca
 (1996)
suggests
that
the
shortcomings
of
most
interdisciplinary
research
may
be
 largely
explained
with
reference
to
levels
of
awareness
about
the
kind
of
cognitive
 and
epistemological
commitments
made
within
disciplines.

More
specifically,
there
 12
  • 13. are
two
issues
of
particular
importance
for
interdisciplinarity.

Firstly,
there
is
the
 question
of
how
to
generate
a
procedure
for
deciding
how
to
approach
particular
 problems
that
transcend
disciplinary
borders.

Secondly,
it
is
necessary
to
find
a
way
 of
reconciling
the
disciplinary
and
interdisciplinary
approaches
to
the
research
 question
in
order
to
render
them
compatible.

As
a
result,
researchers
can
improve
 the
interdisciplinarity
of
their
work
by
“learning
the
language
of
the
epistemological,
 logical
and
philosophical
analysis
of
their
speciality”
which
“will
enable
them
to
enter
 into
interdisciplinary
collaboration”
(Lunca,
1996:
ii‐iii).

This
process,
driven
by
the
 aim
of
increasing
solvability
through
translating
disciplinary
languages,
is
what
Lunca
 refers
to
as
‘interdisciplinarisation’
(Ibid.,14).


 
 Holley
raises
the
worry
that
the
potentials
of
interdisciplinary
research
are
often
 overstated
in
the
literature,
in
spite
of
the
language
that
surrounds
it:
 ”interdisciplinary
research
topics”,
she
writes,
”are
not
inherently
innovative,
timely,
 or
applicable
to
contemporary
problems”.
(Holley,
2009:
64)
Interdisciplinarity
must
 constantly
demonstrate
the
way
in
which
it
adds
value
to
disciplinary
inquiry
if
it
is
to
 live
up
to
its
potential
as
the
form
of
investigation
best
suited
to
addressing
the
 complexity
of
contemporary
intellectual
problems.
 
 In
addition
to
these
concerns
surrounding
the
inherent
academic
worth
of
 interdisciplinarity,
there
are
a
number
of
issues
arise
because
of
the
traditional
 structural
organisation
of
universities
and
how
they
are
managed.

On
the
whole,
 universities
are
organised
around
traditional
discipline
boundaries
and
new
 emerging
research
fields
or
those
that
adopt
an
interdisciplinary
approach
do
not
 easily
sit
within
this
traditional
structure.

Conole,
White
and
Oliver
(2007:
77)
chart
 the
emergence
of
e‐learning
as
a
research
field
and
note
the
tensions
this
created
on
 existing
structures,
noting
the
constant
changing
structures
and
functions:
”[j]ob
 titles
and
structural
units
within
support
services
have
been
in
a
constant
state
of
 flux
in
the
last
few
decades
as
institutions
struggle
to
keep
up
with
the
impact
of
 changing
technologies”.
It
seems
evident
that
the
future
of
any
successful
 interdisciplinarity
is
dependent
upon
the
relationships
interdisciplinary
studies
has
 with
other
departments
and
the
administrative
structures
of
the
university,
 particularly
in
the
form
of
senior
managers
who
can
champion
and
support
 interdisciplinary
research.

However,
the
specific
organizational
forms
that
would
 give
interdisciplinarity
the
best
chance
for
being
effective
remain
unclear.

 3.4
The
use
of
technologies
to
foster
interdisciplinarity
 There
are
a
number
of
ways
in
which
technologies
could
support
interdisciplinary
 collaboration.
Section
4.3
will
articulate
the
wide
range
of
tools
that
TEL
researchers
 are
using
to
support
both
the
collection
and
analysis
of
data,
as
well
as
for
more
 general
communication
and
collaboration.
This
section
provides
an
overview
of
the
 more
general
uses
of
tools
evident
in
the
broader
literature.

 
 A
taxonomy
derived
by
Conole
(2006)
provides
a
classification
of
tools
according
to
 use:
text/data
manipulation,
presentation/dissemination,
data
analysis,
information
 seeking/handling,
storing/managing
information,
personal
management,
project
 management,
communication,
visualisation/brainstorming,
guidance/support.
Not
 13
  • 14. surprisingly
word
processing,
email
and
internet
technologies
emerged
as
the
tools
 that
had
made
the
most
significant
differences;
changing
the
way
people
create
and
 distribute
information,
altering
organisational
structures
and
associated
roles
with
 some
roles
disappearing
and
new
professions
emerging,
and
arguably
even
altering
 the
very
nature
and
worth
of
knowledge
itself.
Returning
to
the
list
a
few
years
later,
 Conole
(Forthcoming,
2010)
demonstrated
the
impact
of
Web
2.0
technologies,
 finding
more
evidence
of
collective
used
of
tools
online
(such
as
GoogleDocs
or
wikis
 for
co‐creating
texts,
Slideshare
for
distributing
Powerpoint
presentations
and
social
 media
tools
for
communication
and
networking).

 
 In
addition
to
creating
and
connecting
online
research
communities,
these
tools
 offer
new
possibilities
for
participatory
or
collaborative
design.

Communication
 technologies
are
uniquely
able
to
create
feelings
of
interconnectedness
and
 community
over
geographical
distance;
making
it
easier
for
stakeholders
to
have
 their
voices
heard.
Digital
repositories
and
other
online
tools
mean
research
results
 can
now
be
made
available
to
a
much
wider
audience
than
in
the
past.
Open
access
 practices
are
increasingly
evident.
For
example,
the
Open
Educational
Resource
 movement
in
teaching
has
been
mirrored
in
the
research
community
by
the
Open
 Access
Initiative,
whereby
researchers
are
choosing
to
make
their
research
 publications
freely
available
via
institutional
research
repositories;
thus
challenging
 traditional
publication
channels,
such
as
journals
and
books.
Some
researchers
are
 even
going
a
step
further
and
advocating
the
notion
of
making
original,
raw
data
 publically
available
for
scrutiny
and
manipulation
by
others.
The
so
called
‘Web
2.0’
 technologies
in
particular
foster
co‐construction
of
knowledge
and
active
user
 engagement,
prompting
some
researchers
to
choose
these
technologies
as
their
 preferred
mechanism
of
dissemination
over
traditional
recognised
publication
routes
 (Conole
and
Alevizou,
2010).
 
 Technology
offers
an
obvious
way
to
break
down
the
disciplinary
boundaries
in
 traditional
academic
practice
because
it
is
the
medium
through
which
research
 findings
are
translated
into
cultural
products.

As
both
material
objects
and
narrative
 devices,
technologies
have
as
much
to
do
with
re‐imagining
and
presenting
 normative
accounts
of
society
as
they
do
with
providing
local
solutions
to
practical
 problems
(Moran,
2010).

Seen
in
this
light,
the
sphere
of
‘techno‐culture’
shows
 that
science
is
unavoidably
interdisciplinary
because
it
is
always
part
of
other
 narratives
and
other
(putatively
non‐scientific)
forms
of
knowledge
and
inquiry.

 Moran
notes
that
all
of
the
major
developments
in
communication
technology
–
 including
books,
photography,
radio,
television,
the
computer
and
the
internet
–
 have
all
influenced
the
writing,
publication,
marketing
and
distribution
of
academic
 ‘texts’
(construed
as
part
of
wider
economic
and
cultural
practices).
Arguably
the
 affordances
of
new
technologies
offer
something
of
a
step
change;
providing
a
wide
 variety
of
different
ways
in
which
academics
can
now
communicate,
collaborate,
 critique
and
share
knowledge.
 
 However
the
effective
use
of
new
technologies
requires
new
forms
of
literacies
and
 new
uses
of
technology
(Jenkins,
2009),
as
well
as
a
conscious
understanding
on
the
 part
of
the
researcher
as
to
what
kind
of
digital
identity
they
want
to
portray.
The
 14
  • 15. development
from
print‐based
communication
to
plural
and
diverse
information
 media
has
led
to
calls
from
educational
theorists
for
a
re‐evaluation
of
traditional
 concepts
of
literacy
and
teaching
and
learning
relations
in
light
of
technologically
 mediated
access
to
and
relations
with
knowledge
(Luke,
2003).


The
suggestion
 made
by
Cook‐Sather
and
Shore
(2007)
is
that
to
remedy
the
over‐specialisation
of
 disciplinary
research,
we
must
think
of
the
university
‘faculty’
as
a
much
wider
group
 –
including
staff
and
students
–
all
involved
in
the
same
process
of
knowledge
 production.

The
authors
support
this
view
with
a
case
study
concerning
an
 interdisciplinary
summer
school
where
professors
were
required
to
rework
and
 adapt
the
syllabi
on
the
basis
of
collaboration
with
librarians,
information
 technologists,
and
(disciplinary)
academics.

Under
this
system,
considerable
 importance
was
placed
on
overcoming
barriers
to
communication,
and
on
the
value
 of
guaranteeing
the
relationships
between
faculty,
student,
librarian,
and
 technologist
that
are
most
appropriate
for
interdisciplinarity.

Information
 technologies
can
help
the
exchange
of
ideas
and
data
to
remain
focused,
meaningful
 and
pertinent.
 
 One
implication
of
procedural
approaches
to
interdisciplinarity
like
this
one
is
that
 ideal
forms
of
interdisciplinary
collaboration
are
unique
and
unpredictable.

Since
 they
cannot
be
prescribed
in
advance,
the
tools
and
technologies
specific
to
one
 project
are
unlikely
to
be
of
use
in
another
without
being
adapted
or
rethought.

 Østreng
(2010)
suggests,
by
contrast,
that
interdisciplinary
collaboration
can
be
 supported
by
a
number
of
shared
methodologies.

These
include
concepts,
methods
 and
theories
originating
from
specific
disciplines.

Of
particular
importance,
he
 argues,
are
methodologies
that
transcend
the
qualitative/quantitative
distinction.
In
 any
case,
it’s
clear
that
communication
and
collaboration
tools
of
a
more
general
 nature
remain
useful
to
any
interdisciplinary
project.
 
 Educationalists
have
presented
a
number
of
practical
suggestions
for
facilitating
 interdisciplinary
research.

These
include:
clearly
defining
the
scope
of
 interdisciplinary
research
projects;
encouraging
personal
relationships
and
research
 communities
across
disciplinary
fields;
setting
up
dedicated
interdisciplinary
research
 areas
or
faculties,
and
integrating
interdisciplinarity
into
the
structural
and
cultural
 priorities
of
the
university;
and
ensuring
that
interdisciplinary
projects
are
 adequately
supported
financially.

 
 One
of
the
main
impacts
of
recent
developments
in
communication
technology
is
 the
growing
rapidity
of
linguistic
change,
resulting
from
the
breakdown
of
 geographic,
generational,
and
cultural
barriers
that
is
being
facilitated
by
online
 technologies.

Although
Luke
does
not
make
the
following
suggestion
with
explicit
 reference
to
interdisciplinary
research,
it
does
neatly
encapsulate
how
 interdisciplinarity
could
work
within
a
TEL
context:
‘[…]
in
digital
knowledge
and
 networked
environments,
critical
understandings
of
the
relations
between
ideas,
 their
sources
and
histories,
intertextual
references
and
consequences,
are
as
 important
if
not
more
so
than
mastery,
reproduction,
and
recombination
of
discrete
 facts
or
units
of
information’.(Luke,
2003:
400)

The
right
kind
of
communication
for
 interdisciplinary
collaboration
is
likely
to
feature
a
‘critical’
IT
literacy
at
its
heart.

 15
  • 16. This
would
go
beyond
IT
skills
training,
and
include
reflections
on
metaknowledge,
 the
effective
use
of
collaborative
tools
and
problem‐based
learning,
as
well
as
a
 critical
analysis
of
the
cultural
and
political
contexts
within
which
information
and
 communication
technologies
are
used.


These
new
forms
of
computer‐mediated
 communication
emphasize
‘intertextuality,
transcultural
communication,
 intermediality,
metamedia,
and
multimodal
multiliteracy’
(Ibid.,
401‐402).

Luke
 argues
that
the
multimedia,
multimodal,
rhizomatic
and
integrative
features
of
 contemporary
ICT
are
based
on
a
kind
of
‘horizontal’
or
‘lateral’
cognitive
mobility
in
 contrast
to
the
‘vertical’
or
‘disciplinary’
cognitive
mobility
associated
with
 traditional
forms
of
academic
inquiry.


 
 In
addition
to
facilitating
communication,
technologies
can
also
be
use
to
support
 the
management
and
analysis
of
research
in
a
variety
of
ways.
There
are
now
a
 wealth
of
software
tools
for
organising
and
analysing
both
quantitative
and
 qualitative
research
data.
Clearly
such
tools
are
helpful
in
that
they
free
the
 researcher
from
the
more
mundane
aspects
of
managing
data,
however
arguably
 they
also
change
the
way
in
which
the
researcher
is
interacting
with
and
hence
 understanding
the
data.
Technologies
also
play
an
important
role
in
terms
of
 broader
dissemination
of
research
findings
and
can
be
used
to
assess
the
impact
and
 dissemination
of
interdisciplinary
research.

The
printed
book
or
journal
article
is
 now
just
part
of
a
spectrum
of
different
dissemination
mechanisms
academics
can
 use
–
blogs,
wikis,
social
networking
sites
and
even
Twitter
now
offer
 complementary
modes
of
communication.
Most
importantly
these
Web
2.0
 technologies
can
help
spread
research
findings
far
more
quickly
that
traditional
 publication
routes.
Furthermore
because
of
their
inter‐connected
nature
they
offer
 the
possibility
of
ongoing
interaction
and
dialogue
between
the
researcher
and
the
 broader
community.

Leydesdorff
(2007)
proposes
the
concept
of
‘betweenness
 centrality’
as
an
indicator
(in
local
citation
environments
and
after
normalisation)
of
 the
interdisciplinarity
of
journals.

The
idea
of
‘betweenness
as
a
measure
of
 centrality’
is
identified
with
Social
Network
Analysis
(Freeman,
1977)
where
 ‘betweenness’
is
a
measure
of
the
frequency
with
which
a
node
is
located
on
the
 shortest
path
between
other
nodes
on
the
network.

This
is
then
applied
to
any
 ‘citation
matrix’
to
indicate
the
extent
to
which
a
piece
of
research
has
influenced
 researchers
from
different
disciplines.
 
 Dron
(2007)
assessed
the
potential
of
social
software
(blogs,
wikis,
link
sharing,
 tagging,
social
networking)
in
educational
contexts.
His
focus
is
on
the
use
of
these
 tools
for
learners,
but
the
general
arguments
he
makes
are
relevant
here,
 particularly
if
researchers
shifting
from
single
disciplinary
to
interdisciplinary
 perspectives
is
see
as
a
form
of
‘professional
learning’.
The
author’s
theory
of
 ‘transactional
control’
is
a
refinement
of
Moore’s
theory
of
transactional
distance
in
 distance
learning,
and
emphasises
the
extent
to
which
different
parties
exercise
 control
over
the
learning
situation.

Social
software
allows
for
the
collective
creation
 of
meaning,
sometimes
in
unexpected
ways.

They
allow
learners
to
exercise
control
 over
the
learning
trajectory
based
on
the
emergent
properties
of
the
group
activity
 as
a
whole.

Dron
identifies
ten
design
principles
for
educational
social
software
that
 meets
the
needs
of
learners.

These
are:
the
principle
of
adaptability
(compatibility);
 16
  • 17. the
principle
of
evolvability
(unfixed
systems);
the
principle
of
parcellation
 (connections
between
systems
should
emerge
and
not
be
prescribed);
the
principle
 of
trust
(goodwill);
the
principle
of
stigmergy
(using
signs
to
guide,
not
constrain);
 the
principle
of
context
(awareness
of
virtual
ecosystems);
the
principle
of
constraint
 (awareness
of
what
is
excluded);
the
principle
of
sociability;
the
principle
of
 connectivity
(interconnectedness);
and
the
principle
of
scale
(where
small
iterations
 underpin
larger
ones).
Translating
such
principles
into
practice
remains
a
challenge
 for
educational
technologists.
 3.5
Capacity
building
‐
interdisciplinarity
in
undergraduate
programmes
 Developing
interdisciplinarity
at
the
undergraduate
level
can
be
seen
as
one
strategy
 for
capacity
building
and
creating
the
interdisciplinary
researchers
of
tomorrow.
 Although
interdisciplinary
teaching
has
undoubtedly
been
developed
and
explored
 more
than
interdisciplinarity
in
research
–
particularly
in
the
USA,
where
 ‘interdisciplinary’
degrees
are
relatively
common
at
liberal
arts
colleges
–
it
remains
 the
case
that
the
genuinely
interdisciplinary
use
of
ICT
in
education
is
presently
 encouraged
by
a
small
number
of
enthusiasts
within
subject
specialisms
(Sefton‐ Green,
1999).


 
 Interdisciplinary
programmes
are
often
caught
up
in
the
wider
economic
and
 political
struggles
of
the
university
and
its
institutions.

Augsburg
and
Henry
 characterise
the
discourse
of
interdisciplinarity
as
a
“discourse
of
uncertainty
and
 change”
(2009:
2),
and
argue
that
the
combination
of
the
“politics
of
 interdisciplinarity”
and
a
widespread
tendency
to
disciplinary
hegemony
explains
 why
interdisciplinary
syllabi
have
generally
failed
to
find
a
permanent
place
in
 university
curricula
(Ibid.,
227).


 
 Existing
research
into
interdisciplinary
teaching
suggests
that
successes
are
typically
 supported
by
a
wider
culture
of
collaboration.

Some
educators
continue
to
 discourage
disciplinary
prejudices
by
grouping
academic
staff
along
multidisciplinary
 lines
to
separate
them
from
their
original
disciplines;
what
Braddock
et
al.
(1994)
 refer
to
as
the
‘lifeboat
model’.

Other
strategies
to
promote
interaction
between
 staff
include
the
setting
up
of
co‐operative
programmes,
provision
of
a
shared
 common
room,
the
establishment
of
applied
research
teams,
and
the
random
 allocation
of
offices,
rather
than
on
fixed
discipline
boundaries.
There
is
evidence
to
 suggest
that
these
approaches
can
contribute
to
“the
continued
communication,
 recognition
and
acknowledgement
of
interdisciplinary
achievements,
structures
and
 outcomes”,
while
affording
teachers
as
much
autonomy
as
possible
(Franks
et
al.,
 2007:
182).
 
 Helping
academics
make
better
use
of
technologies
in
their
teaching
is
one
example
 of
where
an
interdisciplinary
approach
has
been
adopted.
The
state
of
Connecticut
 promoted
a
training
programme
in
educational
technology
focused
on
ways
in
which
 educators
can
make
use
of
educational
technology.

The
advanced
components
of
 the
course
are
designed
to
cross
disciplinary
boundaries.

The
three
main
principles
 upon
which
the
programme
is
based
are:
evidence‐based
decision
making;
 engagement
with
educators
across
the
arts
and
science;
and
the
development
of
an
 17
  • 18. induction
programme
to
share
knowledge
(Moss,
Osborn
and
Kaufman,
2008).

 Academics
from
different
departments
had
to
collaborate
to
construct
meaningful
 learning
environments.
Working
across
discipline
boundaries
in
this
teaching
context
 also
helped
them
develop
the
skills
needed
to
undertake
interdisciplinary
research.


 
 More
generally,
promoting
interdisciplinarity
is
seen
as
beneficial
in
a
number
of
 respects.
According
to
Szostak
(2007),
interdisciplinary
courses
encourage
students
 to
make
connections
between
different
courses
and
help
them
to
recognise
the
 different
insights
that
emerge
from
different
disciplines.
They
learn
how
to
resolve
 conflicts
between
disciplines
and
it
gives
them
experience
of
how
to
work
in
 interdisciplinary
contexts.
Ultimately,
these
interdisciplinary
courses
provide
a
 foundation
for
future
generations
of
researchers,
who
will
be
more
likely,
have
the
 necessary
skills
to
undertake
interdisciplinary
research.
 3.6
The
online
discussion
fora
 The
previous
sections
have
outlined
some
of
the
key
characteristics
of
 interdisciplinarity,
debates
over
its
definition,
and
how
it
relates
to
single‐discipline
 research.
The
emergent
picture
shows
both
the
benefits
and
challenges
of
 attempting
to
do
interdisciplinary
research.
The
review
also
explored
how
new
 technologies
are
being
used
to
support
interdisciplinary
practices.
The
review
also
 highlights
the
fact
that
doing
interdisciplinary
research
requires
a
particular
skills
set
 and
hence
the
last
section
discussed
one
aspect
of
capacity
building,
namely
 examples
of
how
interdisciplinary
practices
are
being
introduced
at
the
 undergraduate
level.
These
themes
will
be
returned
to
in
the
discussions
around
the
 interview
data
in
Section
4.
In
the
final
part
of
this
section,
we
summarise
some
of
 the
discussions
from
the
online
fora,
showing
how
the
themes
from
the
literature
 review
also
emerged
in
the
interview
data.
 
 A
number
of
characteristics
were
identified
as
being
needed
to
do
interdisciplinary
 research:
the
ability
to
be
open
to
unfamiliar
methodologies,
the
collective
 development
of
a
shared
vision
and
the
ability
to
be
flexible
were
the
three
most
 importance
characteristics
cited.
One
interesting
perception
was
that,
because
TEL
 many
researchers
typically
come
from
other
disciplines,
that
they
may
be
less
likely
 to
be
attached
to
discipline‐specific
assumptions
and
methodologies.
 
 A
number
of
strategies
for
good
working
practice
were
suggested.
Firstly,
that
 researchers
need
to
make
an
effort
in
terms
of
understanding
each
other’s
language.
 Secondly,
specific
goals
for
collaboration
must
be
set.
Thirdly,
there
needs
to
be
a
 shared
consensus
about
the
methodologies
adopted.
Some
of
the
benefits
of
doing
 interdisciplinary
research
cited
were:
 
 • Overcoming
the
‘tunnel
vision’
that
can
affect
those
entrenched
in
 disciplinary
mindsets
 • Working
towards
unified
theories
which
provide
greater
explanatory
power
 while
making
fewer
methodological
assumptions
 • Expanding
stakeholder
base
by
offering
different
perspectives
on
issues
 18
  • 19. • Personalisation/customisation
of
teaching
and
learning
programmes
 • Bringing
together
expertise
across
different
(and
potentially
diverse)
domains
 • Possibilities
for
making
special
use
of
researchers
with
unique
skill
 combinations
 • Recognition
that
no
one
discipline
provides
an
exhaustive
account
of
 phenomena
 • Interdisciplinary
collaboration,
as
a
means
of
learning
new
things,
drawing
on
 expertise
from
other
disciplines

 • Organising
research
partners
and
projects
according
to
a
clear
vision
which
 provides
focus
to
disparate
activities
 And
similarly
some
of
the
suggested
barriers
to
interdisciplinary
activities
included:

 
 • Institutional
constraints
(and
an
outmoded
institutional
model
of
education)
 • Instances
of
interdisciplinarity
are
not
merely
cosmetic
 • Difficulty
in
agreeing
on
methodologies
and
standards
of
validity
across
 subject
areas
 • Difficulty
in
providing
adequate
training
for
graduate
students
and
 postdoctoral
scholars
 • Difficulty
in
providing
effective
criteria
for
evaluating
interdisciplinary
 research
 • Mismatch
between
new
practices
and
popular
methodologies/metrics

 • Learning
to
take
up
reflective
distance
from
one’s
core
discipline’
 • Preserving
research
focus
 • Managing
transitions
between
disciplinary
and
cultural
boundaries

 • Difficulty
in
creating
robust
and
coherent
frameworks
and
tools
which
 accommodate
different
levels
and
forms
of
analysis
 • Consolidation/
standardisation
of
vocabularies
 • Frameworks
for
synthesising
micro/meso/macro
perspectives;
combining
 qualitative
and
quantitative
research
data
 • Distinguishing
inter‐disciplinarity
from
multi‐disciplinarity
 • Lack
of
intellectual
or
methodological
‘openness’
among
academics
 • There
is
a
risk
that
individual
institutional
or
personal
aims
may
supersede
 the
overall
project
goal.

 
 Here
are
some
of
the
key
questions
and
challenges
for
interdisciplinary
research
that
 arose:


 
 • What
are
the
key
guidelines
for
supporting
team‐work
in
an
interdisciplinary
 setting?
 19
  • 20. • How
can
we
make
best
use
of
the
technology
available
to
us
to
support
good
 communication
and
collaboration
whilst
at
the
same
time
avoid
 overwhelming
partners
with
an
array
of
unfamiliar
technologies?
 • What
kind
of
safeguards
might
help
ensure
that
interdisciplinary
research
 projects
remain
focused
–
and
not
realigned
to
the
disciplinary
interests
of
a
 particular
academic
(such
as
the
Principal
Investigator)?
 • Are
there
some
research
topics
that
lend
themselves
more
readily
to
 interdisciplinary
research
than
others?
 • Is
interdisciplinarity
better
suited
to
longer‐term
(or
larger‐scale)
research
 projects?
 • In
terms
of
learning,
how
explicit
does
the
focus
on
interdisciplinarity
need
to
 be?

Do
people
need
to
know
if
they
are
involved
in
interdisciplinary
learning,
 or
could
this
distract
from
their
own
learning
experiences?

Should
models
of
 interdisciplinarity
be
discussed
by
learners,
or
should
they
simply
inform
 lesson
design,
etc.?
 • Do
new
disciplines
arise
from
the
combinations
of
different
disciplines,
or
 should
these
all
be
referred
to
as
‘interdisciplinary’?


 4
Perspectives
on
interdisciplinarity
from
TEL
researchers

 The
data
derived
from
the
interviews
complement
the
material
collected
through
 the
literature
review
and
the
open
consultation
work
through
the
Networked
 Learning
hotseat
and
on
Cloudworks.
Eighteen
interviews
were
carried
out
with
 academics
that
have
experience
of
interdisciplinary
working
in
their
subject
areas,
 and
more
specifically
have
experience
of
interdisciplinary
working
in
Technology
 Enhanced
Learning
research.
The
methodology
is
described
in
Section
2.
Key
findings
 from
the
interviews
are
discussed
here.

 4.1
Origins
and
current
academic
roles
 The
breakdown
of
the
eighteen
interviewees
by
‘origin’
or
undergraduate
discipline
 is
given
in
the
figure
below.
It
shows
the
diversity
of
background
and
current
spread
 of
those
working
in
TEL
research.
However
it
is
notable
how
many
of
the
researchers
 have
a
science
background.
I
t
is
interesting
to
reflect
on
the
reasons
why
such
a
 trend
might
exist.
One
possible
explanation
is
that
early
work
on
computer‐assisted
 learning
materials,
e‐assessment
and
early
use
of
the
web
was
pioneered
in
the
 science
subject
areas.
For
example,
chemistry
was
one
of
the
first
subject
areas
to
 fully
exploit
the
use
of
interactive,
3D
molecules
using
a
programme
called
Rasmol
 (e.g.,

Lancaster,
2000)
and
there
are
many
excellent
examples
of
interactive
 computer‐based
packages
for
teaching
science
generally
(e.g.,
Scanlon
et
al.,
1993;
 Scanlon
et
al.,
2004).
In
terms
of
current
location,
the
researchers
are
spread
across
 a
range
of
different
departments;
some
are
located
in
individual
cognate
discipline
 departments
(like
education
or
computer
science),
others
are
located
in
what
might
 be
termed
‘central
services’
and
one
is
located
in
a
subject
area
(dental
education).

 
 20
  • 21. 
 
 Collectively,
therefore
the
TEL
field
is
drawing
on
a
rich
range
of
theoretical
 perspectives
and
methodologies.
All
of
those
interviewed
stated
that
they
had
had
 some
experience
of
working
in
a
range
of
disciplines
during
their
career
trajectories
 from
their
original
discipline
to
their
current
role.
And
felt
that
exposure
to
working
 in
multidisciplinary
contexts
was
valuable.

 
 ‘I’ve
picked
up
something
from
all
of
them.’[IntM]
 
 Some
interviewees
identified
the
significance
of
their
‘home’
[IntI]
discipline,
 although
it
is
worth
countering
that
others
saw
it
as
less
important.

 
 ‘One
of
our
findings
was
the
real
significance
of
a
home
discipline,
that
most
 people
are
active
interdisciplinary
researchers,
have
very
clear
signs
that
they
 have
been
imprinted
with
the
legacy
of
their
first
undergraduate
degree.’
 [IntI]
 
 The
tension
between
the
individual
discipline
perspectives
and
the
holistic
cognitive
 skills
necessary
for
an
interdisciplinarity
mindset
were
evident
through
the
 interviews
with
the
TEL
researchers,
who
recognised
the
need
to
both
draw
on
–
and
 move
beyond
–
their
original
disciplines.
Echoing
Spelt
et
al.’s
argument
(Spelt
et
al.,
 2009)
that
interdisciplinary
thinking
is
a
complex
cognitive
skill.
The
value
of
the
 ‘home’
[IntI]
discipline
seemed
to
centre
on
the
ways
in
which
it
helped
the
 individual
frame
their
thinking
–
seeing
patterns,
oscillating
between
textual,
 mathematical
and
visual
representation
and
making
sense
out
of
complexity:
 
 ‘Geographers
are
really
good
at
synthesising
key
ideas
out
of
complex
data…
 the
tradition
is
that
geographers
make
the
best
managers.’
[IntL]
 
 ‘Computer
scientists
when
they
do
requirements
capture
and
develop
a
 system
and
develop
it,
they
evaluate
using
paradigms
and
methods…that
 would
be
quite
different
from
psychologists
and
logicians.’
[IntP]
 21
  • 22. 
 From
mathematics…
‘I
still
tend
to
see
patterns.’
[IntC]
 
 From
chemistry
‘I’m
always
trying
to
classify
and
taxonomise
things…
and
 being
able
to
see
things
in
three
dimensions.’
[IntA]
 
 ‘Particularly
the
AI
(artificial
intelligence)
background…it’s
probably
the
case
 that
most
of
the
research
I
do
isn’t
what
you
might
strictly
see
as
artificial
 intelligence
but
it
influences
the
way
you
think.’
[IntQ]
 
 ‘I
am
only
just
starting
to
realise…
how
much
of
the
kind
of
computer
science
 background
I
often
bring
with
me.’
[IntQ]
 
 Alignment
with
their
conceptions
and
views
of
the
world
from
their
background
 within
the
context
of
doing
TEL
research
is
at
the
heart
of
much
of
what
defines
TEL
 interdisciplinarity.
Furthermore,
many
of
the
interviewees
also
felt
that,
broadly
 construed,
education
is
necessarily
an
interdisciplinary
endeavour.
 
 ‘I
would
take
the
view
that
almost
any
team
which
is
focused
on
education
is
 almost
by
definition
interdisciplinary,
because
people
come
to
it
from
quite
 diverse
backgrounds.’
[IntL]
 
 ‘We’re
always
saying
it
but
education
is
already
interdisciplinary.’
[IntK]
 
 ‘Because
in
a
way
education
is
very
interdisciplinary
in
its
own
right
isn’t
it?
In
 that
you
get
people
who
come
to
education
from
the
psychology
background
 who
have
also
perhaps
a
background
in,
you
know,
learning
theories
or
even
 experimental
psychologists
in
terms
of,
you
know,
very
narrow
perspectives
 on
learning,
for
example.
And
then
you
get
people
who
come
from
a
 sociology
background,
who
come
from
a
philosophy
education
background.’
 [IntQ]
 
 And
therefore
researchers
in
the
field
need
to
adopt
an
interdisciplinary
approach
to
 Technology
Enhanced
Learning.
 
 ‘So
I
think
it’s
interesting
in
that
education
in
the
TEL
part
of
the
equation
is
 in
itself
interdisciplinary.’
[IntQ]
 Interviewees
were
keen
to
stress
the
ways
in
which
traditional
subjects
already
 accommodate
a
degree
of
intellectual
diversity,
and
that
being
interdisciplinary
for
 some
was
inherent
in
the
academic
work
they
undertook.
 
 Psychology
–
‘I
enjoyed
the
range
of
topics
that
it
allowed
me
to
study,
 perception
and
individual
differences
and
cognition
and
social
psychology
 and
psycholinguistics.’
[IntP]
 
 22
  • 23. Artificial
Intelligence
–
‘brought
together
all
my
psychology,
my
education
 and
my
interest
in
computing,
all
into
sort
of
one
focus.’
[IntP]
 
 Geography
–
‘Is
probably
in
a
reasonably
easy
position
there,
because
of
the
 diversity
within
the
subject.’
[IntH]
 
 Geography
–

‘You
can’t
really
work
in
a
modern
geography
department
 without
having
to
accommodate
quite
what
in
other
cases
might
be…
greater
 breadth
that
would
cross
other
interdisciplinary
divides.’
[IntH]
 
 Education
–
‘I
think
is
essentially
interdisciplinary,
so
as
part
of
that…we
 would
be
reading
the
work
of
a
psychologist,
but
I
might
also
be
reading
the
 work
of
sociologists.’
[Intk]
 
 Education
–
‘Is
already
interdisciplinary,
because
we
have
people
who
come
 from
critical
theory
backgrounds,
or
counselling
backgrounds,
or
narrative
 methodology.’
[IntK]
 
 Computer
Science
and
Artificial
Intelligence
‐
‘within
the
school
of
Cognitive
 and
Computer
Science…was
interdisciplinary
at
core.’
[IntQ]
 
 The
interviewees
were
selected
because
of
their
experience
in
interdisciplinary
 research
in
a
general
context,
and
specifically
in
relation
to
their
experiences
of
 working
in
interdisciplinary
teams
in
Technology
Enhanced
Learning
research.
When
 they
were
asked
about
the
distinctiveness
of
working
interdisciplinarity,
a
number
of
 themes
emerged.

 
 Firstly,
as
a
relatively
new
field,
TEL
research
has
attracted
people
from
different
 disciplines,
each
bringing
with
them
different
theoretical
and
methodological
 perspectives.
See
also
Conole
and
Oliver
(2007:
1‐15).

 
 Secondly,
TEL
research
by
its
nature
is
complex,
and
is
concerned
with
improving
 education
through
use
of
technology
–
it
therefore
needs
to
draw
both
on
subject
 areas
concerned
with
learning
and
teaching
(education,
psychology,
etc.)
and
those
 concerned
with
technology
(computer
sciences,
information
sciences
etc.),
as
well
as
 understanding
the
local
nuances
and
cultural
differences
across
different
subject
 domains.
Bringing
these
different
aspects
together
effectively
is
a
key
challenge
of
 TEL
research
and
therefore
it
needs
the
different
interdisciplinary
perspectives
to
 understand
it;
i.e.
interdisciplinarity
is
a
core
facet
of
TEL
research.
If
TEL
research
is
 going
to
work,
it
has
to
be
interdisciplinary
and
people
need
to
bring
a
wide
range
of
 different
skills,
perspectives
and
research
tools
to
bear
upon
a
particular
problem.

 Many
felt
that
interdisciplinary
approaches
to
TEL
research
were
superior
to
single
 discipline
approaches
because
they
bring
together
a
productive
mixture
of
 perspectives
and
encourage
debate.

 
 Thirdly,
there
are
huge
and
interesting
cognitive,
technical
and
social
questions
 surrounding
the
delivery
of
technology
enhanced
learning.

For
example,
how
should
 23
  • 24. the
cognitive
and
the
social
be
integrated?
How
should
knowledge
be
organised?
 How
should
classroom
practice
be
managed?
These
are
highly
complex
questions
 and
need
more
technical
resources
than
other
areas
of
educational
research.
Indeed,
 a
common
theme
across
the
interviews
was
the
opinion
that
you
cannot
do
a
TEL
 project
without
lots
of
multi‐disciplinary
and
interdisciplinary
expertise.
Also
the
 products
or
artefacts
produced
then
need
an
interdisciplinary
approach
to
 evaluation.

 
 Fourthly,
a
number
of
strategies
need
to
be
in
place
to
support
TEL
research
 practices.
Researchers
need
to
be
helped
to
develop
the
skills
needed
to
undertake
 interdisciplinary
research.
Institutions
need
to
have
in
place
appropriate
career
paths
 to
foster
and
promote
interdisciplinarity.
This
has
not
always
been
the
case
and
 some
TEL
researchers
have
found
that
they
had
reached
a
ceiling
in
their
institution
 in
terms
of
promotion,
having
to
either
revert
to
more
traditional
roles/job
titles
or
 move
into
managerial
positions.
It
was
felt
that
often
the
value
of
TEL
research
 groups
in
terms
of
institutional
support
remains
to
be
fully
exploited
and,
that
 interdisciplinary
research
groups
could
be
playing
a
more
proactive
role
within
 institutions,
helping
them
make
strategic
decisions
on
the
effective
use
of
 technologies
to
support
learning
and
teaching.
It
seems
that
TEL
research
groups
 often
find
themselves
outside
of
formal
institutional
decision
making
mechanisms.

 
 Fifthly,
some
tensions
were
evident
between
the
disciplines.

TEL
research
has
to
 meet
the
research
agenda
of
the
disciplines
involved,
and,
in
particular,
the
needs
of
 both
computer
scientists
and
educationalists.
Some
interviewees
felt
that,
 historically
speaking;
educational
technology/TEL
research
has
been
dominated
by
 the
educationalists.
Indeed,
one
of
the
aspirations
behind
the
establishment
of
the
 ESRC/EPSRC
TEL
programme,
referenced
at
the
beginning
of
the
report,
was
to
 address
this
by
ensuring
that
genuinely
interdisciplinary
teams
were
set
up
to
tackle
 real
TEL
research
challenges.
There
remains
a
tension
between
technologists
and
 educationalists
because
of
this
dominance.
There
is
also
an
inherent
tension
 between
the
level
of
precision
needed
from
a
computer
science
perspective
and
the
 less
well‐defined
nature
normally
associated
with
educational
design,
where
design
 is
more
based
on
practice
and
experience
than
rules
and
methods.

 4.2
Influences,
beliefs
and
theoretical
perspectives
 Interviewees
were
also
asked
to
identify
the
key
influences
(people
and
texts)
in
 their
work,
and
to
articulate
any
beliefs
and
theoretical
perspectives
they
carried
 with
them
from
their
original
disciplines.
The
aim
was
to
try
and
ascertain
whether
 there
was
a
common
core
of
influences
and
what
the
spread
of
influence
was
from
 the
original
or
‘feeder’
disciplines.
Most
of
those
interviewed
recognised
the
role
 their
background
played
in
shaping
their
approach
to
research:

 
 ‘We
are
all
victims
of
our
own
histories’
[IntL]
 
 A
group
of
influential
thinkers
were
identified
by
most
of
the
interviewees,
and
there
 does
appear
to
be
a
common
shared
discourse
underpinning
the
field.
Socio‐cultural
 approaches
–
in
particular
the
work
of
Vygotsky
(1978),
Engeström
(1987)
and
others
 24
  • 25. around

Activity
Theory
–
surfaced
a
number
of
times.

Laurillard’s
‘Rethinking
 university
teaching
and
learning’
(Laurillard,
2002)
acted
as
somewhat
of
a
 watershed
in
the
field
as
it
was
published
at
a
key
time
and,
unsurprisingly,
the
 conversational
framework
introduced
there
and
the
formative
work
by
Pask
on
 Conversation
Theory
which
inspired
it
were
also
mentioned
by
a
number
of
those
 interviewed.
Robin
Mason
(See
for
example
Mason
and
Kaye,
1989),
another
 prominent
and
prolific
publisher
was
credited
by
one
interviewee
as
someone

 
 ‘who
really
set
the
scene
for
flexible
learning
and
I
think
she
gave
so
many
good
 indications
and
foundations
for
what
we’re
all
doing
now’
and
‘she
was
really
an
 icon
to
many
people.’
[IntN]
 
 Listing
others
mentioned
gives
some
indication
of
the
theoretical
perspectives
these
 researchers
are
drawing
on:

Alan
Collins
(Collins,
1993)
(design‐based
research);
 Michael
Patton
(Patton,
2002)
(utilisation
focused
evaluation);
Barbara
Rogoff
 (Rogoff
and
Lave,
1984)
(cultural
psychology);
Maggie
Boden
(Boden,
1977/1987)
 (artificial
Intelligence
and
psychology);
Lave
and
Wenger
(Lave
and
Wenger,
1991)
 (communities
of
practice);
Alan
Blackwell
(Blackwell
et
al.,
2009)
(interdisciplinarity);
 Howard
Gardner
(Gardner,
1983)
(multiple
intelligences);
James
Wertsch
(Wertsch,
 1998)
(mediating
artefacts);
and
Michael
Cole
(Cole,
1996)
(Activity
Theory).

 
 Looking
at
some
of
the
specific
texts
that
were
cited
as
influences
is
also
insightful.

 These
included
‘Educating
the
Reflective
Practitioner’
(Schön
1987),
‘Academic
Tribes
 and
‘Territories:
Intellectual
Enquiry
and
the
Cultures
of
Discipline’
(Becher
&
 Trowler
2001),
‘Distributed
Cognition’
(Salomon
1997),
‘Rethinking
university
 teaching’
(Laurillard,
2002),

‘Plans
and
situated
actions:
the
problem
of
human‐ machine
communication’
(Suchman
1987),
‘A
dynamic
medium
for
creative
thought’,
 (Kay,
1972),
‘‘Doing
Research/Reading
Research
Re‐interrogating
Education’,
 (Dowling
and
Brown,
2009),
and
‘Common
and
Border
Lands’
(Strathern
2004).

 
 These
individuals
and
texts
give
a
flavour
of
what
is
shaping
the
field
and
the
broader
 literature
that
is
being
drawn
on.
It
demonstrates
that
the
field
is
indeed
 interdisciplinary,
because
these
texts
are
drawn
from
a
broader
set
of
disciplines,
 than
research
that
can
be
purely
labelled
‘TEL’.
However,
there
is
an
additional
 important
aspect
to
the
nature
of
interdisciplinarity
in
TEL
research,
both
in
terms
of
 the
actual
processes
involved
and
how
individuals
react
with
and
benefit
from
the
 other
researchers.
A
number
of
interviewees
indicated
that
it
was
the
nature
of
 interdisciplinary
working
itself
that
was
more
influential
in
the
way
they
worked,
 rather
than
either
a
specific
person
or
text.
 
 ‘I
honestly
couldn’t
say
that
it
was
because
I’ve
been
reading
about
 interdisciplinarity,
or
was
inspired
by
some
great
speaker…
it
hasn’t
come
 about
that
way,
it
has
been
through
approaches
from
individuals,
 opportunities
to
be
involved
in
particular
projects.’
[IntH]
 
 ‘What’s
really
more
influenced
me
is
being
keen
to
work
with
people
who
I
 think
are
good
and
strong
in
the
area
that
I’m
working
in.’
[IntK]
 25
  • 26. 
 ‘I
have
looked
at
them.
And
I
haven’t
found
honestly…
much
which
has
 helped
in
anyway
at
all.
What
I
have
found
more
useful
is
working
within
the
 team.’
[IntJ]
 
 ‘It
was
just
some
recognition
about
everybody’s
in
the
same
boat,
you
know,
 we’re
all
struggling
with
this.
But
I
can’t
honestly
point
to
any
theory
that’s
 been
particularly
helpful.’
[IntJ]
 
 ‘I
don’t
think
there’s
a
text
I
would
use
to
describe
interdisciplinarity
but
I’m
 aware
of
quite
useful
debates
on
this
that
have
been
written.’
[IntB]
 
 Interviewees
also
identified
the
need
to
bring
background
theoretical
perspectives
to
 interdisciplinary
research
to
the
fore
to
contextualise
the
research
being
undertaken:

 
 ‘Blending
what
you
already
had.’
[IntN]
 
 ‘I
always
want
to
make
sure
that
we’re
using
the
appropriate
measures
to
 gain
the
outcomes
that
we
want
from
our
research.’
[IntN]
 
 A
number
of
interviewees
also
considered
what
might
be
the
best
approach
to
 achieving
this:

 
 ‘How
can
we
integrate
theories
to
produce
a
composite
perspective?’
[IntM]
 
 Also
two
interviewees
identified
the
challenges
of
using
existing
theoretical
 perspectives:
 
 ‘So
we
are
using
theories
of
collaboration
but
we
don’t
think
they
are
 adequate
enough
for
what
we
need,
so
we
are
developing
our
own
theories.’
 [IntF]
 
 ‘I’m
interested
in
exploring
other
perspectives
because
I
think
we’re
now
 getting
into
quite
a
challenging
state
with
the
TEL
research
that
we
do
need
 to
broaden
much
more.’
[IntA]
 
 A
flavour
of
the
diversity
of
believes,
approaches,
and
theoretical
positioning
is
 reflected
in
the
following
series
of
quotes.
They
demonstrate
how
the
interviewees
 draw
on
but
extend
beyond
their
disciplinary
origins
and
how
they
weave
their
 particular
interests
into
the
approach
they
take:

 
 ‘I
believe
that
knowledge
is
self
constructed
and
I’m
sympathetic
to
the
 tradition
of
Dewey
and
Piaget,,,.’
[IntP]
 
 ‘I
would
be
called
a
constructivist,
I
believe
that
single,
that
patterns
of
 instruction
don’t
work
for
everybody,
and
that
individuals
self
construct
their
 26
  • 27. knowledge
in
a
highly
individualised
way,
and
that
learning
level
transitions
 for
individuals
are
very
personal.’
[IntP]
 
 ‘Well
I’m
a
big
sucker
for
Tony
Becher’s
book
on
Academic
Tribes
and
 Territories,
in
other
words
a
sort
of
sociological
analysis
of
the
academic
 world
and
the
way
that
works
and
the
way
that
creates
social
networks
which
 are
relatively,
you
know,
internal
and
comfortable
and
that
generates
ways
of
 thinking,
social
practices,
which
is
part
of
the
problem
because
 interdisciplinarity
in
itself
means
breaking
out
of
an
existing
set
of
social
 relations
and
meeting
other
people.’
[IntR]
 
 ‘I’m
always
trying
to
classify
and
taxonomise
things,
even
though
I
know
that
 this
kind
of
messy
complex
world…
I’m
always
trying
to
make
sense
of
things
 into
some
kind
of
patterns
or
structures’
[IntA]
 
 ‘I
think
the
other
thing
is
I
hinted
at
earlier
on,
moving
from
a
science
parallel
 to
a
non
science
one
was
really,
really
tricky,
I
found
it
personally
very
hard
 because
it
completely
went
against
my
training
and
all
my
belief
sets.’
[IntA]
 
 ‘I
think
I
have
quite
a
strong
belief
in
empirical
research,
you
know,
in
the
 sense
that,
you
know,
I
am
quite
experimentally
driven
and
therefore
started
 out
in
research
projects
with
quite
a
quantitative
approach
to
things,
you
 know,
controlled
experiments.’
[IntB]
 
 ‘The
notion
of
complex
socio‐cultural
contexts
in
which
learning
takes
place
I
 think
speaks
to
me
as
a
way
of
thinking
about
the
sort
of
work
that
we’re
 doing.’
[IntB]
 
 ‘I’m
quite
interested
in
what
might
be
called
inherent
tensions
in
your
theory
 and
not
trying
to
think
you
have
to
resolve
them.
And
that
would
be
 something
that
would
help
when
you
are
working
in
an
interdisciplinary
way,
 because
if
you
find
some
conflict
between
what
somebody
thinks
and
what
 somebody
else
thinks,
you
don’t
have
to
say
well
that
has
to
be
resolved.’
 [IntK]
 
 ‘I
think
quite
a
lot
of
my
attitudes
of
the
way
that
knowledge
is
constructed
 as
a
series
of
social
relations
and
so
on,
has
probably
made
me
pretty
 anthropological
in
my
thinking.’
[IntI]
 
 ‘At
heart
I’m
a
real
believer
in
socio‐cultural
approaches,
and
they
are
 interdisciplinary.’
[IntQ]
 4.3
Methodologies,
methods
and
tools
 This
section
provides
a
commentary
on
the
methodologies,
methods,
and
tools
 interviewees
have
brought
from
their
disciplinary
backgrounds
to
interdisciplinary
 research
working.
 
 27
  • 28. During
the
interviews
there
was
some
blurring
between
the
definition
of
a
 theoretical
perspective
and
the
methodology
used,
and
a
methodology
and
a
 method.
Activity
Theory,
for
example,
was
discussed
both
as
a
theoretical
 perspective
and
a
methodology.
There
was
general
consensus
that
there
is
a
link
 between
the
theoretical
perspective,
the
methodology
and
the
methods
from
your
 background
that
you
use,
and
also
that
the
background
theoretical
perspective
 informs
the
methodological
approach
used
in
research.
The
following
methodologies
 were
mentioned
specifically:
 
 • Socio‐cultural
research
 • Activity
Theory
 • Qualitative
Research
Methodology
 • Design
Research
Methodology
 • Grounded
Theory
 
 A
number
of
interviewees
felt
that
new
methodologies
were
emerging
as
a
result
of
 interdisciplinary
research.
 
 ‘Some
of
the
methodological
approaches
I
have
been
adopting
I
am
not
sure
 if
we
have
a
label
on
them
yet.
I
think
we
are
starting
to…see
some
new
 methodological
approaches
developing
but
that’s
a
risky
thing
to
say.’
[IntA]
 
 The
potential
for
new
thinking
and
the
emergence
of
new
methodologies,
links
back
 to
the
notion
of
interdisciplinarity
as
‘deviant’
or
‘transgressive’,
discussed
earlier
 and
its
ability
to
challenge
existing
assumptions
(Nowotny,
2001;
Moran,
2010).
 Interviewees
recognised
that
interdisciplinary
research
work
is
unlikely
to
be
 addressed
adequately
–
or
fully
understood
–
within
a
single
disciplinary
approach,
 and
hence
that
there
is
a
need
for
a
portfolio
of
mixed
methodologies/methods
to
 be
selected
for
interdisciplinary
research.

An
‘emergent’
tradition
for
 interdisciplinary
research
involving
combinations
of
complementary
methods
was
 identified,
and
interviewees
reported
experience
of
such
‘mixed
method’
projects
 which
placed
equal
value
on
both
qualitative
and
quantitative
approaches
(Greene
 and
Caracelli,1997).

 
 Two
specific
new
methodologies
identified
were
socio‐cognitive
engineering
and
 collective
intelligence.
Socio‐cognitive
engineering
takes
an
engineering
approach
to
 developing
an
interaction
between
people
and
technology.
The
starting
point
for
this
 methodology
is
Don
Norman’s
notion
of
cognitive
engineering
and
designing
 cognitive
enhancement
systems,
which
is
then
applied
to
the
interaction
between
 people
and
technology
in
a
social
setting.
Collective
intelligence
is
another
approach
 that
was
cited
as
being
something
that
could
be
used
for
interdisciplinary
work.
 Collective
intelligence
may
be
thought
of
as
both
a
theory
and
a
methodology
 because
it
values
all
the
different
pieces
of
evidence
or
different
ideas.

There
are
 the
methods
around
the
evidence
or
ideas
which
are
to
do
with
taking
things
which
 exist
and
categorising
them
to
make
it
more
evident
how
they
connect.
 
 28
  • 29. A
common
view
from
the
interviews
was
that
an
interdisciplinary
researcher
needs
 to
be
open‐minded
and
prepared
to
engage
with
many
different
methods.
 ‘Triangulation
of
methods’
[IntP]
and
combining
the
benefits
of
both
qualitative
and
 quantitative
approaches
was
deemed
an
important
feature
of
TEL
research:
 
 ‘I
am
a
very
strong
believer
in
the
value
of
mixed
methods
and
the
equal
 value
of
quantitative
and
qualitative
approaches
to
work.’
[IntL]
 
 Or
by
calling
in
the
appropriate
discipline
researchers
during
the
work:
 
 ‘This
is
where
our
sociologists
come
in
and
start
using
all
their
instruments
 for
evaluation…
narrative
analysis
is
something
they
use.
Very
laborious,
but
 they
do
draw
out
some
things
that
perhaps
we
had
not
noticed
ourselves.’
 [IntN]
 
 There
is
a
need
for
open‐minded
willingness
to
engage
in
many
different
methods
 and
a
disposition
to
value
other
ways
of
working
based
on
the
argument
that:
 
 ‘They
all
have
something
to
say
or
they
wouldn’t
be
there.’
[IntR]
 
 ‘The
standard
qualitative
methodology
we
use…
which
is
quite
enlightening
 compared
to
the
standard
statistical
methods
and
number
crunching
which
 we
do
for
everything.’
[IntN]
 
 The
range
of
methods
used
in
interdisciplinary
research
identified
from
the
 interviews
was:
 
 • Qualitative
approaches
from
education
 • Experimental
approaches
from
psychology
 • Ethnography
 • Interviews
 • Focus
groups

 • Statistical
methods
 • Open
ended
questionnaires
 • Closed
ended
questionnaires
 • Observations
 • Evaluation
instruments
from
Sociology
 • Narrative
analysis
 • Research
observation
 • Video
analysis
 • Documentary
analysis
 • Surveys
 • Clustering
techniques
 • Case
studies
 • Discourse
analysis
 • Field
studies
 • Design
research
 29
  • 30. • Ethno‐methodological
approaches
 • Conversational
analysis
 • Data
coding
 • Interaction
analysis
 • One‐to‐one
interviews
 • Evaluation
in
authentic
contexts
 • Experiments
 • Observational
behavioural
research
 • Facilitated
workshops
 • Practice
based
arts
research
 • Data
research
 • Ethnographic
field
work
 • Action
research
 • Social
activism
 • Participant
observation
 • Interaction
analysis
 • Design
research
methods
 • Observational
behavioural
research
 • Micro
sociological
interaction
analysis
 • Critical
Incident
studies
 • Data
logging
 
 It
is
interesting
to
compare
this
with
the
more
comprehensive
review
of
methods
 undertaken
as
part
of
the
initial
scoping
work
of
the
ESRC’s
National
Centre
for
 Research
Methods
(Beissel‐Durrant,
2004).
However
mixing
and
combining
 qualitative
and
quantitative
approaches
is
not
unproblematic
and
is
believed
by
 researchers
to
be
one
of
the
reasons
why
papers
get
rejected,
because
there
is
not
a
 precedent
or
a
paradigm
for
the
approach.

Interdisciplinary
researchers
cannot
 always
rely
on
standards
of
validity
from
single
disciplines,
and
often
have
to
arrive
 at
their
own.

Furthermore,
which
journals
are
most
appropriate
for
publishing
truly
 interdisciplinary
research
is
not
always
obvious.
 
 One
respondent
argued
that
the
methods
used
now
have
to
be
‘messy’
because
it
is
 no
longer
a
matter
of
doing
pre‐tests
and
post‐tests
to
show
what
has
been
learnt
 through
technology,
and
that
this
messiness
is
a
core
characteristic
of
TEL
research.
 
 ‘We
are
very
much
looking
at
the
way
the
process
by
which
children
learn
 rather
than
the
knowledge
they
glean
through
technology
intervention,
and
 this
involves
doing
in
the
wild
studies,
so
it’s,
you
know,
observing
them,
 asking
questions,
setting
hypotheses,
and
how
they
engage
with
the
 technology
in
the
external
world,
how
they
engage
with
each
other
and
how
 they
decide
what
to
do
next.
And
that
is
very
messy
to
study,
and
so
we
have
 developed
ways
of
analysing
conversations,
interactions
with
the
technology
 and
what
they
create
and
how
they
interact
with
the
world.’
[IntF]
 
 In
addition
to
cataloguing
the
types
of
theoretical
perspectives
and
methodologies
 most
commonly
used
in
TEL
research,
interviewees
were
also
asked
about
which
 30
  • 31. technologies
they
were
using,
how
they
were
using
them
and
their
personal
 perspectives
on
the
use
of
technologies
in
TEL
research.

A
number
of
standard
tools
 were
identified,
including
desktop
and
laptop
PCs
and
generic
computer
applications
 (Word
for
document
creation,
Excel
for
analysis,
PowerPoint
for
story‐boarding)
as
 well
as
more
specialised
tools
related
to
the
individual
researchers
area
of
interest
 and
expertise
(such
as
Omnigraph
for
graph
processing,
Flex
–
for
building
and
 maintaining
open
source
web
applications,
Visual
Basic
for
bespoke
applications,
 online
data
retrieval
tools,
tools
for
doing
spatial
analysis
–
geographical
information
 system,
tools
for
Visualisation
–
CompendiumLD,
Cohere,
tools
for
supporting
 structured
argumentation
–
Interlock).
Tools
for
collecting
data
(digital
video
and
 audio,
mobile
phones),
managing
data
–
Pearl,
Excel,
and
helping
with
doing
 qualitative
analysis
–
Knight,
XML
tools,
Atlas.ti,
Nvivo,
Observer,
video
transcript
 analysis
tools
and
software
for
quantitative
analysis
(SPSS,
Excel)
were
also
 mentioned.
A
broad
range
of
tools
were
identified
for
data
storage,
file
sharing
and
 collective
authoring
(from
basic
use
of
Word
and
the
‘Track
Changes’
function,
 through
to
use
of
bespoke
Moodle‐based
systems,
or
Web
2.0
tools
(such
as
Google
 Docs,
SharePoint,
SlideShare,
Flickr,
You
Tube,
or
media
Wikis).

A
number
of
 repositories
for
collaboration
were
also
cited,
including
Dspace,
Virtual
Research
 Environments,
Ning,
network
file
shares
and
a
range
of
communicative
and
 collaboration
Tools
(FlashMeeting,
Skype,
Adobe
Connect,
Chat,
Wimba,
video
 conferencing,
WebCT,
Blackboard,
Moodle,
project
Wiki,
Basecamp,
Dropbox,
JISC
 discussion
list,
Wiki,
bespoke
Moodle
sites,
blogging,
Cloudworks).

 
 All
the
TEL
researcher
interviewees
appear
to
make
extensive
use
of
technologies
to
 support
their
research
practices,
but
this
use
is
diverse
and
very
much
individually
 appropriated.
Some
researchers
are
comfortable
with
adopting
a
truly
‘web
2.0’
 open
approach
to
sharing
and
communicating
research
findings,
others
are
more
 cautious.
Furthermore,
there
is
a
whole
spectrum
between
those
that
see
these
 technologies
as
mere
tools
and
those
who
see
experimentation
and
the
exploration
 of
new
technologies
as
a
key
facet
of
being
a
researcher
in
the
field.
 
 There
did
not
appear
to
be
a
single
common
toolset
across
the
researchers,
but
it
 was
evident
that
as
a
group
they
are
highly
sophisticated
technology
users,
using
the
 technologies
to
support
all
aspects
of
the
research
lifecycle
from
data
collection
and
 analysis
through
to
dissemination.
The
following
quotes
demonstrate
some
of
the
 ways
in
which
the
tools
are
being
used
during
research.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 31
  • 32. 
 Tool
 Tool
Type
 Examples
of
use
 Word
and
 Word
processing
tool
 ‘simply
because
that
provides
important
functionality
for
 ‘Track
Changes’
 for
manipulating
text
 tracking
document
changes.’
[IntE]
 
 ‘mostly
we
use
track
changes
in
Word
documents.’
[IntJ]
 ‘I
do
loads
of
collaborative
writing,
tend
to
use
Word
 documents,
bat
them
back
and
forward…
use
track
 changes.’
[IntK]
 ‘the
simplest,
the
thing
that
probably
I
use
most
is
just
 exchanging
Word
documents
and
track
changes.’
[IntK]
 Cohere
 Semantic
web‐based
 ‘tracking
and
bookmarking
sites
and
making
marginal
 
 tool
for
visualising
and
 comments
and
annotating
web‐sites.’
[IntE]
 connecting
ideas
 
 Blogging
 Web
2.0
online
 ‘to
write
an
easy
introduction…
to
a
new
paper,
provides
 chronological
journal

 a
nice
intermediate
space…
between
formal
publication
 and
just
tweeting.’
[IntE]
 
 CompendiumLd

 Visualisation
tool

 ‘has
been
used
for
qualitative
data
analysis
as
well,
 
 because
you
have
a
tagging
system
which
is
a
bit
like
 qualitative
data
analysis
codes
and
is
very
visual.’
[IntE]
 
 Google
Docs
 Web
2.0
collaborative
 ‘for
collaborative
editing.’
[IntE]
 
 writing
for
sharing
and
 ‘recording
the
issues
log
and
for
defining
what
is
in
and
 constructing
 out
of
scope.’
[IntJ]
 documents

 
 Wikis
 Web
2.0
collaborative
 ‘to
share
data
across
sites.’
[IntB]
 
 for
creating
documents
 ‘have
been
jointly
authoring
something
with
somebody
 else
in
a
different
part
of
the
university
using
a
Wiki.’
 [IntH]
 
 
 Video
transcript
 Video
analysis
tool
 ‘where
you
can
bring
a
video
up
and
then
attach
 analysis
tool
 segments
to
the
transcript
and
then
code
the
transcript.’
 
 [IntE]
 
 Video
 Hardware
 ‘so
we
have
been
collecting
video
data
of
how
they
use
 
 the
table
tops
(technology),
so
were
logging
their
hands,
 and
we
combine
that
with
doing
conversational
analysis.’
 [IntF]
 
 Drop
box
 Web
2.0
document
 ‘is
a
wonderful
technology
to
help
us
collaborate
on
 
 sharing
tool
 documents.’
[IntF]
 
 Nvivo
 Qualitative
data
 ‘we
do
lots
of
conversational
analysis…so
lots
of
data
 
 analysis
tool
 coding.’
[IntQ]
 ‘a
lot
of
the
video
analysis
actually
ends
up
looking
at
the
 content
so
you
can
transcribe
it
and
use
Nvivo
for
data
 analysis.’
[IntQ]
 ‘as
a
content
analysis
tool
for
multi
media
content.’
 [IntQ]
 ‘for
qualitative
analysis.’
[IntO]
 
 Skype

 Voice‐over‐IP
 ‘a
lot
for
collaborative
meetings
because
it’s
very
hard
to
 
 audio/video
 get
people
in
the
same
room
at
the
same
time.’
[IntQ]
 conferencing
tool
 ‘I’ve
used
Skype
quite
a
lot
with
different
people
to
kind
 of
co‐develop
Word
documents.’
[IntA]
 32
  • 33. 
 Flickr
 Web
2.0
site
for
 ‘to
store
our
photos.’
[IntO]
 
 sharing
photos
 
 Laptop
 Hardware
 ‘is
my
core
tool
I
take
it
everywhere
with
me,
laptop
plus
 
 iPhone.’
[IntA]
 
 PowerPoint
 Presentation
software
 ‘I’ve
developed
a
lot
of
my
conceptual
thinking
when
I
 
 have
to
do
a
presentation
then
that
often
feeds
into
the
 next
stage
of
development.’
[IntA]
 for
‘storyboards’.
[IntJ]
 
 Basecamp
 Project
management
 ‘to
track
and
manage
your
deliverables…
and
who
is
 
 tool
 responsible
for
what.’
[IntJ]
 ‘when
someone
has
developed
a
user
scenario…
that
will
 go
up
on
Basecamp
so
we
all
have
access
to
it.’
[IntJ]
 ‘it
keeps
a
record
of
the
whole
archive
of
the
way
 everything
developed.’
[IntJ]
 ‘for
bringing
together…
all
the
sort
of
cross‐disciplinary
 documents
that
we
are
working
on.’
[IntJ]
 
 Cloudworks
 Social
networking
site
 ‘to
capture
conferences…
to
organise
workshops…for
a
 
 series
of
minor
events…
for
a
virtual
workshop.’
[IntC]
 
 Spreadsheets

 Spreadsheet
for
 ‘for
project
management
milestones
and
timetables.’
 
 manipulating
data
 [IntJ]
 and
analysing
data.
 
 Visual
Basic
 Programming
language
 ‘I
have
a
variety
of
small
applications…which
are
 
 generally
kind
of
special
functions
which
I
have
coded
in
 Visual
Basic
for
applications
which
they
can
use
within
 Excel.’
[IntH]
 
 Ning
 Social
networking
tool
 ‘where
you
can
store
documents,
where
you
can
have
 
 conversations
about
them,
where
you
can
update
them
 and
you
can
keep
records.’
[IntM]
 
 DSpace
 Repository
 ‘we
have
a
repository
called
DSpace
where
people
load
 
 up
all
their
findings…
You
can
analyse
authorship
by
 project
and
you
can
map
collaboration
across
projects.’
 [IntR]
 
 Video
recorder
 Hardware
 ‘we
are
recording
people’s
interactions
with
technology
 
 in
natural
settings
or
appropriate
settings
and
then
 looking
for
incidents
that
indicate
breakdowns
or
 breakthroughs.’
[IntM]
 
 SPSS
 Quantitative
software
 ‘I
use
SPSS’
for
data
managing.
[IntP]
 
 analysis
tool
 ‘for
statistical
analysis.’
[IntB]
 
 
 
 
 
 
 33
  • 34. Not
surprisingly,
interviewees
had
different
views
on
the
tools.
For
some
they
were
 very
much
just
utilities:
 
 ‘I
am
quite
content
to
work
with
existing
software
packages,
but
I’m
neither
 driven
nor
motivated
by
the
IT
side
of
stuff.
I
mean
I
use
the
IT
side
to
do
 what
I
need
to
do.’
[IntL]
 
 ‘I
have
a
very
low
tolerance
of
the
technology,
if
it
doesn’t
work
I
can’t
be
 bothered
with
it.’
[IntA]
 
 Some
had
a
natural
interest
in
the
tools.
They
saw
experimentation
and
immersion
 in
the
tools
as
part
and
parcel
of
being
a
TEL
researcher
and
hence
saw
it
as
an
 important
part
of
their
overall
research
approach:

 
 ‘My
own
experience
(of
technology)
is
an
important
part
of
the
way
I
am
as
a
 researcher.’
[IntA]
 
 ‘I’ve
always
seen
myself
as
an
early
adopter.’
 
 ‘I
am
quite
interested
in
the
use
of
ranges
of
technologies
to
communicate.’
 [IntA]
 
 ‘Online
tools
are
extremely
valuable.’
[IntI]
 
 Two
main
issues
were
identified
with
regards
to
the
use
of
tools
to
support
research.
 The
first
was
that
use
of
the
tools
could
only
help
to
a
certain
degree
essentially
 around
some
of
the
more
mundane
aspects
of
data
collection
and
analysis
and
that
 some
‘hand‐crafting’
by
the
researcher
is
still
always
going
to
be
needed.
 
 ‘Most
of
it
is
done
the
hard
way
and
in
some
respects
when
you
are
looking
 at
qualitative
analysis
you
do
really
need
to
look
at
it
the
hard
way,
because
 you
need
to
understand
what
the
respondents
mean.’
[IntN]
 
 ‘I
have
developed
techniques
for
categorising
my
data
using
Word
 documents.’
[IntK]
 
 ‘They
are
more
as
I
said
for
doing
the
recording
and
then
the
real
analysis
 comes
when
you
try
and
interpret
what
they
throw
at
you’.
‘We
have
 developed
our
own
method
for
analysing
messy
data,
and
it’s
basically
hand
 crafted.
[IntF]
 
 The
second
issue
was
around
the
sharing
of
data
from
both
a
practical
perspective
 and
an
ethical
perspective.
 
 ‘We
went
back
to
using
Chat
and
Skype,
but
obviously
with
some
care
 because
of
the
risk
of
anybody
picking
up
the
information.’
[IntN]
 
 34
  • 35. ‘We
worked
on
a
Wiki
to
try
to
write
collaboratively
for
a
deliverable.
I
really
 wanted
to
try
to
genuinely
work
where
people
were
contributing,
but
it
 didn’t,
it
was
quite
a
challenge.’
[IntK]
 
 ‘We’d
like
to
be
sharing
as
much
data
as
possible
and
it
remains
tricky
in
 practical
terms
to
share
data
as
well
as
in
ethical
terms
so
you
need
to
be
 extra
careful
with
anything
you
are
trying
to
share.’
[IntC]
 
 ‘The
main
problem
that
we
have
at
the
moment
is
that
one
of
our
team
 members
moved
to
another
institution
and
we
are
having
problems…
we
 have
an
enormous
amount
of
shared
data
which
was
on
a
shared
drive
within
 the
department,
and
that’s
not
accessible
to
people
outside.’
[IntO]
 4.4
Challenges
to
Interdisciplinarity
 Interdisciplinarity
as
a
means
of
addressing
cross‐discipline
research
is
one
of
the
 major
challenges
for
investment
in
Technology
Enhanced
Learning
research
projects.
 The
benefit
is
perceived
as
being
tackling
the
issues
from
different
perspectives,
i.e.
 that
researchers
from
two
or
more
disciplines
bring
their
approaches
and
adapt
 them
to
form
a
solution
to
a
new
problem.

Whilst
many
project
teams
think
they
 are
working
in
an
interdisciplinary
way,
the
reality
is
they
often
fail
to
overcome
the
 challenges
that
prevent
true
interdisciplinary
working
and
they
remain
functioning
in
 a
multidisciplinary
way.
 
 ‘Authentic
interdisciplinarity
is
rare
and
is
very
hard
work.’
[IntP]
 
 In
reality
a
lot
of
what
is
labelled
interdisciplinarity,
is
in
fact:
 
 
’
pseudo‐
interdisciplinarity’
or
‘parallel
playing’

[IntR]
 
 where
people
work
together
in
teams.
Often
there
is
not
true
engagement
across
 the
disciplines
at
an
intellectual
level
in
terms
of
developing
a
common
language
and
 conceptually.

Truly
interdisciplinary
research
must
go
beyond
collating
disciplinary
 perspectives
and
somehow
synthesise
them
into
a
whole
that
is
greater
than
the
 sum
of
its
parts.

This
was
a
common
theme
evident
from
many
interviews
and
is
 discussed
is
more
detail
below.
 
 It
can
be
difficult
to
find
evidence
of
interdisciplinary
working
because
there
may
not
 be
enough
research
project
drivers
to
counter
the
incentives
to
academic
 specialisation.
As
discussed
earlier,
the
academic
world
is
biased
towards
disciplinary
 specialisation,
and
often
rewards
esoteric
or
abstract
forms
of
specialisation.

The
 nature
of
an
academic
is
to
be
highly
attuned
in
their
thinking,
and
to
cultivate
 specificity
in
their
vocabulary
and
their
skills.

Because
of
this
focus,
many
academics
 struggle
to
–
or
are
unwilling
to
–
relate
their
discipline
to
another
academic,
equally
 attuned
to
another
discipline,
and
therefore
they
are
not
well
equipped
to
working
 in
interdisciplinary
teams.
Moreover
it
is
difficult
to
engage
people
in
 interdisciplinary
work
when
they
are
so
busy
with
disciplinary
work.
It
is
hard
to
 35
  • 36. prioritise
interdisciplinary
work
unless
it
is
backed
with
the
promise
of
extra
research
 resources.
 
 As
discussed
in
Section
4.2,
each
discipline
brings
with
it
particular
theoretical
 perspectives.
These
In
essence
help
shape
and
define
the
discipline.
One
of
the
 complications
encountered
when
trying
to
adopt
a
more
interdisciplinary
approach
 is
that
the
theoretical
perspectives
that
underpin
the
different
disciplines
can
be
in
 tension,
or
even
contradiction.
Disciplinary
perspectives
dictate
what
research
is
and
 how
it
is
to
be
managed.

For
an
academic
there
can
be
a
reluctance
to
step
out
of
 the
comfort
zone
in
terms
of
being
prepared
to
explain
and
defend
their
particular
 approaches.

This
is
also
evident
in
the
interview
data.
A
number
of
interviewees
 recognised
the
benefits
their
cognate
disciplines
offered
(e.g.
seeing
patterns
in
 complexity,
being
able
to
easily
shift
between
text,
numbers
and
visual
 representations,
etc.)
but
also
that
these
disciplines
straight‐jacketed
them
in
a
 particular
way
of
thinking
and
moving
beyond
these
disciplinary
practices
requires
 effort
and
time.
As
discussed
earlier,
Blackwell
et
al.
(2009)
refer
to
this
as
‘bounded
 knowledge’.

It
can
also
be
difficult
to
shed
disciplinary
prejudices
in
that
some
 disciplines
have
the
sense
that
they
are
the
only
‘real’
or
valid
authorities
over
 particular
subject
areas.

 
 ‘There
is
an
aristocracy
amongst
the
disciplines
that
sometimes
can
be
 damaging
to
interdisciplinary
working.’
[IntD]
 
 However,
to
create
something
new
involves
an
enormous
amount
of
personal
 investment
and
academics
are
often
not
keen
to
give
up
their
disciplinary
 perspective.

If
the
project
is
truly
interdisciplinary,
individual
practice
from
the
 different
contributing
disciplines
should
be
changed
or
challenged
through
the
 interaction
with
other
disciplines.


 
 TEL
research
is
often
viewed
as
an
open
or
relatively
neutral
field
which
draws
on
a
 range
of
different
theoretical
perspectives.
Some
believe,
consequently,
that
 working
in
TEL
research
does
not
require
you
to
have
a
strong
discipline
perspective,
 that
a
plurality
of
approaches
is
appropriate.
(Although
that
the
question
of
whether
 TEL
research
has
particular
theoretical
allegiances
remains
contentious.)
This
lack
of
 a
specific,
defined
theoretical
basis
for
the
field
is
problematic
as
it
means
that
TEL
 research
is
perceived
by
those
from
more
traditional
disciplines
to
be
under‐ theorised
and
hence
immature.

 
 The
academic
world
is
often
deemed
to
be
remote
and
disconnected
from
external
 world
problems.
Interdisciplinarity
is
important
in
terms
of
trying
to
bridge
academic
 and
non‐academic
contexts
in
order
to
propose
solutions
for
real‐world
problems.
 There
is
a
rather
uneasy
relationship
between
the
two
worlds,
especially
when
for
an
 academic
the
rewards
for
being
interdisciplinary
may
be
underwhelming,
while
the
 risks
for
working
in
an
interdisciplinary
fashion
remain
higher
than
those
for
working
 in
more
traditional
forms
of
disciplinary
research.
 
 36
  • 37. From
the
interviews
the
most
commonly
identified
challenge
to
interdisciplinary
 working
is
that
of
communication.
The
interviews
time
and
again
mention
the
 importance
of
having
a
shared
vision,
and
clear
communication.
This
relates
to
the
 one
of
the
issues
cited
earlier
with
trying
to
be
reflexive
–
i.e.
that
too
often
 assumptions
and
values
remain
opaque.
It
is
intriguing,
therefore,
that
this
common
 recognition
of
the
problem
of
communication
does
not
translate
more
readily
into
a
 willingness
among
disciplinary
researchers
to
find
ways
to
overcome
this.

In
the
 course
of
the
interviews,
interdisciplinarity
was
frequently
described
as
being
‘hard
 work’
because
it
involves
a
long
period
of
developing
understanding
in
each
others’
 language.
In
the
interviews
some
felt
that
some
research
positions
exhibited
 epistemological
or
methodological
differences
to
such
a
degree
that
they
cannot
sit
 comfortably
together.
Others
talked
about
the
power
relationship
within
teams;
and
 in
particular
the
dynamics
between
computer
scientists
(who
seek
clearly
defined
 specifications)
and
educationalist
(who
‘just
want
something
built’).
Many
 interviewees
identified
the
use
of
terminology
or
vocabulary
as
a
major
challenge:
 
 ‘We
all
mean
different
things
by
the
words
we
use’
[IntJ]
 
 ‘Sometimes
weeks
can
go
by
before
you
have
realised
you
are
speaking
the
 same
words
but
talking
in
a
different
language’.
[IntJ]
 
 In
the
early
stages
of
a
project
there
is
a
need
to
spend
a
great
deal
of
time
and
 energy
identifying
if
there
is
any
commonality
in
the
way
a
term
is
used
between
 separate
disciplines,
if
there
is
an
overlap
in
the
way
the
term
is
being
used,
or
 whether
the
same
term
is
being
used
in
completely
different
ways.
 
 Collaborative
writing
and
discussion
were
suggested
as
ways
of
helping
to
find
a
 common
language.

It
was
observed
that,
particularly
in
Technology
Enhanced
 Learning
research,
the
language
for
describing
pedagogy
remains
inadequate,
and
 what
the
research
world
has
contributed
to
the
ontology
of
learning
design
and
 pedagogy
is
weak.
This
communication
challenge
stands
over
and
above
the
more
 pragmatic
challenges
presented
just
by
the
simple
differences
in
language
when
 working
on
project
teams
that
cross
national
borders.
 
 ‘In
all
the
major
projects
that
I
have
worked
on
we
have
struggled
to
establish
 a
common
language’
so
that
the
people
from
different
disciplines
can
talk
to
 each
other.’
[IntM]
 
 Words
such
as
‘scenario’,
‘intervention’
and
‘evaluation’
have
for
example
very
 different
meanings
for
educationalists
and
psychologists,
and
engineers
have
 different
notions
of
how
you
evaluate
something
compared
to
a
psychologist
or
an
 educationalist.
However
once
you
get
below
the
language
problem
there
is
a
further
 need
to
understand
the
range
of
paradigms,
concepts,
theories,
methodologies
and
 methods
that
other
disciplines
use,
and
recognise
the
fact
that
each
discipline
 evolves
and
that
these
paradigms
change.

 
 37
  • 38. One
of
the
challenges
for
an
academic
is
to
be
unafraid
of
saying
‘I
don’t
understand’
 [IntA],
and
hence
being
amenable
to
working
with
others
to
develop
a
shared
vision
 and
language.
This
often
requires
taking
some
reflective
distance
to
re‐affirm
 understanding.
However
this
is
not
always
possible
when
working
to
tight
project
 timescales.
Time
for
development
of
shared
understanding
and
iterative
reflection
 are
not
generally
built
into
project
timescales,
nor
indeed
would
funders
necessarily
 recognise
this
as
a
valid
set
of
activities,
that
required
funding
and
time.

This
may
 change
in
the
future.
Similar
arguments
could
have
been
said
about
the
role
of
 evaluation
and
dissemination
activities
in
projects
in
the
past.
However,
now
most
 funding
bodies
recognise
(and
indeed
expect)
to
see
a
proportion
of
research
funds
 dedicated
to
these
activities.
The
personal
elements
of
communication
including
 ‘personal
chemistry’
[IntE],
and
working
with
others
that
you
respect
and
trust
were
 also
identified
as
being
important
to
overcome
this
challenge.
 
 It
may
be
that
engagement
with
interdisciplinary
work
may
even
lead
to
a
change
in
 the
way
in
which
an
individual
views
their
own
discipline‐based
research.

However,
 the
risk
of
failing
to
overcome
this
communication
challenge
remains
a
constant
 threat
to
interdisciplinarity.
 
 There
were
a
number
of
interviewee
responses
about
the
negative
impact
of
 distance
on
communication
for
interdisciplinary
working
for
project
teams
spread
 across
campuses,
institutions,
or
even
countries.
Face
to
face
interaction
is
seen
as
 an
important
means
of
developing
shared
understanding.
At
a
project
level,
several
 problems
were
identified
with
maintaining
regular
communication.
These
included:
 
 • Trying
to
establish
regular
project
meetings
 • Non‐attendance
at
project
meetings
 • Ensuring
everyone
on
the
project
is
engaged
with
the
common
vision
 • Keeping
people
up
to
speed
 • The
time
spent
in
preparing
for
project
meetings
compared
against
the
 amount
of
work
you
are
contributing
to
the
project
 • Trying
to
develop
and
communicate
a
coherent
and
agreed
point
of
view
 • Preventing
crises
of
confidence
due
to
a
lack
of
understanding
 
 The
success
of
interdisciplinary
research
is
dependent
on
a
number
of
factors,
 including:
strong
project
leadership,
an
effective
and
supportive
working
culture
 across
the
team,
and
trusting
relationships
within
the
team.
Without
strong
 leadership
it
can
be
easy
for
the
teams
to
fall‐out
and
fracture.
Conflict
can
result
 from
having
a
project
leader
who
does
not
have
the
skills
to
foster
interdisciplinary
 practice,
promotes
their
own
research
discipline
over
others,
or

does
not
 understand
the
different
disciplines
contributing
to
the
research.
 
 A
project
team
is
frequently
composed
of
a
number
of
very
high‐powered
academics
 who
all
may
want
to
be
the
‘boss’.

Leadership
and
project
roles
and
responsibilities
 38
  • 39. need
to
be
agreed
very
early
on
so
everybody
knows
what
their
contribution
to
the
 project
is.
Elements
of
good
leadership
were
cited
as:
 
 • Creation,
and
on‐going
management
of,
a
shared
vision
 • Building
the
right
project
team
mix,
with
people
who
are
willing
to
work
in
an
 interdisciplinary
way
 • Managing
conflict
‐
to
some
extent
success
comes
through
conflict,
but
in
the
 early
stages
of
bringing
a
team
together
these
conflicts
need
to
be
managed
 • Being
able
to
draw
on
the
strengths
of
the
different
partners
 • Managing
counter
agendas
where
project
partners
have
joined
the
team
to
 use
the
funding
to
build
a
‘shiny
tool’
[IntA],
or
pursue
their
own
research
i.e.
 to
‘do
their
own
thing’
[IntR]
within
the
project
structure
but
do
not
 engender
working
in
an
interdisciplinary
fashion
 • Controlling
the
‘evangelist’
[IntN]
who
believes
in
something
passionately,
 whereas
everybody
else
on
the
project
considers
it
to
be
a
small
part
of
the
 delivery
 • Shifting
beliefs
‐
the
project
leader
has
to
work
on
building
respect
for
each
 other’s
disciplines.
 
 One
of
the
challenges
to
successful
team
working
is
the
extent
to
which
people
 genuinely
want
to
work
in
an
interdisciplinary
way
and
resolve
conflicts,
and
the
 extent
to
which
the
interdisciplinarity
has
been
seen
as
an
accommodation
 necessary
in
order
to
get
the
funding
to
pursue
their
own
agendas.
People
who
are
 not
willing
to
work
around
one
another
and
be
flexible
around
one
another
should
 not
work
on
interdisciplinary
teams.
 
 The
desire
to
work
in
an
interdisciplinary
way
has
to
come
from
the
ground
up.
If
the
 institution
decides
to
impose
interdisciplinary
working
it
is
less
likely
to
succeed.
 Each
of
the
researchers
involved
in
interdisciplinary
research
needs
to
understand
 what
is
needed
to
make
it
effective,
they
have
to
be
prepared
to
work
with
and
 listen
to
the
views
of
others,
and
to
compromise
their
own
perspectives.

 
 ‘You
have
got
to
be
prepared
to
invest
time
and
energy
into
working
with
the
 team
rather
than
just
doing
your
bit.’
[IntL]
 
 Interdisciplinary
working
involves
collaboration.
It
is
not
easy
to
work
together
 collaboratively,
especially
if
the
collaboration
requires
working
between
 departments,
institutions
and
across
geographical
borders.
When
choosing
people
 for
a
team
there
has
to
be
a
sense
of
teamwork
and
camaraderie
for
the
best
results
 either
in
terms
of
productivity
or
reducing
conflict.
 
 However,
teams
may
become
very
protective
of
the
parts
of
the
project
they
have
 been
working
on
and
there
can
be
a
split
between
people
who
support
the
overall
 vision
and
those
whom
are
less
committed.
 
 One
of
the
challenges
to
working
in
an
interdisciplinary
context
is
the
development
 of
respect
between
the
different
disciplines.
Academics
can
be
passionate
about
the
 39
  • 40. unique
nature
of
their
discipline
and
its
approach
and
may
not
generally
inclined
to
 make
the
effort
to
try
to
look
at
things
from
another
perspective.
There
are
people
 who
find
it
difficult
to
understand
that
it
is
possible
to
look
at
the
world
in
other
 ways,
and
that
their
particular
disciplinary
tradition
is
not
the
only
valid
way
of
 looking
at
problems.
.
 
 ‘I
was
definitely
in
the
science
camp
of
where
the
world
is
known
and
science
 is
best
and
everything
else
is
woefully
rubbish
and
how
could
the
concept
of
 doing
an
interview
with
somebody
count
as
data.
It
took
a
long
time
to
shift
 that
belief
set
but
I
think
I’m
probably
stronger
as
a
result
because
I
can
now
 see
both
camps.’
[IntA]
 
 People
from
different
disciplinary
backgrounds
have
to
be
willing
to
respect
other
 ways
of
working
and
open
their
minds
to
the
fact
that
there
might
be
other
 acceptable
ways
of
doing
things.

 
 Some
interviewed
felt
that
TEL
research
had
been
dominated
by
educators,
who
 have
tended
to
treat
the
computer
science
component
as
a
service
element,
 
 ‘I’ve
got
a
great
idea
for
teaching,
I
want
you
to
implement
a
system
that’s
 going
to
run
it’.[IntD]
 
 Consequently
it
is
difficult
for
technical
partners
in
TEL
research
to
see
what
their
 own
technical
research
agenda
might
be,
because
their
role
becomes
more
 functional.

Bringing
together
people
from
an
education
and
pedagogy
background
 with
technical
developers
can
lead
to
an
impasse,
where
the
technology
experts
 need
a
clear
specification
as
to
what
they
should
design,
and
the
educationalists
feel
 that
they
can’t
assess
whether
something
will
work
or
not
until
it
has
been
designed
 and
they
can
evaluate
something
tangible.

 
 ‘I
think
there
is
a
real
lack
of
understanding
and
possibly
respect
between
the
 computer
scientists
and
educationalists
and
psychologists.’
[IntK]
 
 Some
computer
scientists
are
viewed
by
some
educationalists
as
seeing
education
as
 just
context
and
not
being
interested
in
education
or
educational
theories.
The
 computer
scientists
might
argue
that
the
educationalists
do
not
adopt
a
rigorous
 enough
approach
to
how
the
technologies
are
specified
and
that
they
appear
more
 interested
in
the
practice
use
of
the
tools.

Academics
with
a
learning
perspective
are
 viewed
by
computer
scientists
as
not
respecting
the
research
of
the
computer
 scientist,
which
is
often
viewed
by
educationalists
as
lacking
in
ethical
consideration.
 
 Educationalists
often
feel
that
the
formal
specifications
handed
down
from
 computer
science
are
based
on
a
rarefied
or
abstract
conception
of
pedagogy,
and
 that
there
has
been
a
complete
separation
in
the
way
that
the
computational
end
of
 learning
design
has
developed:
 
 40
  • 41. ‘And
equally
we
are
testing
the
computer
scientists
as
well,
because
we're
 making
them
think
about
what's
going
on
in
a
learning
environment
in
a
way
 they've
never
had
to
think
about
before.

So
there's,
I
mean
there's
lots
of
 stuff
in
the
computer
science
literature
about
ontology's
and
learning
design
 systems.

They've
got
formalisms
and
specifications,
e‐learning
specifications
 and
so
on,
which
are
all
built
on
a
kind
of
fantasy
about
how
education
is
 conducted.

It's
a
sort
of
idealised
conceptualisation
of
what
teachers
and
 learners
do
together.

It’s
not
real,
and
that's
what
we
bring
to
that
kind
of
 work
I
think.

So
there's
been
a
complete
separation
really
in
the
way
that
 that
computational
end
of
learning
design
has
developed.

And
the
way
in
 which
teachers
and
learners
actually
behave.’
[IntJ]
 
 One
of
the
traditional
difficulties
that
research
in
education
has
had
is
that
it
is
 viewed
as
being
methodologically
weak,
and
one
of
the
difficulties
is
in
setting
up
an
 appropriate
controlled
environment
where
it
is
possible
to
demonstrate
success.
A
 real
problem
for
TEL
research
and
educational
research
in
general
is
the
 identification,
demonstration
and
measurement
of
such
success.
One
of
the
 challenges
is
to
pull
together
the
outputs
or
evidence
from
different
viewpoints
and
 disciplines
and
to
find
the
tools
that
support
interdisciplinarity
by
evidencing
the
 value
it
adds.
 
 Institutional
structures
can
(perhaps
inadvertently)
impede
interdisciplinary
work.
 Evidence
of
both
institutional
and
epistemological
barriers
was
cited
in
the
 interviews.
The
TEL
researchers
interviewed
all
documented
career
trajectories
 across
different
discipline
boundaries.
There
was
no
one
common
‘logical’
location
 for
TEL
researchers
who
instead
were
dispersed
across
a
range
of
cognate
discipline
 departments
or
service
units.
Rarely
were
there
examples
of
departments
genuinely
 organised
around
an
interdisciplinary
approach.
In
addition,
there
was
an
issue
 about
the
perceived
credibility
of
interdisciplinary
research
in
comparison
to
 traditional
research
domains
and
many
of
the
metrics
used
to
assess
research
 success
(such
as
funding
opportunities,
prestigious
journals,
and
individual
 contributions/weightings
of
research
output)
actually
mitigate
against
 interdisciplinary
approaches.
This
tension
was
evident
in
the
interviews,
where
 researchers
said
that
it
was
often
easier
to
revert
to
publishing
in
their
home
 discipline
journals,
where
the
‘rules
of
the
game’
were
familiar.
Trying
to
cross
 discipline
boundaries
and
merge
different
methodological
perspectives
was
 extremely
challenging.

This
was
also
cited
as
a
problem
at
the
funding
stage,
where
 interdisciplinary
proposals
were
often
judged
by
those
who
had
a
narrow,
single
 discipline
view
and
hence
were
unable
to
see
the
broader
picture.
Furthermore,
 when
working
across
disciplinary
boundaries,
there
may
be
no
scientific
consensus
 or
adequate
process
of
peer
review.
 
 ‘We
really
like
to
promote
inter‐institute
interdisciplinary
working,
but
the
 practical
set‐up
of
the
university
doesn’t
facilitate
it
desperately
well.’
[IntH]
 
 Systems
within
Higher
Education
Institutions
and
accountability
systems
such
as
the
 Research
Assessment
Exercise,
it
could
be
argued,
tend
to
evaluate
according
to
 41
  • 42. relatively
traditional
discipline
boundaries,
which
disadvantages
those
who
are
 either
working
in
emergent
fields
or
attempting
to
work
across
disciplines.
There
is
 also
a
conflict
between
traditional
subject
boundaries
and
interdisciplinary
projects
 with
researchers
from
multiple
disciplines,
where
monitoring
and
accountability
 systems
which
do
not
recognise
the
diversity
of
the
project.
 
 Lattuca
(2001)
argues
there
is
a
tendency
towards
academic
specialisation,
and
 hence
not
surprisingly,
often
publishing
of
research
outputs
is
geared
towards
 disciplinary
specialisation.
Individual
research
communities
can
have
strong
views
 about
what
they
see
as
acceptable
as
publications
and
have
quite
particular
ways
of
 reviewing,
and
there
are
different
cultures
of
publishing
in
different
disciplines.
One
 view
communicated
was
that
the
‘best’
[IntM]
journals
don’t
tend
to
be
 interdisciplinary,
and
if
they
are
interdisciplinary
they
tend
to
publish
from
a
 particular
perspective
e.g.
technology,
or
education,
or
psychology.
If
you
are
trying
 to
cut
across
these
disciplines
then
finding
a
suitable
high
quality
publication
that
 not
only
recognises
interdisciplinary
research,
but
also
accepts
and
celebrates
it
can
 be
difficult.
Occasionally
there
might
be
a
proper
interdisciplinary
audience,
e.g.
for
 cognitive
science,
where
the
interdisciplinarity
is
recognised.

 
 ‘I
seriously
doubt
that
the
real
audience
for
anything
I
do
is
actually
in
the
 field
where
the
research
was
originally
conducted.
So
unfortunately
the
 current
assessment
regimes
don’t
look
very
kindly
on
that.’
[IntI]
 
 Breaking
through
such
strongly
held
beliefs
and
cultural
practices
requires
bold
 approaches
or
‘guerrilla’
tactics
such
as
editing
a
special
issue
of
a
journal
and
 foregrounding
the
interdisciplinary
aspects
of
the
work,
using
alternative
 communication
forms
(such
as
blogs
and
wikis)
to
foster
debate
on
the
changing
 nature
of
academic
discourse,
or
challenging
existing
metrics
for
what
constitutes
 ‘good’
research.
 

 The
research
process
typically
consists
of
an
interdisciplinary
team
working
together
 and
producing
a
set
of
project
outputs.
However,
the
tendency
then
is
for
individual
 disciplinary
leads
to
write
for
their
disciplinary
audience,
and
to
selectively
include
 others
to
come
in
on
parts
of
those
papers.
Whilst
this
has
the
benefit
of
reaching
 different
disciplinary
audiences,
the
challenge
is
that
the
result
is
perhaps
not
as
 truly
interdisciplinary
as
the
work
really
was.
Rarely
do
you
get
genuine
co‐ constructed
shared
research
papers;
firstly
because
there
is
perceived
to
be
more
 kudos
in
publishing
in
your
own
research
field,
and
secondly,
because
genuinely
co‐ constructing
a
shared
paper
can
present
additional
challenges.
 
 There
is
a
view
that
someone
who
is
really
interdisciplinary
would
have
to
distort
 their
output
to
get
published,
and
to
angle
the
outputs
of
a
piece
of
research
more
 towards
one
audience
than
another
at
different
times.
In
the
words
of
one
 interviewee:
 
 ‘There
isn’t
a
right
journal
really
for
us’
[IntJ]


 
 42
  • 43. ‘What
we
also
have
to
do,
interestingly,
is
to
sell
our
line
in
other
contexts,
in
 the
disciplinary
context.’
[IntJ]
 Trying
to
submit
an
interdisciplinary
paper
to
a
journal
that
is
primarily
focussed
 around
a
particular
discipline
can
cause
a
number
of
problems.

Articles
may
get
 criticised
because
the
methodology
is
not
one
usually
used
in
that
discipline.
 Alternatively,
the
journal
might
deem
the
focus
of
the
paper
as
out
of
scope.

 
 Journal
publications
remain
crucial
to
building
an
academic
reputation.

One
could
 contend
that
it
is
easier
to
be
interdisciplinary
as
an
established
researcher,
when
 research
reputation
has
already
been
established.
The
types
of
challenges
for
 academics
trying
to
publish
the
outputs
of
interdisciplinary
research
cited
included:

 
 • Recognising
that
it
is
valid
to
publish
in
interdisciplinary
spaces
 • Identifying
appropriate
journals
to
publish
in
and
careful
liaising
with
editors

 • Acknowledging
that
interdisciplinary
contributions
are
often
judged
by
people
 with
a
single
disciplinary
perspective
and
hence
viewed
from
a
narrower
 perspective
 • Understanding
the
rules
of
the
game
to
shape
your
submissions

 • Needing
to
publish
the
results
of
your
interdisciplinary
project
back
in
your
home
 discipline
to
build
your
disciplinary
reputation.
 
 Journal
articles
and
conference
papers
are
still
seen
as
the
main
way
of
 disseminating
research
work,
and
remain
the
traditional
means
of
delivering
or
 facilitating
peer
review.
However,
the
emergence
of
new
technologies
–
and,
in
 particular,
the
participatory
Web
2.0
technologies
–
are
starting
to
change
the
 nature
of
academic
discourse
in
terms
of
how
and
where
research
is
disseminated
 and
discussed.
The
traditional
journal
paper
can
seem
somewhat
outmoded
to
TEL
 researchers,
who
routinely
have
a
multi‐faceted
digital
profile
which
makes
use
of
a
 range
of
social
media
tools
for
communicating
their
research
thoughts
and
findings.

 Researchers
who
fit
this
profile
may
feel
unnecessarily
restricted
if
they
are
expected
 to
primarily
published
in
traditional
journal.

 
 The
discourse
of
research
councils
suggests
that
they
are
keen
to
promote
 interdisciplinary
work.

However,
it
is
often
difficult
for
them
to
manage
the
process
 of
peer
review
of
proposals:
 
 ‘If
you
submit
an
interdisciplinary
idea
for
funding
you
just
sort
of
pray
that
 reviewers
who
are
sympathetic
to
it
are
going
to
get
assigned
and
are
going
 to
bring
criteria
that
resonates
with
yours.’
[IntE]
 
 Sometimes
an
interdisciplinary
focus
is
lost
upon
grant
awarders,
who
may
be
from
a
 single
discipline.


Similarly,
funding
bodies
may
prioritise
factors
other
than
putting
 together
the
ideal
interdisciplinary
research
team,
such
as
fulfilling
obligations
for
 ring‐fenced
funding
or
strategic
development.

When
applying
for
funding,
 43
  • 44. interdisciplinary
teams
should
ensure
that
they
make
the
best
possible
case,
paying
 special
attention
to
the
particular
features
of
interdisciplinary
research.
 4.5
The
benefits
of
interdisciplinary
working

 Whilst
the
purpose
of
working
in
an
interdisciplinary
manner
from
a
research
project
 perspective
is
to
provide
new
solutions
to
new
problems
from
across
disciplines,
 many
of
the
benefits
identified
during
the
interviews
were
of
a
personal
and
 academic
nature.
 
 ‘It’s
a
certain
kind
of
intellectual
curiosity
and
a
lack
of
patience
for
doing
the
 same
thing
over
and
over
again.’
[IntI]
 
 ‘I
really
enjoy
understanding
how
other
disciplines
think
because
trying
to
see
 the
world
through
a
different
person’s
eyes
is…
really
exciting
for
me.’
[IntE]
 
 ‘One
of
the
benefits
is
having
different
rich
theoretical
and
methodological
 perspectives
and
looking
at
the
same
shared
problem
space
from
different
 eyes.’
[IntA]
 
 ‘It’s
something
within
the
zeitgeist,
at
the
moment
that
we
should
be
 interdisciplinary’
or
‘aspire
to
be
interdisciplinary’.
[IntF]
 
 A
number
of
benefits
of
doing
interdisciplinary
research
were
identified.
Firstly,
that
 it
pushes
the
researchers
intellectually;
it
helps
broaden
the
mind
and
encourages
 thinking
laterally
or
‘out
of
the
box’
[IntF].
Secondly,
it
enables
researchers
to
do
 things
that
they
couldn’t
do
on
their
own;
researchers
interact
with
and
learn
from
 other
people
and
their
skills
set,
drawing
on
the
strengths
and
different
armoury
of
 tools
they
bring
from
their
different
discipline
perspectives.
Finally,
becoming
aware
 of
other
discipline
perspectives
helps
broaden
a
researcher’s
literature
base
and
may
 give
rise
to
fresh
theoretical
insights.
Interdisciplinarity
therefore
is
reflexive
by
 nature,
as
suggested
by
Romm
(1998).
This
is
apparent
from
the
interviews,
where
 the
reflexive
nature
of
interdisciplinarity
is
cited
as
a
key
strength
by
many
of
the
 interviewees
in
the
ways
articulated
above.

 
 A
common
theme
from
the
interviews
was
that
whilst
these
benefits
are
hard
to
 quantify,
once
researchers
start
to
cross
disciplinary
boundaries
people
become
 exposed
to
different
ways
of
doing
things
e.g.
different
terminologies,
 methodologies,
tools
and
literature.
The
benefit
is
that,
following
such
exposure,
the
 individual’s
own
ideas
start
to
adapt
possibly:

 
 ‘several
years
ahead
of
how
they
might
have
done
if
you
had
waited
for
your
 own
discipline
to
get
on
that
particular
track.’

 
 In
other
words,
by
working
with
people
in
other
disciplines
an
individual
starts
to
add
 quite
different
slants
to
their
own
interpretation
of
their
own
discipline.
The
overall
 positive
impact
upon
interdisciplinarity
is
that
once
a
researcher
has
successfully
 44
  • 45. worked
in
an
interdisciplinary
team,
they
are
more
likely
to
champion
and
further
 interdisciplinary
practices.
 
 These
personal
benefits
are
also
reflected
in
terms
of
both
product
and
process
 benefit.
There
are
benefits
in
having
contributions
from
people
across
multiple
 disciplines
for
the
‘product’
[IntQ]
that
is
developed.
But
there
is
also
a
process
 benefit
in
terms
of
shared
understanding
of
how
to
work
in
an
interdisciplinary
 fashion.
From
a
project
perspective,
interdisciplinarity
working
can
provide
a
much
 richer
research
output
than
disciplinary
or
multidisciplinary
working.
It
can
also
 result
in
the
production
of
many
more
papers
published
in
a
wider
variety
of
 journals,
resulting
in
a
greater
dissemination
of
the
research.
It
also
makes
the
 project
a
learning
process
in
its
own
right.
There
is
also
a
possibility
that
individual
 researchers
might
be
inspired
to
make
a
theoretical
break‐through
from
having
 experienced
different
disciplinary
worlds.
 
 From
the
above
it
is
possible
to
formulate
a
set
of
questions,
which
arise
from
the
 issues
that
have
emerged
from
the
interviews:
 
 • What
are
the
best
ways
of
overcoming
i)
disciplinary
niche
working
in
 interdisciplinary
projects,
and
ii)
the
tradition
of
academic
specialisation,
as
 barriers
to
working
with
other
disciplines?
 • How
can
we
develop
a
common
language
around
terminology
and
an
 understanding
of
other
discipline
theories
and
methodologies?
 • What
are
the
best
ways
of
managing
team
working,
especially
in
geographically
 separate
locations
and
how
can
technologies
be
used
to
support
this?
 • How
can
teams
be
set
up
to
foster
effective
interdisciplinary
practices
(for
 example
the
development
of
shared
understanding
and
trust,
the
importance
of
 good
team
leadership
and
a
shared
vision)?
 • What
skills
and
competences
are
needed
to
undertaken
interdisciplinary
 research,
who
are
the
‘right’
kinds
of
project
members
and
how
can
they
be
 attracted?
 • How
can
we
build
respect
for
the
values
and
beliefs
of
other
disciplines?
 • How
do
we
manage/overcome
existing
tensions
between
disciplines?
 • What
are
the
best
ways
of
working
within
the
constraints
of
possibly
the
multiple
 institutional
structures
behind
the
project
partners?
 • What
are
the
best
publishing
channels
for
interdisciplinary
work
and
how
do
we
 ensure
good
interdisciplinary
works
gets
the
credit
and
academic
reputation
it
 deserves?
 
 The
interview
questions
about
personal
experience
of
working
on
successful
projects
 elicited
further
responses
about
how
success
can
be
fostered
from
a
project
 perspective,
and
at
a
personal
level.
 
 45
  • 46. From
a
project
perspective,
a
clear
definition
of
project
governance
and
good
 management
is
essential.
It
is
important
to
start
with
a
clear
research
definition
and
 scope,
and
to
develop
a
common
shared
vision
of
the
overall
goals
of
the
project
so
 that
everybody
knows
what
the
whole
team
is
working
towards.
Everybody
must
 know
their
part
in
the
project
and
understand
their
role
and
responsibilities;
what
 the
project
schedule
for
tasks
and
milestones
looks
like;
that
the
budget
is
agreed
for
 doing
the
work;
the
requirements
for
reporting
progress
and
issues;
and
the
 procedures
for
evaluating
the
progress
and
results
of
the
progress.
It
is
very
 important
that
project
members
recognise
what
strengths
other
people
and
other
 disciplines
bring
to
the
project.
It
is
important
to
agree
the
project
governance
in
an
 open,
consultative
and
collaborative
way.
The
interviews
however
did
reveal
a
 number
of
valuable
success
strategies
through
their
experiences
of
working
in
these
 kinds
of
teams.
Common
themes
included
the
importance
of
having
a
shared
vision,
 the
need
for
good
leadership,
effective
and
frequent
communication
channels
and
 the
need
to
ensure
that
there
is
mutual
trust
and
developed
of
an
understanding
of
 individual
researchers.

 
 The
downside
of
such
a
governance
structure
is
that
it
comes
into
conflict
with
 academic
creativity,
so
a
balance
must
be
found
between
project
rigour
and
 structure
and
what
one
interviewee
described
as
the
‘controlled
disorder’
needed
to
 allow
academic
creativity
to
flourish.
 
 ‘There
is
integrity
and
strength
in
each
of
the
different
perspectives,
but
 when
they
are
woven
together
you
get
a
tapestry’.
[IntE]
 
 It
was
also
identified
that
success
may
come
out
of
conflict,
particularly
in
the
early
 stages
of
bringing
together
a
project
team.
The
team
members
need
to
be
flexible
in
 their
approach
to
work
through
the
conflict
with
researchers
from
other
disciplines.
 Successful
collaboration
to
achieve
this
mix
of
project
coherence
and
creativity
is
 largely
about
leadership.
 
 ‘Current
research
policy
would
have
you
believe
that
you
just
assemble
a
 bunch
of
clever
people,
give
them
the
resources
to
do
what
they
want
to
do
 and
remove
obstacles,
and
let
them
get
on
to
be
original.
That
is
 management
from
behind.
Neither
is
it
leading
a
huge
team
of
research
 minions
and
whipping
them
to
carry
out
your
experiments
for
them,
 leadership
from
the
front.’
[IntI]
 
 The
research
leader
needs
to
be
someone
who
can
draw
a
team
together
of
 different
disciplinary
perspectives,
and
inspire
them
with
a
vision
that
helps
them
 overcome
obstacles,
and
yet
in
the
view
of
one
of
our
interviewees

 
 ‘the
most
valuable
outcomes
of
an
interdisciplinary
project
are
the
ones
you
 had
not
anticipated
in
advance.’
[IntI]
 
 46
  • 47. If
it
was
possible
to
say
what
it
was
you
were
going
to
achieve
it
would
have
been
 said
from
the
perspective
of
a
discipline.
The
leader
must
not
only
therefore
provide
 an
inspiring
vision
at
the
start
of
the
project:
 
 ‘but
also
has
to
be
ready
to
abandon
that
vision
when
the
real
answer
comes
 in
view’.
[IntI]
 
 A
similar
view
was
put
forward
by
another
interviewee:
 ‘It
seemed
to
be
an
incredibly
successful
project…
particularly
given
the
fact
 that
it
had
such
different
partners,
such
different
stakeholders.
What
came
 out
really
strongly
was
that
there
was
a
common
shared
vision
for
what
they
 were
trying
to
achieve
and
that
seemed
to
be
what
held
it
together
although
 each
of
the
stakeholders
had
their
own
individual
different
agendas.’
[IntA]
 
 The
leadership
must
also
create
the
right
mix
within
the
team.
To
look
for
team
 members
who
genuinely
want
to
work
in
an
interdisciplinary
manner,
people
who
 are
willing
to
think
out
of
the
box,
and
who
want
the
project
to
succeed.
This
 motivation
will
overcome
a
lot
of
the
challenges
faced.
 
 One
view
expressed
was
that
success
depends
more
on
the
nature
of
the
individual
 that
it
does
upon
their
interdisciplinarity,
and
selecting
individuals
who
can
work
as
 part
of
the
team
and
recognise
that
their
particular
disciplinary
approach
is
not
the
 only
valid
way
is
important.
You
need
team
members
who
are
willing
to
invest
time
 and
energy
to
work
with
other
people,
to
listen
to
their
views
and
who
are
flexible
 enough
to
compromise
their
own
perspectives
instead
of
only
focusing
on
there
area
 of
expertise.
 
 It
may
be
taken
as
a
sign
of
successful
interdisciplinary
collaboration
if
people
come
 to
the
discussion
with
their
own
perspectives,
collaborate
and
leave
with
new
 perspectives.
If
they
leave
with
their
own
perspectives
intact
the
collaboration
has
 failed.
 
 Although
not
restricted
to
interdisciplinary
working
personal
relationships
are
 important
in
achieving
this
shift
of
perspective,
and
the
extent
to
which
you
are
 comfortable
and
familiar
with
interdisciplinary
colleagues
is
important.
 
 ‘It
is
like
any
collaboration,
when
you
have
the
personal
chemistry
there
that
 allows
you
to
have
fun
and
to
talk
around
ideas.’
[IntE]
 
 ‘The
hallmark
of
interdisciplinarity
really
working
is
when
it
starts
to
influence
 what
you
do…
I
think
that
another
hallmark
of
successful
interdisciplinarity
is
 respect
for
the
methods
and
knowledge
of
your
interdisciplinary
colleagues.’
 [IntP]
 
 The
role
of
a
project
leader
needs
to
be
open’to
include
these
different
approaches
 and
to
get
the
most
out
of
the
strengths
that
individuals
bring
from
their
disciplines
 rather
than
be
prescriptive
about
the
nature
of
the
work.

 47
  • 48. 
 Academic
career
structures
do
not
easily
favour
people
doing
interdisciplinary
 research.
Funding
bodies
are
often
organised
along
disciplinary
lines.

In
addition,
 there
are
relatively
fewer
interdisciplinary
job
opportunities,
so
the
career
 opportunities
for
interdisciplinary
researchers
probably
remain
within
established
 disciplines.
Established
disciplines
can
be
hostile
to
interdisciplinary,
which
may
be
 seen
as
parasitic,
or
lacking
rigour.
So
there
is
a
view
that
time
spent
participating
in
 interdisciplinary
work

 
 ‘has
actually
damaged
the
career
prospects
of
a
whole
cohort
of
bright
young
 researchers.’
[IntI]
 
 Therefore
thinking
about
how
the
research
project
might
offer
practical
support
or
 pastoral
care
in
providing
value
for
their
future
academic
careers
is
of
benefit
and
 will
help
attract
researchers.
 4
Conclusion
 To
what
extent
have
we
achieved
the
aims
of
this
research
as
outlined
in
Section
1?
 Recall
that
our
intention
was
to
explore
the
specificity
of
interdisciplinarity
in
a
 Technology
Enhanced
Learning
(TEL)
research
context,
and
to
identify
strategies
for
 supporting,
communicating
and
documenting
interdisciplinarity.
 
 It
is
evident
from
both
the
review
of
recent
literature
and
the
data
from
the
 interviews
that
interdisciplinarity
is
a
core
feature
of
TEL
research.
TEL
researchers
 are
drawn
from
across
a
broad
range
of
disciplines
and
bring
with
them
a
rich
variety
 of
theoretical
perspectives
and
methodologies.
These
have
the
potential
to
be
 harnessed
to
provide
real
insights
into
some
of
the
challenging
research
questions
 which
are
contemporary
in
TEL.
However,
this
multiplicity
also
brings
challenges,
 such
as
a
lack
of
a
shared
coherent
discourse,
tensions
and
power
struggles
between
 the
different
subject
domains
and
a
lack
of
perceived
rigour
and
credibility.
In
order
 to
overcome
these
challenges,
a
number
of
strategies
were
identified:
the
 importance
of
having
a
shared,
common
vision
across
the
team;
mechanisms
in
 place
to
support
capacity
building
within
the
team;
clear,
effective
and
frequent
 communication
mechanisms;
and,
most
importantly,
a
sense
of
shared
trust
and
 ownership.

 
 This
study
has
identified
a
number
of
perceived
benefits
of
undertaking
 interdisciplinary
work
in
TEL
research.
These
included
capitalising
on
the
breadth
of
 different
theoretical
and
methodological
perspectives
to
address
key
research
 challenges.
Working
in
interdisciplinary
teams
was
also
cited
by
many
as
beneficial
in
 terms
of
broadening
their
research
perspectives,
becoming
aware
of
additional
 literatures
to
those
that
they
are
most
familiar
with
and
having
others
to
challenge
 and
bounce
ideas
off.
The
nature
of
teams,
the
need
for
a
core
shared
vision,
and
 strong
leadership
were
all
cited
as
important
strategies
for
success.
Tensions,
 however,
are
also
evident:
it
is
often
difficult
to
develop
a
shared
common
language,
 and
building
a
strong
team
requires
time
and
trust.
Institutional
and
professional
 barriers
are
also
evident.
Single
discipline
research
is
generally
more
highly
regarded
 48
  • 49. and
much
interdisciplinary
research
is
often
accused
of
being
methodologically
 muddled
or
less
rigorous.

 
 In
terms
of
supporting,
communicating
and
documenting
interdisciplinarity
it
is
 evident
that
a
number
of
strategies
can
be
adopted.
First,
and
perhaps
foremost,
is
 the
need
to
ensure
that
there
is
effective
communication
across
the
team.
The
 different
perspectives
amongst
team
members
need
to
be
articulated
and
 interrogated
in
light
of
the
research
question
being
addressed.
An
ongoing
iterative
 process
of
dialogic
engagement
and
critical
reflection
is
needed,
so
that
the
team
 can
come
to
some
degree
of
shared
understanding
and
consensus.
The
time
and
 effort
needed
to
achieve
this
should
not
be
underestimated.
Technologies
have
the
 potential
to
act
as
powerful
mediating
artefacts
in
this
process,
by
providing
 mechanisms
for
sharing
and
documenting
understanding.
They
can
act
as
a
prompt
 for
debate
and
as
a
digital
trial
of
the
discourse
within
the
team.
The
choice
of
which
 technologies
to
use
will
have
an
impact
on
the
nature
of
the
discussion
and
the
 collaboration;
interactions
in
and
through
a
wiki
are
very
different
to,
for
example,
 those
in
a
collective
blog.
Secondly,
team
dynamics
are
clearly
important,
but,
in
 particular,
the
role
of
the
principal
investigator
is
perhaps
even
more
important
in
 interdisciplinary
projects
then
those
based
in
a
single
discipline.
The
project
lead
 needs
to
be
sensitive
to
group
dynamics
and
help
foster
a
culture
of
trust
and
shared
 enterprise.
The
articulation
of
a
common
vision
for
the
research
right
at
the
start
of
 the
project
can
help
with
this,
as
can
the
ongoing
dialogic
exchange
discussed
above.
 Thirdly,
capacity
building
is
likely
to
be
important,
both
in
terms
of
helping
 individuals
to
develop
the
skills
and
competences
they
need
to
adopt
 interdisciplinary
approaches
and
to
use
new
technologies
as
effective
tools.

 
 The
interviews
have
yielded
valuable
insights
into
the
nature
of
interdisciplinarity
in
 TEL
research;
highlighting
both
the
benefits
and
challenges.
They
also
suggested
a
 number
of
strategies
that
can
be
adopted
to
promote
better
interdisciplinary
 research.
However,
a
number
of
overarching
policy,
professional
and
institutional
 issues
remain.
If
we
agree
that
interdisciplinarity
is
essential
for
tackling
TEL
research
 challenges,
then
existing
theoretical
and
practical
barriers
will
need
to
be
overcome.

 
 A
number
of
proposals
for
taking
this
work
forward
are
suggested:
 
 1. The
report
is
sent
out
for
wider
consultation
through
the
TEL
research
 community,
via
the
TLRP
TEL
website
and
on
the
academic
social
networking
site,
 Cloudworks.
 2. The
debate
from
1)
is
used
as
the
basis
for
producing
a
TEL
commentary
on
 interdisciplinarity
and
TEL
research.
 3. A
more
detailed
longitudinal
research
study
is
conducted
following
a
number
of
 case
studies
of
interdisciplinary
TEL
research
to
further
understand
the
benefits
 and
challenges
of
working
in
this
way
and
to
identify
successful
interventions
for
 change.

 49
  • 50. 6
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