Information and communications technology and learning. State of the field review
Not peer reviewed
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In this State of the Field study our goal was to conduct an objective and comprehensive review of the field of ICT in Education in order to summarise the field, identify the primary research themes that have emerged, understand why they have emerged, summarise the principal activities and findings from those research themes, and finally identify future strategic research actions that would strengthen not only each theme but also the entire field of ICT in Education.
For our main corpus the most influential works published since 2000 in peer reviewed scientific journals were selected. To identify the National perspective, all completed Norwegian Doctoral Dissertations since 2000 were collected, and to provide some perspective on international research themes all IST projects reported on the European Union’s ISTweb repository were included.
In order to minimise the subjectivity usually associated with a literature review we used two independent sources and influence ranking mechanisms, Web of Knowledge and Google Scholar, when searching for the most influential works. Furthermore, searches used to create our main corpus were carried out using independently created lists of domain terms that were obtained from the TEL Meta-project, a legacy of the Kaleidoscope and STELLAR Networks of Excellence in Europe. The digital reference management system Zotero was used to store, organise, and analyse the material from the different sources. Our material comprises a main corpus of 680 articles, a top 10% corpus of 67 articles, 60 books, 60 Norwegian Ph.D theses, and 149 EU projects.
A summary of the ICT and learning field was carried out in three ways. First, Paper Machines, an open-source data visualisation extension for Zotero, was used to generate analyses and advanced visualisations of our corpora including word clouds, topic models, phrase nets, and n-grams. Second, an analysis of the tags used on the main corpus was carried out using terms from the TEL Thesaurus, part of the TEL Meta-project. Third, a thematic analysis of recurring authors in the main corpus was undertaken.
Three primary research themes emerged from the analyses: Learning Design, Collaborative Systems, and Intelligent Systems. In order to understand why these three themes have emerged we carried out a background and historical analysis of the themes, identifying key texts that show the historical development. We summarised the principal activities and findings from the three themes producing systematic reviews of the three primary themes. In addition to the historical picture for each of the areas we have suggested target research actions and we have identified future strategic research actions not only for each theme, but also for the entire field of ICT and Learning.
Our conclusions are both methodological and thematic. Methodologically we raise questions about monopoly of sources, author awareness of tagging, and access to completed projects, including both EU projects and Norwegian doctoral dissertations.
The theme ICT and Learning is a vast and complex domain of enquiry. It is subject to rapid change as it seeks to reflect advances in the capabilities of the underlying technology. Studies are often driven by exploration of the technology as opposed to fundamental research questions related to pedagogical design or learning, and little evidence of real world impact was visible within our corpus.