Staff Research Interests in SPP

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The aim of this page is to help ensure alignment between research activities within the community. Please state your interests below.

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Research Interests

Alice SParker
I am a first year PhD student at OU. I am looking at the effects of different modes of Computer-Mediated Communication (text/voice/video) on foreign language skills and social presence as well as the interplay between mode preferences and individual differences. I have been considering SL as a fourth mode for a while now. My target participants will be adults, still, via foreign language and/or community building activities in SPP, I hope to gain insights into the potential of SL (and whether I should include it into my PhD as the fourth mode).
Amba SParker
Does "no specific research interest for the next few months" count as a research interest? I’d like to include some information about myself here for completeness.

I am an e-learning advisor, working for the JISC RSC Eastern. My work includes a certain amount of time for research activities. Last term I was able to devote some of this to Schome, and perhaps will again in September ‘08, but in the meantime I am here as a volunteer member of staff who is able to provide support for activities and run sessions as appropriate.

Fox Phlox
My main research topic is how asynchronous dialogue can be used to support learning, and which resources, skills and settings are required to utilise it effectively. In Schome Park, I'm currently looking at learning through gaming (with particular reference to the wedding, the regattas, the pop gun game, the murder mystery, the chess and the sudoku). On the Main Grid I'm researching virtual heritage. Fraternal Writer and I are just finishing off some Open University course materials introducing the subject, and we are moving on to a study of war memorials in Second Life.

Gaea SParker
I am an unfunded 4th year PhD student writing up my PhD and this is not so much a "research" interest...but I am interested in exploiting novel environments (like SL) that could serve as a science outreach tool. The existing outreach programme in my department already utilises Elluminate [virtual classroom software] and moodle [for resource hosting and sharing] allowing primary schools (and a few secondary schools) nationwide to take part in a mini-lesson series about the solar system. There are over 500 participants in the 2008 lesson series that runs February-April! I want to develop something related to the existing outreach programme, but focussed for secondary school students. I have scouted at the way NASA conducts their outreach in SL and would be looking to do something similar, with emphasis on UK/European involvement in space exploration.
Rowan SParker
I'm a lecturer in digital literacies at a university in North West England. I have a long-standing interest in learning, both in formal and informal settings, (new) technologies, language and literacy. I draw on sociocultural perspectives in linguistics, education, psychology, sociology and social anthropology. That might sound like a long list - perhaps even a pretentious one - but I do think that it's essential to draw on a number of disciplines. I'm fascinated by interpretive methodologies to study multimodal discourses - although I also find that word 'multimodal' a little misleading as communications are always multimodal. I do a little historical study of peoples' uses of technological innovations in part to show that. Having said that I think my research has been moving quite a bit in the last year or so to take much more account of the visual; my primary focus on language and literacies seems to be broadening. I'm very interested in participating or leading in bids to develop and further study Schome Park.
Yati Sparker
I am a research student at the OU. I am interested in 'Multimodal Discourse of Computer Mediated Communication', and Virtual Communities and their Identies. As a part of my masters' dissertation at London Metropolitan University I explored Multimodal Discourse of Nepalese Online Communities. As a part of my MRes and PhD research, I will be exploring issues and questions related to :

- How does computer mediation affect human communication, in different technical modes and in different contexts of use? - How does CMC affect human relationships and social life?
- What are virtual communities, Virtual learning Communities, and what causes them to form, maintain themselves?
- How such community members (re)present ( e.g., avatar representation, discursive representation, etc.) themselves in the virtual world?
- How they consider their real live ‘self’ and avatar ‘self’ [e.g., avatar vs real life identity)? Are these communities, their identities and presence real or imagined?
- How identities are (re)produced and re(constructed) in such environment?
- What ‘discursive and semiotic resources’ they use to identify themselves in the Virtual Space?

Bright SParker
I'm a first-year PhD student at Exeter University. I've been a high-school teacher, youth worker and have worked for an international education charity in the past. My key interest is in how new approaches to learning can be more democratic, learner-centred, flexible and inspiring. I'm hoping to relate my PhD to the Schome project, and to the Aspire project being run at the University of Exeter. Theoretically, I am particularly interested in the reconceptualisation of identity and of learning through dialogue, and in the possibility of communities founded on diversity rather than shared identity. Practically, I am interested in breaking down the confines of the classroom wall, and enabling young people to become active members of a wider learning society.
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