About this Research Topic
In recent years interdisciplinary research is of increasing importance in Higher Education, with a growing focus on research designed to address major societal challenges. The rationale for interdisciplinary research and practice includes the fact that “problems do not come separated into disciplinary silos” – as pointed out by Scanlon & Taylor in 2016 –, but also that researchers are nowadays required by policy makers and funders to articulate and provide evidence of who benefits from their research and in what ways. It is difficult, for instance, to imagine how a single discipline could address the challenge of quality education (UN SDG 4). As a result, research and practice need to reflect this complexity and adopt more than one lens to study these phenomena comprehensively if it is to appropriately explore them and advance understanding of the challenges we face as a society.
In parallel to shifts in how research and practice are viewed, technology has been positioned at the centre of numerous initiatives seeking to enhance learning and open-up educational opportunities across the globe. An abundance of projects – often described as interdisciplinary - on digital education and learning are recorded, whilst one observes major investments in Higher Education Institutions (HEI) in digital innovation (e.g. FutureLearn - The Open University UK) and interdisciplinary research centres tasked with driving enhancement of teaching and learning. Seeking to maximize the impact of their investments, HEIs also promote research projects that enable innovation via knowledge transfer partnerships, often through the inclusion of multiple stakeholders (i.e. SMEs, charities, NGOs), hoping for research findings to be translated into market products and new processes.
In the context of interdisciplinary, cross-sector research examining technology-enhanced learning (TEL), ‘diversity’ in terms of disciplinary commitments, skills-sets, frameworks and approaches is often viewed as its strength. However, it is not known how diversity is interpreted, enacted and negotiated by individual researchers and during collaboration within and across research teams, particularly in relation to outputs and impact of the research project, but also in terms of an overall pedagogy of interdisciplinary research. We need to trace these diverse sites of knowledge production during the emergent, multi-stakeholder processes of inception, design and implementation of technology-enabled learning projects whilst, as suggested by Dachtera et al. in 2014, acknowledging the complex historical, political, and knowledge-based aspects that determine the success of interdisciplinary research in fostering innovation and knowledge exchange.
This Research Topic seeks to move beyond the lingering debates about the pros and cons of interdisciplinary research in TEL. Rather, we welcome high quality qualitative and quantitative papers which can raise awareness of the type of challenges involved in interdisciplinary and cross-sector TEL research, and also sensitize to the opportunities, and how these are best pursued and knowledge transferred to other research contexts. The submitted manuscripts should be concerned with how the diverse disciplinary and professional identities of researchers in TEL encourage different understandings of interdisciplinary research, and surface accounts of whether conflicts between perspectives occur and what effect this has on the design, management and legacy of interdisciplinary research.
We look for papers that will:
- detail the entanglements between stakeholders, methodological techniques and pedagogic practices in interdisciplinary projects;
- highlight the role of the researcher(s) and other stakeholders towards understanding how interdisciplinary research is negotiated and enacted;
- consider emerging/dominant discourses on interdisciplinary research and technology-enhanced Learning to offer a critical view of quality of interdisciplinary research in TEL; and
- provide an enhanced understanding of how are sites of knowledge established and academic identities shaped through interdisciplinary research.
The Research Topic will contribute towards a better understanding of the diverse, multifaceted, and vague concept of interdisciplinary research in HE, especially in the context of TEL. The Research Topic aims to develop critical perspectives concerning the rise of a discourse around the value of interdisciplinary research, advance much more nuanced accounts of the tensions, compromises, choices and realisations through which TEL researchers are shaping - and being shaped by - inter-disciplinary practices of researching TEL worldwide.
Keywords: Interdisciplinarity, technology-enhanced learning, scholarship, higher education
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.