Gathering, Translating, Enacting. A Study of Interdisciplinary Research and Development Practices in Technology Enhanced Learning

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This is an ethnographic case-study of research and development practices taking place in an interdisciplinary project between education and computer sciences. The Ensemble-project, part of the Technology Enhanced Learning programme (2008-12), has studied case-based learning in a number of diverse settings in Higher Education, working to develop semantic technologies for supporting that learning. Focussing on one of the six research settings, the discipline of archaeology, the current study has had three purposes. By opening up to scrutiny the practices of research and development, it has firstly sought to understand how a shared research question is answered in practice when divergent research approaches are brought to bear upon it. Secondly, the study has followed the emergence of a piece of semantic technology through these practices. The third aim has been to assess the advantages and disadvantages of Actor-Network Theory (ANT) in studying unfolding, open-ended processes in real time. Through critical ethnographic participation, multiple ethnographic research methods, and by drawing on ANT as theoretical practice, the study has shown the precarious and unpredictable nature of research and development work, the political nature of research methods and how multiple realities can be produced using them, and the need for technology development to flexibly respond to changing circumstances. We have also seen the mutual adoption and extension of practices by the two strands of the project into each others’ domains, and how interdisciplinary tensions resolved, while they did not disappear, through pragmatic changes within the project. The study contributes to the interdisciplinary fields of Science and Technology Studies (STS) where studies on the ‘soft sciences’, such as education, are few, and a new field of Studies in Social Science and Humanities (SSH) which is emerging alongside and from within the STS. Interdisciplinary endeavours between fields pertaining largely to the natural and the social sciences respectively have not been studied commonly within either field.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Stirling
Award date30 Jan 2012
Place of PublicationStirling
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • educational technology
  • semantic technology
  • pedagogy


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