New research group established: Critical Applied Research of Digitalization in Education (CARDE)

Carding machine
Carding machine detail by atomino art festival

New research group at Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) to promote a deeper understanding of digitalization in education through critical applied research.

At the end of 2019, Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) opened a call for proposals for new research groups. The aim was to promote new international projects, research and networks, but also to strengthen TAMK focus areas. One of the main focus areas is Developmental Expertise in Pedagogy. Our team of Marko Teräs, Hanna Teräs and Mark Curcher applied, and as a big happy surprise to us all, was successful.

Our research group brings together a long lasting passion towards education, pedagogy, and the work we’ve done as educators, researchers and developers in the field of e-learning, distance learning, ed tech, authentic e-learning, online facilitation, virtual environments, serious games, learning analytics… and the list goes on.

Most importantly, it brings together our growing concerns how latest developments in digitalization affect education, and how uncritically these developments are often welcomed and adopted.

We have all witnessed the benefits of digitalization in connecting people, supporting open learning and giving access to people who did not have it before. We have also felt its negative aspects, such as almost annual ed tech trends that promise the world but deliver so little, taking away focus from best practices in learning and teaching, and technological development and implementation without listening to and understanding the needs of the people (for example students and academic staff) whose everyday lives are imposed and transformed by digital technologies.

This area is something where we want to promote positive change through critical participatory research and development, and becoming an active group in international networks. The CARDE manifesto below is a summary of our main aims – more concrete action points will follow in the very near future.

CARDE Manifesto:

  1. Actively engage people, networks, projects, research and public discussions to promote democratization of digitalization in education through research and development
  2. Apply and develop critical applied research methodologies
  3. Create design principles for democratic and emancipatory research and development of digitalization
  4. Evoke dialogue through communication with a wider public using clear, inclusive language
  5. Promote new and open approaches to research and development publishing

CARDE Networks and Affiliations

We want to give very special thanks to prof Juha Suoranta (Adult Education, Social Sciences) from Tampere University. He has really inspired us and moved to act with his writings on C.W. Mills, Paulo Freire, critical pedagogy, and combat research methodologies. He has also been very supportive in discussing these topics with us, and therefore we are very pleased to have him as an extended member of CARDE.

We expect our collaboration to make an interesting mix. Our core group is from a university of applied sciences, which is considered a more practically-oriented vocational higher education institution with applied research focus. Applying critical methodologies in digitalization research and development could thus lead to interesting new kinds of research and development outputs.

We also have several on-going international discussions on collaboration and becoming a member in various like-minded networks. It seems there is a growing awareness of the fact that digitalization in education (e.g. use of learning analytics, artifical intelligence and facial recognition) needs to be looked into more in-depth. More information about these networks and discussions a bit later.