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Publication - Professor Sally Barnes

    Transmission, transformation and ritual: an investigation of students' and researchers' digitally mediated communications and collaborative work

    Citation

    Timmis, SE, Joubert, MV, Manuel, AL & Barnes, SB, 2010, ‘Transmission, transformation and ritual: an investigation of students' and researchers' digitally mediated communications and collaborative work’. Learning, Media and Technology, vol 35., pp. 307-322

    Abstract

    This article explores the use of multiple digital tools for mediating communications, drawing on two recent empirical studies in which students and researchers in UK higher education worked on collaborative activities:how different tools were used and the quality of the communications and their contributions to collaborative working and knowledge constructionare outlined. We draw on Pea’s proposition that communications can be understood as transmissive, ritualised or transformative depending on their impact on other participants. Most of the students’ communications were either transmissive or ritualistic, although there were also generative conversations offering mutual support. Researchers’ conversations were more often transformative, using tools consistently, for specific purposes.Researchers matched the tool to the specific needs of the task, whereas the students chose tools based on friendship groups and lifestyles. Transformative communications were powerful in co-configuring new knowledge and resources, and the importance of the ritual communications in maintaining the social order was also essential to communications in collaborative settings. We conclude that close attention to protocols, social norms and patterns of use in digitally mediated ‘conversations’ is required to develop collaborative partnerships and support transformation practices amongst higher education ‘workers’.

    Full details in the University publications repository