Original Project Proposal
The aim of this project is to pilot an innovative use of the Leeds virtual learning environment (VLE) to blend participatory learning and ICT’s to enhance student networking, communications, to connect teaching with research and enrich the student experience.
The project will involve students using the VLE to construct collaboratively and edit a journal, entitled, Critical Theory and Practice, to be published online at the end of each year. The POLIS undergraduate module ‘Critical Theory’ has an associated enthusiastic voluntary discussion group run by students. The project builds on this active group of students and will use the VLE wiki, blog and communications tools to develop their analyses of research that applies critical theory to current social and political problems.
The journal will become a learning resource for the Critical Theory module each year, but will also provide a communication space and learning resource for other students, tutors and academics. This research will include their essays (assessed in the module), links to the research articles and digital resources they have collected for the discussion group as well original produced by past and present students.
This follows successful initiatives pioneered in the sciences in the use of “inherited research” and uses on-line collaboration and communication tools to relate student learning to engagement in real academic research. Students collaborate in the production of genuine research excellence and will disseminate their findings to research and practitioner communities outside the teaching environment. By involving students in real research, they will enhance their skills in research, written communication, collaboration, software operation, critical reflection and intellectual confidence.
This project will deliver, in the form of an annual online journal publication, a growing analytic survey of applications of critical theory to contemporary social and political problems. Such a dataset would contribute to the burgeoning ‘applied turn’ in Critical Theory and be of real value to external researchers. It can thus expect to attract citations of its student authors. The journal will be hosted on a website where students, tutors and academics will be involved in an open and collaborative editorial process using wiki applications. In this process all input has educational value.