The Methodological Challenge of Networked Learning: (Post)disciplinarity and Critical Emancipation
This chapter explores the contemporary shift towards postdisciplinarity in networked learning research through the lens of emancipatory interest and critical theory, and defines the question of disciplinarity as a battlefield between various values and ideologies. It explores the rise of disciplinarity and the relationships between disciplinarity and technique. It places disciplinarity into the context of the network society, and explores emancipatory potentials of various (post)disciplinary approaches. Traditional disciplinarity is dialectically intertwined with education and class. Multidisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity creatively re-arrange traditional disciplinary knowledge without disturbing its core epistemic assumptions—more efficient in practice than traditional disciplinarity, they still reproduce traditional power relationships and offer little opportunity for emancipation. Transdiciplinarity challenges hegemonic discourses and enables critical social action, and antidisciplinarity completely rejects disciplinarity thus creating an egalitarian research universe. However, research methods in contemporary networked learning are always a hybrid between disciplinarity and postdisciplinarity. Even the most advanced postdisciplinary approaches cannot be conceived without some elements of traditional disciplinarity; even the strictest disciplinary approaches break at least some disciplinary borders. On that basis, the chapter invites readers to embrace the hybrid nature of research methodologies in networked learning, include emancipatory interest in their methodological considerations, and seek an appropriate balance between complex and often contradictory forces which constitute networked learning as we know it.
KeywordsNetworked learning Research methods Critical theory Postdisciplinarity
I want to thank Christine Sinclair, Sarah Hayes, Constantine D. Skordoulis, Sian Bayne, Thomas Ryberg, Maarten de Laat, and anonymous reviewers, for their valuable criticisms and suggestions.
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