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My research is located at the intersections of new technology, digital cultures, and education, examining tensions that can be unmasked or generated when education, teaching and learning goes digital; and how these tensions challenge dominant discourses in higher education and in the cultural heritage sector. I write about themes of power and discourse; authenticity and reflection; place and space; and the changing nature of higher education and cultural institutions in a digital age. Specific contexts of exploration are the impact and pedagogy of MOOCs and open education, museum and gallery learning and engagement, student and teacher experiences of online distance learning, and online writing and reflection.
Some areas of focus of my work have been:
- problematising a discourse of authenticity in online reflective practices;
- re-imagining how museums and galleries measure visitor engagement;
- understanding online student experiences of writing, feedback and assessment;
- connecting theories of teacher identity to new spaces of MOOC teaching;
- justifying the rejection of instrumentalist discourses in digital education, research and evaluation.
CI – Methodological Innovations for Assessing Learning in Digital Spaces. Edinburgh-Sydney Partnership Collaboration Award, 2017-18. With PIs Dragan Gasevic and Jen Scott Curwood.
PI – Artcasting and ARTIST ROOMS on Tour: Using mobilities-informed methods to support new approaches to arts evaluation. AHRC, 2015-16. With CIs Jeremy Knox and Chris Speed.
PI – Digital Cultural Heritage Research Network, University of Edinburgh Academic Networking Fund, 2016. With CIs Sian Bayne, James Loxley and Chris Speed.
Lead consultant on a project with the World Bank, Washington DC, supporting the development of their MOOCs. (2013-16)
PI – Dissertations at a Distance. Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme, University of Edinburgh (2014-15)
Consultant – World Bank ‘Markets for Health’ online course development (PI Mark Hellowell) – 2015
Member of the ARTIST ROOMS Research Partnership, Engagement and Learning strand. Partnership Lead: Neil Cox. (2012-16)
Partner – CONSTRUIT!: Making construals as a new digital skill for creating interactive open educational resources. Funded by ERASMUS+, with Warwick (lead partner), Edumotiva (Greece), University of Eastern Finland, Helix 5 (Netherlands), Comenius University (Slovakia), and the University of Edinburgh. (2014-17)
Project team: Teacherbot: interventions in automated teaching (2014-15)
Co-author, Higher Education Academy commissioned report: ‘MOOC pedagogy: the UK view’. With Sian Bayne. Report details: Bayne, S. and Ross, J. (2014) The Pedagogy of the MOOC: the UK View. York: Higher Education Academy. http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/elt/the_pedagogy_of_the_MOOC_UK_view
2013 and earlier:
Member of local organising committee, Networked Learning 2014, Edinburgh. (2013-14)
2012 – co-investigator, Social History Timeline Application. (PI Tim Fawns)
2011-12 – co-investigator, New geographies of learning: Distance education and being “at” Edinburgh. (PI Sian Bayne)
2010-11 – co-investigator, Digital Futures for Cultural Heritage Education in Scotland seminar series, Royal Society of Edinburgh. (PI Sian Bayne).
2009-11 – principal investigator, Principal’s Teaching Award funding for “Student Writing Online: innovative online strategies for assessment and feedback”.
2009-10 – co-investigator with Z Williamson, Roberts Funding for Researcher-Led initiatives, “Research Perspectives: discussion, debate and dialogue” series for doctoral students and early career researchers in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh.
2007-09 – research associate, National Museums Online Learning Project. (PI, Dr S Bayne)
2005-06 – principal investigator, Principal’s E-Learning Fund supported ERDEE project: E-portfolio Research and Development in Education at Edinburgh.
My thesis analysed qualitative interview data to explore how students and teachers negotiate issues of audience, performance and authenticity in their high-stakes online reflective practices, by which I mean online reflection (for example in blogs or e-portfolios) which is summatively assessed, or which serves a gatekeeping function in terms of entry or progression into a profession or professional body. I used the metaphor of the “mask” to examine key themes of performance, trace, disguise, protection, discipline and transformation. My central argument was that the effects of both compulsory reflection, and writing online, destabilise and ultimately challenge the humanist ideals on which reflective practices are based: those of a ‘true self’ which can be revealed, understood, recorded, improved or liberated through the process of writing about thoughts and experiences.