Virtual Visitation and Feminist Pedagogy:
Would They Make Any Difference?
A Research Project Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC)
Dr. Qing Li
University of Calgary
Objectives of the Project :
This program seeks to add significantly to research on the use of new technology (such as virtual visitation) to encourage young women in both urban and rural regions to learn math and science. The theoretical framework for the research draws on two fields°™feminist pedagogy and research on new learning technologies.
The primary goal of this research program is to develop new learning practices that can enhance the equity in math and science. In the work proposed here, we will create and examine a gender-inclusive learning environment that is appropriate for both urban and rural regions based on feminist pedagogy. In particular, we will use computer-mediated communication ( CMC ) to connect classes with female mathematicians and scientist, which includes the use of virtual visitation (via video conferencing) with role models assisting in real scientific experiments. A premise of the work is that educational technology can provide useful means for implementing feminist strategies such as collaborative learning and interaction with role models. In addition, the introduction of Alberta SuperNet (a provincial-wide broadband network) offers an ideal opportunity to conduct such study. A secondary goal of this research program is to establish a foundation for the development of a gender-inclusive environment for math and science learning. This will be done through understanding the context of gender differences in the attitudes of students toward math and science, and the beliefs of teachers and students about learning math and science with technology.
Two areas of scholarly literature are relevant: feminist pedagogy and new learning technology (with a specific emphasis on CMC) . This research program focuses on the gap identified in the literature: i.e. the lack of non-verbal communication in the current use of CMC to support implementation of feminist pedagogy. I propose a framework (see following figure 1) to review the themes connecting these two bodies of research literature and use it as an orienting device to integrate these research areas. In Figure 1, each oval represents a field of research which contains a rich set of literature. The overlapping area indicates a set of feminist pedagogical approaches that can be supported by educational technology such as CMC. The theme indicated in the rectangle within the intersecting field is the gap which exists in the literature. My current research program focuses on the intersecting theme areas and seeks to fill the gap by adding the audio, visual and kinesthetic aspects of CMC via virtual visitation. Virtual visitation (using video-conferencing , Web cams and other wired technologies) allows for different groups of people in different places to interact with each other.
Because a richer form of CMC (such as virtual visitation via broadband network) allows for more extensive interaction among students, teachers and role models in all regions and hence "opens new opportunities and makes available new learning activities" (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996, p. 188) , this research program, extends these two bodies of literature by adding the audio, visual and kinesthetic aspects of CMC through virtual visitation.
Duffy, T., & Cunningham, D. (1996). Constructivism: Implications for the design and delivery of instruction. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research for educational communications and technology . NY: Macmillan.