Re-engineering Education research to investigate learning in community informatics: using phenomenography and variation theory to understand and account for learning in GraniteNet

Arden, Catherine Helen (2014) Re-engineering Education research to investigate learning in community informatics: using phenomenography and variation theory to understand and account for learning in GraniteNet. In: 11th Prato CIRN Conference: Challenges and Solutions, 13-15 Oct 2014, Prato, Italy.

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GraniteNet is a Community Informatics project which began in 2006 as a research and development collaboration between university researchers and members of the rural community of Stanthorpe, a town of approximately 10,500 residents located on the Granite Belt in the Southern Downs region of Queensland, Australia. The vision for this Participatory Action Research project was a sustainable community designed, owned and managed web portal that would promote digital inclusion and support Stanthorpe's development as a 'learning community'. Eight years on, GraniteNet has continued to evolve as a community-based social enterprise operated exclusively by volunteers, providing a range of digital inclusion facilities and services to residents of Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt, including a community technology hub located in the CBD and a community web portal (

Using phenomenography as the primary research approach within an instrumental, single site case study, this research investigates the qualitatively different ways in which the members of GraniteNet's diverse communities of interest and practice understand and experience learning in the context of their involvement in GraniteNet's digital inclusion activities and use of the community web portal. Although learning across various content domains is explored, particular emphasis is given to interrogation of conceptions and experiences of learning related to digital technologies and digital literacies in these environments.

Presenting her account of the study's methodology and findings, the author grapples with the challenges of using phenomenography - a research approach originally developed to investigate learning in formal education - to investigate adults' informal and non-formal learning experiences in a community setting. The benefits and limitations of phenomenography and variation theory as theoretical, conceptual and methodological frameworks for researching learning in Community Informatics are explored, and implications for locating community-based research in wider theoretical and practice frameworks and accounting for community benefit from a lifelong learning perspective discussed.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: No evidence of copyright restrictions preventing deposit.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Linguistics, Adult and Specialist Education
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2017 04:11
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2017 00:47
Uncontrolled Keywords: informal learning; lifelong learning; Community Informatics; phenomenography; variation theory
Fields of Research : 08 Information and Computing Sciences > 0807 Library and Information Studies > 080707 Organisation of Information and Knowledge Resources
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130399 Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education

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