Volume 1 - issue 2 - 2005
Since the last issue our journal has received acceptance as a peer-reviewed journal from the Norwegian Council for Higher Education, meaning that Norwegian academics publishing here will be awarded the same credentials as for publishing in ordinary printed journals. In our national system a small number of journals have been elected to count as “high prestige journals”. One can agree or not with what at any time counts as prestigious or highly ranked journals. To some extent the auditors have used the ISI “impact factor” as their main indicator for prestige and status. In the field of educational research this might be of some interest, but on the whole the publishing pattern of educationalists differs from other academic areas, let’s say that of medical research or chemistry. How big the difference is, is debatable.
As the North American historian Ellen Condliffe Lagemann has described in her book: “An elusive science : the troubling history of education research” (2000), - when educational research wants to become less elusive, it approaches neighbouring disciplines: psychology, medicine, sociology, political science. These academic areas have vitally different patterns of publication: higher frequency, shorter articles, higher degree of co-authorship etc.. Subsequently, authors need to accommodate to the genres that are specific for them. A brief look at the list of journals that gained a high “impact factor” in the field of education gives the impression that they are not what the general educationalist considers “an important journal”. Educationalists who succeed in publishing material that is relevant for neighbouring disciplines – in journals that operate in the border zone towards other disciplines – might have a stronger impact – not because they are read by educationists, but by sociologists, psychologists, etc. – Now, let this stand as a challenging thought, or a hypothesis to be developed. As Lagemann suggests, it is a difficult task to gain the status, support and independence of our neighbouring disciplines.
So what is an important publication? In a lifetime of reading one might come across a handful of articles that becomes influential and even formative for oneself. In a lifetime of writing it is difficult to become an influential writer. To become widely read, and also make it to the “high impact”-list, one needs to succeed in many areas. Only a minority can claim: “I wrote something important”, and support that claim by a high scoreboard of citations. If one needs a quick check on your own impact, just take a quick check on “Google Scholar”, type your own name and you will get a fairly good picture of how frequently you are being quoted or referred in scholarly publishing sites. This editor did, and was not impressed by the result. But one dimension is important in the present picture of international publishing. Making your writing available on the Internet speeds up the process of becoming accessible. It has been calculated that articles, which are quickly available on the Internet, reach three times as many potential readers, and have a similarly increased chance of being referred or quoted. Simply being on the Internet increases the chances of making a difference. This is a very important argument in itself for establishing more journals in the format we are suggesting here in “Seminar.net”.
A second issue is that readers who want exact and timely searches most often use dedicated databases. To reach a significant position in that respect, it is important to become indexed by the right sources. It is pivotal to supply indexing agencies with good data in this respect, and that is a task we are dedicated to.
But first of all we try to publish pieces that make a difference. Our first article, by Professor John Olson, poses a type of question rarely raised in the field of educational technology nowadays. He addresses ethical concerns, issues that teachers are dealing with on a daily basis. In many respects teachers are still blamed for not letting ICT have the full effect on teaching as it allegedly has the potential for. Olson interprets this resistance as a positive phenomenon: as a will to ethically scrutinize the claims made by the proponents of ICT. It is striking that the debate of ICT-implementation in education resembles the debate of the 1970-ies. It seems that the Research-Development-Diffusion-cycle has not gone out of fashion in this field. Therefore the technocratic approach remains, and teachers are still blamed. Professor Alison Carr-Chellman's paper suggests a different approach to this question. We- and teachers too – are rightly resisting anything that affects our sense of control and grip on our own lives. Her depiction of technology is a critical account of how technocratic approaches are intruding into everyday technological environments. Using examples from popular culture she displays the need for an alternative to specialization, exact measurement, atomistic thinking and notions like “learning per second”. Dr. Kristen Snyder's paper is an explorative paper. It proposes to see the introduction of ICT in schools in a larger perspective. Organisational development is not entirely about making it function more optimally, and implementing ICT is not solely a question of making students learn more effectively. While a generation of “school development” has implemented organisational analysis, trying to optimise flow of information, breaking up old patterns of authority etc., implementing ICT has been seen as a question of classroom learning. It’s about time we join those efforts in a more holistic sense. Our last paper, by dr. Stephen Dobson, writes about literacy and narratives. He argues that narrative competence is a necessary prerequisite for understanding and knowing, and that this has been neglected in educational policies. He outlines different ways of describing narrative literacy related to various technologies and media and suggests a way to investigate these matters in a research programme.
The editorial board is pleased to announce that Professor Lars Qvortrup of the University of Southern Denmark has joined us as a full member. His wide experience and his skills in the academic field of media, technology and lifelong learning injects a significant amount of wisdom and reflexivity to the enthusiastic group of editors. His joining-in is a very welcome development of a long-lasting cooperation with us at the Lillehammer University College.