Topics for Master Thesis

Academic Papers IT-supported Knowledge Management and Learning

Research Group ICT4e4d (ICT supported education for human development),
Prof. Dr. Urs Gröhbiel and Dr. Christoph Pimmer

April 20th 2016

You can download our presention slides here. 

Focus of Research

We investigate the innovative application of information and communication technologies (ICT) and their effects in the field of knowledge management and learning, focusing on the following themes:

  • Technologies: mobile devices (such as smart phones and tablets), social software (such as Facebook or WhatsApp), KM platforms, social media network sites, …
  • Fields of application: work-based learning and coaching, KM of global organizations, learning and teaching in the classroom
  • Partners: governments (ministries of education, e.g., of health, agencies for development), NGOs (small local actors and big global players), schools (public and private, ranging from primary schools to colleges)


We invite students
to contribute to research projects or to conduct their own research in the field of international development. The following list should be considered as a starting point for discussion. The concrete scope and goals will be specified jointly by student, supervisor and practice partners

Please contact Urs Gröhbiel (urs.groehbiel@fhnw.ch, skype-ID: urs.groehbiel) or Christoph Pimmer (Christoph.pimmer@fhnw.ch, skype-ID: pimchris) if you are interested in one of the topics or if you would like to investigate your own case or topic in the area of ICT-supported education and knowledge management for human development.

 

1       Social and networked media & Global Health. 2

1.1        Moderation and facilitation of web 2.0 and social media spaces to support knowledge exchange and professional participation in the field of Global Health. 2

2       Work-based learning and coaching. 2

2.1        Annotated videos and photos for problem-solving and learning. 2

2.2        Videos for self-reflection and training: use of smartphones. 3

2.3        ICT-supported Coaching- and Training of apprentices. 3

2.4        Online assessment, training and coaching in Zimbabwe. 3

3       Global KM-Networks in Cooperation & Development 5

3.1        Quantitative and qualitative growth of a global professional network. 5

3.2        Knowledge combination to create online training. 5

3.3        Multimedia for Learning and Empowerment 5

4       Mobiles in Education and Community. 6

4.1        TabletPCs for self-directed learning in rural Zimbabwe. 6

4.2        ICT-access to open educational resources in a disadvantaged area. 6

 

 

1         Social and networked media & Global Health

How can social and networked media be used to facilitate knowledge exchange, learning and professional participation in Global Health

 

1.1        Moderation and facilitation of web 2.0 and social media spaces to support knowledge exchange and professional participation in the field of Global Health

 

Application partner: University of Zambia, Ibadan (Nigeria) and the Western Cape (South Africa)

Background: Health workers in Sub-Saharan Africa tend to work in professional isolation and have limited access to knowledge resources. Social and networked media, which they primarily access on their mobile phones, provide new opportunities to address these challenges.

Research question and goal: This research addresses the question how the moderation of social media communities should be designed to facilitate (a) knowledge exchange and application of knowledge, and (b) professional participation. The goal is to develop a set of moderation guidelines and principles which will be used in further refined in practice settings.

Approach: In answering the question, the candidate will systematically analyse academic literature and interactions in given social media spaces (via content/conversation analysis). The work of the candidate is linked with a Swiss National Science Foundation Project that FHNW carries out in cooperation with Universities and practice partners from Nigeria, Zambia and South Africa.

2         Work-based learning and coaching

How can smartphones be used effectively to support work-based learning and coaching?

2.1       Annotated videos and photos for problem-solving and learning

Using camera and video features of smartphones for problem-solving in planning, technical construction and maintenance.

Application partner: RIDS Rural Integrated Development Service, Kathmandu, Nepal

Time: Sep 2016 – July 2017 or Feb – Dec 2017

  • An engineering NGO is implementing a water system for high altitude villages in the Nepalese Himalaya in 2016. They plan to use self-recorded, annotated pictures and videos for problem-solving with local staff. The media will be shared and discussed online and used for further self-directed learning purposes.
  • The aim is to improve learning and problem solving of village people in the field during construction and maintenance work.
  • Questions: How can workers in rural areas produce and share pictures and videos to document technical problems? How can this learning material be integrated in instruction sessions and used for self-directed learning? How do they perceive its effectivity?

2.2       Videos for self-reflection and training: use of smartphones

Using smartphones to produce videos as a means for self-reflection and professional development in teacher training seminars.

Application partners (to be confirmed): Good Samaritan Schools in Chattisgarh, India and a school supported by RogerFedererFoundation in Tanzania

Time: Sep 2016 – July 2017 (partners need to confirm)

  • Rural schools in India and Tanzania are planning to facilitate video production by teachers and teacher trainers to support the training of skills and case-based training during face-to-face seminars of in-service teachers. They intend to use videos in two distinct ways: 1) For self-reflection and group discussion during and after face-to-face seminars. 2) For self-directed learning on TabletPCs after the seminars.
  • The goal is to 1) increase the effectiveness of face-to-face seminars and 2) to enable authentic, self-directed learning with the help of tabletPCs.
  • Questions: How can this technique be implemented effectively for in-service teacher training in a rural area? How can work-related know-how such as teaching situations be captured in multimedia and text formats? Can the multimedia material also be used for online training? How do teachers use and perceive the use of these self-generated materials?

2.3       ICT-supported Coaching- and Training of apprentices

Develop, deploy and evaluate an ICT-supported coaching- and training concept using smartphones and social software.

Application partner: Westgate Technical College, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Time: Sep 2016 – July 2017 (exact dates need to be coordinated with Westgate)

  • Apprentices from Westgate are in several work placements of up to 3 months. During this time they have limited opportunities for coaching and support from their college instructors. They want to develop/select an ICT-based platform that allows tutors to support students who are geographically dispersed, for example by prompting them with questions about their progress. In addition, students can also use their mobile phones to refer to peers and tutors to solve problems and tackle challenging work tasks in-situ.
  • The development of an online communication and support platform aims at helping students to integrate school and work knowledge, to provide topical and social support in situ and to enrich the opportunities of these apprentices (who tend to suffer from isolation) for professional participation and engagement with peers and tutors.
  • Question: How can the use of smart phones and social software support the professional development of apprentices during placements; specifically with regard to problem solving, the integration of work and school knowledge and enhanced means of professional participation? How do the involved actors use and perceived the use of the platform?

2.4       Online assessment, training and coaching in Zimbabwe

Overcoming gaps of learning prerequisites and inequalities in prior knowledge of apprentices.

Application partner: Westgate Technical College, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Time: Sep 2016 – July 2017 or Feb – Dec 2017 (to be confirmed)

  • Many apprentices of Westgate are not adequately qualified when they start their training. The college is planning to develop a coaching offer including an assessment of prior knowledge to identify individual weaknesses, personalized online learning and coaching
  • The aim is to reduce gaps in cognitive, affective and social capacities.
  • Questions:
    I) How can the system be designed to best support the apprentices? How do trainers, coaches and apprentices use the system? How do the participants perceive the effectivity of the online support?
    II) Has the online support an effect on learning outcomes and drop-out rates?
  • Approach I: Design-based research. Design and evaluation of coaching of about 10 students for several weeks. Indicators: cognitive: knowledge gains (measured, self-perceived); social/emotional: development of relationships, self-confidence, amelioration of feelings of professional isolation by means. Methodological approach: content analysis, short questionnaires/knowledge quizzes and interviews with a purposefully selected students, tutors, and placement managers.
  • Approach II: Experiment with 30 students. Effectiveness of assessment-based review questions during long-term placements (a few weeks) of apprentices. Pre-/post analysis of the learning effects of four classes/ control groups.


3         Global KM-Networks in Cooperation & Development

Understanding and designing ICT-supported knowledge sharing and knowledge application in global cross-professional and cross-cultural networks.

3.1        Quantitative and qualitative growth of a global professional network

Application partner: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Network for Agriculture and Food Security (A&FS)

Time: September 2016 – July 2017 or Feb 2017 – Jan 2018

  • The A&FS network intends to extend the network by including project leaders and field workers and to experiment with new forms of knowledge exchange between practitioners on the ground, coordinators, policy makers and subject experts.
  • The aim is to reflect and develop the communication culture and to improve the local application of expertise.
  • Questions: What are key factors of the design and facilitation of cross-professional knowledge sharing? How do existing and new network members react to interventions based on this design?

 

3.2       Knowledge combination to create online training

Using multimedia artefacts generated in work-based learning settings to design case-based online training of engineering students.

Application partner: RIDS Rural Integrated Development Service, Kathmandu, Nepal

Time: September 2016 – July 2017 or Feb 2017 – Jan 2018

  • An engineering NGO wants to use their documentation of problem-solving to support the training of engineering students in the field of technical construction and maintenance. Cases will be taught in online-trainings.
  • Questions: How can authentic multimedia recordings from work-based learning be further developed and integrated in instructional products? How can these products be designed and distributed on an online platform to support effective and engaging training settings?
  • Approach: DBR with design of the production/dissemination process including knowledge combination (Nonaka) and presentation/interaction (eLearning landscape).

 

3.3       Multimedia for Learning and Empowerment

Production and application of multi-media produced with low-tech devices in the field.

Application partner: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) (https://www.shareweb.ch/site/Education/en). Network for agriculture and food security or another network.

Time: September 2016 – July 2017 or Feb 2017 – Jan 2018

  • The dissemination of mobile devices with multimedia features has led to a strong increase of multimedia products in education and development. SDC wants to build on this potential by
  • The goal is to produce meaningful multimedia products such as digital storytelling for learning and/or empowerment.
  • Questions: How can multimedia artefacts be produced involving laypeople in the fields? How can existing concepts of media-production be implemented in global cooperative production processes to achieve a sufficient quality?

4         Mobiles in Education and Community

4.1       TabletPCs for self-directed learning in rural Zimbabwe

ICT-supported self-directed learning with non-qualified coaches in a rural community.

Application partner: Mpumelelo Secondary School, Nkayi, Zimbabwe

Time: Feb 2017 – Jan 2018

  • Mpumelelo school has started to use TabletPCs to improve teaching and learning in pilot projects. In a next phase the school seeks to support students with knowledge deficits in private lessons held by community members (i.e., coaches who don’t have the professional qualification of teachers), using TabletPCs to support self-directed learning of students.
  • Question: How can TabletPCs effectively be used by semiprofessional coaches and students in this setting?
  • Approach/method: DBR, design and evaluation of self-directed learning supported by (non-qualified) community members and older students

Supervising lecturers: Urs Gröhbiel/Christoph Pimmer

4.2       ICT-access to open educational resources in a disadvantaged area

Access of people in disadvantaged areas to open educational resources (OER) in a community center: search for, use and application of relevant knowledge.

Application partner: Adarsha Saral Primary and Secondary School in Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal

  • A local school plans to offer a community learning center to their local environment. Citizens from the area, graduated students and drop-outs should be supported in self-directed learning, in information research and in the use of communication tools. The school plans to offer mobile devices and internet access to support these activities.
  • Question: How do target groups at the community center search for, use and apply OER knowledge and learning materials? How do they perceive these opportunities? What are the results of their activities? Which activities lead to an increase in knowledge, to the solving of problems etc.? What are the obstacles to an effective use of OER? How can these activities be supported by a facilitator and by means of technology (devices and software)?

Supervising lecturers: Urs Gröhbiel/Christoph Pimmer

 

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