Roslyn, Long IslandMore of Roslyn, Long Island
Roslyn, Long Island
Roslyn, Long Island at my father in-law’s house. No relevance to this post except this is the context where I thought about writing it.

Research Questions

I am in the process of translating documents and lining up participants for my pilot study for my PhD, which will begin in earnest in September after I return to Seoul. If there are others out there who are starting to line up their own studies, I thought it might be useful to share what I am doing in terms of methodology. My data collection corresponds directly to my research questions, so perhaps it is best to put those out there first. They are very basic as it was my belief that the data collected would generate more questions; for the time being, it seemed prudent to keep them relatively broad.

  1. How do faculty and graduate students in higher education in the Humanities in South Korea use mobile technology to support their learning practices?
  2. What work is being produced in mobile technology in Korean higher education in the Humanities?
  3. What is the nature of participation for graduate students in the Humanities in higher education in Korea?

So I went out searching for methods for getting at these questions, methods that collected the data I needed and remained respectful of the Korean context. Since I was driving towards mobile media, namely how these graduate students might use mobile technology for disciplinary effect and how that effect might be multimodal composition, I decided I needed a mobile media-rooted methodology.

Mobile media models

So I needed data points that revolved around the cultural and disciplinary practices of coming to know through mobile technology specifically in the Korean context. I reviewed as many methodologies as possible (listing a few of my sources at the end of this post here) and realized that anything I used had to ascribe to the following:

  • Are consistent with the Korean cultural context of mobile technology use, i.e. is technologically localized to the Korean context of coming to know through mobile technology. In short, they needed to latch onto the Korean practices of using mobile technology.
  • Provide evidence of informal or formal participation by graduate students in the Humanities in Korean universities, participation that oscillates between high and low transactional distances and individualized and socialized behavior (Park, 2011). This is a tougher one. How does one observe informal participation in a discipline?
  • Prove logistically feasible in terms of data collection and participant access. This is a reminder to myself not to get too flighty.
  • Allow for the inclusion of qualitative data that is textual or multimodal. If I am emphasizing multimodality as a relevant vehicle for meaning-making in these disciplines then I should provide mechanisms for allowing the participants to participate with multimedia.

I stumbled across Galloway (2013), which helped identify a few of the pitfalls here.  I am listing these as questions below:

  •     How do anticipation and expectation of particular futures mobilize people to create them—or attempt to prevent their creation?
  •     How do these practices of cultural (re)production support or challenge the intentions of the designers?
  •     How can existing empirical research methods such as media ethnography incorporate more material and speculative elements to better reflect these subjects and objects of analysis?

I am not doing an ethnography as such nor am I doing a design project (not at this stage anyway), but the questions are valid. By introducing these concepts to these participants, merely by framing the questions, I am enacting their futures. Ie, what I will be recording will not be existing practice, but rather imagined practice. My methods in the next section will illustrate this more clearly. I am baiting the hook a bit, but that appears to be unavoidable. I will just need to be transparent about how my presence (and my questions) irrevocably changes the dynamic of how they use mobile technology to make meaning in their disciplines.


I chose three different data collection techniques and I will expand on these a bit in subsequent posts, but here is what I settled on.

Narrative Interviews- Since the research questions focus on graduate student participation in the Humanities, formally or informally, it will be important to construct the narrative of what that participation looks like and the oscillations that occur within this context between formal and informal practices, and individualized and socialized activities with high and low transactional distances (Park, 2011).

One concern I have over the use of the narrative approach is the Korean cultural context, namely how the authority imbued in the interviewer/research and interviewee/student relationship will affect responses or possibly stunt the construction of individual narratives. This interview data will be triangulated with other methods of data collection (artifact analysis and mobile media use), but it is important to establish an appropriate context for these interviews to take place, one where the graduate student feels empowered to establish their narrative. One such method for empowering graduate student participants would be to use peers as interviewers; the peer interview approach has been useful in particular circumstances where complexity might otherwise stunt an authority/teacher-led discussion (Hamilton, 1996). For the purposes of this research, the pilot project will employ such a method where a graduate student enrolled in a formal program of translation (part of the Humanities in the Korean higher education structure) will act as the interviewer, thereby allowing a peer dynamic to emerge during the course of the narrative interviews. I as researcher will be present to ask follow-up questions (and establish myself as a presence). This peer dynamic will, ideally, lead to a degree of authenticity which helps elicit the autobiographical-self, how the participant wants to position themselves in terms of their use of mobile technology and their participation in the Humanities (Riessman, 2008).

Multimodal Artifact Analysis
Participants will be asked to make available an artifact (media or otherwise) created in mobile technology to support disciplinary participation. This artifact can be mobile media, a textual composition, a dialogue-based activity, a collaboration, or otherwise. These artifacts will be collected and analyzed to answer the research question on what is being produced in mobile technology in the Humanities and what these compositions/productions might be classified as (informal, formal, individualized, socialized, high/low transactional distance evoking Park, 2011). These artifacts will be analyzed to indicate what practices are made visible through their production; further, the Task Model will reviewed to see if these artifacts represents tasks and whether this Task Model approach has merit for revealing disciplinary practices. For the purposes of the pilot, participants will be asked to make available one artifact for analysis. These submitted artifacts will be used to frame the subsequent reflective exercises outlined in the following section.

This is where I am baiting the hook a bit. I would ideally like to receive two artifacts, one created in the past and one created at the end of this research project, but some of this won’t emerge until the interviews.

Participation Self-Reflection
Further to these narrative interviews and immediately following the artifact submission, there will be reflections conducted at intervals during the research process by the participating graduate students. These reflections will be requested from the participating graduate students in whatever medium is convenient to their current practices (social media, textual, or otherwise) and will attempt to gauge graduate engagement in the Humanities and the use of mobile technology to mediate that engagements. The reflections will be prompts (provided by me) asking them to reflect on particular aspects of their participation in their discipline, how they use mobile technology, and how they created their media artifact.


Some of the sources I am using here include:

  • Abduljalil, S. & Kang, D.K. (2011). Proposal of Smart phone based Social E- learning System. Journal of Korea Multimedia Society Conference, 226-228
  • Ainsworth, S. (2008). The educational value of multiple-representations when learning complex scientific concepts. Visualization: Theory and practice in science education, 191-208.
  • Akamai, State of the Internet Report, 2012
  • Anderson, C. & Day, K. (2005). Subject Overview Report: History.  Enhancing Teaching-Learning Environments in Undergraduate Courses (ETL) Project. Retrieved January 10, 2011, from

Anderson, C.; Day, K.; Michie, R.; & Rollason, D. (2006). Engaging with Historical Source Work: Practices, pedagogy, dialogue. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 5(3): pp. 243-263.
Becher, T. and Trowler, P. R. (2001) Academic Tribes and Territories (2nd ed.). Buckingham: Open University Press and SRHE.
  • Dourish, P. (2004). What we talk about when we talk about context. Personal and ubiquitous computing, 8(1), 19-30.
Frohberg, D.; Goth, C. & Schwabe, G. (2009). Mobile learning projects- a critical analysis of the state of the art. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 25: 307-331.
  • Goh, D. H. L., Ang, R. P., Chua, A. Y., & Lee, C. S. (2009). Why we share: A study of motivations for mobile media sharing. In Active Media Technology (pp. 195-206). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
  • Haddon, L., & Kim, S. D. (2007). Mobile phones and web-based social networking-Emerging practices in Korea with Cyworld. JOURNAL-COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, 6(1), 5.
  • Hjorth, L. (2013). Locating the Visual: A Case Study of Gendered Location-Based Services and Camera Phone Practices in Seoul, South Korea. Television & New Media.
  • Hjorth, L. (2009). Mobile media in the Asia Pacific: gender and the art of being mobile. Taylor & Francis US.
  • Hjorth, L. (2008). Being Real in the Mobile Reel A Case Study on Convergent Mobile Media as Domesticated New Media in Seoul, South Korea. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 14(1), 91-104.
  • Jung, T., Youn, H., & Mcclung, S. (2007). Motivations and self-presentation strategies on Korean-based” Cyworld” weblog format personal homepages. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(1), 24-31.
  • Klaebe, H. G., & Foth, M. (2006). Capturing community memory with oral history and new media: The sharing stories project.
  • Kress, G. & Mavers, D. E. (2009). The Routledge handbook of multimodal analysis. C. Jewitt (Ed.). London: Routledge.
  • The Learning Design Grid. “Participatory Pattern Workshops”. Retrieved November 20, 2012, from
  • Martinec, R. & Salway, A. (2008). The Language of New Media Design, London: Taylor & Francis.
  • Moll, A. & Law, J. (1994). Regions, Networks and Fluids: Anaemia and Social Topology. Social Studies of Science, 24 (4) (Nov., 1994): p. 641-671. Retrieved from
  • Ok, H. Y. (2011). New Media Practices in Korea. International Journal of Communication, 5, 320-348.
  • Ok, H. R. (2008). Screens on the Move: Media Convergence and Mobile Culture in Korea. University of Southern California.
  • Open Courseware Consortium. Retrieved April 10, 2013 from
  • Pachler, N. (2007). Mobile learning: towards a research agenda. Retrieved April 10, 2013 from
  • Park, Y.S. (2012). Of place playing for the media space design methods Study: Mobile Media. Dissertation : Thesis (MS) – Seoul National University: Ecology Ecological Landscape Architecture and Rural System Engineering, Landscape Architecture in 2012. 2
  • Park, Y. (2011). A pedagogical framework for mobile learning: Categorizing educational applications of mobile technologies into four types. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(2), 78-102.
  • Riessman, C.K. (2008). Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. Los Angeles: Sage.
  • Seipold, J., Pachler, N., & Cook, J. (2009, March). Towards a methodology of researching mobile learning. In Mobile learning cultures across education, work and leisure. Book of abstracts. Proceedings of the 3rd WLE Mobile Learning Symposium (pp. 121-128).
  • Tolmie, A. (2001). Examining learning in relation to the contexts of use of ICT. Journal of computer assisted learning, 17(3), 235-241.
  • Trowler, P. & Knight, P.T. (2000). Coming to know in higher education. Higher Education Research & Development, 19, 27-42.
  • Urry, John (2002) ‘Mobility and Proximity’, Sociology 36(2): 255–74.
  • Van Leeuwen, T. (2003). A multimodal perspective on composition. Framing and perspectivising in discourse, 111, 23.
  • Vavoula, G. N., Kukulska-Hulme, A., & Pachler, N. (2007). Research Methods in Informal and Mobile Learning: Book of Abstracts.
  • Wali, E. & Winters, N. (2008). Maintaining, changing, and crossing context: an  activity theoretic reinterpretation of mobile learning. ALT-J, 16(1): pp. 41-57.
  • Yang, S.-H. (2009). Using Blogs to Enhance Critical Reflection and Community of Practice. Educational Technology & Society, 12 (2), 11–21.
  • Young, W.C. & Park, H. W. (2012). The Network Structure of the Korean Blogosphere. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 17(2), 216-230.
Roslyn, Long Island
More of Roslyn, Long Island


By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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