Reading the following article on Second Life, I am reminded of a few discussions I have had in previous years on the catalysts for change.
When looking at new technologies that have the potential to impact on learning, it needs to be recognised that though research and understanding is important, we also need to be realistic that this on its own does not necessarily change things.
Research allows us to understand the implications and the affordances of a new technology. What we need to be aware of when introducing a new technology of the main issues and barriers that could be faced.
What we must take note of is that research on its own does not necessarily cause change.
Most researchers I have met appear to prefer to build on existing research rather than embed practice based on research. That of course is fine, as they are researchers. It takes a different kind of approach to embed the results of research into mainstream practice.
Another aspect of research based practice is that due to the way it is funded, it often only looks at a small section of an institution, usually a single group from a single curriculum area. I don’t then blame people who look at this research and decide that the best way to move forward is to repeat the research with a different group. The end result is lots of small research project outcomes that are very similar. That is certainly the case with research into Second Life.
Wholesale, holistic mainstream change doesn’t happen because of research, that change comes about because of people.
Good people base decisions on good research, they will recognise the implications of that research and think about how they can use that research to influence and inform strategy to change practices and processes.