Action research practices and media for development
Tacchi, Jo A., Foth, Marcus, & Hearn, Gregory N. (2009) Action research practices and media for development. International Journal of Education and Development Using Information and Communication Technology, 5(2).
A number of community-based information and communication technology (ICT) for development initiatives, both within Australia and in South Asia have benefited from the application of a form of action research. This paper describes and discusses the rationale, practice and implications for wider uses of what we term Ethnographic Action Research. Ethnographic Action Research (EAR) is similar to Participatory Action Research (PAR), with three key distinctions or characteristics that we will elaborate upon in this paper as we describe how it is practiced. Firstly the ‘ethnographic’ refers not only to the key tools or methods that are used (none of which are exclusive to EAR), but to the ‘ethnographic approach’ that is a fundamental plank of EAR, and the way it is both integrated into the development of media initiatives and is ongoing. It is designed to build the capacity of media initiatives themselves to monitor and evaluate and consequently to alter practices as part of their ongoing development, with the EAR researcher being a member of the media initiative team, most usually with other roles and responsibilities within the initiative itself. Secondly, it works with the conceptual framework of the ‘communicative ecology’, which involves paying keen attention to the wider context of information and communication flows and channels - formal and informal, technical and social – and, monitoring both opportunities for intervention and the changes that result. Finally, we use media itself as a tool for action research: for exploring issues in a community as well as archiving, managing and collecting data and facilitating online networks of EAR researchers.
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