Week 9: Introduction to Research & Drawing for thinking, learning and research

The day started with an excellent lecture on research – which was brought into sharper focus by being anchored to key concepts emerging in other modules that we have – especially David Blundell and Social Constructionism. Note to self – check out Burr!!

There is a link to the Prezi in WebLearn – and you can access from here: http://prezi.com/ow4jnz68mt-a/research-context-for-becoming/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy.

The big takeaways for me were:

Ontology and the ontological roots of things and beliefs

Epistemology and ways of knowing

Positivism versus Interpretism

Paradigms: scientific method versus relativism

We briefly discussed the difference between Relativism as a research concept and as a common-sense word. In the latter it tends to mean that everything is relative – that no argument is any ‘truer’ than any other – that no one’s point of view has any more weight than any other. Very different from the research version which stresses the context of research (social, embodied, researcher and researched as partners … no simple answers or solutions but complex ones open to interpretation). But even in the common-sense world the meaning of relativism needs challenging – some arguments are stronger than others – some do offer more evidence and more valid evidence than others…

On the researcher and the researched as partners in the process – and collaborative writing as a method of inquiry, I really recommend that everybody reads Helen Bowstead’s excellent article, ‘Coming to Writing’ which tackles this in the Journal for Learning Development in Higher Education: http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/ojs/index.php?journal=jldhe&page=article&op=view&path%5B%5D=128

Get Drawing!

The whole class stayed together to do an intense session on ‘Drawing for teaching, learning and research’.  The PPT of this workshop is in our WebLearn Module in Learning Resources. Remember to click on ‘learning resources’ to see all the sessions that have been placed there.

We explored various theoretical perspectives on why and how drawing is a useful tool for thinking, exploring, reflecting, understanding and communicating. Various drawing and other art practices can also be really valuable in qualitative research. For example we were invited to consider getting research participants to make collages as ‘answers’ to questions rather then to complete questionnaires. The idea would be to disturb those commonsense answers that might automatically come to respondents – and instead explore deeper or more interesting thoughts about our questions.

Arguments about the multiple values of drawing and visual practices were underscored with illustrations of how they have been embedded in and across the curriculum at Brighton University. We saw examples of Medical students set a photography project to develop their ability to really ‘see’ – to harness that in their diagnostic practices. We saw how Travel and Tourism students were sent out with cameras and asked to construct visual narratives of Brighton that told its story as a viable tourist destination.

The one that I liked the best was where Art Students and other participants in a Community Arts Project were all issued with white overalls and asked to use them as their (embodied) Learning Logs. Not only was this a great way to invite and capture immediate reflections, at the end of the Project the overalls were mounted on mannequins and provided a powerful exhibition demonstrating the work of the Project.

To get us drawing we were asked to ‘blind draw’ someone in the room. This was NOT drawing with our eyes closed – but drawing someone whilst looking at them – but not looking at the paper we were drawing upon. We also had to keep the pen on the paper – so there were lots of crossing lines.


Of course these drawings could not be an accurate realistic representation of someone – but they could be fun and energising. And that was the point. Too many of us stop ourselves from drawing because, ‘I can’t draw!’ But drawing can be free and crazy as well as detailed and accurate. We have to play with drawing. Build our confidence to use drawing for exploration, thinking and communicating. Without this we are cutting ourselves from a very powerful thinking tool.

We drew stick people and illustrated them; we had to do five one minute quick draws to loosen us up and get us being more creative; and we all had to draw ontology and epistemology – and that was challenging…

We also discussed several drawing activities that we might like to use in the presentations and workshops that we deliver whilst still students here at LondonMet – including asking our audiences, as we were asked, to draw the key take away points from any session that we deliver.

Of course all the while we are thinking about how we might build these different activities into our own future practice as educationalists.

In the process of the session, one of the students, Max, demonstrated a ‘GoAnimate’ animation that he was building on his research project. We were all told to think of using different visual practices to record our thoughts and even to produce our own learning logs… 

And finally: Follow up tasks:

Try a quick free write on how drawing might be useful for teaching, learning and research.

Structure that into a potential paragraph for your final essay.

Research an artist, an art movement or an individual work of art – with a focus on how you might use it in a future teaching situation – and for a three-minute presentation W11.


http://lastrefugelmu.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/artmooc-introduction-to-art-concepts.html. In this blog we reflected on our engagement with PennState’s MOOC: Introduction to Art: Concepts and Techniques.

For your Project, you might consider portrait painting; fantastic art (for Surrealism, Dadaism see http://lastrefugelmu.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/artmooc-week-2-fantastic-art-and.html); photography and documentary photography; Mail Art; Installation Art; Arts and crafts… Choose something that excites and inspires you – use that energy!


4 thoughts on “Week 9: Introduction to Research & Drawing for thinking, learning and research

  1. Wish I’d had this to show on Wednesday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zex7yxN4GW0
    This animation of Chomsky’s ideas helps us interpret and engage with the ideas in a very different way. The animator has to really understand the points to bring them to life…
    If *you* could express your thinking like this – I argue it is as complex and meaningful as an essay – and we should be setting assignments of this nature.
    What do you think?

    • Very good lecture by Quaco! The whole topic was broad and felt I’ve learned a lot. We only had a one hour lecture and the ontology subject can only be covered briefly. This made me wanting more and hopefully in future we get more time. This video is amazing and I can’t believe he made a whole movie about this. I just watched a short trailer, imagine the complete version? Great work done by Michel Gondry in getting Noam Chomsky ideas as animation. I am definitely and willing to work or study in how to make animations as your ideas or thoughts, but I am not sure if I would’ve used Chomsky as narrator. It’s not that i don’t like him but he seems a bit boring when he speaks not energetic enough. Then again it could be the fact that he is 84 and we could consider his age. The assignment setting idea is interesting to hear and sounds like a great way of learning. Setting assignment of this nature is a very complex ask for a lot students though. They enjoy social media and all its glitter, but would huge amount of students in 2013 be interested in doing this as assignment format. You can be a facebook,twitter,youtube, etc… geek but to think creatively about social science is another ball game. Students post on Instagram,twitter, facebook and you would be surprised to see how much creativity goes into their posts. Why not? give it try and see what the students produce.

  2. Here’s a GoAnimate that combines a reflection on a ReadMake online writing collaboration – with a reflection on #edcmooc – PLUS an overarching commentary on narratives about the digital:

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