Multi-Modal Approaches for FE research

Chloë Hynes
Twitter Profile: @PDNorth_FE 23rd May 2021

We are keen to encourage practitioners to present their research in ways that are exciting and fresh yet remain fit for purpose. A generic report structure can be both intimidating and uninspiring by readers and researchers, alike. A few years ago the organisation I work for partnered with a team (emCETT) to produce a document encouraging multimodal approaches to practitioner action research. Since then, our organisation has continued to facilitate practitioner action research projects across the sector. I am keen to consolidate learning from working on these projects whilst showcasing the innovative approaches applied by practitioners we have worked with in the past. To do so, I have redeveloped the original multimodal guide (in a multimodal manner), illustrated with real life examples which I hope will inspire practitioners to take part in their own research projects.

Targeted Audience

Practitioners working in any role in the sector who are interested in research using multi-modal approaches whether as part of their methodology, evidence gathering and/or their reporting process. Please note: this resource uses a platform ('ThingLink') that may pose issues for those with a visual impairment e.g. screen readers cannot navigate it successfully. As such it is not fully accessible for all. For more information, please read my reflection below.

Resource effectiveness in solving the identified problem

The real-life examples of multimodal reports and approaches illustrated each of the suggested formats successfully and authentically allowing practitioners to visualise what their own reports could look like. The ‘ThingLink’ platform allowed me to add a variety of media including text, QR codes, audio, video and website embeds. This in turn helped me to illustrate the very thing I was promoting. Practitioners I have shared the resource with so far have commented on the range of methods available to them when conducting action research. However, the ‘ThingLink’ platform does have some limitations with regards to accessibility. Whilst there is an embedded immersive reader for the text on screen, it poses a significant challenge when being navigated by screen readers. Before sharing the resource, I checked the resource using two different automated accessibility checkers which, despite my concerns, appeared to show there were no issues. I now know that these checkers can underestimate any concerns and as such potential issues were not flagged. Likewise, some of the platforms used in the curated research may also pose issues with accessibility e.g. Prezi and Wakelet. Whilst it’s important that we create accessible content for our peers, colleagues and learners (not least because it is our duty as per accessibility regulations), I can’t expect practitioners to know all the issues posed by different platforms. With that in mind, I have noted some accessibility considerations in the main description boxes so that practitioners can be made aware of any issues before choosing to use a particular platform or format. I have decided to keep the projects using these platforms in the resource because I want to share the hard work of the practitioners. I also don’t want to discourage people from using particular tools, especially when many companies are working on improving their accessibility. This process has highlighted the issue that creating resources on online platforms such as these, leave you at the whim of the platform in not only design and functionality, but accessibility also.

Use, impact and benefits seen from learners

As the board is shared with new projects and practitioners, it will amplify the past (and future) research work of those who are spotlighted in the resource. This will give a wider appreciation of the work whilst also inspiring others whom may never have had the opportunity to see the work. The different methods and approaches illustrated (which can be adapted, changed and added to as it’s a live document) will demonstrate to practitioners more diverse methodologies and ways to approach feedback and reporting. Ultimately, it has the opportunity to encourage more practitioners to be involved in research by demystifying it and making it more accessible. Likewise, making findings and reports more accessible to readers.

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