The Coalition policy which sought to centralise the position of the student in the workings of the academy also marked the beginning of new opportunities for private universities and other for profit organisations to offer, according to policy rhetoric, a more diverse and responsive Higher Education (HE) system. The inevitable outcome of such a policy is impacting on the size and shape of the UK HE sector as new markets emerge, work based learning becomes the mantra, and new routes to the professions become mainstreamed. Focusing on changes to the training of teachers this article described the impact of current policy directives whilst also posing questions about the stability of other Higher Education provision.
This article explores the opportunities available for using Information Communication Technology (ICT) as a tool for information gathering and research. A newly emerging research methodology known as cyber-ethnography is discussed. The aim is to explore how on-line research might support better understandings of the role that social communication plays in the learning process. The article also identifies a potential for on-line communication as a research resource for the life history tradition. Drawing on research into one teaching programme using technology to reach students across the globe two key questions are asked. The first relates to the potential for creating communities of discourse when participating in on-line interaction. The second considers the nature of the information revealed in providing insight to the learning experiences of those engaging in on-line programmes of study. Practical issues associated with the ethics of disclosure and ownership of cyber information are considered. Finally the value of this information for the oral historian is assessed as is the potential of ethnography as a research tool for life history.
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