Decolonization of Digital Learning Spaces: It’s Not About Knowing More but Knowing Better


  • Marguerite Koole University of Saskatchewan
  • John Traxler UNESCO, Wolverhampton University
  • Shri Footring Independent Researcher



decolonization, research methods, card sorts, personal construct theory, digital learning spaces


Working alongside members of communities who are remote and/or marginalized from the dominant socio-economic powers, the long-term goal of the Decolonisation of Digital Learning Spaces project is to empower communities in choosing, adopting, developing, and/or appropriating culturally appropriate and sustainable digital learning technologies. Before we can co-envision useful options, however, we must first know what questions to ask and how to ask. It is necessary, therefore, to find appropriate, efficient, and innovative approaches to better understand community needs and values. This paper describes the preliminary planning of the research project in creating an international network of community members, activists, and researchers, and in identifying and testing methods for eliciting needs, values, and ways of understanding the world. Selected methods must allow the researchers to step outside their own pre-conceived understandings to avoid dominating or imposing meaning upon the participants’ understandings. In this presentation, we describe: a) the goals and concerns that were the impetus for the project, b) the nascent network, c) potential knowledge elicitation methods, and d) the repeated single-criterion card sort method as the first method that will be piloted. This deceptively simple method allows research participants to use their own words to express their conceptualizations thereby reducing the influence of the researcher upon participants’ mental model and values.


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Author Biographies

Marguerite Koole, University of Saskatchewan

In 2013, Dr. Koole completed her PhD in E-Research and Technology-Enhanced Learning at Lancaster University UK. Her thesis is entitled “Identity Positioning of Doctoral Students in Networked Learning Environments”. She also holds a Masters of Education in Distance Education (MEd) through the Centre for Distance Education at Athabasca University. Her focus was on mobile learning. Dr. Koole has worked in online and distance education for over 15 years. Through the years, she has been involved in teaching, instructional design, multimedia programming, content management, e-portfolios, and social software. She has designed interactive, online learning activities for various learning purposes and platforms—including print, web, and mobile devices.

John Traxler, UNESCO, Wolverhampton University

John Traxler was Professor of Mobile Learning, the world’s first, from September 2009, and now Research Professor of Digital Learning in the Institute of Education at the University of Wolverhampton UK. He is UNESCO Chair in Innovative Informal Digital Learning in Disadvantaged and Development Contexts. He is one of the pioneers of mobile learning and has been associated with mobile learning projects since 2001 when he was evaluator for m-learning, the first major EU project. He is a Founding Director and was Vice-President of the International Association for Mobile Learning, responsible for the annual international mLearn research conference running since 2002. He is co-editor of the definitive book, Mobile Learning: A Handbook for Educators and Trainers, and Mobile Learning: the Next Generation with Professor Agnes Kukulska-Hulme. He is co-author of Mobile Learning and Mathematics and Mobile Learning and STEM: Case Studies in Practice, and has written many papers, articles and chapters on all aspects of mobile learning. He is also co-editor of Critical Mobile Pedagogy

Shri Footring, Independent Researcher

My background includes teaching and leadership in the FE and skills sector, as well as large scale software product development and management in the statistics and survey research industry. My previous work at Jisc includes leading a number of data, analytics and enterprise projects and, before that, over nine years working directly with FE and HE members advising on digital strategy.