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ICARE Conference: Constructing Knowledge Across Boundaries. Group Report (Notes reconstructed by Shirley Grundy from brief jottings made during the rich and stimulating discussion and [unreliable] memory) Group discussion extended across a range of ‘cross boundary’ issues. These included: Cross-cultural boundaries (including issues raised by Lindsay Howard in her paper ‘Living and working as an external adviser to sub-Saharan country governments on behalf of European development agencies) Teacher/researcher boundaries (as exemplified in the description by Felix Angulo of his research partnership with a teacher around technology) Cross-disciplinary boundaries (as highlighted in the Austrian IMST project, described by Franz Rauch and Barbara Hanfstingl. IMST is a multi-layered, multi-phased project funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture to research a develop improvement strategies relating to the performance of Austrian students in the TIMS tests.) Cross-methodological boundaries (issues relating to measurement and description raised by many projects, including the IMST project) Cross-case analysis (arising out of some of the studies described by Rob Walker) The tenor of the conversation was that it was not the crossing or elimination of the boundaries that was paramount. Rather, working across boundaries to leverage off the strengths of each side of the apparent ‘divide’ is what we should focus upon. Moreover, these ‘boundaries’ are not representative of separate oppositional dualisms. Rather, they represent a network of interests, often forming around common concerns, but informed by different traditions and knowledge values. We took up discussion about networks and wondered how ICARE, itself a network of interests and positions might usefully work to understand the boundaries and to contribute to the building of knowledge and understanding across the boundaries. We thought of ICARE as both a community of practice (a trans national grouping of academic practitioners sharing values and to some degree orientations to research) and a communications network (as knowledge and relationships build between participating members). In terms of what we could/should do to both further the aims of the ICARE network and leverage its potential, our conversations centred on the potential of using web-based technologies as a dynamic communications/development tool. We were attracted by Felix’s experience of using the Wikipedia idea to create a dynamic virtual space for contributions to bridge the teacher/researcher divide (called ‘Twikipedia’). We thought an ICAREPedia might provide a space and a tool to: Communicate with each other (and maybe increasingly beyond the ICARE network) about our separate and joint work Share and jointly develop research proposals Archive case studies and report cross-case analysis This final point was one that we took up in some detail. The demand for ‘evidence-based’ policy has led to a resurgence in dependence upon quantitative data as a basis for decision-making. Yet there is a rich data source available through case studies developed over many years. The problem with case studies for policy makers, however, is how to justify policy on the basis of individual cases. We believe that ICARE, with a long history and considerable expertise in the conduct of case study, is well placed both to make a repository of case studies available for dissemination and analysis and to develop methodologies that will identify and disseminate the rich insights from case study research.
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