CARN Conference 2018, Manchester

At the end of October, Gary Motteram and I presented a paper at the CARN (Collaborative Action Research Network) conference that was held in the Friends Meeting House, Manchester – a great venue by the way. It was one of those smallish, friendly conferences with built in opportunities for discussion in small groups. The conference covered all types of participatory research, so if that is your focus, I throughly recommend this conference. Also, next year’s conference is being held in Croatia – a rather more exotic location than Manchester 🙂

Here is the abstract for our presentation:

Puzzling about practice with language teachers in the Cote d’Ivoire through WhatsApp: A critical reflection

This paper narrates our ongoing experience of introducing and supporting Exploratory Practice (a form of inclusive practitioner research) through the medium of WhatsApp, as a grass roots and sustainable way of helping teachers who work in the global south in a range of challenging contexts to explore their practice. After giving a brief introduction to Exploratory Practice (EP), we explain our rationale for using both EP and WhatsApp in such a context. We are currently working with the English Language Teachers Association in Cote d’Ivoire, but are also connecting to projects where similar activity is taking placeinother sub-Saharan countries like Cameroonand Rwanda.We outline the different stages we worked through with the teachers to introduce them to EP, including our attempt to run a remote teacher education session as a part of a local conference. Using qualitative data from the WhatsApp chat,alongside interviews with some of the teachers, and initial data about specific puzzles collected from the teachers,we look at the process of supporting EP through WhatsApp. Wetrace the different understandings that the teachers develop, and considerhow teacher development is revealed as they engage in that process. We highlight both the possibilities and the challenges of attempting to undertake this type of work through such a medium. Throughout, we critically analyse the use of WhatsApp as a medium for introducing practitioner research to teacher communities in challenging contexts. We also critically consider the role of sustainable forms of practitioner research, such as EP, in enhancing the classroom lives of teachers and learners and increasing the ongoing professional development opportunities for those working in challenging contexts.