The Research Area of Interactive Media and Learning (IML)
Since the mid-1990s the development of interactive media has been influencing society, people’s everyday lives, and their preconditions for learning. Initially the development of information technology was described as a technological revolution and the Internet environment was then chiefly a place for passive content consumption. Today the social dimensions are at the centre of attention and the development is increasingly often described as a social revolution made possible by a technological evolution. We can see how people in interaction with interactive media contribute to dynamic arenas for social interaction, user generated contents and services. The power over the content production is undergoing decentralisation. Altered power relations are also being created among the identity markers of generation, gender, ethnicity, class, religion and functional capacities. New patterns for generating information, communication and cooperation are being established, not only locally and nationally but also globally. Taken together this raises questions in a number of areas, e.g. technology, power, ethics, information validation, ownership and identity construction. In addition it raises specific questions about contemporary preconditions for learning. How, where and when do we learn today? How is an educational infrastructure created that supports learning? What resources are needed for an optimal virtual learning environment? What is going on in the young Internet culture? How do Internet cultures interact with the individual’s preconditions for learning?
In order to problematise the interaction among technology, culture and social structures and understand what it means for individual and contemporary learning process, the information technology (IT) perspective needs to be complemented with a critical and social dimension. For this reason we advocate a socio-technological approach to interactive media and learning. This implies that the research is to a great extent centred on the interaction among technology, everyday practice, social structures and learning – formally as well as informally.
Research in the area of interactive media and learning in the Department is divided into three subareas: Internet Cultures (social interaction, discriminating practices and young people’s identity work are in focus), Educational Infrastructure (infrastructure and technological aspects are the point of departure) and IT and Didactics (didactic issues connected to IT are studied).
In addition to the work in the subareas described above, there is cooperation with other departments within the framework of “ICT, Media and Learning (ICTML)”, which is a cross-departmental research platform that includes a number of researchers from different departments at Umeå University and is managed and coordinated by the Unit for Interactive Media and Learning (IML) at the Department of Applied Educational Science (TUV).