A critical analysis and reflection on case study research methods should consider the social context of the issue in question because this can have a significant effect on determining the appropriateness of quantitative and qualitative tools used (Fielding, 2014, p. 1065; Gobo, 2011). Gobo (2006, 2011a, 2011b) highlights the declining value of Westernised survey methods on developing/ed multicultural societies because their design is often contradictory to modern Network Theory paradigms and constructivist theories about teaching, learning and research. Mixed methods approaches have been favoured by researchers who are seeking to avoid the well documented biases of traditional surveys (Gobo, 2006, p 7-8.). Developments in qualitative techniques such as Participatory Action Research (Santos, 2012) and innovations in case study research methods have focused on an interdisciplinary use of technology to develop traditional theories in new ways (Xanitoudou and Gilbert, 2010, p. 5).
Gobo (2011a, p. 11-12) argues that for surveys to maintain a relevant place in the research methods toolkit they need to follow a more flexible ‘glocalised’ approach where the surveyor can interpret and further interrogate survey responses to in turn categorise the data in meaningful ways. This more constructivist approach to knowledge creation was initially developed by Galtung (1967) and has an added currency in Network Theory paradigm where connectivist communities communicate across social strata (Fielding, 2014, p. 1065). Gobo (2011a, p. 18) argues that such conversational surveys facilitate a more accurate and standardised data set for scholars to interpret and present meaningful critical analyses of the phenomena being studied.
Critically analysing survey interview methods highlights their affordances in virtual world environments where technological affordances bring together a wide range of people with social, cultural, gender and other physical differences (Schober and Conrad, 2008, p. 19; Couper, 2008, p. 7-8). While traditional survey forms may be distributed to members of virtual communities via their social networking channels such as Google+ communities, a survey interview method may be more practical in developing theories and furthering an understanding of how participants utilise such technologies in education.
Innovative approaches to the gathering of information from virtual education knowledge networks and communities needs to consider the potential varieties of traditional social and cultural contexts of the participants. Survey interviews should also be mindful of any virtually constructed social, cultural, gender or communal context that resides within the participant’s Network. The ‘Open’ nature of virtual education communities such as Virtual Pedagogy (2015), Virtual Worlds Best Practices In Education (2015) and Virtual Worlds Teacher Network (2015) facilitate the survey interview process because meetings are often held ‘in world’ where participants can chat via backchannels and organise further discussions afterward.
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Couper, M. P. (2008). Technology and the survey/interview/questionnaire. Envisioning the survey interview of the future, 58-76. Retrieved from http://www.ifdtctest.com/Past_Conferences/PC2008/presentation_2008_files/4C-Mick%20Couper.pdf
Fielding, N. G. (2014). Qualitative research and our digital futures. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(9), 1064–1073. doi: 0.1177/1077800414545237
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Gobo, G. (2011a). Back to Likert: Towards the conversational survey. na. Retrieved from https://air.unimi.it/retrieve/handle/2434/158152/142940/williams_2010.pdf
Gobo, G. (2011b). Glocalizing methodology? The encounter between local methodologies. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 14, 417-437.
Santos, D. (2012). The politics of storytelling: unfolding the multiple layers of politics in (P) AR publications. Educational Action Research, 20(1), 113-128. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/2554118/The_politics_of_storytelling_unfolding_the_multiple_layers_of_politics_in_P_AR_publications
Schober, M. F., & Conrad, F. G. (2008). Survey interviews and new communication technologies. Envisioning the survey interview of the future, 1-30. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.212.1577&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Xanitoudou, M., & Gilbert, N. (2010). The processes of methodological innovation: Successful development and diffusion. Guildford, UK: University of Surrey Press. Retrieved from http://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/2047/1/The_Processes_of_Methodological_Innovation_Report_Final.pdf
Virtual Pedagogy. (2015). Virtual Pedagogy. Exploring best practices in virtual education and training... Retrieved from https://plus.google.com/communities/111235448092733111825
Virtual Worlds Best Practices In Education. (2015). Education in virtual worlds. Retrieved from https://plus.google.com/communities/104499189392001969204
Virtual Worlds Teacher Network. (2015). Virtual Worlds Teacher Network. Retrieved from https://plus.google.com/communities/109347906857607598536