1.4 Research Methodology

This thesis uses a pragmatic approach. The goal of this paper is to contribute new ideas to media education through the scholarly review of education theory as applied to web literacies and curriculum design. Or to put it very simply, the goal of this paper is to link theory and practice. The use of the pragmatic approach allowed me to formulate a concept that makes that link obvious without losing sight of the problem that I am trying to solve.

My domain knowledge in teaching and learning “web stuff,” provided an opportunity to process the available information with an open mind and a desire for creation. I am lucky to have an extensive body of prior knowledge in this field. I immersed myself completely and revised the organization of this thesis many times, as the more I read, the more I realized that my initial project sketch barely scratched the surface of what is necessary in the realm of web literacy educational concepts.

Using a pragmatic approach allowed me to find support for commonalities and differences in several specific web literacy and digital literacy definitions as well as for understanding and defining various frameworks and theories that influenced the development of the concept. Through a natural intellectual inquiry into the nuances of teaching and learning digital literacies, the resources reviewed create a comprehensive consolidation of various theories and frameworks into a single educational concept.

Implementing a pragmatic, and somewhat systematic, approach to review available research enabled me to find a concise definition of web literacies and show practical applicability of educational theories through the creation of a new framework for designing blended, gamified web literacy learning opportunities. It also allowed me to find valuable data on the proliferation of web literacy skills in the workforce by giving me the freedom to use my own deductive powers and triangulate in on valuable knowledge, information and theories.

Google Scholar is the primary database used for finding available educational research that references gamification strategies, web literacy, Generation X and their use of the internet, and these concepts are further explored later in this document. Conversations with colleagues and thinkers working in the educational space allowed me to further zero-in on useful bodies of research and concepts that serve as the foundation for this thesis.

It was the use of the pragmatic approach that allowed me to stumble, quite accidentally, onto the connection between the manifestos of modern educational think tanks and educational theories from the German Reform Pedagogical and the Progressive Education Movements. This realization has been extremely beneficial in increasing my understanding of the debates surrounding modern education in the United States.

Pragmatism gives a researcher the ability to create knowledge without getting hung up on rigid processes, which may lead to the exclusion of valuable data.

As the prolific Mark Twain is quoted as saying in his biography,

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.” (Paine, 1912)

These “new and curious combinations” are a form of creative output, an output that is only possible when a researcher has the leeway to be creative. Using the pragmatic approach gave me that creativity. Because the pragmatic approach is a method of research that allows a researcher to use a variety of methodologies, I do not have any critique on the approach itself.

It seems diligent, particularly in the context of a thesis on something as technical and social as web literacies, to quote the late Steve Jobs, who during a 1996 interview with Wire Magazine said,

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” (Wolf & Wired Magazine, 1996)

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