Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

Editorial

Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

Editorial

Article excerpt

Now is the time to search for seas that take us beyond the comforts of old ports

(Eisner, 1993, p. 8)

In 2013, we (Anila Asghar, Teresa Strong-Wilson, and Amarou Yoder) invited submissions on Multimedia in / as Scholarship for a special issue of the McGill Journal of Education. The call came in the wake of the increasing proliferation of multimedia tools within scholarship yet the relative paucity of multimedia within scholarly articles. We wanted to see what kinds of submissions we would receive in response to an invitation to submit pieces that creatively engaged with multimedia, or with the embedding of multimedia, within scholarship (e.g., artful visual and / or audio artifacts or productions, blogging, digital storytelling, imovies, podcasts, photoessays, photographs, social media, wikis, etc.). We were open to various disciplines within education and various methodologies. Some questions that we had flagged as important were: How are digital technologies influencing the direction of research and publishing? In what ways are they changing our notion of what counts as scholarship? What do digital technologies / multimedia allow us to see, hear, that we may not otherwise be able to? What are the ethical considerations around the issues of representation and voice, particularly in terms of constructions of subjectivities? How do these ethical issues shape research and representation?

Through the process of guest editing this issue, we found our minds casting back to Elliot Eisner's pivotal piece, first published in 1993 in AERA's f lagship journal, Educational Researcher. Entitled "Forms of Understanding and the Future of Educational Research," Eisner defended the presence of qualitative research in education and especially, of arts-based methods. The questions around representation that informed the piece marked a crossroads in educational research, a place where, given the great influx of multimedia, we find ourselves again today. Eisner understood representation as a public form for consciousness or intent; representation gives form to thought, such that representations can be "stabilized, inspected, edited, and shared with others" (p. 6). Eisner fastened on computers as the next horizon in representation, suggesting that they will enable us to display "meanings that might otherwise elude us" (p. 6), especially given their ability to represent matters synchronic- ally (e.g., visually). He pointed out that there is little value in a "monolithic" approach to research (p. 8). Meanings are plural so their representation ought to also be multiple (e.g., painting, sculpting, drawing, writing, singing, etc.). He asked, "what would an entirely new array of presentational forms for research look like?" (p. 10). Further, how might multiple forms of representation (e.g., film, song, painting, novel, etc.) be used to access students' understandings by various pathways?

These are fundamentally the same kinds of questions that animate this special issue and where, playing on the title of Andrew Piper's (2009) Dreaming in Books, we in academe are also beginning to dream in, and through, multimedia. Like Eisner, Piper argued against one medium to express scholarly understanding but whereas the digital ought not to displace the book by becoming in turn the new monological norm. Rather, Piper suggested, we are poised at a time and place where different possibilities exist; where different "media themselves generate very different experiential spaces and encounters" (p. 240). The articles in this issue explore these possibilities, where the extant responsibilities of education - e.g., classroom practices, practica, community partnerships, curricula, research practices, and communication - find new expression in and through the affordances of multimedia tools and representations as discussed and represented in and through the "classic" academic article.

We are pleased to offer nine "articles," two Notes from the Field as well as one MJE Forum. …

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