Academic Muse

This is a space where I can share my thoughts, and have thoughts shared with me. "Beware your thoughts leave digital traces" Bruno Latour

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A summary of my intended study

Exploring the use of emergent technologies in communicating care

What is the relationship between how people think about change and what they do to enact it? This question is explored with reference to the development of communication skills for health professionals, an area undergoing radical transformation from a need to respond to both current and emergent technologies.

The integration of computing and communication technologies (CCTs) within healthcare has involved, and continues to involve, significant change. In this research I will focus on how the use of emergent technology contains, constrains or constructs practice specific to the area of interpersonal skills and communicating care. Specifically, what are the hopes or fears held regarding how care is conveyed? What is the influence of these beliefs in shaping practice? And further, as much as we think we are the designers or directors of our own practices, in what ways might emergent CCTs be shaping our practices and/or shaping us?

Actor-network theory (ANT) has been chosen as a methodology as it provides a useful framework whereby changing practices can be studied. ANT allows for both human and non-human influences such as the technology to be considered. In this study I explore 3 sites where the communications of care is undergoing change as a result of embracing emergent technologies, these are:
1. Health professional education
2. A counseling practice, and
3. Within the wider community, an open electronic message board.
The intent is to uncover a range of voices associated with change, including but not limited to, the voices of hope and resistance; human and technological. These will be presented as narratives, workstories of change within a folio. The methods of eliciting these narratives will include journaling, interviews, and participant observations, over the course of one year.

Articulating the processes of change and what people do to enact change supports the development of reflexive practice. In giving voice to the multiplicity of influence and processes shaping practice, an opportunity is provided for discerning that things could also have been different. In this way, the study contributes to a critical social stream through which health professionals and health professional education may also consider shaping change as active agents. Possibilities in integrating technology in communicating care can then be actively constructed rather than contained or constrained by default.


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