Accepted Papers

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The Sudeley Paradox: Changing Models of Scholarly Discourse

Bruce Douglas Ingraham, University of Teesside
Gráinne Conole, The Open University
Chris Jones, The Open University
George Roberts, Oxford Brookes University


This proposal addresses some of the issues surrounding the impact of digital technologies on the discourse between academics that may be understood to precede and underpin the conduct of digitally supported learning and teaching.  That is, the focus lies on the interaction between scholars through which the disciplines they profess are articulated rather than on the interaction between tutors and students and students and students that underpins the subsequent dissemination of those disciplines.  Traditionally the conduct of this scholarship provides important models for the conduct of the learning and teaching experience.  It is hypothesised that if we are to maintain the quality assurance of academic discourse, this should also be the case in the digital conduct of these inter-related practices.  That is, the models of scholarly discourse may change, but they should still inform the practice of learning and teaching.

In order to investigate at least some of the issues surrounding the publication of scholarly discourse through digital media we propose that participants in ICE3 join in a practical experiment in the creation of such discourse. The proposers have created a blog containing a group of position statements addressing some of these issues (see below).  The blog will be made available to ICE3 participants about a month before the conference in order to enable a more detailed (and scholarly?) collaborative consideration of the issues than would normally be possible during a conference.  The final ‘paper’ will emerge from this collaborative activity and the ‘presentation’ at the conference will focus on the question of how best to ‘publish’ that ‘paper’.


In the autumn of 2006 Routledge published a book entitled Contemporary Perspectives in E-learning Research.  This book, affectionately known by the authors as the Sudeley book (after Sudeley Castle where it was first planned), brings together more than 20 of the UK’s leading eLearning researchers and attempts to set out the range and complexity of theoretical issues that researchers face in the study of technologically mediated learning. 

However, for some of the authors it seemed a bit paradoxical that the technology chosen to mediate this discussion was the printed book.  Why would 20+ of the UK's leading experts in eLearning choose the medium of print in which to establish a theoretical framework upon which to base the study of non-print mediated learning?  This seemed particularly odd, given that producing a book that reflected the range, complexity and sometimes conflict contained within this emerging field eventually required some relatively unusual typographical ploys.

There is a cynical, three-letter answer to this question – RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) – and it is by no means irrelevant.  However, the proposers (all contributors to the Sudeley book) believe that the issues are rather more complex and through the proposed blog are seeking to offer ICE3 participants an opportunity to reflect actively and collaboratively upon the issue of the electronic mediation of scholarship. 

The Blog

In order to promote this discussion each of the proposers has provided a position statement that addresses some particular aspect of this issue.  These include:

The opportunities presented by new media for the publication of scholarly discourse versus the need to maintain the quality of that discourse.

The need for new models to represent the dialogic of scholarly discourse when engaged in fully collaborative writing as opposed to the collecting of essays, and the problems of getting such a volume published. 

Alternative modes of publishing collaborative scholarly discourse and the question of whether scholarly writing should seek to represent that dialogic or rather, as is the case with contemporary, print-based  publication,  simply seek to fix a moment in its progress.

The philosophical and political implications of these challenges with respect to publishing and authority – for authors, publishers and the academic community as represented by the RAE.

In principle participation in the blog will be limited to attendees at ICE3 and the authors of the Sudeley Book.  In practice, of course, the nature of the technology may make this difficult, but that is just another related issue.

The blog can be accessed at

Conference Presentation

At the conference itself the proposers will briefly summarise the outcomes of the online discussion, but the bulk of the session will be devoted to a discussion by all participants of the issue of how best to formally publish such a collaborative discourse without violating the spirit of the quality assurance procedures that underpin the dissemination of scholarship; and, of course, that will be compatible with the planned publication of the conference proceedings.

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updated 30 January 2007