Objectives and aims
LinCS (The Linnaeus Centre for Research on Learning, Interaction and Mediated Communication in Contemporary Society) is a national centre of excellence funded by The Swedish Research Council. LinCS was launched in late 2006 and was first evaluated in 2008. The institutions participating in LinCS are the Department of education, communication and learning and the IT Faculty at the University of Gothenburg and the Swedish School of Library and Information Science at the University of Borås. Within the LinCS framework, about 55 senior and junior scholars and Ph.D. students collaborate in a range of projects funded by the Research Council, The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation, The Knowledge Foundation and other funding agencies. LinCS also runs a national doctoral school in educational research (LinCS-DSES) and collaborates in international research and research training activities within the NordLearn (funded by NordForsk) concept.The members of the LinCS team engage in empirical research on learning and interaction in a sociocultural perspective. Central to the agenda is the exploration of the role of media, in particular digital media, for the current transformation of learning practices inside and outside educational institutions. The focus is on analysing learning practices in educational settings, at work places (hospitals, industry etc.), in gaming and contexts of play, and in other everyday activities. An additional interest is in contributing to in-depth analyses of learning and communication by developing methods of video documentation and analysis. For this purpose LinCS runs a videolab facility, which serves as the basis for theoretical and methodological inquiry and development in the research.
Within this general framework, the research interests can be summarized under the following headings in which clusters of projects are active:
- Literacies, media and infrastructures for learning. The research interests focus on how learners accommodate to learning in digital environments and how they develop literacy and media skills required by, and relevant for, the new media ecology. This includes an interest in the role and use of infrastructures for learning such as libraries and electronic resources for information storage and retrieval, and in analysing the manners in which information is organized and used in such electronic facilities. A related interest concerns the access to and use of new arenas of communication, learning and networking made available through the Internet.
- Digital technologies and the transformation of learning and knowing. This interest centres on issues of how information technology can be, and currently is, introduced into educational settings and work practices to support interaction, learning and professional activities. The research conducted concerns studies of the role of digital tools in mathematics learning, language learning, distance education, classroom practices, project based learning etc. Other projects focus on games and gaming as contexts of communicative and cognitive socialization and on the role of technology for visualization and simulation in education and training of professionals in different areas.
- The use of video in the study of learning. The main foci of this research interest are to document and analyse learning activities inside and outside educational settings and to develop the uses of video technology as a research tool. Video technology has increased dramatically the possibilities of gaining in-depth understanding of social interaction and of how knowledge and skills are shared between people in activities and in co-ordination with external resources such as traditional and more recent technologies. Video technology also makes it possible to carry out field research and to share data between scholars in productive manners. This line of research within LinCS has methodological as well as theoretical ambitions, and it includes building up and organizing databases of video-recordings to be used for a broad range of research activities and for participation in international collaborative and comparative projects in various areas (for instance in teaching in various subject areas).
Activities within LinCS
The research areas indicated are partially overlapping, and most LinCS scholars participate in projects that relate to different interests. In addition, LinCS includes the following activities:
- The Network for Analysis of Interaction and Learning (LinCS-NAIL). The focus of LinCS-NAIL on the detailed analysis of patterns of interaction in contexts of learning and professional practice. NAIL is closely connected to the LinCS-videolab and offers courses nationally and internationally on analytical procedures in the traditions of ethnomethodology, conversation and interaction analysis. The particular focus is on the uses of videodocumentation in research on interaction.
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- The LinCS-Lab provides media resources for documenting, editing, storing and analysing data materials collected within the various projects. An important project within the LinCS lab at present is to build up and organize a data-base of digitized recordings of classroom interaction in Sweden that can be used for research by scholars inside and outside LinCS. LinCS has access to several such data materials from the 1960’s and onwards. Through the lab, members of the LinCS team participate in comparative research through access to similar databases in other countries. The lab is also an active element in the training of young scholars on issues of how to collect, organize and analyse video- and audiomaterials.
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- Learning, interaction and schooling: Analysing individual and institutional practices (LinCS-DSES). LinCS-DSES is the national doctoral school of the educational sciences connected to LinCS and funded by the Swedish Research Council. LinCS-DSES offers about four courses per year on a range of topics that concern learning, interaction, classroom research and the uses of technology. LinCS-DSES is also the centre of an international cooperation of research training and exchange in NordLearn funded by NordForsk.
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