Digit-M-Ed Workshop and Parallel Activities in Berlin /April 2013

 In April 2013 a series of academic activities in the framework of the Digit-M-Ed project took place at Free University in Berlin. Michalis Kontopodis (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam/ University of Crete), Gurram Srinivas and Vinod Kumar (Jawaharlal Nehru University), Natalya Ulanova and Olga Rubtsova (Moscow State University of Psychology and Education) stayed in Berlin as visiting scholars. In the timeframe of their stay, the 4th DIGIT-M-ED workshop took place (25 & 26/04) in collaboration with the local colleagues as well as with the participation of invited  scholars and PhD students. Throughout the workshop the progress of each local team was presented, the publication of an edited volume was minutely planned and the project’s future activities were discussed in detail. Accordingly, a creative dialogue occurred among the DIGIT-M-ED members, concerning further research and funding possibilities. During their stay, the visiting colleagues participated in the local team’s research activities, as well as in the academic life of Free University (see below), in order to get acquainted with the local teams’ theoretical and methodological background.

Through their various activities, the visiting scholars have been, in accordance with the second work package planning, trained by local colleagues in: a) anthropological theory, b) videography/focused ethnography and c) applications/empirical examples/ data analysis (for an examples see: Deliverables). Additionally, in accordance with the work package nine, all the DIGIT-M-ED members have engaged in knowledge transfer concerning research ethics and they have commonly finallized the document “Cross-cultural/ Trans-national Field Research Ethics Guide  for Social Sciences.” (see Deliverables)

Workshop «Observing digital media practices/Media as methods of observation»

The 4th DIGIT-M-ED workshop took place in  Dahlem, in the free University of Berlin, in April 25 & 26. The workshop was open to the public, and it was attended by german scholars and PhD Students. Additionally, colleagues who weren’t physically present in Berlin could attend and participate in the workshop via an ongoing Skype connection. For the program see: https://digitmed.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/berlinworkshop/

Day 1, April 25 2013

In the opening word Prof. Ch. Wulf welcomed the participants of the Meeting in the Free University of Berlin and expressed his hope for the success of the further collaboration in the framework of the Digit-M-Ed. The project’s coordinator Michalis Kontopodis thanked all the members of the hosting team and especially the seminar’s coordinator Martin Bittner on behalf of the visiting scholars as well as the colleagues from Brazil, Greece and Great Britain. The opening report was presented by Prof. Ch. Wulf and touched upon the topic of Visuality and Senses. Professor spoke about the role of senses in education, about visual and audial perception, about the meaning of body in the social and cultural contexts. He also highlighted the lack of a coherent theory of the role of senses in human life and particularly in education. The report was followed by a series of presentations prepared by different teams of the Digit-M-Ed project. The first work – «You-tube, young people and the economic crisis in Greece» – was elaborated by Christos Varvantakis, Sofia Triliva and Manolis Dafermakis (University of Crete). Their research focuses on the analysis of small films made by unprofessional young people in Greece and devoted to the current economic and social problems in their country. The next presentation – «Digital media in developmental education of  students with special needs» – was prepared by the Russian team: Vitaly Rubtsov, Lev Kuravsky, Natalya Ulanova and Olga Rubtsova (Moscow State University of Psychology and Education). The main interest of the researchers is to study the development of reflexive processes of students with special needs while they are making their qualification works – small films about their own life and experiences. Nino Ferrin (FU Berlin) in his presentation spoke about «Video games, aesthetics and imagination». The presentation of Srinivas Gurram & Vinod Kumar (JNU, India) “Research with Young People in Munirka, New Delhi” touched upon the role of digital media in the everyday life of marginalized young people in India and highlighted the main problems that the Indian researchers are faced with. Each presentation was followed by a vivid discussion with the participants of the seminar, who asked questions and commented on the works of their colleagues. Summing up the work of the seminar the project’s coordinator Michalis Kontopodis drew the participants’ attention to the necessity of sticking to the same research\methodological framework in order to avoid a fragmentary overview on the studied issues. He pointed out that the final outcome of each teams’ work should be a respective chapter which will logically fit in into the book.

Day 2, April 26 2013

The second day of the seminar’s work started with the presentation of  B. Fritzsche «Relations of Recognition in English and German Primary schools: Reflections on comparative ethnography”. The report on the comparative research was followed by Martin Bittner’s presentation “Working in and with “foreign” languages – translation as a method of interpretation” which focused on the issues of postcolonial marginalization, globalization and the difficulties of translation in the framework of international projects and collaboration. A considerable amount of time of the meeting was devoted to the discussion of financial and technical aspects – coordination, questions, paper work, webpage, deliverables, publications, dissemination and other topics. The participants of the seminar discussed the results of the first stage of their collaboration including the ethical basis of the research. At the end of the seminar the participants got involved in an open discussion on “Open research area and other research proposals.” Through all these, the dates were finalized for the next two workshops, as well as the deadlines for writing the book chapters were set.

Examples of Parallel Research and Academic Activities

Participant observation (etnography) in Nelson Mandela School

School 5 School 3 School 4




Michalis Kontopodis (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Nino Ferrin, Martin Bittner and Nika Daryan (Free University Berlin), Gurram Srinivas and Vinod Kumar (Jawaharlal Nehru University), Natalya Ulanova and Olga Rubtsova (Moscow State University of Psychology and Education) visited Nelson Mandela School (Pfalzburger Straße 30, Berlin) and took part in participant observation with secondary school students. The school Principal Ms. Kather kindly showed the visitors around, giving a detailed overview on the school’s history, educational background and teaching practices. The visiting scholars had a chance to join a few students while they were having computer classes and interview them on the issue of using digital media in their daily life.  

Focus group discussions

On the last days of April Professor Christoph Wulf and the local team: Nino Ferrin, Martin Bittner and Christos Varvantakis  (Free University Berlin) invited the visiting scholars – Michalis Kontopodis (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam/ University of Crete), Natalya Ulanova and Olga Rubtsova (Moscow State University of Psychology and Education), Gurram Srinivas and Vinod Kumar (Jawaharlal Nehru University) – to participate in two focus group discussions with young people (emerging adults of 20-24 years). The topics of the discussions highlighted the peculiarities of media use in their academic and private life. Both discussions were video-taped in order to be analyzed later on. The video analysis will be carried out by the local team with an emphasis not only on the explicit content of the discussions, but also on its implicit, non-verbal dimension (gestures, pose, voice tone etc).   

Colloquium for PhD- and Post-Doc Scholars by Prof. Christoph Wulf; Thesis defense by Christos Varvantakis

The visiting scholars from Russia –  Natalya Ulanova and Olga Rubtsova (Moscow State University of Psychology and Education) had an opportunity to participate in a scientific seminar organized by Prof. Christoph Wulf for his PhD and post-doc students at Free University of Berlin, at April 23. The participants of the seminar presented the topics of their current works and got involved in a discussion of their methodology and further research perspectives. The meeting was particularly interesting since all the participants came from various cultural and academic backgrounds and could exchange their ideas and experience in a warm and friendly atmosphere. The very next day – on April, 24 – the visiting scholars were invited to the defense ceremony of Christos Varvantakis (FU Berlin), which was held in the Athropology of Education departement. Due to the invitation the Russian scholars received a wonderful and an inspiring illustration of the defense ceremonies held at the Free University.