Access and Gender in Multimedia Education

PhD Thesis

Gracia Luque, Rosaria 2009. Access and Gender in Multimedia Education. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Humanities and Social Sciences
AuthorsGracia Luque, Rosaria
TypePhD Thesis

The focus of this thesis is the arena of activity around access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) and its relationship with gender and the discipline of Multimedia in UK universities. With education as a field of research, the thesis aims at providing a model which assists
students to be better equipped to design accessible and inclusive design processes and products.

The arena of access has been increasingly important in recent decades exemplified by policies that aimed to provide "universal access". Existing concepts of access have unsystematically focused on physical, economic and ergonomic considerations. This thesis reports on a study that uses a number of theoretical tools to conceptualise this complex area. Feminist Epistemology offers the tools to examine and understand gender and technology, and to inform the framework of study. Technological Determinism (TD) and Social Constructionism (SCOT) theories provide the theoretical base to study access in the context of new technologies, specifically in the Multimedia sector.

The research was qualitative and was conducted using documentary analysis, questionnaires and interviews. The research design moved from macro to micro levels. In the first stage a theoretical framework was developed which mapped current understandings of the concepts. As well as a
literature review, this stage also included distribution and analysis of questionnaire responses from 180 students and 5 tutors from 3 UK universities. This macroanalysis focused on the study of organisational understandings of access, gender and Multimedia in the chosen educational institutions. The second stage of the research was concerned with the structural shaping the discourses deployed within it.
Interviews were conducted with 24 students and 5 tutors. This microanalysis used Grounded Theory as a research tool and focused on individual understandings of access, gender and Multimedia in the selected multimedia courses.

The analysis of research data confirms that there is a compartmentalised understanding of access to ICTs within university-based Multimedia education. Access is often referred to as physical and economic access to equipment. User involvement in the design process is often impeded by current institutional structures and designers' individual attitudes, and this affects the accessibility of the
product. Gender dynamics are at play but are often ignored within the design process. Essentialist values also influence the construction of those gender dynamics. Multimedia applications do not fully explore interactivity and the use of multiple platforms is largely ignored.

The thesis challenges current understandings of access by bringing attention to a more gender balanced approach by proposing a new model, "creative access". This model encourages a gender aware approach to processes and products, and supports the creation of a working environment that uses multimedia applications as tools to transform current physical, economic, social and cultural

KeywordsInformation and communication technologies; Multimedia in UK universities; Feminist Epistemology
Publication dates
PrintFeb 2009
Publication process dates
Deposited28 Oct 2013
Additional information

This thesis supplied via ROAR to UEL-registered users is protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights, and duplication of any part of the material is not permitted, except for your personal use for the purposes of non-commercial research and private study in electronic or print form. You must obtain permission from the copyright-holder for any other use. Electronic or print copies may not be offered, for sale or otherwise, to anyone. No quotation from the thesis may be published without proper acknowledgement.

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