The growing impact of online research communities and emerging technologies is creating a significant paradigm shift and consequently changing the current research landscape of higher education. The rise of online research communities exemplifies a shift from traditional research engagements, to online research communities using “Web 2.0,” in which communities of researchers are the basic unit of research engagement. As institutional practices become increasingly digitized, the role of faculty, scholars, and professionals are constantly reshaped and re-negotiated. The rise and use of emerging technologies in the field of research, has the potential to significantly impact the individual researcher, their institutions and ultimately the State. The project Critical Conversations Research Network is a part of a broader initiative undertaken by the Tennessee Board of Regents Office of Academic Affairs. TBR’s Critical Conversations for Jobs and the Economy is designed to complement Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Drive to 55” initiative, which aims to bring the percentage of Tennesseans with college degrees to 55 percent by the year 2025. (Haslam, 2013). The initiative undertaken by TBR’S office of Academic Affairs consists of: (a) Conversational interviewing of selected scholars and researchers across TBR institutions through video recordings of important and critical research topics that affect policy implications in the state of Tennessee, (b) an interdisciplinary journal called Critical Conversations Interdisciplinary Journal (CCIJ) dedicated to promoting dialogue on topics of importance among scholars across disciplines at TBR institutions. The journal provides a platform for critical conversations through which all disciplines can inform practice and practice can inform all disciplines, providing guidance for future public policy decisions and (c) the proposed Critical Conversations Research Network which is the focus of this paper. The goal of the Tennessee Board of Regents Critical Conversations Research Network (“TBR’s-CCRN”) is to connect TBR’s faculty, researchers and scholars in collaboration, dialogue and engagement, about pertinent research initiatives undertaken by individuals and institutions across the state. A secondary purpose is to highlight the practical implications of research for economic and workforce development and to assist policymakers to engage in data-driven and informed decision-making.
Renner, Jasmine. 2017. Engaging TBR Faculty in Online Research Communities and Emerging Technologies. Journal of Learning in Higher Education. Vol.13(1). 33-44.