Doctor of Education Research

Brief research proposal submitted to secure a place on the Doctor of Education (EdD) programme at University of Brighton

Learning is inevitable for human beings.

This raises the questions ‘What are we learning? Why are we learning? and Where are we learning’

Within education there exists a broad consensus regarding the hierarchy of subjects and the hegemony of mainstream institutions and progression pathways. There are existing debates around these topics, such as what are the positive impacts of alternative forms of educational establishments and the role of creative subjects within a rounded curriculum.

However, schools, colleges and universities currently remain the most and often only, credible destinations for someone navigating their learning journey. Likewise maths and English are still seen as the most important core subjects at school and there are similar subject hierarchies within further and higher education, where ‘soft’ subjects are deemed to have less value than those considered ‘hard’.

Bearing this in mind, my research interests begin with the following suppositions.

  1. Schools & FE colleges exist within an outdated, top-down system that is unresponsive to the learner both as consumer and as someone attempting to navigate their way to success in a rapidly changing world.
  1. Universities, suffering from the same failings as schools and colleges, have the additional problem that the increasing costs of higher education means that potential students may begin to look towards alternate education routes and thereby damage their raison d’etre.
  1. The subject hierarchy that exists within mainstream education is too narrow and becoming less relevant as the topography of learning expands and diversifies.
  1. Every aspect of information and knowledge that a learner may need or want is accessible to them via the Internet. Therefore learners no longer need to travel via the traditional gatekeepers of information and brokers of knowledge
  1. The subject hierarchy would better serve learners if it were self-defined. In that model, how important a subject is is a consequence of what is most valuable to the learner and their learning journey.
  1. Learning is a journey and journeys are made easier through the use of an accurate map. If learners better understand the connection between themselves, their learning routes and the destinations they want to reach in their life, their learning will be more relevant to them and their chances of success increase.


Along with these suppositions, I have a number of areas of interest to work within during an EdD programme.

  1. What are the causes behind learners looking outside of mainstream education for their learning? I call these learners Conscious Truants.
  1. What are the elements that create a fertile climate where learning is inevitable?
  1. What tools and supports are being and will be created to empower learners to navigate their learning journeys outside of mainstream education?
  1. What will the topography of learning look like in the coming years? Who will design and define this space? What are the threats and opportunities that will arise?


These areas of interest can be refined into the following question.

How can learners be supported to maximise their self-awareness so that everybody and anybody can define and pursue their individual learning routes to life destinations of their choosing and what does an educational ecosystem that enables this consist of?

In short, how can we develop the googlemap for learning?

Where learners choose where they want to go, understand the resources they possess, the resources they need and are shown the different routes available to them?