Professor Kato presents his research on how camera phones and media technologies can be used for qualitative research methods outside of the classroom and in the context of community development.
Guided by the idea of an alternative "classroom," a series of workshops were designed to create experiential learning opportunities outside the university "campus." By incorporating the ideas of experiential learning, the projects consist of field research and interviews, together with collaborative workshops, and debriefing sessions.
This mode of learning can be characterized as a "camp," in that participants seek to understand the resources available, and attempt to expand their capacities to organize their ideas within given situations. A "camp" is an attempt to design a place at which we can reflect upon things that are regarded as 'taken-for-granted' in our day-to-day activities. Fumi suggest that such form of learning may promote communication among participants, through the set of goals, roles, and rules that constructs the situation. For the past ten years, Fumi has conducted "camp" projects in nearly thirty cities, including cities outside Japan.
The present approach, a mode of "camp," proposes a framework to understand the roles of researchers, as outsiders, to stimulate and revitalize local community members in order to enrich their understandings and practices of community development. Through the process of community development it can be understood as a joint-construction realized by both insiders and outsiders. That is to say, outsiders can play an important role to reexamine and rediscover the various resources within the community, and thereby contribute to provide with ideas to the local community from the "outside in."
Fumitoshi Kato (Ph.D., Communication) is Professor at the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, Keio University, Japan. His research interests include: communication theory, media studies, socio-cultural impacts of new technologies, qualitative research methods. He is especially interested in the use of camera phones in the context of place-making and community development. For the past ten years, he has been conducting field research in various local communities in Japan, with a primary focus on the notion of "mobile learning.