Dr Rachel Buchanan

Dr Rachel Buchanan

Lecturer

School of Education

Putting their best footprint forward

Dr Rachel Buchanan works at uncovering and addressing the equity implications of the increased deployment of educational technologies in all levels of education.

Dr Rachel Buchanan 

QUESTIONING EQUITY IN EDUCATION

Dr Rachel Buchanan first felt the impacts of inequity on educational outcomes during her undergraduate studies.

Already feeling somewhat overwhelmed due to being the first in family to attend university, she noticed the uneven playing field during a routine group assignment.

"We were asked to give a presentation," she remembers. "Powerpoint was a relatively new tool and no-one in our group had the software for presentations, so we used overhead projection."

"We thought having quality content would make up for the lack of new technology."

This was not the case and Rachel's eyes were opened to the fact that access to resources can directly equate to educational success.

More than a decade later, Rachel's work examines how equity issues affect the way that students access, understand and use technology in educational settings.

Rachel questions the assumption that current students are digital natives, more at home in the terrain of cyberspace than any other generation. She also challenges the popular discourse that technology can solve any barrier related to student engagement.

"For example," Rachel explains, "the digital education revolution was about giving all students from year 9 onwards their own laptop. It was an equality measure to improve learning in schools for all students."

"However, if not all students have access to broadband internet at home, you have only addressed one part of the complex puzzle that is equity in education."

MORE STUDENTS NEEDING MORE SUPPORT

So how does this focus on equity translate into action at the University of Newcastle? With 27 per cent of our students from low socio-economic backgrounds we are well above the sector average.   

"We have made ourselves accessible to a wide range of students, but what are we doing to ensure they are all enjoying university, and all able to succeed?"

Rachel pinpoints academic literacy as a major cornerstone of student success.

"It is assumed that students come to university with skills that allow them to understand an argument, or correctly structure a paragraph."

"For a variety of reasons not all students have these skills."

Using a rubric that measures academic skills, these needs have been identified and appropriate skill building exercises embedded in tutorials.

"If we give students a good foundation in their first year they can go on and succeed."

CATERING FOR EVERYONE

Rachel was part of the Swimming with Seahorses project that saw 25 academics from various faculties working with students to develop resources to address barriers to participation and success for first year students. The resulting knowledge bank was ultimately made by colleagues into an app for easy access.

However, Rachel believes that it is vital for universities to avoid the assumption that providing up-to-date technology is enough to ensure student success.    

"Universities are investing in amazing online management systems, and providing fabulous hubs that are open 24 hours a day. But this issue is more nuanced than merely providing resources," Rachel explains.

Instead, universities need to be flexible with content delivery and recognise that students are individuals with differing needs and capabilities.

"The assumption that everyone can do it, and everyone can do it easily makes university difficult for a lot of students. We are always working to change that."

For aspiring professionals, literacy skills in a whole other area are essential - university students may be greatly disadvantaged by a poorly curated digital identity.

Rachel is working on a project that will use focus groups and online surveys to investigate how universities educate students about their digital footprints and examine university students' knowledge, attitudes and behaviours regarding their online footprints.

One area of digital literacy that students can find challenging is the ability to craft appropriate and professional emails. Many are unaware of the accepted conventions, leaving them at a disadvantage.    

"We'll look at what students are doing online, but also how they recognise and understand notions of digital identity," Rachel advises.

"Most importantly, we'll look at how as an institute, we can address an uneven playing field regarding knowledge around digital literacy. No one should be disadvantaged by not knowing the rules."

ROLLING OUT THE DICE

The best way to ensure university students understand the complexities of curating a positive digital identity would be to teach them before they enrol. To this end, a mirror trial has begun with much younger students. The Best Footprint Forward project, for which Rachel received a $25,000 grant in early 2015, will be undertaken with fellow UON researchers Dr Erica Southgate and Dr Shamus Smith. The aim is to audit the digital footprint awareness of primary school students, their educators, and their parents.

Rachel is active within two research groups focused on innovation, education, and technology. The recently initiated DICE network, a group of UON educators and researchers looking at issues related to digital identity curation and education, counts Rachel as a founding member.

NuLearn, a group of UON educators focused on 21st century learning and assessments in schools, also benefits from Rachel's involvement. Informed by consultancy and research, NuLearn provide interventions and resources to schools wanting to use digital technology to enhance the student experience. 

BEING IN IT TO WIN IT

Despite the possible pitfalls, choosing to avoid all involvement in online activity is not an option for young people, especially moving into the future.

"Digital footprints are increasingly used to vet applicants for jobs and other life opportunities," Rachel says.

In an effort to minimise any negative impact of the digital footprint, Rachel notes that schools are telling students to lock themselves down and make everything private.

"Yet moving into adulthood, the lack of a digital footprint can be as disadvantageous as a badly managed one."

Ideally, the primary and tertiary footprint studies would be supplemented by a similar study involving secondary students, thus capturing the full gamut of the digital awareness of students. The resultant data will then inform the creation of age appropriate resources and curriculum content that will address knowledge deficits and standardise the teaching material across educational institutes.

"Cyber sense must not be secret knowledge. If we make the guidelines explicit, everyone is capable of curating a positive online presence," Rachel suggests.

"If we can make all students aware that there's different context, different rules and different ways of communicating, we make the playing field a bit more level. And our students will have an even better chance of succeeding if they know it all before they even get here."

Rachel Buchanan

Putting their best footprint forward

Dr Rachel Buchanan works at uncovering and addressing the equity implications of the increased deployment of educational technologies in all levels of educati

Read more

Career Summary

Biography

Rachel Buchanan is a teaching and research academic in the School of Education at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Her teaching specialisation is educational foundations, and she has published in the areas of educational philosophy, ethics, pedagogy, sociology, and education policy and politics. Her research interest centres on social justice and equity in education, leading to her work in projects on academic literacy, widening participation, educational policy, digital identity and the equity implications of the increased use of digital technologies.

Research Expertise
Rachel is an early career researcher who applies critical interdisciplinary social theory to research in education. Her research spans the applied areas of Teacher Education, Widening Participation, Digital Identity and Educational Policy. She is particularly interested in the intersection of educational philosophy and educational policy around the use of technology and how this impacts upon the practice, education and identities of educators and students. The central focus of her research is on the equity and social justice implications of education policy and the increased deployment of digital technologies within the education sector. Her previous research projects include an examination of the digital identities of education students; an investigation into the academic literacy skills of first year students; and an exploration of the impact of policy upon the deployment of educational technologies. Rachel has successfully secured a number of research grants and has presented her work nationally and internationally. She is currently involved in projects that critically examine the digital footprint awareness of primary and tertiary students, parents and carers, and educators.

Teaching Expertise
Rachel is an experienced lecturer, course coordinator and tutor, and has taught for several years across the foundational areas of the sociology of education, philosophy of education, educational leadership, ethics, education policy, professional studies, and education and ICT. Rachel's teaching experience covers a variety of contexts from face-to-face teaching with large (800+ students) and small cohorts through to blended and online delivery at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels. She supervises Honours and Research Higher Degree students. She is currently teaching and cordinating the sociology of education course for Callaghan-based education undergraduate students and education policy and leadership courses for online post-graduate students.

Administrative Expertise
Rachel been course coordinator on a variety of courses, from first year through to Masters level. She was one of the course coordinators for one of largest foundational first year courses at the University of Newcastle (800+ education students) and she co-coordinated a large teaching team on this course, as well as designing and managing the course's Learning Management System. Rachel was previously the Chair of TERN, the Teacher Education Research Network. She is the current Director, Student Experience for the School of Education and is an elected representative on the School of Education's Board.

Collaborations
Rachel welcomes research collaboration, particularly in the areas of teacher education, educational technology, and educational policy and has been involved in a number of funded collaborative projects. She is currently working with Dr Amy Chapman from the Australian Catholic University to examine the Widening Participation Policy agenda in Australian higher education. Rachel is a founding member of the DICE network, a scholarly research collective exploring Digital Identity, Curation, and Education. Rachel is also a member of the NuLearn Group, a collaborative research group who are researching and promoting innovative approaches to learning in the 21st Century.


Qualifications

  • PhD (Education), University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Arts (Psychology), University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Social Science (Honours), University of Newcastle

Keywords

  • Digital Identity
  • Digital Knowledge
  • Education Policy
  • Education politics and policy
  • Educational Philosophy
  • Educational Technology
  • Equity and Social Justice
  • Ethics and Professional Practice
  • Foundations of Education
  • Globalisation of education
  • ICT and Education
  • Politics of Education
  • Professional Ethics
  • Sociology of Education
  • Teacher Education

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
160809 Sociology of Education 50
200299 Cultural Studies not elsewhere classified 50

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Education
Australia

Membership

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/2011 -  Membership - Australian Teacher Education Association Australian Teacher Education Association
1/01/2009 -  Membership - Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia
Australia

Awards

Recognition

Year Award
2014 Vice Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence and Contribution to Student Learning
Faculty of Education and Arts
Edit

Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Chapter (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Buchanan RA, Holmes K, Preston G, Shaw K, 'The Global And The Local: Taking Account Of Context In The Push For The Technologization Of Education', Critical Perspectives on Technology and Education, Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke 227-244 (2015)
Co-authors Kylie Shaw, Greg Preston, Kathryn Holmes
2012 Chapman A, Buchanan RA, 'FYI ...Virtual space has a context: Toward an alternative frame for understanding cyberbullying', Rethinking School Violence: Theory, Gender, Context, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire, UK 56-68 (2012) [B1]

Journal article (9 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Chapman AK, Mangion A, Buchanan RA, 'Institutional statements of commitment and widening participation policy in Australia', Policy Futures in Education, 1-15 (2015)
DOI 10.1177/1478210315581462
2014 Southgate E, Buchanan R, 'Editorial: This century becomes you: qualitative inquiry, being/there and social becoming in the 21st century', Creative Approaches to Research, 7 4-6 (2014) [C6]
Co-authors Erica Southgate
2014 Buchanan RA, Chapman A, 'The Political Ontology of Cyborgs: Considering Implications of Posthumanism for Education', Creative Approaches to Research, 7 7-20 (2014) [C1]
2013 Chapman A, Forster D, Buchanan R, 'The Moral Imagination in Pre-service Teachers' Ethical Reasoning', Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 38 (2013) [C1]
DOI 10.14221/ajte.2013v38n5.8
Co-authors Daniella Forster
2013 Buchanan RA, Chapman KA, 'Opinion', Professional Educator, 12 25-27 (2013) [C3]
2013 Holmes K, Preston GD, Shaw K, Buchanan R, ''Follow' Me: Networked Professional Learning for Teachers', Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 38 54-65 (2013) [C1]
DOI 10.14221/ajte.2013v38n12.4
Co-authors Kylie Shaw, Kathryn Holmes, Greg Preston
2012 Buchanan RA, Holmes KA, Preston GD, Shaw KM, 'Basic literacy or new literacies? Examining the contradictions of Australia's education revolution', Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 37 97-110 (2012) [C1]
Co-authors Kylie Shaw, Greg Preston, Kathryn Holmes
2011 Buchanan RA, 'Paradox, promise and public pedagogy: Implications of the federal government's digital education revolution', Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36 67-78 (2011) [C1]
Citations Scopus - 6
2001 Laura RS, Buchanan RA, 'Towards an Epistemology of Ecofeminism', Education Research and Perspectives, 28 57-70 (2001) [C1]
Co-authors Ron Laura
Show 6 more journal articles

Conference (14 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Buchanan RA, Southgate, 'What lurks beneath?: An exploration of the Neoliberal University and the Ethics of Engagement.', PESA Conference 2014 Programmes and Abstracts, Hamilton, New Zealand (2014) [E3]
Co-authors Erica Southgate
2014 Buchanan RA, Southgate EL, 'It's more than computer hubs: Equity, learning, and digital technologies in Higher Education', European Access Network, Edinburgh (2014) [E3]
Co-authors Erica Southgate
2012 Buchanan RA, Holmes KA, Preston GD, Shaw KM, 'Shifting horizons: A critical examination of projects, policy and progress towards digital education in Australia', Learning with New Media Inaugural Conference. Critical Perspectives on Learning with New Media Conference, Glen Waverley, Vic (2012) [E3]
Co-authors Greg Preston, Kylie Shaw, Kathryn Holmes
2012 Laura RS, Buchanan RA, Chapman AK, 'Conference Editors', God, Freedom and Nature, Strathfield, NSW (2012) [E4]
Co-authors Ron Laura
2012 Laura RS, Buchanan RA, 'Set free by the word of God', God, Freedom and Nature, Strathfield, NSW (2012) [E1]
Co-authors Ron Laura
2012 Laura RS, Buchanan RA, 'God, Freedom and Nature: Transdisciplinary reflections on the discourse of religion and theology', God, Freedom and Nature, Strathfield, NSW (2012) [E1]
Co-authors Ron Laura
2012 Buchanan RA, Laura RS, 'Theo-critical feminism, Mother Nature and epistemological patriarchy', God, Freedom and Nature, Strathfield, NSW (2012) [E1]
Co-authors Ron Laura
2012 Buchanan RA, 'Digital dilemmas and professional practice: implications for pre-service teacher ethics education', 2012 International Teacher Education Dialogue Conference. Conference Abstracts, Coffs Harbour, NSW (2012) [E3]
2012 Chapman A, Buchanan RA, Forster DJ, 'The moral imagination in pre-service teachers ethical reasoning', AARE 2012 Conference Proceedings & Program, Sydney, NSW (2012) [E3]
Co-authors Daniella Forster
2011 Buchanan RA, Chapman AK, 'Utopia or dystopia? A critical examination of the Melbourne Declaration', PESA Conference 2011 Programme and Abstracts, Auckland, NZ (2011) [E1]
2011 Chapman AK, Buchanan RA, 'Accountability frameworks in Australian education: Utopia or dystopia?', PESA Conference 2011 Programme and Abstracts, Auckland, NZ (2011) [E3]
2010 Buchanan RA, Chapman AK, 'Globalisation and social justice: The exploitation of the digital native', Learning for Life: Sustainability, Global Citizenship and Social Justice. SEAA Biennial Conference with SASOSE Annual Conference, Adelaide, SA (2010) [E1]
2009 Buchanan RA, Chapman AK, 'Dialogue and difference: The sorry story of the digital native', Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia Annual Conference 2009: Program, Honolulu, HI (2009) [E3]
2009 Laura RS, Buchanan RA, 'Setting free the word of God', Religious Communication Conference: Abstracts, Melbourne, VIC (2009) [E3]
Co-authors Ron Laura
Show 11 more conferences

Other (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Southgate E, Buchanan R, 'Editors: Special Issue: This century becomes you: qualitative inquiry, being/there and social becoming in the 21st century', Creative Approaches to Research: Association for Qualitative Research (2014)
Co-authors Erica Southgate

Report (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2012 Shaw K, Holmes K, Preston G, Buchanan R, 'AIS Building Relationships Grant: Final Report', Association of Independent Schools,, 26 (2012)
Edit

Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 5
Total funding $159,462

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20152 grants / $132,287

Equity and Digital Footprint Project$107,287

Funding body: Department of Education

Funding body Department of Education
Project Team
Scheme HEPP NPP
Role Lead
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2015
GNo
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON Y

Best Footprint Forward$25,000

Funding body: auDA Foundation

Funding body auDA Foundation
Project Team Doctor Rachel Buchanan, Doctor Erica Southgate, Doctor Shamus Smith
Scheme Research Project
Role Lead
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2015
GNo G1401151
Type Of Funding Grant - Aust Non Government
Category 3AFG
UON Y

20122 grants / $17,300

Establishing effective and sustainable links between enabling and undergraduate programs by examining the transition of ELFS students$9,950

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team
Scheme Teaching and Learning Project Grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2012
Funding Finish 2012
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

People, Places, Pedagogy, Paradigm and Purpose: Evaluating Innovation and Building Research Capacity within a K-12 School $7,350

Funding body: Association of Independent Schools

Funding body Association of Independent Schools
Project Team Doctor Kylie Shaw, Doctor Kathryn Holmes, Doctor Rachel Buchanan, Mr Greg Preston
Scheme Independent Schools Centre for Excellence
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2012
Funding Finish 2012
GNo G1200696
Type Of Funding Grant - Aust Non Government
Category 3AFG
UON Y

20111 grants / $9,875

Academic Literacy of First Years$9,875

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team
Scheme Teaching and Learning Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2011
Funding Finish 2011
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y
Edit

Research Supervision

Current Supervision

Commenced Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2015 Equity, Opportunity and Experience: Negotiation of the Higher Education Learning Environment by Students with Learning Difficulties and Differences
Curriculum & Education Studies, Faculty of Education and Arts
Co-Supervisor
2014 Providing Female Education to Empower Women and Develop Society in Remote Areas of Vietnam.
Curriculum & Education Studies, Faculty of Education and Arts
Co-Supervisor
2014 Girls and Secondary Education in Rural Tanzania: Perceptions, Obstacles and Future Possibilities
Curriculum & Education Studies, Faculty of Education and Arts
Co-Supervisor
2009 A Study of School and Aboriginal Community Collaboration and its effect on Teacher Professional Knowledge
Curriculum & Education Studies, Faculty of Education and Arts
Co-Supervisor
Edit

News

UON research to enhance the safe a effective use of the internet for future generations

Best footprint forward

January 22, 2015

University of Newcastle (UON) researcher awarded grant to enhance the safe and effective use of the internet for the next generation.

John McIntyre Conference Centre University of Edinburgh

European Access Network

May 16, 2014

Staff from the University of Newcastle will attend the 23rd annual European Access Network being held at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland from June 2-4, 2014.

Dr Rachel Buchanan

Position

Lecturer
School of Education
Faculty of Education and Arts

Contact Details

Email rachel.buchanan@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4921 6411

Office

Room HA93
Building Hunter Building
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
Edit