I think that most things that can be known, can be understood, through experience and observation. Sometimes things just happen. That is not knowledge when you witness it. However, when the same time keeps happening in similar situations, if we notice, we can learn to expect the same results in the future. When we start to recognize this pattern of circumstances, then we can begin to know things because we can begin to trust those things will happen again. So, if we want to understand the world, we need to be willing to experience it and observe what happens.
Research is a deliberate act of experiencing circumstances and observing them. I think the purpose of doing research is to know things on our terms rather than waiting for circumstances to happen on their own. Research creates controlled circumstances intentionally for researchers to experience and witness the results. Researchers then turn their observations into stories or numbers to create a set of data that is knowable. I have a preference for narrative type data but I think numbers can shed new light on to that narrative.
My future research is focused on the effects of social presence on learning in computer supported collaborative learning environments in higher ed. I think the topic can cross over into K-12 and even possibly into corporate training settings.