Why is research vital to e-learning?

akbacademic from the University of Derby technology blog in the UK  list a series of questions which will help reflect on why research is important and how it contributes to development. The list includes

  1. What’s the connection between innovation and dinosaurs?

  2. What links Kodak, Raleigh Bicycles and the Roman Empire?

  3. When is it time for you to retire?


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15 Books that Challenged me to Think and Rethink about Higher Education in 2012 #highered #edu

Bernard Bull on eTale blog provides the list of books which challenged him with conflicting viewpoints. The list includes

Arum, R., & Roksa, J. (2011). Academically adrift: Limited learning on college campuses. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

What are undergraduates learning in college? This book points to research indicating that the answer may well be “not much.”

Kirp, D. L. (2003). Shakespeare, Einstein, and the bottom line: The marketing of higher education. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Almost a decade old, I contend that the ideas in this book are more relevant today than they were when the book was first published.

The 15 books

Doing Internet Research at the Elementary Level

Rajasekar of the scoolbell blog writes about a recent experience preparing to teach research skills to students in grades three to seven. He has broken the topic up into smaller areas which he has mapped on the blog, including topic keywords, testing search terms, synthesizing information and several other areas.

All classes begin with a discussion about what research is and why we do it and how we do it. Each grade will be using their research and applying it to a larger question or problem. For instance, rather than having my third regurgitate answers back to me about animals, they will use the information they find to answer the larger question. (i.e. “Your parents said you can have any pet you want. What will you need to keep the pet?”)

The notes will vary across grades and shows a wonderful research graphic from The Kentucky Virtual Library

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Communicating in Research

Leigh Hall of the Education Disruptions blog writes about a project where they are encouraging teachers to collaborate and wondes how best to do this. They have set up a VoiceThread

Although I’ve just sent out one VT, I am hopeful it will work well as a means for communicating information about the project. First, teachers can watch it at their own pace. Second, they can watch it as many times as they want (some of it or all of it). They can also leave comments if they need help with something that others likely could benefit from.

They look at how the voicethreads can be explored further and note how if this had been done as a face-face workshop they would not have the advantage of the recordings being easily available for review

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Madagascar launches online research network

Marc McIlhone of African Brains looks at the recent launch of new online research network investigating science, technology and education

According to a statement issued at a government cabinet meeting last month (30 May), the project aims to forge new links between Madagascar’s six state universities, three higher institutes of technology, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and all national research centres.

iRENALA will also connect Madagascar to a cluster of worldwide networks through GÉANT, an existing pan-European research and education network, which connects 40 million users in over 8,000 institutions worldwide.

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Changing Concept of University : 1946 to 2012

Ashwani Kumar looks at the history of University of Rajasthan and surrounding universities, reflecting on the changes that have taken place in the last 50 years. He notes how scholars of the university have attained positions within Indian government and it has an international reputation with fellowships from top foundations around the world. The university has split into many smaller universities

A university may have 25,000 students but does it have 25 world renowned scholars? The concept of research and teaching is gone. Most of the Universities and also Govt Institutions hardly produce any research with any impact factor as their main motive is to earn money and make new buildings increase the number of students. They don’t get any financial support but still they multiply their number of institutions.

He wonders if there can be good teaching without good research

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Open Access: Money and Data talk and say the same thing?

Stephen Curry reflects on open access and the basic principles of bulk buying – for libraries purchasing journals – the articles are cheaper but they end up buying a lot of content that may not be accessed and a study which noticed a ”weakening relationship” between journal Impact Factors and individual papers’ citations. He questions whether the notion of ‘journal’ itself is disappearing with increasing digital access and encourages people to sign up to the White House petition.

There seems no immediate danger; even relatively new and online-only journals, such as PLoS ONE, have a journal identity. But what does that mean in the absence of a physical object that looks like a printed journal? I suspect the dissociation of the concept from the thing itself may weaken people’s habituation to the form

Discussion in the comments challenges the study findings as to whether there is actual data to back up the claims made. They also look at the impact of media that reflect certain perspectives prior to detailed review

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Losing the glue of scholarship

Martin Weller, author of The Digital Scholar, looks at the reality of completing scholarly tasks in a changing higher education environment and the practicality of achieving these in addition to current work for his employer. He wonders whether these tasks which have often been done for free should have costs attached and wonders on the impact of overall scholarly practice across institutions

Are these kinds of tasks the unseen glue that binds scholarly activity together? So, if we lose, or at least drastically reduce, them does it fundamentally undermine the whole practice, or will we just find other ways of achieving them (for instance giving a talk remotely is a lot more efficient than travelling to the venue)

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Lost professors: we won’t need academics in 60 years

Chris Lloyd predicts that the number of academics across Australian universities will return to 1950s levels in 60 years time, noting his own challenges in digital environments today

These days, I design new courses by trawling the web for the latest content, topical examples and exercises. I feel more and more like a dispensable middle man between freely available content and captured students. More worrying, I strongly suspect I am not the world’s best translator of free content into course materials.I deliver the course to the students in a big hall. Here is another insight. Try as I might to inspire and engage, I am not the world’s best lecturer either.

He speculates on how students will access free content, selecting the best content for their needs, also noting that the need for increasing cost-effective delivery may have similar impacts on research

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Creativity-based Research: The Process of Co-Designing with Users

Caroline Naranjo-Bock writes for UX magazine about the practice of co-design and the different stages – taking account of what the research goals and questions are; who the audience is and what tools they can use; the users invited to participate; running workshops with different methods; trying a pilot and analysing the results. These don’t have to be done in a face to face setting.

New forms of co-design have emerged that take advantage of digital technologies to allow hundreds of users to co-create a product or service regardless of their location. Most of these co-design efforts come in the form of contests or collaborative online platforms that encourage users to submit ideas directly to the company and to collaborate with their peers.

Open innovation and crowdsourcing initiatives are open calls to a broad community of people for help with the design of a company’s next product or service, or for ongoing ideas that might be considered for real production.

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