Is blogging and tweeting about research papers worth it? The Verdict

Melissa Terras started a project in October 2011 to make all her articles available via an open access repository.

I decided that as well as putting them in the institutional repository, I would write a blog post about each research project, and tweet the papers for download. Would this affect how much my research was read, known, discussed, distributed?

Did it work? She writes an insightful post on the result.

The verdict

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Home News Local Atlantic City News Atlantic City News South Jersey high school librarians teaching students how to use high technology in their research

Diane D’Amico looks at the changes since a loss of state aid forced libraries to rethink, close or re-evolve.  Whilst they still have books, the increased interest in using different technologies for searching has its challenges and opportunities

“Research is done differently now,” she said. “Everything is more electronic, using databases. But students still need guidance. They may be digital natives with technology, but they don’t always know how to search effectively or responsibly. They believe if they find it on the Internet, it must be true.”

The libraries are being used as learning and social hubs with the increased physical spaces providing opportunities for spreading out beyond the classroom.  She interviews a range of different librarians who are exploring different ideas.

In full

 

What’s REALLY going on in higher education?

Brian M Lucey critiques an article in the Irish Times about education and academic research practices in Ireland, reflecting that students as consumers and the notion of value chains are outdated.

The notion of students as a consumer is a flawed metaphor : it is at best incomplete as the ‘consumption’ of higher education gives utility for decades. Asking students partway through their degree to critically evaluate its benefits is akin to asking someone if they enjoyed their meal after the bread rolls have arrived. There are much much richer metaphors for education : the one we like is that of an orchestra, where together the students and lecturers co-create a work which reverberates then and later. The world of music is full of examples where new work is rapturously approved on first iteration but thereafter is seen as shallow, derivative, and falls into disuse. It is also full of slow burners where audiences and critics react with a ‘huh’ or worse a “WHAT” but over time the beauty and utility of the work is seen by the community. Note that in either case the orchestra etc needs to be technically proficient and willing to work hard and the conductor know where they all are going…

In full

Lecture explores effects of digital media on academia

Stephen Underwood at the Daily Campus looks at recent work by Dr N Katherine Hayles who researches use of technology and genetic and cognitive changes that occur through use of digital media.

She said that whether knowingly or unknowingly, digital media plays a large role in students’ studying and behavior. “Students nowadays are increasingly multitasking. No longer do students go to the library to write their papers; they’re watching T.V., surfing the internet, listening to music, and viewing webpages. All of these aspects influence their research and essays.”

In full

Promoting innovation and evidence-based approaches to building resilience and responding to humanitarian crises

By Giorgio Bertini

At the end of 2011, the United Nations called for humanitarian assistance to be both scaled up and made ‘smarter’ as global emergencies continued to expand in both frequency and complexity.  DFID has launched a new strategy to meet this challenge.  The strategy, ‘Promoting innovation and evidence-based approaches to building resilience and responding to humanitarian crises’, aims to go beyond simply responding to crises by investing in approaches that promote resilience.

It tackles directly four key problems in the global community’s current response to crisis to humanitarian crises: First, that decision-makers do not have routine access to good information about risk; second that we don’t really know which interventions are most effective in reducing risk, saving lives and rebuilding livelihoods after crises; third, that there is insufficient capacity to build resilience or mount responses when disaster strikes; and forth, that decision-makers are not always using available evidence to inform their decisions.

How not to write a PhD thesis

In this article Tara Brabazon explains how she is guilding three students nearing their submission deadlines. She discusses the weird and wonderful of examiner comments.

It is a joy to nurture, support and help the academy’s next generation, but it is a dreadful moment when an examiner realises that a script is so below international standards of scholarship that there are three options: straight fail, award an MPhil or hope that the student shows enough spark in the viva voce so that it may be possible to skid through to major corrections and a full re-examination in 18 months.

When confronted by these choices, I am filled with sadness for students and supervisors, but this is matched by anger and even embarrassment. What were the supervisors thinking? Who or what convinced the student that this script was acceptable?

Therefore, to offer insights to postgraduates who may be in the final stages of submission, cursing their supervisors who want another draft and further references, here are my ten tips for failing a PhD. If you want failure, this is your road map to getting there:

Tips

#Change11 Traineeship Programs and Cynefin Framework based on Dave Snowden – Part 1

by John Mak

Jenny Mackness summarises in her post on the presentation by Dave Snowden.  I am impressed by Dave’s saying: “There are whole tracts of knowledge that can only be understood through interaction, e.g. through an apprenticeship model of education, which allows for imitation and failure, such as for London taxi drivers. Failure is key to human knowledge acquisition.” That sounds practical, as we have been adopting such an apprenticeship model of education here in Australia – with on-the-job training for the last 2 decades. To a great extent, I reckon it is one of the best ways of learning through practical hands on- deep down to earth learning.  The merits with such learning is that apprentices and trainees could actually follow through with the gaining of skills that they could apply on the jobs, reinforcing the experience, and thus allow for reflection of what works and what doesn’t in their particular fields.  This apprenticeship and traineeship on the job model of learning has also been highly valued as one of the situated learning – a model of learning where “Learning begins with people trying to solve problems.[4] When learning is problem based, people explore real life situations to find answers, or to solve the problems. Hung’s study focuses on how important being social is to learning. In believing that learning is social, Hung adds that learners who gravitate to communities with shared interests tend to benefit from the knowledge of those who are more knowledgeable than they are. He also says that these social experiences provide people with authentic experiences. When students are in these real-life situations they are compelled to learn. Hung concludes that taking a problem-based learning approach to designing curriculum carries students to a higher level of thinking.[4]

To what extent is the above claims valid? There are lots of problems waiting for us to solve, especially when one is at work, or studying in a course, or immersing in networks or communities, or in gaming, even having personal informal study, as part of the life-long or life-wide learning, or in the case of learning a particular skill as a hobby or interest.  For instance, if I want to learn how to play badminton, then I would likely try it myself, and watch others playing in the court, or watch some of the videos on Youtube, in order to understand some of the basic techniques, and thus could practice the skills when playing.  I could also share some of my experiences with others, or ask others for help, so as to improve my knowledge or skills.  As a disclosure, badminton is my favorite sport.  If one is learning how to cook, then he or she would likely watch some of the videos on cooking, checking with cookbooks on the recipes, and trying to cook different dishes at home.  However, would one become a chef just by doing that?  Not likely? I learnt that most chefs have acquired the skills through apprenticeship programs.

I just happened to discuss with the owner of the restaurant today, and he shared with me his experience as a chef before becoming an owner.  Surely, he learnt through immersion into the particular trade (as a chef), and so it is different from that of an amateur.  I like cooking too, but I could only do some very basic dishes, like fried rice, fried noodles, porridge or soup, but would never be able to achieve that level of mastery of the chef, without more expertise training and guidance.  To this end, I am impressed with Dave’s mention about the importance of training as a generalist, rather than a specialist, and that: “In universities we are training recipe book users and assessing whether they can reproduce the recipe. We are not training chefs who can achieve a huge amount without a recipe. Chefs have a mix of practical and theoretical wisdom and willingness to engage conceptually and theoretically with real world problems.” as cited by Jenny on Dave’s presentation.  So, it is important to have an open mindset in order to develop those expertise, likely through learning with more knowledgeable others, and or training on the job or workplace.  Is traineeship the solution then?

How about the effectiveness of traineeship model? The report states that: “The findings suggest that traineeships are an important pathway for female early school leavers. However, traineeships are poorly targeted if the target group is disadvantaged young people.”

There are concerns what traineeship program should be aiming for, whether it is more relating to provide avenues of training for those unemployed or disadvantaged people who would like to pursue a trade or the skills acquisition, both for new entrance and those currently employed on the job, for upgrading and/or recognising their skills.  This up-to-date report on traineeship provides the details with recommendations.

It has been revealed that most “trainees” could learn the skills on the job, and for those who are existing workers with years of experience (veterans in particular), what are necessary would be a reinforcement of their skills to ensure that they are kept up-to-date and so it is more aligned with recognition of their competency, though certain skills acquisition would surely happen with the introduction and application of new and emerging technology at work.  I reckon a simple to complicated scenarios would be sufficient for the “training” of most of these trainees.

For new entrance trainees, especially those early school leavers, or unemployed people, I could see the needs falling into a number of patterns, with a wide spectrum of skills.  For most of the early school leavers, their interests may lie more with the hands-on manual, technical or technological, administrative and clerical work, which may range from cooking and catering, hospitality and hotel work, office administration, warehousing, transport and distribution, freight forwarding, automobiles, mechanics, fitting and machining, performance arts, ICT, child care, nursing, finance and accounting, finance etc.  So, the emphasis here is on the skills for a particular trade or profession, though there are also strong emphasis on knowledge, where the trainees are expected to “acquire” such knowledge (like health and safety, legislation, company rules and regulations, procedures, products and services, and general knowledge on ICT and customer service) in order to perform the job to the standards required. I reckon the scenarios most likely fall into the simple (in majority) scenarios, where systems, processes and procedures would determine the best practice, and training would more likely be based on the supervision by their supervisors, or trainers, though institutional teaching and facilitation would also be incorporated to reinforce the knowledge and skills learnt through the job.  The challenge for  the training of disadvantaged or unemployed people is that most institutions would need to provide those on-the-job experience for them to actually practice the skills.  On some occasions, simulated working or virtual learning environments were introduced to augment the classroom training.   The use of authentic learning in a classroom setting may be a good alternative to solving this problem.

Are these skills and knowledge the same or different from the literacies cited in various reports?  See Keith’s post Here.

My Feelings during PLevy week in Change11

Thanks to Heli 

My purpose was first to tell about my learning but it is better to say ‘feelings’ – I can’t yet tell what I learned. I have a strong feeling of awakening, the activation level inside my mind has changed and I have enjoyed greatly. Thanks for this possibility to grow and broaden my consciousness. I have become aware about some limits in my mind that I did not know earlier – and I have recognized many old principles I’ve found with my friends in 1970′s an every decade after that. I have age and never begin from tabula rasa.

The hardest question I ask myself is today: why haven’t I lived through those principles I already knew? Have I betrayed myself and why in the world? Pierre Levy is an seriously working scientist, his life is an example of intellectual marathon, I can trust and admire him. I am retired now and I could safely and freely, independently implicit my intellectual marathon. I could do better -this is my basic feeling just now.

I try to tell about my findings: in 1970′s dialectical materialism and pragmatism – international student movement was a real university of innovative practice while science university gave basic knowledge. I studied psychology until licentiate degree and then left university. I was not strong enough to become a researcher after the student movement disappeared – I learned a lot about its death, it returned to hierarchies, conservatism actually. We had the right theory of democratic open equal discussions but we could keep it living, in practice only some years. Shortly I could say that since these times I have believed MIND to be the main concept for understanding mankind development – and mind has materialistic roots both in brain and society and culture through socialization.

My scientific studies in psychology and other social studies help me to understand parts of Pierre Levy’s articles. Philosophy and mathematics are challenging and only partly followed, but in some way I enjoyed reading them too. Reflective practice and conversations in communities have been the content of my working life many decades. Practical orientation has strengthened from year to year, criteria for success are found in ‘good practice, working practice’. Truth is always subjective and contextual.

Linguistics were studied during the course Critical Literacies in summer 2010. I have written many blog posts here during the hot summer and tried to understand the basic concepts. Now I have a feeling that Levy helped me to understand the whole picture better than earlier. I want to read articles many times in the near future, my interest to modelling cognition returned.

Another point of connecting something old to this networked life in the web was the concept rhizomatic learning. Of course it was known from psychology and education: human growth happens in many branched ways and it is seldom linear. I liked to follow Dave Cormier’s discussions but I could not combine it as well as Levy did. – Oh now I am telling about my learning, fine. Feeling and learning go hand in hand – Levy needed the concept B for saying this.

Still I have to remember my earlier ideas of research. It was autumn 2009 when I wrote the principles of mindware as the entity and qualitative narratives and case studies as a method. My beautiful image is found here. List of the main concepts is fine. The next questions concerning research principles comes from LAK11 conference, spring 2011. I was worried about quantitative data analysis, pondering if it will be the main issue. I could repeat these worries after reading Levy’s articles. I have to follow LAK12, it is coming soon. BUT first of all I have to ask myself that where is my research after 2009 meeting? I follow others’ research and comment to them, but my own story is still obscure. Why? What can I tell publicly? The story is linked to many people. I don’t want to tell negative sides of communication, or assess other participants’ personalities etc. So I have been silent.

This week has been important. I notice that others are writing their pondering, Jenny Mackness helps me again an jupidu (Twitter name) is a new interesting person to me, one blogpost here. In the FB group I followed questions and answers, professors of philosophy or mathematics have been active. I have understood Levy’s answers anyway. My questions are still sleeping, have to find myself first.

SMOOC half way point

By Lisa, on January 2nd, 2012

I am going over the mid-year surveys from our Pedagogy First! SMOOC (Small-to-medium open online class), and looking for patterns. It was a Google spreadsheet survey, so the summary isn’t very user-friendly, but here it is because it has pretty pie charts [pdf]. 42 people filled it out.

An overview of what’s up:

93% believe the class so far has been a positive learning experience. This is very high!

In terms of objectives, 62% are taking the class to improve teaching skills, and 21% to increase their knowledge of online tools for teaching.

In terms of goals, 62% intend to earn a POT online teaching certificate, while 24% are following along but intend to post only occasionally.

About the certificate, 38% are earning it to fulfill their own expectations, and 24% to advance their employment options. This is despite the fact that the certificate is an informal badge, issued by the volunteer Program for Online Teaching faculty, not an accredited institution of any kind. 36% are not going for the certificate.

So far, 29% have fulfilled the entire syllabus, and 17% plan to make up missed work.

31% started off well but personal or professional conflicts meant they stopped participating. This is of the 42 answering the survey, but the original number of participants was about 90, so most people have dropped. This was expected given the attrition in other MOOCs.

In terms of community, about a fifth feel strongly connected, and a fifth feel only partly connected. More interestingly, 38% say they feel only partly connected and that’s fine – we have a number of independent learners.

The sticky post we use for each week at the top of the blog is helpful to 76% of those surveyed. 88% felt the weekly email was helpful. So it may be that doing both is a good idea.

57% participated to some extent in the Facebook group, but 36% didn’t by choice. I know that several participants are leery of Facebook because of their horrid privacy policies, but given the 38% that don’t want more community connections, 57% is pretty high!

Although 48% are happy with the colleague connections, 24% want more emphasis on commenting on each other’s blogs. This is interesting, since everyone has been encouraged to do this, and doing so is up to the participants. 21% want a Google group or more formal place for discussion (only 3 people want to use Facebook for this). If we set something up, of course, the risk is fewer blog comments, so….

Mentors have been very or somewhat helpful to 53% of participants, but 21% didn’t get help and didn’t ask for it, and 26% didn’t know who their mentor was. We might want to put out a list so that mentors feel more responsible and participants know who to contact. We relied on mentors to contact their 4 or 5 mentees, but there may have been a communication gap.

45% see online teaching as a mode of delivery, which is probably the most basic definition. 24% see it as a separate discipline. Others didn’t choose either, or believed they were combined. Only 14% saw it as a subset of teaching in general.

74% claim to have gained confidence in selecting tools for online teaching. This is excellent.

81% feel ready to build a class around their own pedagogy instead of being led solely by the technologies they’re using. Also excellent!

Concerning class design, 60% like it the way it is, with assigned readings/viewings, required posts, and participants blogging in their own space. Comments indicate participants want more about designing discussion, building community, and creating assessments, with an emphasis on reflection. 12% (five participants) wanted less work overall.

Participants have enjoyed blogging, reading the Ko and Rossen textbook, trying lots of tools, and interacting with a community. Concerns mostly revolved around participants not having the time they hoped they’d have to participate more fully, and some felt there was just too much, especially too many tools to try. Since one of the things they most enjoyed was trying the tools, and one of the biggest concerns was too many tools, these may cancel each other out.

Seven participants (17%) indicated they would have liked less tool exploration and more emphasis on the reading in the first semester. Although this isn’t very many articulating this, I saw evidence that this was a problem in other ways, including frustration with tools in the first several weeks. This was exacerbated by people needing help and time setting up their own blog. We may need to provide more time for that in the first few weeks.

Comparing two publication channels – academic journals and blogs

by Frances Bell, CC3.0 Unported

Henry Jenkins by Tamaleaver CC by 2.0

Journals on shelves

Journals on Shelves by Bezanson CC by 2.0

 

I am going to throw out a few initial ideas about comparing academic journals and blogs as publication channels, as a kick off to a writing project I’ll be doing with Cristina Costa.

Let me start by saying that it is very difficult to generalise about either academic journals or blogs as channels since they are each in a state of flux, changing and interpreted differently  by different users and audiences. This post has been provoked by recent discussion on peer review and journals within my (albeit limited) network.  The issues that interest me are:

  • development of research and writing
  • the role of peer review and editing
  • dissemination of research

Obviously, I will be collaborating with Cristina and we will both improving our review of the literature to find what is already known on the subject.

development of research and writing

Blogs can play a role in the development of academic writing.  An author can try out ideas and get feedback.  I have tried this myself  (but can’t point to the posts as they are sadly lost) on a paper I wrote for Networked Learning 2010.  Also I recall a learning developer who posted successive drafts of an essay on their blog in response to readers’ feedback (would love the link to this if anyone has it). I think the intention of this was to reveal the sometimes messy journey of writing rather than to recommend this as a method of writing.

I see writing as a process with a product that emerges from privacy to publication with more eyes seeing and commenting along the way. A tweet may take only a minute to write but increasingly this text is wraparound/trigger to click a link to another text /multimedia artifact such as a blog post or video created over a much longer period.

There are different styles of blogging and plenty of tips on how to do it and writing for different audiences is very useful for an author’s toolkit.

Writing an article for a scholarly journal is likely to be a much more lengthy process with commenting and revisions emerging from the exchanges between authors, reviewers and editor(s) not all which are ‘public’ in the sense the article itself is.  The process for rejected articles is private with no publication endpoint. Journals with a commitment to the development of their authors will try to ensure that peer review is as much about development as about selection/ rejection.  I am interested in the role that blogging and other social media can play in writing development.

the role of peer review and editing

Journal peer review can be double blind (where neither reviewer nor authors are known to each other – though it is sometimes possible for them to guess each others’ identities); single blind where the reviewers know the authors’ identities but they remain anonymous to authors.  Usually peer review remains a relatively private exchange with comments and responses sent by email.  Different levels and types of openness are possible.  JIME, Journal of Interactive Media Education conducted very interesting dialogic review  and I am interested to research into evaluations of that and similar approaches.  I do know that reviewing can help writers develop, and that editing has had an impact on my reviewing and my writing.

I was also interested in Alan Cann’s experiment with open review but  think that much more work needs to be done to tease out more and less effective methods of using feedback to develop writing. I am not at all convinced by Doug Belshaw’s linkage of transparency to better in relation to peer review (see last sentence).