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E-Learning I, II & III – the Picasa Albums of the MA ODE

Fig.1. E-Learning I covers FIVE modules of the Open University Masters in Open and Distance Education

E-Learning I – MAODE Modules, include innovation in e-learning, professional practices, open learning and ‘creativity, innovation and change’.

E-Learning II Research Practices in use of technology in learning

E-Learning III The Networked Practitioner

Google offers a myriad of ways to share content, whether images or words, from galleries to entire conversations. with circles and hangouts. Unwittingly I’ve been part of their ‘game’ since the outset, an early adopter of Picasa having migrated from Flickr. I’ve not invited much in the way of sharing though I now have over 175 ‘albums’ some of which contain a thousand images (the album max). Many of these albums are closed, or linked only to key family members or friends as they contain family snaps or holiday pictures. Some now contain an archive of deceased relatives (a grandfather, father and mother no less). Others are concept boards or scrapbooks, not just of OU work, far from it … but a place where these snippets of ideas and moments will be for decades while the hardware changes or breaks down, or hard copies, albums and scrapbooks, get lost, or damaged (or both).

I have THREE e-learning album galleries of screengrabs and photos, graphic mash-ups and such like spanning the three years and nine months I’ve been on the MA ODE.

This current E-learning III album is taking everything from H818. It is in every respect an OpenStudio platform – if I chose to share its contents then people may, with various copyright permissions (creative commons) use and re-use the content – though plenty of it I grab as a personal aide memoir and is therefore of copyrighted material.

The value of these becomes greater over time – it is a short hand back into a topic, and in time, indicative of how swiftly things are moving. These platforms are leaking out into formal learning contexts; there could be a  tipping point, where someone or something happens that galvanises massive interest, say the ‘Stephen Fry’ personality of Twitter, or the Arab Spring of Twitter where J K Rowling or Tracey Emin open their galleries to the world. Meanwhile, without meaning to be unnecessarily derogatory, OpenStudio is the ‘sheep pen’ while Picasa Web Galleries or Google Galleries are the ‘market’ – the sheep pen is closed and local, while the market is global, open, virtual, connected and online.

Martin Weller: ten digital scholarship lessons in ten videos

Martin Weller: ten digital scholarship lessons in ten videos

The greatest quality of a Martin Weller lecture is that leaves so much unsaid and unexplained. This isn’t a fault of the lecturer, rather it is either his personality to take an answer so far, to ask questions and then to leave question marks of various shapes and sizes hanging there. Your mission, if you care to take it, is to go and find answers. 

In this talk, or presentation … or seminar (responding to questions afterwards lasts as long as the talk itself) Weller considers what it means to be a digital scholar, and in relation to H818 addresses the benefits and pitfalls of being open.

He begins with his book ‘The Digital Scholar’. 

You can buy it – it’s a book and an eBook. You can also download it for free. Its creative commons copyright also permits you to distribute it, attributed, even to mash it up i.e. to play around with it. I do – often. I Tweet it line by line, grab pages and annotate with text and graphics. I try to bring the pages to life, to re-animate the dead. Which is the problem all books have – certainly compared to anyone used to the attraction of interactivity and multimedia and multi-sensory ‘sit forward’ content.

Privacy and online presence

Do what works for you in different situations – there are many degrees of openness. The pay-off of presence is engagement, is to gravitate towards and to be a magnet for like-minds. Weller doesn’t say it, but the best thing you can do online is to ask for advice and to know where to do this – in the right forum you will find an expert with the right voice, tone and techniques of explanation just for you. I have been taken by the openness of Amanda Palmer and her philosophy of knowing what she wants and asking for it.

Scholarly practice in the digital domain means:

  • Sharing

  • Engaging with networks online

  • Using resources

And it is, according to Weller, the intersect between openness, digital and networking were transformation occurs. I’d go further than this and put this Venn diagram in an unexpected context – not ‘out there’, not ‘here’ but rather between regions of your brain. It changes you. Those parts of your that you share, that you are open with, through the quasi-omnipresence of your digital being as it is networked, as connections form – as they do at home, around you with your friends and colleagues, so it creates new and otherwise unlikely tingles of response and activity in your brain. It is neurological.

Scholars have been there defining what scholarship is. However much I look at these guidelines and lists, as though they are prerequisites to get into grammar school and take a degree,  I think rather of 1901 and possibly still 1911 Census Returns where anyone attending school is defined as a ‘scholar’. The act of being engaged in learning makes you more scholar than anything else – the potential was there even if it was stymied when kids left school armed with the basics at age 14.

Wherein lies the problem. Weller says ten years, his peer group gives it longer, for the ‘digital scholar’ to emerge. I have argued that the digital scholar is imminent. I would now say that in time, retrospectively, we will identify people who already are the digital scholars – the 18 year old how schooled law graduated recently called to the bar, the 14 or 15 year old who has drilled through academic research to come up with his own viable solution to a medical issue … the academic community won’t accept it for the very reason that they ONLY see scholarship as it is defined and won through traditional, conservative, tightly controlled levels. The digital scholar will transcend these … people will simply appear, professor-like in all but name, as a result of the root they have taken into a subject that circumvents the ‘required’ pathway.

Gobbledygook it may be … but there are what we would understand to be quite normal conversations that plenty around us may have little understanding of. Those brought up in a digital world have always been familiar with its architecture – it just IS, like houses and trees. Whereas we – most of us anyhow, knew what the landscape looked like before. We have seen the bits and pieces, sometimes do disassembled as to make little sense and we have witness the folly and false starts too and the many white elephants.

My niggle with any presentation that quotes somebody is not having the reference. Several hours of searching and I have found only some of the authors quoted and in the case of Waldrop above I can find him, but have no idea where he said it. This matters more to me than ever now, not simply because the level of engagement with the subject that I have reached, but because I expect there to be links and I expect the answer to be a click, and therefore a momentary glance away.

I cannot find Le Muir anywhere. This despite having read more than most on blogging over the last decade. To blog is interesting because the reality is that only a fraction of us take to it … the teenager who kept a diary will make the best blogger, it’s part of you. Now the academic community is beginning to expect the 21st century scholar to blog – to have a digital presence, to wear their research on their sleeve, to become like a special edition iPad or iMac, with a see-through skin. We don’t care what you are like, but let us see all the same.

Weller compares before and after slides in relation to the blank with an OU logo and these colourful visualizations. He shows up a failing though. Someone who is good with words may not be able to visualise their thoughts – simply repeating a word in many fonts or creating a Wordle does not in any way complement or enhance the message. Advertisers discovered the answer in the 1960s – you put an art director and copywriter together. How can we get more of that in education? When I see and listen to academics I almost always see a group of strangers who happen to be in the same room. Even or especially in a jointly written paper I don’t see how or where the collaboration has occurred. It’s not as if they are team behind a TV series, each person with a role so clearly defined that it has a title. That’ll be the day. It would require the ‘digital scholar’ to become the equivalent of the producer or director with others taking part having clearly defined roles. As happens, for example, in a product trial.

I would also question screen grabs as a way to illustrate anything. I’d far prefer that anyone picks up a pen and does a doodle that expresses what they see in their heads – this after all is closer to the meaning the author is trying to put over.

I will return to this moment repeatedly – I admire Weller and those academics who with determination stay on the platform and observe the world as it passes by rather than pandering to the futurologist and revolutionaries who think that we have to sweep away what went before rather than build on it and work alongside it. The first newspapers was printed on the 6th November 1605 – they’ve survived this far. Their savour might be augmented reality.

I particularly like the above. I gave a few weeks of my life to writing a scaving book review of Nicholas Carr and ‘The Shallows’ and then supporting my perspective in a thread that emerged in the Amazon reviews. Perhaps I need to go a few rounds with Lanier and Turkle too then accept that a Master’s education means that I will never stand, virgin-like, in front of authors such as these and offer them my body and soul. They are journalists, popularist, scaremongering, plausible and always wrong. 

This grab from an animation by David Shriver might be a life-changer – taking me back to a way I did things a couple of decades ago. I just got on with it. Something that is going to work big one day, has to work small first then multiply. I keep itching to start a lecture tour – I have the projector and lecturn. I know what I want to talk about. I need to book a venue and get on with it. 

 I agree with the above with an important caveat:

What has become self-apparent to me during the course of the last few years studying online education, and ‘education’ is that human beings are extraordinarily diverse. However much we see ourselves as part of a race or community or cohort or class, we are ultimately very alone in our uniqueness. What ever impression you get, say of tens of thousands in North Korea doing drills together in a stadium, they are, each of them, their own person. One of the most wonderous human traits is the contrarian – even against inclination they will do the opposite so as not to be the same. I particularly like the idea that ‘not learning’ should be see as an educational theory. It’s true – keeping your sheet blank while everyone around you takes notes is an approach. Not learning means that you stand still, or go somewhere else while the conveyor belt of the class moves everyone else forward (though in different steps).

See the 20th March 2012 Lectures at LSE here.

Notes attached as a PDF.

I’m keen to expand on these notes. To fill in the gaps. To find the precise place where Weller refers to what someone has written.

Next step is cutting and pasting this into my external blog. Then spitting it out in bits as and when required. And nailing the references. A couple of clicks and I not only found the reference to John Naughton, but I’d bought his book. 90p on Kindle.

Applying learning on the First World War with e-learning – some Kindle reading.

Fig.1. Applying learning on the First World War with e-learning – some Kindle reading. 

I believe very much in the process of pulling apart, opening out, expanding, then editing, revising and condensing. There is an applied ‘creation process’ here – the three diamonds or Buffalo system that I sense H818 is taking us through.

Fig.2. The ‘Buffalo’ system of opening up, the compressing thinking

These days it is easy to grab and mash any content on a digital screen, but where I have a book I will, in some circumstances take pictures rather than write notes, then quickly bracket and annotate this text before filing it in an appropriate album online – for later consumption.

Regarding CC I’m afraid as the music and movie industries have already shown people will do as they please even where the copyright is bluntly stated. Academia will require and expect that everything is done by the book – the rest of the world won’t give a monkey’s … ‘we’ll’ do as we please until there’s a legal shoot up or the ‘industry’ realises that it has moved on.

Regarding eBooks, Amazon are looking at and expect to be very much at the forefront of the evolutionary of the book. Google are competing in the same space.

‘Have we reached the Napster moment in publishing?’ a senior engineer at Amazon asked.

My head, content wise, is in another place, studying First World War military history. As never before on the MAODE or subsequent OU e-learning modules, I know have content to put into these processes. For example, ‘the causes of the First World War’ might require reading of a dozen books and papers/pamphlets starting with H G Wells in 1914 and ending with books appearing on tables in Waterstones this week. Courtesy of the Internet just about anything I care to read, at a price, I can have within seconds on a smart device … or overnight courtesy of Amazon.

Whatever my practice, this content is mashed-up in my head.

If I mash it up through screen grabs, notes, sharing in social media and blogging then this is another expressing of what is going on in my head – though controlled by the parameters of the tools and platforms I use – currently a wordpress blog, SimpleMinds for mindmaps, and ‘Studio’ for layering text and images over screengrabs i.e annotations. As well as what ever Kindle gives me in the way of notes and highlights.

This kind of ‘extra corporeal’ engagement or visualization of what is going on in my head with the content gives it an life of its own and an extra dimension while also re-enforcing my own thoughts and knowledge. I’m sure that I am rattling along this learning curve at a far, far greater pace then I could have a decade or two decades ago. Patterns are more apparent. And I am spotting too many misappropriated images too. The idea that you can grab a frame and relabel it is 100 years old!

Fig.3. How I filmed the Front. Geoffrey Malins

For example, the footage from the ‘Battle of the Somme’ is often ‘grabbed’ with subsequent combatants and authors claiming these to be original photographs of their own – they must have had access to the negative. This footage, as I am very familiar with it, is repeatedly put into films and documentaries completely out of sequence.

As reference above is correct – I find ‘grabs’ from the film footage and photographs taken by Ernest Brooks who accompanies the ‘cameramen’ around the Somme in June/July 1916 constantly claimed as another person’s own photograph or belonging to their collection. 

A false or alternative impression is therefore built up.

Then, across YouTube, sections of TV dramas and films are snatched and cut into a person’s own re-hashing of a different story. Harry Patch died age 111 or something – the last veteran. A tribute to him uses footage from the TV drama starring Daniel Radcliffe called ‘My Boy, George”.

Are we therefore seeing with text, stills and moving images what has been happening to music for the last decade or more – deliberate, and often illegal sampling and mashing, rehashing, exploiting of someone else’s work? If so what impact will this have on content in the future? Does too much of it start to look familiar, rather than original? Or does originality come out of this process too?

The conclusion might be that people simple sidestep the stilted, stuck, formal process of academia – where the sharing process is so desperately slow. The paper I read on use of audio and tracking in a museum I thought was reasonably current as it was published in 2008 but the technology used comes from a different era – 2003. Research done in 2006, initially submitted as a paper in 2007, published the following year.

An R&R department functioning like this would be left behind.

Knowledge must leak, must be shared sooner, and where those share a work in progress it should be commended.

Digital Scholarships Considered: How New Technologies Could Transform Academic Work.

From, Pearce, Weller, Scanlon, Kinsley

Boyer’s dimensions of scholarship:

Discovery – research The creations of new knowledge in a specific area or discipline. Breakthroughs and innovations. Research Excellence Framework (REF)
Integration – synthesis Creating knowledge across disciplines. Wider context Research Excellence Framework (REF)
Application -practice Use in the wider world based on the scholar’s disciplinary knowledge and background (Pearce et al )
Teaching
Where the biggest impact of digital technologies and open approaches.

(Boyer, 1990, p. xi)

The internet lies at the core of an advanced scholarly information infrastructure to facilitate distributed, data and information-intensive collaborative research. (Borgman, 2007, xvii)

There have been extravagant claims about transformational potential of computers for almost as long as there have been computers. Pearce et al (2006). (CF. Shields, 1995)

Openness and transparency are significant drivers of change in education.

Getting the word out:

  • Journals
  • Conferences
  • Monographs

Problems with journals:

  • long lag times
  • increasing subscription costs
  • resentment by the volunteers
  • limitations of paper publishing replicated in digital formats (word limits, dynamic content, links)

Digital scholarship is more than just using information and communications technologies to research, teach and collaborate, but it is embracing the open values, ideology and potential of technologies born of peer-to-peer networking and wiki ways of working in order to benefit both the academy and society. Pearce et al (2006)

REFERENCE

Borgman, C.L. (2007) Scholarship in the digital age: Information, infrastructure, and the Internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Boyer, E.L. (1990) Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Princeton. N.J. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Conole, G. (2004). E-learning: the hype and the reality. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 12

Pearce,N., Weller,M.,  Scanlon,E., and Kinsley,s (2006) Digital Scholarships Considered: How New Technologies Could Transform Academic Work. In Education. Issue 16 (1)

Shields, M.A. (ed) (1995) Work and Technology in Higher Education: The social construction of academic computing.

Siemens, G. (2009). Open isn’t so open anymore. Connectivism. Retrieved from http://www.connectivism.ca/?p=198

 

Here’s a mindmap on ‘Digital Scholarship’

Fig. 1. Mindmap on Digital Scholarship

Learning, or rather teaching as a form of education is moving towards greater fluidity and liveliness in the relationship between the academic (author/lecturer) and the student.

Fig. 1. Digital Scholarship (Vernon, 2011)

I’ve drawn on ideas from the Masters in Open & Distance Education (MAODE) that I have been studying with The OU since February 2010. Also ‘The Digital Scholar’ by Martin Weller and ‘Preparing for blended e-learning’ by Chris Pegler.

I come to the conclusion that learning, or rather teaching as a form of education is moving towards greater fluidity and liveliness in the relationship between the academic (author/lecturer) and the student.

The model education should look to is one developed in business, something I stumble upon studying OU MBA Module ‘Creativity, Innovation & Change’

Drawing on a business model, the development of a more organic structure that is less hierarchical, as envisaged by Henry Mintzberg (1994), seems appropriate; it complements what authors such as John Seely Brown say about ‘learning from the periphery’ too. Mintzberg talks of an adhocracy, doodle here when I was making hand-drawn mind-maps during revision for an end of module exam (EMA).

Adhocracy

Characteristics of an adhocracy (Waterman, 1990; Mintzberg, 1994; Travica, 1999):

  • highly organic structure
  • little formalization of behavior
  • job specialization based on formal training
  • a tendency to group the specialists in functional units for housekeeping purposes but to deploy them in small, market-based project teams to do their work
  • a reliance on liaison devices to encourage mutual adjustment within and between these teams
  • low standardization of procedures
  • roles not clearly defined
  •  selective decentralization
  •  work organization rests on specialized teams
  • power-shifts to specialized teams
  • horizontal job specialization
  • high cost of communication (dramatically reduced in the networked age)
  • culture based on non-bureaucratic work

One could also draw on a simpler organic structure developed, again in the MBA arena, by Charles Handy.

Handy’s Shamrock (1989)

The advantage of a flexible organisation is that it can react quickly to a change in its external environment.

Since the 1990s, firms have examined their value chain and tried to reduce their workforce to a multi-skilled core, which is concerned with the creation or delivery of a product or service. All other supporting, non-central functions are outsourced wherever possible to the periphery.

Charles Handy suggested, however, that organisations do not consist of just the Core and the Periphery, since the periphery can be subdivided.

He calls this a shamrock organisation:

  • The first leaf of the shamrock represents the multi-skilled core of professional technicians and managers, essential to the continuity of the business
  • The second leaf Handy calls the contractual fringe, because non central activities are contracted out to firms specialising in activities such as marketing, computing, communications and research
  • The third leaf consists of a flexible workforce made up of part-time, temporary and seasonal workers.

However, the model I constantly turn to is the Activity System of Engestrom (via Vygotsky).

From E-LEARNING

which also has its organic expression, not dissimilar to the Mintzberg concentric organisational plan and John Seely Brown’s ideas of learning from the periphery:

A Mycorrihizae fungi

In the spirit of digital scholarship I’ve been experimenting with using Twitter to share thoughts on more than one book as I read them, highlighting a point and adding a Tweet. The feedback has been interesting, as has been the influx of new Twitter followers, invariable all with an academic or commercial interest in e-learning.

So come and join the feed, though from time to time you will receive tips on swim teaching best practice (how to fix a screw kick in breaststroke and some such) or as likely thoughts on life in the trenches as a machine gunner as we approach the centenary of the First World War.

Fig. 2. Expanding ideas with multiple e-tivities and assets online. Vernon (2010)

I’d like to see this offered as an APP or Tool so that digital assets (stuff) or ‘E-tivities’ (Salmon, 2002) are automatically aggregated as a fluid, initial offer. In other words, assets are seen as a way of catalysing a process of exploration.

REFERENCE

Brown, J.S., Collins.A., Duguid, P., (1989) Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. Educational Researcher, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Jan. – Feb., 1989), pp. 32-42 American Educational Research Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1176008 . Accessed: 05/03/2011 13:10

Engeström (2001) article, Expansive learning at work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualisation

Handy, C (1989) The Age of Unreason

Mintzberg, H (1994), The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning: Reconceiving the Roles for Planning, Plans, Planners, Free Press, pp. 458, ISBN 0-02-921605-2

Salmon, G (2002) E-tivities. The key to online learning

Travica, B (1999) New Organizational Designs: Information Aspects, Ablex/Greenwood, ISBN 1-56750-403-5, Google Print, p.7

Vernon, J.F. (2010-2012) Open University Student Blog

Vernon, J.F. (2011) Mindmaps, screen grabs and other e-learning ephemera

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978) Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.

Waterman, R. H. (1990). Adhocracy: The power to change. The Larger agenda series. Knoxville, Tenn: Whittle Direct Books.

Digital Scholarship

For ‘digitization’ read ‘atomization’ as the edges between a book and a blog, a lecture and a webinar, a half-overheard conversation on a bus and a Tweet blend into one, become elements of greater or less cohesive flotsam and jetsum in a digital water cycle, where content is churned, runs with the currents or evaporates into the atmosphere.

Whilst it was once possible to define someone as a scholar for how they behaved, their qualifications and even their job description said what they were, in future there will be less conventional routes to the scholarly accolade, indeed as this is a revolutionary rather than an evolutionary phase we are entering we cannot know where they are all coming from until they arrive.

I could be lying under a table in the Bodleian, ready to raid the stacks to indulge every whim and not be better served than I am online, iPad in hand, recumbent on a bed. I chat it through with family over dinner and with anyone who catches my words online. Ideas form.

The Digital Scholar: Reward and tenure (Martin Weller)

If it isn’t recognised then it isn’t recognised when it comes to getting promotion.

  • Research (more equal than the others)
  • Teaching
  • Service or management
  • Contribution to society
  • Academic esteem

A conservative value and reward system

‘Assessing quality in a reliable and transparent manner is a significant problem in the recognition of digital scholarship, and its intangibility and complexity are enough to make many give up and fall back on the practices they know and trust’. (Weller, 2011)

• Recreating the existing model

• Finding digital equivalents

• Generating guidelines that include digital scholarship

• Using metrics (500 views, 4 embeds and a keynote too simplistic)

• Peer review

• Micro-credit

• Developing alternative methods

Keynote speech and reputation

Metrics can be cheated (Hirsh 2005) and gamed (Ealagas and Alexiou 2008)

REF Research Excellence Framework

‘A digital scholar is likely to have a distributed online identity, all of which can be seen to represent factors such as reputation, impact, influence and productivity’.

‘We continually make the error of subjugating technology to our present practice rather than allowing it to free us from the tyranny of past mistakes’. Stephen Heppell (2001)

‘Many if the characteristics which would be frowned upon in scholarly articles, such as subjectivity, humour, and personal opinion, are vital elements in developing a dialogue in blogs’.

Towards the portfolio approach:

• A range of digital outputs demonstrating impact

• Commendations from the community

• Recognised experts

• Overarching narrative making the case for the work as a whole.

• Peer review = reliability and authority.

• Which could also strangle innovation. (Fitzpatrick 2009)

More from the ‘Digital Scholar’ by Martin Weller

Digital Scholar

Revolution not imminent, significant trends are as far as it goes.

(More than a Model T Ford getting a lick of green paint, more akin to flight making the shift to jet propulsion?)

Something of a revolution in other sectors, from external agencies or bottom up.

Digitisation of content. Perfectly distribution.

Social networks and the easy distribution of content.

  • Newspapers
  • Music Industry

WPP near 20% drop in traditional advertising in papers.

Craig’s list has double the traffic of the New York Times

Unbundling if newspaper advertising

Don’t confuse function with form, we don’t need newspapers, we need journalism. Shirky.

  • John Naughton
  • Think Ecologically
  • Think long term

 Abandon voice in favour of large text, three to four words per line, like a TV autocue, the Kindle in my right hand typing with my left and skim reading rather faster.

See my scrapbook of images in Picasa Web, or put in Tumblr, or image favouring WordPress layout.

VS industries based in ownership.

So music returns to the live concert.

Blurring of boundaries between sectors.

What Apple has over Microsoft and many others, is a passion sand vigour when it comes to design both of hardware and software.

So what’s the equivalent for universities?

If they are the record company then they are redundant, let’s go for the author as artiste, even their free books to promote the live lecture?

Atoms, molecules and filters.

Google and an eBay for education?

  • A community of learners
  • Approved mentors
  • Credits based on learning they can demonstrate


The OU Library

University Functions:

  1.  Teaching
  2.  Research
  3. Dissemination
  4. Outreach
  5. Curration

Change can be quick

 

  • No assumptions are unassailable
  • Form and function are different
  •  Boundaries are blurred.
  • We can’t wrap libraries and such like in cotton wool if their time is over.
  • Global networks, unpredictable environments, rapid response.

The life experience of the university campus and college.

Resistance


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