#LTEC6040, Online Learning, Research, SoTL

#LTEC6040 Asks, “Why Online?”

This academic semester I am fully immersed in online/digital scholarship of teaching and learning. This should not be a surprise, as I teach online and I’m often trying to figure out how distance/technology impacts learning. This year I am exploring HOW TO research digital teaching/learning practices in the courses I instruct and for the scholarship I’m drafting. According to Storify (soon to R.I.P. in May 2018), we’ve been talking about how to best define/label distributed learning for a while => here’s a Twitter thread captured from 3 years ago:  “State of ______ [insert: digital, online, etc.] Learning.” Under the umbrella term, distance education, comes a variety of ways to teach and learn. Additionally, the technological landscape in education has offered a number of ways to discuss, research, and design distributed learning. It’s complicated and challenging as the titles/labels for this type of teaching/learning hold many monikers in the empirical research: educational/learning technologies, networked learning, online education, blended learning environments, hybrid models, flipped learning, e-Learning, virtual environments, and more! Some technologies have the ability to design a flow of distributed learning that is seamless; whereas other digital facets create barriers and challenges.

Our learning spaces have a number of ways to infuse technology into distance education. With this comes even more ways to research and study these pedagogical practices for digital learning.  Regardless of the app, platform, or tool, we seem to have some aspect of “digital” infused into how we both teach and learn. As the options and variety of this online teaching/learning scholarship is broad, I am looking forward to supporting doctoral researchers who will identify one aspect of digital learning in our LTEC 6040: Theory and Practice of Distributed Learning (#LTEC6040 ) course. If you read this blog or connect with me on Twitter, you might see a few posts/shares using this hashtag to signal ideas and offer resources for these early career scholars as they work on investigating one piece of this distance/distributed learning pie.

The central focus of the #LTEC6040 course is to encourage doctoral researchers to define their own theory of online learning/teaching in context to:

  • Outlining empirical literature that supports (or refutes) their personal online learning/teaching theory
  • Identifying appropriate research methods to collect and analyze data connected to this personal online learning/teaching theory (small scale study)
  • Describing the ethical considerations and practices for this research study (e.g. IRB, recruitment, sample population, etc.)
  • Drafting an academic article manuscript for an appropriate publication outlet related to their field of inquiry in online teaching/learning

If you are so inclined, I would encourage you to join in the conversation and offer advice, resources,ideas, and readings for these scholars — as a number of you hold some invaluable expertise in a variety of areas we’ll be exploring for distributed learning this term [To see potential topics, see page 6 of the LTEC 6040 Course Syllabus]:

#LTEC6040 Blogs
https://jennie6040.blog/
https://nitiesite.wordpress.com/
https://jackimberly.wordpress.com/
https://crossingboundariesmedia.wordpress.com
https://osbornemarks.wordpress.com/
https://notlostnotyet.wordpress.com/
https://rickwoods2018.wordpress.com/
https://ltiwithme.wordpress.com/

We are just beginning to define what it means to examine online instruction/learning and unpacking distributed educational environments. In the initial conversations and class blog posts, most are still working on how they DEFINE and OUTLINE what it means to learn/teach online from their own experiences and expectations from the theories they are learning about in our program. Distance education research in higher education is fairly “young” (in comparison to other disciplines) and I am grateful I am surrounded by some fantastic colleagues and their respective departments/units/centers/teams who continue to find value in sharing digital teaching/learning scholarship resources. Here are a just a few (of many) examples:

Beyond these databases, reports, and resources, I am curating other digital learning materials and discourse to prompt discussion, debate and inquiry. Please feel free to share articles, blog posts, media, and more that might be suitable for diving into online teaching/learning research. Please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments below, if you have any. If you tweet, share what you think is critical for investigations in the digital age of learning using the course hashtag: #LTEC6040

#AcWri, #AcWriMo

Learn to Write Badly #AcWriMo

In my writing process of jumping into #AcWriMo for November, I also decided to add reading to my writing goals. I have a number of books on academic writing I’ve acquired, so why not read more about said things to gain motivation, inspiration, and ideas for my writing process. As I’m personally extending my November #AcWriMo through this weekend (because American Thanksgiving interrupted my workflow, and perhaps some other fun things), I thought I would share some words of wisdom from Michael Billig’s book, Learn to Write Badly.

LTWBbook

I may have ordered this book based on the Times Higher Education review or comments from @ThomsonPat‘s blog post — either way it was not fully read until this month. I spent some time away from the screen to visit my parents in Florida and also to get ideas about my own writing practice. This was one of the books I packed and picked up again. A few comments stood out from these posts, which I agreed and wanted to read more about:

  • Academe is part of a wider world in which the use of highly technical, specialised language is endemic and possibly even necessary.” ~Times Higher Education
  • “…in writing in particular ways – doing pretty conventional social science in fact – we actually do poor research. When we turn actions into lofty abstractions, he suggests, we actually gloss over important ambiguities and difficulties and make it hard for readers to understand what has really happened, how or why.” ~ @ThomsonPat

As I agreed on both of these points, I thought — this read is for me. I will be honest. This books is not for all. There’s some historical context to academia that interested me; however there is also a delve into the discipline diatribe nature of certain social science arenas. This is not the fun “how to” light read you might be looking for; however it’s one academics comments and thoughts on how we research, write, and contribute to the cannon. If you’re into that, then you’ll enjoy this book.

A section of the book that stood out to me was in Chapter 2, where Billig discusses “Mass producing research” and the efforts academe puts into this process in higher education:

“Superficially all seems to be well in the academic world, for, along with the increasing student numbers, research is booming as never before and, as we shall see, never have academics been publishing so much. This is an age where research, across all disciplines, is being mass produced. Of course, with more academics working in higher education, one might predict an increase in research and academic publications. However, the books in research is far too big to be accounted for simply by the increase in the number of academics. The job of many academics has changed so that they are now expected to publish as well as teach” (Billig, 2013, p. 19).

[As well as service: mentoring, advising, career development, coaching, program development, course design, and then some.]

Just because there is more research or a “massification” in academic publications — it does not mean it is good. If you have had the chance to do a systematic literature review and citation analysis lately in your field or specific research area — you will soon discover a bunch of okay research gets published. Multiple times. Sometimes the same research, almost written the SAME WAY… just with different titles [I kid you not, and will dig into this topic in a later blog post].

This book had some serious slagging for how social scientists write and perpetuate a particular writing style, paired with a number of interesting historical and discipline specific references. For all academic writers, I think Billing’s (2013, pp. 212-215) recommendations offered in the final chapter provides helpful suggestions for our academic writing practice:

  1. We should try to use simple language and avoid technical terms as much as possible. We should not assume that technical terms are clearer and more precise than the ordinary ones…” – Keep it simple. Could you explain your research to anyone outside your field? Then do it in your manuscripts.
  2. “Try to reduce the number of passive sentences in your writing.” Say what you mean in present terms. Own it. The active voice should be the default voice as your sentences will contain more information and connect with your readers. Build this habit in your writing.
  3. “We should try to write clausally rather than nominally… I would like to see a greater proportion of them [technical terms] as other parts of speech besides nouns.” i.e. we need to express ourselves in clauses with active verbs. Be less passive in how we write (see #2).
  4. “Treat all these recommendations as either guidelines or aspirations, but not as a rigid rules.” You need to know the rules to break the rules of writing. I may have this rule for most things in life. Understanding more of the rules to guide how you draft your publications.
  5. “As social scientists, we should aim to populate our tests – to write about people rather than things.” The goal for this suggestion is to describe and write about what people think, do, feel, etc. How do your research findings actually impact the world around you? What does this mean for your discipline, field, or society?

Reference

Billing, M. (2013). Learn to write badly: How to succeed in the social sciences. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

#AcWri, #AcWriMo

Accountability for Writing with #AcWriMo

Academic Writing Month (#AcWriMo) is a month-long academic write-a-thon that happens every November. Are you in it, to win it? I am!

acwrimo-unsw

Thanks to @CharlotteFrost for setting up the 1st #AcWriMo in 2011 (she’s also the founder and director of @PhD2Published) to coordinate a collaborative peer effort around accountability for academic writing.  After the first #AcWriMo ended, many embraced the #AcWri hashtag to continue a the discussion & discourse around academic writing (Follow: @AcWri). The PhD2Published blog shares ideas and inspiration for #AcWriMo – to follow these tips via the blog, follow the Twitter account, or “like” the Facebook page.

I’ve done #acwrimo in the past during my dissertating phase, so I know it works. This is a great peer community to help keep writing in check and supports my #acwri progress. This year I’ve set my #AcWriMo goals for November to wrap up a few writing and research projects. My priority is the green list, as these are active manuscripts in progress and need to be submitted before the month’s end. Then I’ll move right to publications in development, and future research ideas to tease out. Ask me how it goes this month – PLEASE!

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Good news. As of day 3, I am already finished with green list #1 – first draft of this manuscript is being edited and sent to the editors before the week is done. I have also made some progress on the Research I.P. for the IRB application and Research design on mentoring thanks to a meeting with collaborators this evening.

It might be day 3, but it’s NOT TOO LATE TO JOIN IN the #AcWriMo 2015 challenge => here are the 6 basic rules from the @PhD2Published blog:

  1. Set your writing goal(s) & plan. This can be in words, hours, or end products. You decide. (Check out the PhDometer app or 750 Words site to help you measure!)
  2. Make it public. Make it known. SIGN UP and let your goals & plan be known on the AcWriMo 2015 Sign-Up Form and then return to edit daily your progress. Peer pressure can do wonders! Check out WHO is participating from around the world on the #AcWriMo Map.
  3. Draft a writing strategy. Plan how to accomplish your goals. Organize your schedule for your uninterrupted #ShutUpAndWrite time. PLAN TO WRITE IN ADVANCE!
  4. Share your writing progress. Post it publically. Twiter, blog, Facebook, Instagram — share with the hashtag #AcWriMo how things are going AND track your daily progress on the community #AcWriMo PUBLIC Accountability spreadsheet.
  5. Keep the #AcWriMo-tivation going. Don’t slack off. Write like it matters. Push yourself to reach your goals — chunk out projects, writing sections, and manuscripts to GIT ‘R DUN!  December will be here sooner than you think…
  6. Declare your results. Update the spreadsheet or whatever space you are keeping track of your writing progress — then let the #AcWriMo community know about your writing results at the end of the month. It helps to share and be accountable in the open — it is also a chance to get support, cheers, and feedback along the way.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get your academic writing ON! See you out there, #AcWriMo!

 

networkedscholar, Research

Being A Networked Scholar

Using social media and being a networked scholar allows provides you with an online, research presence and connects you to academics inside and outside your field. The power of open, social networks, allows academic to connect to research and researchers across disciplines. Consider all the ways you can collaborate and share in social media. A growing number of scholars have adopted and joined these online scholarly communities to meet other like-minded scholars, solicit for research support, share project progress, and disseminate findings beyond a conference publication or journal article. A core value of open, online networked scholarship is it is “a place where scholars can congregate to share their work, ideas and experiences” (Veletsianos, 2013, p. 648).  There are a number of researcher identification and citation tools connected to social media sites and scholarly metrics. Teaching and research information are being distributed and shared across platforms and communities.

elearn14-digital-scholarship-21-638

“It is a critical time to rethink how research is produced, distributed, and acknowledged.”

(Pasquini, Wakefield, Reed & Allen, 2014, p. 1567).

As I investigate workplace learning and performance, it has been helpful to blog and bounce ideas off on others on Twitter. I have used Mendeley to work on literature reviews, Google+ hangouts for research team meetings, Google documents for collaborative writing/research, searched Academia.edu or ResearchGate to access publications, and posted academic results to SlideShare. These are just a few ways I like to “show my work” and work in the open as a scholar. Being social and online allows me to reflect on my academic teaching and research scholarship experiences, and it has connected me to a great number of academics who I learn and research among.

If you or another academic colleague are thinking about how social media and networks can impact your teaching, research, and service scholarship, then here are a few insights George & I shared via Royal Roads University post on networked scholarship.

Network with colleagues

Higher education faculty and academics are adopting social media in growing numbers. A 2011 survey, for example, found that 45 % of higher education respondents use Facebook for professional, non-classroom purposes. Joining social media networks allows scholars to connect with colleagues, offer resources and discuss issues of professional interest.

Solicit feedback and reflect on your research and teaching

Academics increasingly share their work online, often engaging in activities that impact practice. Academic-focused social networking sites, such as Academia.edu and Mendeley, and general interest sites such as Twitter and SlideShare provide scholars with places to distribute, discuss and expand on their research and teaching.

Reach multiple audiences

In sharing in open social networks, scholars enter into an interdisciplinary territory and often break down barriers between academic disciplines. Not only are the traditional walls of the academy thinner online, but academic work could reach broader audiences, such as practitioners and journalists.

Cultivate your identity as a scholar

Social media and online networks allow scholars to manage their online identity, track their citations, identify their spheres of influence and connect with colleagues. These tools support different ways in which knowledge can be produced, shared, negotiated and acknowledged. Learn more about a few of these tools here and here.

Become more open

Using social media and online social networks means being a tad more open, and that’s good for all of us. Openness is the practice of sharing resources and materials (e.g., syllabi, lectures, research papers) in a way that allows others to retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute them. Social media and online social networks often support an ethos of openness, enabling academics to share their work more frequently. A more open approach to scholarship allows knowledge and education to flow more freely and to be used more widely.

What advice do you give early career researchers and academics who are just getting started with social media?

I am not naive to say that being a networked, social scholars does not have any issues. What challenges do you see in being part of the “open” and involved in networked scholarship? Let me know. A follow-up blog post on this particular question and issue to come…

References:

Pasquini, L., Wakefield, J., Reed, A. & Allen, J. (2014). Digital Scholarship and Impact Factors: Methods and Tools to Connect Your Research. In Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2014 (pp. 1564-1569). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.editlib.org/p/148918.

Veletsianos, G. (2013). Open Practices and Identity: Evidence from Researchers and Educators’ Social Media Participation. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(3), 639-651.

A version of this blog post is cross-posted on the Royal Roads University website.

networkedscholar

Once A Networked Scholar… Always One? #scholar14

 

Social media is my thing (so I’ve heard). Really, the THING about social media is the SOCIAL. Throughout my personal, professional and academic career, I have touted the value of my personal learning network on Twitter. I give credit to this 140-character medium as it daily contributes to my literature review, data collection, and connected engage in my discipline.

I am not alone in the love of Twitter and scholarship. Other academics have identified value in Twitters’s role for scientific publication and power of dissemination when shared among the network of scholars. In contrast, there is a dark side to being in this particular space (“they” say). I shared this article earlier in the stream today, “To tweet or not to tweet: academic freedom and social media” – if you have not read it,  you should. This article is one of MANY that calls into question the use and impact of social media networks in academia. As an early career researcher, I am interested in learning more about the impacts to the field and the influence digital scholarship has for teaching, learning, service and research scholarship. {More on this research and work… to come.}

csfzzj3z-1412558503

 

I have a number of questions that need answers on the networked/digital scholar topic:

  • How will social networks shape tenure and promotion?
  • What issues do academics face, when being active in social media spaces?
  • What challenges will emerge with the use of transmedia for research and learning in post-secondary education?
  • Will digital scholarship impact and shift how tenure and promotion?
  • What other influences should be considered for impact factors and scholarly contributions?
  • How does the digital influence our own doctoral programs & preparation?
  • How digital influence truly effect impact factors for research? Should it?
  • What information do we know about “the networked scholar”?

These are just a few of my questions. I have more. I signed up for George’s (@veletsianos) Networked Scholar (#scholar14) MOOC to continue this dialogue and bat around a few ideas with other interested scholars. I am looking forward to continuing my meanderings on my blog and, of course, on the Twitters => #scholar14 Won’t you join in the discussion and banter as well? http://networkedscholars.net/

#AcWri, OpenAccess

SPARC Addendum & Author Rights for Publishing #OpenAccess

As part of the international open access week last fall, I attended the #SPARC Addendums and Author Rights Workshop facilitated by Kris Helge from the UNT Libraries. As an author and editor for a journal, this session reminded me about the critical stakeholders and expectations for the scholarly publishing process and the need to consider my own author agreements before signing away my work. I am fortunate enough to work and study at an institution who supports Open Access,and #OpenAccess publications.

I am also excited that other academic journals (e.g. JALN) are joining the #OA movement; however there are a number of peer-reviewed, academic publications who hold traditional publisher agreements and copyright limitations close to their heart. If you are an academic, scholarly author, or early career researcher and you have NOT heard about SPARC … then this blog post is for you!

mainheader

After a brief review of copyrights and “traditional publishing agreements,” the workshop reminded me about of the importance of reading author agreements CAREFULLY and THOROUGHLY. A number of authors and early career researchers are just excited to get the chance to publish, that they rarely considering they are agreeing to transfer ALL OF THEIR COPYRIGHTS TO THE PUBLISHER. As researchers, we need to value our intellectual property and have a conversation with the publisher and inquire if any of the publishing agreement is negotiable.

Cue the SPARC Addendum

SPARC. or the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, advocates for collaboration among authors, publishers, and libraries to correct imbalances found in the academic publishing system.

For a more balanced approach for author and publisher agreements you might want to consider the SPARC Addendum. This is a FREE, legal document that modifies the publisher’s agreement and allows authors to keep specific copyrights related to intellectual property (e.g. articles).  The author is able to retain their desired publishing rights with limited restrictions, and the publisher retains non-exclusive rights to publish and distribute your work. Overall, it allows authors to consider the access of their research, placement of writing into an electronic repository, and get the proper attribution when your work is utilized.

Want to know more about SPARC and #OpenAccess publishing resources? Check them out :

 

Reference:

Helge, K. (2012, October 24). SPARC Addendums and Author Rights Workshop. 2012 International Open Access Week @ UNT.