A year of data goodness


 
This is another year again…and one that may well see me more productive on the digital front – at least in terms of data.  I have not been writing much online as I have been pretty much taken up with my various positions at CSU  – yes, two different ones in 2016 saw me pretty much scrambling most of the time trying to make sense of my workplace.

But 2017 is going to be a little different.  Along with all the adventures of 2015 and 2016 (who can forget being bed and housebound for so long in 2015?), I have also been working on higher degree doctoral research at LaTrobe.  This year I hope to be more immersed in the data collection phase.

What’s this all about?  Research of course, and in an area that is of deep interest to me, both at an individual level and how it plays out in our higher education enterprise – particularly in the field of academic digital scholarship.

The internet lies at the core of advanced scholarly information infrastructure to facilitate distributed, data and information-intensive collaborative research. Perhaps it is that the technology and digital environments which now exist can enhance scholarship and learning since technology has become a pivotal process or tool in connectedness through globally accessible knowledge and scholarly connections. Digital scholarship is valued for openness or open access within the boundaries of open data, open publishing, open education and open boundaries , and for utilising participatory or collective ways of thinking. The impact of technology has emerged as complicated and disruptive while being highly relevant and transformative. The emerging implication is that academic scholarship practices are undergoing something of a transformation in internet-enabled online environments and that this requires review and reconsideration of the technology-related pivot points (or dimensions) of liminality within this environment of digital scholarship.

So I’m out to learn more about digital scholarship and leadership.

The landscape of learning in higher education is such that it creates complexity for academics, and places demands on leaders within institutions to foster growth and change. In fact, the complexities and influences impacting the processes of both learning and teaching as an academic endeavour are the topic of much research and writing, and according to Savin-Baden (2015):

“much of the current research that transcends pedagogy, technology, education studies and computer science remains disconnected, with the result that although we know students adapt to the cultures of school and university, their learning preference and practices in the twenty-first century continue to be under-researched” (p. 16)

No need to say more, other than that it will be an adventure. My working field of endeavour is to be an analytic auto-ethnography of pathways to digital scholarship in academic leadership. No, this is not navel gazing at all, but a highly complex endeavour using an emerging research approach that will be more demanding than the average “go and interview and survey a bunch of people, and write it up” kind of research. It’s going to be a big job, but what is more important, it is going to be an interesting job!

A year of data goodness?  Or a year of living dangerously?  Time will tell.

Here’s the scenario: abstracted from my first annotation in the diary that I will also be keeping offline (not quite – digital format in OneNote which is in the cloud and online privately -right?).

Welcome to my auto ethnographic diary of myself.   I am looking forward to taking up almost where I left off some years ago when I wrote A Week in the Life of a New Media Librarian, which was eventually also turned into a publication in Dutch.  O’Connell, J. (2010). Het 21ste-eeuwse klaslokaalMedia Coach, January, No. 1.

In this publication I said:

“Our capacity to ‘connect’ will strengthen or weaken depending on our socialnetwork awareness and our capacity to use Web 2.0 tools to harness and organize information and add value to the collective. Educators who understand this know that to be good mentors in the 21st century learning landscape is to use the power of personal learning networks and Web 2.0 tools to empower information seeking and knowledge creation”.

Published in 2010 it’s essentially my last year in school education, so sets the scene nicely for the work that followed.

I have spent time while on leave reorganizing my digital files – just because things DO get untidy.  I’m new to OneNote, but  as part of my digital preparations I found that Nvivo imports OneNote data  so had to add this tool. Now the scene is set for a rational and organised approach to the personal diary of events, thoughts and more.  Plus I can access it all in the cloud too!

So I have re-organised my digital tools related to the research – specifically

  • OneNote
  • Evernote
  • Papers3
  • Zotero
  • Scrivener
  • Scapple
  • Dropbox
  • Google Docs
  • Google Drive

It’s all part of the personalisation – being digital doesn’t mean that we don’t want to personalise things – right?

These are all tools I use daily, except for Scrivener, which will be used more as I progress.  I am also investigating NVivo to see how concept mapping in that program compares with concept mapping with Scapple for Scrivener .  I suspect that they will each stand separately – one around the idea formation for writing, the other around idea formation around the data analysis.

Time will tell. In other words – this thing is digital.

Interestingly as I was cleaning up (as you do at the beginning of a new year) the physical trappings of papers and filing cabinets were useless.  Yes, I had printed out stuff, and promptly forgotten I had that very same stuff.  But digitally – I knew exactly  where things were, and when I hadn’t filed them neatly to be able to be organised!

In a sense this is a data discovery – or confirmation  for me that I am fully digital, though not AI (artificial intelligence). I wish!.

This IS also the  commencement of genuinely and thoroughly investigating how my digital scholarship practices have emerged in my work within higher education and how they are shaping or have shaped my leadership practices.  Were they shaped by higher education or by evolution in digital environments? Or my PLN? Or something else?

A year of data goodness indeed!

Savin-Baden, M. (2015). Rethinking learning in an age of digital fluency: Is being digitally tethered a new learning nexus? New York, NY: Routledge.

Image: Research Data Management flickr photo by jannekestaaks shared under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

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