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

Libcrowds: crowdsourcing keeps getting better

crowdsourcing_from_the_british_library___libcrowds

LibCrowds is a project from the British Library and British Library Labs that uses crowdsourcing to transcribe some of the printed cards still housed in physical card catalogues.

The British Library’s online catalogue, Explore, contains nearly 57 million digital records, but for some important research materials these printed cards remain the only access points.

Three projects are currently underway: Pinyin Card Catalogue: Drawer Five; LCP (the Lord Chamberlain’s Plays and Correspondence): 1824-1899 (Abbe-Belles); and Urdu Card Catalogue: Drawer Two.

Ample instructions for volunteers who wish to contribute are provided, including video demonstrations. Volunteers and anyone who’s interested can track the progress in the Statistics section of the LibCrowds website. A heading here indicates that “688 volunteers have participated in 14 projects, made 32,119 contributions and completed 10,392 tasks.” Following the heading, data is presented in graphic form. For example, there is a map of the locations of the most active volunteers and a graph showing hourly contribution levels over the past 24 hours.

Technology

LibCrowds is built on top of PyBossa , an open-source Python framework for the creation of crowdsourcing projects. PyBossa is written in Python and uses the Flask micro-framework. Each project on the platform is written in a combination of HTML, CSS and Javascript. The community forum is powered by Discourse. The LibCrowds theme and any plugins developed to provide additional functionality are open-souce and available on GitHub.

LibCrowds is currently running the following plugins:

While I’m familiar with crowdsourced work at National Library online catalogue at Trove in Australia, and the community working there to help improve the digital resources there, it was great to learn about the British Library project.

home_-_trove

If you are interested, join the TROVE community that’s organising and improving this information resource.

Connect to others with similar interests on the Trove forum

The academic integrity challenge


While technology is changing the information environment, the transactional nature of information interactions and knowledge flow still has to underpin learning. A major challenge for education is to enable and facilitate the creation or generation of new knowledge via an appropriate information environment, to facilitate integration of new concepts within each person’s existing knowledge structure.

In this context the phenomenon of academic dishonesty has attracted much interest over the years – and the challenges and strategies for maintaining quality assurance is often addressed by policies, coupled with an investigation of new strategies for assessing the ‘iGeneration’.  I live this experience in the higher education sector, and my strong believe is that the issue is what we teach and how we teach it – or rather, what learning environments we create for our students.

I acknowledge that policy is needed, but many of the draconian strategies still employed are not necessarily the right producing the ‘fix’ that we want.  In this context,  the story of our journey in creating learning in a participatory networked learning culture provides some insights and alternatives that just might help drive better learning as well as improve academic integrity.

Long story short – a paper written for a conference has finally made it into the ‘open’.  May not be polished, but it’s authentic – these things really happened and continue to happen!

O’Connell, J. (2016). Networked participatory online learning and challenges for academic integrity in higher education. International Journal for Educational Integrity. 12:4
Grab a copy here! http://rdcu.be/mrKu

Image: flickr photo shared by opensourceway under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

The winds of change!

IMG_0025

Building 288 Biomedical Sciences

Winter is settled in, and with it has come a lot of change in my personal and professional life – hence my social media comment recently – “there’s a blog post in that!”

So what is going on?

First up, we sold our home of 27 years (yippee) and moved house to a brand new apartment in the inner west.  One complicated change- tick. How did that go??  One third of our possessions were either given away or disposed of, another third came to our apartment, and the last third was placed into storage ready for the house we are building in country Albury.  Another change underway – tick.

Albury /ˈɔːlbəri/ is a major regional city in New South Wales, Australia, located on the Hume Highway on the northern side of the Murray River. This is our tree change for 5-10 years, though we also have an apartment in Sydney of course.  It’s a quick flight from Albury to Sydney or Melbourne, so we will be back in Sydney a lot, or popping into Melbourne by way of a (shopping)  change.

I also heard that my teacher librarian team and I are to receive a Faculty of Education citation for academic excellence. I’ll travel to Bathurst in a couple of weeks for that, and am honoured to have gained this second award since being at CSU.    Yes, there has been a tremendous amount of work done, and some of it has had significant influence beyond our own team.  Good work – tick.

Finally, if you have been ‘reading between the lines’ on social media you will know that I officially commenced in a new position a week ago – moving completely our of the Faculty of Education after leaving the School of Information Studies earlier in the year.

I’ve moved into the Faculty of Science. #gasp Don’t worry – I’m not claiming to be a scientist, chemistry boffin or pharmacist. The focus of my new role is still on e-learning and/or online learning as part of a quality learning and teaching project from the u!magine Digital Learning Innovation Laboratory at Charles Sturt University. Here we are working on a range of things, including change and innovation in the elearning space which is also being shaped up at CSULX | Online Learning Exchange.

We have a new three-faculty structure at CSU as of July 2016 (another big change) and I’ve stepped into the Faculty of Science position, working with my #globaleducator friend and  Julie Lindsay in the Faculty of Arts and Education.  That has to be another  good tick!

Right now I am immersed in the Bachelor of Medical Science, soon to be followed with the Bachelor of Nursing for some intensive elearning design work. I’m glad that none of the scientific terminology is new to me at all, as my first ‘real’ professional work early in my career was as sub-editor of the Australian Medical Journal, followed by editorial assistant on the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery.

So curious how things have come full circle in a way – and how technology change has been at the heart of it in some practical ways. For example, it’s amazing to reflect on how complicated my editing work was  back then, because typesetting was pre-digital so pre- press work meant a need for extreme editing accuracy and quality presentation of content prior to typeset.  That was a real challenge I recall with some bemusement – particularly when I remember the editing the work of a noted Australian medical figure who also happened to be dyslexic.

So winter has really been a period of change – and one that I hope heralds a beautiful and calm spring ahead – oh and moving to our new home in Albury before Christmas.  Tick!

Good bye to all my students in the various degrees that I have worked with in the last 5 years.  Thank you for your friendship and passion for learning – please do stay in touch.  You know where to find me on social media 🙂


flickr photo shared by simon.morris under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

Thinking is awesome – eportfolios



Current online information environments and associated transactions are considered an important ‘information ecosystem’  (Haythornthwaite & Andrews, 2011, p in ch 8) influencing and shaping professional engagement and digital scholarship in communities of learning in the higher education sector (Lee, McLoughlin & Chan, 2008).   This kind of  information ecosystem is also considered to be social in practice and making use of use of participatory technologies and online social networks to share, reflect, critique, improve, and validate academic engagement and scholarship (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012, p.768).

Thanks to advances in technology, the  powerful tools at our disposal to help students understand and learn in unique ways are enabling new ways of producing, searching and sharing information and knowledge (Conole, 2013). By leveraging technology, we have the opportunity to  open new doors to scholarly inquiry for ourselves and our students. While practical recommendations for a wide variety of ways of working with current online technologies is easily marketed and readily adopted, there is insufficient connection to digital scholarship in the creation of meaning and knowledge as an action of digital scholarship. It is perhaps simplistic to migrate a pre-digital taxonomy to a digital environment and to ignore the function of and relationship to digital scholarship for the educator or higher education academic.

Portfolios are a well-researched and proven pedagogical approach to support reflective thinking as well as providing the opportunity for students to demonstrate functioning knowledge in the context of intended learning outcomes within a subject or through a course.

A portfolio provides reflective knowledge construction, self-directed learning, and facilitates habits of lifelong learning within the profession.

Considering the potential of e-portfolios means that we can also meet the challenges of learning within enhanced subject experiences which we have detailed through the CSU Online Learning and Teaching Model.

CSU Thinkspace is an online blogging and web platform that allows for varied and flexible use of the tool during a course, creating a range of subject experiences that can build into an extensive digital portfolio of learning achievements. header2-295kwr0

Back in 2013, as part of my work as Courses Director, we established Thinkspace which is a branded version hosted by CampusPress from Edublogs.  Awesome.  Working with my favourite consultant Jo Kay, the design and support structures were set up.  We were ready for the integration of reflective blogging and an integrated approach to an e-portfolio!

We have been using Thinkspace for :

  • reflective blogging
  • website creation
  • digital assessments of various kinds
  • digital artifacts
  • open education resources
  • course and subject specific learning experiences
  • peer-to-peer engagement
  • developing digital literacies for working and learning online
  • providing graduates with evidence of their personal and professional capabilities in their chosen discipline field.

I was recently asked to create a video that explains what Thinkspace is, and the pedagogical rationale of using Thinkspace in subjects with a particular emphasis on the use of Thinkspace as an e-portfolio within a course (degree program) Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship). We also adopted the same approach in the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation).

Here is a video that tells the story. You may often see blog posts shared on Twitter as part of the participatory learning experiences!

 References:

Conole, G. (2013). Designing for learning in an open world. New York, Springer.

Haythornthwaite, C., & Andrews, R. (2011). E-learning theory and practice. California, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Lee, M. J., McLoughlin, C., & Chan, A. (2008). Talk the talk: Learner‐generated podcasts as catalysts for knowledge creation. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(3), 501-521.

Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2012). Networked participatory scholarship: Emergent techno-cultural pressures toward open and digital scholarship in online networks. Computers & Education, 58(2), 766–774. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.001

Image: flickr photo shared by BookMama under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

 

 

Is there a library-sized hole in the internet?



It was in Florence during the Renaissance that the West realised we could surpass the knowledge and wisdom of the ancients, ushering in a new idea of the future. Now, in the Age of the Net, the future is changing shape again. Progress looks less like a path upwards that we carefully tread and extend, and more like a constantly forking domain in which ideas are barely born before they’re being reworked and applied in unexpected ways.

Embracing the future requires libraries to face basic tensions between their traditional strengths and the new shape of invention, including the role of privacy, the need to anticipate users’ needs and the role of experts in the networked age.

Embracing  new ideas of the future requires libraries to face basic tensions between their traditional strengths and the new shape of invention, including the role of privacy, the need to anticipate users’ needs and the role of experts in the networked age.

Last year, an interview with Internet thought leader, David Weinberger, published in Research Information pointed to a “library-sized hole on the Internet“. In it, David warned of library knowledge being marginalised should they become invisible on the Web and suggested linked data as a possible way of averting this.

David Weinberger is senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet &
Society, and has been instrumental in the development of ideas about the impact of the
web. He states:
Assuming that content remains locked up, then I think the right track is to make library information both public and interoperable where possible. Libraries can best achieve this
 Shortly after the article’s publication, David presented on these ideas at OCLC’s 2015 EMEA Regional Council Meeting in Florence.  This is 40 minute presentation is worth listening to.

Image:flickr photo shared by Bonito Club under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

Doodle to learn?



As a teenager I spent hours doodling in my exercise books – much to the chagrin of my teachers. Unlike the example from this report from Harvard Business Review on the scientific case for doodling while taking notes, my doodles were creative pieces that were more in keeping with hippy style swirls influenced by Hungarian cultural patterns. (sorry, no samples survive, though they were dubbed ‘creative’!)

Did that doodling help me learn?

Well certainly the doodles were not notes or summaries  of the kind we see popularised on Twitter and showing how drawing in class and meetings can help people pay attention–and remember information afterward.

Visual note-taking blends these two approaches. By using a combination of words and quick images, the note-taker listens, digests, and captures on paper the essence of what has been heard.

My creations were a way to occupy my creative mind while I listened to a teacher talk talk talk. Having said that, I am not implying that all the teaching was boring – rather that the doodling was in keeping with the recent trend to colouring books for adults that have become so incredibly popular.    According to this article on HuffPo (and many others!), as well as being great fun, colouring in is a fantastic way to ease the stress we face in our adult lives.

Begs the question if I was stressed by the constraints of my classroom as I did not doodle out of school.  The answer to me is pretty obvious – I was, as is also evidenced by the number of classes I skipped.  To give the nuns their due, they did not hassle me about classes skipped too much, as my escape was to go and practice piano for hours instead. If I think of our schools and my tertiary online teaching environments – we still have a tendency to ‘old school’ – we still expect students to attend classes!

Of course we now understand the importance of creativity in learning. But what do we do today to accommodate our learners?  Whether it’s school or tertiary settings, and whether we have flexible classrooms or not, perhaps its time to better discern what the modern stresses really are and to stop hiding behind ‘open plan, multipurpose spaces’ as being the obvious (and only?) solution.

What are you really doing to make learning more about engagement than compulsory completion?

Image:flickr photo shared by m01229 under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license