Wednesday, May 30, 2012

FSLT - to blog...or to comment...hmmmm

It's week 2 in FSLT, and the topic of this week is group participation. One of the things mentioned this week by the facilitators are the roles that people take in group work, which was quite interesting, as I could see people in my past group work experience taking on those roles consciously or subconsciously. In the MOOC forums there is quite a lively discussion this week (as there was last week), which got me thinking.

One of the things that I've been pondering is the mode of participation.  In MOOCs like Change11 and CCK11 the main mode of participation seems to have been Blogging, and aggregation of those blog posts through a daily newsletter.  Other modes included tweeting, posting on delicious, and using the basic commenting systems on gRSShopper.  It is true, at least for me, that in these two MOOCs I did not miss the discussion board element and I fully embraced blogging (and commenting on other people's blogs) as a way to participate and follow the learning action.

In MobiMOOC11, EduMOOC11, FSLT12, BonkOpen, and LAK11 we had some sort of management system in place that had discussion boards  FSLT12 and LAK11 used Moodle, BonkOpen used Blackboard, and MobiMOOC and EduMOOC used Google Groups.  In these systems, while I have blogged a bit (mostly a meta-learning and meta-cognitive pondering type of blog post), the main action is happening in the discussion forums. I know that FSLT12 has a blogroll, which I consult a couple of times per week (but not as frequently as the daily CCK11 and Change11 newsletters), and load up my Pocket (aka "read it later") account.

I was actually wondering if I should blog more...or if it's OK to not blog as much, but participate in discussion forums. It seems to me, that my own personal strategy is "biggest bang for the buck" - so wherever there are more people, that's where I participate. Since time is a zero sum game, any time blogging, is time spent away from discussion boards, and vice versa.  What do fellow learners think?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sharing of educational materials

Change11 is over...but the discussion is still going ;-)

I was reading this post here by Jaap today and I started thinking (some more) about the subject.  Here are some questions (incomplete as they may be) to Jaap's questions:

Do schools have a property right on educational materials that is made by teachers? (law)
I am of mixed opinion on this.  In the beginning I thought YES! Of course they do! Schools are hiring instructors/professors to teach certain topics, and when certain topics don't have materials, the instructor needs to create them (otherwise they are not an effective instructor).  Now, a a couple of years after I think that NO, the institution does not have property rights on the materials created by the teachers. The teachers, in most cases, are hired to teach, and not to develop materials.  If teachers are required to develop materials due to the inadequacy of the materials that they are provided with, they have no legal or moral obligation to submit those materials to the institution because they weren't compensated for those materials.  What it boils down to, for me, is contractual obligations - what are you hired and paid to do?  If you are paid to teach; then the materials are your own.

And if so is that right? (ethics)
IF institutions had the right to the intellectual outcomes of their employees, the work should be made freely available to everyone. A university's mission isn't profit, but the dissemination of knowledge. I can think of no better way than making materials available under creative commons.

Who pays the bill?  (economics)
It depends on what type of institution it is.  In private schools the individual student pays the bill, but a state school has subsidies from the tax payers. For this reason, state schools need to provide some sort of service back to the tax-payers for free. Therefore the fruits of a professor's labor (like research for example) should be made available for free under Creative Commons and Open Publishing, rather than through paid journal subscriptions.

Why do teachers not share? (psychology and sociology, law)
I can't speak for individual teachers, but from what I have seen (among some teachers) is the "what's mine is mine, and what's your's is mine" mentality. They are happy to violate someone else's copyright, but they are irritable when someone violates their copyrights.  It comes back to this expectation to be compensated (very poorly) for intellectual output.  If we just gave our intellectual output away for free (as materials, research, etc.) we would not have to worry about the economic bottom line (that is pretty small anyway) and might just be team players.

My country wants to be a knowledge economy, how does sharing knowledge fit into a knowledge economy?
I've heard both sides of the argument.
One side says that knowledge is money and we shouldn't be giving it away. We should be copyrighting our syllabi, keeping our materials DRM'd, locking down our VLE/LMS and so on. I personally think this is the wrong approach.  Fundamentally, anything that exists on paper, or as 0s and 1s in a computer can be copied and mimicked, and someone else will come up with the idea independently and leave it open.  Innovation doesn't happen in a vacuum and it doesn't happen without sharing. You can be as closed as you want, but people will remember you NOT for your brilliant idea, but for the fact that you were closed off.  If you provide your materials and research for free, you gain credibility, and you are catapulted to the limelight (if you like that sort of thing).  Along with fame comes money. Open is good for business.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

#fslt12 initial thoughts & reflections

For my inaugural "assignment" post for #fslt12 I thought I would use one of the reflection templates, specifically the "areas of expertise" one. It's interesting to think about my teaching experience thus far. Initially I was tempted to say that my teaching experience extends back to February of this year; this is when I started teaching a college level course (graduate level) in research methods for instructional design. Thinking about it a bit harder though, my teaching experience goes back further.

A couple of years ago I volunteered to guest-host a learning module on communities of practice for one of the courses that a friend a colleague teaches. Sure, it was uncompensated, but it was a teaching experience nevertheless. This learning module was for graduate students in instructional design as well. I've also taught non-credit workshops when I worked for the library (Microsoft office, RefWorks, and on rare occasion how to use the to do library research), and when I worked as an instructional designer (educational technology of different sorts).

Granted, the duration of this teaching experience is all over the place. Some were 1 hr workshops, others were 1 week modules, and my most recent experience was a 13 week course; however I did pick up different skills and experiences from each, and I figured out things that I like (and things I don't ;-). ) one of the things that I really enjoy in teaching is problem solving. This was much more the case with workshops, where you needed to figure out what the learner needed, what the use cases would be, and tailor the instruction around that.

So, now, some initial thoughts on the standards:

A1 Design and plan learning activities and/or programmes of study
Coming from an instructional design background this seems like a no-brainer. Instructors/facilitators/teachers/professors (no matter what you call the person in that role) needs to be able to both design and plan learning activities and programmes of study (I assume that this is the British English way of saying "curriculum"?  if not, can someone kindly correct my mis-assumption :-)  ); and they need to be able to modify existing learning activities and programmes of study to suit the specific learners in their course.

A2 Teach and/or support learning
This too seems like a bit of a no-brainer to me. It is the role of a teacher to teach and support learning by picking the appropriate teaching methodology and the appropriate for the subject matter, level of learner, and learning material available. It is a balancing act, and sometimes you need to apply (what I have heard termed as) the goldilocks principle - not too hot, not too cold...juuuussst right!  In teaching, as with other non-structured activities (in terms of time), the instructor can fall into the trap of spending way too much time on preparing, giving feedback, and so on.  While this is done out of love of teaching, it may burn the instructor out, and it may overwhelm the learner - so you need to find the right balance.

A3 Assess and give feedback to learners
Again, another no-brainer :-)  My instructional design program did not require an assessment course as part of the program, but I took one anyway.  Assessment is quite important because you don't know if your learning intervention was successful without an assessment - and a good assessment at that! Feedback to learners is also important, so that they know how they can improve, however as stated in A2 you don't want to overwhelm them.

A4 Develop effective learning environments and approaches to student support and guidance
This, too, is quite important, and I think that it is a no-brainer, but not everyone things about it.  I think that this particular standard is something that you pick up with experience, through professional development, and through constructive critique (and sharing of notes) with colleagues.

A5 Engage in continuing professional development in subjects/disciplines and their pedagogy, incorporating research, scholarship and the evaluation of professional practices
Personally I think that this is important.  I know that others in the instructional design field may stop their serious career development after a formal degree, but professional development is important. It's not just important for you, but for the people in your classroom - your gains are their gains.  My one stumbling block is time.  Where does one find enough time to develop professionally - especially in the US where many instructors are contingent labor, cobbling together a number of jobs at different institutions to make ends meet - or teaching 4 courses per semester as a full-timer at teaching colleges? Faculty at research institution have built-in professional development: research and publishing; but what about those at teaching schools? :-)

Notes to myself at the start of the course
At the end of this MOOC, you will be asked to reflect on what you have learned from the course. Are there any aspirations, reminders or thoughts you have now as you embark on the course that you might find useful to record in order to have them for later review? 
I am curious to find out more about the different levels of "fellow" in the HEA classification.  Do all faculty in UK institutions get this sort of license?  Or is it not a license?

Monday, May 21, 2012

National universities using....English?!

This morning, before I left for work, an article caught my eye in my RSS reader from Inside Higher Education (amazingly, they gave me enough of a blurb to want to read the article - usually they don't!).  The article is about an Italian University that is going English-Only for their instruction. This article is an interesting read (I can't wait until the comments start coming in).

My initial reaction was one of being taken aback.  Why the heck would a national university use a language for instruction that IS NOT the language of the country?  My secondary reaction was one of opportunity (Imagine old style cartoons with dollar signs in the character's eyes ;-)  ).  Since English is a language that I understand very well, and obviously use on a daily basis, I thought that this is an opportunity for people like me to work in other countries and at the same time not have to worry about attaining an Academic Language Proficiency in the national language.  After all, my long term goal is to live somewhere in the mediterranean (Greece, Italy, Spain, Southern France) and teach.

Going beyond my own selfish motives, I return to my original thoughts about this university's move: a feeling of "what the hell?"  Don't get me wrong, I understand that a lot of the research literature in a lot of fields is now English-Only.  I think this is a major issue. We should all be bilingual, if not multilingual.  We should publish in a variety of languages, and be able to read research in a variety of languages.  Knowing that most publications are English-Only does make it a little more palatable to have English-Only instruction, however most national schools are geared toward serving local populations.  So, for a school in Greece (for example), the population served are Greeks.

I think that this type of policy, of having English as the language of instruction, in countries where the primary language isn't English, is a pretty bad idea.  I think that students ought to be expected to be able to read literature in other languages, but to be able to discuss them in their own native language. By having English-Only instruction not only are we heading down a path of diglossia but also straddling the home-school mismatch territory.   There are ways of being proficient in a lingua franca (English in our case) without sacrificing scholarship and academic thought and speech in your native language.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Ψηφιακές ταυτότητες

Το Change11 έχει σχεδον φτάσει στο τέλος. Αυτή η εβδομάδα είναι η τελευταία, και το θέμα είναι η Ανοιχτή Έρευνα και η ανοιχτή διανομή αυτής της έρευνας (open publishing). Η περασμένη εβδομάδα όμως ήταν αφιερωμένη στις ψηφιακές ταυτότητες - το ποιοί είμαστε στο διαδίκτυο. Μερικοί από εμάς γράφουμε επώνυμα...άλλοι γράφουμε ανώνυμα, και άλλοι έχουν δύο ή παραπάνω διαδικτυακές ταυτότητες. Αυτό το είδαμε λίγο με τις έρευνες του Τζώρτζ Βελετσιάνος πριν από καμιά εβδομάδα.

Αυτό που ήθελα να μας προβληματίσει λίγο είναι όχι μόνο οι ψηφιακές ταυτότητες μας στο διαδίκτυο, αλλά και τα καθημερινά μας περιβάλλοντα που μας επιτρέπουν λίγο ή πολύ να έχουμε μια επώνυμη παρουσία στο διαδίκτυο. Για παράδειγμα, εγώ διατηρώ παραπάνω από μια ταυτότητα στο διαδίκτυο. Η μία είναι για τους γνωστούς και τους φίλους και είναι διαθέσιμη μόνο με πρόσκληση, ενώ αυτή εδώ η ταυτότητα, σε αυτό το μπλόγκ είναι δημόσια. Όποιος με βρίσκει με βλέπει, και βλέπει τι γράφω. Για αρκετά χρόνια ήμουν σε μια θέση εργασίας στην οποία δεν μπορούσα να έχω μια τέτοια δημόσια πλευρά, και ας ήταν μόνο επαγγελματικής, γιατί το εργασιακό περιβάλλον δεν το επέτρεπε.

Αν όλα αυτά τα χρόνια έχεις κάποιος ιδέες, για τις οποίες θες να γράψεις, και να συνεργαστείς με άλλους για να τις υλοποιήσεις, αν το περιβάλλον σου δεν σου επιτρέπει κάτι τέτοιο, τι κάνεις; Είναι δικαίωμα ή προνόμιο το να έχεις μια δημόσια ταυτότητα στο διαδίκτυο, την οποία χρησιμοποιείς για επαγγελματικούς σκοπούς; Αν άλλοι, που έχουν μια τέτοια δημόσια διαδικτυακή ταυτότητα, επωφελούνται από αυτό το προνόμιο, και εσύ, λόγο περιβάλλοντος δεν μπορείς να επωφεληθείς το ίδιο, τι κάνεις; Φυσικά μπορείς να πας κάπου αλλού να δουλέψεις, άλλα στο τέλος τις ημέρας η ερώτηση είναι "πως μπορούμε να δημιουργήσουμε ένα εργασιακό περιβάλλον οπού να μπορούμε να γράφουμε επώνυμα, αλλά και στο οποίο οι διαφορές άποψης δεν δημιουργούν μια κρίση, όπου η μόνη λύση είναι η ανωνυμία;" σκεφτείτε το :-)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

#bonkOpen week 2 - did things get quieter...or is it me?

It seems like things have shaken out a bit on #bonkOpen for week 2. There seems to be way fewer threads in Week 2 as compared to Week 1. This isn't a big deal for me, my initial plan of looking for 10 interesting threads and following and replying to them is still intact. Now, if in Week 3 (this week) we have fewer than 10 threads...then I will have to re-think my initial strategy for participation.

Week 3, instead of readings, has a number of videos by Curtis Bonk. Each video is about 10 minutes, and there are five or six of them - so you could just seem them all in about an hour. I've gone through half of them thus far. This is making me wonder two things: Were the videos planned as part of Week 3 from the get-go? Or were they a change of strategy once some people complained about the amount of reading that they had to do (by taking part in this voluntary learning opportunity!) The other thing that it makes me wonder is this: In Week 1, the synchronous session seemed like the lecture session for the readings. Since we got the lecture in these videos...what's going to be the focus of this week's synchronous session?

I've said this before, and I will say it again: I am not a big fan of synchronous. If there are other vehicles to accomplish the same thing, I will go asynchronous. Now that I have access to Elluminate Publish I do download the recorded sessions just to catch up, during my commutes, but I don't see as much value in them.

One last thing I wonder is this (and it has to do with my own MOOC plans). If a MOOC is hosted in an LMS, any LMS, it doesn't have to be blackboard, how do you best incorporate the discussion forums and other affordances of an LMS, with the affordances of the Downes/Siemens MOOC - gRSShopper, capturing all delicious and diigo bookmarks, all tweets with a certain hashtag, and all of the blogs, with a certain hashtag. I haven't seen a good way to do this yet, and I am interested in how to best accomplish this. I like the Downes/Siemens approach with gRSShopper, but I think that it may not be as accessible as using an LMS. Then again, and LMS can be restricting...


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Change11, και οι γλώσσες πλην της Αγγλικής

Είμαστε τώρα στην 34η εβδομάδα του change11 και μαζί με την συρρίκνωση των συμμετέχωντων· τουλάχιστον απο πλευράς μπλογκ και απο τα πόσα άτομα δημοσιεύουν μπλογκ με κάποιο τακτικό και συνεπή ρυθμό. Κοίταξε, δεν παραπονιεμε γιατί και εγω έχω πέσει λίγο έξω, άρχισα να βαριέμαι γιατι το MOOC ήταν λίγο μακροχρόνιο. Σαν μια ταινία στο σινεμα πουλάς να την δεις και αναρωτιέσαι ποτέ θα τελειώσει (λολ).

Το θέμα αυτού του δημοσιεύματος όμως δεν είναι το αν μας άρεσε ή αν δεν μας άρεσε το change11, αλλα η γλωσσική ποικιλία σε αυτο το μάθημα. Ενταξει, ολοι οι επόπτες του μαθήματος είναι αγγλοφωνοι,και η έρευνες στα θέματα παιδαγωγιας και τεχνολογίας στον χώρο της εκπαίδευσης είναι στα αγγλικά, οπότε δεν περίμενα και πολυγλωσσία ως ένα απο τα θέματα του MOOC. Στο παρελθόν, και στις αρχές αυτού του μαθημάτος είδα μερικούς να δημοσιεύουν μπλογκ στα Γερμανικά, στα Ιταλικά, και σε λιγότερο βαθμό Ολλανδικα. Και εγω με την σειρα μου είπα να κάνω μια αρχή να γραφω στα ελληνικά, και να κάνω λίγη εξάσκηση τα Γαλλικά και τα Ιταλικά μου οπότε να γράψω κανένα δημοσίευμα σε αυτές τις γλώσσες.

Με το ένα, με το άλλο, ο χρόνος λίγος, και σε μερικά θέματα δεν είχα έμπνευση ή μεράκι να γραφω σε γλώσσες πλην της Αγγλικής, οπότε εγω τα λίγα που έγραφα ήταν στα αγγλικά. Αναρωτιέμαι γιατι σταμάτησαν οι άλλοι να μπλοκάρουν σε άλλες γλώσσες, και αναρωτιέμαι τι σταματάει τον κόσμο απο το να αρχίζει να γράφει στην μητρική τους γλώσσα. Θέμα για έρευνα μου φαίνεται...


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Do (educational) discussion forums need managing?

I was reading Lisa's response to #bonkopen the other day. Both the post and the comments were quite interesting. One of the issues is blackboard as a platform. OK, sure, LMS in general stink - regardless of whether it's Moodle, Bb Learn, Bb Vista (formerly WebCT, ANGEL and so on.  Lisa does prefer the distributed mode of communication which is typical in MOOCs like Change and CCK, but despite the fact that Lisa and I prefer blogs to LMS, it doesn't mean that those modes are best for everyone.  One of the big hurdles that many of my acquaintances had with MOOCs as the distributed nature. They didn't have one spot to go to (i.e. the LMS) to check to see what's new.

Sure Bb Learn 9.1 is the same ol' blackboard but with better UI...but UI does make a difference! Some things still stink, but on the whole I think that version 9.1 isn't bad.  That being said here are some of my responses to a couple of the comments on the blog (too many comments to go through all of them):

I find it insane that after 10+ years of teaching or taking classes online, we still can’t find a better way to manage discussion boards, threads, forums, etc. It’s absolutely incredible that in essence, it’s still the same ole, same ole.
Do discussion boards need management?  I think not.  For all of the talk about socially sourced materials and connections, when someone talks about managing something, all that social sourcing goes away. There ought to be a moment of cognitive dissonance here :-)  I've been using forums for many years.  I was actually a forum moderator in a couple of major technology forums for a while as well.  We DID manage the forums, but only to make sure that the rules of civility were adhered to.  We did not manage discussions.  Participants in those forums found their own ways to manage their own discussions.  We, as forum moderators, did not need to do anything to manage the discussion for them.  Same things with LMS discussions. Instructors don't need to manage the discussion, MOOC or otherwise.  They just need to correct misconceptions, if there are any misconceptions - but there isn't any management going on (or at least, there shouldn't).

I agree w/ your Bb critique, but I think it also goes to design issues and assumptions. Why WOULD you have an introduction activity for a group this big. Or if you did, why not structure it in a more network like manner. So we have the perfect storm. A non-network centric platform and a traditional non-network course design.

I agree with this comment whole heartedly.  I know that ice-breakers and intro threads are a way to gain a sense of community, or so the story goes from every single class I've taken.  But ice breakers and intro threads need to be done well, even in small classes, or else they become tedious! In MOOCs introduction threads have no spot.  It's just dead space.  People ought to have their social links and credentials in their profile and people can look them up.  This of course is one of the failings of Bb Learn - the profile isn't social.  I can't plug in my LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter accounts and have Bb do something with it.  Or...what if I gave Bb Learn my blog's RSS feed and told it to show all blogs that were labeled as #bonkopen.  This would be superior to the blog functionality in Bb Learn (which I don't like, in either Vista or Learn because it's antithetical to blogs in general).

The one thing that I would like to avoid is defining "open"....or rather, "how open is open"? because in the end we'll end up with a debate like that that the Open Source and FSF have been having for years. Some are collegial debates and other get right down nasty - this helps no one.

Thoughts?  I think that somehow down this road I lost my focus and went with a stream of consciousness blog lol ;-)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Week 1 Recording of BonkOpen viewed - interesting

One of the things that participants need to do in #bonkOpen in order to receive a badge for being part in this MOOC, was to attend (or view the recording of) each weekly live session. I've said it before, and I will say it again: I am not a fan of synchronous conferences; I just don't like sitting there for an hour...or two...or three...listening to people do their thing.  I prefer my visual channel to be better engaged when listening to mostly audio information, and most synchronous conferences are just powerpoint, powerpoint, powerpoint...yawnnnn.  At least in class (face to face) you have body language, movement, people coming and going, neighbors and so on.

In any case,  with the help of a piece of software called Elluminate Publish (thank you Blackboard person on Twitter!) I was able to download the recording in video format (just a bit over 130MB if I recall correctly) for the entirety of the two hours.  It was a nice presentation, nothing good, nothing bad - just nice. It added a little more dimension to the TEC-VARIETY model readings we had in the MOOC.  I saw some people on the discussion boards complaining that Curtis Bonk tried too hard at being entertaining, making a fool of himself (really paraphrasing here) with all those cow sounds when he talked about Moooooodle and MooooooCs.

OK, I honestly didn't mind, I thought it was funny.  A two hour webcast would be boring if it were a straight lecture.  You need to break these things up. Also, the fact that Curtis Bonk looks like Zaphod Beeblebrox (see photo; from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) sort of helped solidify the somewhat whacky persona.  The session was a bit long, but with so many people attending, it would make sense that there is a 45-60 minute "lecture" and a discussion around Q&As from the participants, so not such a big deal.

Elluminate publisher offered me an MP3 audio-only version of the session. I am wondering if next time I should just go with the audio, since the video didn't offer me much more than the audio would.

Your thoughts?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Drinking from the firehose!

Well, the Bonk MOOC (Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success) is almost at the end of Week 1.  There certainly is  A LOT of discussion going on, with more than 3000 registered participants; at least that was the number at last count. I honestly would LOVE to see the analytics at the end of the MOOC.  That would certainly be some cool data to crunch (and perhaps write an article about).

In any case, both on #bonkopen and in other MOOCs, there has been a sentiment made clear by some participants that they feel like they are drinking from a firehose.  If you are a traditional learner (as in you come from a face to face course environment, or a traditional online course environment) you may feel like there is too much information. Some people want to create smaller cohorts, after all Blackboard Learn supports groups.  I don't mean to be insensitive when I roll my eyes at comments like this; I am sorry if I offend anyone - this is not my intention. I think that the sanctioned forking of a massive online course kinda defeats the purpose of having that diversity of opinion. Also, if you have a small group, wouldn't you still feel like you are missing out on what's happening in other groups?

The best analogy that I have for this feeling of being overwhelmed is the library.  Have you been to a library lately? A big magnificent library with many thousands of tomes of books? Or heck, even a small library with a few thousands of books? Do you feel like you are drinking from a firehose?  Of course not! The library has been there for all of our natural lives and we've formed a frame, a lens through which we view knowledge in a library.  We don't have to start at A and finish at Z in order to get the most out of the library - we need to look for interesting abstracts, titles and authors - then we pick books that we want to read.

MOOCs are sort of similar.  There is absolutely no need to read every single post and respond to every single participant. To do so would be pure crazyness! No one has that much time, and you probably won't get much more out of the experience than picking a few threads/blogs/people and really engaging.  Just like you don't treat a lecture and a seminar the same way in a face to face class, you don't treat traditional online courses and MOOCs the same way.  There is a different frame of mind that goes along with MOOCs, and a different set of learning skills :-)  This is why we are here, your fellow participants, to share best practices in learning, and to help you discover your own!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Online behaviors of faculty [the documentary]

This past week in Change11 we had George Veletsianos as the facilitator.  It was a pretty nice week, I really enjoyed the three articles he posted as readings. It seems like most of the posts in the daily (the few posts) were about MIT and Harvard and EdX....yaaawwwwnnnnn....

Seriously, isn't EdX just a continuation of the OpenCourseWare movement that MIT started?  Let's just call it OpenCourseWare 2.0 and move on.  I'll have to read some more reactions about EdX in order to write a more cogent and informed response, so I will quit my ranting about it!

So, back to Change and Veletsianos.  The readings were quite interesting.  What really stood out for me was that faculty aren't luddites; some are, but in general they are not - they are curious.  They are cautious about the use of SNS, and how the Home/Work/Professional environments collide.  I know many people that don't care about the Home/Work/Professional collisions and meshing, but this does not depend on age, but rather what type of work you have.  I can see parallels (from faculty SNS use) with other sectors, especially people working in highly secretive organizations like defense, pharmaceuticals and so on. The personal and the professional stay completely separate and compartmentalized. So much so that this compartmentalization often times inhibits the usage of SNS on a personal level as well.

The twitter study was interesting.  The MobiMOOC research team (MRT) has some twitter data from last year's mobimooc that I've been wanting to analyze, research and publish along with the MRT. I've been a bit burnt out from reading and writing (that plus I have two papers that need to be done in two weeks and two months respectively) this project is on the backburner for now. That being said, since Veletsianos has seen this type of textual analysis valuable, it just gives me energy to put this research paper back in sight for later on in the summer :-)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Awoken from my change slumber for Week 34: where articles go to die?

I have come out of Change11 retirement (lurking status) this week (and probably the next few weeks).  I was reading the Change11 daily yesterday when I noticed that George Veletsianos was facilitating the topic of Scholars' online participation and practices. I've been following George for a couple of years now, and I was really looking forward to this week, so I am back!

I download the articles he has as reading, and I will get to those in a few days once I read them.  At the moment I want to tackle the vs. issue. George point out that (some) have said that is where links go to die, and asks us whether is where articles go to die. By the same token, someone might ask is Scridb where documents go to die?

To be honest, I had never thought of delicious as the place where links go to die, but in my own practice it's where they go to be frozen in carbonite. In the pre-google days and pre-RSS days, I did use bookmarking extensively. I used it as a memory aid. There were a number of websites I went to on a regular basis, and it was just easy to boomark things.  Then, a few hard drive reformats later, I decided that it was best for my bookmarks to reside online because I did not want to lose them - enter delicious! Now, OK, some of my bookmarks were public, but the majority of my bookmarks were private. Delicious for me wasn't about social bookmark sharing (at least initially), it was about personal backup - an inward looking activity.  Later on I did discover some good bookmarks from friends, but the service was really more of a private thing for me (with the exception of my work account which was all about sharing info)

The funny thing is, that as the web got better, and as Google became better, and as RSS and Google Reader (and its competitors) got better, my need for personal bookmarking diminished. All the of the websites I follow are using RSS, so I use Google Reader to keep track of things (so in essence, google reader takes care of 300 or so bookmarks).  I still maintain delicious accounts, but I wonder how many of them are active.  In the end, I decided to just use google reader and the "share item" function to publish anything interesting on my shared items list (which still works!). Then, of course, we had a brief period where we had the Delicious v. Diigo (which is better?); and the fact that Chrome can sync bookmarks between devices, so I gave up on Delicious and social bookmarking in general.

Now, as far as goes - at least for me - it's not where papers go to die. Why?  It all comes down to use and intent.  Delicious, for me, was all about inward facing bookmark storing. When other services came out that did the same thing (or better things), it was time to move on. on the other hand isn't about an inward facing activity, or something as ephemeral as bookmarks. Speaking for myself at least, is more about:

  • Sharing my own articles with others (an outward activity)
  • Seeking out other Subject Matter Experts and connecting with them; and reading what they have contributed to their professions (also an outward activity)
  • Placing my own articles in a place where others can get them free of charge (an outward and altruistic activity).
I think that might be a place where not a ton of activity happens (things don't certainly look too busy the last few times I've gone there - but things seem to be picking up a bit), but it does provide for a place to share your articles for free (which may otherwise be behind paywalls) and it allows you to network. Sure, the first goal (of sharing your publications) can be done with a simple HTML profile page on your school's webserver, but the social connection aspect cannot. Research articles do have a "best by" date, but I think that there is value in a historical accounting of past research.  Bookmarks on the other hand just give you a 404 error when they're past due (and sometimes isn't much help). So, in the grand scheme of things, while delicious might be a place where links go to die, I don't think that is where papers go to die.