Monday, December 5, 2016

On Open Dissertations

Trying to get back to blogging, and I'm going back through my backlog - so here is a quick post, documentation post really - from a recent Virtually Connecting session I sat in on on Open Dissertations.

Friday, November 4, 2016

EDDE 806 - Post VII - Now what was that about Open Ended Questions???

Last evening I joined 806 (which seemed to have a very small group of people attending) for their bi-weekly meetup.  I think that for this post I will write more about my 2 take-aways from the session in general, rather than recap both presentations.:

Take-away #1: Small sample sizes aren't necessarily a problem.  Both Tracy and Leslie (presenters of the evening) were taking about their work (well, the work they are gearing up to do), and they both have between 6 and 12 participants for their research.  I am thinking about my own dissertation process, my own "problem" (which isn't a problem, so I hate using that term, but whatever), and how many people can be my informants (at most 16, but most likely 10 or so will agree to be part of it).   I've been thinking that AU might have issues with such small sample sizes. However, considering that I am not aiming at generalization (and neither are the presenters from last night's session), I am encouraged to continue on my current path for a dissertation proposal.  It seems that AU is open to qualitative, small-sample, research for dissertations.  I had a fear that I'd be stuck in a qualitative, "you must have something generalization" nightmare - a nightmare because that's now where I come from in my own research views :-)

Take-away #2: Just like the boy-scouts: Estote Parati (Be prepared).  When you're doing interviews (live interviews) make sure you have a back-up.  Good advice.  I had never thought about it (perhaps because I am not at that stage of data collection yet).  I was considering using Google Hangouts and perhaps using something like Camtasia to record it.  This way I could (if there were video) also record any paralanguage that exists in our interviews and it could be an additional data point for analysis.

In terms of interviews and transcription, I was also thinking of outsourcing the transcription to a company.  Looking briefly into this, it seems that $1/minute (or $2/minute if the audio isn't that great).  If I assume that 8 people sign-on to be my study participants, at 2 interviews per person, between 40 and 60 minutes (making sure that I don't monopolize their time), the cost come out to around $1000 (wow!)   Comparatively, Dragon 13 Premium (the educational version) costs $100, but I'd have to go back and review everything and cross check text produced with audio. That is 1000 minutes of audio maximum, so if we assume 3 minutes of corrections for each minute of audio, that's 3000 minutes, which works out to 50 hours of work.  Hmm....  wonder if there is a grant to pay for transcription work ;-)  I think there is a benefit of having to do the hard work yourself - it makes you more intimately familiar with the data you are working with, but from a student's perspective (who is on the clock to be done with their dissertation in by year 5), is that the best place to spend your time?  I don't know, but we will find out ;-)

Some bits and ends:

  • IPA was mentioned in Tracy's presentation (Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis).  I just find it funny how acronyms bleed through to other disciplines.  For me IPA means International Phonetic Alphabet and it's associated with linguistics.  A good reminder to define your acronyms and your terms! (Thanks Tracy!)
  • Have someone interview you with your open-ended questions!  This seems like a given, but to me this was an "aha!" moment.  Since I am interviewing some potential colleagues for my dissertation research (on group/collaborative processes), and I was a member of those collaborations, it makes sense to have someone ask me those questions.  I was going to answer them anyway, from my perspective (researcher as the person being research, too!) but I think a dialogic approach makes a ton more sense (Thanks Leslie!)
  • Finally, Leslie's point about not sending transcripts to participants without giving them some direction as to what to do with them is important.  I wasn't even thinking about sending transcripts back for checking because I plan to bring in the participants' voices at many parts of the dissertation: case study approach, open document when I have more down, which will be open for commenting, suggestions, and corrections! So, I didn't want to inundate my fellow participants with too much stuff (granted it's all optional), but this gave me something to think about.
That's all for now - until the next 806 session :)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Mentor-Teacher-Hybrid Presence-course design...

This semester is turning out to be one that is quite busy.  It was a good idea to not teach a graduate this semester so I can focus on my dissertation proposal, however (like that irresistible desert at the end of the meal) various collaborative projects have come in to fill the "void" left in my schedule from not teaching (the one that is supposed to be going into dissertation prep), and these projects have me thinking.

First is the aspect of Hybrid Presence.  Suzan and I coined this term to describe something between Teaching Presence and Learner Presence for the most recent Networked learning conference.  We are currently working more on this topic for an upcoming book chapter.

Second is gamification.  A term that has come in and out of my list of curiosities that I want to play around more with.  I've done some work on this for school, and for professional organization presentations, but nothing big in terms of an article (in my ALECS proposal it was only part of the ingredients).

Finally, since I am not teaching next spring (how much do you want to bet that other papers will fill in the void, LOL), I've been thinking about the summer I usually teach in the summers.    I facilitated the transition from "Introduction to Instructional Design" to "Foundations in Instructional Design and Learning Technology" - a small word change, but the connotations of such a change were profound for the course.  Rebecca H and I have taught variations of the course, as well as variations of INSDSG684. For the past 4 years I've wanted to gamify the learning experience, which I have partly done through badging, although that seems to not have caught on that greatly.  As an opt-in experience it varies a lot. This leaves me pondering: is it wise to move from the gamification end of the spectrum to full-on gaming in an introductory course?  If yes, how do you do it?  The boardgame metaphor appeals to me, but there are other metaphors that do as well!

On another strand, there are students in the MEd program that I teach in that are close to graduation and that I've had in my class at some point or another.  Now that they are a little further in the program I'd like to invite them back, for credit, to be part of the introductory course.  But not as teaching assistants.  I think that's a waste of their time and money. Rather, I want them to be mentors who are developing what Suzan and I term a Hybrid Presence.  I'll be be around to mentor the mentors (while working on my own Hybrid Presence) but I want to tease out how that would work as a for-credit course.  Since I only really teach two courses per year (limitations of employment), my current puzzle to solve is this: I want to combine the transformgameation† of the introductory course with this mentorship model I want to develop. This way I am working on a gamefied design that's (maybe) more interesting, and it won't bore the mentees since will be part of something new.

What do you think of this idea?

† word I invented, transform + game = transformgameation, tell it to your friends, let's have it catch on.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

EDDE 806 - Post VI.III - The one with Sir John Daniel

OK, I am almost 'caught up' with the stuff I missed while I was on vacation (at least as far as 806 goes).  I remember receiving an email from Pearl indicating that Sir John Daniel would be presenting. Too bad the internet wasn't that reliable :-/  Oh well, thank goodness for recordings ;-)

Sir John Daniel seemed like a pretty interesting  person, and very knowledgeable (with over 300 publications to his name) and he must be a respectable human being because he wouldn't hold 32 honorary degrees from 17 different countries if people only liked him for his scholarship.  I guess the bar has been set for me (haha! :-) ). The only area where I surpass him is in the amount of MOOCs I've taken vs how many he's taken.  Even as a recording it was great to get to 'meet' such a distance education heavyweight (maybe I can email him and we can go for some coffee and discuss the future of DE next time I am around his neck of the woods in Canada ;-)  ).

In any case, there were some interesting connections drawn between Open Universities (OU) and MOOCs. The OU UK was created so that it would be Open to People, Open to Places, Open to Methods, and Open to Ideas.  MOOCs, as he argued, could be seen as Open to People (Massive), Open to Places (Open), Open to Methods (Online)...but what about the "C" in MOOC?  What about the course?  I ask what does it mean to pursue a 'course' in something?  And, does the course have some sort of assessment?  He discussed a little about badges (whether or not there is assessment), and he brought up an interesting question: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (who watches the watchers?)  This was brought up in reference to ePortfolios, and to badging.  It's a good question and I think it's quite pertinent to higher education in general as well.

We - as a profession - have put a lot of emphasis and currency (κύρος) in lots of old institutions.  As Sir John mentioned, MOOCs may not be the transformative change in higher education that they were (wrongly I would argue) claimed to be back in 2012, however they've made online education more respectable. After all, as Sir John said - if Harvard is doing it, it must be OK.  While I don't have anything against Harvard, I think that this type of attitude is potentially damaging to our field (in general, not just DE), because people don't pay attention to the good work done by DE researchers until Harvard starts paying attention... and even then, they do reinvent the wheel at times because they haven't been paying attention.

This type of blindness is replicated in the scholarly publishing industry (MOOCs and Open Access are good threads between this presentation/discussion and the one with Alec Couros). It's hard to break into established journals and OA, so any new journal has an uphill battle regarding their  journal's rank.  University rankings are based on where you publish (at least to some extent?) so that influences where people try to publish.  A bit of a vicious circle.

But, it's not all doom and gloom. I think we can make a dent, and make OA, and Open Institutions who have been doing DE for a while now, more 'respectable' - and perhaps have those institutions viewed in the same respect terms as Harvard when it comes to DE courses and programs.

One take away for me, as something to look more into, is looking into the African Virtual University.  I don't know much about it, and it seems pretty interesting (both from its history, and what it does now).

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

EDDE 806 - Post VI.II - Attack of the Greeks!

Now that I am back from vacation (was off to Spain, but spent a little time in Istanbul on the way to and from), it's time to catch up a bit on EDDE 806. On the day that I was flying out to begin my vacation Alec Couros was presenting....D'oh!  I missed the opportunity to be live in that 806.  Not only was Alec on, but there was also a fellow EDDE student who is also Greek.  It would have been glorious to have so many Greeks on on 806 session. Oh well - maybe next time :p

In any case, Alec's presentation was titled "The Making of an Open & Connected Educator" which was really interesting.  Parts of what he presented on were familiar to me because I've been following Alec since 2011 when I got into MOOCs, and I learned more about ED&C 831 (his open course). Parts of what he presented were new to me.  For instance I didn't know he was a school teacher before he got into his current career.  Props to anyone who is a school teacher - I don't think I'd have the patience for that line of work :-).   I find it interesting that he was criticized as a "techo communist" (maybe I should pull out my vintage soviet beret and join the band?) because he wanted to be out in the open.  I also find it interesting that his dissertation was the first dissertation to be available in an open access means.

This presentation reminded me of (and kicked into mental gear) a few of things:

1.  I was around for the kick-off of Linux (mentioned in the presentation), and I do remember a time before that.  However I also acknowledge that I feel like I am living in "internet time" where things seem much more compact.  Like Peggy Lynn wrote (in the chat) - we've already drank the kool aid when it comes to being an open educator, but it's also important to realize that just because we've subscribed to it, and we (well, I do anyway) feel like this open thing has been around for ages, it's actually still in an infantile form and still needs people to support it.

2. I've been thinking about taking the open access pledge (for lack of a better term) for my work but not being sure where I might end up after the EdD program I don't know how feasible it is at the moment. Whenever possible, and when I collaborate with others (my preferred form of working on projects) I often advocate for OA, but that's not always possible (most time it is).  I am wondering if (for younger scholars, and those before tenure) if publishing in a closed journal or book is fine, provided that you get a pre-print version into your institution's (or your own) repository.

3. Alec in this presentation, and friends and fellow collaborators through twitter, reminded me of how much is on my "to read" list that I've added onto it but forgotten about it (talk about digital hoarding, eh Alec!).  This makes me wonder two things:  (a)  Does my mind feel like a leaky colander because I am working on many projects at once, including my dissertation proposal? Or am I just getting old? Or am I just human and this is normal?;  and (b)  there are people in my network (some of whom Alex mentioned) that have written about topics that would fit into my dissertation research and I just need to be kindly reminded about them.

4. Relating to open access, and the open access pledge - this is a though that I have been pondering since I started 805.  In my research I want to privilege OA sources. This to me means getting as many of my literature review items from open access journals.  However, I worry that my committee might say "well AK, you've missed some really important stuff by not looking at ALL journals" (a valid point, it could be #yoda).  If I am to make my dissertation available via OA, can I reasonably (as a researcher) aim to only (or mostly) use OA journals for my literature review and have that be part of my perspective as a researcher? Or am I shooting myself in the foot?

I enjoyed the presentation by Alec.  Maybe we can have him on as a guest again so I won't miss the presentation :-)