Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Adopting new technology

Thoughts on the development of education and barriers to the adoption of technology at third level.
The fundamental equation is cost benefit analysis. If it takes me three times as long to prepare a class, and my students only learn 10% more, then I don't make the effort.
If my students could potentially learn 40% more, but there's a 30% chance of me looking like an idiot, I don't take the risk.
So putting my notes on line is low effort, low risk and it gets done.
Putting up a selection of links to online resources is low risk and gets done.
Recording my class presentations so that my students can review what I did in class later, is low effort, with modest technology, but its higher risk (What if I make a mistake in class and they have a permanent record of this?), so it sometimes gets done.
Writing and deploying a fully online module, to students who I could equally well teach in a f2f session, is more work and significantly higher risk, (the computers went down for the final and every one got a “get out of tail free” card) so it rarely happens.
So we adopt incrementally and supplementarilly. We play it safe.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

One page Summary of My Research Proposal

One page Summary of My Research Proposal

A text based examination of Introductory level Physics lab handouts using the methods of grounded Research.
Research question
What can Physics Lab handouts tell us?
Objective and Positivist for the physics, Subjective and constructivist for every thin else. I view lab handouts as being a social construction based in the culture of science.
It is my belief that there exists a finite set of theories, explanations, interpretations and data which can emerge from an appropriate examination of these texts.
Intensive text based examination of a wide corpus of texts will be followed by a more detailed cyclical coding exercise within the traditions of grounded research on a smaller subset of this corpus.
This will be supported by a trangulation motivated examination of additional documentary material together with a very small number of interviews to confirm the results.
Phase 1 to will run until August, Phase 2will run until till October. Triangulation and interviews should be complete by the end December. Write up of the results will continue until done.
A journal paper in narrative form.
In the initial phase texts will be harvested from the internet. For the second phase only those texts for which written permission for use has been secured will be included. The ethical model is as implied by the phrases “for the greatest Good” and “Do unto others”.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thinking about big data

After reading Scobleizer on big data I found my self thinking about how this could impact education. The most applicable idea I came up with was using it for assessment. If we transfer most of learning to some form of digitized mode then we could asses students on everything that they do rather than just assessing "home work" or "tests" or Mid Terms" or "exams". When I refer to digitized modes, this could be students doing very conventional work in a traditional classroom setting, but using laptops to write things down. The idea here is that their work would be accessible to data mining software.