Sunday, May 30, 2010

A side bar on Gardner

Frames of mind: the theory of multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1983) The classic text on multiple intelligence’s. Where Gardner differed from previous authors who sought to develop multidimensional models of intelligence was in the precision with which he defined what constitutes intelligence. I particularly note his distinction that an intelligence should be an ability, which can be lost due to brain injury. Thus, to my mind, by establishing an organic differentiation Gardner enables us to bound the levels of distinction involved here.
This is actually quite a profound distinction, as we normally think of subject categories or areas of learning as being very clearly culturally determined. By collocating what we assume are cultural distinctions with biological functions, Gardner is making a quite interesting connection between culture and biological determinism.
Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind : the theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ethics in research on the internet

This is a series of questions in an area where I'm trying to work out what my position should be. These questions arise from asking whether we should view the internet as a collection of public and private documents, or as a collection of interations between people when it comes to doing research with the material we find there.
First Question Can I use posts to an online comunity of practice as objects of research without the consent of all people concerned? Probably not. Unles all posts are pubicly visible and are made in the expectationnthat there is a large body of public lurkers following the postings, I dont think one can. In this circumastance I think there is an expectation that this is a shared but not nescescariy public conversation and that materail posted is for the purpose of contiuing the conversation.
Exceptions to this expectation of privacy, would be overwhelming public interest i.e. it is for the public good, or where respecting the privacy of the context would be tantamount to coluding in a criminal act.
An example of this type of interaction maght make this clearer. There exist online discusion boards for profesionals in the drilling industry, While members of the press might join such boards to get deep background on a drilling rig acident, it would be inapropriate to quote statements made in such a context with atribution. The public interest here is that profesionals need a forum for rapid and open discusion of technical issues, impeding such discusions is not in the general public interest.
Second Question Can I use material from a freely available newspaper article, displayed on the web for academic research? I think I'm on safe ground here in saying yes, and no further permision is required, unless there is an issue of either plaigarism or copyright. I.e. I cant misapropriate the ideas without atribution, and I cant quote the material to such an extent that it becomes tantamount to republishing. (This is the 10% editorial use rule).
Third question, and this involves the issue of informed consent. Supose I join a racist organization and become part of a private online discusion, the content of which I consider as being of acedemic interest. Here I think there is not a hard and fast line. If there are criminal matters invoved, then I think my duty to avoid colusion in crime alows me to break confidentiality. However I think as we move away from the criminal context, the distinction becomes less and less clear cut.In general here is where we get the distinction between thetwo modles. The "A collection of Documents" view point tending to allow, while the interations between individual people is significantly less liberal.
Any thoughts?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Too many Wrappers

I'm checking out the online maths modules in the Blackboard VLE in DIT. I've just clicked on a module on integration, and I get to read the module about three lines at a time. Why? Well the first piece of wraping paper is my browser, Firefox. There is a top line with the page tittle, then a row of drop down menus, then the address bar, then the tab bar.
Next were in the VLE, Blackboard. Here many more menu's and buttons are used to wrap up a document viewer, which looks suspiciously like an adobe product in its look and feel. This also has menus, a little preview copy of the page in miniture on the left and more buttons. Finaly, in the lower right hand side of the page we get to the document on learning maths, which apears to be just a static text document.
This takes up, literaly 1/4 of the total page space.

I supose my point here is that my screen space on a laptop is limited, and on a mobile device it is even tighter. Most curent VLE's just dont know when its polite to get out of the way.