Openings

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This is a short, follow-up post to my Authentic Insights post.

I am keen to pursue the possibilities for openings in how we share narratives about performance.

I read with great interest a Guardian article (written by Decca Aitkenhead) about Peter Higgs. In it Peter is quoted as saying he became “an embarrassment to the department when they did research assessment exercises”. His response to the request for a list of recent publications was “None”. The article adds:

By the time he retired in 1996, he was uncomfortable with the new academic culture. “After I retired it was quite a long time before I went back to my department. I thought I was well out of it. It wasn’t my way of doing things any more. Today I wouldn’t get an academic job. It’s as simple as that. I don’t think I would be regarded as productive enough.”

My Authentic Insights post was an attempt to explore what productivity might look like if we added other narrative forms to journal papers and conference presentations as indicators of scholarly standing.

I read Decca’s article just after finding a Maptia blog post, The Age of Outrospection. The post starts with this paragraph:

Imagine for a moment that you are reading or listening to a story so intensely that you forget yourself and step into the shoes of the storyteller. You see what they saw, hear what they heard, and feel what they felt. These moments are rare, yet when they happen it is as if we have been transported into their world and we are able to see through their eyes. It is a powerful, almost magical feeling. One that is a privilege.

I am attracted to Mapia’s approach that places are made of a thousand stories. For over two decades I have been fascinated by discussions about the crafting of polysemic texts.

Future

I think we have a great deal to learn from the ways platforms like Mapia, Medium and Cowbird present and share stories. I have written about the New York Times too and the possibilities of interactive stories. I see enormous opportunities being offered by enhanced e-books.

Thanks to an alert from Audrey Watters, I was delighted to find Martin Weller’s recent editorial about openness in higher education. I noted his observation that:

there are fundamental shifts in practices, which can be grouped together as open scholarship (Veletsianos & Kimmons 2012) – academics are creating and releasing their own content using tools such as Slideshare and YouTube, researchers are releasing results earlier and using open, crowdsourcing approaches, every day millions of learners make use of free, open online tools and resources.

I admire Martin’s work immensely and find his insights re-assuring and invitational. In passing, I found it interesting to note the variety of sources Martin used in his references as I did with George and Royce’s paper cited by Martin.

Martin cited a Google Doc reference from Dave Cormier:

Cormier, D. (2013) ED366 Educational Technology and the Adult Learner: Syllabus and Contract. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-Jqr08jT_iehRY0piUYDaZGGW29uuGehdFVF08EpDO4/edit [accessed November 2013]

This raises for me exciting ideas about co-production of texts through open sharing and ongoing refinement.

In my Authentic Insights post I was keen to make clear that the use of alternative forms of sharing research stories did not negate the rigour of scholarly enquiry. My hope is that rigour helps focus on scholarly astigmatism and contributes to debates about paradigmatic certainty.

I conclude this post with a link to another blog post. Earlier this year, Jenny Davis wrote about The legitimacy and usefulness of academic blogging will shape how intellectualism develops. Jenny introduces her post thus:

In this post I attempt to tackle a complex but increasingly important question: Should writers cite blog posts in formal academic writing (i.e. journal articles and books)? To begin with full disclosure: I cite blog posts in my own formal academic writing. But not just any blog posts. I am highly discriminate in what I cite, but my discriminations are not of the cleanly methodical type which can be written, shared, and handed out as even a suggested guide.

I think Jenny provides some very helpful pointers to the citing of blog posts. I was interested to learn that:

Okay, now here comes the real hypocrisy. Although I cite blogs within academic writing, I explicitly forbid my undergraduate students from doing so. Their papers must include only peer-reviewed work unless I specifically approve of a non-peer-reviewed source.

My experience has been that if we encourage students to become produsers, their choice of references becomes a discussion rather than an imposition. Their discoveries help me go beyond my taken-for-grantedness and enable me to explore their sense of value. It is an exercise of outrospection rather than outrage.

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Photo Credits

The Art of Social Media (mkhmarketing, CC BY 2.0)

Screen grab, We Live in the Future (Ev Williams)

Discussing Links (Keith Lyons, CC BY 3.0 AU)

 

 

Re-presenting

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I had some great email alerts today and willingly accepted them as delightful, valued pebbles.

All five items were a great way to start the day. Each of them encouraged me to think about re-presentation.

In brief …

Zoe discussed her delight in finding and enhanced eBook “an edition of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land designed for the iPad, jointly produced in 2011 by publisher Faber and Faber and digital publishing innovators Touch Press“.

There is some additional information about the enhanced eBook can be found here. I noted this observation:

The biggest challenge for the team was how to present the primary text on a digital screen and maintain the authenticity of an intimate reading experience. The central vision of keeping the poem in its purest form always at the heart of the interactive reading experience was the key drive for creating a spare and unobtrusive, yet deeply functional, user interface. The appropriateness of the solution is best captured by the New York Times review, ‘For all its accouterments, The Waste Land app honors the silence of the text itself, the silence that makes Eliot’s many voices in this poem so clearly audible.’

‘Authenticity’ was a focus of Jenny Davis’s post too. In her discussion of Richard Renaldi’s New York photography project, she suggests:

What if we re-imagined the social media platform not as a reflection of who we are, but of who we will be? Authenticity here is not found in the truthfulness or visibility of our deeply flawed characters, but rather, in the integrity of our intentions. The authentic social actor need not be a rugged outdoorsperson to post pictures of an off-trail hike, s/he must simply truly aspire to be the kind of person who completes such a hike.

Sadly, whilst imagining myself in New York and following up on a YouTube link about Richard’s project, I received this message:

Not

Thanks to Angela and her Storify record of We Are All Creators Now: Collections, Creation and Copyright I was off on another journey of re-imagining … and contemplating the curation of creativity as re-presentation. I had missed alerts to the day of exploration at the Powerhouse Museum that posed the questions:

What does creation look like in the digital era? Who are the creators? How do we interact with our cultural heritage? What roles do museums and collections have to play in the conversation? Is current intellectual property law a help or a hindrance?

Coloured butter sculptures

The story of Everpix’s demise was a sad reminder that creativity alone is no guarantee of success or longevity. Casey Newton pointed out that “In two short years, Everpix has gone from a dream shared by two French graphics experts to one of the world’s best solutions for managing a large library of photos”.

In a summary of lessons learned, Casey wrote:

The founders acknowledge they made mistakes along the way. They spent too much time on the product and not enough time on growth and distribution. The first pitch deck they put together for investors was mediocre. They began marketing too late. They failed to effectively position themselves against giants like Apple and Google, who offer fairly robust — and mostly free — Everpix alternatives. And while the product wasn’t particularly difficult to use, it did have a learning curve and required a commitment to entrust an unknown startup with your life’s memories — a hard sell that Everpix never got around to making much easier.

I thought Casey’s post was sensitive and considered. The re-presentation of a process from inspiration to closedown is very informative.

I concluded my morning reading with a visit to the Ontario Online Learning Portal’s discussion of a new pedagogy. I was particularly interested in the discussion of anywhere, anytime and any size learning. I noted too the discussion of self-directed and non-formal learning that makes use of free open educational resources and social networking and enables “large numbers of learners to access knowledge without the necessity for meeting institutional prior admission requirements, following a set course, or having a personal instructor”.

This took me back to Richard Renaldi’s project. Sean Levinson points out that Richard takes random people he meets on the street of New York City and asks them to pose in pictures together as if they were family members, friends or lovers. He adds “the subjects are only asked to look like they are showing a brief amount of affection, but the facial expressions and body language within the photos make it seem like these strangers not only know each other, but also share some sort of genuine bond”.

Sean’s observation that “this unorthodox recipe for truly magical moments speaks volumes about both art and humanity” gives us a new take on re-presentation and emergent learning.

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Photo Credits

email pebbles (Will Lion, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Coloured butter scultures (Powerhouse Museum, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Touching strangers Richard Renaldi 16 (Angs School, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)