Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Assessing Resistance and Risk for the Pilot Study

A minimal risk of resistance in attitude towards participation and change has been predicted. In terms of proving a commitment to the notion of the project, the stakeholder group share an interest in experimenting with learning and creative technologies and tools. The anticipated potential risks include: students and key staff taking holidays over the pilot period; students preoccupied with final projects and assessments; stability issues of cloud computing increases the risk of data being lost or service terminated; difficulty or failure in archiving Twitter conversations; difficultly arranging convenient times for participation due to global time differences; using open and creative platforms may create risk of misuse, leaving the course open to defamation and criticism; biased views may be presented; contributions may be dominated from a one single discipline or member; low levels of participation due to users lack of awareness of tools and need for guidance/support; as a non subject specialist, I may source and distribute non relevant or low level information.

Representative participation in the proposed trial of Twitter and Diigo activities is vital to the success of the project. In an attempt to address some of these risks I have planned the following itinerary of measures: providing guidelines and screen-cast tutorials for tools used; timing of synchronous Twitter chat sessions will be carefully planned; advice on archiving Tweets will be sourced; establish holiday dates for key stakeholders before the trail; design activities to be concise, manageable and relevant; participation and collaboration will be encouraged via this blog and direct email contact; all comments submitted will be moderated; I will seek recommendations for RSS feeds from specialists.

Working collaboratively is an important aspect of action research and a valued ideology of the Institute. The project will adopt an involving and building approach to working with stakeholders. All views and ideas contributed will be acknowledged and valued. Direct and indirect feedback offered by collaborators will help to review, inform and influence the pilot study, exploratory activities and the summative report

The Masters Programme Leader will help to direct student/staff groups through the pilot activities to encourage maximum engagement and transdisciplinary representation.

Stakeholder Analysis

SWOT Analysis on Tools to be Implemented

Redefining the Research Question

The project outline shown in the previous post is a development of an earlier idea. After reflecting on a discussion with my tutor about the initial project proposal, I realised that the outline that I had previously produced had not entirely captured my research interests. I wanted to convey more of a focus on learning in relation to the Masters course and to clarify my interests in wider context. Reading around the topic was a useful way to help refine my ideas and map out more meaningful research questions. The literature I looked at covered broad themes of collaborative learning, social learning, and connectivism along with case study examples of using social media tools as a learning technology. I also looked at literature on the process of action research, which I found both insightful and inspirational. A literature review will be included in the final report.

These articles and studies have helped to strengthen the focus of my inquiry and informed the refined project question. The main research question/hypothesis that I will be testing is:

How can opportunities for collaborative learning between Masters students/staff be enhanced, by using Diigo and Twitter to share knowledge, information and learning resources?

This action research project will test the hypothesis above by addressing these key questions:

What are the key concerns or barriers to participation in social bookmarking and Twitter activities? What training, guidance or support would address this?

What would motivate and increase participation in Twitter and Diigo activities? For example, assessed activities, specific subject/topics, timing of activities?

The questions outlined below will form the basis of the questionnaires and interviews. Some of these questions will be explored through a literature review.

What are the benefits of using Diigo and Twitter on the Masters programme?
What is collaborative learning? Is it important?
How do other UK Higher Educational Institutions incorporate social bookmarking/ micro-blogging into undergraduate or postgraduate programmes?
What are student/staff concerns/barriers regarding participating in Masters social bookmarking and Twitter activities?
What would motivate/increase participation in Twitter and Diigo activities? For example, assessed activities? Specific subject/topics? Timing of activities? Synchronous or asynchronous activities?
What are the training needs for students/staff?
What methods are currently used to share knowledge, information and learning resources? Do student/staff use any of these?
Evaluate the effectiveness of Diigo and Twitter as the main tools used.
Establish opinion on a defined/restricted/recommended folksonomy for Diigo/ Twitter?

Project Outline

How can opportunities for collaborative learning between Masters students/staff be enhanced, by using Diigo and Twitter to share knowledge, information and learning resources?

This project will investigate using the social bookmarking tool Diigo to facilitate and encourage the co-creation of Creative Technologies content and knowledge in order to develop a collaborative and transdisciplinary research resource that will enhance collaborative learning opportunities for IoCT Masters course students.

In addition, the project will seek to experiment with the use of Twitter to encourage collaborative learning opportunities for IoCT Masters course students. A schedule of Twitter activities (synchronous and asynchronous) will be devised and implemented for existing students, alumni students and a pre-enrolled cohort of International students.

RSS feeds will be used to glean relevant and emerging information relevant to Creative Technologies. As a non-subject specialist action researcher, this will help to generate quality and emerging content to book mark in Diigo and redistribute through Twitter.

In addition to IoCT Masters course students, the project will also involve the course Programme Leader, Module Leader representatives and IoCT Researcher representatives. It is hoped that the Masters course and the organisation as a whole will benefit from increased external interest and strengthened networks.

The outcomes for the project will include; increased access to transdisciplinary information and knowledge, increased distribution of specialist knowledge, improved networks between collaborators/students, knowledge bank developed, IOCT research identity strengthened, increased opportunities for collaborative learning and support, increased online presence.

Keywords: Knowledge distribution, knowledge management, collaborative learning, learning, networked learning, transdisciplinarity, connectivism, social learning, learning technology, social media tools, micro-blogging, social bookmarking.

Initial Rich Picture

Modified Rich Picture

Welcome To The Masters Action Research Blog

Welcome. This blog will form the basis of a commentary on the various processes involved in undertaking my action research pilot study for the concluding module of the University Certificate in Professional Development course in Web-enhanced Practice (UCPDWEP) at De Montfort University.

This commentary will be a transparent account of the various stages and practical developments of this research study. These posts will also form a record of my own learning, reflecting on my own experience of using action research as a dynamic, collaborative methodology as well as reflecting on the findings and new knowledge gleaned from this pilot study.

In the participatory spirit of both action research and Web2.0 culture, it is hoped that this blog will form an open forum to capture your experiences of the various activities, the tools used as well as the collaborative research process.

Your comments will provide ongoing feedback over the duration of the pilot study. I also invite my peers and tutors on the UCPDWEP course to act as critical friends by offering constructive challenges, advice and support.

Please note that by contributing comments to this blog you are also giving your permission for these comments to be used as part of my research findings. However, all contributions and comments will be anonymised within the final research report. This blog is in the public domain and could be viewed by people outside the research collaborators group. If you would rather make comments and give feedback privately, please email me on lmcnicoll@dmu.ac.uk.

The final report will form the basis of assessment towards my UCPDWEP qualification and will also used to support recommendations presented in the Masters Programme Enhancement Plan.