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some jotted notes, LM 2009-03-20

In resopnse to the question about the differences between:


  • eResearch in education

  • eResearch for education

  • Education for eResearch

  • (Educational) research for education and e-research

eResearch in education

School students should be modern knowledge-builders and school curriculum should be based on knowledge, ways inquiry and tools of investigation that are relevant for present day and future society/science/economy. Students and teachers should have access to the same data, methods and tools for conducting scientific investigations as modern research communities do. Current school curriculum is essentially based on the knowledge and ways of inquiry that can’t produce knowledge relevant for contemporary society. The gap between school science and “real” science is as never big; and students do not find motivating and challenging to learn knowledge that is not relevant for present day world. Present eResearch infrastructures have been created almost exclusively for “big real” science and are not accessible neither for teachers nor for students. In order to make learning relevant and engaging for school students we need to make knowledge generated by eResearch as well as eResearch methods and tools available for schools. In other words we need to integrate eReseach in education.

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Recently published NSF agenda “Fostering Learning in the Networked World” deserves attention for at least several reasons. First, it puts the learning sciences at the centre of the cyberlearning agenda. Second, it takes the opportunities to improve education by harnessing and using scientific and learning data seriously.

The Two Data Deluges: Opportunities and Threats

"Among the greatest benefits—and challenges— of cyberinfrastructure is the deluge of scientific data <….> Today’s highly instrumented science and engineering research is generating data at far greater rates and volumes than ever before possible. In addition, as more human communication takes place in the networked world for education, commerce, and social activity, an extensive digital trace is being created, a deluge of behavioral data. These data are extremely valuable for modeling human activity and for tailoring responses to the individual…” (24)


Will this open a door for eResearch in education and for education?

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The Oxford eResearch Conference 2008
Date: 11-13 September 2008
Location: University of Oxford: The Oxford Internet Institute and Oxford e-Research Centre

This multi-disciplinary, international conference on e-Research, use and implications of information and communication technologies (ICTs), like the Internet, in shaping research across the disciplines.

Full papers are here

Sent: Friday, 1 August 2008 5:02 PM
Subject: Formation of Intersect - the new peak eResearch body for NSW

Dear members of the eResearch community,

GOOD NEWS
I am delighted to inform you of the establishment of Intersect, the new peak eResearch organisation for NSW.
The Intersect proposal was approved by six NSW universities and funding has been provided through the universities and the NSW government. Intersect was formally established as a not-for-profit company on 25thJune. A Board of Directors has been appointed with Professor Mark Wainwright as Chairman, and Dr Michael Briers as interim CEO.

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v. 30-06-2008, unpublished draft

The new Labour Government’s educational initiatives with the promises “to turn every secondary school in Australia into a digital school” and “boost the research and development capacity” have triggered a range of new discussions about the implications of new political agendas on educational research. Research-related discussions at the ACER and education.au symposia “A digital education revolution” and the Educational Research Futures task group’s discussions initiated by the AARE and ARDEN are just few such examples to mention.

There has been a lot of action on another digital end of research policy and practice, called “e-research”. Among many others, the key developments over the last two years include the release of the Australian E-Research Strategy , the Strategic Roadmap and Investment Plan and the recent announcement of the Roadmap’s Review . These developments, however, have been almost unnoticed by the educational research community and education, as a discipline, essentially has been left out from the national e-research strategies and budgets. Why bother?
E-research has already shaped research agendas of many “soft” sciences. E-humanities and e-social social sciences have become important buzzwords in many research funding games and, in some countries, even got dedicated lines in the national research budgets.

E-research in educational research is a different story...

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Social and cultural aspects of e-research, grid and/or cyberinfrastructure become increasingly an attractive research topic for social scientists and cultural anthropologists. It is not surprising why. Interesting and important research themes can be found almost on the surface of e-research phenomenon. As an example, at least two research questions are represented in the following titles of the papers presented at e-research conferences this year:

  • M. Daw, R. Procter, Y. Lin, T. Hewitt, W. Jie, A. Voss, K. Baird, A. Turner, M. Birkin K. Miller, W. Dutton, M. Jirotka, R. Schroeder, G. de la Flor, P. Edwards, R. Allan, X. Yang, R. Crouchley (2007) Developing an e-Infrastructure for Social Science. Paper presented at the Third international conference on e-social science, Ann Arbor, MI, US. URL

Question 1: Is there a limit for productive collaboration?

  • J. Dalziel, C. Nguyen, R. Warouw (2007) Macquarie University: ASK-OSS, DRAMA and RAMS: eResearch support from MELCOE. Paper presented at the E-Research Australasia 2007. Brisbane. URL

Question 2: Is there a limit for effective(?) technical communication?

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"To design one is nothing,
To build one is easy,
To fly one is everything."

(Otto Lilienthal)

The UK PolicyGrid tries to design and implement a middleware infrastructure that supports policy-related research activities based on social science research. The project called “Semantic Grid Tools for Rural Policy Development & Appraisal” (nb. it’s not difficult to imagine similar policy grid for educational policy decision-making and research). The design of the middleware is based on the provenance architecture. It requires to provide a 'thick' description of the contextual information that allows to interpret data and resources adequately (e.g., Who, What, Where, Why, When, Which and How the resource was created). The concept of the Semantic Grid is central to the design of this project.

Challenging idea?

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All right. Let’s face it: “Today’s research community must assume responsibility for building a robust data and information infrastructure for the future” (p.1). Recently the group of QUT researchers produced the report that analyses the legal aspects of research data infrastructures and provides some suggestions how to build it:

  • Fitzgerald, A. & Pappalardo, K. (2007). Building the infrastructure for data access and reuse in collaborative research: An analysis of the legal context. Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law Project. URL

Summary

“This Report examines the legal framework within which research data is generated, managed, disseminated and used. <…> The Report considers how these legal rules apply to define rights in research data and regulate the generation, management and sharing of data. The Report also describes and explains current practices and attitudes towards data sharing. A wide array of databases is analysed to ascertain the arrangements currently in place to manage and provide access to research data. Finally, the Report encourages researchers and research organisations to adopt proper management and legal frameworks for research data outputs…” (CreativeCommons, 12-09-2007).

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An interesting scoping study called "Data Repository for Teacher Education" (Australian Council of Deans of Education) was funded by the Carrick Institute In the beginning of the year. This is probably one of the first signs of a ‘serious’ e-research in Australian education.

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This entry complements the earlier blog about the British perspectives on innovation in education. Recently NESTA (The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) produced an interesting report analysing the innovation systems in six ‘low innovation’ sectors.
  • Policy & Research Unit. (2007). Hidden innovation: How Innovation happens in six 'low innovation' sectors. UK, London: NESTA. URL

Education, together with oil production, construction, retail banking, civil legal services and rehabilitation of offenders, is among those six.

The British report examines whether these sectors really perform so poor in innovation or whether traditional indicators (e.g., investment in R&D) do not capture all of the innovation that takes place in these sectors. While there is some evidence that some innovation processes in education are ‘hidden’ and traditional performance metrics probably fail to capture a broad variety of local development-led innovations in schools, the flaws in the innovation system are also obvious.

The main ideas from this report about the 'hidden innovation' and innovation system in education are summarised in this blog.

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This entry is an eclectic summary of the key trends in scientific research methodologies, technologies and practices followed by some reflections about the state of the art and future of the educational research. Essentially this blog is a mashup of ideas from three unrelated in a structured world readings and some outsider's thoughts that link them in a complex world.

Sources:

  • Alex Szalay: Science in an Exponential World. Paper presented at eResearch Australasia Conference, Brisbane, 26-29 June 2007. URL
  • OECD: Evidence in Education: Linking Research and Policy, 12/06/2007. OECD, CERI. URL
  • Uri Wilensky and Michael J. Jacobson: Complex Systems in Education: Scientific and Educational Importance and Implications for the Learning Sciences. Journal of the Learning Sciences. 2006, Vol. 15, No. 1, Pages 11-34. URL

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This week many politicians have been immersed in the debates about a broadband access in Australia. While the focus of this dispute has been on how many Australians (98% vs. 99%) will (should) have an access to a high-speed broadband network, it was a good motive to read and think about education and how educational research could help to embrace all this “fast stuff”. Thus, this entry is about innovation, education, educational research and e-research.

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civitas.gif
Note: Picture from the Civil Society Institute website (about the logo).
E-research is about e-rights, e-responsibilities, e-access, e-intellectual property, e-privacy, e-etc. I can’t add much to the Jane’s Anderson’s and Kathy’s Bowrey’s paper, annotated this week in AustralianPolicyOnline, but felt that it would be inappropriate to leave it unnoticed in this blog. By providing a solid review of the literature about indigenous cultural property, open access to knowledge and the gap between them in the modern society, this paper also provides a good source for thinking about other legal and moral aspects of e-research in education, social sciences and humanities.

Below is the extract from the paper and URL. Together some more links related to this topic.

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This entry is about other aspects of the same, mentioned in the earlier blog, Australian e-Research Strategy and Implementation Framework. This time is about:

Research culture

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Recently (May 2007) the Australian Government accepted An Australian e-Research Strategy and Implementation Framework. This document outlines a general vision and strategic plan for the enhancement of e-research capacities in Australia over forthcoming five-year period. I think this document deserves some interest of academic research community too, particularly of those who work in education. This is my first thought about it.

Education for e-research

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