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research

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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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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The following Axel’s Bruns’s paper, originally published in First Monday and summarised this week in CreativeEconomy, caught my attention for its research tools and methodology.

  • Axel Bruns (2007) Methodologies for mapping the political blogosphere: An exploration using the IssueCrawler research tool, First Monday, 12(5). URL

This paper studies patterns of interaction in blogosphere using network mapping tool IssueCrawler. Many other similar methodologies and internet research tools are available (and usually for free). Social researchers employ them broadly and provide valuable information about virtual communities and social networks (e.g., see First Monday for other ideas).

What do we know about educational virtual communities and networks? Not many of them probably thrive, nevertheless they do exist. Research issues and tools are available. Answers are missing.

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If somebody argued that e-research is quite common practice in social and educational research, I probably would agree. Well, at least one method – online surveys – is quite common in current social research practices.

If somebody argued that social e-research is not supported and social e-research methods are not thought at universities, I probably would agree too. Well, at least I know two research-intensive universities that currently do not have a standard platform for doing online surveys for academic research (Ref1). Have you ever heard that online research methods would be covered in university research method courses?

Nevertheless, I was quite successful finding two good academic websites with self-learning materials, references and other resources dedicated to online survey method.

  • Exploring Online Research Methods Incorporating TRI-ORM: URL

  • WebSM – Web Survey Methodology: URL

More resources and links for those who want to do online survey are in the blog.

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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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“Education is integral to the story we now tell of global competitiveness through innovation. But innovation still has an uncertain place within education” (Bentley & Gillinson, 2007, p. 4).

Over the European summer British researchers produced several interesting reports on innovation in education. One of them:

  • Bentley, T., & Gillinson, S. (2007). A D&R system for education. UK: Innovation unit. URL.

Drawing on the innovation practices from education and other domains, the report outlines the core features of successful innovation systems and essential elements of an innovation system for education. “Greater support for the involvement of teachers and school leaders” and “importance of users and collaborative development in generating and spreading innovation” are the main recurring ideas in this publication. In essence the authors stress the need for a shift from Research and Development (R&D) to Development and Research (D&R). Risk management and the need for new ICT-based platforms for educational innovation are other two emerging themes.

More ideas and citations from this report are in the blog.

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This blog is a blend of the facts, ideas and visions from two E-research Australasia presentations about scientific publishing and dissemination of research data and results. The ideas and examples come from two science domains: astronomy and computational biology. At the end there are some quick observations and thoughts about recent trends in educational dissemination.

Sources:

  • Phil Bourne: Thoughts on the future of scientific dissemination. URL
  • Alex Szalay: Science in an Exponential World. URL

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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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Several potentially useful e-research tools for social and educational researchers were presented at e-research Australasia 2007 conference. Most (all) of them have not been finished yet. Nevertheless, feel free to go ahead and to see the demos or explore prototypes. Here some annotated links.

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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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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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What is e-research?

Generally speaking "e-research" is research practices enabled by the combination of:
• shared computational power;
• distributed access to large databases; and
• virtual environments for collaborative research work.
Here, you can find the Australian DEST definition of e-research.

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