Alan's notes.

Alan’s notes.

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Today I had my first tutorial with Alan for the project this semester. We looked at where I was and covered quite a few things regarding my work which have been very helpful in different areas. I have attached the images from Alan’s notes (above) and will make reference to these further on. I will use this post to cover what we discussed and add my thoughts by breaking it down into the 8 different aspects we covered.

1. Ethics

A few things on my Ethics forms were wrong, either missing or not outlined with enough detail. Also, I hadn’t included any detail to seek permission to interview University staff as I assumed it would not be included. Alan suggested I did just in case and it does make sense to cover any aspect in case it did require approval. I have now updated and sent these forms off.

2. Handling sources

We spoke about how I am evaluating my research material and also how I am considering its reliability. Obviously my study is extremely current and therefore much of the material I look at has to be new in order for me to grasp what is happening with my study. This means I find myself covering a  lot of material which is more journalistic whether through blogs or independent websites and magazines. So, I am dealing with items that may be unreliable with low authority. As a result of this I need to be aware when I look at material like this and to judge its value to my project.

I have always thought of this type of practise in a very narrow way where simply, the newer the source the less reliable it is (generally speaking), however Alan talked through looking at other aspects that are inclusive in these decisions as the diagram from Alan’s notes (above, image 5) show. This is very useful as it allows me to asses the value of an item of research and whether it is good enough to be used in my work. We agreed it would be beneficial for me to make a detailed chart which represents these ideas for me to use in a way that best suits my work. This will be shown in the next post where it will be explained in more detail.

3. Wikipedia

We had a discussion about Wikipedia whilst discussing sources which we both had differing ideas on and I think it is beneficial to quickly talk about it here. I think of wikipedia as a collaborative medium but not entirely. Sure it is formed by multiple contributions into one article, however each edit is done by someone who is in a different place at a different time. So, the end product (the article) is collaborative, but the process I would argue is more singular. An author of an article is editing based on their knowledge and their view on the matter therefore their contribution is not really influenced by others. Essentially (in this instance), it is the article we are concerned with and that has grown in its importance and there is no guarantee that 100 editors of an article is better than 5.

4. Podcasting

Alan explained how the way I have uploaded my podcasts so far is not very effective. They are in a post somewhere which also contains other content and has nothing in the title to acknowledge it is there. On reflection this is a very poor way of organizing my podcasts as it makes it difficult for tutors and even myself to track my weekly progress, which is what the podcasts are intended for. I have now created a sub category for the podcasts and assign them each their own posts. I also title, date and number the post. This is definitely a much more efficient way of access. I also need to introduce the podcast by saying my name, project title and the date and week number to stop the podcast starting in a very abrupt and unstructured manner.

5. Typo Text

Although I stated I would produce 32 cards, my initial idea was to make playing cards. However I decided against this idea as I could only make use of one side of the card (the backs would have to have the exact same design for this idea to work as playing cards) and so I felt it was too restrictive. However I have since felt that as they are they are very niche; they will be used by people who have an interest. Whereas as playing cards the message of the content will be more subtle and it will cover a far greater audience segment. This is because they will be usable as just playing cards. Obviously this does just restrict my space to design but I think it is something I can get around. Also there is the issue of having to produce 52 cards which is a lot but some could be replicated to enhance meaning. I am aware this is a big change from what I proposed however I feel that the development and critical thinking of what I’m producing is positive.

6. Project Name

I already have my project name – ‘Open Mind’. I think this is a very appealing title and fits the nature of my project well. It is short, snappy and easy to remember and it provokes thought about what my project is.

However it is quite ambiguous and does not give enough description to each three of my works. Therefore I need to give a title to each one. I think this works well; the project has its own title and then three individual titles for the academic journal, the journalistic article and the typo text.

7. Style guide

I need to begin looking at style guides for academic journals soon to gain a better understanding of how they are laid out, how they are written, the language that is used and the way arguments are proposed. I will follow up on this task shortly as obviously I need to do this before I begin writing.

8. Project timeline review

Alan commented that at the minute my project is quite open and widespread and that it needs to be more refined. I very much agree with this. Online learning is a very big subject and the specific areas I am looking at cover a lot of ground and that is a bad thing. Obviously I looked at MOOC’s as part of my research and Alan suggested I focus just on MOOC’s as it will be very direct and also it is extremely current in online learning. I think this is a good idea and I certainly think that MOOC’s is a strong and relevant topic to focus on however I feel a lot of my initial inspiration for this project will be lost.

I used Nicholas Carr’s book, ‘The Shallows’ as my starting point and was very interested by the way we receive and store information and how it influences our learning as well as how our reading differs when it is done via hypertext. Although my wider reading will have influence on my understanding and opinion of my subject I feel focusing on MOOC’s will not allow me to focus enough on what I am passionate about studying.  So, I need to think more about the direction I want to refine my project towards.