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Openess and Research

September 22nd, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I attended the Elluminate session at #PLENK2010 this evening with a presentation by Martin Weller speaking about Research, Technology and Networks. It was heartening to see almost 100 participants log and participate in a very lively text discussion, even if fewer were willing to use the audio.
I think Martin is overly pessimistic about how social networking and social software is being used in research. Of course there are still barriers to be overcome, particularly the insistence by many institutions on traditional forms of scholarship and research as the basis for future career progression and for funding. And in a comment related to the Open University’s Social Learn, a project he previously led, he showed how business goals can impact against openness in research processes and innovation in products.
However, I am seeing a marked move twoards openess, collaboration and sharing in a number of the projects and networks in which I participate. Access to video conferences has facilitated more collaborative approaches to project reviews and to managing research tasks. Twitter, blogs and other social network applications have allowed us to share work in progress outside immediate project partnerships. And once more, social networks are allowing us to discover new colleagues and friends, outside our narrower institutional or project communities.
I am also convinced that the use of Cloud applications is going to have a major impact on the way we work. In Pontydysgu we have moved to Google Docs in the last month. And without consciously thinking about it, we are able to work together on research documents and even better to comment on each others work and ideas as a work in progress. This would never have happened through emailing drafts between colleagues.
Jen Hughes is working on ideas around Evaluation 2.0. This is also based on the idea of openness and the involvement of wider communities in evaluation processes. We hope to open out an evaluation in progress to all of you int he next week or so see what happens!

One Response to “Openess and Research”

  1. Pekka Kämäräinen says:

    Thanks to a prior working session I had the pleasure to listen to the session that Graham is commenting. I think the speaker was not overly pessimistic but realistic. Indeed, it is often difficult to get the ideas of openness and participation linked to research culture. In this respect the conversation on the equations ‘research=learning’ and ‘learning=research’ was refreshing.
    Surely, Graham himself is working as pioneer with cutting edge pilot projects. Thus, what appears to be daily bread to him tends to be something beyond imagination for the day-to-day practice of educational researchers. From this point of view the work on the theme “Evaluation 2.0” is most welcome since it challenges us to rethink this day-to-day practice with the help of Web 2.0 technologies.

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