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Documentary-maker Alex Freeman never imagined she would create a tool that could overhaul the monumental structure of academic publishing.
After her postgraduate doctoral degree on wing patterns in butterflies, Freeman spent 17 years filming and producing science and wildlife programmes such as ‘Bang Goes the Theory’ and ‘Trust Me, I’m a Doctor’.
Then, four years ago, she decided to return to academia, taking a role as leader of a team of scientists at the University of Cambridge.
“I was really shocked to learn about the pressures my team of post doctoral researchers were under. I had heard about the reproducibility crisis and the fact that a significant proportion of research can’t be replicated due to lack of clarity of the methodology or because of chance results being treated as a robust finding, but never realised the extend of the underlying systemic issues in scientific publishing.”
“To publish research in a journal, academics need to find a narrative that neatly makes the data fit a theory and bundle that up in one single paper. But research is not a linear thing. The huge amount of work that goes into the research and the thought processes of what did or didn’t work are all part of scientific practice. High-impact papers often just tell the success story, leaving out the many failings that are part of the truth.”
"To publish research in a journal, academics need to find a narrative that neatly makes the data fit a theory and bundle that up in one single paper. But research is not a linear thing"
Another issue with scientific publishing is that success in research (and, often, subsequent career progression) is measured by the number of people that read or cite a particular paper. This is another incentive for scientists to create a simplified narrative, written in a way that is most likely to reach the general public. Granular and detailed reporting of methodologies and underlying data (especially ‘messy’ data) are often left out.
“Currently there just isn’t a way to publish this primary research knowledge - and that’s why I felt I needed to come up with a new way of disseminating and reporting research findings.”Breaking up the old-fashioned academic 'paper'.
Over the past two years, Freeman has been working on Octopus, an alternative publishing model that divides the various elements of publishing into eight different steps. This model allows for all the complexities and failures that are part of research to be published as part of the final output. Researchers will no longer have to cram all their work, often accrued over many years, into simplified, easy-to-read articles.
“Each of these mini publications will be publishable instantly, rather than submitted for peer review and selected by editors first. This way, research can be instantly in the public domain to be both reviewed and rated by all, speeding up research and solving some of the problems of the existing peer review process. The model will also credit researchers for their individual contributions and offer a tangible solution to the reproducibility crisis.”
"research can be instantly in the public domain to be both reviewed and rated by all, speeding up research and solving some of the problems of the existing peer review process."
For instance, Octopus allows for people who are specialists in research design to publish stand-alone protocols, those who have collected data to publish it (regardless of the size of the data), and for researchers specialised in analysing data to publish statistical analyses of data published by others. Each of these publications would be reviewed independently. This creates quality control through greater collaboration, and specialisation related to each step.
The pandemic has highlighted the need for a revised system, says Freeman:
“The demand for a more diversified publication system has come to the fore in the global rush to understand and treat COVID-19. Researchers need to share their work quickly, but there is no real infrastructure beyond putting content on preprint servers – no formal quality control or ratings.”
“The demand for a more diversified publication system has come to the fore in the global rush to understand and treat COVID-19."
On Octopus, by contrast, researchers could be sharing their work and findings instantly, and others reviewing it and quality-rating it immediately and openly.Credible alternative
A prototype of the platform is set to be launched in September, once it has been pre-seeded with open access material from CORE – the world’s largest open access repository, hosted by Jisc. Some might believe Octopus could replace journal publishing, but Freeman is keen to point out that “Octopus is not set up to put publishers out of business”.
“We still need editorialised and easy-to-read summaries of research findings. Journals could play an important role as disseminators and become interpreters of what’s happening on the primary resource record from Octopus. For instance, they could create well-written updates for the large audience that doesn't want to trawl through pages and pages of methodology.
“I want people to move away from limiting research to a linear narrative. I’ve spent all my working life creating narratives and they are incredibly powerful, but they're powerful in a way that isn't necessarily good for scientific communication. Science shouldn’t say ‘believe what I tell you’, it's about showing all the things you haven’t thought of. That's a very different kind of communication and one that encourages critical thinking.”
“I want people to move away from limiting research to a linear narrative."
In the words of American inventor Thomas Edison: “Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless.”
Octopus is supported by the Reproducibility Network which is co-funded by Jisc amongst other organisations.
Many teachers and instructors find themselves in the position of 'product manager' as their courses are converted from in-person to online delivery. What this means is that the work is being done by a team of writers, illustrators and programmers, while they find themselves in the role of describing what the course should look like and how it should function. It's not the easiest role, especially when the outcome isn't always easy to imagine. This website (it's too long to call it a post) isn't a description of the role so much as it is a series of very valuable lessons about it. They are shortish individually, but they add up to a lot. As is so often the case in documents like this, the best value is found by reading from the bottom up.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
The Arizona State University authors describe three features of the 'new normal' (quoted):
- (it) demands that colleges and universities work together to establish greater capacity for remote, distributed education ;
- we been able to move beyond replication to new strategies of change, and COVID-19 has confirmed the legitimacy of doing so;
- Far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income... first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
In other words, "COVID-19 raises questions about the relevance, the quality, and the accessibility of higher education - and these are the same challenges higher education has been grappling with for years." Now, is ASU a model response to these challenges? The Charles Koch Foundation, which sponsored this article, may think so. But diligence demands a broader and more democratic consideration.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Facebook Pitched New Tool Allowing Employers to Suppress Words Like “Unionize” in Workplace Chat Product
As workplace communications systems become more popular the temptation to 'manage' them can become irresistible, and of course, Facebook is looking to capitalize on that trend. This article describes a company presentation that "discussed the 'benefits' of 'content control.' And it offered one example of a topic employers might find it useful to blacklist: the word 'unionize.'" Facebook has apologized, noting that "censoring users is not the purpose of this feature and Workplace’s ambition is to give everyone a voice, while maintaining a respectful work environment." But if it's not the purpose of this feature, then what is the purpose of this feature?Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Ewan McIntosh is beginning to hit a new stride this week as he comes out with this expressive vision for learning: "Every child will have the entitlement to make music, to peace and quiet, to space and technology to learn what they need to, in the time it takes them, with access to great mentors, teachers and peers who talk about the stuff that matters, teach each other new tricks." Sounds good to me. A vision worth working toward.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
This article looks at new methods for creating and using documents, referencing especially Notion, Coda, and Airtable. "What they do is create fully integrated and dynamic documents that combine the features of a word processor, database, spreadsheet and project management system." The author refers back to Google Wave, a great idea hat never went anywhere, but the new formats also draw inspiration from projects like Jupyter Notebooks, a system that embeds functing software in digital documents, and also collaborative authoring tools, including Google Docs.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
En marzo del presente año, Steam, una de las plataformas más usadas a nivel mundial para jugar en línea, superó los 20 millones de usuarios activos, mientras el juego de Call of Duty Warzone alcanzó 15 millones. En mayo, Animal Crossing llegó a 11 millones de jugadores.
Es seguro decir que un éxodo digital sin precedentes está sucediendo en la comunidad de aficionados a los videojuegos. ¿Pero cómo se relaciona esto el con distanciamiento social y la salud mental de niños y jóvenes?
Ante las medidas precautorias que han cerrado millones de escuelas y campus universitarios alrededor del mundo, los estudiantes se encuentran no solo en la necesidad de seguir asistiendo a clases en línea para continuar su formación académica, sino de buscar instancias de interacción y cooperación fuera de la escuela que les ayuden a seguir también con el desarrollo de sus habilidades sociales e inteligencia emocional. Sorprendentemente, ese espacio está siendo llenado por los videojuegos.Un cambio en la comunidad gamer
Antes de la pandemia, la dinámica en la comunidad de aficionados a los videojuegos era dominada principalmente por el interés de jugar. Las personas que se conocían en las sesiones multijugador de videojuegos usualmente comenzaban amistades después de jugar un mismo título y convivir consistentemente en los modos multijugadores.
Hoy en día vivimos un fenómeno a la inversa. Niñas y jóvenes usan las plataformas de juego para tener contacto con las amistades que ya tenían en la escuela y de las cuales han estado alejados por las medidas de distanciamiento social.
La plataforma de creación de videojuegos Roblox es una de las más usadas por los estudiantes para realizar actividades cooperativas en línea, ser creativos y mantener una sana frecuencia de interacción social con otros niños y jóvenes.
Roblox, es similar a Minecraft en el sentido de que proporciona a los usuarios un conjunto de herramientas para crear diversos entornos desde cero, pero Roblox lo lleva un paso más allá permitiendo crear juegos completos que pueden ser compartidos y vendidos en la plataforma. De esta forma, los jugadores no solo se están divirtiendo y compartiendo con otros usuarios, también aprenden las bases de cómo se estructura un juego con base en el código.Un juego con propósito
La respuesta de niños y jóvenes a juegos que les permiten ser creativos y sociales ha sido enorme. Roblox cuenta con 120 millones de usuarios activos por mes. De acuerdo con cifras de la compañía, 52 % de los adolescentes están pasando más tiempo con amigos que conocían previamente de forma presencial y 69 % está jugando más precisamente por las condiciones de aislamiento impuestas por la pandemia.
Además de los efectos positivos que este ejercicio de creatividad y socialización está ejerciendo sobre los estudiantes, este tipo de juegos ofrecen la posibilidad no solamente de aprender a programar para el diseño de videojuegos, sino realmente obtener un ingreso por la creación de un título nuevo.
“Creo que [las nuevas generaciones] se están dando cuenta a más temprana edad de lo talentosos que son en una gran variedad de cosas, como diseño de videojuegos, desarrollo, escribir códigos, crear assets digitales o marketing”.
Historias de éxito de programadores jóvenes que usaron Roblox para potencializar sus proyectos de juego, muestran el poder de la plataforma más allá de su uso como pasatiempo creativo y vehículo de interacción para aliviar los efectos del aislamiento.
Josh Correira, quien apenas empezará su segundo año en el Instituto Politécnico Rensselaer (Nueva York), y ya registra 4000 dólares mensuales de ganancia a través del diseño de videojuegos en Roblox; Alex Balfanz pudo pagarse una carrera en la Universidad Duke con las ganancias obtenidas del juego Jailbreak, diseñado en Roblox.
Este tipo de aprendizaje a través del juego puede realizarse desde edades muy tempranas, Balfanz comentó para Mashable haber empezado a diseñar en Roblox cuando tenía solo nueve años. David Baszucki, CEO de Roblox, habló para Betabeat sobre el beneficio a futuro de plataformas como la suya. “Creo que se están dando cuenta a más temprana edad de lo talentosos que son en una gran variedad de cosas, como diseño de videojuegos, desarrollo, escribir códigos, crear assets digitales o marketing”.
Baszucki explicó que el juego puede ser un boleto de entrada para interesarse en una carrera de ciencias computacionales o arte. Un pasatiempo como este, bien aplicado, con supervisión de padres y maestros puede ser una herramienta muy útil no solamente para mejorar el presente de niños y jóvenes sino para ayudarles a forjar un mañana con base en las habilidades que serán aún más relevantes en un futuro próximo.
¿Qué instancias de aprendizaje con base en el juego usas para mantener a tus alumnos motivados? Cuéntanos en los comentarios.
Jisc's graduate careers advice and information service, Prospects, is uniting the higher education community and employers in the fight against degree fraud with the launch of a week-long campaign.
Degree Fraud Awareness Week will take place from 6 - 10 July 2020, with a series of virtual events, competitions and content to inform higher education institutions, employers and screening agencies about the risks and preventative actions.
Prospects, which runs the Hedd degree fraud reporting service on behalf of the Office for Students, will kick off the week by bringing together universities to unify policy across different institutions by committing to a Degree Fraud Charter.
On Tuesday, a global webinar will see Prospects Hedd, the Office for Students and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education discuss aligning degree fraud strategies internationally, academic integrity and essay mills.
Fraud prevention service Cifas will host a webinar on the risks of fraud inside organisations on Wednesday. This session aimed at employers will cover the risks of improper degree verification, while the Screening Agency Forum on Thursday with PwC will share degree verification best practice and how to protect businesses now and in the future.
Chris Rea manages Prospects Hedd at Jisc. He said:
“Sadly, there are many instances of fake degree certificates, embellishment of grades and misrepresentation of universities in the UK and globally. Bringing the higher education community and employers together is critical to stopping degree fraud.
“If a candidate lies about their qualifications it can be a disaster for organisations. Reputations can be damaged as well as resources wasted. Degree fraud also devalues our higher education system as well as the investment made by genuine students. We hope to raise awareness and educate all those affected by degree fraud to go some way to stamping out the problem in the future.”
I'm inviting you to a little soiree I'm throwing on Thursday.
I know this is somewhat last-minute, but hey, it's the Summer of Covid. Kind of like the Summer of Love only we're all wearing PPE and getting intoxicated alone. Besides, admit it: You're not going anywhere else anyway.
Thursday, July 2nd at 4 PM ET, I will be hosting a one-hour test event and social happening on for a new kind of happening called e-Literate LIVE! on a new platform called Run the World. We need to start figuring out this whole professionally social at a distance thing, and honestly, I have a lot of Zoom fatigue. The webconference platform is the LMS of the 2020s, in the sense that its adoption is taking off to new heights in education at a time when its implementation for educational purposes is still primitive and clunky. It doesn't have the right interaction model for many kinds of educational conversations. In contrast, Run the World is designed by Instagram alumni. It's more personal, more social network-y, and more persistent than a traditional webconference platform. It's being promoted as a virtual conference platform, but honestly, it's something new.
Which is good, because I have something new in mind. I want to create a kind of rolling networking event where people can meet up and yes, listen to talks, but also chat privately, meet new people, follow up on great contacts, continue the conversation after the event, and so on. You know, like in the real world before the zombies took over.
I need to test the platform before I start inviting guest speakers to the party. I was going to invite just a handful of people to do a test run with me.
But then I thought, "What the heck. Why not just invite everybody?"
We will talk about a topic of substance—namely, how we build persistent support for each other in this new world we find ourselves in. And I'll share some exciting plans for future happenings.
Again, the event will be this Thursday, July 2nd, from 4 PM to 5 PM ET. You can register here. (If the date is wrong on the landing page, please ignore it. We are indeed set up for Thursday. It's a new platform and I'm still figuring it out.)
Or you can watch more cable news. Your choice.
BYOB. (Bring Your Own Bluetooth.)
The post Come to the e-Literate LIVE! Virtual House Party on Thursday appeared first on e-Literate.
Education isn't only about informing students, it's about convincing them to care and motivating them to action. But how best to do that? This article reporting on the results of a contest might offer some insight. The idea was to create and test the most compelling argument convincing a person to donate to charity. The author hypothesized that emotional appeals, rather than dry philosophical arguments based on good and duty, would carry the day. The winning argument was submitted by Peter Singer and Matthew Lindauer; you can read it in the article, as well as four other finalists. The hypothesis remains unproven, if only (in my view) because it's hard to separate the emotional from the dry components of an argument.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
This post summarizes forthcoming research on working and learning in Europe, suggesting that there is a correlation between remote working and remote learning. I've seen the same trend reported elsewhere, and it makes sense, because if you're already working from home, it suddenly becomes a lot easier to learn from home. But it's not all gravy. "There is still a long way to go as only 8% of EU citizens followed an online course in 2019. More research is needed to develop the right policies to ensure that EU workers can reap the full benefits of distance working and learning, particularly given the inevitable loss in organisational informal learning and innovation – the most prominent channel of continuing learning – that is expected to follow the distancing of workers from physical workplaces.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Phil Barker reports, "back in May some new properties developed by LRMI were added to schema.org that simplify and expand how schema.org can be used to describe learning resources and educational events. The new properties are:
- teaches: The item being described is intended to help a person learn the competency or learning outcome defined by the referenced term.
- assesses: The item being described is intended to assess the competency or learning outcome defined by the referenced term."
This is part of a general trend toward defining resources in terms of competencies rather than in terms of traditional subjects or grades. Barker offers a longer description, with examples, of the new properties.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Contra Tony Bates, I've been thinking more and more recently that teaching is far from the most important thing a university could be doing, and that if they want to survive, they should reoriente themselves toward their research and knowledge centered functions. As Angie Hobbs says in this article, "the majority of modern universities should be civic institutions that engage with, learn from, and enhance the well-being of their local communities. Universities can do this by conducting research in collaboration with local business and manufacturing, supporting apprenticeship programs; co-sponsoring public debates and cultural events..." Actual teaching and learning, meanwhile, should be supported through a free and publicly accessible system of resources, learning activities, and civic enmgagements.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]