Sakai Blog

Welcome to the Blog! Well, not quite. Rather, welcome to the introduction to the blog. 

Currently, this blog is private. It's just you, me, and your fellow students. As we converse about science and publishing this semester, we may decide we'd like to open the blog up to the blog-reading public. We may decide not to. We may never make a conscious choice one way or the other, and it will remain private because that is the way it started! 

The Thesis Writing Blog is used in two ways. First, it is used as a forum for some assignments, such as the "writing diagnostic" (Introducing your Research, see Post #1). Second, we'll use the blog to exchange ideas about so-called "web 2.0" technologies and practices as part of e-learning experience. At semester's end -- okay, really, throughout the semester -- I'm going to ask you a bunch of questions about this section of the course. As I mentioned in class, the purpose of "Our Digital Life" is to start you thinking about what impact web technology and web 2.0 culture is having on the publication of -- hence, the practice of -- science. Since very little exists out there that "introduces" a student (or a practitioner!) to this information, the digital component of the class is intended as a pedagogical experiment. 

Why, you may ask, should this be an "experiment"? Well, besides the fact that conducting research is what we're supposed to do at a university, what I've found very interesting about most of the 2.0 world is the lack of incremental instruction that takes place. Pedagogically, this is really quite curious. Most of the world would contend that to learn something, you start with a small bit at a time, add more information, and gradually build to some final state (the relationship is not always linear). Krashen, a language learning researcher, called this the "n + 1" approach, where "n" is the current state of student knowledge and "+ 1" means what the teacher should do to move the student to the next point. )Figuring out both sides of the equation is what makes teaching such an intellectually satisfying profession.) In any case, my experience in trying to figure out web 2.0 technology and culture is that it's done a fairly poor job of establishing the "n" of its users or assumes that the users are also code creators, ergo "n + 1" really equals "n". This is fairly problematic since most of us do not write code, and Facebook is inadequate preparation for participating in a 2.0 publishing universe that has very real-world economic and career consequences. So, we will read some blogs. We will do some blogging. We may listen to podcasts. And by the end of the semester, I hope we can construct a better picture of "n" and "n + 1".



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