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Posts Tagged ‘source

One difference between an academic article and a news article is that the latter does not always cite its sources (e.g., APA style) or give credit where it is due.

This news article announced a new MRT map. It did not mention how a 17-year-old and a 31-year-old might have prompted this change or have been consulted about the changes.

Perhaps the newspaper and transport authority are living by an informal adage among academics: To steal from one is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

Perhaps that is why students who are encouraged to read our newspapers do not learn how to attribute sources. The academic adage that should apply here is: We stand on the shoulders of giants.

The last* line of the article did state that the transport authority “included consultations with community groups like SG Trains, a group of train enthusiasts”, but the newspaper did not provide links to such groups.

We should give credit where it is due. One of the best ways for students to do this is writing. But they first learn this from what they read. How do they learn to attribute if what they read does not model this?

*Note: The news article was edited after I drafted and posted this. There are now new lines after that previously last line. The article did not indicate clearly what was added and that is another bad modelled behaviour.

This is one of my favourite quotations:

Values are more caught than they are taught.

I had read it in various blogs and news articles over the years. However, I did not know its source, or at least, one of its possible sources. I only found out after grading a student’s essay earlier this week. That student cited this source:

Krugman, H. E. and Hartley, E. L. (1970). Passive learning from television. Public Opinion Quarterly, 34, 184-190.

The part about learning by what is caught rather than taught is in the abstract of this archived piece.

… the authors focus on passive learning, on what is “caught” rather than “taught,” and on the process by which such learning may take place.

The purpose of that paper was to promote passive learning by repetition or bombardment. While those authors might have a point in media studies, the same principle is not necessarily helpful or education. In the latter, that might be labelled blind rote.

My favourite quote is about being a model of behaviour or thinking. This is an intentional and effortful approach (e.g., think-aloud protocol, facilitating reflective rise-aboves), not an accidental one. This is the toss before the catch.

The type of catching I was thinking of is active, not passive. Students might realistically catch without prior warning or by accident, but they are best alerted of the toss before the catch. If the latter happens, the process is an intentional one.

Every now and then I get requests to be interviewed, to write an article, or to have something I wrote be part of someone else’s site.

I say no almost all the time and I explain why based on the context of the request. But there is one reason that is common to all requests: I do not want to be manipulated into pushing someone else’s agenda.

Everyone has an agenda, even if they say they do not. Having an agenda is fine if you are honest about it and if you have your heart in the right place.

Quotes taken from what I say or write might get decontextualised. An opinion piece that I write might get edited until its original message gets diluted or warped.

These are probably why some politicians who are interviewed by the press also post their speeches or thoughts on platforms like Facebook. Better to hear from the horse’s mouth.

The sad thing is that not all do this. Instead of allowing people to thinking critically and make their own decisions based on source material, the sources and the press conspire to leave it up to the press to publish selectively.

What is our excuse in the realms of schooling and education?

Is the source material unavailable?

Is the source material available, but not accessible?

Is the source material available and accessible, but not understandable?

If we say yes to any of these questions, why is this the case and what are we doing about it?

In the wider world, people can take control of the information they generate. They create, share, and discuss, largely on social media.

If the goal of schooling and education is to prepare kids for the wider world, then why are we not allowing and insisting that students create, share, and discuss more openly?

If I had to take a guess, I think that quite a few of my colleagues might think I am crazy for promoting open learning and courses.

That was true a few years ago but I think I seem less crazy with each passing semester. I know this because when I visit them in their academic groups, I hear less resistance to jumping on the iTunes U bandwagon.

One might wonder why faculty are wary even with the rise in open courses offered by:

Why is there some resistance to open courses?

Faculty are told that what they create while working in institute belongs to that organization. They are also told that they can use copyrighted material of others only under the fair use clause and conditions. Administratively and financially, it seems to make sense to lock courses down to specific groups of people for accountability and profit.

What they may not realize is that these ideas are based on industrial, publication, and business models that are being challenged as educational technologies evolve and as expectations change.

An organization might claim some intellectual property rights and copyrights to products and publications. But they cannot do this indefinitely. On one hand, faculty members are collaborating across institutes and networks. On the other, they cannot hold on completely to an individual’s ideas should that person move on. If they did, litigation would probably put most research universities out of business.

Under the fair use clause, using 10% of a resource might make sense if you consider the number of pages in a reference book. But how does one gauge 10% of a figure, framework, or manipulative animation?

Universities make money out of offering lectures and tutorials that are packaged in courses on campus. But disruptive technologies like online, distance, and mobile learning are not only increasing the reach of universities, they are also challenging the notion of a course.

This is where Creative Commons licensing as an extension of copyright benefits education.

You create a resource and share it under one of the CC licences. The licences range from allowing others to use your resource freely with attribution to you and as long as no changes are made to it, to allowing users to change the resources and even profit from it.

There are benefits in open learning that will appeal to those who heed the call to really educate:

  • Sharing is caring (education is a responsibility, not just a business opportunity)
  • Not locking down courses allows for broader reach and inputs
  • Providing unfettered resources promotes lifelong, lifewide learning
  • It increases the reputational capital of the institute (which might then benefit financially)
  • Sharing openly online provides evidence of who provided a resource or idea first
Slideshare button by JuLGzFz, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  JuLGzFz 

Do we need to play the numbers game? Then consider these. About a year ago, I prepared a short course on ICT quality assurance for four visitors from a Vietnamese university and posted it on SlideShare. It now has 900 views. I also shared a resource on writing specific instructional objectives for about 100 student teachers. It will hit 17,000 views soon.

These figures are nowhere near those achieved by SlideShare superstars. But when you consider how small the intended audience was on a closed course and compare it with the extended audience in an open format, I think that the numbers make my point.

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