Yes, I’ve fallen behind a bit on my MOOC due to conferences and other general insanity, but after doing the last week this week I vow to catch up a bit retroactively and do weeks 3, 4 & 5.

My weeks 1 and 2 posts are here and here.

Distributed Research: new models of inquiry (Nov 12- 18)
Introduction – Week Six

Distributed research, or more generally, open science, reflect the next logical progression of the internet’s influence on higher education. Early 2000’s saw the development of open content. Since 2008, teaching in open online courses has gained prominence. Distributed research labs and open science represent the next stage of development of openness in education.

Developing the knowledge of a discipline is a complex process. Currently, new ideas are developed and shared through peer review and peer publications. This process takes time. Years of research are followed by a long cycle of formal peer review and publication. It is not unusual for articles, after they’ve been written, to take 2+ years to be published. During this process, conference presentations and interactions with peers may open new discoveries to critique and review. Even then, discoveries require long periods of work in isolation (or in small labs) followed by publication years later. Responses to those publications, through other researchers validating results and building on the initial research, can take an additional multi-year cycle. Research that is shared early, iteratively, and with engagement through blogs and social media can benefit from the benefit from the small contributions of many (or, in the language of open source software, with many eyeballs, “all bugs are shallow”).

Readings & Resources – Week Six

Michael Nielsen, Open Science TEDxWaterloo video 16:36

Principles of Open Science from Science Commons (pdf)

Michael Nielsen, The Future of Science

Martin Weller, The Digital Scholar

In particular, read the chapter on researchers and new technology

Example of a distributed research lab: http://www.distributedlab.net/


Activities – Week Six

As we conclude this course, reflect on the topics covered and the implications on the future of education. While bold proclamations have been issued by pundits regarding dramatic disruptions to higher education, change in complex fields is multifaceted. Many of the innovations considered – such as MOOCs – appear to add a layer to higher education, rather than replace the entire system of research, service, teaching, and scholarship. As you consider the future of education, reflect on what an integrated system of universities might look like when some components, such as teaching and learning, are distributed and online and other components, such as curriculum and testing, are handled by corporate partners.

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