Weekly review April 8, 2012

April 8, 2012, [MD]

I've been really inspired by Ryan Muller's "weekly reviews" on his blog, and thought for a while that I should try to do something similar. I often feel like time is flying away from me, and that I am not making as much progress as I should with things that matter in my life - so this might be a good way to review what I've done, and also to highlight what I've read.

I feel like I've gotten a bit off track this term, spent a lot of time experimenting with Researchr and thinking about Science 2.0, ways of improving the scholarly workflow etc. However, I really need to refocus on my PhD research, as fascinating as everything else is, and the fact that I will be seeing my supervisor shortly at AERA in Vancouver was a good motivation to "buckle down" and try to get at least part of my literature review done before then.

This part of my literature review is on open courses and peer learning. I want to see what empirical research has already been done (not a whole lot), and also what theoretical frameworks and methods others have used to investigate/discuss this topic. In fact, just the framing itself of what is an open course, and why they are so interesting to me, is quite fascinating.

I already had some interesting papers, but I spent quite a lot of time finding others, both by Google Scholar searches for keywords, and by finding out who are "active in the field", and looking at lists of all of their publications. Generally, there is an incredible amount of writings on Open Educational Resources, but much less on learning interactions. Many of the papers which showed up in the keyword searches were very generalist, and tended to mention for example Peer2Peer University in a sentence as "one interesting new possibility".

I'm hoping to write up a much more organized literature review during this week, so I will not spend this blog entry trying to accomplish that, but I will quickly list the articles I've read that I've also taken detailed notes on (there are many more which I read and took clippings of, but have not yet written detailed notes about). Some of the papers below I had read before, without taking notes, so I had to go through them again to see what I could use in the literature review:

I read 34 more papers where I did not add significant notes yet. Some of these were not interesting, or mostly rehashes of other papers, but for most I will have to go back and add significant notes. I find it takes much more mental capacity to add high-level notes than to do the first read-through, but it's incredibly valuable. Maybe I will try to track the relationship between articles read and high-level notes written during the coming weeks (I modified the cleanup script to make this easy to display). ****


***I tried to focus on literature review, and not do any work on Researchr. But of course, lit review means *using Researchr for many hours every day, and there are inevitably small issues that crop up, and which I am tempted to deal with right away. Looking back, I did 17 commits, with some tiny fixes, but also with some useful new functionality.

Even such a small thing as cleaning up all the brok- en words from a PDF export, a one line change, makes a big difference in a tool you use so much. Bodong let me know that my RSS feed was broken, which I quickly fixed. I also made sure to avoid RSS duplicates, and made it possible to update RSS entries. Finally I created a quick "citation selection popup", and consolidated some files. I also began working on a script that can do some "cleanup and sanity checking" (like finding PDFs not linked to any publication, etc.)

This upcoming week, I hope to continue reading articles, adding high-level notes to already read articles, and develop a skeletal literature review (which I'll also post on the wiki). Thursday I am off to AERA in Vancouver, and will try to keep notes from sessions on the wiki (also looking forward to meeting Ryan Muller, and anyone else out there).

I try to post articles with significant high-level notes to my wiki RSS feed, which is automatically republished on my wikiblog.

Hope you had a productive week!


Stian Håklev April 8, 2012 Toronto, Canada
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