Citizen science (full, as delivered)


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Presentation by Marc Bousquet to an NSF Ideas Lab, April 2014

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Citizen science (full, as delivered)

  1. 1. Citizen Science in the Classroom MARC BOUSQUET, EMORY UNIVERSITY NSF IDEAS LAB, MARCH 31-APRIL 2, 2014
  2. 2. Citizen Science is… Crowdsourcing Big Data: Donated labor and funds Learning is informal & incidental Intellectual engagement of participants zero to minimal
  3. 3. Citizen Science could be… Digital Self-Publication of Undergraduate Research: Student-framed research questions Original primary data collection Public scholarship—sharing suggestive findings with interest communities in the academy and beyond.
  4. 4. MAPs vs BLOTs: Big Lectures and Online Tests vs Mediated Authentic Participation (MAPs): Pedagogies of content delivery (BLOTs) are at odds with participatory, inquiry-based pedagogy (MAPs). In pedagogies seeking authentic participation: Students frame their own research questions and can make a real contribution to the scholarly conversation.
  5. 5. Authentic Participation requires a working knowledge of the existing discussion. This can take the form of a representative rather than comprehensive review of the existing scholarly literature. The representative lit review is essentially a thumbnail “map” of the discourse, leading to a space where the student can make a modest contribution. For most students this is a radical re-orientation of their relationship to scholarship, which they’ve been taught to use to “support arguments.”
  6. 6. A real contribution to the existing scholarship does not need to be systematic or generalizable. It can be enough that a student’s findings are suggestive, provoking further effort. Particularly when “sharing” means digital publication: Working with human subjects requires thoughtful training, even where an IRB is not involved.
  7. 7. From BLOTs to MAPs: For innovative educators, the fundamental shift is away from a model of “delivering content” to students and toward active learning practices. If the highest order of active learning is authentic participation, what kind of support do students and faculty need for teaching that facilitates actual participation in academic, professional and public discourse? Although the percentages in this image are highly debatable and hotly contested--especially by corporate-sponsored researchers heavily invested in profits from passive learning--most education researchers believe that the basic contention of the learning pyramid is sound. Active learning radically outperforms passive learning.
  8. 8. #1. Rethink Academic Writing For most faculty, academic writing assignments are simply alternate forms of testing both course-specific and generic learning goals: How well did you understand the material? Can you make an argument? Conventional writing assignments, especially “researched writing,” usually also test the “hidden curriculum” of schooling: Are you able to engage in or acquire copyediting to produce “standard written English”? Can you meet deadlines? Do you respect the authority of professionals? How quickly can you patch together source materials without actually plagiarizing? But is “argument” the model for academic and professionals writing? Do we “use sources” to “back up” a hastily-conceived thesis statement? Patchwriting is bad writing. Machine scoring can easily replicate human scoring on essays—including much researched writing—because the cycle of assignment, production and assessment is so mechanical.
  9. 9. #2. “Writing” is Media Production The term “Writing Program” hardly captures the need for institutions to support advanced media literacies in communicating across the curriculum. Since college writing is—or should be--more than an alternate testing format and vector for the hidden curriculum: Leading programs support faculty in developing the proficiencies essential to their graduates’ future professional lives. Competency in academic and professional communication now assumes a suite of media- production literacies.
  10. 10. #3. Proficient Writers Compose in: Hypertext media: Websites and webpages, framing the output of digital tools, charts, graphs, printable documents, films, interviews…. Tactical media: “Spreadable” interventions or memes designed to draw attention, spark action, draw readers, recruit collaborators…. Quantitative media: Data visualizations, charts, graphs, posters, interactive calculators, searchable databases, simulations, models… Professional social media: Comments, notes, definitions, reviews, downloadable articles, archives, encyclopedia entries….
  11. 11. Web 2.0 Never Killed Hypertext The explosion of bandwidth permitted the transmission of traditional media as well as new social media and more sophisticated digital tools—all of which can be consumed and produced without knowledge of web architecture, much less code. As early as 2000, some observers claimed that “hypertext is dead.” But for prolific content creators, particularly of multiple media and tool outputs, the problem becomes one of curation: How can one organize, display, and help readers navigate one’s work across incompatible platforms? Many institutions bought into out-of-the-box “digital portfolios” that were costly, rigid, unnecessarily secure, looked amateurish and enabled institutions to put the word “digital” in front of traditional output. Many individuals rely on Wordpress blogs and the huge Wordpress developer community. Without at least a minimal knowledge of code, most amateur WP sites look like blogs.
  12. 12. Hypertext Editors Permit Hub Sites Each of these hypertexts represents from 8 to 20 web pages thoughtfully organized, and generally includes a printable (linear) version).
  13. 13. Most students have hypertext literacy as readers. Few have composed in the medium. I have required hypertext composition in almost every class I’ve taught since 1997, usually requiring multiple sites flowing from the hub. As a first learning project, I generally ask students to create a site with a strong personal connection--to an issue, activity or group they’re passionate about. Memorials are common choices. Usually I encourage connecting the personal to some form of civic engagement or action.
  14. 14. The term “entrospection” isn’t a typo. It’s a neologism this student created to describe public moments of interiority or contemplation, as in mourning the death of a high school classmate. All of these sites are first efforts by students with self- described low levels of technical competency.
  15. 15. A simple analytical hypertext can involve identifying issues and stakeholders and perform the intellectual work of mediating between them by offering a solution.
  16. 16. Most college faculty understand the importance of revising student writing. They also know that many students are reluctant revisers, identify the process with copyediting, etc. I have found that re-versioning is a highly effective alternative. Most students willingly revise when moving from successful hypertext to printable writing. They already understand the need to make significant changes, prune tangents, write transitions, etc.
  17. 17. A third level of composing challenge is the “research hypertext,” which requires digital publication of a lit review, some original data (or original manipulation of data, such as translation), and a printable version. Even when in the broad research topic is assigned -as in this “living the low-wage life” project—student work can be most effective when shaped by a sense of strong personal connection.
  18. 18. I distinguish between analytical texts (“researched writing”) and texts presenting original research. Texts contributing primary data most resemble our own research writing if they engage the existing discourse on the model of “joining a conversation” rather than “making an argument.”
  19. 19. A simple representative lit review is a challenging, rewarding, ta sk: The first paragraph maps major trends in the scholarship. A second paragraph identifies a blank spot (of neglected research) or bright spot (of conflicting research) on the map. A third paragraph identifies the nature of the writer’s contribution to that blank or bright spot.
  20. 20. Imaginative Digital Tools Can Support Core Academic and Professional Literacies Cody’s Bitstrips cartoon version of a lit review is a stage in the process. It allows him to envision the players in the existing conversation not as the building blocks of an argument as real people in a web of existing relationships that he’s trying to enter. As a preliminary draft of the lit review it shows great success but also room for development. Since Cody’s original contribution is a regression model, he may need to spend more time situating his contribution in the conversation regarding how data is currently used in education policy.
  21. 21. Sitebuilding is the core literacy of a “personal cyberinfrastructure.” As part of the first-year orientation, each student would pick a domain name. Over the course of the first year… students would build out their digital presences (and) assemble a platform to support their publishing, their archiving, their importing and exporting, their internal and external information connections. They would become, in myriad small but important ways, system administrators for their own digital lives. In short, students would build a personal cyberinfrastructure, one they would continue to modify and extend throughout their college career — and beyond. – Gardner Campbell, A Personal CyberInfrastructure (2009)
  22. 22. With digital publication projects in even one or two courses, and a service project for a cause, plus a site tour for potential employers or grad admissions committees: The personal cyberinfrastructure of a near-future typical student is becoming enormously complex. Most millennial student site- building was tied to college- supported publication and is de- activated 1-5 years after graduation. As students demand more stable hosting for their effort, who has stepped in?
  23. 23. o Intentional Publishing o Tools & Platforms o Multimodal Content o Culture of Digital Literacy o Faculty o Students o Infrastructure of Support o Writing Program o Other Centers What distinguishes the Domain of One’s Own project at Emory is its reliance on student-owned domains and non-university hosting. The student retains the content as long as she likes, using it for job interviews, graduate applications and so forth. Non-university hosting makes the student more self-reliant and relieves the institution of resource burdens that can be allocated toward support:
  24. 24. AUBURN: CURRICULUM DRIVES BEST USE Auburn’s University Writing Program is rolling out its portfolio support on an application-only basis in “cohorts” of 5 individual departments programs plus 2 other organizations. Each group has to present a detailed plan for integrating digital publication into the curriculum. “The Year 1 Cohort included the academic programs in the Departments of Art, Building Sciences, Pharmacy, Nursing, and the MA Program in English, the co- curricular program of Study Abroad, and the student New Media Club. “For Year 2 (2013-2014) we aim to add up to 5 additional academic programs, 1 additional co-curricular program, and 1 additional student organization.”
  25. 25. At Auburn, curating sample projects and portfolios helps students and faculty to re-imagine the curriculum. Auburn’s program supports four different easy, visual composing tools: Weebly, Wix, Google Sites and Wordpress.
  26. 26. HOW WILL EMORY’S PILOT WORK? During AY 2013-14, the pilot will serve about 20 faculty, 25+ sections, and at least 450 students. We estimate another 100 students (mostly LGS) will request walk-in digital portfolio support in connection with presentations at TATTO, or partnerships with LGS initiatives such as the Three-Minute Thesis and public abstract competitions. o Fully support participating faculty by helping to o Develop assignments suitable for digital publication o Select platforms, acquire domains and publish course websites o Curate examples and illuminate good practice o Fully support participating students by providing o In-class visits to introduce platforms & tools o A rich array of support documentation, FAQ and how-to video o One-on-one tutoring that integrates digital literacy with other compositional considerations The Emory Writing Program, with support from ECIT, DiSC and other partners will
  27. 27. Tactical Media: Memes & Visual Rhetoric This uses both quantitative literacy and high-order visual re-mix skills.
  28. 28. Which meme is more effective? Darwin-in-a-fish takes a value widely shared (science & reason--associated positively with technology and medicine) and pits it against a minority value, since the image can be read as targeting politically-active fundamentalists only, not religion broadly. By contrast, the Pope’s hat meme pushes uphill against two majority values simultaneously. It touches two different third rails in US discourse-- widely held prejudice in favor of religion broadly, and against Marxism. It works best with those who don’t have either prejudice, ie, folks who already agree.
  29. 29. Tactical Media: Public Option Annie This guerilla media effort was widely covered in broadcast news outlets, major newspapers, etc.
  30. 30. Tactical Media: Target Ain’t People The best tactical media projects bring onlookers into the performance.
  31. 31. Tactical Media: Educate Me Now One of my favorite student tactical media efforts. So far the most successful is an anti-chlamydia PSA that’s recorded over 300,000 views.
  32. 32. My favorite use of Storify and other “digital storytelling” programs is in connection with students’ reactions to a text in any clippable medium, from paper to film. In this case I’m asking them to imagine their own viral film as a tactical media intervention while watching Sergei Eisenstein’s brilliant Soviet propaganda. The same assignment can be used with textbooks, videos of lab processes. Clipping, reacting, and re-narrating encourages reflection while reading, viewing, or composing.
  33. 33. Quantitative Media: Graphs & Charts Ariely’s famous graph shows that most Americans believe that wealth inequality is very different from reality. To get to what Americans think is current reality would require a revolution. And if you look at what Americans want in terms of equality, you discover that 92% of us are Communists at heart. Which is more effective? This chart or the Pope’s-hat meme?
  34. 34. Quantitative Media: Maps
  35. 35. Quantitative Media: Infographics
  36. 36. Professional Social Media
  37. 37. A concluding thought exercise: On the majority of campuses, many disciplines already have “swapped,” by adopting writing-related outcomes, usually as part of a WAC or WID initiative. But as we move toward a digitally rich model, DWID or CID/CAC vs WID/WAC, with a far richer suite of literacies, are we missing the opportunity for “writing programs” and digital humanities courses to adopt outcomes involving quantitative literacy? Isn’t composing with maps, charts, graphs, images, infographics, models and simulations an almost inevitable element of composing for professional audiences? Contact: Marc Bousquet, Emory University Can you imagine a digitally-rich humanities class that might realistically adopt such quantitative-literacy learning outcomes as: 1. Demonstrate proficiency in quantitative reasoning in various forms of communication- written, graphic, numerical, and symbolic. 2. Apply statistical tools and inferential methods to matters of cultural or social significance. –Gavin, Wilder & Bousquet, “Spreadable STEM” What if We Swapped Learning Outcomes?