Citizen Science in the
MARC BOUSQUET, EMORY UNIVERSITY
NSF IDEAS LAB, MARCH 31-APRIL 2, 2014
Citizen Science is…
Crowdsourcing Big Data:
Donated labor and funds
Learning is informal & incidental
Intellectual engagement of participants
zero to minimal
Citizen Science could be…
Digital Self-Publication of Undergraduate
Student-framed research questions
Original primary data collection
Public scholarship—sharing suggestive
findings with interest communities in the
academy and beyond.
MAPs vs BLOTs:
Big Lectures and Online
Tests vs Mediated
(MAPs): Pedagogies of
content delivery (BLOTs)
are at odds with
In pedagogies seeking
Students frame their own
research questions and can
make a real contribution to
the scholarly conversation.
requires a working
knowledge of the existing
discussion. This can take
the form of a
representative rather than
comprehensive review of
the existing scholarly
representative lit review is
essentially a thumbnail
“map” of the
discourse, leading to a
space where the student
can make a modest
For most students this is a
radical re-orientation of
their relationship to
scholarship, which they’ve
been taught to use to
A real contribution to the
existing scholarship does
not need to be systematic
or generalizable. It can be
enough that a student’s
Particularly when “sharing”
means digital publication:
Working with human
thoughtful training, even
where an IRB is not
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
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.
#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.
#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-
#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….
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.
Hypertext Editors Permit Hub Sites
Each of these hypertexts
represents from 8 to 20 web
organized, and generally
includes a printable (linear)
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.
The term “entrospection”
isn’t a typo. It’s a neologism
this student created to
describe public moments of
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
A simple analytical hypertext
can involve identifying issues
and stakeholders and perform
the intellectual work of
mediating between them by
offering a solution.
Most college faculty
understand the importance
of revising student writing.
They also know that many
students are reluctant
revisers, identify the
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
A third level of
composing challenge is
publication of a lit
review, some original
data (or original
data, such as
translation), and a
printable version. Even
when in the broad
research topic is
assigned -as in this
“living the low-wage
work can be most
effective when shaped
by a sense of strong
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
A simple representative
lit review is a
challenging, rewarding, ta
sk: The first paragraph
maps major trends in the
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
Imaginative Digital Tools
Can Support Core
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
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
Sitebuilding is the core literacy of a
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)
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
As students demand more stable
hosting for their effort, who has
o Intentional Publishing
o Tools & Platforms
o Multimodal Content
o Culture of Digital Literacy
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
Non-university hosting makes the student more self-reliant and
relieves the institution of resource burdens that can be allocated
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
“For Year 2 (2013-2014) we aim to
add up to 5 additional academic
programs, 1 additional co-curricular
program, and 1 additional student
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
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
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
The Emory Writing Program, with support from ECIT, DiSC and
other partners will
Tactical Media: Memes & Visual
This uses both quantitative
literacy and high-order
visual re-mix skills.
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
fundamentalists only, not religion
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
Tactical Media: Public Option Annie
This guerilla media effort was widely
covered in broadcast news
outlets, major newspapers, etc.
Tactical Media: Target Ain’t People
The best tactical media projects bring
onlookers into the performance.
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.
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.
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
And if you look at what Americans
want in terms of equality, you discover
that 92% of us are Communists at
Which is more effective? This chart or
the Pope’s-hat meme?
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
1. Demonstrate proficiency in
quantitative reasoning in various
forms of communication-
written, graphic, numerical, and
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?