As the final requirement in the Conceptualizing Educational Technology course I took in W2010, I had to write a position paper on a topic of my choosing. I’ve been thinking about Gardner Campbell’s piece in EDUCAUSE Review, and wanted to dig a little deeper in that direction. The end result is still a bit rough (I polished it off early so I could submit it before leaving on vacation, and the APA formatting is likely utter shyte), and I had to skip entire sections I’d written in my head (I wanted to write about the obvious model demonstrated by Downes and Siemens in the Massive Open Online Course on Connectivism, but ran out of room and wanted to start with the examples of first steps before jumping into the “BYPASS THE INSTITUTION” angle).
Anyway, here’s the paper as submitted for the course. It hasn’t been graded yet, so it could be a complete load of crap. YMMV.
Toward a personal cyberinfrastructure (135KB PDF file)
5 thoughts on “toward a personal cyberinfrastructure”
Um. Hm. Don’t quit your blog. It is much more informative than this academic paper.
I’m sure you were required to write the paper in this format for your course. So much the worse for your course. Please never write a paper in this format again. You’re better than that.
The funny thing is – that was pretty much what was going through my head the entire time I was planning/writing/polishing it. I had to formalize and neuter it to fit the format. I hesitated to post it online at all, but thought it might be useful as a snapshot of what academic writing does to discourse. It sterilizes it and sucks any trace of a soul from it. Regardless, it might be useful somehow to someone. Hopefully, I’ll make the time to revisit it and do it justice on my own terms.
thinking more about it – I don’t think you’re entirely right that this kind of watered down sterile academic writing shouldn’t be done. there is a large proportion of academics and educators that don’t grok blogs, and would have no exposure to even these neutered versions of things without some outreach into academic writing. as much as I hated writing the paper, and as unhappy as I am with the end result, there is a place and a need for this kind of stuff, if only to nudge people that would otherwise not be exposed to the ideas.
Well, let me give you an example.
You write, “Mott (2010) described the LMS as being central to the business of colleges and universities, and simultaneously coming to represent and reinforce a higher learning status quo. The scale and scope of the LMS leads participants to consider it too inflexible (Mott, 2010)”
Now, this isn’t anything you haven’t said before, I haven’t said before, a bunch of people haven’t said before. You maybe could have said this more or less clearly. Fine. But why the reference to Mott (2010)? Is it because, it wasn’t said before Mott said it? It wasn’t authoritative? It surely isn’t where you learned this for the first time. So you’ve introduced a layer of fiction into your paper.
In fact (and I could go through this point by point) your entire ‘literature review’ section is fiction. It’s not fiction in the sense that nobody said any of these things, but rather, it’s fiction in the sense of describing any actual history or account of the discussion.
It’s not a question of whether or not academic readers should here the things you have to say. They should, absolutely, and it is discouraging that they are so limited that they wouldn’t see it if you didn’t write in this forum. But to express it in this format lends to them a false sense of belief that they have been plugged into the discussion all along, and that their knowledge (based on that ‘literature’) is current.
oh, absolutely. I completely agree about the fictional narrative nature of the lit review. like you said, not fictional in the sense that it’s untrue (it’s all properly cited and reputable) but in that it does not represent how the concepts and projects evolved, nor does it represent the connections between ideas and people.
the entire literature review section felt like an artificial exercise to find other people’s words for what I wanted to say, but from “reputable journal” sources. frustrating as hell, and completely artificial and disingenuine. That format is a total crock, essentially following the formula “find a bunch of published journal articles that have snippets of text that sort of say what you want, then try to somehow string them together to approximate the narrative you have in your head, providing proper citation to ensure it’s all reputable.” I hate it. It’s as much a product of the length limitation (an artificial constraint) as the format itself, though.
I hope I never have to write another paper in this format, ever again. If I have my way, the next academic writing I do will be my MSc thesis, but that’s not for some time (haven’t even written up the research proposal yet) – it’ll likely have to have a lit review section, but I will do it on my terms.
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