Considering the subject of my research, it is entirely appropriate that I should elect to present my dissertation in a digital multimodal format. Indeed, there is an argument that to do otherwise - and to submit a conventional text-based essay - would have to be seen in itself as questioning the validity of the digital multimodal form in an academic setting.
A key theme to emerge from my data collection - and which echoes research undertaken in student attitudes towards digital assignments (citations required) is that submitting work in an unconventional multimodal way involves. Within this comes the difficulty in anticipating how the format will sit against individual marker expectations. I won't know who they are. This is high stakes - it's the unknown. The literature talks about thinking about audience preferences, however I don't know who this will be and how they might respond. Cite from the handbook at this stage.
The form of my dissemination might be informed and influenced by the following factors:
What am I going to say and do within my dissemination rationale?
Some of the ideas here could go in my dissemination rationale.
Here's an idea to overcome the difficulty of composing the different representational artefacts in a way that offers a convincing constellation. Rather than using a standard landscape size photo, I could create a panoramic image in order to offer enough canvas space to place all the components in a way that is clear and convincing, as well giving a reasonable chance of presenting a constellation.
And here's one I created earlier. Obviously I won't be using a VW Golf dashboard. What I need to do next is try and see whether I can create an image of the approximate size and orientation using the 360 function on my camera (as I don't want it to as wide as the above) and then whether this will work in Thinglink.
Hmm. I wonder whether the image will become skewed and I'm actually better off just using a slightly different orientation from the standard portrait. After all, it still has to look like a map. Yeah, maybe that's it. Worth exploring both approaches, though.
Over the last couple of days I've spent a few unnerving hours trying to understand and resolve problems associated with Weebly, the digital home of this blog and my final dissertation.
Presumably as a result of releasing and new and (questionably) improved editor function, I've had problems uploading images and documents. Some dialogue with Twitter identified an alternative resolution to the latter, while the former problem seems to have sorted itself out. More worrying however was the fact that I couldn't log in to this site last night, or indeed any of my weebly accounts/sites.
The problem persisted this morning and my conclusion is that weebly is no longer Safari friendly. I've therefore downloaded Google Chrome and everything - including the earlier upload problems - are now resolved.
The point I'm recording this here is that it's a useful reminder of the instability of digital spaces. I've have already spent days working on the structure, layout and wider purpose of my dissertation website. The realisation last night that I was apparently blocked from accessing my own work wasn't a good way to end the day. Apart from acting as a useful reminder not to upload any images or text until they are complete (and saved elsewhere) - and the guidance in the dissertation handbook about having information hosted on a secure site for at least a year - it serves to support the point about the instability of digital space for assessment.
Actually, this little episode could feature in my dissertation rationale.
Where tutors have experience multimodal assessment as a student, this has influenced their attitude towards multimodality as a tutor. And this includes digital and pre-digital multimodality. This links into another idea expressed by some within interview that tutors can usefully reorient themselves by completing multimodal assessment themselves.
Just an idea, but maybe I can be a bit more imaginative that simply displaying a direct quotation as a text. Maybe I could take a cut out of the screen shot and paste it in as an image? Or maybe I could do something like this:
If I do go with this idea, I could similarly use it for indented direct citations within the literature or citing course documentation. Actually, that could be a bit like overkill and would reduce the sense of voice projected by these quotes. Maybe it works better when it has been someone's spoken words.
I wasn't sure about this when I started typing, however I quite like it now as it does bring key bits of data - and they have to be key in order to be reproduced directly - to the fore. Also, there are some really fantastic lines in the data that merit being foregrounded like this.
The font if Clarendon BT, the same as for the title on the front cover. Does it appear more book-ish than conversation? It's a nice clear font though. Maybe this would work for quotations for text as well, but perhaps without sing versus double punctuation marks.
I like this.
Having looked over the data this morning, it feels like I should begin by offering background on the course itself. This could include information drawn from official course materials (including website), with references obviously. This could be followed - within the same first section - by a discussion of the ways in the course is multimodal. This could be drawn from a combination of the course documentation as well as information drawn from the data. This could include (not necessarily in this order):
Having provided some context I would them have different sections based around particular themes. These might be shaped around the research questions or emergent themes. Or a combination of both. In fact, it might be that emergent themes address more than one topic therefore perhaps I focus on the emergent themes and consider them in relation to the literature particularly.
Whilst I remember, one of these sections will focus on the invitation for tutors to reflect on two examples. Something like: 'As part of the interview, participants were invited to reflect on two multimodal artefacts that had been submitted for assessment within the E-Learning and Digital Cultures course. Participants were sent a link to each of the assignments, both of which were hosted on the gallery of submitted assignments for that course. The first artefact....description'
I would then go on to discuss how the different emergent themes help to address the different research questions.
This is one to run past Sian.
Can I use the interview data to inform my dissemination rationale? It would seem crazy and artificial not to.
For instance, if I know what markers might see as strengths/weaknesses within a multimodal format piece of work, how can I ignore this (particularly when some of the same individuals will be marking my work)?
In fact, perhaps I go a step a further and include the data in an up-front way. For instance, maybe I will say in discussion how the interviews gave me insights into multimodal assessment that inevitably informed my work. I could present the interviews as offering some of the same value that would come from student-tutor dialogue that was referred to in a couple of the interviews.
This would be interweaved with the relevant literature. Is there a danger of overdoing the literature? I could also make reference to my own blog.
How would this look? Perhaps under different topics I would have a relevant direct quote from the data before discussion of how this relates to the literature, assessment criteria and my own experiences, perhaps taking sections from my blog. And perhaps the different sections would in turn be taken from text drawn directly from the assessment criteria.
So, the rationale would a combination of:
- different points taken from course dissertation guide that form the structure
- direct quotes from the data, as well as indirect citation for each of the key point
- brief relevance to the relevant parts of the literature
- reflection on how this has influenced my work, perhaps with text taken from my blog
Actually, this ends up being a mixture of personal and critical reflection, with interweaved with the assessment criteria and interview data.
Do I title, caption or have some explanatory statement alongside images within the text?
Or do I leave the reader the space to critically reflect on the content?
Maybe I come with the approach - reflected in the literature - that if the images are strong enough they need not be accompanied by words.
What I would instead do is perhaps have a hyperlink to the list of images? Perhaps with an identifying number? Or perhaps I reproduce the image smallsize, alongside a caption, organised by section within an appendix or similar.
This way, the reader has the space to draw her own critical conclusions on the image alongside the text, but can seek clarification and 'bibliographical detail' as desired as a later time, without interrupting the flow of the audience experience.
Some images from my scribbled and sketched notes.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about dissemination. Maybe that's worth reflecting on somewhere in the dissertation itself. If this had been an 'essay' I could have spent days and days more time on 'content' rather than 'form'. But that wouldn't have been as much fun.
Step 0: Background preparation
Step 1: Saving and reading
Step 2: Reflecting on emergent themes in relation to research questions and literature
Step 3a: Synthesis
If I manage all this, I'll have had a really effective week, dependent on the quality of the emergent themes. Next week I'll try and draw some conclusions.