As the title says:
And other stuff that I've done but hadn't planned:
1. Done! Register to attend 'deeper than the eye can see' visual research seminar
2. Done! Contact Natasa Lackovic from Uni of Nottingham and reintroduce myself
3. Done! Contact Clara to decline her offer to act dissertation supervisor
4. Done! Collect the feedback from my relevant EDC10 assignments
Last night I e-mail replied to Sian in response to her feedback on my October 25/26 dissertation abstract. Here's the content of the e-mail I sent:
Building on momentum and all that.
Now that I'm edging towards a subject from my dissertation, I've created a page (linked in the sidebar to the right) to host resources that I make use of. I'll start adding to it this weekend, including some of the Kress multimodal resources that Michael kindly sent my way.
For some reason I've wandered through today thinking it was the 25th. It's not. It's the 26th. But I can't change that. What I can do is spend some time reflecting on the valuable feedback provided by Sian earlier this afternoon (that's the 26th) on my draft abstract. Sian's comments are indented.
Yes, I agree with the point about not restricting it to online programmes. In fact as I read over the abstract before sending it off, I did ask whether limit the scope to online learning might leave me short in terms of potential interviewees and cases to observe. I like the idea of being able to speak to people from different disciplines, not least as what might be regarded as an alternative format assignment in some disciplines would be the norm in the likes of art and design and not alternative at all, in fact.
Yes. I want to limit the scope to focus on teacher interviews (to the exclusion of student interviews) so that the project would be manageable. Having studied the assessment criteria in the Dissertation Handbook, I want to aim for critical depth and to avoid being overwhelmed by the breadth of the undertaking. And yes also to the observation plan as I think it would help me gain insights and understanding that might not be achieved during interviews. Finally, the visual reading was at Sian's suggestion that it would make for an interesting exercise and one that I would be good at. This feels risky but interesting at the same time.
I like the idea of focusing on the MSc team, if that isn't overly narrow. Pragmatically, that would seemingly be more straightforward than having to gain the confidence of tutors with whom I haven't worked. How would that work in terms of cross-disciplinary though? Would I perhaps do interviews within the MSc in E-L team but observation across a broader range of subject areas? Would tutors be more willing to participate if they felt the focus was on observation rather than interview?
Again, I'm attracted to the idea of working on a small scale, hopefully enabling me to really get under the skin of the subject. And yes, it would be great if this laid down some foundations for a Phd taking a more multidisciplinary approach. I'm just wondering though whether by focusing on the MSc team I'm limiting my project too much? Is it OK to be this narrow in focus (i.e. one programme of (albeit varied) study)?
In terms of over familiarity with the MSc programme, is this in the sense that it might reduce my effectiveness or impartiality as a researcher?
So, lots to ponder this weekend. On Sunday evening I'll revisit what I've written here and will send e-mail Sian with a response. Sunday will be the 28th.
Frighteningly rapid feedback from Sian on the abstract I e-mailed off earlier this afternoon. Frighteningly quick and incredibly valuable. Here's Sian's e-mail:
"This looks like a very good topic James. I like the cross-disciplinary
aspect very much: my only concern would be that focussing on online
programmes is going to limit the extent to which you're able to engage
across disciplines, because multimodal assignments are still a
relatively niche activity. I think you could afford to do this across
online and offline modes, and then it would hopefully widen the field a
little across the Colleges, in terms of identifying who is doing this
kind of teaching/assessment. It would also perhaps allow you to pull in
data from disciplines in ECA where 'crits' are standard.
I'm guessing your focus would be on teacher interviews (rather than
student), alongside observation and visual 'reading' of assignments?
The main risk perhaps would be that people are sensitive about their
assessment proceedures and so may be reluctant to expose too much. This
is potentially quite a big concern. One option might be to focus on the
MSc in E-learning and use that as an exploratory study - I know there is
quite a bit of variation in practice across the teaching team here,
making an evaluative interrogation of practice useful to us, and also
providing a way in to a field where we know there is a lot of
interesting data in the form of student work (much of it already
accessible on the open web). The downside is that it's a single
programme/discipline and may be over-familiar to you. Having said that,
a manageable, small-scale project like this would do some good
groundwork for a PhD proposal which took the wider, cross-disciplinary view.
Just initial thoughts.... lets discuss over email a bit."
This is great.
Things are looking much more positive than at 3pm this afteroon. That's some turnaround in a couple of hours. I need to build on this momentum however therefore tonight/this weekend I'm going to draft some comments in response to Sian's feedback and have them ready to send on Monday.
Prompted by Michael's valuable feedback, I've tweaked my 'working abstract' to offer a little more focus to my proposed plans. Rather than taking a broad, open view of the attitudes of tutors towards alternative format assignments, I've instead focused on how assessment can be reshaped to meet the challenges posed by a shift towards multimodality and alternative format work. Here's the thing:
I've e-mailed this off to Sian. I feel better about the abstract now.
Some really useful feedback from Michael. I now need to use this to help re-shape my draft before sending it onto Sian as soon as possible. Michael says:
"Hello there, James,
Good outline. Please see attached for comments. I have some suggestions in the document but it reads well and is a very valid topic. Overall, my comments are as follows:
1. You mention looking at multimodal submissions, attitudes of tutors and teachers towards these submissions and criteria to assess these presentation. I would zero in on one of these as the three combined might be too broad a scope for the dissertation. Just a thought. I suspect criteria would be the most tangible one to pursue and that way you could include student multimodal examples by way of applying the chosen criteria.
2. I added some sources on multimodality. I also know we covered some transliteracy stuff during the MSc, but I cant remember for the life of me the author (Gee?). Either way, I added Kress, who sort of invented the genre of multimodality and gives some great real-world examples of how one can 'translate' multimodal submissions. I attached a few here.
3. Otherwise, looks great, James. This is a good one to pursue and then you can save the broader stuff for when you do a PhD or we just start working together on another project. Either way, these ideas won't go to waste.
4. I can provide my draft thesis working paper (although by working I mean sloppy as all get out), if you are interested as I write a bit about multimodality (but not in the context of assessment).
At the weekend Michael kindly agreed to look the latest incarnation of my dissertation abstract. I plan to use Michael's comments to reshape the plan before sending it onto Sian for her consideration. That double Macallan at hotel bar price could prove to be a shrewd investment.
I know. Nevertheless...
‘Responding to the ‘digital essay’: a study of the attitudes of online tutors towards alternative format assignments within a UK university.’
‘Responding to the ‘digital essay’: how do online tutors confront the challenge of alternative format assignments?’
‘Responding to the ‘digital essay’: how do online tutors deal with alternative format assignments?’
'Responding to the ‘digital essay’: tutor experiences in the multimodal classroom’
'Responding to the ‘digital essay’: tutor experiences of assessment and feedback in the multimodal classroom.'
'Responding to the ‘digital essay’: tutor approaches to alternative format assignments in the online multimodal classroom.'
But I'm currently favouring:
'Responding to the ‘digital essay’: how tutors approach alternative format assignments in the online multimodal classroom.'
'Responding to the ‘digital essay’: how online tutors approach alternative format assignments in the multimodal classroom.'