Is there a way that, within my text, I can regularly hyperlink to quotes from the data?
This would be in addition to having key quotes reprinted in full. At least, I think it would. Or maybe that wouldn't be necessary. Maybe it would look a bit odd to have both.
This might work by having linked text which, when clicked would open up a cut out diagram of the relevant quote, perhaps highlighted as itching a slightly larger part of the transcript, with the other text in faded grey. Ideally, a hover over would work better but I don't think that's possible from a text section in weebly. Maybe though the words could link to images - in a new page - at are themselves uploaded as documents.
It'll be worth exploring this as its a more interesting way of presenting the research data and also better exploits the potential of hyperlinks.
Actually, if this works, it would make sense to take the same approach when linking to relevant content within my blog (within the rationale section). So rather than linking to the whole blog post (where I would have to highlight the relevant text and tidy up/check what's around it) it would instead link to a cut out.
In fact maybe I don't use actual cut outs but instead reproduce the text as if it has been lifted from the blog or transcript, allowing for accompanying biographical or background information as required. This could the date and title of the blog entry from which the text is drawn, and for the interview data.
First day back at work after the summer holidays and I had some thinking time in the car. At the time it felt like a had a rush of reasonable ideas, but we've been before. Nevertheless, it was good to have the space to think creatively and imaginatively about things with only She and Him and fellow traffic as distractions.
Once again, I began to question the format I'm taking in representing my ideas within this dissertation. A website is fit for purpose but isn't particularly interesting. It could prove to be polished, but it won't be clever. I just keep coming back to the fact that however imaginative the different components within the website might be, I'm stuck with the same -largely conventional canvas. It's still a website, even it includes video, photography and sound.
I started then - just for a bit of fun - to think about how, in an ideal world, the presentation of ideas could be really imaginative. A thought flickered for a moment of making the whole thing a film. This wouldn't be 15,000 captioned words pasted over photographs. It would rip up the conventions of a dissertation: the images would stand alone, rather than needing detailed explanation. The soundtrack would be an genuine soundtrack, not some music to listen to whilst reading text on the page (and the more I think about that idea, the less convincing it becomes). It would be playful, personal, engaging.
That would be great. In an ideal world.
Back on the road in EH14 - without the luxury of time the above approach would require - it struck me that this is one of the challenges (for the student/author/composer) of taking a digital multimodal approach to the representation of ideas. Here's the cold reality of the situation: I could have had this dissertation finished and submitted some time ago if I'd decided to present it in traditional format. I could have gone on holiday with the anxiety about needing to submit and the compulsion to spend time writing ideas (enjoyable as this was). The thousands of words within this blog that are dedicated to the form of my dissertation are testament to the time penalty of taking an alternative approach to the presentation of my ideas. Without question I've spent hundreds (and counting) of hours thinking, drafting and experimenting with how I might represent my dissertation ideas: these aren't concerns for the student who elects to put their ideas in the form of a traditional text-based dissertation.
So maybe there's a point here to feed into my dissertation at some point. Taking a non-conventional, digital approach offers greater creative and communicational freedom, but it also poses some difficult questions. By abandoning a traditional representational form I'm taking on more responsibility and putting myself under more pressure. If I'd gone for a straightforward essayistic approach, where the format is predetermined, I wouldn't have to make decisions about how the dissertation should look (or sound) and how best to represent my ideas. Taking a traditional text-based approach would be easier, but it would also be less interesting (for author and audience).
Here's an idea that came to me today.
Rather than simply using words in an attempt to describe and define multimodality, I could make a short video that would be an multimodal way of doing so. If I think this is any good in the morning, I'll explore it in greater depth in due course. Maybe later in the week. It would be embedded either within the literature review or in the introductory section where I'm defining terms. It would make use of text (including quotes), photography and sound.
Actually, here's a thing: maybe I could try and use a few short videos across the the dissertation. This would include the 'defining multimodality' video above, the exploration of existing multimodal practice in the form of a walk around the campus (as described unsatisfactorily in the Lit Review) and perhaps also the idea of an evolving university crest (building on Ray Land's work) to reflect changing literacy within the academy (that I've been toying with for a while). In each case, this is a more authentic way of covering those particular areas of content (rather than in text alone).
Each video would need to be embedded in the text, although with little fuss - if they're good enough they should work in their own right, without the need for explanatory text. They should stand alone as artefacts, while also working as part of the assemblage on that particular screen.
The videos will complement and, to an extent, reproduce some what's in the surrounding text. But they'll also go further. The use of sound, colour and design will add richness. By including these videos I'll be exploring how digital multimodality can extend beyond 'words on page or screen' and I should acknowledge this in the rationale and also put a short explanation in the 'user information' that will be linked on the front page of the website.
In taking this approach, I'm taking a digital multimodal approach to themes within the dissertation that cannot be adequately described solely through words.
Assuming I do this at all, I'll need to do it sparingly, not least as each video will a take fair bit of time to prepare (much more so than would be case for text on the page/screen). I like the idea of maybe having up to three videos within key sections of the dissertation, if that's possible.
Another side effect of this is that this might replace the need for a 'soundtrack' for the wider dissertation. That's quite attractive, actually, as it makes more meaningful use of sound than simply a 'something to listen to whilst reading/viewing this stuff.
I'll write about how this might be practically/technically realised at a later date.
This text could appear in the dissemination rationale introduction:
Within this section I offer a rationale for the form taken in representation of information and ideas within this dissertation. It is a requirement of the Dissertation (as outlined in the course dissertation with link) that 'direct citation from the handbook'. For the purpose of my own work however, it is necessary to discard the term 'dissemination', with its emphasis on one way communication of ideas (see for instance the work of //// within the field of Communication Studies), and to look for an alternative way of recognising how the audience is encouraged to interact with the assembled information and ideas. Dissemination promotes a communicational hierarchy between author and reader whether information is sent and received, without provision for responding to what has been received. This hierarchy can be flattened when information is communicated in a digital multimodal way. As /// suggests, digital multimodal texts invite the reader to interact with the presented information. The notion of hierarchical power relations is further depriveliged by the suggestion that the reader of digital texts can be a coauthor of meaning (citation) and she selects her own path through the non-linear assemblage of represented ideas and information (citation). Although my own dissertation proposes a path for the reader, she is nevertheless free to move between the component parts whilst enjoying the freedom to draw her own conclusions about the meaning of the assembled images, sound, video and hyperlinks.
Rather than focusing on the dissemination of information, my dissertation is instead concerned with the representation of ideas for the reader to consider... A concluding line needed here to link to title of section - look back at notes from last meeting with Sian.
This section meanwhile could follow a little after and pertains to the idea of originality. I like this bit as it brings in the literature in a gentle way:
As outlined in the literature review, a key theme within the discussion of multimodality is that digital communicational technology enables the representation of information across a growing range of modes and using an wide range of tools. Within the digital classroom - and in particular programmes that are delivered online - students would seem to have the opportunity to present information in imaginative, original ways, drawing on a growing range of digital tools and spaces. Rather than assuming the accepted form of the conventional essay, the student might take control of the digital means of production to create an artefact
that is more inventive and personal in its form than simply rendering words on page or screen. The varied collection of work gathered on the course gallery of the MSc in Digital Education testifies to this, as traditional textual forms sit alongside work composed and dispayed in video, hypertext essay and Second Life: in some cases the work is (virtual) world away from traditional essay. My own dissertation provides an appropriate and useful opportunity to explore whether the form of the artefact can be entirely original: the layout, photography, sound and image are the product of my attempts to exploit digital tools my disposal (a list of which can be viewed in the acknowledgements section). Admittedly, while I am responsible for the assemblage of words, I am cannot claim responsibility for their meaning (even if someone says that words are empty vessels). Similarly, while the choice of type is my own, I did not design the typeface, although even that is possible for the student with sufficient digital design schools and accompanying time. Similarly, although I have created the structure and layout of this website, I didn't author the code, although again, a more technically able student would be able to do so.
[Glossing over the fact that it's more than a month since my last entry]
Here's a image I put together tonight as to how I might compose the image for the front of my dissemination website. My plan is to take a draft photo tomorrow, build the shell of the site and then e-mail the link to Sian in order to get feedback on my structure. No point spending too much time just now on either the image or the site as both will be influenced by Sian's comments. Here's the pic:
Actually, that looks quite good, although I don't suppose proper designers/photographers do night before mock-ups in PowerPoint. It's multimodal. Maybe I'll include this somehow - whether as image of via hyperlink - within my Dissemination rationale.
Further to the last point of the previous post, no it isn't possible to transfer a blog from one weebly site to another, even when the entire site is copied. Apparently the blog is specific to an individual site and therefore doesn't copy. What I could do instead however is to:
1. make a new copy of the james 858499 site (eg 'james858499copy')
2. rename the original james858499 site as 'dissertation'
3. redesign the 'dissertation' site using the design and format of the existing 'dissertationtest' site
4. remove all the non-dissertation content* from the 'dissertation site', replacing with dissertation content
1. *when I copy the james858499 site, I'll lose my RM blog. I could though just keen this hidden on the dissertation site.
2. i don't expect i'll be able to rename/revert the james858499copy site back to james858499
Before I do anything, I need to think through whether or not this is a good ideas as it's going to be a fair amount of work. Also, there doesn't seem much pointing in working on the design/content of the dissertationtest site for the time being, as it's all going to have to be copied over.
Maybe an idea to make the dissemination a bit more creative, ambitious, interesting.
Within the rationale section, rather that citing sections from my blog, it would be more interesting to link to relevant parts of blog posts to emphasise or support particular ideas.
What I would do is, at the outset, explain that as this is partly reflective, I will link to relevant parts of my blog.
I would then use hyperlinks from relevant parts of the discussion to link to particular blog posts. Within these posts, the relevant text could be highlighted.
This means I would spend less time talking reflectively within the rationale itself.
The reader thus has the choice to approach this as a conventional rationale, or if they prefer (and time allows), they can alternately look at it as more of a reflective account, interweaved with reference to the literature and the data.
Perhaps on some occasions the links would actually go directly to images, again hosted on blog posts.
A technical consideration: if I do opt to follow this approach, perhaps the blog should become part of the appendix. Or maybe the appendix should be the blog? Actually, this would work quite well. I would explain that I don't want the blog to be seen as part of my argument, but instead it is useful supplementary information not suitable within the main presentation of ideas and discussion.
Another technical consideration: this blog is housed with my own website. I don't expect it's possible to transfer a blog from one site to another (and I don't want the visitor looking at this site). Maybe by copying the whole site the blog will copy as well? I need to try this out. I could then build and entirely new site, beginning with the copy of the james858499 site.
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.
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.
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.