Thursday, 3 December 2015

Literature safari

Some thoughts on reading for Anglia Ruskin BA LTR students. 

Critical engagement with sources and reading beyond the provided list is essential for good marks. Spending an hour on a literature hunt safari trip round the web can throw up all sorts of useful gems. 

The Anglia Ruskin Library has an excellent search engine, I find plenty of sources via the quick search, the advanced search can also be useful in helping to define finer filters for your searches.

I am finding a lot of good sources via Google Scholar - it is way better than a straight Google search. You should all read up on the Hawthorne effect, you need to be aware of the influence of presence during interviews or other practical aspects of research you are doing this year. Compare the results from a  standard Google searchwhich is useful for basic introduction to the Hawthorne effect, with those from a Google Scholar search that brings up sources you can use for a deeper level critical engagement.

If you come across a publisher's page where they are asking for money to view a paper there will often also be an option to log in via your institution and a drop down menu or two through which you can select Anglia Ruskin if they subscribe to that publisher. That will then take you to the Anglia online library where you log in with your usual student details then get to see or download the whole paper. You can also change your settings in Google Scholar to show direct links for articles by publishers that the library subscribe to - there is a link to screenshots and video guide on that here

I have also found some gems via Twitter, don't forget you can use blogs and websites as citeable sources. A link to a diagram from this one was posted on Twitter recently, it is a good example of an academic blog and the rest of that page is really useful for my study as it links pattern language to cognitive rich learning culture and has hints of variety analysis. I noticed some interesting​ stuff in the right hand navigation, there is a link to a post on classifying communities of practice that you might be able to use. On blogs like that you will find thoughts about other authors ideas, thoughts about concepts being assembled towards formal publications, sometimes reflections on daily practice or eureka moments being shared. As with any social media you do need to be careful to filter out misleading or weak sources.

Citing references should be fairly pervasive in your assignments although with a patchwork text and media approach you might not do that in every patch. The stitching is a good place to bring in concepts like learning cycles, reflective practice, critical incident theory, online communities, collaborative and collective learning, organisational learning, people like Misspelled WordSchonMisspelled WordArgyrisMisspelled WordSenge, Wenger, Talbot. Don't forget you have accumulated a significant range of literature over the last 2 1/2 years and should make good use of any that appears relevant to your current modules. 

Deconstructive analysis and the comparing and contrasting  of ideas from a range of sources is one aspect of critical review, you should also remember to consider currency and relevance. Sources published more than 5 years ago can be a little out of date by now depending on their topic and context. Technologies have evolved rapidly and that has prompted all sorts of new ideas about learning and pedagogy. It is not so long ago since we were living in a pre tablet era, a little further back and there were no smart phones, no Facebook or Twitter. 15 years back domestic ownership of digital devices was a small fraction of what it is today, many parents only had access to computers at work and many children only met them via the one class computer and maybe a shared computer suite if they were lucky. Many computers back then would have been fairly primitive and useable online connections were just starting to have a presence - sources 5-15 years old can still have relevance but take care to consider their temporal context. 

Many older sources pre 2000 or even going back 50 or more years can also still have relevance, the best of these may be seminal works that were highly influential in their day and whose influence continues today. Again the temporal context needs to be considered, approaches to research have changed, some seminal works are based on methods that would be seen as weak today. Assumptions about good teaching practice could be way out of date - instructivist show and tell lectures or classroom strategies have long since been superseded as mainstream strategies but can still have a place as part of a rich and diverse set of teaching strategies. Conversely 'new' concepts such as the 'flipped classroom' may only be new takes on old stalwarts. Technologies have enabled new ways of achieving that flip but the strategy of pupils or students doing learning at home and then applying it in practical activities in the class or lecture room is far from new.