Assignments Weeks 6 & 7

Assignments Week #7: A week of deep sea diving — exploring the research

Because some of you have broad research topics, I am including this discussion of narrowing your research topic focus.  If I mentioned narrowing your focus in my response to your IP Project “Call for Response” post, please pay special attention to the following:

Ryan Cales, a colleague teaching a #thoughtvectors section, has given his students these scenarios about their inquiry project.  His point is for students to NARROW the focus of their inquiry projects to a specific “space.”  So instead of studying ALL of Pinterest (which is a huge undertaking), focus instead on one part of Pinterest — one issue represented on the site — like the immunization debate — or one specific scrapbook on the site.  Your job is to figure out how you will narrow your focus from a broad topic like “police brutality” to a narrow online space where that issue (police brutality) is represented.

Dr. Coates’ examples:

  • Let’s say I am interested in the ways the concept space called Pinterest has developed a set of interesting behaviors in its users, merely by the ways they can associate links next to one another (pinning them to a page). I can’t simply talk about Pinterest in its totality, because where does my evidence come from? So one good way of proceeding is to take a screenshot of a web object (Pinterest page) for study.  It would be better to have a specific Pinterest scrapbook in mind, and for it to be frozen in time rather than too wriggling about slipperily. But on the other hand I shouldn’t just select one at random. It would be better to choose a Pinterest board that has something to do with the reason I am interested in Pinterest in the first place.  (In other words: choose a specific space — a specific scrapbook, a specific issue — on Pinterest and study that space)
  • I follow a football blog for the University of Michigan ( Dr. Coats’s alma mater ). The users of this blog have, over time, developed a series of tribal inside jokes and shorthands; they all seem to know a lot more than I do about defensive schemes and recruiting criteria. “” is a lot more specific than “sports blogs” if what I am interested in is tribal fandom as expressed on the internet. But far better would be for me to choose a blog post that really crystallizes for me those inside jokes and community norms and study that. (In other words, studying his specific football blog would be more useful than studying ALL sports blogs).
  • Suppose I am interested in the ways social media sites collect stats of users and what they do with those stats. Each of these sites track those stats in related but slightly different ways; here is an example that Dr. Campbell tweeted out Monday 6/16/14 of an app that will gauge your personality traits based on your social media use. The news article is less of interest than the actual app, so the screenshot should be of someone’s results. (In other words, instead of a broad research focus on how stats track information, focus on one specific app that tracks user information).


DUE Wed. Oct 7: Deep diving research blog post due (see criteria below)

DUE Fri Oct 9: Deep diving research blog post due (see criteria below)

Blog Commentary:  Comment on two other students’ Deep Sea Diving Research #1 post (the one due Wed. Oct 7).

DUE Mon. Oct 12:  Deep diving research blog post due (see criteria below)

Mid-term Blog Self-Assessment:  See link here: Univ 200 Blog-Self-Assessment  Please complete this self assessment in a WORD document.  Then post the assignment in BLACKBOARD.  POINTS WILL BE DEDUCTED FOR LATE MID-TERM SELF-ASSESSMENTS.

Criteria for Research “Deep Diving” blog posts this week (WED Oct 7 – WED Oct 14):  Using your new Ebsco (Academic Search Complete) research skills, use various search terms to conduct research on your research question.  You may choose to read the articles you’ve already collected in your Ebsco folder, or if they do not seem as promising this week, you can locate new articles using Ebsco.

You will blog three times this week during your “deep diving” research. Each blog post should focus on one new article that you have located through your research and read fully. (Note: You will read at least 12 articles during the writing and revision of your IP Project. You have already begun this work by reading the article located in your TwitterSearch exercise this past week.)

For each article you read this week – and the corresponding blog post about it:

1) provide a title of the blog post that “hints at” one of the key claims made by the article. Creative titles are always fun. You want your title to entice the viewer to read your post.

2) provide a full APA citation of the article at the top of the post

3)  provide a live, working link to the article.

4) Provide a one to two paragraph summary, in your own words, of the article’s main claims or findings.

5)  Pull out a minimum of two KEY nuggets from the article.  Your nuggets should be highly relevant to the main claims/findings of the article.  Each should be a long paragraph or two short paragraphs in length.  A nugget that simply gives a quick statistic on how many people use Facebook, for example, is not a very useful nugget. The nugget you choose to highlight indicates how well you understand the article’s findings as they relate to your research question.

6) “Unpack” each nugget by commenting and analyzing the nugget in relation to the entire argument the writer makes in the text. Unlike your previous nugget assignments, do not reflect on other things the nuggets make you think about, or make personal connections with the nuggets.  At this point, you need to demonstrate that you understand the new ideas presented in the nugget, especially as they help you piece together an answer to your research question. Remember, you are thinking about the article as it helps you piece together an original answer to your research question.

7)  As you”unpack” the nugget, or after providing some commentary on it, synthesize this new writer’s ideas with a previous researcher’s claims or findings.   Use connecting phrases.  For example: Unlike Jones, Smith is more concerned about how internet surveillance affects private citizen’s medical records..

Your job is to make connections and demonstrate how each new researcher’s claims differ from your previous researchers’ claims.  Obviously your new researcher will intersect or conflict with one or more of your previous readings (including the course readings), and you should point out how the writers’ ideas intersect or conflict.  This synthesis is the most important part of your work as a researcher.  If you do not attempt to grapple with how researcher’s ideas overlap, conflict or build upon one another, your nugget post is incomplete.

Finally, while we have used the word “nugget” to identify key passages, you should not refer to the passages as nuggets in your post.  Please refer to your writers by their last name, and be clear when you articulate ideas which writer they belong to.  For example: Smith argues that the government’s surveillance policies are too lax because…  OR  My concern after reading Smith’s argument is …. (RATHER than writing “My concern about this nugget is…”) Your researchers are real people with real ideas — and as a researcher, your job is to choose key passages of their articles that help you make sense of and learn more about your own research question.



DUE WED Nov 30:

Ongoing all week (due Wed or Fri):

Read: Ted Nelson Computer Lib/Dream Machines (excerpts) and pick a nugget to work with.   I suggest you begin reading at “No More Teachers Dirty Looks” p. 8 and read through p. 13 (“A Modest Proposal”). On the pages following pg 13, Nelson advocates for the importance of creativity and originality in using computer interfaces, which you should browse as you consider how you will create an engaging, original Inquiry Project.

Nugget Post: Ted Nelson at Mid-term post (title of this post): By way of a mid-term reflection, choose a passage from Nelson that intersects, speaks to, or resonates for you about your current and previous online learning experiences (both in this class and/or in other online classes you’ve taken). Pull out the nugget and copy it at the top of your post, then specifically relate Nelson’s ideas to online learning and the assignments and your thinking in this class and/or previous classes. How does Nelson envision learning, and the computer’s role in learning? How does his vision in your nugget intersect with or challenge your own online learning experiences? What has been your own role in these experiences, and what do you make of Nelson’s dream of online learning and your own responsibilities as a student? Categories: #midterm #Nelson

DUE Fri Oct 2

Blog:  Complete Concept Experience #6: Finding a Fantic Space (under “Concept Experiences” on home page) or see here.  Title of post:  Finding a Fantic Space (or some variation thereof).  Cateogories: #fantic space and #IP

DUE Mon Oct 5

Blog Comment:  Reply to one blogger in class about his/her fantic space Concept Experience #6 post.  If you scroll down on our blog home page, below my post about Twitter handles, you should see newest posts.  Follow his/her links to the fantic space and add your own insight and perspectives about this bloggers space.  Was this space engaging for you, and how does it differ from the fantic space you chose/blogged about?

Twittersearch:  (My word for research using Twitter).  Using hashtags, search Twitter for someone who has tweeted about the topic around which you are researching for your IP project.  For example, I used the hashtag #bots and found an article related to my sample subject of bots. If you search the #thoughtvectors hashtag, you’ll see that I tweeted about my find, and used the hashtag #thoughtvectors so that anyone searching that hashtag will see the results of my Twittersearch.  See my retweet model here.

If you are researching the immunization debate and its representation on Pinterest, you could search hashtags #immunization.  Make sure you click “all tweets” because the default presents you with “top tweets” only.  Scroll through the tweets and find one that links to an article that interests you and promises to add insight to your research.  You may find tweets in other languages, so you’ll have to choose one in English. Read the article linked in the tweet you find.

Then TWEET out this article by clicking the “retweet” button below the article (two arrows making a circle). Click “quote tweet” and add your own comment about the article above the retweeted article.  Your comment, of course, can only be 140 characters or less, and it should give us a glimpse about the focus of the article.  Make sure you include #thoughtvectors hashtag in your tweet (it counts as part of your 140 characters).

Research:  In addition to doing Twitter research this weekend, you will begin searching for scholarly and substantive articles related to your Inquiry Project Research Question.  View the following Ebsco Host Tutorials:

Introduction to Ebsco Host:

Creating an Advanced Search:

My Ebsco Host Folder:

After viewing the tutorials you are ready to research.  You can find Ebsco on the VCU library home page by clicking the link “Databases” under the search box, and in the drop down box, click “Academic Search Complete.”  Academic Search Complete IS the Ebsco database.

Research using different search terms related to your IP research question.  Find 3 highly relevant scholarly articles on Ebsco, and add these to your Ebsco folder. (You have to watch the “My Ebsco Host Folder” tutorial above in order to know how to do this).

After you have collected 3 relevant articles in your folder, take a screen shot of your Ebsco folder, and insert the screen shot into a Blog Post titled Ebsco Host Tutorial Work.

To take a screen shot on a Mac:

To take a screen shot on a PC:

Blog: post Ebsco Host Tutorial Work:  Copy and paste the screen shot into your blog post.  Below the screen shot, list:

1) Current revised research question with key terms underlined. This must be a question!

2) All search term combinations you used when searching Ebsco (using connectors AND or OR)

3) Which article in your folder looks most promising and why.

This blog post will be short and efficient.  Most of your time will be spent viewing the tutorials and doing research in order to complete the assignment.

Twitter:  Tweet to 2 of your peers about their Twittersearch finds and/or their IP project focus.  You can ask questions or give insights.  The Twitter handles of your classmates can be found on our blogs’ homepage.  Include their Twitter handle (or they won’t know you tweeted them) and a question or insight of 140 characters or less PLUS the #thoughtvectors hashtag.