• Disrupting the dissertation: linked data, enhanced publication and algorithmic culture

      Tracy, Frances; Carmichael, Patrick (SAGE Publications, 2017-09-24)
      This article explores how the three aspects of Striphas’ notion of algorithmic culture (information, crowds and algorithms) might influence and potentially disrupt established educational practices.  We draw on our experience of introducing semantic web and linked data technologies into higher education settings, focussing on extended student writing activities such as dissertations and projects, and drawing in particular on our experiences related to undergraduate archaeology dissertations. The potential for linked data to be incorporated into electronic texts, including academic publications, has already been described, but these accounts have highlighted opportunities to enhance research integrity and interactivity, rather than considering their potential creatively to disrupt existing academic practices. We discuss how the changing relationships between subject content and practices, teachers, learners and wider publics both in this particular algorithmic culture, and more generally, offer new opportunities; but also how the unpredictability of crowds, the variable nature and quality of data, and the often hidden power of algorithms, introduce new pedagogical challenges and opportunities.
    • Semantic web learning technology design: addressing pedagogical challenges and precarious futures

      Carmichael, Patrick; Lancaster University (Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning, 2016-05-09)
      Semantic web technologies have the potential to extend and transform teaching and learning, particularly in those educational settings in which learners are encouraged to engage with ‘authentic’ data from multiple sources. In the course of the ‘Ensemble’ project, teachers and learners in different disciplinary contexts in UK Higher Education worked with educational researchers and technologists to explore the potential of such technologies through participatory design and rapid prototyping. These activities exposed some of the barriers to the development and adoption of emergent learning technologies, but also highlighted the wide range of factors, not all of them technological or pedagogical, that might contribute to enthusiasm for and adoption of such technologies. This suggests that the scope and purpose of research and design activities may need to be broadened and the paper concludes with a discussion of how the tradition of operaismo or ‘workers’ enquiry’ may help to frame such activities. This is particularly relevant in a period when the both educational institutions and the working environments for which learners are being prepared are becoming increasingly fractured, and some measure of ‘precarity’ is increasingly the norm.
    • Using interactive virtual field guides and linked data in geoscience teaching and learning

      Stott, Tim; Litherland, Kate; Carmichael, Patrick; Nuttall, Anne-Marie; Liverpool John Moores University (Springer, 2017-09-19)
      This chapter draws on experiences of designing, developing, using and evaluating web-based Virtual Field Guides (VFGs) for teaching geosciences at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU).  The chapter briefly reviews the previous use of VFGs to support students’ learning by fieldwork, highlighting some perceived benefits.  VFGs are considered to supplement real fieldwork, but not to become a substitute for it.  We then outline the design considerations, development and evaluation by LJMU students of two VFGs: (1) the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail in Yorkshire developed for Foundation degree students; (2) a Virtual Alps VFG developed for level 2 undergraduates. The design and development of these VFGs was undertaken using different approaches and the advantages and disadvantages of these different approaches are discussed.  The Ingleton Waterfalls VFG was developed by a team comprising two academics, one technician and two IT specialists.  Based on the experiences of developing the Ingleton Waterfalls VFG, the Virtual Alps VFG, on the other hand, was developed by two academics, with limited support/input from IT specialists. The technological background against which VFGs are used has changed rapidly and continues to do so, with 'Web 2.0' innovations, 'open data' initiatives, and interest in how 'user generated content' can be used to complement and extend existing databases and online collections.  These developments have changed not only the practice of geoscientists in general: they also offer new possibilities for VFGs and the role they play in teaching and learning. The chapter reviews some of these developments, in particular, the emergence of a 'linked web of data' for the geosciences, and concludes with a description and discussion of a pilot VFG which employs 'linked data' and 'semantic web' approaches to allow students to access diverse web based resources, to explore the relations between them, and to then draw on these in the course of more authentic assessment activities than has hitherto been the case.  The chapter concludes with a discussion of how the development of VFGs and their associated technologies might produce a shift in their use from being visual representation tools towards the use of them to develop skills necessary in practice, thus assimilating online tools into an expanding and evolving set of discourses and practices, rather than replacing or causing the loss of traditional disciplinary skills.