Who cares about “referencing”?

Why do we teach our students how to reference? Mendeley, EndNote, Refworks, etc. all do it for you. In my experience the emphasis for students in higher education is almost always on what the citation looks like and not on the work the citation does. When it comes to learning about referencing for students, the focus is almost always on:

  1. Plagiarism: If you don’t reference, you’re stealing.
  2. Format: If it doesn’t conform to [insert style guide], it’s wrong.

This is problematic. The first point begins with the assumption that our students are cheats and frauds. I prefer not to go into the relationship with that as a starting frame of reference. The second point is irrelevant because style guides explain exactly how to format the citation and software formats it for us.

What matters is that students understand the underlying rationale of attribution and of building on the ideas of others. I’m way more interested in talking about ideas with my students, than on where the comma goes. Instead of talking about the importance of referencing maybe we should aim to instil in students a love of ideas. Sometimes those ideas originated from someone else (citation required) and sometimes those ideas are your own. What does the world look like when we use ideas – some our own and some from others – to think differently? That seems like a more interesting conversation to have.

I enjoyed reading (February)

Disrupting the diploma (Reid Hoffman): I love the idea of a certification as a “communication device”.

…we need to apply new technologies to the primary tool of traditional certification, the diploma. We need to take what now exists as a dumb, static document and turn it into a richer, updateable, more connected record of a person’s skills, expertise, and experience. And then we need to take that record and make it part of a fully networked certification platform.

a different approach to research questions: a useful holiday read (Pat Thomson): This made me think about the kind of research that I want to end up doing. Yes, there’s always a space to “fill in the gaps”, but will I really be able to innovate if I simply fill in what’s missing?

Alvesson and Sandberg take issue with the dominant mode of generating research questions – they call this gap spotting. They argue that the usual process consists of reading literatures, finding what’s been said about a particular topic and locating something that isn’t done – the gap. This gap spotting leads to an incremental approach to research, they say. While gap spotting is perfectly defensible, and will certainly garner the do-ers of gap-spotting research PhDs and even research grants, it won’t, they suggest, produce game-changing research, particularly in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Instead, gap-spotting produces work which is predictable. Gap filling adds to what is known, but doesn’t change the field.

Is It Plagiarism or Collaboration? (Jennifer Carey): If we’re trying to create learning spaces that prepare students for the “real world”, and we acknowledge that working in the real world requires collaboration with others, why don’t we develop more assessments that require students to work together?

We want students to do “group work,” to collaborate, and to discuss. However, we have very specific realms in which we want this to happen: the group assignment, the in-class discussion, studying for exams, etc. At the same time, many of us want to put up barriers and halt any collaboration at other times (during assessments, for example). When collaboration takes place during assessment, we deem it plagiarism or cheating, and technology is often identified as the instrument that tempts students into such behavior.

The attack on our higher education system — and why we should welcome it

For one thing, the MOOC hypesters were wrong. They discovered, on the backs, or within the wallets, of their VC partners, that knowledge building is a complex integrated system with multiple facets. The linear nature of MOOC solutions to the perceived problems of higher education (better instructional software and greater numbers of learners) failed to account for knowledge building as an integrated social, economic and cultural activity of society. Suggestions of MOOCs replacing universities began to seem quaint and childlike.

How do students perceive academic literacy?

Image taken from Wikimedia Commons

Narrative means towards literacy understandings: exploring transformations within literacies and migrating identities

Last week I attended a short seminar by Dr. Catherine Hutchings from UCT, who presented some of the results of her PhD study looking at academic literacy and student identity. Here are some notes I took during the seminar.

How do students develop new means of constructing identity as they move from high school into higher education?

Repositioning identities → have personal / social / professional identities outside university, but on moving into HE can feel lost and disorientated. Participants in this study had broken formal educational journeys, no writing background. They had established social and professional identities but lowly academic identities

Their education history was transmissive, rather than constructive

Journals can be a pedagogic method, but became data capture owing to richness of reflections. The journal started as an access route into academic spaces, incorporating their experiences, attempting to promote the development of reflective and critical thinking

Students were afraid of writing

Narratives: the stories we tell about our lives changes our perspectives on them

Referencing, language, technology, the library are “pillars of the great hall of alienation”. They serve as barriers to the transition into HE

How does “agency” become apparent? How is it evident? Referencing, use of authority, engagement with readings, argument…but before HE, agency is not directly evident…it is not voiced

Through using the voice of others, we come to know our own voices

Can take a lot of discussion before students see referencing as an asset

  • Old voices – wisdom of other
  • Odd voices – referencing
  • Own voices – thinking about ideas

Transition, move through, deconstruction, renegotiation, reconstruction

Referencing as feeling of alienation, of not belonging

Plagiarism as a “trapping stone”, already sets them up as outcasts / criminals. Knowledge is “owned” and “guarded”, and doesn’t belong to students

Students used “referencing” and “plagiarism” interchangeably

Few understand the purpose of referencing, nor do they understand it’s language. They often lacked the vocabulary to paraphrase

“Seeing is not knowing”…just because it’s been shown to them doesn’t mean they understand it

“Plagiarism was the only out for me at the time”…a sense of being overwhelmed and not able to cope

Loss of identity in the transformation to HE. The “good learner” in HE is expected to sound like the authoritative voice. Previous identity and experience is often not valued

Students memorise content as a successful strategy in school, then they come here and are punished when they reproduce content

“I felt like a puppet on a string”

“Any sense of self is shackled or constrained”

Referencing is about judgement i.e. it helps the marker determine how much of the students’ work is their own. It can instil fear

Students don’t always understand the purpose of referencing, only that there is a punishment. A sense of belonging comes with understanding, not with doing

Referencing can be thought of as a conversation, not as a list of points from the viewpoint of others. “Must my voice be unique?” “What is my own voice in this conversation?”

“Referencing sets the writer free in using other peoples ideas”

Professional development in HE, finding a voice, can alienate people when they return to their social and professional lives

Referencing as structure and referencing as being voices in a conversation

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-01-10

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-08-16

  • Pepsi spill causes sticky mess in science blogging ecosystem http://bit.ly/8XiQ3N #
  • Just started reading “Unseen academicals”. I love Terry Pratchett #
  • Plagiarism Is Not a Big Moral Deal. I teach professional ethics in practice, and I agree with this http://bit.ly/b37kfw #
  • Mobile Phone Learning on the Move in Africa. http://bit.ly/aVpdV3 #
  • Juxio – combine image and text into visual streams. Could be useful for creating small learning resources http://bit.ly/9Vgswz #
  • Comparing Books & E-Books. I’m still not sure where I stand http://bit.ly/9lOtGv #
  • @tony_emerge nice to see I’m not the only 1 still up 🙂 was good to chat at the colloquium on Friday #
  • Do New Tools = New Learning? I don’t think using new tools automatically maps to new learning http://bit.ly/9x4ST6 #
  • What You Need To Know About Data Portability http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=53116 #
  • Social networking and loneliness. See this in some of my students…the pressure of living for an audience http://bit.ly/d1HQOM #
  • @ianuct Wow, I’d love to have a look at how you do it. Maybe I can meet up with u sometime during the week? Do you have the desktop version? in reply to ianuct #
  • @ianuct What are you thoughts on #Prezi I’ve played with it but actually find the lack of linearity hard to work with in reply to ianuct #
  • Thank you. RT @ianuct: Drew the keynote “Experiences in personal learning”. Find a balance between consuming & sharing http://bit.ly/92CwDd #
  • Battery getting low, so in case phone dies before the end…thank you #Maties for awesome #TEDxStellenbosch #
  • Weird…they handed out #vuvuzelas during intermission at #TEDxStellenbosch & are surprised that people are blowing them? #
  • @jpbosman hey man, how come you’re not at #TEDxStellenbosch Thought this would be the sort of thing you’re interested in #
  • @geekrebel where are you? #
  • Vegetarian meals only at #TEDxStellenbosch I’m not a vegetarian but…what a great idea when promoting sustainability #
  • #TEDxStellenbosch We’re moving from an era of “me”, to an era of “we”. Similar ideas in education with social learning #
  • Comment from earlier speaker at #TEDxStellenbosch “Africa isn’t poor, we just don’t have a lot of money” #
  • @geekrebel Thanks for organising access, #Skyrove doing an awesome job again 🙂 #
  • @elodiek I’m going back to obz so can help you guys out if you still looking (i know henk) #
  • @geekrebel I just got here and am 1 of those 4 🙂 I’m right at the back and can’t see any screens #
  • At #TEDxStellenbosch so impressed with setup, thank you #Skyrove for wireless, always appreciated #
  • Just got home from #ipex had a good 2 days, learnt a lot. Leaving in an hour for #TEDxStellenbosch (http://tedxstellenbosch.org/) #
  • Spent most of yesterday marking tests & assignments, same again today…sigh #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-06-28

Posted to Diigo 05/21/2010

    • What do I mean by presence, and why do I think that it is relevant to PLEs?
    • 1. Presence as social richness
    • Communications are expected to somehow express the ‘social, symbolic, and nonverbal cues of human communication’, which is of course difficult in an online environment.
    • 2. Presence as realism
    • By creating a sense of reality  in the pictures they produce and create an experience that would be plausible in real life (Lombard & Ditton, 1997)
    • 3. Presence as transportation
    • The idea in this form of presence is ‘the degree to which participants of a telemeeting get the impression of sharing space with interlocutors who are at a remote physical site’ (Mulbach et al, 1995, p.293)
    • the participant perceives to be immersed in a virtual environment
    • 4. Presence and immersion
    • 5. Presence as social actor within a medium
    • A heightened form of presence is created, where it seems that an interaction with the viewer or another person is taking place on the screen, while in reality this is not the case
    • 6. Presence as medium as social actor
    • deep and meaningful learning results if three forms of presence play a role in education. They highlight cognitive presence, that ensures a certain level of depth in the educational process, which could be compared to “intensity” as highlighted by Shedroff (2009) in developing web-based experiences and “Vividness” by Lombard and Ditton (1997) in the creation of meaningful online experiences
    • Anderson (2008) also refers to social presence, which would be similar to the social presence described by Lombard and Ditton
    • in a formal educational environment that of a teacher presence
    • In PLE based learning the teacher presence is not there, but you could argue that there are knowledgeable others out there on the Web who might to a certain extent take on that role
    • The higher the number of human senses engaged in the activity, the higher the presence experienced will be
    • ‘visual media have more social presence than verbal (audio) media, which in turn have more social presence than written media
    • ‘The number of inputs from the user that the medium accepts and to which it responds’ could affect presence and the level of experience, while the type of input by the user, ie. through voice, video, or button clicks, and the type of response received was also seen as an influence on the level of presence (Lombard & Ditton, 1997, p.18)
    • So the higher the level of presence, the higher the level of involvement in the online activity and the deeper the experience. The question of how to create presence in the design of a PLE is an important one as at the heart of PLE-based learning would be a high level of engagement and depth of learning
    • The fruit of collective intelligence, which I (and others) have described as an emergent phenomenon, results from the linkages and connections between individuals, and not a counting of properties (such as survey results) of those individuals.
    • This emergent knowledge is not intended to compete with, or replace, qualitative or quantitative knowledge
    • Connective knowledge, in other words, does not refute or overturn existing knowledge; rather, it offers us a *new* type of knowledge, that *cannot* be confirmed or refuted by simple observation of data
    • why shouldn’t students’ work be available to other (future) students.

      Instead of binning their work after they get their marks, why shouldn’t we be making it available to others so that they can learn from their peers, from what others have done.

      He talks about this as if it were so obvious. Yet in academia we’ve always made sure to hide students’ work… ooohh the plagarism…. [it’s better to avoid plagiarism at all cost than actually educate not to plagiarise…]… in real life, we all look at what other have done to improve our work. Something isn’t right here!

    • Providing information is not really creating knowledge
    • there has always been and there will always be good pedagogy with or without technology

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-08

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-11-23

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