Saturday, December 10, 2016

Anatomy of a winter break

Happy winter break to everyone!  Classes are over and I guess I am supposed to start working on my candidacy exam...  This comic seems like it applies ;-)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Of Wearables diapers?!

A little more docublogging, this time from a virtually connecting session from the Wearables conference with George Siemens

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Academic Conferences: No change here, go about your business

I've been thinking about Rebecca's post for the past two weeks, the one titled What Trump means for academic conferences.  Now that the semester is over, and homework is off my plate (for another 35 days) it's time to commit some thoughts to (e)paper.  I'll say first that the whole travel advisory cited would carry more weight if it weren't coming from Turkey. There are things happening politically in that country that have nothing to do with Trump being elected (well, as of this writing there are 14 more days until the electoral college votes, so who knows...)

In any case, I would say that academic conferences, both those hosted in the USA, and those hosted elsewhere, are a venue for the academic elite, and in some cases those who are lucky enough to have a conference happening locally that they can either crash or find some other free means to attend. I don't think organizers will see the USA as a second tier place to host conferences.  Even if they did, for the sake of argument, move to Canada for the time being, the net result is the same: conferences are still geared toward the academic elite who can:

  • afford to pay conference registration fees
    • AAAL would cost me $325 to register.  The OLC Innovate conference in 2016 was around $700. The NMC summer conference is about $650.
  • afford to pay for travel 
    • for instance the AAAL conference in Portland Oregon would cost me around $500 if I were to attend. Orlando (OLC) is a little cheaper by comparison at $280. 
  • afford to pay for hotels while there
    • same conference would cost me about $1200 to stay at the conference hotel. Cheapest price I found elsewhere was $800 but I didn't map the distance from the conference venue, so let's call it a $400 convenience tax.
  • afford to take the time "off"
    • If you are on the tenure track, and expected to do these things, then you have much more flexibility to attend.  If you are an adjunct (and increasingly many in academia seem to be), or if you are like me - a professional but not full time in the teaching game - you need to use personal or vacation time to do this. If you work for a cool department, they might count it as a "work day" and it won't cost you vacation time, but not everyone has that luxury.

Even with the cheapest conference, the total cost for me would be around $2000 for a 3 day conference (more if there were plenaries I wanted to attend) plus whatever time off work I was charged.  While this might not be a lot of money to some, I tend to think of people who can attend a conference outside of their home turf as the academic elite. Having a new president of the USA won't change that, or make it more difficult for people internationally to come and present and meet with colleagues. 

Conferences were, and continue to be, a place where people with (at least some) privilege meet in person to do whatever it is they do.  As discussed in a virtually connecting session not too long ago (I forget which one) conferences need to evolve. Maybe the fear of a new presidency in the US will spur innovation in this arena. Maybe it won't. I think that we can't expect conference organizers (especially for long held conferences) to change their beat alone.  We (potential attendees) need to change the scene either with them, or without them.


Monday, December 5, 2016

On Open Dissertations

Trying to get back to blogging, and I'm going back through my backlog - so here is a quick post, documentation post really - from a recent Virtually Connecting session I sat in on on Open Dissertations.

Friday, November 4, 2016

EDDE 806 - Post VII - Now what was that about Open Ended Questions???

Last evening I joined 806 (which seemed to have a very small group of people attending) for their bi-weekly meetup.  I think that for this post I will write more about my 2 take-aways from the session in general, rather than recap both presentations.:

Take-away #1: Small sample sizes aren't necessarily a problem.  Both Tracy and Leslie (presenters of the evening) were taking about their work (well, the work they are gearing up to do), and they both have between 6 and 12 participants for their research.  I am thinking about my own dissertation process, my own "problem" (which isn't a problem, so I hate using that term, but whatever), and how many people can be my informants (at most 16, but most likely 10 or so will agree to be part of it).   I've been thinking that AU might have issues with such small sample sizes. However, considering that I am not aiming at generalization (and neither are the presenters from last night's session), I am encouraged to continue on my current path for a dissertation proposal.  It seems that AU is open to qualitative, small-sample, research for dissertations.  I had a fear that I'd be stuck in a qualitative, "you must have something generalization" nightmare - a nightmare because that's now where I come from in my own research views :-)

Take-away #2: Just like the boy-scouts: Estote Parati (Be prepared).  When you're doing interviews (live interviews) make sure you have a back-up.  Good advice.  I had never thought about it (perhaps because I am not at that stage of data collection yet).  I was considering using Google Hangouts and perhaps using something like Camtasia to record it.  This way I could (if there were video) also record any paralanguage that exists in our interviews and it could be an additional data point for analysis.

In terms of interviews and transcription, I was also thinking of outsourcing the transcription to a company.  Looking briefly into this, it seems that $1/minute (or $2/minute if the audio isn't that great).  If I assume that 8 people sign-on to be my study participants, at 2 interviews per person, between 40 and 60 minutes (making sure that I don't monopolize their time), the cost come out to around $1000 (wow!)   Comparatively, Dragon 13 Premium (the educational version) costs $100, but I'd have to go back and review everything and cross check text produced with audio. That is 1000 minutes of audio maximum, so if we assume 3 minutes of corrections for each minute of audio, that's 3000 minutes, which works out to 50 hours of work.  Hmm....  wonder if there is a grant to pay for transcription work ;-)  I think there is a benefit of having to do the hard work yourself - it makes you more intimately familiar with the data you are working with, but from a student's perspective (who is on the clock to be done with their dissertation in by year 5), is that the best place to spend your time?  I don't know, but we will find out ;-)

Some bits and ends:

  • IPA was mentioned in Tracy's presentation (Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis).  I just find it funny how acronyms bleed through to other disciplines.  For me IPA means International Phonetic Alphabet and it's associated with linguistics.  A good reminder to define your acronyms and your terms! (Thanks Tracy!)
  • Have someone interview you with your open-ended questions!  This seems like a given, but to me this was an "aha!" moment.  Since I am interviewing some potential colleagues for my dissertation research (on group/collaborative processes), and I was a member of those collaborations, it makes sense to have someone ask me those questions.  I was going to answer them anyway, from my perspective (researcher as the person being research, too!) but I think a dialogic approach makes a ton more sense (Thanks Leslie!)
  • Finally, Leslie's point about not sending transcripts to participants without giving them some direction as to what to do with them is important.  I wasn't even thinking about sending transcripts back for checking because I plan to bring in the participants' voices at many parts of the dissertation: case study approach, open document when I have more down, which will be open for commenting, suggestions, and corrections! So, I didn't want to inundate my fellow participants with too much stuff (granted it's all optional), but this gave me something to think about.
That's all for now - until the next 806 session :)