Thursday, June 28, 2012

Working with multiple data

Attended a free webinar this morning via QSR the company that sells nVivo. The topic was on public consultation research presented by Patrick O'Neil rom Lincoln University and Dr. Lyn Lavery from academic consulting. Introduced by Kate from QSR.

This is the last of a series of 3 on working with different data came about through the public consultation process Chch city council ran after Chch earthquakes. with previous webinars available on research preparation (for the unknown) and rapidly synthesising and analysing data.

The projects was focused on the Share an idea project used to inform the Chch city plan. 14thMay and series of interactions also used with all data collected by July. 2 teams involved with city council And overseas consultants. Coding structure was set up to deal with multiplicity and amount of data. Needed to ensure data collected could be collated to be meaningful. Topics set up and sub themes emerged. Important to have shared understanding of what sub themes mean to all researchers.

All data, regardless of type, coded to nodes and subthemes on nVivo. large amount of data had to be analyzed within a short time frame. Need to ensure all data was analysable. Data gathered through expo, website, council forms, workshops.

Website collected tweets (over 20,000), emails, group ideas. Council forms included letters, emails, voicemails. Expo included post it notes, pictures and drawings, focus group transcripts etc.

NVivo allowed word, excel files, PDFs audio, video and images with all could be coded to the same topics and sub themes. Plus 5 researchers could all work on data at the same time using nVivo server.

Examples of data types from expo then described.
1) Let's hear it used written information on a form - with 4 questions - what missed, what to retain, how to make Chch city better, what is most important About vision for Chch. Transcripts entered as answers to questions and then coded to sub themes.

2) Web tweets with 4 themes - move, life, space and market. Engaged people before expo and then others could see their own and others and provide feedback and stimulated more ideas. Above coded with tweeters age And suburb and tweets coded into sub themes.

3) Post it notes from expo generated 17,000. Entered into an excel file and manually coded to theme. Then text search used on excel files deployed to create nodes. Merged into existing nVivo data. 1/3 of post it notes then coded using coding density functions.

4) YouTube videos used to capture interviews up to 3 minutes with people who preferred to provide oral feedback. Video transcribed within nVivo and again coded to sub themes. Selected parts were transcribed by firstly doing a first watch and then only transcribing relevant parts.

Children's art to help children articulate their ideas. Photo of art uploaded to nVivo, regions of the 5) picture can then be coded by identifying on the picture and labeling.

Outputs also used nVivo visualization tools and can be run using queries to generate tag clouds ( word frequency with stop word list to remove unnecessary words) and word trees (to illustrate words that are searched and other things associated to each word).  Visualisations could be used to quickly display the most common ideas to inform good mass communication and quickly represent a particular topic and display a large amount of content.

All in a good opportunity to have an example of how to better use nVivo for qualitative analysis. Plus information on nVivo 10 which allows for social media data to be more easily used plus need for nVivo to be able to handle very large projects more efficiently.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Learning how to multitask

Writing up notes from the a recently completed pilot with front office students - using videos to enhance reflective learning. Feedback from the students and tutor (Debbie Taylor) has been very positive despite several technical issues to surmount. Of note is that for the first time, all students have completed their practical assessments after the first iteration, so no need for resits, which take up extra time and can be demoralising for students.

We are now working on several technical issues, before we run the official project with a new group of students next semester. Apart from connecting the ipads to a datashow, we have found sound quality from the ipad videos to be a challenge. Firstly, the ipads tend to pick up sound only if the students speak loudly, then when the videos are played back via a data show, students' voices are sometimes difficult to discern. Over the next few weeks, Sam Hegarty at the LTU will be trialing several configurations using wireless mikes and speakers attached to the datashow to improve sound quality.

Even with the sound quality challenge, student learning has been enhanced through the opportunity to view themselves and others roleplaying check-in and check-out processes. After the inital 'camera shyness' the students pitched in and really connected with the overall objectives of the project. They worked at practicing their check-in/check out skills, recorded each others roleplays and provided solid peer feedback to each other. The tutor then used examples of good practice to illustrate main skills.

Of note is the need to do several things at once during the check in/ check out process whilst maintaining a customer friendly/focused demeanor both verbally and through body language. The bringing together of tasks skills and soft people relationship skills can be challenging for students to learn. Debbie is now in the process of deconstructing the check in/check out process more thoroughly to identify areas where multi-tasking is crucial. From the deconstruction, we hope to provide students with the opportunity to practice the multi-tasking parts separately, before incorporating these into the full check in/ check out sequence. There are several occasions during the sequence when students have to talk to the guest, fill in forms/enter information into the computer or find paperwork etc. along with listening to the guest and portraying a professional (I know what I am doing) and friendly/welcoming demeanor.

So next semester, we will have students go through the checklist of check in or check out sequence as they view Debbie (physically or virtually) complete the process. Then, students will concentrate on THREE items /skills through the first few practice roleplays. As their skill develops, the entire check in/ check out roleplay will be videoed. Students will then need to be able to pick up the skills/ dispositions that need to be improved through both peer and tutor feedback. During the pilot, I trialled several class observation sheets and have now modified observation forms to reflect the class room activity as it unfolds. So looking forward to next semester's work on this project.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

microsoft surface

Yesterday, various tech websites and tech blogs provided overviews and reviews of the Microsoft announcement of the Surface tablet. Visually, a nice form factor and the use of the cover as a keyboard a great innovation. Will need to try the cover/keyboard out for responsiveness.
One of the issues we have as an educational institute is the challenge provided by catering to a range of operating systems. Our tablet projects using IOS and Android have been completed with tablets that are not networked into the institution’s Windows OS. So the promise of what looks like a decent Windows OS tablet, will be something to look forward to for a project for the beginning of next year.
The reviews, like this one, seem to be positive. The Windows Metro OS is also promising and I did have a short time to try out the Windows 7 version on Samsung Phones. The main advantage will be user friendly capatibility between PC and mobile devices. For some teaching programmes, ease of sharing between work / student PC and mobile devices like tablets and phones, will increase the range of learning activities we can offer students.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Postman, Sennett and Jenkins on technology – cautions and recommendations

Some toing and froing via email at the Centre of Educational Development through my sharing of an article by Neil Postman has led to a discussion on how technology may be used to support teaching and learning.

I read Postman’s 1995 article – ‘Five things we need to know about technological change’ - as a caution – to remember that the media may also become the message. However, even if there will be pros and cons and winners and losers (Postman’s 1 & 2 cautions) and a risk that technology becomes the focus (cautions 3 & 5), technology is also ecological (caution 4) and WE as the makers and users of technology, need to understand the pros/cons and use technology ‘wisely’.

As per previous blog, Sennett’s book (the craftsman) also cautions on a reliance on technology. His example is the use of computer aided design (CAD) in architecture and how designs can become the be all and end all, mesmerising the architect with 3D rendered views of his/her creation and missing the important factor that buildings have to be designed to be lived in, be sympathetic to the environment (physical and social) they cover and comfortable and useful to occupiers/inhabitants.

The 2006 Jenkin’s et al. article – ‘Confronting the challenges of a participatory culture:Media education for the 21st century’ - explores the challenges posed by digital technology to education - with a slant towards formal school education. The examples provided through the article, inform us that it is possible to use technology to help student come to grips with learning for a future world that will rely on digital technology (and perhaps has already?).

So if we are preparing our students to become plumbers, do we also still need to help them become critical learners and users in a world rapidly becoming technology reliant? Who decides?? What will be the most appropriate vernacular/form of communication required by students learning to become plumbers/chefs/nurses etc.? What ‘communication’/media literacy skills are required? – Jenkin’s article includes Play, Performance, Simulation, Appropriation, Multitasking, Distributed Cognition, Collective Intelligence, Transmedia Navigation, Networking and Negotiation (see page 4 for details of each).

Therefore, will a reliance on text based communication be sufficient for future occupational practice? For instance, will trades people use YouTube to advertise their services on TradeMe? If YES, should we be therefore helping students learn to present on visual media instead of writing reports?? Both text and visual presentations require student to represent and organise their thinking – which form of expression will now be more authentic? What appropriate ‘thinking and recording tools’ should be introduced to students to help them make sense of, collate and represent their thoughts and learning?

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Craftsman by Richard Sennett

At home this afternoon due to the first snow of this winter closing CPIT. Got to work just after eight through heavy snow on my side of town. Mostly wet in town but then the snow started to really thicken and settle. CPIT closed just after 9.30am so made our way very slowy home. Still snowing this afternoon and about 10 cm in the garden. Therefore, a good opportunity to do my weekly blog.

Over the long weekend, (Queen's birthday with Monday as a public holiday) and re-read Richard Sennett's book The Craftsman. I have dipped in and out of the book several times and used relevant portions in my dissertation, in particular definitions of craftsmanship and the premise that all of us are craftsman, both in our personal (as parents, homecooks, gardeners) and work (not only trade based but professions and examples in the book with computer programmers) lives.

The kindle version of the book on my ipad is now well bookmarked and had copious notes of parts that are pertinent to several projects I am currently working on. I have also highlighted about a dozen other readings/books to follow up, so the weekend reading has been fruitful.

The book moves through 3 sections, craftsmen, craft and craftmanship. In the craftsmen section, four chapters cover the historical conceptions of craftsmanship and provides examples of ancient (weaving) and modern (linux programming) of the existence of craftsmanship. The decline of respect for trades craftsmanship through the industrial revolution is also traced. In this section, the main line of argument is that we should still maintain our sense of craftmanship. Losing aspects of craftsmanship like continual working towards quality whether a plumber or a surgeon, means we lose some of our humanity. Of importance is the need to retain the craftsmanship mindset, so that we are conscious of the impact of technology,tools and machines on the way we do and conceptualise. The example provided is the advent of computer aided design (CAD) in architecture whereby architects become enamoured by the call of design but forget that their creations have to fit into a certain geographical context with weather/climate that impact on the eventual human interaction with the buildings.

The second section concentrates of the importance of the hand in how humans relate to their world. The chapter 'the hand' summarises psychological, ethnographical and sociological approaches to understanding how the had works and the hands contribution to 5 dimensions of human endeavour. 4 are identified by Raymond Tallis, as anticipation, contact, language cognition and reflection and a fifth being values developed by highly skilled hands. Learning music is used as the example in how the hand contributes to how we understand ourselves, communicate with others and form and then explain our conceptualisations. In chapter 6, 'expressive instructions', 3 versions of written recipes are used to explain how trying to explain how to debone a chicken, is about having to unpack how we use our hands. It would have been good to have these recipes in the appendices. However, the example used is apt.

The last section concludes as a call for the need to respect quality-driven work. Human drive for continual improvement needs to be nurtured through the education system. Current work organisation practice makes it difficult for craftmanship to be practiced. The book is a call for better suuport of an innate human desire. If carefully sponsored, might be a way for humankind to better meet the big challenges, many of them environmental issues that will affect all of us one way or other in the near future.