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Structuring “Voice” for academic reseachers

August 1, 2009 1 comment

My mentor sent me an intriguing link concerning an evolution in the standards, structure, presentation and style for online articles published in the CELL network of 2000 scientific journals.

here are the essential new proposed standards, which would be a great way for us to prepare lesson prep materials for our college . I will explore this with my lesosn authors and other curriculum developers.

KEY FEATURES OF THE PROTOTYPES:
  • A hierarchical presentation of text and figures so that readers can elect to drill down through the layers of content based on their level of expertise and interest. This organizational structure is a significant departure from the linear-based organization of a traditional print-based article in incorporating the core text and supplemental material within a single unified structure.
  • A graphical abstract allows readers to quickly gain an understanding of the main take-home message of the paper. The graphical abstract is intended to encourage browsing, promote interdisciplinary scholarship and help readers identify more quickly which papers are most relevant to their research interests.
  • Research highlights provide a bulleted list of the key results of the article.
  • Author-Affiliation highlighting makes it easy to see an author’s affiliations and all authors from the same affiliation.
  • A figure that contains clickable areas so that it can be used as a navigation mechanism to directly access specific sub-sections of the results and figures.
  • Integrated audio and video let authors present the context of their article via an interview or video presentation and allow animations to be displayed more effectively.
  • The Experimental Procedures section contains alternate views allowing readers to see a summary or the full details necessary to replicate the experiment.
  • A new approach to displaying figures allows the reader to identify quickly which figures they are interested in and then drill down through related supplemental figures. All supplemental figures are displayed individually and directly linked to the main figure to which they are related.
  • Real-time reference analyses provide a rich environment to explore the content of the article via the list of citations
  •  

    it seems to me i am only starting to scratch the surface of documenting my research and reporting it out as i go thru the combination of: Twitter, my blog, the college blog, Youtube, FoE, RL, cohort sharing on Moodle etc

    i am imagining a place where students begin to develop their own research interest architecture set up along the lines of the article template but expanding into all the “fields” of interest, and some of those are made public in the same way the farmer has a roadside stand to sell fresh vegetable that were planted, harvested, cleaned and made presentable elsewhere on the farm

    this is in line with the agriculture metaphor we talked about last year; with each “field” being an area of intended deep research, with the barn being the place where general purpose tools and equipment are maintained.

    Now the idea of “making public” or “reporting out” is evidence of a successful, sustainable reserarch process going on in the farmland.

    New pastures are added, often times in fields that are adjacent to our current crops are growing; other times we explore deep dark uncertain woods.

    After a time we may decide to take on the task of clearing the forest to permit growing of crops, while at other times we may wish to simply hunt in the woods for the occasional insight and surprising case study, while keeping it’s essential wildness intact.

    Maybe we are hunting with cameras and voice recorders. Not everything must be or should be clear cut David Boje’s ideas about preserving the rich antenarrative, would map to the idea of keeping the essential chaotic richness of story fragments alive prior to pasteurizing and sanitizing the antenarrative into a grand narrative:

     I sense a systems dynamics diagram and a voice presentation coming on 😛

    seems to me that CTU could blaze some new trails by establishing an area where students could do this kind of thing so that the “export to CELL article template” function would be painless. No reason to have to recreate your intellectual lineage for each article etc.

    Your articles become your calling card and link to the fulll body of your work, the virtual CV etc

    Your conference papers become “calling cards” and marketting freebies to give short overviews of your interests etc

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    New feature: indexed links to Youtube videos

    July 24, 2009 Leave a comment

    I should have done this a long time ago. I created 2 new pages on the blog to collect an indexed list of the videos of mini-lectures for my doctoral research and my Army classroom professional stories. These will be a more organized way to layout a menu of choices for students and interested parties to view my stuff in the areas of force management and force sustainment.

    I have probably a hundred refined little speeches I tend to give in various classes that reflect my best practices from my active duty service, but also some things that have emerged as refinements in the schoolhouse through engagement with the great officers who share their perspectives of the war and discuss theory and practice.

    I find myself in class hurrying at times to squeeze these in, out of a sense of duty. It’s not always good pedagogy and it would be nice maybe to let the students know about them ahead of time so that we can engage in dialogues of their choosing based on their needs instead of always doing what I want to do.

    Time to relinquish the mike a little more? here is a way to offer my humble “greatest hits” and let them follow their interest.

    There maybe some value add for my fellow instructors too on my areas of competence, since our faculty are responsible for a wide range of areas; so wide in fact that they don’t have direct personal experience in all of the fields.

    Example:our faculty teach sustainment lessons at strategic, operational and tactical levels of war; they cover maintenance, transportation, supply, medical, personal, explosive ordnance disposal, band, finance, personnel, contracting, and all elements of force management; design, plans and operations; Joint and army support operations; plus whatever their elective course specialties are. faculty development programs are an important area of concern for us.

    that’s a pretty full plate, so perhaps these videos can be of some help to them as well.

    Force Generation curriculum project update

    March 14, 2009 Leave a comment

    In one of our top level curriculum review meetings yesterday, our Deputy Commandant mentioned in his concluding remarks that there was a real “buzz” in the Army among the senior leaders concerning “Force Generation”, and he attributed it to the initiative I have been describing here which is holding out a lot of promise for transformative change.

    This is before I even briefed him on the next phase, which is a survey/questionaire that we designed this week with our Quality Assurance Office and CGSS. Through the survey instrument, we’ll invite 1500 current students and 3000 graduates of the last 2 years to solicit : (1) their most important questions, (2) what they know that other students should know, (3) the problems they are experiencing with the force generation process in the field, (4) their best advice for solving problems, and (5) their interest in being part of the design team to craft curriculum to address the questions and problems.

    We’ve already made contact with the Army proponents for each of the top level processes that govern the Army Force Generation process: policy, materiel, personnel, funding, training, and synchronization, and they have committed to helping us answer the questions that the students generate, as well as maintaining an ongoing knowledge base in the form of a wiki and a student text that will be widely available to Army units to reflect the most current wisdom associated with this process.

    I see the wiki, the student text and our college as being the infrastructure that connects the educational needs of our officers with process experts from the generating force as well as the practical expertise that resides in the action-oriented leaders of our units in the field. I expect we’ll continue the survey as an annual instrument designed to ensure that our ST, wiki, and curriculum remain as adaptive as ARFORGEN is dynamic.

    By staying connected to our officers’ stated educational needs and incorporating the best knowledge from experts and practitioners we intend to be relevant and adaptive as a department and college. When the day comes we no longer get urgent questions or significant problems identified that surprise us, we may conclude that we have a manageable ARFORGEN process. (There are more than a few things in the Army that are manageable but still hard 😛 )

    In a classroom study group next week with volunteer students we will begin the design of the ARFORGEN wiki and Student Text “knowledge artifacts” that will represent our current consensus knowledge on the many complexities of ARFORGEN.

    We think we can distribute the survey by 1 April, receive the bulk of input by 15 April, forward bundles to proponents by 1 May, be ready to populate the wiki and STs with initial answers by our 12 May ARFORGEN worksop at Ft Leavenworth, have a robust ST and wiki by 1 Aug, be ready to support curriculum for the 10-01 class, and then continue to refine the process and product through staff work and attention to detail.

    How we read is who we are

    March 7, 2009 Leave a comment


     

    There have been some blog discussions expressing concerns about the either/or problem of academic writing vs blog writing, about how the digitial age is driving us from being a Community of Practice towards communities of interest, inhabiting what Mr Carr (below) describes as “The Shallows”. See this important discussion at: http://usacac.leavenworth.army.mil/BLOG/blogs/llop/archive/2009/03/03/an-appeal-to-cgsg-students-study-your-doctrine.aspx

    Peter Morville offers sobering cautions concering how the act of search changes who you become in the digital age in his excellent book; “Ambient Findability” http://www.amazon.com/Ambient-Findability-What-Changes-Become/dp/0596007655. 

    Morville’s idea is that you search for information in order to makeimportant decisions which shapes your world and who you are.  How and where you search them is cucial to shaping the future decisions and person you will become. Taking this idea to the extreme, you could wonder then about the importance to the human race of the particular ranking algorithm that Google uses (or by extension, any/all of the major search providers). If Google is the authority on what response you get from searching, and you then act on that information as if it represents a true reflection of the state of knowledge on the topic of interest, we have a compelling social and human interest in what lies under the hood. The craft of search engine optimization then takes on a whole new moral dimension. If most people act on information found on the first page of returns from a google search, AND you can pay for placement of your site in the google rankings, how are countless social judgments being shaped by something other than a committment to the highest forms of Truth and scholarship?

    The very proliferation of information (only some of which can be charitably called knowledge) creates a requiremnt for new cognitive skills to navigate the ocean of informationa nd mis-information and places a higher value on critical reasoning and skeptical inquiry than ever before. It almost drives us to the wider but shallower journeys through literature and media just to ensure that what we have discovered through search has the qualities of completeness and representative sampling of thoughts on a topic. I know that this drives me to search widely and then only to selective depths based on my information needs of the moment on a particular project.

    Here are a couple links to some additional, ebtter ideas on this subject: From the article  in The Atlantic “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” 

    Thanks to the ubiquity of text on the Internet, not to mention the popularity of text-messaging on cell phones, we may well be reading more today than we did in the 1970s or 1980s, when television was our medium of choice. But it’s a different kind of reading, and behind it lies a different kind of thinking—perhaps even a new sense of the self. “We are not only what we read,” says Maryanne Wolf, a developmental psychologist at Tufts University and the author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. “We are how we read.” Wolf worries that the style of reading promoted by the Net, a style that puts “efficiency” and “immediacy” above all else, may be weakening our capacity for the kind of deep reading that emerged when an earlier technology, the printing press, made long and complex works of prose commonplace. When we read online, she says, we tend to become “mere decoders of information.” Our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged

    And then more from the same author in an excellent follow-on interview:

     

    Cooper: You’ve quoted Richard Foreman, author of the play The Gods Are Pounding My Head, who says we are turning into “pancake people.”

    Carr: We used to have an intellectual ideal that we could contain within ourselves the whole of civilization. It was very much an ideal — none of us actually fulfilled it — but there was this sense that, through wide reading and study, you could have a depth of knowledge and could make unique intellectual connections among the pieces of information stored within your memory. Foreman suggests that we might be replacing that model — for both intelligence and culture — with a much more superficial relationship to information in which the connections are made outside of our own minds through search engines and hyperlinks. We’ll become “pancake people,” with wide access to information but no intellectual depth, because there’s little need to contain information within our heads when it’s so easy to find with a mouse click or two.

    I see this same phenomenon  in my own reading, largely propelled by my focused readings for a doctoral research program, but also based on a need to be widely aware, as a way of marking the locationof depth-knowledge should i need to return for more data and deeper insights. I too haven’t read a long novel cover to cover in the way i used to immerse myself. 

     

    A Reflection on Personal Learning Environments, blogs and wikis

    March 7, 2009 Leave a comment

    Dr John Persyn  from the Dean of Academic Operations  started up a study group to look at what InstructorNet could/should/might/ought be. He made the mistake of asking me to think out loud. If you don’t disagree with anything that follows, or at least wonder what I am smoking, then I have failed 

    I take the InstructorNet working group inquiry questions to include: 

    1. What should InstructorNet be and why should we care? 

    2. How can we give Voice (and action) to instructors to better align resources with efforts 

    3. How do we improve the connections among the members (nodes) of an Instructor Net (I am thinking of this as a utility function:  bringing electricity/water to rural areas) 3. What technologies will unleash classroom excellence? 

    4. How do we eliminate the boundaries of walls, bricks, mortar and time to support lifelong learning across the force (for our demographic to begin with)? 

    5. How do we shift from an Industrial Age frame of education to a Network-centric, connectivist frame? 

    (a short oversimplification and misstatement of Connectivism: the knowledge resides dynamically in the network, its participants and their connections, and has a shelf-life; the network adapts its tacit knowledge much more quickly than its explicit knowledge in response to an increasingly dynamic environment, and so we need nodes of cognitive excellence creating knowledge artifacts rigorously, but connection modes and tools that facilitate making the tacit knowledge explicit AND the ability to sense educational needs and assemble rapid response teams of connected nodes from across the network, etc) (I’ll develop this definition better later) 

    Useful metaphors:

    1. An “InstructorNet Mall” of available resources in one spot for instructors to meet their needs 

    2. A Google “Knowledge Map” of available content that’s searchable, zoom-able, and subscribe-able thru RSS so the network alerts you for items meeting your interests instead of waiting for you to craft a search every time you feel a conscious need. 

    3. The Amazon/EBay “smart network” that automates the search and recommend function based on stated interests AND by remembering searches & paths 

    4. Customer Service center for instructors seeking help 

    5. Tour guides/Marketing Aide to demonstrate “How to use these resources” 

    6. Magazine model of info mgt/distribution: a targeted demographic, whose readers shape the course of the magazine/tools (Dear Readers! We listened to you!)  Lean 6 Sigma techniques have a way of accomplishing this, and a partnership with an LSS project seems like a natural one 

    Other work to be done:

    1. Considering how we encourage/reward professional writing like lesson notes, course content, blog/wiki work that contributes to the practice of knowledge, in the same way we have tied promotion and retention to academic writing. 

    2. An FDP that incorporates more ideas related to “Master Classes in graduate teaching” on a regular basis. Some ideas include:

                    a. Group learning vs Team-Based learning.

                    b. RSS in the classroom (and blogs and wikis and podcasts…oh my)

                    c. Live dialogue mapping skills to frame group discussions better (Google “Compendium” for demonstrations)

                    d. How about giving Voice to faculty to let them nominate classes they want to receive, or challenges they face, and target the top vote getters? 

    3. An InstructorNet Mall should have a “store” that has searchable index of available, recorded FDPs with quick summaries of what’s available for the individual instructor looking to sharpen his practice. 

    4. UCTV (University of California “TV”) is a branded channel on YouTube with thousands of hours of content of their best instructors delivering on their best topics. 

                    a. Why don’t we have Geoff Babb’s China lectures recorded and available in a catalog of Quality? Or Chris Paparone giving his best pitch on technical rationality and ADCON? 

                    b. Why doesn’t the college actively seek and reward these mini-centers of excellence?  The Foundation should give cash awards to the mini-lecture each month that has the most (downloads x the highest quality rating) (like Guitar Player of the Year) 

                    c. MIT has put their entire curriculum online. We need to do a better job of finding the tacit expert knowledge and making it explicit. We have replaced the value of SME for an industrial Age approach to standardizing curriculum delivery around uniformity, discipline and control, at the expense of risk, artistry, and informed speculation (some evidence that is loosening up I assert, by looking at Dr Kem’s study group pilots, and Dr Paparone’s innovative use of the Blog of Log to engage student critical thinking and professional writing in the new milieu under control) 

                    d. The students should be able to give cash awards to their picks for instructor of the Section. Or POGs redeemable for valuable cash prizes at the PX. Or student nominations for Excellence in Innovation, or for Trying Really Hard Even Though The Experiment Blew Up In The Lab But Didn’t Hurt Anybody (the TRHETTEBUITLBDHA award) 

                    e. Students should be able to record a 20 second praise  for instructors or AAPs, filed by AAP and instructor to guide next cycles towards our real excellence, that is searchable only by students.  Need more emphasis on Rate Your Instructor mechanisms 

    5. I think we need a DDE rep on the team to assist the inquiry 

    6. I think the instructor needs survey is essential 

    7. I’d like to see a process map of instructors of all forms for CGSS: an operational graphic, who, where, what, and their AO and AI. We write curriculum for them in a vacuum; they have little to no voice in our design decision-making 

    8. The instructors need a persistent forum for nominating “the policy that most gets in the way of my effective teaching is…” with room for public, persistent dialogue, instead of periodically asking for feedback snippets that get lost in the OPTEMPO 

    9. Personal Learning Environments (PLE):

                    a. Officers and faculty should have a profile page in their Personal Learning Environment that identifies, in one place their research interests and their research offerings. 

                    b. It should have links to their writings on blogs, papers, wiki’s available, with their ability to make their writings public or private from their personal page. 

                    c. It should have an RSS aggregator/reader integrated that automates a wide daily search of the early bird, BCKS AKO, DKO, Joint knowledge online, Small Wars Journal; in fact a listing of highly recommended sources they can check off for inclusion in their search, with the list expanding as a function of the community-wide ratings hit a threshold. 

                    d. It should have a world class search engine that truly gives us ask once, search many capabilities; unlike AKO. All you need to know about AKO search is that when you search for “FM 3.0 download”, the first link is NOT to where you can download the manual. (I have a current screen capture, but don’t make me use evidence, because I will if pushed to the limit) 

                    e. The amount of information being added to the Web each day is so large that we cannot afford bad “Search” AND we cannot afford to wait for people TO SEARCH, especially since we can give them a Voice in creating their default, persistent, context sensitive, active search profile on a Personal Learning Environment 

    As part of the InstructorNet workgroup, I am focusing my personal efforts on:

    1. a short summary of various educational applications of wiki, blog, podcast, RSS with bibliography

    2. If I can find some practical details PLE (personal learning environment)info, I’ll do that as well

    3. Creating a departmental resource catalog to support the ideas noted above.

    4. Encourage the shift from Industrial Age to Network Age education

     

     

    Blogging for education: A Reflection on Ch 5, TRADOC Pam 525-3-7: The US Army Concept for the Human Dimension

    December 11, 2008 2 comments

    Chapter 5, TRADOC Pam 525-3-7: The US Army Concept for the Human Dimension in FSO addresses The Cognitive Component- Training and Educating Soldiers. Among many insights in the excellent discussion, is the challenge to find creative ways to leverage digital technology in support of educational aims, particularly with a Millenial generation that is adept with all things digital.

    Emerging from a discussion of the potential directions this blog may take are the following potential educational benefits with respect to furthering our appreciation for F100 and Army Change Management. Upon first review, all of these potentials seem suitable, feasible and acceptable to me (an important force management mental model for evaluating potential programs and/or changes) as we consider the T (Training) and L (Leadership) domains in the DOTMLPF construct (another important mental model for assessing and analyzing the magnitude and dimensions of change generated by a given proposal).

    In a roundtable discussion with a number of very experienced TASS Bn instructors (minimum 5 years on the platform), the use and applications for this blog were very favorably received. In fact they brainstormed a number of these ideas as we considered ways to help them in one of their most challenging instructional challenges: teaching force management amidst all their other requirements.

    and so, the first top 10 potentials for this blog: 

    1.      we might meet the stratcom requirement for blogging, article writing;  

    2.      we serve the educational objective of increasing the relevance of force mgt in our officers minds 

    3.      we create an educational resource that becomes available for follow on classes in our building 

    4.      we help the TASS Bns to tap into writings, essays, commentary, dialectic that helps them develop context and practical examples as they wrestle with a difficult subject matter that they are not expert in. Lets them connect their student questions with to evolving FAQ and the “mother ship” of F100 back here if needed. 

    5.      we create a resource that is available for reach back from officer graduates 

    6.      we ratchet up our learning (we are not starting each year at ground zero) 

    7.      we have a growing body of knowledge on force management practice (as opposed to formal theory and principles) that is found nowhere else on the web or in the world: force management for non-FA 50s

    8.      this may actually turn into an ST supplement or simply become the Student Text for F100, but a better version because it is digital, cheap, flexible, cheap, dynamic, indexed, searchable, dynamic, cheap, and available instantly to all classrooms.

    9.      We could be publishing 1-2 page practical summaries of the top 20 standards in support of our ELOs, which are even more succinct “need to know” takeaways than those found in the force management primers (which are geared to FA 50 and go much deeper than we need or can apply in most cases)

    10.  We provide a venue for more professional writing from both faculty and officer students. Example: ie the satellites, with their wealth of FA 50 and slightly different demographic might be able to apply the knowledge, experience and wisdom of their student writings and faculty expertise to drive us higher

    11.  etc (must leave some room for others)

    A reflection on Action Research in education (an inquiry in progress)

    December 11, 2008 1 comment

    As part of my doctoral research at Colorado Tech, I am engaged in a prototype Action Research inquiry into our change managemnet curriculum. One of the outcomes of the preliminary rounds of action-feedback-reflection-planning, was the establishment of a blog that would serve multiple purposes in connecting various stakeholder groups and their needs to an emerging community of practice.  here are my more detailed notes on how that’s been going so far.

     

    Discussion:

    Discussion:

    Here is one of the positive consequences of our project already. It emerged from stakeholder discussions that we needed ways of expanding the resource base for our curriculum and to have outreach to graduates and the wider professional community.   Our students wanted a place to discuss with people from other classes. Our instructors wanted access to readings, ideas and discussions to supplement our formal readings and to help keep the discussions fresh. Instructors at  remote sites across the country needed a way to get immediately connected with the most current thinking and issues in an area where they are almost never professional experts. So, after some collective brainstorming, we established a blog on our command homepage as a way to meet those desires. 

    Our faculty technicians agreed to help me “seed” the blog with some started essays that are representative of the kinds of things we are looking for (blogging by example), and the text below is the first “roll-out” announcement letting the wider community know we are open for business at the Blog of Log.   

    Initial results: we are already getting over 100 hits a day, and have generated some student questions. I used the blog as a resource in the classroom in a recent faculty certification course to provide a rapid reading and an experiential learning moment. I had a requirement to demonstrate my technique in a 30 minute class (so that i can be certified to teach for another 5 years without supervision). Since I had as my “students”,  many remote site faculty present for their certification,  I turned it into a mini-cooperative inquiry to solicit their stated needs and goals as instructors of our lessons back at their home station. We hit it out of the park, and they are prepared to use the blog in their classroom, and as a portal to connect to the “mother ship” of force management curriculum theory and practice at our college.

    The project is already past the tipping point and has unstoppable momentum. Pandora has opened the box and now we shall learn what that means on down the road. 

    Below is the text of the Blog of Log “rollout” announcement

    ===================================================

     

    At the CAC Blog homepage, you will find  the bright, shiny, new “The Blog of Log”   (tell your friends).  http://usacac.leavenworth.army.mil/BLOG/blogs/dlro/default.aspx

     

    Our  initial stated purpose:

     

                                    The Department of Logistics and Resource operations is the proponent at CGSC for F100, currently an 18 hour block of instruction that examines DoD and Army Force Management.  It is typically seen as one of the most technical, challenging and difficult of the blocks in the Core Curriculum because officers have not seen their connection to the process so far in their career in the Operating Force. We want to make the case that at the field grade level, a professional understanding of how your organization creates an Army, and performs all of the critical Title 10 functions is a necessary part of your education. The initial purpose of this blog is to help you make the connection between your personal experiences with  Army change in the field and the operating principles of the Generating Force. We are open to the possibility of the blog going wherever it needs to go to improve the relevance and your understanding of this important mission area.

     

    Bottom line? We are looking for ways to help our officers see the value and relevance of force management now, while they are here, rather than 1-2 years from now when they typically realize why we include force management in the course.  This blog can serve as an important resource for classroom prep and professional discussion that goes beyond the boundaries of the classroom walls.

     

    Some highlights already:

     

    With a new administration, ‘tis the season” for significant security and defense policy recommendations, and we have a number of short essays on the topic including:

     

    A reflection on the Army’s first serious consideration of going to a Brigade based Army  in 1995-1996, and the insider politics that led to a retaining the Division-centric structure.  A conservative decision at the time, it drove us to making extraordinary force structure changes in the middle of a war, forced by OPTEMPO considerations to re-organize in the middle of a fire fight.

    http://usacac.leavenworth.army.mil/BLOG/blogs/dlro/archive/2008/11/24/a-reflection-on-army-force-structure-decision-making-from-1995-1996-passing-on-the-bct-based-army.aspx

     

    In  The Fallacy of Technical Rationality , Dr Chris Paparone discusses the conceptual issues that are inevitable based on the use of  our rational, analytic planning model, which values certainty and control, in an complex, adaptive system.  He argues that the mismatch between the situation and our response will reliably generate problems in the future. http://usacac.leavenworth.army.mil/BLOG/blogs/dlro/archive/2008/12/05/the-fallacy-of-technical-rationality.aspx

     

    The most recent posting comes from MAJ Eric Hollister who examines the strategy and force structure recommendations of Andrew Krepinovich. His essay is a model of analysis and thoughtful critical thinking, as he itemizes a number of serious shortcomings and disconnects in Krepinovich’s reasoning. His essay is at: http://usacac.leavenworth.army.mil/BLOG/blogs/dlro/archive/2008/12/11/flaws-in-csba-report-quot-an-army-at-the-crossroads-quot.aspx