No pressure.

This week’s class is meant to play off of the Shark Tank show without the sharks. The idea is to bring to class a panel of scholars who have experience in writing, or advising writing theses or in doing research who want to offer help to make the Kean Students “float” (not sink) in the Thesis Tank.

This will happen during class this week, Thursday October 19 at 4:30pm ET (check for your local time).

For the five Kean students, be ready with:

  • A blog post with a current summary of your project (published by end of midnight Wednesday), the latest version of your One Pager that can explain it now for someone who has not heard about your project before. You can use hyperlinks to link to definitions, background information. Feel free to append with questions, unknowns, things you seek help with.
  • A three minute “pitch” version a high level summary you will bring to the panel during class.
  • An open mind this is not a performance but a chance to get help from other experts!

Each student gets 15 minutes in the tank; 3 for their pitch and 12 for panel feedback. Other students can help by searching and tweeting links for any resources the panel mentions.

Here are their “state of the thesis” blog posts:

The panelist include as of now (information will be updated as panelists respond to my email cough cough ahem). They are nice.

  • Catherine Cronin (National University of Ireland, Galway) Open educator & (nearly-done!) PhD researcher •
    • Thesis Strengths: “I’m immersed in research at the moment (!), planning to submit my PhD dissertation on 30th November. Prior to that I taught and advised on Masters programmes for many years. I am happy to advise/support/discuss choosing and honing a research question, using qualitative methodologies (for my PhD research I used constructivist grounded theory), and the thesis writing process in general — particularly the affective, emotional side. “
    • Bio: “Hi all… my work focuses on open education, critical approaches to openness, digital identity practices, and exploring the interplay between formal and informal learning. I’m currently working towards a PhD exploring the use of open educational practices (OEP) in higher education. My academic background is varied, including a B.Sc. Mechanical Engineering, M.Eng. Systems Engineering, and M.A. Women’s Studies (Gender & Technology). I’ve been involved in teaching, research and advocacy in higher education and in the community for over 25 years and often facilitate workshops on digital identity, digital literacies, and open education for educators and learners in different settings.”
  • Christina Cantrill (National Writing Project) Associate Director, National Writing Project •
    • Thesis Strengths: “Connected learning, production centered learning and teaching, practitioner/teacher research, writing, change theory, a overall focus and commitment to joy in learning and teaching”
    • Bio: “Christina has been working alongside writing project educators since the early 90s, exploring the emerging possibilities of the Internet and networked technology. Christina leads national digital media and connected learning programming and the NWP Educator Innovator Initiative and brings a background in curriculum studies as well as participatory arts practice. She was the former chair at Spiral Q Puppet Theater, a community-based social justice organization based in Philadelphia, and is currently teaches in the Connected Learning Certificate program at Arcadia University.”
  • Rolin Moe (Seattle Pacific University) Director of Academic Innovation; Assistant Professor •
    • Thesis Strengths: “When I am not administrating or innovating, I teach research methods and study critical components of education. My career prior to education was as a literary agent for television writers.”
    • Bio: “Rolin’s 15+ years of working with formal, informal and non-formal learning institutions have focused on empowering all members of the community to engage teaching and learning. In formal education settings, Rolin works across the space to conceptualize, design, implement and assess learning environments and models. Outside of formal education, Rolin celebrates the ‘gap’ between artifact design and learning assessment, at organizations such as the Museum of Modern Art, LinkedIn, and the nonpartisan Annenberg Learning Center at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.”
  • Mia Zamora (Kean University, currently Fulbright at University of Bergen) Associate Professor of English, Director of MA in Writing Studies •
  • Kate Bowles (University of Wollongong) Associate Dean International •
    • Thesis Strengths: “I’m an experienced thesis advisor, constantly awed by what I learn from what other people want to think about intensively. At the moment, I’m working with research students on creative entrepreneurism, corporate social media policies, nerd culture, documentary photography, and dementia experience. What I learn from this is that whatever you want to communicate, good structure is a help. Curiosity will help you do research, but narrative will help you communicate it to others. And writing is always hard, but there are days when it genuinely is a joy.”
    • Bio: “I’m currently Associate Dean International for a small Faculty including law, humanities and creative arts disciplines, and I teach narrative practices and research methods (mostly qualitative) to students in the discipline group of media & communication studies. Before this I was the Head of Education Design at the same university, and before that I worked in large project teams trying to figure out how to understand the social life of historic cinema audiences. My current research puzzle is in designing a project to help health care providers better understand how patients and their families use everyday small stories to navigate through complex hospital systems.”
  • Laura Gogia (Principal of Bandwidth Strategies) •
  • Luke Waltzer (The Graduate Center, CUNY) Director, Teaching and Learning Center, •

Beyond the Tank: The Bellows

Animated GIF by Anchorpoint

Our guest last week, Barbara Ganley, offered a beautiful metaphor of this part of your research process- the bellows. You should be looking broadly in your research and also working to narrow your focus. It will be back and forth for a while.

Here are a few suggestions for strategies during this phase (thanks Mia Zamora for these)

How to Read a Book by Michael Newman

Reading Strategy: A List for Auntie Mame and Reading Strategy: Annotations by Beck Tench

Get Back in Slack

Remember our Slack? This is a networked research tool as well, an open discussion space for our class as well as the ones Mia Zamora is teaching in Norway. Our research topics are diverging, but there is still a benefit in sharing resources, asking/answering questions, or just venting.

For this week, review and add any relevant web resources you think would help others to our #weblinks channel. Most of the ones there I have set up to cross post from my pinboard resnetsem bookmarks

And pop into the #researchmethods channel to discuss or ask for help with planning the research angle of your thesis, even if it is finding the focus.

New Tool: Draftback

After some discussion with students working on their one pager as Google Docs, I wanted to remind, if you do not know, that every edit and change is available as a different version of your file. Just look under File -> Version History

See the version history of any Google doc

But wait, there is more! Check out the Google Chrome extension Draftback. If you like knowing the story behind this, see James Somers description of How I Reverse Engineered Google Docs To Play Back Any Document’s Keystrokes

If you’ve ever typed anything into a Google Doc, you can now play it back as if it were a movie — like traveling through time to look over your own shoulder as you write.

This is possible because every document written in Google Docs since about May 2010 has a revision history that tracks every change, by every user, with timestamps accurate to the microsecond; these histories are available to anyone with “Edit” permissions; and I have written a piece of software that can find, decode, and rebuild the history for any given document.

And more…

I’ve long been obsessed by what you might call the “archaeology” of writing: how something like John McPhee’s profile of Bill Bradley (A Sense of Where You Are), or T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, comes to be.

But what if you could actually see these guys at work? Isn’t it a shame you can’t?

I worry that most people aren’t as good writers as they should be. One thing is that they just don’t write enough. Another is that they don’t realize it’s supposed to be hard; they think that good writers are talented, when the truth is that good writers get good the way good programmers get good, the way good anythings get good: by running into the spike. Maybe folks would understand that better if they had vivid evidence that a good writer actually spends most of his time fighting himself.

That’s why I wanted something like Draftback. I had this image I just couldn’t shake: you’d get someone whose writing is accessible, concise, uncontroversial, well-styled, and, above all, quintessentially writing: i.e., someone who’s writing in a form where the writing is what there is, where the job isn’t to report but rather to put into words what we would think if only we had their critical equipment and verbal range… someone like A.O. Scott, who reviews movies for the New York Times and does such a good job of it that sometimes I’ll watch a movie just so I can read his review.

So imagine as you rework this one pager, or your entire thesis, if you can also create a record of what that writing process looked like and how it played out over time? You do not have to even do anything special, just write in Google Docs.

To see an document’s playback install the Draftback extension in a Google Chrome Browser, navigate to your doucment, and click the Draftback button in the top right.

Got GIF?

Hopefully you like knowing and researching things!

Featured Image: A mockup of the image for the Shark Tank show without any sharks, and an overlay of an icon I cannot seem to find again. The font is Popular Std. Oh well. It’s in the service of parody.