The highly flexible nature of the internet means that websites appear and disappear every day. Thanks to Donald MacLean for reminding me that another currently popular university-managed site containing useful resources for prospective PhD students is http://cloudworks.ac.uk/
This is a freely-available, open-access site, although you will need to register to obtain access. Once you have entered the site, search for “PhD” to find a link to “research skills required by PhD students”. The supporting text has short articles on a wide range of issues such as what is meant by ‘critical thinking’, how to select and justify your research methods, and tips on how to organise and present your work so that other people can appreciate your work.
Like all of these sites, this one will not answer all of your questions, but it does contain different perspectives and useful information from people who have a lot of experience. When you are just starting out on your PhD research, not all of this advice will seem equally relevant. It makes good sense, however, to familiarise yourself with the variety of information on the site, and bookmark the URL, because you might want to return to these topics later in your studies as these issues take on a new relevance. This advice also applies to the supervisor, because you might wish to direct your student to read the advice which will reinforce (or give a different perspective to) guidance that you give to students in tutorial sessions.
This shoebox arrived in the post today. It is the creation of one of my technical colleagues. It contains everything needed to record video and audio that can be use as additional digital learning resources to accompany an e-textbook that we are working on. There is a compact video camera, audio recording gear, guerilla tripod, cables, instructions, and spare batteries – all in robust snap-lock boxes. The idea is that the shoebox will tour the colleges and the participants will self-record their contributions, which we will later edit and add the clips to a companion website to supplement the e-book. We are trying to streamline the recording process so that we can easily produce high-quality digital resources to augment text and other learning resources for a wide range of subjects. We will document the process so that others can learn from our experiences.
Like many regular users of web technology, I get a lot of new software and apps sent to me, or recommended, for me to try out. Mostly these are designed to ‘make life easier’, some are primarily for fun. While I am in favour of both of these aims, many of the new applications do neither. One I discovered yesterday, however, is worth passing on – Tom’s Planner http://www.tomsplanner.com/software/project-planning/tour.aspx is a very simply tool that allows you to create your own Gantt Chart as a project planning aid. Like many people who have played around with other project planning software, I found that there is often a tendency to get TOO fancy, add one too many icon or feature – but Tom’s Planner is really simple, intuitive, and useful. The plan can be created very quickly and can be shared with project colleagues. It is also free for personal use. Worth passing on!
One of the things that I really like about publishing in online, open-access journals is that the time between writing the piece and it appearing before the readers can be incredibly short. An article just out on “Two models for sharing digital open educational resources” http://jpaap.napier.ac.uk/index.php/JPAAP/article/view/108 took less than three months from first submission, through peer-reviewing, responses, proof-reading etc to the final appearance of the article. (The full-text is available in multiple formats in the links at the bottom of the abstract). This is exactly what the authors wish to see happening – to get their ideas out in front of an interested readership while the ideas are still fresh. A previous paper of mine a few years ago took almost three years from the time I submitted it until it appeared in print format, by which time even I waned in interest. I think the combination of computer automation of the submission process, together with crowd-sharing the detailed work of reviewing, proof-reading and so on, has got to be the model for the future. I get increasingly frustrated to chase-up an interesting-looking reference only to find that I am expected to pay to view it. Usually I do not! (I can probably obtain it through the UHI online journals library, but that really does not serve the wider public who have educational needs and no access to fire-walled libraries). The open way has got to be the way of the future!
I was at an interesting meeting in Edinburgh at the end of last week to participate in the Steering Group for a new initiative on open educational practices in Scotland. The project is a three-year initiative led by the Open University in Scotland, but includes representatives from other Scottish universities. It is intended to work across the whole Further and Higher Education sector in Scotland and try to harmonise approaches and resources for open education. The new web site at http://www.oepscotland.org will be developed and improved as the project picks up a head of steam (or is that a completely outdated metaphor?) 🙂 The idea is to help build a consistent national approach to the use, availability, and development of open resources for education in Scotland, and to project this work in Scotland onto a world stage. It is good to be involved in a project with such huge potential and vision.
A new blog site has been started to disseminate information on the Open Educational Practices in Scotland initiative – http://oepscotland.org/ which aims to link OER activity and practices across all of the Higher Educational establishments in Scotland.
It’s always good to see some of your writing come out in print – or published on the web – and the latest addition is no exception. With a colleague, I have tried to describe and look critically at the pro’s and con’s of two different models for making digital educational resources more easily available to learners. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in this comparison – just a thoughtful look at the options. I would be interested in getting any comments on these, or other, models… See http://jpaap.napier.ac.uk/index.php/JPAAP/article/view/108/pdf