What is a Collaboratory?

I am currently teaching online courses in graduate programs (M.Ed. and Ed.D programs) that use the term “collaboratory” in the course title.   The term collaboratory is considered a combination of the terms collaboration and laboratory (Lunsford & Bruce, 2001; Wulf, 1993). The courses use a collaboratory approach and learning spaces to support graduate students examine their practice and learning from engaging in meaningful inquiry in the field.

Students in these courses are generally full-time professionals completing graduate programs and are grouped into cohorts or class groupings based on their specializations.  As such, the Collaboratory of Practice courses were designed to support the application of knowledge in real world settings by graduate students in cohorts who investigate and learn from inquiry in the field and examine problems of practice in their workplace or related to their professional work using various research methods and a collaboratory approach.

The collaboratory approach is also considered a fusion of two important developments in contemporary research: communities of practice and collaboration.  Communities of practice are groups of people (in this case cohorts based on specializations) who deepen their knowledge and expertise in an area by engaging in active inquiry.  A collaboratory can also be considered a learning space or laboratory for learning and collaboration.  In this collaborative virtual environment, scholars work together and learn alongside peers in their cohort.  Since students move through many courses with a similar cohort, they develop relationships with cohort members and can build trusting and collaborative relationships.

One strategy used by instructors to help students accomplish work in the course both individually and in collaboration with peers is to organize small groups (~5 members) within the cohort into studio groups (Grego & Thompson, 2008).  Studio groups provide students with an opportunity to collaborate with peers in a writing and sharing space for collaborative knowledge building and idea improvement.  Various online services can be used to support studio group collaboration including threaded discussion forums, shared documents (i.e. Google Docs, presentations, etc.), virtual meeting spaces (i.e. Adobe Connect, Skype, Hangouts, etc.) and other collaborative online spaces. The collaboratory approach and learning spaces used in the Collaboratory of Practice courses serve as a source of active inquiry and learning, an opportunity to respond to contextually based problems of practice, and an opportunity to take an inquiry stance in the company of peers.

Copy of slides from the session “What is a Collaboratory” for EdD graduate students on July 9, 2015 presented with Dr. Brenda Spencer – EdD Collab Lunch Session_Slides

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Advice for Online Learners

I recently asked for contributions to my answer garden to help collect ideas about online learning and to build a word cloud.  The question: What advice would you provide online learners in order to experience success?  Using Twitter and Remind, I invited colleagues to add their ideas to this collaborative answer garden. You can view the contributions at – http:http://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadshttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadsanswergarden.chhttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadsviewhttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploads173871

Similar to other word cloud applications, repeating words or phrases increases the font size. You are invited to add more wordshttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadsphrases keeping within the 40 character limit or go ahead and create your own answer garden.

 

Facilitating Online Courses

The Teaching Assistantship Preparation Program (TAPP) is designed to provide educational development for graduate students about the role and responsibilities of the work as a graduate assistant in teaching.

I was invited by the Office of Teaching and Learning to lead a session for TAPP on Wednesday, February 25th from 11 a.m. to noon. The session will focus on how to facilitate online courses. Topics in the session include instructional design, synchronous and asynchronous communications, tools for student interactivity, cultivating a scholarly community of inquiry, organizing online spaces, developing instructor presence, and formative assessment strategies.

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Understanding Plagiarism and Intellectual Honesty

Writers are expected to cite sources and provide accurate references when taking ideas, information or words from other sources including their own work developed during other course work. In simple terms, presenting others’ work as your own or resubmitting an entire work that you previously created for another course is considered plagiarism and this is a serious academic offence.  

An important habit in academic writing is to write using your own words and to provide proper attribution for all sources used. Published or unpublished sources (i.e. letters, email or memos, course papers – including your own previous papers), in print, online or other communication form (i.e. online reports, news media, blogs, forums, dialogue) all require proper attribution. Belcher (2009) lists the following basic rules to avoid plagiarism of ideas, information or words:

  • Never take another’s entire article (published or unpublished) and represent it as your own.
  • Never take an entire article and vary every fourth or fifth word and claim it as your own.
  • Never take an entire article and follow the structure and argument of the piece, exactly paralleling the author’s train of thought but not quite in his or her language.
  • Never take an article, translate it into another language, and claim it as your own.
  • Never lift a page or section word for word from another’s piece and place it in your own.
  • Never lift various paragraphs word for word from another piece and sprinkle them throughout your own.
  • Never lift a paragraph or a sentence word for word from another’s piece and place it in your own unless you put quote marks around it and add a citation to the original. (p. 161)

    Other academic writing tips I recommend to students:

    • Paragraphs should generally begin and end with sentences composed with your own words providing the argument or summary of ideas. In other words, it is important to make your point (i.e. topichttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadssummary sentences) using your own words and not using direct quotes from other sources.
    • Use sources to support your point in the middle parts of a paragraph.
    • In some cases it is meaningful to add a direct quote – the exact words used by an author in quotation marks. In this case, it is advised to follow the American Psychological Association (APA) suggestions for a maximum length for the number of words from a single text extract.  According to APA you can use fewer than 400 words from one text or article or a series of text extracts fewer than 800 words (2010, p. 173). However, a general rule of thumb is to use direct quotations sparingly and only when the wording is really strong and the meaning would be lost if you paraphrase it into your own words.  As much as possible, try to summarize what the author is saying in your own words, and then cite the source including the page number to help you locate the text if needed at a later time.
    • Check that all your sources are cited and quotation marks surround the borrowed words.
    • Avoid following the original text too closely when paraphrasing as this might be considered parallel structure.
    • Borrowed words generally stand out to the reader and seem inconsistent with the writer’s style or may seem incoherent when lifted and placed in your work.   So, continually review and revise your work to improve clarity and make sure you are using your own voice.
    • Use secondary sources sparingly. If an author references another source, it is important you locate and review the original source if needed for a citation. Do not rely on other authors’ citations, as there could be an error in the citation or reference. If the original text is not retrievable then cite as a secondary source (as cited in) only if the citation is critical to your work and another appropriate source is not available.
    • Appropriately cite any work you (individually or in a group) wrotehttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadssubmitted in another course to avoid self-plagiarism. The APA suggests, “author’s words that are cited should be located in a single paragraph or a few paragraphs, with a citation at the end of each. Opening such paragraphs with a phrase like, ‘as I have previously discussed’ will also alert readers to the status of the upcoming material” (APA, 2010, p. 16). In other words, you could start a particular section by stating, “the following content was previously written for a paper for …course work” or “ideas from a previously written paper [give title of work] have been incorporated in the following section.”  Also include the reference to your work in the reference section of your paper. If using more than a few paragraphs from a previous paper, then consult with your instructor.
    • Crosscheck all your in-text citations with your reference list for accuracy.

      Let me know if you have additional sources or tips that you recommend.

      References:

      American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

      Belcher, W. L. (2009). Writing your journal article in 12 weeks: A guide to academic publishing success. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

#oclmooc presentation

I was invited to share a presentation with http:http://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadshttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploadsoclmooc.wordpress.comhttp://www.drbarbbrown.com/wp-content/uploads the oclmooc group this week. According to their website #oclmooc is an “open and connected learning Mooc” and a “hybrid between a course and community” aiming to:

– share ideas and best practices for learning in an open online environment

– connect with learners from Alberta (and around the globe)

– share ideas, tools and supports related to connected and open learning

– model free and open learning for everyone and anyone who wants to learn.

Since I couldn’t join for a webinar during the scheduled time for presentations, I offered to create a video presentation that could be shared with the #oclmooc community. One of the co-consipirators or volunteers involved in organizing and inspiring community members, @EHordyskiLuong kindly joined me when I recorded the video presentation.

 

Here’s the presentation I shared: