[Publication] Collaborative Learning in Media Education

I have a chapter published in this book – just out:


Marcus Leaning (eds), 2015. Collaborative Learning in Media Education. Santa Rosa: Informing Science Press. ISBN: 9781932886931

Collaborative learning is a key pedagogic activity in many media education programmes in schools colleges and universities worldwide.  When well executed, collaborative work enables students to learn much from each other and gain valuable experience of working in concert – a skill central to contemporary work practices in many media industries. Moreover, many media educators argue educational practices and approaches should evolve and shift better to suit the networked nature of contemporary media and collaborative learning activities can be facilitated and enhanced by the use of social media.

This volume brings together chapters from leading researchers and academics in institutions across the UK. Comprising of eight chapters that explore issues such as the theoretical background of collaborative learning, the issues involved in using social media technologies for collaboration, using wiki pages for learning and distributed collaborative learning in rural locations.

Purchase book, or see my chapter here.


Introduction:   Collaborative Learning in Higher Education Media Education Programmes

                        Marcus Leaning

Section 1      Thinking Collaboratively

Chapter 1:        Framing Collaboration in Media Education

Marcus Leaning

Chapter 2:        Programming Collaborative Leaning

Bex Lewis

Chapter 3:        Exploring the Use of Collaborative Learning in an Experientially Designed Student Undergraduate Programme: A Case Study

Melanie Gray

Section 2      Social Media Technologies and Collaboration

Chapter 4:        Empowering the Learner, Liberating the Teacher? Collaborative Lectures Using New Technologies

Dan Jackson and Richard Berger

Chapter 5:        Student Wiki Pages: Online Collaboration in a Networked Learning Environment

Einar Thorsen

Chapter 6:        Structures for Digital Collaboration and Interaction

Lisa Stansbie

Section 3      Collaboration In and Out of the Classroom

Chapter 7:        Stories & Streams: A Problem-Based Design for Student-Led Collaboration and Peer-to-Peer Teaching Across Media Practice Modules
Paul Bradshaw, Jonathan Hickman and Jennifer Jones

Chapter 8:        University of the Village
Jem Mackay and Karl Phillips


                        Author Affiliation


Index              …….

30 tips for successful academic research and writing

Deborah-Lupton-2Helpful blog here re: choosing your research:

As part of preparing for a workshop on academic publishing for early career academics, I jotted down some ideas and tips to share with the group which I thought I would post here. In the process of writing 12 books and over 110 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters over a career which has mostly been part-time because of juggling the demands of motherhood with academic work, I have developed some approaches that seem to work well for me.

These tips are in no particular order, apart from number 1, which I consider to be the most important of all:

  1. Choose something to research/write about that you are passionately interested in. I find that most of my research and writing tends to spring from wanting to find out more or understand more about a particular phenomenon that intrigues me. In explaining it to myself I end up explaining it to others, hopefully in a new and interesting way that is worthy of publication.

Read full post on LSE site.

Reframe: Research in Media, Film and Music (@_REFRAME)


This looks interesting:

REFRAME aims to offer a range of scholarly and related creative and critical content – from relatively ephemeral or responsive forms of research output (project blogs, online film and video festivals, conferences and symposia, and audio and video podcasts) through to fully peer-reviewed online serials and monographic publications, and digital archives and assemblages.

They’ve just published The Tablet Book, developed from a 2013 symposium which was responding to media reports that 2013 was ‘the year of the tablet’. Available open-access.

Fears for the Humanities in British Universities.


Interesting article in the Guardian this weekend – always lots to think about when we think about the purpose of the humanities and/or the way it is funded:

Currently fixed in the crosshairs are the disciplines of the humanities – arts, languages and social sciences – which have suffered swingeing funding cuts and been ignored by a government bent on promoting the modish, revenue-generating Stem (science, technology, engineering, maths) subjects. The liberal education which seeks to provide students with more than mere professional qualifications appears to be dying a slow and painful death, overseen by a whole cadre of what cultural anthropologist David Graeber calls “bullshit jobs”: bureaucrats hired to manage the transformation of universities from centres of learning to profit centres. As one academic put it to me: “Every dean needs his vice-dean and sub-dean and each of them needs a management team, secretaries, admin staff; all of them only there to make it harder for us to teach, to research, to carry out the most basic functions of our jobs.” The humanities, whose products are necessarily less tangible and effable than their science and engineering peers (and less readily yoked to the needs of the corporate world) have been an easy target for this sprawling new management class.

Read full article.

CODEC BOOK CLUB: How We Think by Katherine Hayles

Reblogging from the CODEC blog, posted earlier today:

Thow-we-thinkhis week the CODEC team focused upon the third chapter of Katherine Hayle’s How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis (University of Chicago Press, 2012). The third chapter focuses upon ‘How We Read: Close, Hyper, Machine’, and certainly gave us lots to chew on.

Initial comments were that we liked what was written, but found the emphasis on all the negative reports about digital as frustrating. An oft heard argument is that our reading is worse ‘because of digital things’, and some members of the team felt that there were broader cultural factors at work rather than solely technological factors. There was agreement that the forms of technology may be changing the manner of reading, as we referring to the ‘F-Shaped Pattern for Reading Web Content’, noting that the further a user scolls, the more eye attention tends to drop off. On p.66, Hayles noted that “Canny web designers use this information to craft web pages, and reading such web pages further intensifies this mode of reading” – so in a self-reinforcing manner, as this form of reading becomes common, more people write for it, so it becomes more common.

There was a short debate re p55, that people “are doing more screen reading of digital materials than ever before”, referring to other kinds of screen reading such as OHP, reel-to-reel cinema, and microfiche, but these were largely seen as recent forerunners of ‘screen’. Debating the etymology of the word ‘screen’, we wondered when/how it stopped being a word that stopped a user being burnt by fire, and became something projected upon a screen. Was it the safety screen at the theatre? We noted that many words for technology come from the analogue world, and referred to an earlier conversation that day in which CODEC prepares to run the worship for Cranmer Hall later this month, that we a) didn’t want it to be a service of gimmicks (the technology serving the theology and not vice versa) and b) did not want the experience to be too far from the established format for the service (otherwise risking being seen as irrelevant). We wondered if screen was a printing technology term, as it certainly still uses a lot of the structure of print.

On p78, Hayles referred to Wordle as a form of machine reading. We debated whether Wordle’s are machine reading, or whether it is a visual method that provides visual data, offering insights into e.g. frequency rather than tone. The @bigbible’s Tumblr, which takes each chapter of the Bible and represents it visually, has received feedback that it gives new insights into reading the Bible, and others that it is not the Bible, and shouldn’t be interpreted as such. We then questioned how often we use these kind of tools in our everyday theological reflection, rather than as ‘something special’, and if they are ‘tools of our time’, whether we should be using them more to be relevant for our culture. If we read faster, is it necessarily distracted reading. Is this a different way of reading – this is part of what the chapter seeks to address. Are the programmes that exist signposts of the digital age? Why did someone create a programme that allows text to be grouped like Wordle? Was it for fun, or was culture changing and this was something produced as a response? Are they beneficial, and do they help us?

With Pete having recently been to an event on DarkNet, we turned to looking at recent events in which GCHQ and NSA have been identified as downloading emails. They indicate that they are not reading them, but just storing them. The machine ‘reads’ those emails, and algorithms will have been set up in which keywords identified with particular terrorist activities will send up a red flag. A level of human reading is then required to contextualise that email to identify if it is a threat or not. Surveillance and machine reading aren’t an either/or, they are different and complementary. Machine reading gets through vast amounts of data, close reading gives deeper insights into human intricacies.

Josh referred to the classic ‘How to a read a book’ as we questioned whether hyper-reading is something particularly digital, or whether it is in fact a very familiar form of reading to academics, particularly those who need to get through a large volume of data. Bex noted that her PhD, focused on 20th century history, required hyper-reading of vast quantities of data, whereas earlier periods of history have to work with sparse sets of data. She noted that when she started her PhD, the Public Record Office (now the National Archive) used paper-based indexing systems, whereas part-way through it converted to digital indexing. We concluded this hadn’t specifically changed the way she read, but allowed easier access of (even more) material.

As we return to notions of what machine reading is, we referred to the fact that CPUs don’t currently match human brain-power, but there is an expectation that in 15-20 years it will do. As we listened to some computer-reading, we questioned what the loss of intonation changes. We got involved in a debate about as to in what sense does a machine understand something? Can it close read and “understand”, or does it have to work within the limits of the fact that it is programmed by humans? Speech recognition software, what is it set up to recognise? Does Siri work in understanding meaning? Are we born tabula rasa, and how do we learn language – can a computer do the same? We are typically limited in thinking about the machines on our desk, but we need to think about bigger systems such as Watson, what do they understand? Do they just understand what they are told to understand, or can the AI take over and self-learn? What about the film Robot & Frank, in which a human-computer relationship developed – until the computer was rebooted? How AI already become scary? The computer is still asking one question, but is learning more efficient ways of gathering that data. How do SatNavs use data to produce a coherent narrative? AIs typically question if something is good/bad, now starting to question ethical decisions or say “I don’t know”: they are moving beyond cognitive binary decisions.

Earlier that morning, a story had circulated that “teens who use screens more sleep less”, which Bex – drawing on her book – and the fact that she grew up screen free, but stayed up late reading books – whether all the variables had been considered, and whether it was the screen, or the staying up late that was the problem (acknowledging that the issue of Melatonin changing body clocks has been well researched) – see this opposing view article last year. Is there a difference between staying up to read a print book, in which case you will be tired, or if reading a screen, will the body-clock have been fooled into thinking that it is daytime, and be impacted in other ways? Have we changed our behaviours in many ways because technology is available, but also to make technology more workable? The world has become technologized so that we can get more out of the workers, and we think we can cope with this, but we have seen that songbirds are being negatively affected by a 24/7 lifestyle. Some bloggers have referred to the invention of the lightbulb (rather than the screen) as disrupting our sleep patterns, but we can see further back that activities continued with candles/firelight.

For all the reflection there is on technology, is part of the role of digital theology to try and get a birdseye view of the situation? There’s no sign of it slowing it down, what is the harm that we may do if we are not aware of the affordances and constraints of digital technology (in a similar way to the way that smoking was publicised as healthy)? Do we need to look more deeply, think about what we have been ‘forced’ to do, where we have choices, and how much information we need to make decisions (and where the information comes from to inform those decisions). Are our brains being rewired, and is that a problem is so? Where are the positives – for example, with mobile devices, typically people are reading significantly more as are not tied to a desk top machine.

With the book now three years since publication, does this well-written text already feel a little old fashioned? If we look at efferent/aesthetic readings, are there more modern ways of approaching this? Are questions in the digital realm moving so fast that we need to be focusing on on-going technical reports, rather than books?

Dr Bex Lewis, Research Fellow in Social Media and Online Learning

Professor Katherine Hayles is IAS Fellow at St Mary’s College, Durham University (January – March 2015) 


“Good Works” = “Academic Citizenship”


The realities of academic life – more than research and teaching … and incredibly difficult with short-term funding/contracts

For Mary Evans, centennial professor at LSE’s Gender Institute, the rewards of fully engaging in these diverse areas of academic life have been personal and political. “For many women of my generation it was very important to construct networks within the academy, hence motivation for ‘citizenship’ was very much about establishing a ‘voice’,” she says, adding that “building friendships through work as a ‘citizen’ is a huge help in limiting that sense of isolation that is part and parcel of being an academic”.

Susan Bassnett, professor of comparative literature at the University of Warwick, outlines her “citizenship” workload in the first half of 2015: “I have three PhDs to examine, only one in the UK; an appointing committee overseas; three meetings of projects on whose advisory board I serve; two plenary lectures abroad and a week-long workshop in Italy; plus reviewing for journals, funding bodies, references, etc.”

Read full article.