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CAISE Inquiry Group - Discussion 2 by marti

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About This Gigapan

Taken by
marti marti
Explore score
0.14 Gigapixels
Date added
May 09, 2008
Date taken
May 08, 2008

On May 6-7, 2008 UPCLOSE ran a two-day CAISE Inquiry Group on the topic of how to conceptualize and evaluate successful professional online learning communities, especially those serving the multidisciplinary field of informal science education (ISE).
A second goal was to exercise the new NSF/ISE guidelines for "Evaluating Impacts of Informal Science Projects" www.informalscience.org/research/show/3643 Will open in a new tab or window by putting the Framework into practice with example research designs, instruments and metrics to assess the impact of recently funded professional online communities like InformalScience.org Will open in a new tab or window and InSci.org Will open in a new tab or window and ExhibitFiles.org Will open in a new tab or window
This gigapan documents the discussion artifacts from BREAKOUT SESSION TWO which explored the appropriateness of the new Evaluation Guidelines for professional online community projects.

See snapshots for more details.

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Gigapan Comments (1)

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  1. marti

    marti (March 10, 2009, 12:45PM )

    Participant Notes: Focus (of ISE NSF-funded proposals) shifts from User Needs --> Project Impacts How to build a proposal or a specific research project with measurable impacts? - Portfolio approach (diversification idea: within a proposal, assess multiple things, multiple hypotheses, multiple impact areas/categories, so that at least 1 of them comes out supported/as expected. Then report back the successes and failures, the combined reporting of both successes and failures is a worthwhile significant "innovative" contribution because we'll know which things worked, which didn’t all within a single project). This isn't a new approach - the diversification idea has been around in business for a while as a risk-management approach. (Assessing multiple impact categories within a single project spreads the risk across those impact categories and ensures that a worthwhile contribution is made from results of both expected and unexpected findings. In contrast, if only unexpected findings emerge, which is more likely to happen with un-diversified single-focus projects, the researcher might not be able to publish those results because negative results by themselves tend to "get buried" and are under-valued in the field, unfortunately). New Challenges: - How to define what each impact category is/should be specifically? The burden is on the ISE community to figure that out and arrive at some kind of consensus that helps build cumulative research around a shared definition of, say, what "attitude change" as an impact category should mean. Online Communities as a cost-effective tool for professional development. - Really interesting idea (I'll bring that into my project at some point) but how to go about planning that? Eg., need to figure out what are some of the professional development activities that an online community can cost-effectively support. Who are the activities for (profiles of users for whom professional development can be promoted through the online community: PIs vs Chloe (student end-user who doesn’t intend to become an ISE PI/professional but is peripherally interested in ISE topics of environmental science and media studies). One thing not brought up in the Chloe-related discussions was that her activities are a form of "legitimate peripheral participation" that communities of practice literature has discussed as one possible way of participating and of identifying users/stakeholders (people not central to ISE or to the main focus of a community but who are nevertheless tangentially interested in some aspect of the community and are therefore a worthwhile asset for the rest of the community and whose needs the online community can target in a different way than those of the main 'core' members). Distinction of online communities participation: free membership, anytime/anyhow/anyway participation vs. directed, focused participation like msp net. Under which conditions should a more directed form of participation be encouraged? Units of Analysis: Discrepancy between NSF "impacts" RFP (individual-level) and goals/intentions of how to move the ISE field forward (community-level impacts). If proposals are required to frame their impacts at the individual level, wouldn't the ISE field lose sight of the broader ideas/thinking/theories in the field, which really need development? - (my comment): this discrepancy isn’t really created by NSF's focus on "project impacts" as presented in Randi's slides today. Impacts can be defined and assessed at any level of analysis the researcher/ ISE community of researchers wishes. Randi's slides didn't explicitly state, "Proposals should measure individual behaviors, attitudes, and engagement". Those can be group-level or community-level behaviors, attitudes, and engagement. The discrepancy seems to be in what the ISE field has traditionally evaluated (individuals' learning and knowledge) vs. other possible impacts (group-level ones). - Collective Efficay, Social Capital Two types of innovation: practice-innovation: knowledge advancement and implementation of things such as curriculum design (educators), and research innovation. Innovation will vary by the user group...hard to get a community-wide definition that applies to everybody. Somebody in my group mentioned whether more or broader proposals is a good outcome/impact measure or an intermediary one. Could be both: more research proposals can be a measure of the ISE community's innovative output...but what good is innovation for unless its impacts have been defined and measured in those proposals? How can online communities support different types of innovation? by supporting different types of innovator, so we need to identify what a good innovator does (profiles of activities: advances and disseminates new knowledge, dissemination very important, develops relationships with other colleagues, promotes learning and is able to learn from the work of others) Those activities will be more specific for each user type (eg good PI innovator is able to learn and promote learning from the research of others rather than replicate).

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