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  1. The Research Paper: Considerations for the Digital-Cloud Age Christopher Norton West Ottawa High School

  2. Objectives of this presentation: • To provide suggestions for becoming a more proficient teacher of writing in an increasingly digital-cloud age. • To provide suggestions and tips for producing more proficient writers through the utilization of current computer technologies. • To provide suggestions and tips for becoming a more proficient writer – in the sense of providing timely and meaningful student feedback. • To share my observations and strategies about the process of teaching students to write successful research papers – to become lifelong learners, and how to make research a transformational experience:

  3. Concentrated Solar Power and hydrogen (CSP +H)A prompt leads to ideas • Source:

  4. Ideas that must be clear and understandable • Source:

  5. And ideas that are sound and valid • Cautionary note, pirates and global warming – a novice debate “product”

  6. Analysis: There is a mathematical inversely proportional relationship between piracy and global average temperatures. Therefore, as global average temperatures increase (known as global warming) piracy decreases. Science Creative Quarterly May 5, 2006

  7. Background: About me(or “why are you telling me this?”) • My decision to be a teacher • My educational experiences • My personal life – children, a greater teacher • My approach to all interactions – why are you telling me this? How should I respond? • Us as teachers… teachers of writing…

  8. The past my (in)adequate prep • CMU (May 1990) and technology • The changes • What hasn’t changed, what has, take a moment – do not share with anyone else yet, avoid group think: • Think about your experiences in high school and college, jot down what you recall about the following (2 minutes): • about doing research, • about formal writing, • the amount of writing, • the resources available, • and the time required, • etc… • Share with the whole group and discuss (5 minutes) • We are time travelers, • there is a huge generation gap, we cannot teach as we were taught, • we must be innovators, we must do more than keep up, we must push!

  9. The generation gap is exacerbated by the knowledge and resources gaps within each generation • List the technology that your institution provides for students and is it adequate?... (that begs the question)(2 minutes): • Share your answers with those at your table, and then ask each other these questions (5 minutes): • Why is this technology being used? • How does it assist in writing? • How does it assist in acquiring information? • What do we ask our students to do with this information • Share responses with the whole group (3 minutes) The now

  10. History in the making! • There has never been a time in human history where there has been so much information readily available to anyone at anytime and almost any place, but technology is a tool and like all tools it is only effective if it can be used efficiently, and innovatively. • What (do you think) is the future of writing? (2 minutes discuss) • What (do you think) is the future of research? (2 minutes discuss)

  11. So…my purpose • I’m not going to tell you howto teach but why and what “we” should do regarding the instruction of research in an increasingly digital-cloud age • I will remind you to consider your purpose in assigning research and to remember who your audience is and to establish for them their purpose and their audience (beyond just you as an instructor – it is themselves too) • And I will attempt to prepare you for your part in the current educational- technology revolution: the 5Ps for us as teachers and for our students.

  12. The 5 P’s • Prior • Preparation • Prevents • Poor • performance

  13. Anticipatory set (10 minutes): • So why do we assign the research paper? • Analyze and synthesize – it is a process of reading and writing • What are your thoughts? Listwhat you notice about the content: • What do you notice about the style? • What questions do you have either as a writer or instructor of research? • What do you speculate about research and research writing? • Teaching and writing are experiencing a revolution

  14. The composition of research is being revolutionized • “Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is one of the features of globalization and as a result, the Internet has become an important linguistic medium. It has been added to every aspect of human life, including the learning of languages. McLuhan(1962) even coined the term ‘global village’ in the 1960s of the last century to express his belief that electronic communication would unite the world because "the medium is the message". Warschauer and Healey (1998:63) also stated that: It is the rise of computer-mediated communication and the Internet, more than anything else, which has reshaped the uses of computers for language learning at the end of the 20th century. With the advent of the Internet, the computer—both in society and in the classroom—has been transformed from a tool for information processing and display to a tool for information processing and communication.” Li, Ben-Canaan, (2006)

  15. The Role of Technology • By the definition of revolution one realizes it is time to adapt or die, we cannot avoid the changes, the changes offer a more reasonable approach and a more doable approach to a constant, it is time to decide, and so recognize that the concept of writing is the same, but the mode and methods are changing.

  16. Role of technology • History of tech – spoken word, ancient attempts at writing, scrolls, movable typesets, copying machines, word processing, word-to-text, collaborative live writing, cloud storage, etc. • The constant is the preservation of “the idea” • What has changed is the means/mode/method of preserving the idea – the concept of composition.

  17. Definition of Composition • Definition of composition: • com·po·si·tion/ˌkämpəˈziSHən/ a Noun • The nature of something's ingredients or constituents; the way in which a whole or mixture is made up. • The action of putting things together; formation or construction. • Synonyms: makeup – structure • Source:,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.48175248,d.aWM&fp=a53e1a32a584494&biw=1280&bih=834

  18. The need to rethink how we teach research for the current and coming generations – the composition is changing • “As a result of the IT (Information Technology) revolution, there is a shift in reading practices from the (paper) page to the screen (Reinking, 1998; Snyder, 1998). This shift is more likely to occur especially among young people who grow up with computers (Tapscott, 1998). It will necessitate different psycholinguistic processes related to decoding information from a screen instead of a page, especially when the screen will be decoding words for the reader at the click of a mouse. It will also change how we as educators teach things like skimming, scanning, and guessing words from a context (Anderson-Inman & Horney, 1998; McKenna, 1998). It will also force educators to think more about how texts combine together with graphics, images, and audio-visual content to communicate a message (Bolter, 1998; Kress, 1999; Lemke, 1998)”Li, Ben-Canaan, (2006)

  19. The changes and pressures on teaching research today – the change in composition • The history of teaching has been the “sage on the stage” but it is changing. It now student centered and authentic/experiential learning. • The composition of instruction is changing as is the composition of the research, it is no longer just a paper meeting a set of standards on a rubric, it is the incorporation of “soft skills” too. • It is now thinking skills vs. conventions • It is no longer local need-based, but it is now national standards based, i.e. the Common Core. (See handout)

  20. Radical thoughts, but worth thinking about:Schools are obsolete (minutes 1 -4;12:45 – 14:00) • sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud. • Your reaction?

  21. With availability of information will come an increase in availability of the power to think independently • Technology is a tool, teachers need to teach more than just how to use and find information, but also how to organize and assess it. • Technology is a tool, a tool for enhancement and refinement, and we need to teach students how to use it, we are becoming teachers of skills beyond composition, we are not obsolete because we must teach how to use the skills in processing and analyzing, evaluating and then synthesizing. knowledge was powerKnowledge is obsoleteThe use of knowledge is power

  22. Suggestions and recommendations for adapting to technology in the research process • “Reading from the screen is less a passive act of decoding a message from a single authoritative author and more a self-conscious act of accumulating or creating knowledge from a variety of sources (Bolter, 1991; Landow,1992). Central principals to the ability to read from the screen include the following skills (Shetzer & Warschauer, 2000): • Finding the information to read in the first place through Internet searches, etc. • Rapidly evaluating the source, credibility, and timeliness of information once it has been located; • Rapidly making navigational decisions as to whether to read the current page of information, pursue links internal or external to the page, or revert back to further searching; • Making on-the-spot decisions about ways to save or catalogue part of the information on the page or the complete page and • Organizing and keeping track of electronic information that has been saved.” • Li, Ben-Canaan, (2006)

  23. The suggested changes in writing, a new literacy • “Similar to the changes learners need to make in their reading practices, changes are expected to be made in writing practices as well in pedagogical contexts involving the Internet (Bolter, 1996; Faigley, 1997). In much of the world, writing has been given little emphasis in English language courses, and if emphasized at all, is seen as synonymous with the putting on paper of grammatically correct sentences (Raimes,1991). And indeed, this was sufficient for most learners’ needs prior to the information revolution of the 1970s. However, the rise of informationalism, and the widespread use of computers and the Internet, dramatically raised the profile of writing and the need for effective written communication (American Management Association International,1998). The new types of writing skills which are required in the context of the Internet include: • Development of shared skills for abstraction of words, sentences and paragraphs so that they may become mind-vivid - critical interpreters, and put in logical context and order; • Writing effectively in hypertext genres; • Integrating texts, graphics, and audio-visual material into a multimedia presentation; • Using internal and external links to communicate a message well; • Writing for a particular audience when the audience are comprised of unknown readers on the World Wide Web and • Using effective pragmatic strategies in various circumstances of computer-mediated communication (including one-to-one and discussion lists e-mail, and various forms of synchronous real-time communication, Shetzer & Warschauer,2000). • The shifts in reading and writing practices necessitate the need for new curriculum frameworks/approaches for teaching of English in Internet medium.” Li, Ben-Canaan, (2006)

  24. “The process of research and planning is more important than the product of a paper and a presentation.” Herrington, Hodgson, Moran (2009). • Do you agree or disagree with the statement – make a list of pros and cons – and explain why you agree or disagree. But wait there may be a challenge:

  25. Some cosiderations • The focus of the research paper should not just be technology, but how technology affects research – there are negatives to the technology: • list some potential negatives to technology and be ready to share • word counts, distractions, social media, the cloud stores everything including messages, nothing is deleted e.g. the collaboration in g-docs and I showed the girls the history, the need for teachers to be more vigilant? • what are some of the other issues for consideration concerning the process of research? • Addendum – plagiarism, deadlines etc…

  26. The role of the Big question • Research is not just about going to find information - that is knowledge and knowledge is obsolete (e.g. Ken Jennings) – it is collaboaration, sharing and discovering ways to solve and find answers to Big questions. • These Big Questions should be ones you as a teacher want to know more about.

  27. Again, the revolution is upon us (another source’s advocacy) and an example of how debate utilizes information in context “What is good learning? That may be a subjective question. But it’s likely that many educators would give answers that fall in the same ballpark… …students collaborating and discussing ideas, possible solutions… …project-based learning, designed around real world contexts… …connecting with other students around the world, on topics of study… …immersing students in a learning experience that allows them to grapple with a problem, gaining higher-order thinking skills from pursuing the solution… To many educators, these notions are music to their ears. Would it seem terribly strange then to hear that students indeed are doing these things regularly outside of their classrooms? While Timmy or Susie may not be running home from school saying, “What fun, deeply-engaging learning experience can we do today?”, they are engaging with new technologies that provide them with the same opportunities. Every day, many students are spending countless hours immersed in popular technologies—such as Facebook or MySpace, World of Warcraft, or Sim City—which at first glance may seem like a waste of time, and brain cells. But these genres of technologies—Social Networking, Digital Gaming, and Simulations—deserve a second, deeper, look at what’s actually going on. When you hear ”MySpace” or “World of Warcraft,” what do they bring to mind for you? What emotions do you associate with them? Have you heard of them before? Your students have, and they almost certainly have strong opinions about them. You don’t need to be a teenager to use or understand these technologies, or to use them in your classroom. Market research data indicates that many a normal, middle-aged adult uses these technologies with frequency. The fact is, you can be 17, 35, or 60, and when you begin to engage with them and observe what’s really going on, you can begin to see that these technologies are more than just entertainment. These technologies are already demonstrating how they impact the way we think, learn, and interact—and they are also demonstrating the tremendous potential they have in these areas as well.”

  28. The revolution is upon us (another source’s advocacy) and an example of how debate utilizes information in context (cont.) • The emergence of social networking technologies and the evolution of digital games have helped shape the new ways in which people are communicating, collaborating, operating, and forming social constructs. In fact, recent research is showing us that these technologies are shaping the way we think, work, and live. This is especially true of our youngest generations— those arriving at classrooms doors, soon to be leaving them and entering the workforce and society-at-large. • Our newest generation – currently in K-12 – is demonstrating for us the impact of having developed under the digital wave. These youth have been completely normalized by digital technologies—it is a fully integrated aspect of their lives (Green & Hannon, 2007). Many students in this group are using new media and technologies to create new things in new ways, learn new things in new ways, and communicate in new ways with new people— behaviors that have become hardwired in their ways of thinking and operating in the world. Green and Hannon give an excellent example of this, “Children are establishing a relationship to knowledge gathering which is alien to their parents and teachers” (2007).

  29. How research should be focused and how debate succeeds in teaching research “Immersion in situated practice: Practice in authentic communicative situations is required for students to learn how to collaborate with partners, negotiate complex points, and critically evaluate information as it applies to particular meaningful contexts. At the same time, such authentic situations can give students the opportunity to develop new technological literacies in meaningful contexts; • Overt instruction: The kinds of sophisticated communication skills required in the 21st century will seldom develop through practice alone. Students need the opportunity to step back under the guidance of a teacher to critically analyze the content, coherence, organization, pragmatics, syntax, and lexis of communication (which is necessary, for example, in the analysis and critique of texts, and other media forms. • Critical framing: Effective cross-cultural communication and collaboration, including making effective use of information found in online networks, necessitates a high degree of critical interpretation. The instructor’s overt role thus should extend beyond narrow language items to also help students learn to critically interpret information and communication in a given social context and

  30. How research should be focused and how debate succeeds in teaching research (cont.) • Transformed practice: Transformed practice allows students to improve their communication skills by raising their practice to new levels based on prior practice, instruction, and critical framing. This involves working toward higher-quality outcomes within particular contexts and also to transfer what has been learned for application in new social and cultural contexts. Such a framework goes far beyond the (traditional) linguistic syllabi that are most common today, based on collections of syntactic or functional items. It also goes far beyond the notion of task-based learning, at least when task-based learning is interpreted as consisting of a progression of narrow tasks designed principally to assist learners in grasping particular grammatical forms. Akin to the multiliteracies framework, project-based learning is a new pedagogical tool that would be useful in English teaching/learning contexts (Stoller, 1997). Projects themselves may include many individual tasks, but the umbrella of the project allows opportunities to criticize and transform their practice in ways that individual tasks do not. Projects can take many forms and should be based mostly on students’ backgrounds, needs, and interests.” Li, Ben-Canaan, (2006)

  31. So how does one meet these demands? Incrementalism

  32. The process - incrementalism • Incrementalism defined: the gradual change in a policy or attitude. • I hope to change attitudes of students, but also the idea that by gradually adding and practicing the individual parts of a research paper students will be able to complete it is a manner that will not seem daunting. • The process is to produce the paper in increments.

  33. The goal is to attain 100% participation from students, but how? • Advertising and marketing (and debate) use the following formula: AIDA • Awareness • Interest • Desire • Action Pre-composition – purpose

  34. Start with questions of interest for students such as, • have you ever wondered about, • why, • how, • what if, • if I had the power to change something I would change… • Discuss that research is the language of academia, they are a part of academia, but moreso that through research they can enter into the conversation about humanity and life. awareness

  35. Research is not so much about writing a report ( Wikipedia has a plethora of reports/facts) as it is a finding and sharing, what will he or she say that is new in the conversation about the topics he or she selected? Get them excited about change, that change is a process, and that they can affect change, but they need to become knowledgeable, “experts” on their topics. Interest

  36. Have students circle the 3 topics about which that they would like to know more or become experts on • Tell them you will select one of their choices (collaboration between you – audience and interest – and them) • Also inform them that you will publish the list so that peers might offer suggestions and assist (desire to let others know what it is that one is engaged in) Desire

  37. Instruct them about how to construct a proposition for research – this is crucial, for you as the audience and for them in forming and framing their purposes • Make them aware that you will select one of their 3 for their research “project” topics • Review the topics and give them their topics at the next class meeting or sooner via electronic media. Try to have a diverse selection of topics. • Distribute a schedule with deadlines/goals Action

  38. Using a Schedule as Measure of Process and Progress • Explain what the research paper will look like – distribute a sample paper and tell them not to lose it, as it will be referenced during the process. • Models are key to reducing anxiety and increasing confidence! • Make observations while reading together the sample research paper. • Assign topics and deadlines go through each assignment, check level of understanding • As a process discuss the concept of “ethos” and the need for a works cited page – integrity – reduce/eliminate plagiarism (more later) • Have them practice doing a sample works cited page, a great resource for materials is available on and I create my own. • Use the schedule to assess student progress as each deadline is met, I would suggest doing away with point values and just create a checklist.

  39. Advantages of incrementalismthese assessments may also be done by peers – depends on what information you want about/from your students • Use the schedule to assess student progress as each deadline is met, students can keep track and know what comes next - like a recipe. • Each instructor and institution will have its own methods and means for composing a research paper – it is not my intent to provide instruction on what is done, but offer suggestions about how it is done. • Using the schedule and assessing the increments along the way will provide a sense of what students have mastered. • Avoid the temptation to collect it all at the end on the due date. • By checking the work along the way it tells the student that research is a process. • By checking work along the way it will reduce the amount of grading and assessing later • By checking along the way it will provide more feedback to the writer and allow the writer to make changes and grow in confidence. • By checking along the way it prevents, reduces or inhibits PLAGIARISM!

  40. Application of incrementalism Use a schedule of objectives that assigns due dates for increments completed. Have all parts done in class – a lesson in time management for students (reduces plagiarism potential and allows for conferencing as it is produced – less tedium for students). All students should do the following – even if class time is an issue: • The brainstorm matches the working outline which is formed around the working proposition. • All sources must have a screen shot with the actual evidence used in the paper, highlighted with a proper works cited reference beneath the last page of the screenshot. (see handout) • The students have conducted interviews and surveys that must be included in the research paper – collect results. (see handout) • Have students read and review sample papers – it is safe when it is not someone that the student knows such as this one that MLA offers - some great resources, especially materials by Diana Hacker * • Before posting their papers, have students go over the rubric and give themselves a score, and also have them use the sample such as the MLA paper here*: • All students must post their research paper on a common source such as google docs, and must post a comment on two other papers that they have read – there is a maximum of only three comments per paper, so everyone gets at least one response to his or her paper. • Offer the opportunity to resubmit with changes that demonstrate learning, but not for full points, but for some that show work and learning. • Make sure that students reflect on the process and the grade – may be part of a portfolio

  41. Incrementalism in assessing papers “Peter Elbow and others have described the range of activities for writing courses wherin students write to learn, but do not submit each assignment to the instructor for detailed critique and evaluation. By balancing the personal and technological in our teaching we can avoid paper fatigue as well as technological overload.” Viti (2005) See addendum for more suggestions.

  42. The new teaching & learning – the need to create and make • “It’s not surprising that people see a connection between computers and education. Computers enable transmission, accessibility, representation, and manipulation of information in many ways. Because education and computers are both associated with information, the two seem to make a perfect marriage. • This focus on information, however, is limiting and distorting, both for education and for computers. If we want to take full advantage of new computational technology and help people become better thinkers and learners, we need to move beyond these information-centric views of computing and learning. • Over the past 50 years, psychologists and educational researchers, building on the pioneering work of Jean Piaget have come to understand that learning is not a simple matter of information transmission. Teachers cannot simply pour information into the heads of learners. Rather, learning is an active process in which students construct new understanding of the world around them through active exploration, experimentation, discussion, and reflection. In short, people don’t get ideas; they make them.” Resnick (2006)

  43. Why debate and authentic research succeed • It is through design activities that computers offer the greatest new learning opportunities. Research has shown that many of the best learning experiences come when engaged in designing and creating things, especially things that are meaningful either to us or to those around us.” Resnick (2006)

  44. More considerations for the research project Critical thinking as part of the research process: • Critical thinking vs. analytical thinking (an article definig and explaining the difference) • My interview for the adjunct position – the inability or lack of deep reading on the part of students • Quality information vs. quantity of information • NYU study results – the avoidance of critical thinking, research should increase it, not cause an avoidance of it • Control F decreases the use of quotes in context! • Debate promotes context deeper reading and defense of the evidence – the ethos of the sources establishes the logos, which is synthesized to persuade – hopefully not too much pathos or hyperbole! (climate change and piracy)

  45. Student centered - change is needed and is occurring • We need to fundamentally reorganize classrooms. Instead of a centralized-control model (with one teacher delivering information to a roomful of students), we should use a more entrepreneurial approach to learning. Students can become more active and independent learners, with the teacher serving as a consultant, not as a chief executive.” Resnick (2006) • Take time to let this all sink in, what are you already doing? • What would you like to do? Take time at the end of this presentation, no right now to figure out what the inherent barriers (attitudinal/structural) are and how they might be removed? (db8 terms).

  46. Removing barriers: Soft skills practices with which to be familiar in applying and presenting research: • A serious lack of critical thinking skills in students and an increasing need for it in the business world: • Problem Based Learning – moving beyond writing a paper: synthesis of research into authentic learning • SOLE (16:30): research will be around the “Big Questions” it is important that we instruct them in how to record the information • Seeing research put into action: • Resources on PBL:

  47. The future for higher education and perhaps… • Like the invention of writing, is this the next large scale disseminator of knowledge and skills? • Will this mass dissemination lead to greater empowerment? • Ted Talk on the classroom of 100,000 students • Your thoughts…

  48. A Last thought by Resnick • “Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we need to transform curricula so that they focus less on “things to know” and more on “strategies for learning the things you don’t know.” As technology continues to quicken the pace of change in all parts of the internet and the university our lives, learning to become a better learner is far more important than learning to multiply fractions or memorizing the capitals of the world.”

  49. Wrap-up & conclusion • Take aways • Personal • Group • Transformational - we must prepare ourselves and our students for the present and the future, and we can increase their confidence and encourage them to explore and become experts in the areas of their interests, so that they contribute to the discussion and that they increase and improve original research and thought! • Discuss among participants • Technology is a wave, a revolution, it can be intimidating, but Incrementalism isn’t so daunting; through its application we can meet these objectives of increasing critical thinking and process design in our students and for ourselves not being overwhelmed by the expectations and standards placed upon us, nor underwhelmed by the products that are being produced in writing and research. • So where will you be in the future of research writing? • And what is the future of research? • Open discussion with time remaining.

  50. References Herrington, Anne; Hodgson, Kevin; Moran, Charles. (2009) Teaching the New Writing Technology, Change, and Assessment in the 21st Century Classroom New York:Teachers College Press. Klopfer, Eric, Osterweil, Scot, Groff, Jennifer, Haas, Jason. (2009). “The Instructional Power of and How Teachers Can Leverage Them.” Retrieved from Resnick, Mitchel. (2006). “Revolutionizing Learning in the Digital Age.” Retrieved from Viti, Lynne S. (2005). “Taming (Not Slaying) the Virtual Dragon: Handling the Electronic Paper Load.” In Golub, Jeffery, N. (Ed.), More Ways to Handle the Paper Load On Paper and Online. (pp. 111- 116). Urbana:NationalCouncil of Teachers of English. Wu, Li, and Ben-Canaan, Dan. (2006). “The Impact of Globalization and the Internet onEnglish Language Teaching and Learning.” Retrieved from