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Science 2.0

Last week, I attended Websci’11, the 3rd International Conference on Web Science. It was a great experience to engage with such a diverse crowd; there were people from computer science, information science, social science, psychology, philosophy (and some others that I probably missed here) representing many different aspects from this multi-disciplinary field. I am still not done with going through my notes, reflecting on all the interesting things that I have learned. Koblenz itself was very welcoming to us as well: we had the pleasure to watch the lunar eclipse while sitting on the banks of the Rhine.

Our contribution to the conference was a poster on Science 2.0 practices in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), originating from our research in the STELLAR Network of Excellence. You can get a full sized version of the poster by clicking on the image below.

For this study, we conducted two focus groups to find out about research practices in TEL, and how they are supported by Web 2.0. You can read the accompanying paper here. In a nutshell, we asked people to list their daily tasks and duties in a classification form of their choice. Afterwards, we discussed the most interesting tasks and duties with regards to Web 2.0. In the analysis, we aggregated the results to model a map of the TEL research process. Then we identified the mentioned practices and assigned them to the process steps. Furthermore, we deduced strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats from the discussion. As the main conclusion, we found that in the early stage (“design phase”) and in the late stage (“publication phase”), researchers are very well supported. This is not the case in those process steps where the actual work is being done (i.e. “development”, “implementation”, and “evaluation”).

All in all, the poster was well received. People were able to situate their research within the process map, and they also confirmed that there was little support in the core research work. I got some suggestions for tools that are used in other disciplines. Some of them are well-known, such as myExperiment. Others I had never heard of, because they are only used within single institutions, such as a self-developed social warning system for large physical experiments. One point of critique was that the core process should be displayed as being more iterative, with the possibility to break off after a few steps (which I totally agree with). Of course, these are only the results of a smale scale study which need to be further validated. Nevertheless, I am very happy with the first feedback, and I am looking forward to exploring the subject of research practices in the context of Web 2.0.

Citation
Kraker, P., & Lindstaedt, S. (2011). Research Practices on the Web in the Field of Technology Enhanced Learning Proceedings of the ACM WebSci’11

Barcamp Graz is now over for almost 1 1/2 weeks, and finally I have found some time to reflect a little bit on it. For the second time, four camps were united under one roof, covering the topics of knowledge management (Wissenscamp), politics (Politcamp), design (Designcamp), and iPhone and iPad development (iCamp).

First and foremost, I have to say that I found it to be simply terrific. There was a much broader range of sessions this year, with the next interesting talk or discussion just around the corner. The whole atmosphere at Grazer Congress was truly engaging, and the terrace – in combination with decent wheather and awesome food – added tremendously to the experience.

My main base naturally was Wissenscamp. Here is a rundown of the sessions which I could relate most to. You can find slides to many of them (and those that I missed) at barcamp.at. Robert Gutounig led an interesting discussion on knowledge management models. Micaela Andrich presented her life as a terminiologist and how she used a terminology tool to learn Chinese. Barbara Kump presented wissensdialoge.de, a blog on organisational learning, knowledge management and psychology, which sparked an animated discussion on these subjects. From the more technical talks, I especially liked Florian Klien‘s talk on URL shorteners, and Stefan Wunder‘s introduction to the semantic web and the Lasso project.

From Politcamp, I closely followed the sessions on open government data (by Julian Ausserhofer) and data retention policy (by marc and andy), two of the most relevant political topics with respect to the web. From Designcamp, I really liked the discussion on interdsciplinarity between engineers and designers from Mario Fallast and Romana Rauter. Finally, Ronen Kadushin made a surprise visit to the barcamp and gave a motivated talk on open design.

I myself had a session on Science 2.0 and how Web 2.0 is changing researcher practice. This led to an engaging discussion on open science, its benefits, drawbacks, and ways to make it possible for everyone to publish research material. I also wanted to show how students can use certain tools for their reports and theses.  Unfortunately, we did not get that far, but some hints are given in the slides which you can find below. Update! Stefan Kasberger did an interesting review of the barcamp and especially the open science aspects on the Open Science blog (in German).

In conclusion, I would like to thank all participants and especially my co-organizers for two amazing days. From the feedback we got some good suggestions for next year: lightning talks for first-timers, and a room that is solely dedicated to ad-hoc sessions. Until #bcg12!

As you know, we are currently running an IJTEL Young Researcher Special Issue on Ground-breaking Ideas in TEL. Now all abstracts and reviews from the first round are available in our group on TELeurope (you need to be registered and logged in to see them). We invite you to explore the visions of the young researchers in the community,  and to get in touch with them by posting your comments into the group blog. We are looking forward to hearing from you!

In the last few weeks I have put a lot of time and effort to help organising a number of events. Each of them would deserve its own post, but due to time constraints (both on my side and with some of the deadlines coming up already), I will only give a quick overview right now and follow up on them later:

  • First things first: I am thrilled to announce that there will be a Special Track on Recommendation, Data Sharing, and Research Practices in Science 2.0 at this year’s I-KNOW conference! The special track provides an interdisciplinary forum for international scientists to discuss theoretical and practical aspects of Science 2.0. We are looking for contributions in the form of full papers (8 pages). I posted the full CfP over at TELeurope. Submission deadline is April 30.
  • Barcamp Graz gets a new edition this year. It will be on May 7 & 8 and will feature the usual suspects: a WissensCamp on knowledge management, a PolitCamp on the political side of Web 2.0 (with a focus on the recent developments in North Africa and Open Government), an iCamp on all things iPhone and iPad, and a Designcamp. More information on barcamp.at. To get a rough overview of what a barcamp is, see the corresponding post from last year.
  • The Joint European Summer School on Technology Enhanced Learning will take place in Chania, Greece on the beautiful island of Crete from May 30 to June 3. Due to public demand, this year’s focus will be on methodology. My involvment is just beginning with the student committee currently forming. We are playing around first ideas for activities. The deadline for student applications is March 18, and the deadline for tutor applications is March 30. For more information see the website.

And there is even more in the pipeline: currently we are busy setting up a challenge in the area of Open Data at I-KNOW 2011. So stay tuned for updates and hopefully I will see you at one or the other event!

In the Research 2.0 workshop at EC-TEL, we had a lengthy discussion about new forms of academic peer review. Among other issues, blinding was one of the topics that came up. Some dismissed blinding in favour of a completely open process, but I am not so sure about that.

I agree that blinding does a bad job of protecting the author(s), especially in close-knit communities. References to earlier work, projects, or simply the focus point of the paper often give away the submittee(s). In combination with a closed process (i.e. the reviews do not get published with the paper), blinding leverages biased and ill-founded reviews. This is bad news in a world where it often comes down to a single review whether your paper or project gets accepted.
Still, blinding satisfies a very important social function: it protects the reviewers and allows to them be honest, without fearing repercussions. After all, the author of the paper you just reviewed could well be the reviewer of your next project proposal. Therefore, it plays an important role in academic quality control.
Nevertheless, we all get bad reviews from time to time; reviews which make it apparent that the reviewer just had a bad day, and that it was not the quality of our submission that caused a reject. The question is – how can we improve this situation and how can the capabilites of the web help us in this endeavour?

A middle way

You might have noticed the Call for Papers on the IJTEL Young Researcher Special Issue, where we are seeking to attract visionary articles of PhD students in the field of Technology Enhanced Learning. When we put together the CfP, we did not only want to broaden the scope of articles we would allow for submission. We also wanted to innovate on the reviewing process. One thing that we agreed upon very early was to have teams of junior and experienced reviewers, whereby the experienced reviewers will act as mentors for their younger colleagues.
Then I brought some new forms of peer review into the discussion. A completely open, unblinded peer review was off the table pretty fast: as a young researcher, you do not want your vision being crushed in public, possibly by an authority in the field. Still, there was a common understanding that we were not completely satisified with going down the road of a completely closed and blinded review. Therefore, after some heated discussions, we settled for a middle-way: we will have the authors submit abstracts first for a closed and double-blinded peer review. Then will be put both abstracts and reviews (still blinded) on TEL Europe and open them for comments by the community. This way we want to make the process more transparent and increase the quality of reviews, while at the same time protecting authors and reviewers.

Thomas posted links some links on TEL Europe to the Open Peer Review process in the Semantic Web Journal. They took a similar approach, although they made blinding for reviewers optional and completely dismissed it for authors.

What do you think? Is it enough to make corrections to the traditional peer reviewing process, or do we need a completely new approach in the light of the capabilites of the web?

The I-KNOW is Europe’s largest conference on knowledge management and knowledge technologies. This year, the I-KNOW celebrates its 10th anniversary, featuring a rich conference program over three days, encompassing an English speaking scientific track and a German speaking forum for practicioners.

I would like to direct your attention to two specific slots at this year’s conference. First of all, there will be a session entitled Technologies for Science 2.0 (Sep 1, 14:00-16:00). The session will focus on the technological side of Science 2.0 and includes a talk from Jan Reichelt (founder and director of Mendeley).
Secondly, the Wissensmanagement Forum is organising an International Student Cooperation Event (Sep 2, 14:00-16:00). We will be giving everyone the chance to present his or her PhD topic in a 5 minutes madness talk and get feedback from like-minded colleagues. Then, we would like to discuss with you typical questions that come up when doing a PhD, like “How do I stick to a topic?”, “What should I focus on?” etc. Afterwards there will be time to socialize and establish new contacts. I am looking forward to seeing you there!

Please write to conny.christl@wm-forum.org if you would like to make a presentation. The I-KNOW 2010 will take place at from September 1-3 at Messe Congress Graz (Austria). It will be held concurrently with I-SEMANTICS  2010, the International Conference on Semantic Systems.

Our contribution to the Research 2.0 Workshop at EC-TEL 2010. Get a pre-print of the paper here.

Feeding TEL: Building an Ecosystem Around BuRST  to Convey Publication Metadata
Peter Kraker, Angela Fessl, Patrick Hoefler and Stefanie Lindstaedt.

Abstract. In this paper we present an ecosystem for the lightweight exchange of publication metadata based on the principles of Web 2.0. At the heart of this ecosystem, semantically enriched RSS feeds are used for dissemination. These feeds are complemented by services for creation and aggregation, as well as widgets for retrieval and visualization of publication metadata. In two scenarios, we show how these publication feeds can benefit institutions, researchers, and the TEL community. We then present the formats, services, and widgets developed for the bootstrapping of the ecosystem. We conclude with an outline of the integration of publication feeds with the STELLAR Network of Excellence and an outlook on future developments.

This week I saw a presentation by David Lowe from University of Technology in Sydney on the Australian Labshare project. In this project, they are developing remote labs; laboratories that can be operated over the internet.

Unfortunately, I was not able to see the demo of the software (check it out – it is called Sahara and you can find it on Sourceforge), but as far as I understood it, the process is as follows: You can choose from a range of experiments in every lab. If you have found an interesting one, you can fiddle with the settings and – subsequently – run it. In the process you are getting visual feedback from a camera. Afterwards your are presented with the data from the experiment in the form of sketches and numbers.

At the moment, they are using it mainly for educational purposes. There was a long discussion after the presentation whether real labs could largely be replaced with simulations. This is an interesting topic, and it sparked a lot of controversy, but I was more interested in  “Doing research with remote labs”. I am not a natural scientist, but as far as I can see, remote experiments would make it a lot easier to write protocols and keep open lab books like on OpenWetWare. The software records your settings as well as your results, so you would only have to fill in the rationale between the experiments.

Apart from the set-up and the data, you would be able to also share something even more valuable: you could share the whole experiment! I mean this in a sense that everyone would be able to have the same experience as the original researcher. This naturally includes the recordings, but it extends even beyond that. You could provide others with the exact same set-up in the exact same lab, so that they can reproduce the experiment from the beginning to the end.

I am aware that there are certain challenges on the way: experiments in research are most possibly more complicated and need more variation than those intended for education. Still, I am very intrigued by the idea. I would love to hear your opinions on this (especially from people in natural sciences) and I will definitely follow the Labshare project to see what they will come up with in this area.

You still have two weeks to submit to the Research 2.0 Workshop at this year’s ECTEL conference in Barcelona. Here is the call for papers:


Introduction

As a follow-up to a successful workshop on the same theme at ECTEL09 , we are organizing a workshop on Research2.0 approaches to TEL research at ECTEL10.

Research2.0 is in essence a Web2.0 approach to how we do research. Research2.0 creates conversations between researchers, enables them to discuss their findings and connects them with others. Thus, Research2.0 can accelerate the diffusion of knowledge.

Topics for this workshop include, but are not limited to:

  • Evaluation of existing Research2.0 tools and infrastructures from a TEL perspective
  • Development of TEL-related use case scenarios for Research2.0 tools and infrastructures
    Influence of Research2.0 tools and technologies on scientific practices in TEL
  • Formats and protocols for Research2.0 data exchange (linked data, RSS, BuRST, …)
  • Ownership and privacy of research information
  • Practices of the diverse Technology Enhanced Learning disciplines, and how Research2.0 can influence them

Format

Authors are invited to submit original unpublished work. The following types of contributions are possible:

  • Short papers (3-5 pages) that state the position of the authors on issues relevant to the workshop or work in progress, even when in very early state.
  • Full papers: (8-12 pages) that describe problems, needs, novel approaches and frameworks within the scope of the workshop. In this category, empirical evaluation papers and industrial experience reports are welcome for submission.

Each presenter will be linked to related papers from other presenters and will be asked to compare in the presentation how the works of others relates to their own work.

The presentation of unfinished ideas, tools under development and especially failures is explicitly encouraged. This includes the presentation and discussion of tools and their real-world usability.

Prior to the workshop, a dedicated group on TEL Europe will be opened to:

  • facilitate discussions among participants before and after the conference
  • post submitted papers for an open peer review
  • publish information and news about the workshop
  • collect reactions through social media on the workshop

All presentations and discussions will be broadcast via Flashmeeting to attract more feedback, and to document the event. Online questions and comments will be explicitly taken into account during the workshop.

Important Dates

Paper submission: 27 June 2010
Paper acceptance: 11 July 2010
Main Conference: 28 September-1 October 2010

Paper submission and questions

Please submit your paper at http://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=research20.

Feel free to contact erik.duval@cs.kuleuven.be if you have any questions!

Programme Committee

Erik Duval
Xavier Ochoa
Wolfgang Reinhardt
Nina Heinze
Fridolin Wild
Thomas Ullmann
Peter Scott
Stefanie Lindstaedt
Peter Kraker
Frederik G. Pferdt
Johannes Metscher
Andreas S. Rath

You might have noticed the sparse updates on this blog in the last few weeks. I have been involved in many time-consuming activities, one of them being a member of the organisation committee for Barcamp Graz 2010 as part of the Wissensmanagement Forum team. The barcamp took place last weekend (May 7-9) and consisted of four individual camps, dedicated to design, politics, iphone and ipad, and knowledge management.

I am proud to say that the event was a huge success: an estimated 250 participants over the course of three days contributed to the close to 50 sessions throughout Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not to mention the fantastic location, and a line of catering that outmatched most conferences I have been at so far. I would like to thank all participants, co-organisers and sponsors for their contributions!

Barcamps are participant-driven “un-conferences” in a sense that there are no papers submitted beforehand and that there is no predefined schedule. The timetable is determined only at the event; planned topics can be posted earlier in a wiki though. That does not mean that you come unprepared: since there is no distinction between presenters and listeners, everyone is required to contribute and share his or her knowledge.

Barcamps are traditionally mostly visited by practitioners. Since the goal of the Wissensmanagement Forum is to foster exchange between science and practice, we set a bit of a different focus for the Wissenscamp (“knowledge camp”), which was one of the four camps comprising Barcamp Graz. We invited researchers from the field of knowledge management as well as practitioners, and dedicated a whole afternoon on Friday to this subject only. And I must say the experience was overly positive. There were a lot of dedicated sessions that combined interests of researchers and practitioners. The around 70 participants came from disciplines as diverse as business administration, pedagogic, and software engineering; their organisations ranged from universities, over start-ups to large companies. This sparked many inspirational discussions on topics such as “Enterprise 2.0” and “Knowledge management in corporate communications”.

Barcamps are also a showcase for the use of Web 2.0 tools and technologies: the whole event is covered to great lengths on Twitter (#bcg10 was the top trending topic for Austria throughout the whole Saturday on Twicker), a wiki is being used for organizational purposes, and blog posts are written about single sessions or the whole event. In that sense, Barcamp Graz was also an experiment in the field of Science 2.0.

There are still some things that we can improve for next year, especially spreading the barcamp idea even further to lure more participants to the event. We will also try to attract more session proposals beforehand to give participants a better feeling what the camp will be about. We are also looking into ways to document the sessions better. Additionally, we will be guiding the newbies a little bit more with an introductory session to give them a head start into the barcamp experience. I can’t wait for Barcamp Graz 2011!

Below you can find the presentations of the two sessions I held.

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