Thursday 28 November 2013

Book Review: Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching All Adults

Few weeks back, I had a chat with my colleague, Dr. Sanjyot Pethe and the topic turned to motivation of adult learners. At that point of time, she recommended this book and also got it issued from our library in her name. After reading this book, I must say a big thank to her as this is one of the best books that I have read.

In this book, the author,  Raymond J. Wlodkowski has provided 60 motivational strategies for four motivational conditions viz. establishing inclusion, developing attitude, enhancing meaning and engendering competence. It also describes five characteristics and skills of a motivating teacher viz. expertise, empathy, enthusiasm, clarity and cultural responsiveness.

Firmly supported by theory, this book provides useful and practical advice. A must read for everyone who is engaged in designing and delivering educational programs for adults.

Sunday 17 November 2013

Paper Review: Learning styles and online education

Zapalska, A., & Brozik, D. (2007). Learning styles and online education. Campus-Wide Information Systems, 24(1), 6–16. doi:10.1108/10650740710726455   Summary
This paper describes an assessment instrument that can be used to identify students’ learning styles. This instrument identifies four distinct learning styles: visual (V); aural (A); reading/writing (R); and kinesthetic (K). It was used to determine learning styles of students who participated in two online courses. It was found that there were only two students in each class who indicated preference for auditory learning, giving these two a multi-modal learning style. This finding may indicate that it is possible that students with prevailing auditory learning preferences may not be selecting online education as an option.

Assessment
The paper argues that learning style of online students must be identified so that the instructor can plan appropriate teaching strategies to accommodate individual strengths and needs. The paper has has provided one questionnaire that can be sued to identify the learning style. This seems to be an important contribution of this paper. The paper’s conclusion that students with prevailing auditory learning preferences may not be selecting online education as an option, needs further validation with larger and more representative sample.

Reflection
Catering to different learning style seems to be an important factor for success of online education.

Saturday 16 November 2013

Paper Review: ONLINE LEARNING: A Comparison of Web-Based and Land-Based Courses

Brown, J. L. M. (2012). ONLINE LEARNING: A Comparison of Web-Based and Land-Based Courses. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 13(1), 39–42,49.

Summary
The purpose of this study was to explore the differences in student performance in web-based versus land-based courses. There were three sub-problems:
  1. Why do students choose web-based courses over land-based course?
  2. Is there a difference in the grades of web-based versus land-based courses?
  3. Is there a difference in the retention rate of web-based versus land-based courses?
The study was based on an ex post facto design. The researcher pulled data in year 2010 from past classes (2007-2010) to explore the differences in student performance. Following were the findings:
  1. The average grades were similar.
  2. The web-based was the more popular format.
  3. Land-based courses had a higher retention rate for students.

Assessment
Using ex post facto design, the researcher has confirmed two commonly known notions: web-based courses are more popular but have more drop-out rate than land-based course. But the student performance doesn’t differ due to different course delivery format, is something that is interesting to note. Perhaps similar study in other contexts would help to confirm findings of this paper.

Reflection
This paper highlights the need to focus on finding ways to improve retention rate for web-based courses.

Friday 15 November 2013

Paper Review: Teaching Accounting Courses Online: One Instructor’s Experience

Dusing, G. M., Hosler, J. C., & Ragan, J. M. (2012). Teaching Accounting Courses Online: One Instructor’s Experience. American Journal of Business Education (AJBE), 5(3), 359-368.

Summary
This paper reports experience of delivering accounting courses online at a small liberal arts school. One noteworthy feature of the course design is utilization of STAR scholars for assistance in classroom delivery and for maintaining helpdesk for students. The author has shared following best practices and lessons learned:
  • When preparing an online course, thorough planning becomes the critical first step.
  • Each online course should have a standard look and feel.
  • Synchronous student interaction on a weekly basis was critical.
  • The pace of delivery within an online course must be controlled.
  • Multiple course assessment opportunities are critical in an online environment.
  • Listen to your students throughout the course and respond quickly to questions and problems that may arise.

Assessment
This paper shares experience (lessons learned and best practices) of delivering an online accounting course. Strictly speaking, it is not a research paper but it is still valuable as it shares field experience, which is useful in building understanding about online education.

Reflection
The approach described in this paper is very similar to what is being used in MOOC. It is interesting to note that technological tools can be effectively used to create a useful learning experience for students.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Paper Review: Online Delivery of Accounting Courses: Student Perceptions

Watters, M. P., & “Jep” Robertson, P. J. (2009). Online Delivery of Accounting Courses: Student Perceptions. Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, 13(3), 51–57.

Summary
The authors taught introductory undergraduate, upper-division undergraduate and graduate accounting courses online using Tegrity Campus 2.0 integrated with a learning management system (WebCT, Angel) to prerecord and publish all course lectures and provide all other course-related content to students in the three accounting courses. Students in the three courses could access the archived video presentations over the Internet or burn the presentations to a CD or a flash memory drive thus allowing students to view the digital videos at any time and as many times as desired. Following were the findings of the survey conducted to understand student perceptions:
  • Students in the undergraduate courses were slightly less enthusiastic about online delivery.
  • Student perception of the effectiveness of online delivery is in some way correlated with factors that lead to higher student success and performance, such as motivation, maturity, intellectual ability, etc.
  • Student perceptions regarding effectiveness are not inconsistent with their performance on course exams.
  • The percentage of students indicating that they believed that they had accepted more responsibility for their own learning was 37% in the introductory course, 21% in the upper-level course, and only 17% in the graduate course.
  • Student responses to the question "What did you like best about the online course" had two main themes: (1) convenience and (2) flexibility and effectiveness.
  • Student responses to the question "What did you like least about the online course" were almost all related to two themes; inability to interact with the professor and fellow students in real-time and technical problems with computer, network, and/or software.
  • All of the graduate students indicated that they would prefer an online course compared with a traditional course. Only 52% of students in the upper-division course and 41% of students in the introductory course indicated that they would definitely select an online course using Tegrity over a traditional course.
The authors have concluded the paper by mentioning that the differences in student "satisfaction" (perceived course effectiveness) noted in the undergraduate and graduate courses may be a function of several factors including educational attainment, age and maturity, motivation, learning experience, learning style, and prior exposure to online teaching. The overall conclusion is that the graduate students were more mature, confident, and motivated with significant prior educational attainment compared with the other students in the study and therefore were better suited for the online delivery of the course.

Assessment
Though this paper seems to be weak in statistical analysis of data, the authors have shared their wisdom based on experience in this paper. The conclusion drawn in the paper needs more investigation to validate for its general applicability.

Reflection
Though not supported by rigorous empirical research, authors have identified following determinants for student satisfaction for online learning as educational attainment, age and maturity, motivation, learning experience, learning style, and prior exposure to online teaching. There is research opportunity to test these hypotheses on larger student base.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Paper Review: The making of an exemplary online educator

Edwards, M., Perry, B., & Janzen, K. (2011). The making of an exemplary online educator. Distance Education, 32(1), 101–118.  

Summary
This paper reports a descriptive qualitative research study of students' perspectives regarding qualities of exceptional online educators. Twenty three participants in this study provided their descriptive response.They described interactions they had with online teachers they considered exemplary. Modified narrative analysis was used for data analysis. The major themes identified in the study are exemplary online educators as challengers, affirmers and influencers. This paper also compares findings on excellence in online teaching with findings from an earlier study focused on exemplary face-to-face educators. Findings reveal that many strategies used by exemplary educators who teach face to face can be transposed to online teaching environment with similar positive results.

Assessment
This paper makes use of modified narrative analysis to identify what makes an online educator exemplary. Then it compares its results with results of similar study done for classroom educators. It is not very clear whether such comparison could be valid. Nevertheless the identification of qualities of exemplary online educators is an important contribution that this paper makes.  

Reflection
Given that online courses are challenged with respect to connect between faculty and students, one would expect that it takes something more on part of online educator to be an exemplary. It seems more investigation would be needed in this area.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Paper Review: College Student Effort Expenditure in Online Versus Face-to-Face Courses: The Role of Gender, Team Learning Orientation, and Sense of Classroom Community

Yang, Y., Cho, Y., Mathew, S., & Worth, S. (2011). College Student Effort Expenditure in Online Versus Face-to-Face Courses: The Role of Gender, Team Learning Orientation, and Sense of Classroom Community. Journal of Advanced Academics, 22(4), 619–638.  

Summary This paper examines following research questions:
  1. Are there gender differences in student effort expenditure in online versus face-to-face courses?
  2. To what extent does team learning orientation predict student effort in online versus face-to-face courses, controlling for a potential gender effect?
  3. To what extent does student SOCC predict effort expenditure in an online versus face-to-face class, controlling for the potential effects of gender and team learning orientation?
In the survey, the participants were 799 college students (64.1% female), with 177 surveyed about their online courses and 619 about traditional face-to-face courses. The survey consisted of measures on students’ sense of classroom community (SOCC), team learning orientation, and the amount of effort contributed toward any specific course of the participants’ choosing. Following were key findings:
  • Male students reported more effort than female students in online courses, whereas females reported more effort in face-to-face courses than males.
  • Students who valued working with others and held a strong belief in benefiting rom teamwork reported having spent more time and energy in their courses regardless of gender and course delivery format.
  • Students who perceived more course value and interest as one of the indicators of their SOCC reported more effort expenditure regardless of the course delivery format.

Assessment
This paper focused on team learning orientation, gender differences and SOCC but there could be other variables that could affect/predict student effort expenditure in online vs. face-to-face courses. Nevertheless, its findings are worth noting and may need to be examined in another settings to assess their generalizability.

Reflection
This paper argues that team learning orientation and SOCC make students work hard in their courses regardless of course delivery format. That means course design should incorporate mechanisms to boost team learning orientation and SOCC. This paper’s findings about gender differences are worth noting.

Monday 11 November 2013

Paper Review: A Comparison of Faculty and Undergraduate Students’ Perceptions of Online Courses and Degree Programs

Wilkes, R. B., Simon, J. C., & Brooks, L. D. (2006). A Comparison of Faculty and Undergraduate Students’ Perceptions of Online Courses and Degree Programs. Journal of Information Systems Education, 17(2), 131–140.  

Summary This paper investigates the perceptions of current undergraduate students and college business professors toward online courses and degree programs. To do so, the researchers developed two survey instruments, one for students and other one for faculty. A survey among students received 178 usable response. Following were the key findings:
  • Gender-wise difference in perception has been found and researchers have noted that this aspect warrants further study.
  • Top five issues considered important in making course environment decisions were: timely feedback to questions, accreditation of the institutes offering the courses, access to information (resource materials), organized and systematic presentation of materials, schedule flexibility to accommodate work responsibilities.
  • Issues that are much more characteristic of an on-campus course were identified to be opportunity for live interaction/discussion between faculty and students, opportunity for live interaction/discussion among students and on-campus exams.
  • Issues that are more characteristics of on-campus course were identified to be higher travel costs, accreditation of the institute offering the courses and more commuting time to and from classes.
  • Issues that are more characteristics of online courses were identified to be submitting assignments electronically, schedule flexibility to accommodate work responsibilities and schedule flexibility to accommodate social activities.
  • Overall response indicated that students perceive that they will experience the things that matter most to them in an on-campus course rather than in an online course.
Survey instrument designed for faculty was distributed to 80 business college faculty members at a large urban university with a response rate of 67.5%. Following were the key findings:
  • Issues that are much more characteristic of an on-campus course were identified to be on-campus exams, opportunity for live interaction/discussion between faculty and students, more commuting time to and from classes and opportunity for live interaction/discussion among students.
  • Issues that are much more characteristics of online courses were identified to be schedule flexibility to accommodate work responsibilities and schedule flexibility to accommodate social activities.
A key finding from this paper is that perceptions of college professors toward these programs are significantly less favorable than are the perceptions of college students.

Assessment
This paper has made a significant contribution by observing relatively negative faculty attitude towards online courses. Besides quantitative data, the paper has also reported narrative response by faculty to the questions, which are consistent with statistic data. Such negative attitude could hamper efforts to successfully deliver quality programs online. More research would be needed to confirm this finding and also to identify causes for this perception.

Reflection
Are negative perceptions of faculty towards online courses because of personal bias or because of lack of skills or because of inherent limitations of online courses? This seems to be an area that needs further exploration.

Friday 8 November 2013

Paper Review: Students’ Perceptions of Online Courses: The Effect of Online Course Experience

Dobbs, R. R., Waid, C. A., & del Carmen, A. (2009). Students’ Perceptions of Online Courses: The Effect of Online Course Experience. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 10(1), 9–26,89,91.
 
Summary:
This paper has provided an extensive literature review and has identified a gap that research regarding student perceptions of online courses is limited and has generally focused on those who have taken online courses. This paper reports the research in which data was collected from 180 students taking criminal justice courses on campus at a large 4-year university in the Southwest and 100 students taking criminal justice courses in an online program at that same university. The analysis has focus on differences in perception between students who have taken online courses and those who have not.

Key results are as follows:
  • Students in both groups generally agreed that it takes more effort to complete an online course.
  • Having the experience of taking online courses may increase one’s opinion of the quality of such courses, with increased experience further increasing this opinion.
  • Online course experience does not influence the perception of the youngest students because they might not be as self-directed in their learning style as the older students.
  • Online course experience seemed to matter slightly more for females than for males, with more significant results for the former group.

Assessment:
This paper indicates that a student would hesitate to choose an online course in the beginning but as he/she experiences online courses, his/her perception about online course becomes more favorable.

Reflection:
The results from this study confirms general observation that those who have not taken online course tend to hesitate to enroll for online course. But it is interesting to note that once a student experiences online course, his/her perception about online course improves. This is an important finding for the study of adoption of online courses.


Tuesday 5 November 2013

Paper Review: Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping

Karpicke, J. D., & Blunt, J. R. (2011). Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping. Science, 331(6018), 772–775. doi:10.1126/science.1199327

Summary:
This paper examines the effectiveness of retrieval practice relative to elaborative studying with concept mapping. It presents findings from two experiments. Eighty undergraduate students participated in Experiment 1. The students first studied a science text under one of four conditions within a single initial learning session.
  1. In the study-once condition, students studied the text in a single study period.
  2. In the repeated study condition, students studied the text in four consecutive study periods.
  3. In the elaborative concept mapping condition, students studied the text in an initial study period and then created a concept map of the concepts in the text.
  4. In the retrieval practice condition, students studied the text in an initial study period and then practiced retrieval by recalling as much of the information as they could on a free recall test.
On the final test 1 week later, the repeated study, elaborative concept mapping, and retrieval practice conditions all outperformed the study-once condition on both verbatim and inference questions. Retrieval practice produced the best learning, better than elaborative studying with concept mapping, which itself was not significantly better than spending additional time reading. Interestingly, students predicted that repeated studying would produce the best long-term retention and that practicing retrieval would produce the worst retention, even though the opposite was true.

Second experiment extended the first one by three means:
  1. Texts with enumeration structures and texts with sequence structures were used.
  2. Each student created a concept map of one science text and practiced retrieval of a second text.
  3. Half of the students took a final short-answer test, like the one used in Experiment 1, and half took a final test in which they created concept maps of the two texts, without viewing the texts on the final test.
The results on the final short-answer test were similar for verbatim and inference questions, as was the case in Experiment 1. Retrieval practice produced better performance than elaborative concept mapping for both types of science text collapsed across the two text formats, the advantage of retrieval practice was again large. Even when the final test involved using memory to construct a concept map, practicing retrieval during original learning produced better performance than engaging in elaborative study by creating concept maps during original learning. Again in this experiment too, students erroneously predicted that elaborative concept mapping would produce better long-term learning than retrieval practice.

Assessment:
In this paper, the researchers have strongly argued that retrieval practice is a powerful way to promote meaningful learning of complex concepts commonly found in science education. Interestingly, this is not what students themselves predicted. So this finding is quite valuable.

Reflection:
This finding is very important from online education perspective since it would be easier online to provide retrieval practice to students.

Paper Review: The Critical Importance of Retrieval for Learning

Karpicke, J. D., & Roediger, H. L. (2008). The Critical Importance of Retrieval for Learning. Science, 319(5865), 966–968. doi:10.1126/science.1152408  

Summary: This paper reports the research which had following three goals:
  1. Once information can be recalled from memory, what are the effects of repeated encoding (during study trials) or repeated retrieval (during test trials) on learning and long-term retention, assessed after a week delay?
  2. Examine students’ assessments of their own learning.
  3. Is speed of learning correlated with long-term retention, and if so, is the correlation positive (processes that promote fast learning also slow forgetting and promote good retention) or negative (quick learning may be superficial and produce rapid forgetting)?
In the experiment, the researchers had college students learn a list of foreign language vocabulary word pairs and manipulated whether pairs remained in the list (and were repeatedly practiced) or were dropped after the first time they were recalled. Students in one condition learned foreign language vocabulary words in the standard paradigm of repeated study-test trials. In three other conditions, once a student had correctly produced the vocabulary item, it was repeatedly studied but dropped from further testing, repeatedly tested but dropped from further study, or dropped from both study and test.

Following are the results reported in this paper:
  • Repeated retrieval practice enhanced long-term retention, whereas repeated studying produced essentially no benefit.
  • Students’ predictions of their performance were uncorrelated with actual performance.
  • Forgetting rate for information is not necessarily determined by speed of learning but, instead, is greatly determined by the type of practice involved.

Assessment:
The research presented in this paper has produced results that contradict the conventional wisdom. The conventional wisdom is that if information can be recalled from memory, it has been learned and can be dropped from further practice, so students can focus their effort on other material. Research reported in this paper shows that this conventional wisdom is wrong. Even after items can be recalled from memory, eliminating those items from repeated retrieval practice greatly reduces long-term retention. Repeated retrieval induced through testing (and not repeated encoding during additional study) produces large positive effects on long-term retention. This is very important contribution that needs further validation for generalization.

Reflection:
Continuous testing is considered to be a best practice in software development. Looks like it is also a best practice in education! On more serious note, this paper strengthens the argument that technology can enhance quality of learning since repeated testing is easier with use of technology. 



Monday 4 November 2013

Paper Review: Role of social presence and cognitive absorption in online learning environments

Leong, P. (2011). Role of social presence and cognitive absorption in online learning environments. Distance Education, 32(1), 5–28.    

Summary: Based on literature review, this paper has proposed following hypothesis:
  1. Social presence will be positively related to student satisfaction with online courses.
  2. Cognitive absorption will be positively related to student satisfaction with online courses.
  3. Social presence is an antecedent to cognitive absorption and will be positively related to cognitive absorption.
  4. Interest will be related to cognitive absorption and student satisfaction with online courses.
An online survey was used to collect data from 294 students enrolled in 19 online or online hybrid courses of the University of Hawaii system and Hawaii Pacific University during the Spring 2005 and Fall 2005 semesters. Following were the results:
  • While social presence influences student satisfaction, its impact is not direct, but rather mediated by cognitive absorption.
  • There is direct impact of interest on student satisfaction.
  • No significant relationship was found between interest and cognitive absorption.
  • A significant relationship was found between interest and social presence.
Following were mentioned to be limitations of the study:
  • Specific to asynchronous text-based learning environment facilitated through CMS such as WebCT.
  • Convenience sampling
  • Use of only one data point

Assessment:
This paper makes a contribution by empirically showing relationships among social presence, cognitive absorption, and student satisfaction with online learning environment. A similar approach could be used to validate the results for online learning environment that use social media tools such as discussion forums and video lectures.

Reflection:
The empirical analysis is very detailed.

Paper Review: Students’ use of asynchronous discussions for academic discourse socialization

Beckett, G. H., Amaro-JimĂ©nez, C., & Beckett, K. S. (2010). Students’ use of asynchronous discussions for academic discourse socialization. Distance Education, 31(3), 315–335.  

Summary: This paper addresses two research questions:
  1. What are multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-level Teaching English as Second Language (TESL) master’s and doctoral students’ perceptions of Online Asynchronous Discussion (OAD) in general and why?
  2. What do multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-level TESL master’s and doctoral students use OADs for and how?
The research was conducted using qualitative techniques at a large mid-western University in USA between 2003 and 2007. Purposeful sampling was used to choose a sample of 13 students and one faculty member. Following findings are reported:

  • Students’ perceptions of OAD:
    • OADs are great but not helpful for improving writing.
    • Disappointed, demotivated and frustrated by lack of participation and guidelines.
  • Participants viewed the OADs as virtual communities of practice for language socialization and as opportunities to learn the languages and cultures of the academic and professional communities that they were part of  by engaging with more knowledgeable and experienced others such as their professors as well as their more experienced peers.
  • Academic discourse socialization was done by all members of the virtual community in various forms.
 The paper has concluded by drawing implications for further research and practice.

Assessment:
Primarily done as a qualitative research, this paper reports findings on students’ use of asynchronous discussions for academic discourse socialization. Since the sample size is small (13), the findings perhaps would not be generalizable but still provide a starting point in right direction.

Reflection:
Online Asynchronous Discussion (OAD) is a critical component in online learning to foster learner-learner and learner-instructor interaction. Viewing its use for academic discourse socialization is a next step in valuing its importance. Further research would be needed to validate these findings.

Sunday 3 November 2013

Paper Review: Developing an instrument to assess student readiness for online learning: a validation study

Dray, B. J., Lowenthal, P. R., Miszkiewicz, M. J., Ruiz-Primo, M. A., & Marczynski, K. (2011). Developing an instrument to assess student readiness for online learning: a validation study. Distance Education, 32(1), 29–47.  

Summary: The authors have sought to develop a rigorous survey instrument for students to self-assess readiness for online learning. The paper describes the findings from a three-phase study during which the instrument was developed, evaluated and validated. In literature review, the authors have provided a review of earlier survey instruments and then argued for a need to develop more rigorous survey instrument. The method involved following phases:
  1. Survey was developed and reviewed by experts
  2. An item analysis was conducted.
  3. A statistical analysis of reliability and validity of the survey instrument was conducted.

Assessment:
This paper describes the process of development of a survey instrument.

Reflection:
The authors have not commented on cultural impact on the survey instrument. It will be interesting to explore how this survey instrument can be adapted to Indian conditions.

Paper Review: Evaluating the quality of interaction in asynchronous discussion forums in fully online courses

Nandi, D., Hamilton, M., & Harland, J. (2012). Evaluating the quality of interaction in asynchronous discussion forums in fully online courses. Distance Education, 33(1), 5–30.    

Summary:
This paper addresses a key research question, “How can we evaluate quality online interaction in a fully online course?”.  This questions was further refined into following two sub-questions:
  1. How can we evaluate quality interaction between students in fully online courses?
  2. How can we define the ideal role of the instructor while interacting with the students in fully online courses?
The discussion forum posts from four fully online courses were qualitatively analyzed using a grounded theoretic approach to capture the inner meaning of the data. Results of data analysis showed that students were actively participating in discussion, asking and answering questions. In response, instructor posted both direct answers and hints to promote deep learning of important course contents. Research further showed that rather than designing a fully student-centered or instructor-centered discussion, a combination of both approaches can be advantageous. The paper has provided two frameworks – one for students and other one for instructor – that can be used for developing and supporting quality discussion forums in fully online courses.    

Assessment:
This paper uses qualitative analysis techniques to analyze discussion forum data posts to identify the underlying themes. Such analysis has further resulted into two frameworks that can be used to develop and support quality discussion forums. While the list of themes seem to be exhaustive, perhaps a similar study in different context could identify additional themes.

Reflection:
Discussion forum is a critical tool for fostering learner-learner and learner-instructor interaction in an online course. This paper helps by providing some guidance on how this tool can be effectively used.

Saturday 2 November 2013

Paper Review: How do students define their roles and responsibilities in online learning group projects?

Williams, K. C., Morgan, K., & Cameron, B. A. (2011). How do students define their roles and responsibilities in online learning group projects? Distance Education, 32(1), 49–62.

Summary:
This paper explores the processes of group role formation in online class settings. Authors have used qualitative analysis to code chat logs and discussion threads in six undergraduate Family and Consumer Sciences online courses that required online group projects. Following four themes related to the process of group role formation emerged:
  • testing the waters: a method students use to check in with each other and to test their ideas prior to make commitments related to roles and processes.
  • apologies as being nice: a strategy students employed to avoid creating conflict, or to preempt negative feedback or anger.
  • tag - you're it: a process groups used to assign leaders by default. The first one who posts an idea is seen as the leader by the group, whether he/she intended to take that role or not.
  • struggling to find one's role: processes used to discover, understand and clarify individual roles within a group without clearly stating or defining specific roles.
The authors have further argued that students created following roles as the group process evolved over the course of the semester:
  • leader: facilitates and keeps the group on track
  • wannabe: tries to control the group without taking the responsibility
  • spoiler: an infrequent participant who comes in and out and expects that others work around what they want to do, without regard for previous work already being done or roles already in progress
  • agreeable enabler: goes along with all suggestions even when tasks shift and continues to do work for others, letting others get away with work avoidance
  • coat-tail: tries to appear to be an active participant, but in reality does little or no work
  • supportive worker: understands assignment criteria and group dynamics, follows through and takes initiative to ensure group’s success.
Results lend support for a balance between allowing students to create and experience roles on their own and faculty assignment of roles. Questions are raised related to faculty approaches toward directing and scaffolding the group process.

Assessment:
This paper uses qualitative analysis techniques to identify themes related to the process of group formation in the context of online course. Though a significant research is done in the area of group formation, such research in the context of online course is quite useful. This paper has further identified the roles and have mapped them on the roles identified by earlier researchers. This is a good contribution, which should be further validated.    

Reflection:
Group formation in an online course need not be drastically different process but would have its own nuances. This paper addresses this topic and raises further questions that provide ideas for further research.

Paper Review: Student perceptions of ePortfolio integration in online courses

Bolliger, D. U., & Shepherd, C. E. (2010). Student perceptions of ePortfolio integration in online courses. Distance Education, 31(3), 295–314.
Summary:
Portfolios are compilations of personal and professional work for documenting and describing skills, growth or development. This paper explores how electronic portfolios influence graduate students’ perceptions of communication and connectedness, learning and value in online programs. Students from two online graduate-level courses at a small research university in the western United States were involved in this study. Data was collected from 40 such students with a web-based questionnaire and a threaded discussion forum. The study utilized mixed-method approach. Following were key findings:
  • ePortfolios positively impacted some students' perception of peer communication.
  • ePortfolios positively impacted most students’ perception of their learning.
  • Many respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they valued the integration of an ePortfolio in the course.
  • Most participants also valued ePortfolios.
  • Prior ePortfolio experience and gender were responsible for minor differences in student perceptions.
  • Lack of prior reflective experience impacted student perceptions significantly.
The authors have concluded that ePortfolios can foster learning communities in online graduate programs.

Assessment:
This paper makes use of quantitative and qualitative analysis to explore influence of ePortfolio on the perceptions of students of online courses. The idea that ePortfolios can be used be use for fostering learning community is a valuable idea and should be validated with additional reasearch.

Reflection:
Fostering learner-learner and learner-instructor interaction in online courses is a challenge. ePortfolios could be another useful tool in addition to tools such as discussion forums. More research is needed to establish usefulness of ePortfolios.

Sunday 20 October 2013

Paper review: Using online technologies to extend a classroom to learners at a distance

Hilton, J. L., Graham, C., Rich, P., & Wiley, D. (2010). Using online technologies to extend a classroom to learners at a distance. Distance Education, 31(1), 77–92.
 
Summary:
This paper reports experience from a course in which the instructor allowed individuals at a distance to participate. These students were given full access to all course materials (readings and recorded class lectures) and were encouraged to complete course assignments. However, the additional amount of faculty’s time necessary to keep the course open was kept to less than 30 minutes each week. The components of the course were available through Wordpress (course web site), a wiki (course participation), student blogs (posting homework assignments and discussion) and ProfCast, blip.tv and iTunes (lecture material).
As part of research, two questionnaires were administered, one for students at distance and other for students in physical class. Key findings were as follows:
  • Completing course reading was rated by the distance learners as the most useful activity thus indicating importance of learner-content interaction.
  • Distance learners felt that course would have become a better experience with more clarity on progress of course, increased interaction and more time at hand.
  • Learner-learner interaction didn’t happen on its own.

Assessment:
This paper is a case study in which an attempt was made to offer a course to distance learners without increasing time commitment of faculty. While some benefits were reported, it was not very clear on how such benefits could be scaled up.

Reflection:
This case study shows a way by which a face-to-face course can be offered to larger audience without increasing time commitment of faculty. Typically such approach would help distance learners benefit by emans of learner-content interaction. However, the paper is unable to provide an answer on how to increase learner-instructor and learner-learner interaction for distance learners in an efficient manner.




Saturday 19 October 2013

Paper Review: The New Generation of Massive Open Online Course (MOOCS) and Entrepreneurship Education

Welsh, D. H. B., & Dragusin, M. (2013). The New Generation of Massive Open Online Course (MOOCS) and Entrepreneurship Education. Small Business Institute® Journal (SBIJ), 9(1), 50–65.

Summary:
This study examines the rapid shift and evolution in online education by Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). It describes following benefits of MOOCs:
  • The free xMOOCs can reach a high number of students, including aspiring and established entrepreneurs, all over the world, with no time boundaries.
  • Especially with xMOOCs, students can benefit professionally and personally from free and high quality course content, that follows the same rigorous standards as classroom-based courses.
  • Students can also engage in a free high quality learning experience.
  • Personalization is another dimension of xMOOCs that students notice.
  • Learners have the opportunity to experience the high interactivity of xMOOC format, not only in relation with the computer or smartphone, but also with fellow students.
  • At a more general level, xMOOCs can give unparalleled insights into human learning.
The paper has pointed out following weaknesses of MOOCs:
  • Lack of face-to-face communication, lack of frequent feedback from a professor, or irreplaceable classroom experiences
  • The humanities, social sciences, and business, which require online written work utilizing critical thinking skills, are difficult to assess online.
  • Developing revenue models to make the concept self-sustaining
  • Delivering valuable signifiers of completion such as credentials, badges or acceptance into accreditation
  • authenticating students in a manner to satisfy accrediting institutions or hiring companies that the student’s identify is actually known.
The paper suggests following redesign strategies to low-ranked Universities:
  • Raising awareness among university members toward the impending changes and involving them in the transformation process; encouraging them to sign-up for already existing MOOCs addressing online tools and their effective use; identifying and eliminating organizational cultures that constrain the use of technological innovations.
  • Consistent improvements in the quality of the students’ education experiences on campus by implementing modern, effective teaching practices and by focusing on discussions and debates that enhance students’ creativity
  • Forming partnerships with regional universities to build their own platform, with content that captures local and regional specificity

Assessment:
This is a descriptive research wherein the authors have explored existing literature to describe how entrepreneurship education will get impacted by MOOCs.


Reflection:
This paper provides compilation of pros and cons of MOOCs. Its suggestions for low-ranked Universities are worth pondering over.

Paper Review: Using mobile phones to promote lifelong learning among rural women in Southern India

Balasubramanian, K., Thamizoli, P., Umar, A., & Kanwar, A. (2010). Using mobile phones to promote lifelong learning among rural women in Southern India. Distance Education, 31(2), 193–209.
 
Summary:
This paper reports experience from a project in which mobile phones given to 320 rural women entrepreneurs were used for promoting lifelong learning. A survey sample size was 73 and sampling method was random sampling. Qualitative analysis was done using anthropological tools and participatory rural appraisal techniques such as focus group discussions, participatory observation and structured interviews. Based on this study, the authors conclude that the domestication of technology, with elements of appropriation, objectification, incorporation and conversion, has taken place in the context of cognitive social capital and social learning capital. The appropriation of mobile phone in the context of bank credit and lifelong learning has helped to create an identity for phone as a learning and business tool. Using mobile phone while managing animals, listening to audio messages and voicemails and recording messages for discussion and peer review, sharing the messages in the neighbourhood, workplaces and Self-Help-Group meetings, discussing various aspects of  goat rearing, all these have strengthened the objectification, incorporation and conversion processes.

Assessment
The paper makes use of Domestication of Technology Framework to explain how mobile phones were used by rural women entrepreneurs as a lifelong learning tool. It discusses following four elements of domestication of technology framework:
  • Appropriation refers to access, ownership and possession of technology.
  • Objectification refers to the object and its use in the household economy.
  • Incorporation refers to the way in which objects are used in a temporal context.
  • Conversion refers to the way in which the object is used as a currency.
The contribution of paper is not so much explicitly stated though we can sense the value of this research conducted in an unusual context.

Reflection:
The thought process that technology such as mobile phones can be used for learning only after it gets domesticated is new to me. It has given me new direction in my thinking about use of technology in education.







Friday 18 October 2013

Paper Review: Determinants of Mobile Learning Adoption: An Empirical Analysis

Wei-Han Tan, G., Keng-Boon Ooi, Jia-Jia Sim, & Phusavat, K. (2012). Determinants of Mobile Learning Adoption: An Empirical Analysis. Journal of Computer Information Systems, 52(3), 82–91.

Summary:
The objective of this paper is to explore how related factors influence the adoption of mobile learning in Malaysia by incorporating subjective norms and individual differences with Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). Towards this end, largely based on literature review, the authors proposed 13 hypotheses as shown in the research model below:  
 The authors analyzed the response from a sample of 401 respondents for a self-administered questionnaire using Multiple Regression Analysis (MRA). As a result, 8 out of 13 hypotheses were supported thus providing following conclusions:
  • Gender has no significant relationship with Perceived Usefulness (PU), Subjective Norms (SN) and Perceived Ease of Use (PEOU).
  • Age is only significant with SN and PEOU and not PU.
  • There is no significant relationship between past experience behavior and PEOU apart from PU and SN.
  • Like most past studies, PU, PEOU and SN, remain as one of the important predictors in the intention to adopt m-learning.

Assessment:
The paper has adapted TAM to identify determinants for adoption of mobile learning. While results are not so surprising, lack of relationship between gender with any one of PU, SN and PEOU seems to have arisen out of sample selection. Perhaps with bigger and more representative samples, few results could have been different. One point to note that education seems to have been used to measure past experience. The authors should have given adequate explanation/reasoning for this choice.

Reflection:
This empirical research shows the way how we can validate already known determinants for adoption of educational technology such as mobile learning.



Wednesday 16 October 2013

Paper Review: Realigning Higher Education for the 21st-Century Learner through Multi-Access Learning


Irvine, V., Code, J., & Richards, L. (2013). Realigning higher education for the 21st-century learner through multi-access learning. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 9(2), 172-186.
 
Summary:
The authors report results from a pilot study on one type of multi-access course, where students were able to choose their mode of access. In this case, remote students accessed the course via webcam and joined their on-campus classmates and instructor who were together face-to-face.
Multi-access learning is defined by Irvine as a framework for enabling students in both face-to-face and online contexts to personalize learning experiences while engaging as a part of the same course. Multi-access learning is different than blended learning because it places the student at the centre of the learning experience as opposed to the instructor or the institution. With multi-access learning, each individual learner decides how he/she wishes to take the course (e.g., face-to-face or online) and can then participate with other students and the instructor – each of whom have their own modality preferences – at the same time.

The paper has addressed following research questions:
  • What was the rank order of learner preference for mode of access?
  • How important was it for learners to have choice in selecting access modes?
  • How did the experience participating in a multi-access course affect learner perceptions of quality of learning?
Research was conducted using a 17-question online survey that included demographic information on age, gender, education program, and teaching area. Items also gathered information on student experience with online courses, preferences for course access mode, and open-ended questions. Following the administration of the online survey, additional qualitative data was obtained through multiple interviews conducted with a subsample of the participants and separately with the instructor. Out of class of 26 secondary education students, 16 gave consent to participate in this study. Fifteen responses were found valid and were analyzed. Following were the results:
  • Learners preferred multi-access for course modality
  • All responses by the learners who had taken an online course before ranked the choice of delivery as very important.
  • 57% of respondents reported they perceived the quality of learning as increased and 42.9% respondents reported the quality of learning as being the same.
The authors argue that the multi-access framework is an alternative approach to the MOOC design for those who want access to higher learning.

Assessment:
The authors have advocated use of multi-access learning as against MOOC to increase accessibility to higher education. Due to small sample size and restricted context, the results may not have universal applicability but they nevertheless argue for suitability of multi-access learning.
 
Reflection:
Multi-access learning has its use in many cases though its feasibility could be low in most of the cases. Nevertheless, more research in this area may help establish its effectiveness over traditional classroom sessions and MOOCs.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Paper Review: Learner Participation and Engagement in Open Online Courses: Insights from the Peer 2 Peer University


Ahn, J., Butler, B. S., Alam, A., & Webster, S. A. (2013). Learner participation and engagement in open online courses: Insights from the Peer 2 Peer University. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 9(2), 160-171.

Summary:
This paper presents a comprehensive description of the Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU), a social computing platform, using its log data. P2PU is non-profit organization and online platform that allows any member to design and create a learning project (study group or course or challenge), which can then be taken by any other member in the online community.
The main research question guiding this study was: How have learners participated and engaged with open online learning in P2PU? Following are the key findings:

·        Statistics suggest that as a platform P2PU is able to successfully encourage individuals to experiment with creating a diverse array of participatory learning environments, but that a relatively small percentage of those projects are ever implemented as operational.

·        Descriptive measures of P2PU's growth and history show an online community that is in an early stage of development, but steadily growing both in terms of individual users and different types of participatory learning environments.

Assessment:
The authors of this paper have conducted descriptive research to investigate adoption of P2PU platform. They processed log data from the platform to find answer to their research question on how learners have participated and engaged with open online learning in P2PU. While presenting their results, they have raised many valuable research questions that can be investigated further.

Reflection:
This paper has answered “what” question while identifying quite a few “why” questions. Some of them are very fundamental questions, investigation of which could create useful knowledge for creators of open learning resources.

Paper Review: Patterns of Engagement in Connectivist MOOCs

Milligan, C., Littlejohn, A., & Margaryan, A. (2013). Patterns of engagement in connectivist MOOCs. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 9(2), 149-159.

Summary:

This paper addresses two research questions:
  1. What patterns of engagement exist within the Change11 cMOOC course?
  2. What principal factors mediate this engagement?
The Change11 course was a large-scale cMOOC running from September 2011 to May 2012, organized and facilitated by George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and Dave Cormier. Over 35 weeks, participants were introduced to the work of a range of instructional design researchers and practitioners. Participants for the study were recruited via an invitation and study description included as the first item in The Daily e-mail sent to everyone registered for the Change11 cMOOC during Week 17 of the course. Thirty-five individuals from a total of 2,300 registered learners agreed to participate. From the initial sample of 35, 29 study participants were able to subsequently take part in a one-hour semi-structured interview via Skype, which explored various aspects of participation including motivation, goal-setting, and planning strategies, as well as exploring study participants' existing and emergent learning networks, their use of tools to support their learning, and their perceptions of their own participation in the course.

As a result of this study, three distinct types of engagement were recognized – active participation, lurking and passive participation. Active participants adapted well to the connectivist pedagogy of cMOOCs, maintaining active blogs and Twitter accounts, actively and regularly discussing the course. Lurkers were actively following the course but did not actively engage with other learners within it. This category of users is somewhat complex as it includes a spectrum of participants from those who lacked the confidence to participate, to those who were so confident they didn't need to participate in the course. What was common among them is that a cMOOC format works for them – they have the skills to leverage what they want from the course, on their terms. The final category of passive participants was characterized by their apparent frustration or dissatisfaction with the course.
In response to second research question, following factors were identified affecting engagement in this cMOOC: Confidence, Prior experience and Motivation.

Assessment:
MOOCs are classified as Connectivist MOOC (CMOOC) and Scalable MOOC (xMOOC). This paper specifically focuses on cMOOC. The authors have studied a specific cMOOC offering to make a point that confidence, prior experience and motivation determines whether the participant would be an active participant or lurker or passive participant.

While the paper has identified three types of engagement, lurking as a type should have been split over few types to have more cohesive categories. On another note, there seems to be possibility of identification of few more determinants of engagement with wider scope of study.

Reflection:
This paper makes an important contribution by identifying confidence, prior experience and motivation as determinants for engagement in cMOOC. This needs to be further validated.s

Friday 4 October 2013

Paper Review: Wrapping a MOOC: Student Perceptions of an Experiment in Blended Learning


Bruff, D. O., Fisher, D. H., McEwen, K. E., & Smith, B. E. (2013). Wrapping a MOOC: Student perceptions of an experiment in blended learning. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 9(2), 187–199.

Summary:
This paper provides a case study of students’ perceptions of a blended graduate course in machine learning at Vanderbilt University in Fall 2012. This blended course was offered by Prof. Fisher (a co-author of this paper). who "wrapped" his on-campus course around the Machine Learning MOOC offered on the Coursera platform.

Following techniques were used to collect data:
  • Focus group with all 10 students participating
  • University’s standard end-of-course evaluation forms
  • Post-course survey, which was designed to further explore some of the themes that emerged from the focus group
Qualitative data analysis for this study involved the constant comparative method and the development of case studies.Following were key findings:
  • The major advantage of the MOOC over a traditional lecture-based course was its greater flexibility, customization, and accessibility, which students saw as encouraging structured self-paced learning.
  • Students described the face-to-face sessions with Prof. Fisher as helping to keep them on track with the material online.
  • Students did not actively participate in either the Coursera discussion forums or the study groups formed online due to time constraints. Instead, they used the discussion boards to check for course errata or to quickly troubleshoot questions or problems, but tended to ask questions among their local peers.
  • Students suggested more in-class discussion of the material presented in the MOOC.
  • Misalignment between Face-to-Face and Online Components was seen as a major challenge.
  • Students perceived role of Prof. Ng (Faculty for MOOC) as the lead lecturer of the course. On other hand, they perceived Fisher's role in the face-to-face sessions as that of a "facilitator."
Authors have defined the concept of coupling and cohesion of a blended course. Coupling refers to the kinds and extent of dependency between online and in-class components of a hybrid course, whereas cohesion refers to the relatedness of the course content overall. Authors have further defined subject coupling and task coupling. Subject coupling happens when  subject matter is shared across the online and face-to-face components of a course. Task coupling happens when online and face-to-face components contribute to the completion of a task, typically by learning and applying complementary subject content and/or skills. The authors note that the course under discussion had a relatively low degree of coupling by design but to the apparent dissatisfaction of some students.

Authors have identified following opportunities for future work:
  • Possibility to wrap a course around parts of multiple MOOCs
  • How can MOOCs be best designed to best leverage differently designed local learning communities?
  • Possibility for characterizing student and faculty interactions beyond any single MOOC, to include interactions across MOOCs and across media
Assessment:
This is a case study paper that uses qualitative analysis techniques for data analysis. It seems to have made a contribution by defining concept of coupling and cohesion of a blended course and by further relating them to student satisfaction. Its identification of opportunities for future work indicate vast scope for further research in adoption of MOOC in global education ecosystem.

Reflection: This paper discusses one way by which MOOC could be incorporated in mainstream education. It will be interesting to repeat this experiment with larger student participation so that the relationship between coupling/cohesion of blended course with student satisfaction can be critically examined.

Paper Review: Producing and Delivering a MOOC on Pattern-Oriented Software Architecture for Concurrent and Networked Software

Schmidt, D. C., & McCormick, Z. (2013). Producing and Delivering a Coursera MOOC on Pattern-Oriented Software Architecture for Concurrent and Networked Software. SPLASH ’13, October 26–31, 2013, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Retrieved from https://my.vanderbilt.edu/zachmccormick/files/2013/09/posa.pdf

Summary:
Two faculty members from Vanderbilt University produced and delivered a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on “Pattern-Oriented Software Architecture for Concurrent and Networked Software” (known as POSA MOOC) in Spring of 2013. This paper descries their experience.
Launched on 4th March 2013, POSA MOOC ran for ten weeks and had an enrolment of more than 31,000 students. Its section zero provided course overview with an hour of introductory video. Section one provided an introduction to concurrent and networked software using 3.5 hours of videos. Section two provided an introduction to patterns and frameworks with 6 hours of videos. Section three contained 6 hours of videos and focused on how to develop concurrent and networked software by applying patterns and frameworks and grouping patterns into pattern languages. The final section, which was an option one, provided a case study of “Gang of Four” Patterns with 3.5 hours of background videos on object-oriented design and patterns. Students could engage in one of two tracks. Normal track was meant for students who had time/interest in taking the auto-graded quizzes and final exam, but who did not have time/interest to complete the peer-graded short essay questions and peer-graded programming assignments. Students in normal track received a Statement of Accomplishment. Students in Distinction track received a Statement of Accomplishment with Distinction by scoring more than 70% score. The score was based on the weekly quizzes (35% of the final grade), peer-graded short essays and peer-graded assignments (55% of the final grade) and a final exam (10% of the final grade).

Authors have noted following observations and lessons learned:
  • An enormous amount of time was needed to prepare the content prior to MOOC launch. Work involved filming high quality video lectures and creating student assessment mechanisms.
  • An even larger amount of time is needed to manage a MOOC after launch. Authors spent 40+ hours per week on discussion forum largely to accelerate and amplify the learning process, to dispel common misconception, to build good will and to reward constructive student participation.
  • The POSA MOOC student diversity was both challenging and rewarding. Challenged included much greater level of scepticism from experienced students, increased workload to fill knowledge gaps, generalizing from limited perspectives impedes learning and overly narrow focus on programming. Rewarding aspects included highly stimulating discussions with expert software developers and greatly improved course structure and content.
  • Assessing student performance in a “design-oriented” MOOC is harder than in “fact-oriented” MOOCs.
  • The Coursera platform, which was used to run this POSA MOOC, is a work-in-progress.
  • Innovations helped make the POSA MOOC more like a “real” course. The innovations included virtual office hours using Google Hangout and YouTube channel, crowd-sourced programming assignments and grading calculator.
  • Interpret MOOC enrolment statistics carefully. Out of 31,000+ enrolments, ~20,000 ever logged in and participated in some way. Only ~1600 of these participants received some form of statement of accomplishment.
  • MOOCs can enhance student-centred learning opportunities by increasing asynchrony in courses and by providing location-agnostic learning.
Authors have mentioned following benefits to faculty:
  • Significantly better on-campus courses
  • Fostering global life-long learning communities that connect students who possess a range of experience
Authors have mentioned following benefits to Vanderbilt:
  • Expanding the brand value of a Vanderbilt education
  • Better opportunities for engagement with alumni and prospective students.
Besides these benefits, authors have also observed following drawbacks based on their experience:
  • Potential for “deskilling” education and educators
  • MOOCs require substantial institutional investment and the payoff isn’t clear (yet)
  • Detecting and dealing with plagiarism is tedious
Based on their experience, authors are planning to expand their offering with an intentionally-coordinated, trans-institution sequence of MOOCs that focus on patterns and frameworks for mobile device programming. It would showcase how intentionally-coordinated MOOCs can create life-long learning communities that (1) cross-cut traditional institutional/disciplinary boundaries and (2) would not be feasible without the MOOC paradigm and MOOC platforms like Coursera.

Assessment:
This paper is an experience-sharing paper, which documents observations and lessons learned along with commentary on pros and cons of MOOCs. It has also identified a research gap regarding correlations between completion rate and various diversity related factors (such as broadband penetration, English proficiency, age, and types of software jobs available in various countries).

Reflection:
Authors have expressed fear that administrators at some cash-strapped institutions would diminish the quality of higher education via wanton replacement of experienced faculty with MOOCs and inexpensive lecturers. While this fear is very much valid, it may also be looked at from different perspective. Many cash-stripped institutes, particularly in developing countries can actually enhance quality of their delivery of education by combining MOOCs produced and delivered by top-notch educators with in-person mentoring by local inexpensive lecturers. Obviously it requires paradigm change where in the responsibility of such lecturers would change from that of teaching in classroom to facilitating learning experience of students through one-on-one or group mentoring sessions.

Monday 9 September 2013

Book Review: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is an official biography of Steve Jobs written by former managing editor of Time magazine. In more than 500 pages, Walter has provided a detailed account of life and career of Steve Jobs. One can sense the amount of efforts Walter would have put in gathering facts by interviewing more than 100 individuals and going through loads of records. By providing analysis and insights from these details, Walter has made this book quite readable and engaging from start to end. I would recommend it to every voracious reader.

Installed Zotero today

Zotero is an open source reference management software. It can be used to collect, organize, cite, and share the research sources. I have installed its version 4.0 as Firefox extension. It seems to have a lot of features, which I would explore in coming days.

Before installing Zotero, I also looked at Docear. Docear (“dog-ear”) is an academic literature suite containing digital library with support for pdf documents, reference manager, note taking and with mind maps taking a central role.Its latest version is 1.0 RC2. It seems to be an excellent tool for those who would like to use mind mapping to organize their collection of research sources. I was not sure so deferred its installation and instead installed Zotero.
Docear (“dog-ear”) is an academic literature suite. It integrates everything you need to search, organize and create academic literature into a single application: digital library with support for pdf documents, reference manager, note taking and with mind maps taking a central role. What’s more, Docear works seamlessly with many existing tools like Mendeley, Microsoft Word, and Foxit Reader. Docear is free and open source, based on Freeplane, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Technology and developed by scientists from around the world, among others from OvGU, and the University of California, Berkeley. - See more at: http://www.docear.org/#sthash.DcF7Eydp.dpuf
Docear (“dog-ear”) is an academic literature suite. It integrates everything you need to search, organize and create academic literature into a single application: digital library with support for pdf documents, reference manager, note taking and with mind maps taking a central role. What’s more, Docear works seamlessly with many existing tools like Mendeley, Microsoft Word, and Foxit Reader. Docear is free and open source, based on Freeplane, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Technology and developed by scientists from around the world, among others from OvGU, and the University of California, Berkeley. - See more at: http://www.docear.org/#sthash.DcF7Eydp.dpuf

Monday 24 June 2013

Book Review: TATA LOG



TATA LOG tells 8 stories from Tata group of companies. Though it is written by a Tata insider, it is not a book that only praises Tata way of working. Rather it takes a critical view of happenings and that is a strength of this book. Written in a very lucid language, this book is both entertaining and informative. I think all eight stories given in this book can become excellent case studies for discussion in MBA classes and corporate management training programs.   

These eight stories are as follows:

  1. Launch of TATA Indica car
  2. CSR work by TATA Chemicals 
  3. Making of Tanishq brand
  4. Trouble at Tata Finance
  5. Tata Second Career Program
  6. Development of EKA - an Indian supercomputer
  7. Acquisition of Tetley by Tata Tea
  8. Winning of Deming Prize by Tata Steel
Highly recommended book for business book lovers!