One of the things that I like most about blogging and social media is the ability to share partially-formed ideas and open them to critique. As I stated in a previous post, I recently had a mild disappointment in enacting a research project. And it got me thinking about why important research is often not conducted because granting agencies are actually not horribly innovative. What is established as a clear trend may receive research dollars, but early stage ideas are often only able to access small pockets of funds.
It’s a shame.
Research usually only happens when research dollars are available. This need not be the case. The process of connecting with others, conducting research, and publishing has benefited from the “web economy of scale” – it’s reasonably inexpensive today to conduct research in many fields and connect with colleagues (globally).
In addition to the potential low cost of online research, there is one group of researchers that conducts research whether or not they have grants: doctoral students. So…I’m exploring the prospect of forming a distributed online research lab that connects researchers and students to target three research areas:
1. Social networks and media
2. Educational datamining and learning analytics
3. Systemic change and innovation in the higher education system
I’ve posted an overview of the research lab and would appreciate your thoughts/comments on how to improve this, any interest, etc. This is a significant project for me as it is intended to run three years.
I’m excited about this for several reasons. If you consider higher education’s contribution to society, it really falls into four broad categories:
Significant progress has been made in open educational resources and open scholarship and recently, especially with MOOCs, attention is now turning to open teaching. Accreditation is still in early stages of change, but badges and alternative models (Western Governers University) are gaining momentum. Research, however, has largely been sidestepped. I’d like to see research opened to, and impacted by, network effects and openness. The distributed research lab proposed here is an attempt to do just that.