Dear Edu-bloggers,

In case we are not yet acquainted, my name is James Mannion – I am a secondary school Science teacher and I am also doing a PhD, which is partly based around an evaluation of a taught learning skills curriculum I helped design and teach, from 2010-2014.

This evaluation is still underway, and I do not wish to share any findings from the pilot study at this time. However, as part of my doctorate I would like to ‘situate’ the findings of this pilot study within the context of the wider debate around knowledge and skills in education.

Partly, this will be achieved by interviewing a sample of people with diverse views on what some would describe as the ‘Knowledge versus Skills debate’. I tweeted this intention a couple of months ago, and had quite an overwhelming response: it is clear that ‘Knowledge versus skills’ is a topic lots of people feel happy to be interviewed about. This is a good problem to have!

I cannot hope to interview everybody who has volunteered so far. As such, I will apply a set of criteria to select a sample of people with diverse perspectives on this topic. However, to situate these interviews within an even wider context still, I would like to compile a central database of textual information relating to knowledge and skills in education. This will enable me to carry out a type of discourse analysis known as ‘corpus linguistics’, which is a method for looking at how language is used in discourses relating to a given topic, to see whether any patterns emerge from the data.

To this end, Chris Waugh has very generously accepted my request to set February’s agenda for #blogsync. For those of you who may not yet be familiar with blogsync, it is a simple but clever mechanism by which many people can blog on the same topic, and for these blogs to line up nice and neatly all on the same website. Blogsync is a fantastic way of using simple technology to organise the world’s information, and has been going strong for two years now. However, as far as I know this will be the first time that such technology has been used to construct such a corpus of text on a given topic, as the basis for academic study.

This month, you can submit new OR previously published posts

With this in mind, this month #blogsync will run slightly differently. As well as asking people to write new posts on what they view as the relative importance of knowledge and skills in education, we are asking people also to contribute anything that they or others may have PREVIOUSLY written on this topic (If you would like to submit something someone else has written, please ask their permission first – or tweet/email me a link to the article, and I will seek permission (Twitter @pedagog_machine; Email [email protected]).

In this way, I hope to amass a vast corpus of educational writing on knowledge and skills This is likely to include book chapters and journal articles (where permission has been granted, obviously) – blog posts, letters, research enquiries, newspaper and magazine articles, published and unpublished dissertations and theses… Did I leave anything out?  Basically – if it’s about knowledge and skills, I’d like it to be in the corpus!

Research ethics

Because this corpus is going to be subject to academic scrutiny, even where blog posts have been written under creative commons agreements, in terms of what goes into my analysis I will offer to participants the right to anonymity, should they choose to exercise it, and to amend or withdraw any statements at a later date should they wish to retract or amend them.

I will also publish my doctorate online when it is completed, so that my analysis too can be subject to the same level of scrutiny.

Question to initiate the #blogsync:

If you have already written something on the topic of Knowledge versus Skills, please submit it – you are also welcome to submit multiple articles, if this is a topic you have written about extensively. Alternatively, if you are aware of something someone else has written, which you think should be in the corpus – please either ask their permission to be entered into the corpus, or tweet / email me a link to the article, and I will contact the author.

If you do intend to write something new on the topic of knowledge and skills for this month’s blogsync, you may find the following question useful as a starting point:

“What do you view as the relative roles of knowledge and skills in education?”

To get started, please go to the #blogsync page.

 

I look forward to reading your thoughts.

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