Posted by: Megan McPherson, L&T Group, College of Design and Social Context, RMIT.
One of the pleasures of being connected with a university is the opportunity to hear visiting lecturers presenting at different forums and for different audiences.
On 8 November 2012, Professor Erica McWilliam, Adjunct Professor at Queensland University of Technology, spoke at the RMIT College of Business Research Showcase in the Swanston Academic Building. Her audience was mainly comprised of research students in the College of Business involved in higher degrees by research, however her discussion was relevant to any one involved in knowledge creation and learning and teaching.
Professor McWilliam’s presentation was about scholarship and the discomfort of being involved in research that is challenging and new.
A few of the many ideas Professor McWilliam discussed were:
- The three simple questions that she uses to define her research area: What’s going on? How do you know? And So What? Twenty-first century researchers know that there are creaks and leaks in knowledge creation; it is how you, as a researcher, position yourself in relation to these three questions which is relevant.
- What counts as a field? McWilliam suggests Robin Rogers’ notion of twenty-first century researchers operating in a tessellated field and our ability to collaborate, as networks and nodes, changes the way we think of discipline boundaries. Twenty-first century researchers need to be able to tolerate the discomfort of working not in one field or discipline, but being crossdisciplinary, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary. Check out the Research Whisperer’s post for detailed discussion of these terms.
- Twenty-first century researchers creating trouble for what she called ‘straight thinking’, questioning how we design research, using patterns rather than straight lines. McWilliam used Gosling’s The Knight’s Move as the metaphor; see her keynote speech to the 3rd Redesigning Pedagogy International Conference (The Knight’s Move: its relevance for educational research and development, 2009).
- The café as the historical beginning of formal and informal lifelong learning, and knowledge creation. McWilliam sees the café as a site for self-selected discussion, debates and experiments and pointed out how important discussion is for robust research. This is further expanded in this article, McWilliam, E. (2011). From school to café and back again: responding to the learning demands of the twenty‐first century. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 14(3), 257-268.
The McWilliam keynote was twittered on the day by @kyliebudge, @thesiswhisperer and @MeganJMcPherson with the hashtag #mcwilliam. Using Twitter in a lecture presentation is a form of active note taking. It’s also a way to practice writing short, sharp summaries of bigger ideas. Anthony Paré describes this as a type of heuristic writing to make sense; and to make meaning and knowledge. The tweets start to make a narrative of the event, and the results can be both a record and a prompt to do further work with the information.
The Twitter notes have been useful to connect me with information and to network with others. I found the other keynotes referenced here and Kylie Budge (@kyliebudge) found McWilliam’s article ‘From school to café…’ and posted it to Twitter. The notes have been interesting for networking in academic circles; I had great questions and supportive comments in my Twitter feed from academics from different countries and from within Australia.
References / Further Reading:
Judge, A (2012) Insights from Knight’s move thinking, accessed 18 Nov, 2012
McWilliam, E (2009) The Knight’s Move: Its relevance for educational research and development. Keynote paper presented at the 3rd Redesigning Pedagogy International Conference, Singapore. Accessed 18 Nov, 2012.
Paré, A. (2009) What we know about writing, and why it matters. Compendium 2, 2(1), Dalhousie University. Accessed 18 Nov, 2012
Thomson, P (2012) Academic travel diary: a narrative to find the way. Accessed 18 Nov, 2012
Share your thoughts about getting the most value from conferences and visiting guests in the comments!