The twitter heaven gates opened today, although they have been building for some time, with postings around the following blog noted in the tweet below
— Brent Thoma (@Brent_Thoma) January 18, 2013
There has been mixed response to this – some quite clear
— Chris Nickson (@precordialthump) January 18, 2013
Some more contemplative
— Javier Benítez (@jvrbntz) January 18, 2013
and some amazingly not related in any way shape or form to the #FOAMed discussion but yet highly relevant!
— ben goldacre (@bengoldacre) January 18, 2013
The term scholarship has been used a lot. How do educators prove to institutions that they have been undertaking ‘scholarly’ activity by producing FOAM materials? What is scholarship? Well there are a few key papers
1. Fincher and Work (2006) Perspectives on the scholarship of teaching
2. Boyer (1990) Scholarship Reconsidered
3. McGaghie (2010) Scholarship, Publications and Career Advancement in Health Professions Education (AMEE Guide 43)
(1 and 2 don’t have a pay wall!) But I am struggling to find a definition I really like. Adrian Stanley at the University of Leicester has talked about
“Scholarship is the body of principles and practices used by scholars to make their claims about the world as valid and trustworthy as possible”
The key issue is the quoted need (paper 1 above) to have peer review as a fail safe to ensure that standards are up held and maintained. Three issues arise for #FOAMed
The beauty of anything #FOAMed is that it exists in the realtime of its creator. When it is ready it goes online. There is no delay. Peer review by the very nature of its objectivity requires a period of reflection which delays the product getting to the people who want to see it.
Peer review is typically based on ‘peers’ judging your work against some implicit or explicit standards and then having those cross-referenced against a third party editor. These standards may vary between journals, grant reviewers or regulators but there is some criteria none-the-less. #FOAMed is by definition what the user makes of it. If they like it they go back or spread the word and if they don’t, they don’t (and if they really don’t like it then they may tell people they don’t!). But the burden of ‘peer judgement’ is spread across many peers in what some might describe as crowd sourcing. However the open access nature of FOAMed allows anyone to have there say in a fashion that is easily counted via hits, tweets and likes.
iii. Relevance to a new age
When scholarship began the internet didn’t exist. Who would have thought 100 years ago that a musician may have more followers than an entire country (Lady Ga-Ga), who would have predicted that entire university courses may be taught without you physically being in a lecture (Distance Education at Harvard) and who would have believed that a academic conference in Australia may be accessible to anyone in the world (#SMACC2013)
So if I am an institutional director and I want to promote scholarship in my staff. Do I proceed with a system which takes time, may not be accessible to anyone outside my institution, the published beneficial outcomes only read by a small minority and in which there is no social media presence at all? If educational resources are of poor quality – how do I know?
Or do I promote my staff producing resources which are instantly available to all, may have hits of 1000s and, if popular, are discussed across a spectrum of discussion sites. If they are of poor quality they will not get used.
Academics will continue to discuss peer-review into the next decade
IF #FOAMed is good enough it simply won’t matter