I finished my first lit review today. Or rather, I should say “I finished the first dot release of the pre-alpha version of my first lit review today,” because I look at this and know that it’s nowhere near where I want it. Then again, “where I want it to be” is at the start of my dissertation about… oh, 3-5 years from now. All things considered, it’s not bad for someone’s first real attempt at independently scouting out scholarly sources.
From the introduction:
This is a preliminary and extremely incomplete literature review surveying the current academic scholarship on open source and education. It can be summarized in three words: there’s not much. I’ll begin… by discussing what I am not looking at… I am not looking at the use of open source software in educational contexts… open source as an IT solution. Nor am I looking at open source with a focus on content licensing… open source as an information access solution.
Instead, I am concerned with an analysis of what sorts of practices and processes for learning are exhibited in open source communities themselves and how these practices might be made transferable back to the classroom. In other words, I see open source as a way of operating learning communities: radically cross-functional, collaboratively constructed realtime transparency.
Aaaaand here’s the whole dang thing, below. Why push now? Well, after a certain point, I decided to stop agonizing over it and release early and often because hey, maybe what I need are some other eyeballs to kick me out of the mental ruts I’ve gotten into. Also, I finished writing it and turned it in 20 minutes ago (which may explain why the quality of the writing degrades considerably in the last 3 paragraphs). It’s been a rough week. Month. Semester, really.
Essentially, I spent my entire first semester of grad school finding that nobody’s really done research on my topic of choice (engineering education happening in open source communities) before – which is both awesome (because that means I get to do it) and depressing (because WHY AM I ALL BY MYSELF OUT HERE I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING). And now I’m standing here unsure of what to do next; I want to read some of these more deeply, talk about them with people, have folks tell me where I’m wrong and why, get into debates over a bunch of these ideas, throw them off the wall, bounce them off other people’s heads…
And so I fling this out to you, my friends. Thoughts? I apologize that this is not in comic book form – it was a little harder to get away with that for a lit review… but I’ll keep trying.