Surfacing Our Work: Identifying Process Artifacts (1)

Authors: Shannon Kelly & Scott Schopieray

Like many working in EdTech, the EDLI team has struggled to find an effective approach to document, publish, and share our work in a timely and engaging way. Given that our scholarly work is often applied in nature, and the outcomes or end products are things like workshops or broader initiatives, this work doesn’t always result in an easily “publishable” artifact when completed.

In team conversations, EDLI Co-Director Stephen Thomas has further explained this. His point was that those of us in academic roles that involve designing and facilitating workshops, supporting teaching and learning initiatives, or administration aren’t often required to publish our work. In fact, much of the “doing” of this work doesn’t have clear tangible artifacts, or the artifacts aren’t formatted in traditionally shareable ways or are un-shareable because of confidentiality reasons. A disadvantage of not needing to publish, though, is that we often miss out on the learning/knowledge/scholarship that this work is. As our colleague Kathleen Fitzpatrick has pointed out, excellence in scholarly work requires making it possible for others to learn from the work, and if we are not publishing the work in places where people can see and use it, then the question is whether we are achieving the excellence we desire in our work. 

Encouraged by this conversation, we set out to try and approach scholarly publishing in EDLI (and more broadly as EdTech scholars) in such a way that values the process, along with the finished artifact, while not adding too much additional work. In other words, we need to see that the workshop designing and doing are part of the scholarly end-product or artifact. 

To do so, we asked:

  • How might we share our scholarly work in more ways that don’t also require us to do too many extra steps that make this representation cumbersome to do regularly? 

To begin answering this question, we continued conversations with our team and colleagues. Chris Long, Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, helped us think about the ways in which composing need not be separate from doing the work. He challenged us to think about ways to “surface the process” as we work and to capture the “process artifacts” (either individually or in combination) and allow them to become a representation of the work itself (i.e., the publication associated with the work). In other words, our work and the reflection we do can act as a way of composing, especially when/if the reflective action is intentionally approached as part of the composing. 

This thinking required us to expand our notions of what scholarly work is and can be. Shelby Brewster, Associate Editor of the Public Philosophy Journal, noted that we are often stuck in what our graduate programs told us scholarship is, even though most of us in EdTech are not in academic positions where that type of formal academic work is required or possible. It can still be difficult to think beyond and otherwise about defining scholarly publishing. At the same time, we realize that imagining different modalities and representations for this work is important to producing usable, practice-oriented research for our team and colleagues. 

Starting with our EDLI team, we designed a short activity to help ourselves and our colleagues expand how we conceive of and approach publishing our work. Below is an example of the activity prompt and some example outcomes that we gave the team and had subsequent discussions on.

Surfacing Your Process Artifacts Activity

Context: You just offered a faculty workshop on something that you care deeply about. The “work” was creating and offering the workshop, making sure people were there, it went smoothly, creating some asynchronous/follow-up activities, and doing other things you would normally do as part of this work. Consider the following:

  • What shareable artifacts came out of your process for developing the workshop? 
  • What sort of “publication” could you imagine from these process artifacts? Think about these artifacts individually, and/or in combination with one another

An Example:

Process Artifacts

  • Social media posts
  • Slides for presentations
  • Audio/video
  • Written notes
  • Drawings/charts
  • Reflections

Possible publications

  • Video of presentation
  • Downloadable Slides
  • Handouts/Tipsheets
  • Posts advertising or teasing event
  • Reflection piece
  • Graphic of a concept

This activity got our team to a point where we’ve surfaced some artifacts, and we can continue to work on doing that more regularly in our daily tasks. We also are starting to identify what the possible publications are for those artifacts (either individually or combined), and at the same time, we are continuing to work on rethinking these notions of what publishing is. 

Our next post on this topic will explore the work we are doing with identifying intended audiences, continuing to scaffold our process toward other intended publication modes, and developing a culture of practice in these areas on the team.

What are your thoughts on this process? Are there components we missed in these first steps? Other ideas you wish to bring to the conversation? We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below or by engaging with us on social media. 

This post is the first in a series titled Surfacing Our Work by EDLI Team members Shannon Kelly and Scott Schopieray.

Source: Auto Draft

Scott Schopieray

Dr. Scott Schopieray is the Assistant Dean for Academic and Research Technology in the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University. He is a core team member of the Enhanced Digital Learning Initiative (EDLI) where he focuses on institutional strategy, motivation to teach with technology, and technological structures to support digital teaching and learning. Dr. Schopieray is also Associate Director of MESH Research, a center focusing on the future of digital scholarly publishing.