Sustainable Sinology: Open Educational Resources in Chinese Studies

 

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开放教育资料 Jonathas Mello [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D

Many lecturers feel that with the digitalization of teaching content and new technologies in the classroom, yet another burden has been added to their teaching load. Especially in the field of sinology (Chinese studies), we still lack digital teaching resources as well as commonly recognized standards or guidelines.
As part of the workshop “Sinology 3.0 – Theoretical Framework and Practical Application of E-Learning-Methods” at the FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg, I presented some thoughts on improving the sustainability of e-learning in the field of sinology. In this blog post, I have summarized the main points.

“Sustainability” is a concept that evokes images of recycling, waste reduction, and demand-oriented production. As I will argue, “reduce, reuse, recycle” indeed sums up what should be the guiding principles in creating e-learning content for teaching Chinese language and culture.

In our preparation e-learning content, we are usually following these steps:
1. Course planning: What are the goals of the course in general and this lesson in particular (language skills, critical thinking, working with sources, etc.)?
2. Technical aspects: Which digital content or tools are best suited to meet my goals?
3. Creating content: Selecting tools, digitizing content, and making content and tools available for students.
When we have successfully concluded the lesson, next week’s class is already breathing down our neck. So we often leave our teaching materials in our digital drawer to be retrieved only in the following semester. Especially in such small disciplines like sinology, where you rarely find ready-made textbooks, most lecturers spent countless hours preparing teaching content. The sharing of worksheets, of questions for discussing key theoretical texts, etc. would thus save time and resources. (You see where I am going with my allegory of sustainability now…) To prepare digital teaching materials (not to be confused with digitized teaching materials) is even more time consuming, yet technical hurdles often obstruct the dissemination and the accessibility of digital teaching content. German universities, for example, each use a different online platform, so that a digital quiz or an interactive video can only be accessed and saved within this particular platform.
In the following, I will thus present a few steps that should give you some idea of how to make your resources accessible and how to use the resources others have prepared.

Step 1: Documentation

Take notes already during the planning process on the content, methodology, and the general aims of your teaching resource.
Example: You want to prepare a quiz on the Han Dynasty and the tombs in Mawangdui. To give other lecturers a general idea of the intention you had in creating this quiz, you should note the level of knowledge on Chinese history the students had before taking the quiz, on the assigned reading materials that served as preparatory materials, etc. You might also include some notes on your teaching experiences with this resource.
Also, if you make use of images or maps, you should only use pictures with a creative commons license (e.g., from Wikimedia Commons) and note the picture source and credit.

Step 2: Content Sharing

If you want to give other lecturers the chance to make use of your digital teaching resources, there are some basic rules you should keep in mind (they resemble the FAIR Data Principles):

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FAIR Data Principles SangyaPundir [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D
Your resources should be…
Findable and accessible: If you upload your teaching resources on your personal or the university homepage, it is not very likely that other teachers will find them. You can make use of online repositories like OER Commons or Wikiversity instead. (You might already find some of the content others have shared here very useful.) For your quiz on the Han Dynasty, you can add tags such as “Chinese History” or “Chinese Culture,” the student level, the language, and format.

A good example is the “Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization” by Patricia Buckley Ebrey. Take a look at the webpage, and you will see that you find detailed descriptions of the purpose, the contents, and copyright issues as well as a teacher’s guide. Here you can also see that the sourcebook has its own webpage, but it is at the same time integrated into the OER Commons platform.

Interoperable: As I mentioned above, many universities use different learning and teaching platforms which makes it more difficult to share content. In Erlangen, for example, we use StudOn, a platform that only students and lecturers of the university can access. This means that my quiz on the Han Dynasty cannot easily be exported to another platform. However, when we prepare teaching content, in this case, the questions and answers of the quiz, we often use file formats, such as .doc, .xls, .txt and .csv. If you share these files that you prepared in advance of uploading the content into the teaching platform structure, your colleagues can easily open and modify these formats (much better than a .pdf document or a picture).
Reusable: Here again, the copyright issue becomes essential. Other colleagues will probably not make use of your teaching content when they fear that they might commit copyright infringement. To avoid this, you should assign a creative commons license to your teaching resources clearly stating what you expect from your colleagues when they use your material. You can consult the creative commons guidelines to get an overview of different licenses.

Step 3: Reap what you sowed

Sharing teaching resources can have numerous positive effects: Colleagues from other universities can get in touch, seek advice, and hopefully share improved or expanded versions of your material. The documentation can also help you to keep track of older courses and make it more transparent to students why you designed the classes the way you did.

Overall, the documentation and uploading of teaching resources might take time and energy, but this will probably be only a fraction of the overall time you spent on preparing the content. We should thus make sure that high-quality academic teaching becomes just as visible as our other research output.

Nachtrag Forschungsdaten

Mein vorletzter Blogeintrag hat schon auf die neueren Diskussionen zu Fragen der Definition und dem Umgang mit Forschungsdaten in den Geisteswissenschaften verwiesen. Hier noch ein Beitrag zu diesem Thema von Seiten der HistorikerInnen:

Torsten  Hiltmann: Forschungsdaten in der (digitalen) Geschichtswissenschaft. Warum sie wichtig sind und wir gemeinsame Standards brauchen

Doch auch hier scheint es noch ein längerer Weg hin zu einem einheitlichen Umgang geschweige denn einer Sensibilisierung für die Bedeutung von Forschungsdaten zu sein:

“Was jedoch fehlt, ist das Bewusstsein dafür, dass wir mit digitalen bzw. digitalisierten Texten, Bildern, Objektbeschreibungen usw. nicht nur mit Texten, Bildern und Objektbeschreibungen arbeiten, sondern auch mit Daten. Das ist ein wesentlicher Unterschied, denn aus dieser Feststellung ergeben sich weitgreifende methodische Konsequenzen für unsere Forschungen und unser Fach.”

Auftaktveranstaltung Fellow-Programm Freies Wissen

Vom 21. bis 23.09.2018 findet in Berlin die Auftaktveranstaltung des Programms Freies Wissen des Stifterverbands, der VolkswagenStiftung und der Wikimedia Foundation statt. Ich freue mich auf spannende Gespräche und neue Anregungen, wie wir als ForscherInnen dazu beitragen können, die Hürden in der Zugänglichkeit von Wissenschaft und Lehre abzubauen. Ab Oktober wird es dann online auch erste Einblicke in mein neues Forschungsprojekt geben. Was genau geplant ist und welche anderen spannenden Projekte dieses Jahr vertreten sind, kann hier nachgelesen werden.

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By Riesenspatz Infoillustration (http://riesenspatz.de) für Wikimedia Deutschland [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Forschungsdaten, nur was für MINT?

Meist wird der Begriff Forschungsdaten etwa mit Messewerten von physikalischen Experimenten oder den Ergebnissen von Sozialstudien assoziiert, doch spätestens mit dem Einzug digitaler Methoden ist die Aufbereitung und Archivierung von großen Datenmengen auch in der Geisteswissenschaft zum Thema geworden. Neben den rein technischen Aspekten stehen wir jedoch auch immer wieder vor rechtlichen Fragen: Wem gehören die Daten? Wem gehört die Datenbank und wie wird sie zitiert? Ist die Aufbereitung von Daten und der Aufbau einer Datenbank eine intellektuelle Leistung die ggf. sogar im Publikationsverzeichnis auftauchen sollte?

Zumindest über die rechtlichen Fragen gibt Linda Kuschen in diesem Artikel  Auskunft. Die Diskussion um digitale Forschungsdaten hat jedoch in der Geisteswissenschaft wohl gerade erst begonnen…

Symposium und Ausstellung

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Als Auftakt zu einer Ausstellung zu dem Leben und der Arbeit von Walter Liebenthal findet am 22.03.2018 am Konfuzius-Institut in Hamburg ein Symposium zu deutschem Leben, Lernen und Lehren zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts in China statt, an dem ich mich mit einem Vortrag zu deutschen Lehrern und dem Lernen von Deutschland beteiligen werde.

Weitere Informationen finden sich hier.

That’s Shanghai: A Very Short Guide for Historians

After torturing my eyes for hours in front of blurry micro-fiche screens and bent over old magazines and illegible handwriting, why not encourage more people (especially graduate students!) to do the same? Nothing is as rewarding as holding papers that still carry the fingermarks of the historical actors (or at least from the other researcher who found them before you did).

Of course, among the many great reports within the “Fresh from the Archives” category on Dissertation Reviews, you may already find very helpful introductions. However, I was asked to draft a shorter and updated version for the new website of the European Research Center for Centre for Chinese Studies, which you may find here. And in the spirit of a particular new movie and the slogan of the Shanghai Library (“knowledge is power”): May the knowledge be with you and I hope to meet you all one day in the reading rooms!

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Shanghai Library (my own picture)

 

Die Kulturrevolution aus Schweizer Perspektive

Die History Review vom Juni 2017 war bereits ganz der Bedeutung von Archiven außerhalb Chinas für das Studium der chinesischen Geschichte gewidmet.  (Siehe auch Beitrag weiter unten auf dieser Seite.) Ein weiteres Beispiel dafür, welch spannende Zeugnisse diplomatische Akten gerade zu Chinas turbulentesten politischen Phasen bieten können, wurde von Ariane Knüsel vorgestellt.  Unter dem Titel “The Swiss Witnesses to China’s Cultural Revolution” gibt sie Einblicke in die Akten der schweizer Botschaft in China und schildert, mit welcher Bestürzung die schweizer Diplomaten auf die Gewalttaten der Roten Garden reagierten und sogar direkte Vergleiche zu den Gewaltexzessen der Nazis anstellten.

Digital Humanities Asia Summit 2018

The registration for next year’s Digital Humanities Summit at Stanford University (April 27-28) is now open and judging from the list of confirmed speakers it will be a great opportunity to share and discuss the newest advances in Asian Digital Humanities:

“DHAsia 2018 Summit will focus on four (4) areas of research that represent both the core of DH as a whole, as well as areas in which Asian Studies scholars have been underserved and under-resourced: (1) the Spatial Analysis of Asian Human Geographies, (2) Text Mining and Computational Analysis of Asian & Non-Latin Scripts, (3) Network Analysis of Non-Western social formations, and (4) the development of Digital Humanities tools and platforms designed for the unique challenges of Asian Studies scholarship.” Source

Click here for the online registration.

INSNA 2017: Ein Konferenzbericht

For an English version see below.

Nach dem Besuch der diesjährigen Sunbelt-Konferenz des International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA) in Peking habe ich für H-Soz-Kult einen Bericht verfasst, den man hier abrufen kann.

Insgesamt hatte ich eine wunderbare Woche in Peking mit interessanten Vorträgen und faszinierenden Gesprächen, vor allem der Austausch mit WissenschaflerInnen aus völlig unterschiedlichen Fachdisziplinen hat mich begeistert. Viele der Kommentare und Diskussionen haben mir ganz neue Denkrichtungen aufgezeigt und werden mich sicher noch einige Zeit begleiten.


After participating in this year’s Sunbelt Conference of the International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA) in Beijing I wrote a conference report, which you can find here (in German).

Overall, I had a wonderful week in Beijing with very interesting presentations and fascinating talks (especially with scholars from so many different disciplines). The comments and discussions have opened my mind to new perspectives and gave me much food for thought.