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On research transparency and inadequate containers

Yesterday, I walked around the library watching our seniors work.  They are two weeks into their graduation projects and it occurred to me that things look very different from the way they looked a few years back.

This year the prop I am using to illustrate the shift towards research transparency and interactivity is the loose leaf binder.

At the beginning of their research for their culminating projects, I grabbed binders from their desks.  I asked why this device is no longer an adequate container for research.

My students, though very used to my goofy metaphors and props, were a bit slow to pick up my meaning this time.

But, the fact is that their trusty binders will not adequately contain:

  • hyperlinks
  • audio files
  • videos
  • RSS for dynamic news feeds and blogs
  • news widgets
  • ebooks
  • presentations

The fact is that their trusty binders are not:

  • transparent
  • interactive
  • sharable
  • easily portable and accessible across devices
  • green

Yesterday, I walked around watching students gather content and build understanding in their wikis.  And what I saw were students who are growingly confident about managing and customizing their personal information spaces.

While we’ve chosen wikis as containers for research and knowledge building, we could have easily used blogs, or Google Sites, or LiveBinders, or DropBox, or a number of other emerging platforms.

But the binder no longer works.

(For more on adequate and inadequate containers, see this post about our efforts a couple of years ago.)

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Joyce,

    The path to your previous ‘wiki’ post is wrong – there’s an extra date in there – the one alongside the ‘adequate’ pic:

    should be


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