Editorial Seminar.net Issue 3 Vol. 6
Seminar.net reached 100 000 unique visitors in October 2010 after nearly six years on the web. Since its inception, a total number of 64 articles have been published, and the site has been visited 3000 times each month at its most. A journal needs to publish good articles. Judging by the increasing number of readers, the readers seem to find our articles to be relevant, readable and contributing to the global discourse. The e-journal format offers opportunities to employ the media to its full potential. A unique feature of the e-journal is to communicate in other media than textual. Seminar.net has for a long time been alone on the academic marked in the field of presenting an abstract of the paper in video format. The assumption is that a short introduction presented on a video makes the reader more interested and that he/she reads the paper with more enthusiasm. On the other hand, journal readers are conservative, and often fail to appreciate the value of visual communication other than the textual. It will be a challenge to continue to develop the e-journal genre in light of the need to balance reader conservatism with exploring the opportunities offered by multimedia-publishing.
The second feature of dealing with an e-journal is to offer an alternative voice. Critique and reappraisal in social science is highly valued and seen as a vital condition for renewal and progress in the academic community. Paper journals are often seen as conservative and in favour of “normal” science in Thomas Kuhn’s terms. The “gatekeepers” are piled up in their editorial boards. E-journals subscribing to an Open Access Policy have a reputation of the opposite. E-journals have made it easier to express critical ideas and represent marginalised viewpoints in main stream science.
Seminar.net has readers in 150 countries, from all continents, and with a majority of readers from USA and India, but has also significant number of readers from England, Australia, The Philippines, Canada, Indonesia and Germany. We believe this demonstrates the necessity of an international journal that raises issues with wide interest.
In this issue, we present five articles. The first four has been presented at an annual conference for the Network University of Norway, and then gone through a proper peer-review for publication in this journal. The first article, “Promoting the Good e-Teacher: Didactical choices when developing e-pedagogical Competences”, by Grete Oline Hole, Anne Karin Larsen and Jon Hoem, from the Bergen University College, explains how a blended e-pedagogy course for teachers of Higher Education teachers has been developed. The course evolved from the experiences of teaching international online courses for European BA students. The students plan their own courses in accordance with the stages of becoming an e-learner. Evaluations by students have demonstrated that this hands-on training course can help students attain the necessary competences needed to be skilled e-teachers. This paper demonstrates a concern that many higher education institutions hold for developing teaching skills in on-line or e-learning. Private institutions develop internal training, such as the University of Phoenix, and some actors plan to produce courses for the commercial market.
Bjørn Klefstad, Geir Maribu, Svend Andreas Horgen and Thorleif Hjeltnes, from the Sør-Trøndelag University College present an article called: “Learning outcomes and a taxonomy as a starting point for creating digital multiple-choice tests”. They make the case for the use of multiple-choice tests for both formative and summative purposes. They regard the making of valid and reliable tests to be challenging, but they find Bloom’s taxonomy being a useful framework for assessment in higher education and fruitful for developing “learning outcomes”. Based on an analysis of several digital tests they examine to what degree learning outcomes and levels are reflected in the questions of each test they have developed and suggest functionalities for a future test tool to support an improved design process.
Hugo Nordseth, Sonja Ekker and Robin Munkvold of Nord-Trøndelag University College present their joint article: “Tools for peer assessment in an e-learning environment”. They explore the functionalities of tools for peer assessment within the LMS used for two different topics taught at their college, in combination with a set of rubrics and a tool called “Six Thinking Hats”. They report that using these in combination stimulate students to write better assignments and provide a deeper understanding of the subjects taught.
Arvid Staupe of The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, argues in his article “Experiences from Blended Learning, Net-based Learning and Mind Tools” that in spite of a strong increase in the number of students attending classes, it is possible to improve the quality of the course when blended teaching approaches are employed, using net-based learning material and mind tools, and founded firmly on an educational philosophy.
The last article, by Ana Laws, of the University of Bergen, is about “Digital Storytelling as an emerging documentary form”. She claims that digital storytelling can be fruitfully studied using concepts and perspectives from documentary theory. She offers two definitions of digital storytelling and compares to how documentary filmmaking has been characterized. She further argues that contemporary discussions in the field of documentary theory are applicable to the ongoing theorising of “Digital storytelling” and therefore might benefit from the reflections on authorial responsibility and claims of realism and truthfulness in this area.
 http://www.insidehighered.com/news/focus/technology/recent/pearson (accessed Nov.16.2010)