Brainstorming for the Final Project

I’ve had a number of email exchanges with many of you about how to narrow your ideas for the final project. I’ve enjoyed these emails (keep them coming!), but I’ve also noticed that my responses are starting to fall into a pattern. So it makes sense for me to share my “standard” advice here for everyone.

Not everyone will need to do all these steps. They’re really more for those who walked through the exercises we did in class on Monday (10/21) and still feel as lost as ever.

First Steps

Let’s assume that you’re writing something about education, but you don’t know what. (If you’re not writing about education, just fit your own words into the search terms I suggest.)

  • Do some more brainstorming, specifically about technology and education. Make a big list of every digital technology that is used by everyone involved in education—from the teacher’s side, the administration’s side, the student’s side, the parent’s side, the government’s side, and anyone else you can think of. Does anything in your list strike a chord in you?
  • I’ve used this page on invention from Paradigm Online Writing Assistant in a number of classes over the yeras. It has lots more exercises to help you plumb the depths of what you already know.
  • Try searching education technology site:edu  and see what comes up—it will bring any university website that includes both the words education and technology (though not necessarily next to each other). Are there any results that make you say, “Oh yeah! I hadn’t thought of that”?
  • Head to and try a search for education technology (or maybe some related terms) Even if you can’t access full text articles right away, what issues seem to be brought up a lot? What kinds of ideas do people latch onto when discussing the game in an academic context? (And any article you find there can be accessed, either through our library databases or through an interlibrary loan.)

 Next Steps

Then, if you’re still stumped, I would go to the online databases where you can get the really good scholarly stuff that isn’t available on Google. (If you don’t know what a scholarly journal article is, here’s a solid 3-minute video.) We’ll go over this in class on Friday (10/25), but here’s the short version of how to get in:

  1. Head to the Howard Colman Library home page:
  2. Scroll down to the “I’m SEARCHING for…” section and click “Advanced search” under Journal Articles (not under Books).
  3. If you’re off campus, you’ll have to log in.
  4. Now you should see a big circle in the upper left that says “EBSCO Host,” which means you’re in the database, with access to all kinds of scholarly stuff you can’t find on Google.
  5. Click the box that says “Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals.”
  6. Type something in the search box and see what comes up. I tried searching education technology and got 32,581 scholarly articles on the topic. (To further narrow, I looked on the left bar of the search results page, clicked “Subject,” and then clicked “show more” to see a box with lots of possible subjects. Clicking one of those makes the results much more manageable.)

I would do a 15-minute browse of those and see if they spark any ideas. And of course, the best articles you find can be saved or printed. (I like to then add the articles to a new note in Evernote so I can access them easily whenever I want.)

Hope this helps! Happy brainstorming!

Extra Credit Opportunity

I mentioned in class before break that there would be an extra credit opportunity related to some upcoming library workshops. This is your official announcement about those. Here’s how it will work:

  • First you’ll attend one of the following four library workshops described in this portal post. (If you attend more than one, you can only get extra credit once. Sorry.)
    • October 23: 7:00PM — APA & MLA citation: Citing sources for academic papers to avoid plagiarism; Location: 5100 — Computer Lab Room 115
    • November 6: 7:00PM — Advanced Search Techniques: Develop effective search strategies; Location: 5100 — Computer Lab Room 115 UPDATED LOCATION: Howard Colman Library, Rare Book Room
    • November 20: 7:00PM — The Research Process: Demonstrate key steps for refining and researching a topic; Location: 5100 — Computer Lab Room 115
    • December 4: 7:00PM — Open Forum: Pre-final exam cram session. Snacks will be provided; Location: Howard Colman Library — Rare Book Room
  • Take a picture of yourself at the event and get it to me somehow. (Email is fine, or you could attach it to a tweet to @rhet351.) Perhaps you could get a picture of yourself with Rachael the librarian, or anything else that shows that you’re really there.
  • Once I get your proof-of-attendance, I’ll exclude your lowest 20-point score in the small assignments category. That’s not exactly the same as giving you a full 20/20; instead, it will be as if that assignment never existed. (Ask me if you’d like to see the math.)

That’s it!