Image Credit: Flickr & Keene Public Library and the Historical Society of Cheshire County
On one hand, I use Wikipedia all the time to check on a topic I’m not sure about, to check I am right about something to end a family debate, and, weirdly, clicking random links on each page that comes up to see where the search takes you (it’s more amusing than it sounds, I promise!). On the other hand, I avoid it like the plague when writing and researching my thesis areas. Including Wikipedia as a reference is a big no-no as far as I’m concerned; however, I do use it to look up some ideas before moving on to the more authoritative sources.
Exploring aspects of the site such as ‘talk’ and ‘history’ have never occurred to me. To be honest, I’ve never actually bothered to see what lies behind the link. The talk function was particularly interesting as it offered some insight into the general consensus about the topics I am looking at. I started searching for ‘the home in American Literature’ with no success so decided to make it more general by searching ‘home’. Then, I went to the talk element and it offered some interesting ideas that linked to my research, such as the comment below:
The other helpful aspect of this exploration was rediscovering the reference list at the bottom of each page. I searched one of the texts I am studying House of Leaves (2000) and found a list of critical articles, some of which I hadn’t read myself.
Although I can’t reference Wikipedia directly, it seems a good place to start for any research topic and I would consider adding some of my own knowledge to the pages that relate to my research interests.
Next, I moved on to the free images on offer to add a bit of sparkle to my blog posts and research presentations. I used a similar approach as before and searched in ‘The Commons’ for pictures of houses. Then I tried ‘home’ and interestingly the results were very different. Whilst the term ‘house’ brought up lots of pictures of the exterior of the building, such as the one at the top of the post, the term ‘home’ only brought up pictures of the interior of the home. It’s something to consider when discussing my research! I am not much of a photographer so I haven’t uploaded any research based photos as of yet, but it is good to know there is a facility that makes using and sharing photos so easy. I am already an avid user of Instagram but will be keeping it personal so that not all of my social media is guided by my academic interests.
Finally, I am a big fan of online presentations on youtube and other sites such as Prezi for teaching and lesson planning. I would also consider uploading my own videos to discuss texts I am reading, to discuss theory and to open a discussion with other researching or those interested in similar areas. I also really enjoy listening to Podcasts, particularly those that discuss true crime such as Serial and Sword and Scale. Although true crime is a hobby, there are elements that cross over with my research and I am often inspired by them in unexpected ways. I do listen to some of the TED talks as they open up some important areas. I haven’t used podcasts as an academic tool, but I will endeavour to subscribe to a relevant programme, but I will need some time to try a few. In terms of MOOC’s, I have never come across these before, but after a very quick search I found at least one interesting course such as an exploration of postmodernism’s history. It’s good to know there are options for expanding my knowledge for free.
Lots of interesting ‘Things’ this week and I think I will definitely be using images, Wikipedia and MOOC’s more regularly.