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July 03, 2005

Podcasting: naive attitudes to exploring technology

Via Weblogg-ed

Steve Sloan is playing with podcasting. And if I got it right (correct me if I'm wrong) he was podcasting using students, and puting it into public places, i.e. online. In his works from About that podcast:

Since I had been researching as well as teaching emerging technologiesfor CFD I agree, the podcast I did with the three students should have been coordinated with my supervisor (even though I was on my ownlunch break) or should not have been done near work.When I was presented with concerns over my podcasting, I said I would notdo it that way again. I said I would only podcast in the future on my own time awayfrom facilities where I work. (I also said I would use disclaimers to make it clearI was not representing SJSU.) Then, I was verbally told I could not interview students, evenon my own time. (Remember all the university students I spoke with areadults.)

I wonder what I'm missing. As a professor you never collect data or conduct inquiry on human subjects unless they have signed 'informed consent" forms that have been vetted by ethics review committees. Of course this is more important for me doing work on children, but I did all my research for my doctorate on graduate students. It is the same no matter what.

His response regarding permissions... Steve Sloan, SJSU Tech on a mission: July 2005:

Who gave me permission to speak to students? Who gives me permission to broadcast my ideas to the world? Who gave me permission to talk about what I do and to open up about what I see both in my job and in the rest of my life?

I don't blame steve at all. And I don't know him, though I think what he's doing is cool. I've found that in the US and in Britain, and perhaps in parts of Canada (though I've enver found them) the whole notion of the ethics of data collection is missing. And my experience is perhaps tainted by the fact that at UofToronto all research fell under the purview of the same ethics board, education, engineering, medicine... all of it. And in my new job at Ryerson, I research children's learning and technology. I cannot photograph them, record their voices or make any content public without following specific protocols for their safety. This has made me sensitive to the ethics of research, and strangely enough I have not come up with a single instance in which I think that it is not necessary to have formal ethical guidelines for the collection and use of data. But when someone problematizes it for you, I hope people would wake up and listen.

There are many ways to get around this problem. You have students do work in public places and then reference it. You turn students into public content producers and discuss it. But you do not do it with them and make it public, without going through ethical reviews. I don't get why this could be considered a problem for some folks, but folks have told me that they don't see what the problem is. I should put it on the final exam.

Posted by jason at July 3, 2005 06:32 PM


A couple of points that may have been misunderstood:

* I am not a faculty member. (I am support staff.)
* The podcasts were not part of a class.

I recommend listening to the podcast. It really is just a conversation.


Posted by: Steve Sloan at July 5, 2005 06:52 PM

I never said I was doing research or being scientific.

This, to me is about conversations and freedom of speech. The Internet is one big global conversation. Remember, I am in higher ed and all the students are adults. The global conversation, in my opinion, has to be open to all parties to participate and nobody has authority to mediate that conversation.

Yes, students are public content producers, as are you when you post to your blog. Students are already blogging. What is the difference betweeen students, faculty, staff and administrators blogging and commenting and/or tracking back to blogs vs. having verbal conversations and posting those as podcasts?

Remember these conversations are now happening off university time using no university resources. What right does the university have to regulate the conversation between consenting adults? Does that mean staff members can never talk to students and that every conversation requires ethical review?

Posted by: Steve Sloan at July 5, 2005 04:16 PM

its called the nuremberg convention: i consider it kind of important and a first step in developing an understanding of what human research means:


the thing I liked about the blog collection data from MIT, was the simplicity of the language. If its too legal, and too far removed from common sense, it is less likely to be read and understood.

Informed consent does not have to happen all in one form, and in one sitting: it could represent a series of meetings and communication with the students and informed consent is implied from participation in a particular study.

You don't have to explain everything, but the most relevant facts: persons may not understand the far reach of podcasting: perhaps some persons think of it on very local terms: but its global which is not easy to understand: as is the concept of real time zero, and the concept of achiving that is almost permanent.

So one has to give participants a chance to understand to make informed consent: whether its parents, or children who may not have decision making capacity.

The researcher may not know all the variable either and should be open about this: Harold Rheingold is good at putting the pluses and minuses of technology: so the smart mobs, and thefeature articles do alot to provide info in a very public and transparent way about what is happening with tech: researchers may have to give participants assignments to understand and debate what will be researched to bring in the idea of subjectright research.


Posted by: stefanos at July 4, 2005 03:55 PM

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