Tacit knowledge, Inuit knowledge, knowledge sharing and Facebook

I have the great pleasure of supervising a master’s student, Chris Paton, in the Master in ICT and Learning (MIL) Program, a 2-year, online part-time graduate program offered by a collaboration between five Danish Universities: Aalborg University, Aarhus University, Copenhagen Business School, Danish Pedagogical University, and University of Roskilde.

Chris Paton is a teacher of English and Danish in Qaanaaq, Greenland. His Master’s research examines how Greenlanders can use social media such as Facebook to share traditional Inuit knowledge. Recently, Chris was interviewed by the Greenlandic national newspaper AG. You can download the article Facebook can preserve Inuit culture. It is in Greenlandic, but Google Translate gives you the gist.

Chris is currently collecting survey data on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FBmisissuineq2011

It’s been quite a successful way to collect survey data. Chris will run the survey until the end of the month. I’m looking forward to his findings on how Greenlanders are using Facebook to share knowledge, what kind of knowledge they are sharing (tacit knowledge, traditional knowledge, Inuit knowledge, local knowledge), and how this might help in preservation of the Greenlandic language.

As a supervisor, I’m trying to help Chris learn academic culture. He’s at a distance from campus–quite a ways–and isolated from experiences available to traditional, full-time graduate students on campus. From my work on the GRAIL project at OISE/UT (see for e.g., Fujita & Freeman, 2006), I know that there are particular challenges for part-time graduate students who study at a distance like Chris. So, we try to meet weekly via Skype, but it’s been hard to maintain a regular schedule due to our busy schedules involving lots of travel.

One of my goals was to make sure Chris was able to participate in the academic research community by presenting and disseminating his work outside of the program context. Fortunately,
Chris has already connected with some researchers at ELOKA at University of Colorado at Boulder and is in the process of submitting a abstract for a workshop there. I offered to help him craft the abstract, but soon realized that I had learned to write abstracts a very long time ago and have internalized how to write them. So, I consulted resources on what abstracts should include and how one might go about writing one. I’ve added the resources I thought were helpful on a new page on my blog called Supervision. I’ll continually add new resources that might be useful for other graduate students there.


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