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Programme - Interdisciplinarity



Big data for social science: Teaching programming in a social science curriculum
Suzy Moat and Tobias Preis (Behavioural Science, Warwick Business School)

Our everyday use of technology is generating increasing volumes of “big data”, revealing who we talk to, where we travel, what we buy, and much more. These new datasets offer an unprecedented opportunity to gain fast, large scale, and often cheap measurements of human behaviour in a natural setting – measurements of clear potential value for the development of policy interventions, business concepts and social science theories alike.

Social scientists are ideally placed to ask valuable questions of these datasets, and provide much needed context for the answers which are uncovered. A great number of quantitative statistical techniques taught in the social sciences can be of substantial value in gaining insight from “big data” too. However, many of these new datasets are not provided in a standard and easy to access tabular form, and can prove impossible to obtain and to process without a basic understanding of programming - a skill which has not traditionally been part of most social science curricula.

In this talk, we will describe courses we have designed for Warwick Business School and external institutions such as the ESRC UK Data Service, to help provide social science postgraduates, researchers and faculty both with an awareness of what these new data resources can offer, and crucially, the programming skills they need to exploit them. We will report on our successes in motivating and supporting students in gaining these skills, and will also outline some of the key lessons we have learnt so far.


Incorporating live-ness and interdisciplinarity into case-based business education: the case of global Venice from the Renaissance to the present
Annouchka Bayley, Ioanna Iordanou and Rochelle Sibley (Warwick Business School/WBS Create)

This presentation will be sharing the outcomes of the IATL-funded Venice case-writing project created by Annouchka Bayley, Ioanna Iordanou and Rochelle Sibley, all from WBS Create, which focuses on using interdisciplinary pedagogy and student/staff collaboration to teach case-writing for business. Although aesthetic pedagogics of practice have discussed innovations in business teaching and learning, this will be the first site-based course to involve performance, literature and history in the exploration of a business case through culture.

The project will be taking 11 WBS PhD students to Venice in April 2014 for a two-day case-writing workshop and it uses an innovative, interdisciplinary and creative pedagogic methodology to enhance the learning experience in an open space environment. Specifically, the workshop is a unique interweaving of mobile technology, historic architecture, literary source material and participatory performance interventions, examining the context and impact of Renaissance Venice on contemporary global trade operations. The workshop has been designed to promote critical engagement with the process of cultural translation, after which the students will be able to write business cases for teaching using their new understanding of the cultural and historical archaeology of Venice’s history as a centre of trade.

The aim of the project is to encourage the students to approach the process of case-writing with a greater awareness of creative criticality, enabling them to design and write cases that reflect these alternative modes of communicating knowledge. The business cases produced by this workshop will then be performed using live-installation techniques, firstly within the WBS Scarman Road building and then on a barge at Stratford-upon-Avon. The project also supports two Undergraduate Student Researchers, who will participate in the research processes associated with the project and who will be contributing to this presentation.

The presentation itself will interactively explore the project’s interdisciplinary methodology, using some of the participatory exercises employed in the workshop. It will also provide an opportunity for some of the participating students (both PhD and Undergraduate) to discuss their responses to non-traditional forms of teaching and learning, and the impact that this collaborative project has had on their own critical and creative practice. Our aim is to share the findings of the project and demonstrate the value of employing an interdisciplinary pedagogy to establish creative practice within business case-writing.


Digital Tools for Researchers: delivering a Moodle course across disciplines
Presenters: David Beck (Academic Technology, ITS), Yvonne Budden (Library), Emma Smith (Student Careers & Skills)

Digital Tools for Researchers is an online course running in Moodle for the first time from Jan-May 2014, coordinated and delivered by staff in the Library, ITS Academic Technology team and Student Careers & Skills. While primarily intended for research students and early career researchers, the course is open to the whole community at Warwick and counts taught postgraduates and academic staff amongst its participants.

In this presentation, the course coordinators will share their experiences of developing and delivering a collaborative, interactive Moodle course for researchers at all levels and across a wide range of disciplines. We will focus on the successes and challenges of the course’s interactive elements, reflect on feedback from the learning community, and share our plans for future development. We hope to invite one or two of the course participants to share their experiences in both the presentation and the following discussion period. In our second twenty minutes, as well as soliciting some “live” feedback from participants in the room, we will invite a broader discussion on the theme of facilitating interdisciplinary dialogue in virtual spaces. In addition, we want to explore the theme of skills-based or tools-based courses which draw upon both teachers and learners from across multiple Disciplines.

Digital Tools for Researchers was previously a blog- and wiki-based course developed by the Library (with input from staff and research students), but this new Moodle-based iteration has grown in both content and reach thanks to our recent cross-departmental collaboration. Featuring eleven modules, from Online Identity to Using Multimedia to Open Access, the course aims to help researchers enhance their online presence and use a range of digital resources with particular benefits for research practice. It is a structured, supported course which asks learners to try different tools and share their experiences/reflections via a series of tutor-supported module forums. This means striking a balance between debunking myths, building confidence and, sometimes, encouraging caution; it means, above all, recognising and responding to the diversity of needs, experiences and opinions of our diverse learning community. The types of questions raised include: Is Twitter for publicity or relationship-building? Is blogging more relevant for social scientists than statisticians? Why can a historian do with Google maps? We look forward to sharing the ways in which the dialogic and interdisciplinary aspects of the course have challenged the thinking of both participants and tutors, and will shape the course in future iterations.