Thinking Big Thoughts: Blogs to WatchPosted: Thu 11.10.2011
While I get mired in the details of qualitative research and the intense focus of a dissertation, it has occurred to me that I need to find ways to keep current with the world at large. I’m a voracious consumer of information, so this is not anything new to me. But I was thinking about how you can so easily get lost in the details and forget the big picture. Why am I doing this research? What do I want to accomplish? How does this fit in to the world around me?
For me, the purpose of my research is hopefully to find new ways and refine traditional ways of engaging students in the learning process. I hope from what they would learn from my courses or curriculum is not what to think, but how to think. By developing a critical eye, engaging in the world around them, and practicing 21st Century Skills, they are poised to tackle the critical problems and opportunities that face our world today. From this base, they can go anywhere, and can see that they are truly an influencer as a global citizen. While discipline-specific knowledge is essential and will be the crux of innovation, there is something to be said for keeping an eye on the big picture, seeing the opportunities when they arise, and being open to interdisciplinary collaboration. So, in short, the purpose of this blog post is to talk a bit about those resources that help you to think beyond your discipline-focus and shake off the tunnel vision that sometimes comes when working on a project like a dissertation.
Blogs are ubiquitous and can give you either a macro or micro view on a topic. I have used them extensively to (obviously) share my thoughts with you, but also to keep myself apprised of what is going on in my field, in my community, and around the world. In the bullet points below, I will share some of my favorite “big picture” resources
- The Big Think: The Big Think is a forum that allows for the dissemination and discussion of issues from some of the biggest thinkers and leaders of today. Exploring topics ranging from consciousness and neuroscience to mapping the linguistic trends of Tweets, The Big Think is a cutting edge resource for those questions that stretch beyond the boundaries of disciplines and departments.
- GOOD Magazine: GOOD Magazine (available in print and in blog format) is a publication that explores issues such as health, design, environment, technology, and transportation. Their infographics (visual representations of data and ideas) are phenomenally well done, and their print magazine is as visually appealing as it is informative.
- TED Blog: I have obviously used this source before in my postings, but it bears repeating that the TED talks are the most comprehensive, illuminating 15-17 minutes you can spend. Pop one on while you are having your lunch break (mine is usually spent at my desk, so this is a repeat occurrence for me). You’ll be amazed at what topics end up engaging your attention.
- This American Life: The NPR mainstay from WBEZ in Chicago is a longtime favorite of mine. Whether listening on the radio live, using their mobile app, or downloading their podcast, there are many ways to get access to this Peabody Award-Winning series. Their blog is especially interesting because it is filled with updates, links to resources, corrections and upcoming events that relate to what you may have heard on the radio. Stories are told thoughtfully and personally, but the characters and consequences are always linked to something more: the big picture.