#corpusmooc: review that journal


Updates: why take notes? The Guardian view on knowledge in an information age. What type of note taker are you?

Each week in #corpusmooc, straight after the vids, we’ve been exhorted to “update your journal”. A bit of explanation might have been idea for those not into Lancaster’s particular form of reflective practice, plus maybe “notes” would have worked better as a catch all, but hey… As you can see there were 37 comments on this particular page (en passant, think that comments is new; maybe it wasn’t just me who queried what the number referred to – my initial thought was page views). But what’s to comment on?

Some people take handwritten notes, some use Wikipad, Evernote, a couple use mindmapping “to keep the written record of the connections between ideas that come to my mind while learning and reflecting upon what I have learned”. Someone on pen and paper notes commented that “I think I’m absorbing more and retaining what I learn better”. It’s particularly fun that handwritten notes are called out for being “slow” – for me a bigger problem is that underuse has led to my handwriting being even more appalling than before the advent of computers. Mention of Docear, an ‘academic literature suite’ which offers electronic PDF highlighting as well as a reference manager and mindmapping, looks interesting.

Hamish Norbrook has a great approach:

Pen and paper transferred to the single file “MOOC notes”: individual units filed by unit number. I try and sift as I’m going into ‘Stuff I really need in my head and not on paper”, “Stuff I can come back to or refer to’ and and… ‘Stuff I’m unlikely to understand’.

Having never mastered mindmapping I’m a fan of the bullet point. I’ve made the biggest use of screen captures on this MOOC, thanks to Laurence Anthony introducing us to the Windows snipping tool, but in the past I’ve also tried out VideoNot.es – video watching and notetaking on one screen. Why take notes? An infographic on notetaking techniques offers some insights into the recording and retaining of information:

  • only 10% of a talk may last in your memory, but if you take and review notes you can recall about 80%
  • notetaking systems (who knew?) include the Cornell System with a cue column and notetaking and summaries areas, the outline system and the flow based system
  • writing vs typing – writing engages your brain while you form and connect letters helping you retain more – typing gives a greater quantity of notes

Here’s an article on student notetaking for recall and understanding.

CaptureThe final activity on the course is to review your journal, as I suggested in week 4. A number of people have made some progress in analysing their personal or other corpora:

  • on The Waste Land: “‘you’ features as much as ‘I’, which brought home to me how much the fragments in The Waste Land are parts/one side of a conversation, though the actual ‘you’ may not be given a voice”
  • on own notes: “Besides the classic function words such as articles, pronouns, conjunctions we use to see in corpora, I just realized that I use a lot the word ‘so’ in different contexts, especially as an adverb (I have a tendency to write things like ‘this is so interesting’, ‘this subject is so important’, etc), and as a linking word that I seem to use at the beginning of almost every paragraph.”
  • on own tweets, comments on the MOOC but difficult to get data (groan)

Some people have gone the full nine yards already. Liliana Lanz Vallejo:

I loaded the notes that I took of the course and I added the comments that I wrote in all the forums. This made a total of 9,436 word tokens and 2,338 word types. Something got my attention. While in most of the English corpora that I’ve cheked in this course, the pronoun “I” appears close to a rank 20, in my notes and comments corpus “I” appears in rank 2, after “the”.  This is curious because the same thing happens in the corpus of tweets containing Spanish-English codeswitchings that I gathered some years ago. In it, “I” appears in rank 1 of words in English, while “the” is in rank 3. It seems that my English and the English of Tijuana’s Twitter users in my corpus is highly self-centered. We are focusing in our opinions and our actions. Of course, the new-GSL list, the LOB and Brown corpus and all the others were not made with “net-speech”. So there is a possibility of native English speakers favoring the usage of the pronoun “I” in social media or internet forums…I would need to compare my notes and comments corpus to a corpus made of forum comments, and the tweets corpus to one made of social media posts (or tweets, that would be even better).

Andrew Hardie (CPQweb guru) responds: “May this be a genre effect? Are comments/twitter posts of equivalent genre to the written data you are comparing it to? Use of 1st and 2nd person pronouns is generally considered a marker of interactivity or involvement, which is found in spoken conversation but not in most traditional formal written genres. But then, comments on here are not exactly what you would call traditional formal written genres!”. Kim Witten (mentor): “Also keep in mind that while “I” can be perceived as focused on opinions and actions, it is also often indicative of the act of sharing (e.g., “I think”, “I feel”, “I want”), which as Andrew says is a marker of interactivity or involvement. So perhaps it is inward-facing, but for the intent of being outward-connecting.”

Anita Buzzi:

I generally take notes with pen and papers, so I decide to collect all the answers I gave in the two MOOCs on Futurelearn I attended creating my own corpus delicti. I generate a word list with AntConc – word types 944 word token 2937- the results: The first token is “the” freq. 140; the second token reveals that my favourite preposition is “in” 105 freq. then the list goes on showing: “and” ,“I”,”to”, “of”. I annotated the corpus in CLAWS–3016 words tagged, tagset C7 and then USAS. I generate a word list in CLAWS C7 – word types 1032- words token 5910. the resultes shows : nn -nouns 812, jj- general adjectives 213, AT- articles 201, ii preposition 181. I look for VM modal verbs. The first modal 17 hits is “can” and the concordance shows mostly in association with “be”, The second with 15 hits is “may” : may share, provide, be, reflect, feel, represent The third is “would” 10 hits : would like, would be; followed by “could”, “should” and “will” 4 hits; “need to” just 1 hit. While the modal verbs in the London Lud Corpus of Spoken English appear in this scale WOULD – CAN – WILL- COULD- MUST – SHOULD – MAY – MIGHT – SHALL The results I had from the corpus was: CAN- MAY – WOULD- COULD- SHOULD – WILL – MIGHT Why do I use “may” so much? Probably because I was talking about specific possibility, or making deductions.

Amy Aisha Brown (mentor): “Did you take a look at your concordance lines? What does ‘may’ collocate with? That might give you a hint at why you use it so much. Another thought, I wonder if someone has put Tony’s lectures into a corpus. It could be that he uses ‘may’ often and that you have picked it up from him? Maybe you always use it often?” Tamara Gorozhankina:

I’ve collected a very small corpus of all my comments through the course (4,835 tokens), and saved them in 8 separated text files (each file for each week). I used POS annotation in CLAWS C5, and the keyword list showed: Nouns – 510 Verbs – 208 Adjectives – 177 Adverbs – 100 Personal pronouns – 74 Then I divided this tiny corpus into 2 subcorpora: the first one for the comments of the first 4 weeks and the second one for the comments of the last 4 weeks of the course. The number of tokens was balanced. After getting the results, I realised that there was an interesting shift in using personal pronouns, as I tend to generalise the ideas by using “we” in the comments of the first 4 weeks, while in the last weeks’ comments there’s a tendency to use “I” instead. These results are quite unexpected I should say.

Finally, here’s a list of all the bloggers I’ve found on this MOOC:

See the #corpusMOOC tag for all my posts on this MOOC.


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