Wednesday, May 9
I left the house into an even hotter day than yesterday and cycled to the metro station feeling full of summer. Everything worked as smoothly as it possibly could: I arrived at the station just as the train arrived. I got to the tram stop as soon as the tram arrived. All the traffic lights turned green as we approached. I arrived at Arcada at about 8:40.
After chatting with Nathalie, I sat down to remove the mail form from the Buddyschool site because Irma had decided that she preferred the idea that people could mail or phone Kipa directly. I replaced the form with three separate calls to action in Finnish, Swedish, and English, for each of the different sub-sites. Some time had passed since I last looked at the site with a view to changing it, so it took me a good thirty minutes to work out where exactly I should make the changes.
I then had to decide exactly what text to put there in each language so I wandered into the Online Media lab where Jutta had some third year students and consulted anyone who would talk to me. In ten minutes I had a consensus. I had not wanted to translate the instructions from one language to another. Rather I had wanted to replace the usual cliched way of saying “For further details please contact…” in the English version with the equivalent Finnish and Swedish cliches (which might or might not involve direct translation).
The students came to the conclusion that I should directly translate the English to get the usual Swedish version, but that the Finnish version needed turning into a question. Jutta agreed and came up with both versions. The students then agreed with her suggestions, and I returned to enter them into WordPress.
After this I dealt with a couple of thesis-related questions from students before leaving to Dylan with Jutta for a working lunch.
While Jutta stops to have a quick session on WhatsApp with Emilia about her thesis, advising her as she writes, I notice a poster on an electricity box in front of the big old house that might house the park keeper, and might not. It makes a nice summer image.
We will sit in Dylan for an hour discussing the problems we have in agreeing what constitutes an acceptable thesis. The ridiculous question of whether a thesis “is academic” enough often creeps in. The question usually arises when another member of staff claims that a thesis does not contain “enough theory”. Jutta feels less able to dismiss this than I do, and it worries her.
We will decide between ourselves that we have three kinds of thesis: project reports, case studies and “academic theses”. Only the last of these actually needs “theory” in the sense of annotated references to key books in a field and an attempt to synthesise these references into a coherent framework within which the student can build the specific arguments for their thesis. The other two kinds need “theory” in a much looser sense.
Case studies, almost by definition, proceed through a series of inductive arguments, and these may need to justify themselves in terms of an external framework of some kind in order to answer the question: “why should we believe that your conclusions from Example A have a wider application?” Project-based theses need only describe the process through which the project went and provide structured arguments concerning the ways in which the finished result addressed the original research question.
On the way back we will decide to look in Arcada’s website to see if we can find an official definition of how Arcada views a thesis. We can, and how. Once we have looked through what we find we will agreed that we will write a paper for the team meeting at the end of May outlining our view on how Media Culture should approach supervising, judging and grading theses. This should turn out fun.
In the afternoon Ceti, Jutta and I will look at rearranging the Online Media lab to make it more usable. I will extol the benefits of the layout in room E387, where I taught on Monday, and we will go and measure it. At the end Ceti will go off to think.
I will make some notes, chat with Monica, and leave for home in the bright sunlight.