HubPages as a Research Paper 2.0?

As the official first post of the HubPages blog, I figured that I would throw out some thoughts that I have been talking to a few people about the past couple weeks or so. These thoughts in particular revolve around the ways that students are taught in schools, specifically college, how it hasn’t changed in the last hundred years or so and how HubPages can possibly help the situation get just a little bit better.

Yeah, I know that it’s a random subject, but it was something that I never really thought about until one of my friends and past co-workers, Mitch Maxson, emailed me a link to this YouTube video. This video was put together by a man named Mike Wesch who is a professor of Cultural Anthropology and Digital Ethnography at Kansas State University and he has become one of the huge supporters of changing the way that we currently teach students. Without going too much into it, he strongly believes that we need to better teach students how to utilize social technology and the information that it can provide us in a way that better prepares them for a very information rich world. So, as opposed to students all sitting in a packed classroom where they are only listening to and learning from a single professor, they should be collaborating with each other and using the information and platform that the web provides to learn more and to create more. He has done an amazing job evangelizing this idea and he really got me thinking how HubPages could potentially help out these up-and-coming students, too.

Seeing as our goal here at HubPages is to be the best possible place for people to write on the web, I got to thinking about the ways that I used to write papers in college, which usually went something like this:

  1. Pick a topic that’s assigned by the professor
  2. Do research online and figure out what I’m going to write
  3. Type out the paper into Microsoft Word(pure text) and cite all of my sources that I found online
  4. Either email my paper as an attachment to my professor or print it and turn it in(this is really crazy)
  5. The professor grades it, I move on to the next assignment and the paper that I spent so much time writing has been seen by one person, giving it a potential audience of exactly 1.

I’m not sure if you see the same same things that I do, but after reading through this list there are definitely a few things that I find a little backward and extremely limiting about this current process.

  • The paper is written purely in plain text. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing with writing in pure text, but I would think that adding in some more engaging elements that are found on HubPages such as video, images and linking would add much more relevance to the subject at hand. By not having the ability to bring in all of these elements that are so easily found and so commonly used on the Web today, we are limiting the ability for students to learn how to utilize them in an educational and informative way.
  • The content’s potential audience is only one person. Wow, all of that hard work and the maximum audience that this content will ever see is one person, the professor. Why sell our student’s work so short? Why not allow that research paper on cancer to potentially get read by other people around the world who are seeking that information? It just seems limiting to keep students thinking solely about whether or not their professor liked it – why not use a platform such as HubPages and potentially let the world read it as well?
  • No opportunity for revenue from the original content. I know, I know, these are college researcher papers that we’re talking about, but we are also talking about originally created content that could potentially help a college student buy a couple of those expensive books next semester. There are writers on HubPages that make some good money writing just a handful of Hubs a month and who’s to say that some of those student-generated papers couldn’t do the same? We’re living in a content-driven Web economy and just think about how much potential revenue-generating content is produced by college students each year and is still sitting on a laptop somewhere, never to be read again.

To wrap this up, I’m trying to get the point across that I agree with Professor Wesch in the fact that I think students need to be better educated on how to not only be able to create content on their own, but they also need to become familiar with how to organize, collaborate and create content with the incredible amount of information that’s already out there and available for us all to use. Maybe adding a required HubPages assignment to the syllabus here and there might just help the cause? Hopefully I can get in touch with a few professors and get their thoughts on the whole thing…and then maybe I’ll even write a research paper on it.

22 thoughts on “HubPages as a Research Paper 2.0?

  1. Great post. We are definitely thinking along the same lines here. In fact, the final project for my current upper-level class is to “create something of value for the world.” I have offered editing or creating Wikipedia pages, web videos, podcasts, blogs, or more traditional media (letters to the editor, etc.) so far. I’ll add hubpages to that list.

  2. Hey there Professor Wesch and thanks for the comment. I’m glad to hear that we’re both thinking the same way, which possibly means that my Research Paper 2.0 idea isn’t so far-fetched after all.

    If you need any information from me regarding how you can get your classes plugged into HubPages, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I’m looking forward to seeing what your class comes up, so keep me updated once your class starts creating ‘value for the world’!

    Keep up the great work – I’ll be watching.

  3. Writing a quality Hub can be a great learning experience. I almost feel feel more of a drive to put quality work out there, as it will be read by so many more people.
    Teachers could even create Hubs for daily lesson plans, letting the students absorb the material in class (without the tedious task of note taking) and reference it later.
    Or, kids could start ditching school altogether.

  4. When I did papers: I did research in the library, hand wrote out the notes or photocopied. Put the paper together using a typewriter and handed it in!
    I think its a fun idea for primary aged kids but the whole point of doing papers at uni is to get students ready to do academic research. Academic research requires citable sources and wikipedia or hubpages will never be those – because they are not peer reviewed.
    Now I don’t think this is a perfect system: researchers who don’t confirm to the prevailing orthodoxy find it hard to get published. But no one has yet come up with a better solution. And I am afraid that social media isn’t it – as someone famously said you never go broke underestimating the TV audiences intelligence – and that goes 10X for social media!
    After all this comment is so long that few people would have read the whole thing – as people skim content on the web!

  5. James – you never finished high school, did you? Poor thing.

    Lissie – Believe it or not, I actually just read your entire comment and as I don’t think that HubPages are currently a place to go digging up research information, it is definitely a place to start and to find out about things that you had no clue you were even looking for.

    Now, as a research writing platform, I think that it is more than qualified to be a place where a college student could write some research-based content based upon something such as, oh…I don’t know,’the reading habits of Internet users in the digital age’. With the ability to pull various sources together along with a super easy way to write out and split up text, I think that HubPages would be a great option.

  6. This has considerable potential. There were a few papers way back in my university days that were worth sharing and certainly would have been even better if i could have added video and links.

  7. Students at university and graduate schools have been citing my HubPages, especially on workforce development & some other topics, for at least 6 months. I know that newspaper articles can be cited as well in some courses/research (done so successfully myself in preventive medicine), so why not some good Hub Pages from all of us? And yes, it is definitely a start, Ryan! Move on up!

  8. First – well done for getting this blog off the ground. I’ll start to ‘follow’ it as I see it has a feed. I think the idea of teachers producing web articles for their students (and others) to read and interact with is a good one. But I agree with some of Lissie’s points about authority. For example, if I post something as ‘Paraglider’ I accept that it carries less weight than it might under my real name and qualifications. But sometimes that’s half the fun of the web – not having to write always within your own field.

  9. I agree entirely. I was not as lucky as you, doing research online. I had to spend many, many boring hours in libraries researching, because I am old, and my papers were done way before the internet.

    There is actually something like that afoot with Google Sites. They are collaborative sites that can be used by businesses and educators, and they’re free. Pretty basic editorial ability, much like Hubpages, but not bad for a school project collaboration.

    If I were a college professor, I would use something like that. So should we start a new category called “Research Papers?”

  10. The teacher who had the greatest effect on me professionally was a high school English teacher. One of his favorite lessons was that anything that we write is public, which was his way of justifying reading our essays in class, thus humiliating those of us who needed the most work.

    I don’t employ that level of venom, but I agree with the premise that the written word should be read far and wide. So I agree with your premise here. Coincidentally, it’s also one of the reasons why I so enjoy teaching for the University of Phoenix online. Students are expected to be active participants in the educational process. It forces people to think outside the box.

  11. I’m with Lissie and Paraglider… an open forum like hubpages is an awesome place to showcase your work, and clearly some spectacular work will be published here, but the bottom line is, college writing is about hard research with peer reviewed, verifiable sources. College students can absolutely contribute to hubpages, but, honestly, there isn’t much they can get from it beyond practice and experience, and maybe a good idea. The “credible” information is still in the academic journals and, sometimes, the university sites.

    Don’t get me wrong, hubpages is awesome, I even toss up the odd article written to academic standards, but, kind of like Paraglider said, nobody is going to be able to cite Shadesbreath in their collegic paper without the risk of taking heat, no matter how well researched and even attributed a work might be.

    For that to fly, in my opinion, hubpages would need to become much more particular and regulatory in what they allow, and, at that point, would render themselves economically unviable without outside financial support. Academic rigor just doesn’t pay commercially.

  12. Ryan first of all I want to say you are doing a bang up job here at Hubpages, I am glad to see all the new improvements.

    Starting a blog is a progressive tool that can have many functions. Using it for student research papers and essays is a good idea simply because, learning is becoming more of an interactive experience and a growing number of both young and old are using online degree programs to further their careers.

    So Hubpages being cited as a reference tool is something I see happening in the web 2.0 community.

  13. Great work, Ryan. Most of my 138 hubs are newspaper columns I resurrected after I retired in June 2000. The weren’t college papers, but the result is the same. Columns that were read only by readers of my newspaper can now be read all over the world. On top of that I was able to add photos, videos, links and polls to dress up what was merely a column of type with headshot of yours truly. I now wish I had saved one or two pieces I wrote during high school, or for my journalism classes at New York University. College students of the future can be assured their work will be preserved for posterity.

  14. Hey Ryan:
    As a hubber and community college professor who teaches blogging and Web 2.0, I really enjoyed this post and I might try assigning my students to do a Research 2.0 project using Hubpages. Why not? Where else can they put together a paper that’s also content-rich, while honing their research skills on the Web? Thanks for the idea — I’ll probably implement this during the Spring 09 semester.

  15. This is a great idea. I tried to get my son to create a blog for his research project last year (Who is the Blackbeard of today?) but a HubPage would be so much easier. And monetization is a bonus!

  16. Music of Michael Jackson is going to live for ever no matter what, I think It’s became a legendof ‘pop’, He was so depressed last time and has lots of problems, poor guy – that was probably end for him – so sad all we can do is keep memory of him in our hearts.

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