Organizing My Academic Research Paper

Research Meme (2014)

After recently submitting my final LRNT 502 critical analysis paper, I took a step back and thought about how I had just completed such a great amount of work in such a little amount of time. For many of us, as Grant (2015) mentioned “stepping out of the bubble”—in reference to our RRU residency—was not easy. Personally, while on residency, I had two final exams to study for; as I was completing a Business Marketing diploma, a portfolio show to plan for; as my students were set to graduate two weeks after residency, freelance projects to complete and my own classes that I had to teach asynchronously while I was attending RRU. Upon returning home, it didn’t get easier. Summer camp had come to an end and I was in charge of running the household during the final two weeks of our MALAT program. To say that I was busy would be an understatement. Many of my classmates at RRU were in the same boat as I was with work and family commitments that had to be attended to once we got back home after our residency. As I sat down and completed the readings for my course, took notes, wrote summaries and annotated bibliographies, the biggest thing I had to get a hold of was organizing my final paper. I had predicted that I would need to keep my notes and references organized in order to be able to write a decent paper and be successful with my final assignment so I created a system that would help me utilize my time effectively and efficiently.

Google Forms

Google Research Form Karam, M. (2015)
Google Research Form Karam, M. (2015)

During our final days on residency, I sat down for lunch with Miriam and Lori-Anne one afternoon as Miriam stated that she wanted an easy way to keep track of her research for her thesis. As we went back to class that afternoon, I thought about creating a Google Form that could be accessed through multiple devices, such as a desktops, mobile phones or tablets so that Miriam could enter any information she found about her research at anytime, anywhere. I drafted out a series of fields that I thought were important for tracking thesis research and quickly had a Thesis Research Form up and running within 30 minutes. I ended up using the thesis research form to keep track of my research and categorize the articles that I had read by learning theory, epistemology, methodology etc…. I could quickly access the form and retrieve the information that I had previously saved and refer to the resources once I began writing my paper.

Reading With A Purpose


The workshops that we attended during our RRU residency on academic reading and writing helped me establish and maintain a routine that worked well with the time that I had available, post-residency. The workshop discussed how to search for key terms, how to identify thesis statements, cite primary and secondary sources and read academic papers with a purpose. With the short amount of time that I had available to complete my paper, the discussion on reading academic papers with a purpose stood out to me the most. The process discussed the three passes that every reader should complete in order to make sense of academic literature and how to draw meaningful notes from the readings. Below are a few pointers that helped me manage the content that I was reading:

First Pass

Understand the framework

    1. Read the abstract and summarize the main arguments of the research in your own words.
    2. Identify the main argument of the research.
    3. Ask yourself the following questions: Why is this paper is being written? Why is the research being conducted?
    4. Analyze the introduction and conclusion, read the headings, sub-headings, key phrases, data tables, and diagrams to get a quick understanding of what the article is about.
    5. Identify the thesis statement. (This is usually found in the introduction and should also be apparent in the conclusion of the research.)
      • Why is the research being conducted important?
      • How does the research relate to your field?
      • How does the research contribute to your field?

Underline and highlight any unknown words and learn them. Google knows all! 😉

Summarize the paper in one sentence using your own words. What is the main idea or point of the article after reading the first pass? (This is similar to an annotated bibliography).

Second pass

  1. Go more in-depth by paying attention to the beginning and ending of each paragraph.
  2. Look to your summary from the first pass and see if it stays on track. (Do a review.)
  3. Write any questions about the research that you have at this point.

Third Pass

Reflection and Analysis

    1. Review the paper with a critical eye.
    2. Ask questions, ie. did the author prove their points with factual data?
    3. Are the methods used in the research sound and backed up by credible sources?
    4. Is the argument valid, logical and concise?
    5. Were any assumptions made baring any biases?
    6. Summarize the article again using your own words.

Research Summaries Provide Structure (2008) (2008)

After following the above steps on reading academic articles, I began to write my paper and started with a summary for one of my chosen readings. I chose to do my summary and critique on The effects of communicative genres on intra-group conflict in virtual student teams by Hsu and Chou (2009). Hsu and Chou (2009) examined potential conflicts that were caused due to computer-mediated communication (CMC) between virtual teams within online environments. The authors conducted their study through the lens of a psycotechnical perspective and a sociotechnical perspective, which allowed them to focus on the relationships between technology and psychology and technology and social practice.

The lessons that I had learned in the workshops and residency were paying off and I quickly saw the results come to fruition.

While reading the article I could see myself distinguishing between qualitative/quantitative approaches, the cultures of inquiry, theoretical frameworks and methodologies fairly easily… or at least easier than I had prior to my residency. The lessons that I had learned in the workshops and residency were paying off and I quickly saw the results come to fruition. The key words started to be apparent and I began to see the connections and contradictions of the main arguments and points of the article rather quickly.


Organize (2013)

I am obviously at the beginning stages of practicing research but I feel that I have a better understanding of the process because of my experiences during the RRU residency and completing my research assignment. This assignment required me to critically analyze the content that I was reading while managing my time efficiently and keeping my thoughts and research organized while writing a concise and cohesive paper that could be easily understood by a novice and or academic… hopefully. 😉


Hsu, J., & Chou, H. (2009). The effects of communicative genres on intra-group conflict in virtual student teams. International Journal of Distance Education Technologies, 7(1), 1-22.

LRNT 502 Blog Responses

Blog Comments
Blog Comments
Photo credit – (2013)

My Response to Miriam Stoller’s post:


I also enjoyed the graphic recording session. When I got back to work, I showed my students pictures of our recordings from the cafe and debate. I also got a few of my students who are into sketching and brush lettering to think about graphic recording as a career path… or at least an addition to their design career. It was really interesting to see how everyone displayed there journey. I think your idea of having students illustrate their notes would be so cool to see how they interpret the lessons. It would be like deciphering hieroglyphics. ;)


My Response to Gary Utley’s post:


The debate (assignment 3) was one of my favourite assignments of the program so far. The communication and bond that each group grew was memorable. In the midst of all the chaos, we actually learned something… who would have guessed? It was also a great experience to have Tony Bates sit in for our debate. The added pressure was apparent but I think that made us all become passionate about the lessons that we had learned and discovered. Using Google Docs helped our group immensely, even while presenting. It really saved us during those short periods of discussion between the scrum and closing arguments.

Assignment four was also tough for me. I also have to get better and reading through text-heavy documents and simplifying them. For me, it’s really difficult to summarize that amount of content and still have it make sense to the reader.

The blog assignment is another aspect of the program that I enjoy. I think I will maintain it throughout the two years and maybe even beyond. I think the blog posts kept me sane while I juggled all the assignments and work outside of RRU during our residency. Now that the remainder of the program will be online, I feel as though the blog will become that space I turn to for expressing my thoughts and views. It’s not like my family will have an inkling about what my epistemology or preferred research methods are. :/


My Response to Lori Kemp’s post:


For someone who has not “blogged” before, your are doing a great job. I really enjoy reading your perspectives on what we have learned so far at RRU. Your posts have also helped me gain a deeper understanding about some of the topics that we discussed and experienced during our classes. Maybe this space will become a place where you can share your own lessons on learning and technology? Have you thought about writing posts on how to format an article summary/critique? Or maybe creating infographics about conducting research?

Personally, using social media has helped me get accustomed to blogging. Whether you know it or not, posting status updates, instagram posts or linkedin publications are all forms of blogging. They’re actually micro-blogging. 🙂 If you loo at your timeline, you’ll notice that it tells a story when viewed as a unit, which is kind of what your blog has become. It’s a place where you can tell your story. You can give other students, colleagues or the world insights into your perspectives. I know it’s a scary place to showcase your thoughts but I think with time, or personal growth as you mentioned, you will feel differently about sharing those perspectives. I think you have so much good advice to offer others that this would be a great platform for you to utilize.



Educator Turned eduBlogger

Blogging (2014)

Over the past few years, I have blogged in a variety of platforms for various subjects. I’ve blogged about technology and clothing, education in design and even health and fitness. This is the first time I’ve blogged about Academia and to tell you the truth, it’s a bit intimidating. Previously, I’ve blogged about subjects that some consider me an expert in or areas in which I am comfortable having a conversation and being mindful about. However, blogging about subjects like theoretical frameworks, cultures of inquiry and phenomenology initially felt out of my comfort zone. As I read and learn more about academic research and learning theories, it is inevitable that I will only get better… hopefully.  As I become more knowledgable and familiar with discussing or sharing my opinions on different subject matters, I can use this space to think and discuss topics surrounding education and technology that invite informal conversation (Estes, 2012).

Blogging Simplified (2014)

Since 2004—I would estimate—I began blogging. Not in the formal sense of writing and sharing critiques but in a simpler more casual form. I’ve used social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to create open forums and discussions about prevalent design-culture topics with my peers, colleagues and students. Posting things like design trends, advances in technology and even my own personal updates were all forms of blogging. Because of social media, others like myself used social media as a blogging springboard to share our experiences with others. In the article Blogging: The remediation of academic and business communications by Aselin, K. (2011) the author notes that Oregon State University students found that creating a blog for class communications, colleagues; and publishing up-to-date research findings were favourable and well supported among staff and students. Today, my own personal portfolio website is managed on a blogging platform (WordPress) and I use it to enter posts about the design industry, tutorials and online learning resources for my students. I also use it as a form of sharing my opinions on various design related topics and personal posts about my work and life.

sharing your thoughts online can be a scary thing but that’s what blogging does. It helps you share your thoughts, good or bad, right or wrong with others in hopes of gaining views and perspectives of others.”

For now, it is obvious that I have a lot more learning to do and I look forward to progressing in my field of study. Blogging about academia has allowed me to reflect and process what I have learned and how I could apply what I’ve learned to my experiences throughout my academic career and work. Blogging can be therapeutic for me in the sense that I can express myself freely and share my perspectives with a diverse amount of people. Yes, sharing your thoughts online can be a scary thing but that’s what blogging does. It helps you share your thoughts, good or bad, right or wrong with others in hopes of gaining views and perspectives of others. Nackerud and Scaletta (2008) state that undergraduate bloggers tend to lock down their blogs from the public eye by password-protecting most of their entries.

Blogging for Learning (2014)

During our LRNT 501 and 502 course, I have enjoyed reading, reflecting and sharing the blogs of my classmates and learning more about them. I can learn a lot about the ways in which they see the world, which would not be possible without blogging. Being a part of the blended cohort, I can now hear some of my classmates’ voices and tones through their blog posts, which means that their view points and experiences are coming from an honest and open place. I think we will all become comfortable with sharing our thoughts and learning experiences online with the world; at some point. If technology is the key that helps us communicate in the future, then blogging may be the door that grants us access.


Aselin, K. (2011). Blogging: The remediation of academic and business communications. Ann Arbor, Michigan:ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing.
Estes, H. (2012). Blogging and academic identity. Literature Compass, 9(12), 974-982. doi:10.1111/lic3.12017
Nackerud, S., & Scaletta, K. (2008). Blogging in the academy. New Directions for Student Services (124), 71-87. doi:10.1002/ss.296

Researching Scholarly Journals & Communities

Studying in RRU gardens

Studying in RRU gardens
Karam, M. A. (2015). Reflect [Photograph]. Royal Roads University. Victoria, BC.
For our second assignment in our Introduction to Research course at RRU, we were asked to select, read and research several academic articles and uncover their cultures of inquiry, the theoretical framework underpinnings of the research and the specific research methods employed by each journal. We were placed in groups to discuss any commonalities found within our set of selected articles and write a 1,000 word paper to summarize our findings. The articles I read appeared to focus on using technology and knowledge management as tools for productivity in educational institutions and business organizations.

A couple articles that I read caught my interest as I have tried to implement the methods discussed in the past. In Knowledge Management and E-Learning: An International Journal, one of the articles published discussed the factors that impacted a learners’ acceptance of Facebook in higher education classrooms. This article looked at the use of social networking sites, such as Facebook to see if establishing social groups online could be used as a learning management system (LMS).

Facebook was easy to use for my students and it had the capabilities to add notifications, online chat and event reminders.

Back in 2007, I had my students use Facebook groups as a way to communicate with each other and keep up-to-date with any course materials and due dates. My students were heavy users of Facebook at the time, especially during classes. Since my students used Facebook to connect with friends and others in their social groups, I decided to make them use the social network for productivity. Facebook was easy to use for my students and it had the capabilities to add notifications, online chat and event reminders. It had all of the tools that my students needed to keep in touch with each other and keep current with due dates and important messages. At the time, I had no idea that was I was implementing was a LMS. Truthfully, I didn’t even know what a LMS was back then. I just knew that using a tool that was vastly used and simple to navigate was the ideal solution for managing my class in a digital age.

Discussing research at RRU
Karam, M. A. (2015). Garden Research [Photograph]. Royal Roads University. Victoria, BC.
After reading through the articles, I learned more about the psychology of using social networking sites as a LMS. The learning perspectives of adopting Facebook in higher education classrooms appeared to be a mixed method of ethnography, quantitative and behavioural cultures of inquiry. Bentz and Shapiro (1998) define ethnographic cultures of inquiries as a researcher becoming immersed in or participating within a group by interviewing members to obtain ideas, values, meanings, concepts and behaviours within organizations, cultures and social life. I had discovered that the theoretical frameworks commonly used were the technology acceptance model (TAM) (Thongmak, 2014), social constructivist (Siddike, Islam, & Banna, 2015) and behaviourist (Leone, S., & Biancofiore, 2015). There were a variety of research methods used including interviews, surveys and case studies. The basis of the study found that students were more productive using social networking sites as a means of managing knowledge than adopting a more robust and complex system for learning.

Later in the week, we discussed our findings as a collective group. I realized that I had been using social networking sites, such as Facebook, Google+ and even Twitter as a LMS for all of my classes. In addition to using Facebook groups, which have since been used less within my classroom, I use Google Hangouts and Google Docs to work with my students in real-time, establish online discussions and host video conferences/distance learning. I have also used Twitter as a means of staying in contact with my class in addition to posting online resources, and interesting articles. The articles I read support a strong case for adopting social networking sites as a means for LMS within higher education and the business world. Social networks are a cost effect way of keeping small to large groups of people around the world connected in a familiar, user friendly environment.


Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful Inquiry in Social Research. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Karam, M. A. (2015). Garden Research [Photograph]. Royal Roads University. Victoria, BC.

Leone, S., & Biancofiore, G. (2015). Leveraging teamwork by Google+ in a lifelong learning perspective. Knowledge Management & E-Learning, 7(2), 215–231. Retrieved from

Siddike, M. A. K., Islam, M. S., & Banna, H. (2015). Use of social networking sites: Facebook group as a learning management system. Knowledge Management & E-Learning, 7(2), 237. Retrieved from

Thongmak, M. (2014). Factors determining learners’ acceptance of Facebook in a higher education classroom. Knowledge Management & E- Learning, 6(3), 316–331. Retrieved from

Cite This For Me: APA Style Citation Plugin



Don’t let APA get in the way (Berry, 2015).

Today I discovered Cite This Form Me; a Chrome plugin that quickly references websites in APA, MLA, and Chicago style formats, including formatting citations for journals, websites and books. The plugin allows you to save an entire bibliography, as well as share, download and embed in-text citations into your APA style documents with ease. The plugin can also check for plagiarized content and comes with a free downloadable Word plugin that can send your citations directly into your Word documents. This is a great tool for keeping track of your academic citations. You can also use the plugin to keep track of any useful references that you intend on logging for future works, such as thesis or research papers.

Try  to cite all your references in APA style format! #RRUMALAT

References,. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 July 2015.

Berry, S., July 2015 , LRNT 501, Royal Roads University. Victoria, BC.

Build a Tower, Build a Team.

Today in our Master of Arts Learning and Technology (MALAT) program, we were placed in groups of four to six people to develop our team building skills. We were given the task of constructing a marshmallow tower out of 20 strands of dry spaghetti, a yard of tape, one yard of twine and one marshmallow (Marshmallow Challenge). The goal was to build the tallest freestanding tower  within an 18 minute window of time. In order to achieve this task, our teams were to communicate an develop a strategy of execution, prototype and collaborate ideas, compromise, prioritize and delegate of tasks in order to complete the exercise successfully.

After devising a plan and sharing ideas, our team executed the task of constructing  a tower within the allotted time frame. Unfortunately, our tower snapped seconds after it was erect. However, even though our tower build fell apart, our team was still intact. We came together as a unit and learned how to collaborate and share ideas, allocate our time efficiently and had open communication. The main takeaway from this team building exercise was prototyping and the inclusion of ideas from all members of the team.

After the challenge was completed, we watched a TEDTalk by Tom Wujec, who presented some surprisingly deep research into the “marshmallow problem” — Why does a surprising group always beat the average?

Overall, the team building experience was a powerful technique for improving a team’s capacity to generate creative ideas, build team unity and incorporate innovation through prototyping. I would recommend trying this technique within any organization that wants to foster team rapport and spark creativity within the workplace or classroom.

References,. ‘The Marshmallow Challenge’. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 July 2015.

Wujec, Tom. ‘Build A Tower, Build A Team’. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 July 2015.