The teaching group of Economic Social Network Analysis
Recently, Prof. Hang Xiong from College of Economics & Management and Associate Prof. Wei Ma from College of Humanity & Social Sciences attended the 3rd postgraduate online teaching experience exchanging meeting, introducing and exchanging their teaching exploration and practice of Economic Social Network Analysis.
Course Origination: Multidisciplinary Research Exploration and Teaching Experience
"When I was working in ETH Zürich, I was deeply impressed by a research proposal for postgraduate study. The crop yield model designed in this research proposal not only includes economic factors such as labor, capital and land input, but also covers environmental factors like sunshine, temperature and precipitation. Gradually, I learned that the applicant majored in Agricultural Science in ETH Zürich. The curriculum covered economic management, ecological environment, crops, animal husbandry, which made me realize the importance of multi-disciplinary teaching in the interdisciplinary talents training." Prof. Hang Xiong, the founder of Economic Social Network Analysis, recalled. Based on the understanding and experience of interdisciplinary research, Prof. Hang Xiong began to prepare for the interdisciplinary course of Economic Social Network Analysis for postgraduates as soon as he returned back to China. At present, there are not many the relevant courses at home and abroad, and the content of existing courses is not systematic enough, which could not be used as reference. Therefore, Prof. Hang Xiong decided to invite the teachers from Sociology, Computer Science, Management and Mathematics to join in to teach complex network theory and its application in economy and society systematically and multidimensionally.
The five young teachers including Prof. Hang Xiong, Associate Prof. Wei Ma, Associate Prof. Jinhai Xiang, Dr. Bangming Xiao, Associate Prof. Jin Chen from four colleges and five disciplines had formed an efficient and dynamic teaching group. Economic Social Network Analysis was first started in spring 2019, and would be taught again in spring 2020.
Course Design: Interdisciplinary Perspective of Social Network Thinking
Economic Social Network Analysis is a typical interdisciplinary course, whose basic theoretical basis is from Sociology, Anthropology and Politics; the mathematical basis is from graph theory; the operation methods and tools are based on the big data analysis in computer technology; the application involves economics and management science. The course emphasizes "Practicality" and "Methodology". It is hoped that students can understand the social network in different fields through the representative and cutting-edge research of related discipline can master the advanced social network analysis methods, which can provide a new analysis perspective and research means for the subject research.
As for the design of teaching methods, the emphasis is placed on the combination of theoretical teaching and practical operation. For example, for the acquisition of network data, python language is used to realize “Web Crawler” to collect Internet big data efficiently; and Gephi software is used to calculate the static characteristics of social network and realize the visualization of complex network.
In the course assessment, emphasis is placed on “learning for practice”. The students should combine the principles and methods learned in class with their own specific research, expound how to enrich their research perspective and how to solve the specific problems in the research, and finally complete the course paper.
"When I am engaged in sociology and anthropology, I am also learning about genetics and molecular biology, because interdisciplinary learning ability is indispensible for one's lifelong development." Associate Prof. Wei Ma from teaching group of Economic Social Network Analysis said, “What this course offers is not a 'screwdriver', but a 'telescope' to bring things that are not in the field of vision to the eyes.
Class Techniques: Strictness and Love behind Question "Bombing"
How can online teaching better capture students? One of the ways of Economic Social Network Analysis is to "bomb" students with small questions in live teaching to stimulate interaction with students. This method can check not only the students’ class behaviors, but also the students' knowledge acquisition.
How to improve the teaching effect and interaction quality? The teaching group designs the teaching content based on the students' need, paid attention to the coherence of the teaching contents between different subjects, compiled the handbook with great care, and constantly improve the handbook in teaching, to assist students in learning.
Besides the diversified knowledge structure, this course focuses more on guiding students to interpret daily phenomena from the perspective of "social network". "From the perspective of social network, the lack of face-to-face communication between teachers and students is detrimental to the establishment of mutual trust. Therefore, in the online teaching, teachers should be more active and friendly to communicate with students in addition to knowledge explanation, which helps to build a good interpersonal network." Prof. Hang Xiong said so and did so. During class, the teachers of Economic Social Network Analysis asked students to turn on the camera and establish emotional links to give students a better course experience. "After the epidemic, whether the course is over or not, I hope to arrange a special offline Q&A class, because people's trust needs to be strengthened through face-to-face communication, from 'weak relationship' to 'strong relationship', to form stronger emotional dependence and trust relationship."
Course Acquisition: Helping to Open a "Window" of Mind
Although Economic Social Network Analysis has not been taught for a long time, it is very attractive to students. It not only attracts postgraduates from multiple majors to choose courses, but also more than ten students to audit the class. When it comes to the reason she chooses the course, Jiating Li, a postgraduate of environmental engineering in Grade 2019 from College of Resources & Environment, said, "My graduate research direction is 'ecological network'. My undergraduate major is environmental engineering. I have not been exposed to the knowledge of "social network" before, so I want to learn the relevant knowledge systematically through this course. I feel very surprised to take this course, which makes me have a more in-depth understanding to the connotation of 'network' and inspired more research ideas; For some interdisciplinary methods that I have learned, I will try to apply them to my own research in the future." Wu Yaqin, a postgraduate of Sociology in Grade 2019 from College of Humanity & Social Sciences, has not found a good breakthrough in her research "Adaptability Research of returning entrepreneurs". After being recommended by her classmates, she came to audit the class and said, "This is a very interesting and even magical course. Some seemingly unrelated disciplines and fields are all by analogy. This course helps me to observe and think about problems on a higher and more macro platform. Using the theory and method of 'social network', I have found the breakthrough point of 'urban-rural integration'."
It is learned that In addition to Economic Social Network Analysis for the master degree candidates, the teaching group plans to open a higher-level course of Economic Social Network Modeling for the doctoral students, and gradually expand a course Economic Social Network / Principle to the undergraduates, to finally form a series of Economic Social Network courses and build a more complete course system.
The Source: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/bF8cKw9gmcANZxr10jgs_w
Written by Lidong Zhao