Monthly Archives: February 2017

Favourite tweets! Straitjacket or place of safety

I liked Renée’s tweet because it echoes some of the sentiments I’ve been feeling about the mooc I have been following. The edX platform is prescriptive and containing – sometimes experienced as a straitjacket, sometimes as a non-threatening, bounded environment.

Comment on Hello FutureLearners! by FutureLearn by chills

Dear Helen
This is a really interesting artefact which I strayed upon on your blog, I hope you don’t mind.

I saw your post on the EDC main page which mentioned feeling a little intimidated by the thought of us looking at each other’s blogs. I feel the same way and try to put it to the back of my mind so it doesn’t freeze me up completely! On balance, I think it is a good thing because it is fascinating to see how we each have different spaces and interpretations of the course.

This clip was interesting because of the clichéd depiction of disembodied faces online and the embodied person offline as if we are only part of ourselves when we interact on the web.

Your site is great by the way!


from Comments for Helen’s EDC blog

Pinterest! Styles of learning

Just Pinned to Education and Digital Cultures: How to be a Better Learner: Determine Your Learning Style | edX Blog

Theories of learning styles are often deprecated today, but edX promotes them as an opportunity for students to reflect on their own strategies in this accessible infographic. It also uses them as a vehicle for promoting their courses.

The Wikipedia entry on Learning styles states that there is little evidence of learning styles accounting for better educational outcomes. For me, it is interesting that the exposure to digital communities and cultures that EDC has forced me to confront head on, has made my own learned (?) and habitual bias for text-based information clear. It feels dated and as if my own ability to learn is constricted.

An acknowledgement of different learning styles is secondary, perhaps, to a recognition or considered adoption of a philosophy on the ways in which learners construct meaning. In place of a purely connectivist course or one built around knowledge transmission, an acknowledgement of the very varied and complex interaction between students, ‘teacher’ and material would allow for more nuanced design. Such a course would provide opportunity for discussion and retreat,

Emphasis on participation in online discussions rewards participatory behaviour and punishes ‘lurking’ or ‘silent online behaviour’. This is a denial of differences in learning processes. (Gulati, 2008)

Gulati, S. (2008). Compulsory participation in online discussions: is this constructivism or normalisation of learning? Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 45(2), pp. 183-192.

Tweet! Analysing Mooc Activity

In this discussion and report on privacy, anonymity and big data obtained from mooc participation, the authors state that

It is impossible to anonymize identifiable data without the possibility of affecting some future analysis in some way.

The de-identification or anonymizing student data compromises the integrity of the resulting dataset. The authors suggest strategies for resolution, using either ‘differential privacy’ which ‘hides’ information in a database which can then be interrogated statistically, or leaving the original data intact and controlling its use:

Realizing the potential of open data in social science requires a new paradigm for the protection of student privacy: either a technological solution such as differential privacy,3 which separates analysis from possession of the data, or a policy-based solution that allows open access to possibly re-identifiable data while policing the uses of the data.


Weaving stories

Wall hanging

Pinteresting …

It was revealing to notice an exchange between two students on my Mooc. One of the activities on the course was to suggest different uses for pictured everyday objects in order to break their association with what they ‘do’ and encounter them in new ways.

One of these objects was a stick and one student posted the suggestion that it could be used to hang something woven as a wall hanging, an object you might find featured on the social networking site Pinterest.

Another student commented on this post, an occurrence which departs from the predominant use of the discussion boards in the mooc as they are most often used to post responses to the mooc activities rather than exploited by students as opportunities to communicate with each other. (Although when students do communicate with each other, it is in a helpful and affirming way.)

The second student was amused that the first had suggested such a use for the stick and said that she’d had the exact same thought. She remarked, (using different words), that they were both aficionados (Kozinets’  “devotees” (2009, p.33) of the same social networking site.

It was fascinating to see in this educational community space two students recognising a shared interest expressed in terms of the technology that best enables an aspect of its pursuit online. Pinterest is a site well-known for its adoption by creative craft communities. This community appears to conform to Kozinets’ description of forums which have “social dimensions ‘baked in’ to their formats” (p.32). It was an interesting perspective, too, on the technological affordance which Pinterest is, to see how aptly it fits its use or has been colonised and shaped by its users:

Technology constantly shapes and reshapes our bodies, our places, and our identities, and is shaped to our needs as well. Understanding of the way this transformation unfolds requires us to keep a keen eye on particular and general contexts … A thorough understanding of these contexts requires ethnography.

(Kozinets, 2009, p.22)

Kozinets, R. V. (2010). Chapter 2 ‘Understanding Culture Online’, Netnography: doing ethnographic research online. London: Sage. pp. 21-40.

Favourite tweets! Point of learning

I don’t think I have successfully kept in mind I’m an observer because my netnography is coloured by the subject I have been learning about. Would my experience have been different if I was conducting an ethnography offline? If this means an unsuccessful netnography it matters for the expected outcome point of view, but not for my own learning 🙂

Week 5 weekly thoughts

Wall Door Ark Rampart Creative Commons Zero – CC0.

This week has been about ways of inhabiting and mapping spaces, about how text and language constitute community within them, inflected by affording mediating technologies. I’ve been dwelling in the ‘habitable sphere’ Hine mentions (2011) and Bayne’s ‘smooth space’ (2004).

My lifestream has automagically become a house with decorated walls; friendly, permeable dividers which delineate my area within the EDC community. The soundtrack has featured doors banging, voices and footsteps sounding and receding as fellow-students come and go. I’ve met them in various technologies and Eli has adorned our public place with a map of the physical sphere with our habitations marked upon it.

Friends have dropped by and I’ve popped out to graffiti other walls. I’ve relocated to my mooc space, noting tensions about travel. It’s a more structured and less penetrable lodging, where, as I spend more active engagement and lurker time, I’m getting to chart more of the territory. All the while, my lifestream pad has been getting increasingly untidy, littered with tweets which need gathering and sorting and full of uncommented posts which I’d be embarrassed for anyone to see before I’ve tidied up.

In all spaces I have been considering observation and perception – thoughts muddled with the phenomenology I’ve been reading about in the mooc – being both perceiver and documenter. Thoughts about whether phenomenology might help with the postmodern ethnographer’s crisis involving ‘reconsiderations of the nature of representation, description, subjectivity, objectivity …’ (Hine, 2000, quoting Marcus) or hinder it, or just stop where it is, examining my confusion …

Like a binary star, the subjective and objective orbit each other

(Mooc leader, Professor Dan Lloyd, Trinity College)

Hine, C. (2011) The Sage Handbook of Online Research Methods, Virtual Ethnography: Modes, Varieties, Affordances. Sage Publications Ltd.

Hine, C. (2000). The virtual objects of ethnography, Chapter 3 of Virtual Ethnography. London: Sage. pp. 41-66

Bayne, S. (2004). Smoothness and Striation in Digital Learning Spaces, E-Learning and Digital Media. Vol 1(2).  pp. 302 – 316