Tag Archives: Weekly thoughts

Final blog summary

I believe my lifestream is a useful representation of much of my EDC experience as it logs a lot of my reading, my participation within the community and many of my thoughts about our studies. These have been expressed in post titles or in brief comments on items I’ve considered relevant to pull in (illuminating in itself) as well as more considered reflections. The provision of these summaries and comments has been a useful discipline, tracing my preoccupations and thought-trains and enabling meaningful review.

The blog has really worked for me as a central focusing ‘place to put everything’. Early on I resisted the impulse to organise with pages so the stream remained a better representation of what I understood it to be – a chronological series of thoughts, ideas and finds mashed up in a variety of modalities to chart my progress through EDC, more or less governed by myself. I decided to rely on tagging and categorising to locate posts or identify emerging themes or events, enjoying the economy of the WordPress tag-cloud which enables a one-click surfacing of themes or collections. This premeditated organisation is both illustrative of our human wish to create order and pin meaning and a sense-making imperative in a scrolling blog. My tag-cloud contains nothing surprising, but would be a rich source of information had I chosen other folksonomies, or schemes of emphasis, using it to light up posts I’d considered important or those with unanswered questions.

Central to the quasi-confessional nature of a blog and in common with all reflective diaries, I believe a tone has emerged, and the revisions I’ve made whilst composing longer posts attest to this performative aspect. The knowledge of its being public on the web has sometimes been inhibiting, but most often it’s a thought I have put aside or not had time to entertain.

I have enjoyed writing, particularly when I’ve been inspired by an idea or a reading, but I consider some of my posts to be too informal with ideas expressed in inappropriately flowery language. I believe I can write in an academic register, but the lifestream has somehow worked to release my inner sensationalist! It is interesting to consider that the blog form may have encoded within its literacy a human-designed essentialist ‘algorithm’ prompting me to write in a certain way. More likely it is my particular response to the affordance and has certainly been a natural and involuntary one. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing for academic study.

In a recent post I likened my lifestream to a river course. This natural-world analogy is distant from the algorithmic operations underpinning much of our real life-course which subtly dictate our choices and organise our journey. There are hints of algorithmic agency co-constituting my lifestream such as comments left by automated bots, auto-updating rss feeds, the sudden appearance of comments I’ve written elsewhere and the surprise I register when finding posts I’d forgotten I’d invoked by ifttt.

I believe the technologies used have co-created my lifestream, helping shape both its form and substance, a mix of the human and the human-designed non-human providing an experience I’m glad not to have missed.

Week 11 Weekly driverless thoughts

Mike Mozart https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/29514263482

This post should be approached with caution because it was written several days after it was due and is therefore chronologically suspect and possibly dubious in other aspects too.

Life rather than lifestream has won over this penultimate week of the blog, rendering it driverless. I have, however, been thinking about philosophers, French ones in particular, as they appear so often in our readings. These influential thinkers are the rocks upon which arguments are draped and fitted to give them form and authority but also as foundations on which to base and measure new thoughts and ideas. This is the tradition of academia. I am thinking about this idea as part of my final assignment, so I don’t want to rehearse it here, but link to my poster of Expendables or Incomprehensibles instead (in my mooc we were encouraged to create an image of the philosopher heroes we were studying. Writing the word heroes makes me realise none were women 🙁 ). This enabled me to use a new web application, picmonkey.

I have also been musing about lifestream analogies and watching videos about Driverless Ed tech. Audrey Watter’s presentation was apposite to Gert Biesta’s journal article about the role of the teacher, another philosophy-based argument to get to grips with. Both countered the positioning of the teacher (as educator and expert) by the exigencies of efficiency, economics and control with arguments for understanding what teachers actually do and by debunking sometimes persuasive opinion that they may easily be replaced by automated means.

Week 10 weakly thoughts

Public domain image

Analysing analytics isn’t an easy task, but it is useful and enlightening nonetheless and I’m glad that I have been (not quite) nudged to do it!

As this lifestream draws to an end and because we have been looking at learning analytics, I have been examining my own learning over the course of the last ten weeks and realised a number of things that wouldn’t have been made visible by quantitative metrics. One of these is that in my indecision over the pros and cons of LA I have sought to discover my tutors’ stance and found it difficult to determine. Why have I done this and not made up my own mind? The obvious answer is that I am the student and they the teachers from whom I am learning. There is also a wish for certainty, for the knowledge that I have got the answer ‘right’. This isn’t the heart of education which must be concerned with the development of my own critical abilities, together with an acknowledgement that most often there isn’t a right answer, certainly not easily deliverable on a dashboard. So although my instinctive wariness hasn’t left me, due mainly to concerns over power and privacy, I will try to keep an open mind in the hope that in full and equal partnership with the student, ie for the learner, Learning Analytics might foreground patterns of engagement allowing difficulties to be overcome and goals reached. More importantly, rejection is a missed opportunity to voice critical concern.

Evernote! Week 9 weekly thoughts

Audio Week 9 weekly thoughts
Open in Evernote

The school inspection has taken place. Some data amassing was required, but most of it was conducted by humans interacting with each other in the real world. How long this will remain the case is up for question if our study and discussions about learning analytics this week hail the beginning of an inevitable phenomenon. Inspections in the future might be done remotely with officials tapping in to the school’s metrics, viewing dashboards and delving into detailed individual student action plans, predictions and prescriptions carefully compiled by the code. Even the psychological temperature of the pupils will be available remotely in real time.

I have swithered all week between a reactionary distrust of learning analytics – a concept of learning by numbers and an ambition to instantiate a quantified student measured against coherent mapped knowledge domains – and an acknowledgment of the importance of research and a creeping suspicion that some of it might actually be useful, with a confession, too, that my happiness and motivation indicators do actually nudge up a little each time an automated comment on my lifestream applauds me for a great post. 

I have bundled up all my LA thoughts into one post (not such a heavy call on the algorithmic burden), although I sprinkled a few little comments on infographics, LA reports and modelling the student elsewhere as well as starting to contribute to Dan’s Milanote. I started my tweetorial tweets a bit early with a question which, for me, still hangs in the air.

I feel moocs on behaviourism and neuroscience coming on 🙂

Week 8 Weekly thoughts

SQL Syntax from https://www.w3schools.com/


SELECT Lifestream_CH_Posts.PostTitle + ‘, ‘ + Lifestream_CH_Posts.PostSubject + ‘, Week ‘ + Lifestream_CH_Posts.intWeek AS [Listing], Lifestream_CH_Posts.PostTitle AS [Post Title],
Lifestream_CHPosts.Postbody AS [Post]
COALESCE(CONVERT(nvarchar(12), Lifestream_CH_Posts.PostDate,113), N”) AS [Date of Post],
Lifestream_CH_Viewers.ViewerType AS [Viewer Type],
Lifestream_CH_Payments.PaymentRcvd AS [Payment Received],
Lifestream_CH_Validations.ViewerValue AS [Viewer Validation]
FROM Lifestream_CH_Viewers INNER JOIN
Lifestream_CH_Posts INNER JOIN
Lifestream_CH_Payments INNER JOIN
ON LIfestream_CH_Validations
ON Lifestream_CH_Posts.PostID = Lifestream_CH_Payments.PostID
ON Lifestream_CH_Viewers.ViewerID = Lifestream_CH_Payments.ViewerID
ON Lifestream_CH_Validations.ViewerCode = Lifestream_CH_Viewers.ViewerID
WHERE (Lifestream_CH_Viewers.ViewerType IN (‘A2‘, ‘A3‘, ‘B3‘, ‘B7‘, ‘D17‘, ‘L23‘, ‘L30‘, ‘M25‘, ‘S7′, ‘S14‘, ‘T9‘))
AND (Posts.PostTitle IN  (‘On and Off, ‘Privacy Paradox’, ‘Algo Chat, ‘Acceptance Creep’, ‘Not so favourite‘, ‘Start the week‘))
AND (Lifestream_CH_Payments.PaymentRcvd=True)
AND (Max(Lifestream_CH_Validations.ViewerValue) > 600)

Week 7 Monsters, mammoths, mammals and mammon

Monsters, mammoths, mammals and mammon

Image: Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/5244106245 J. Michael Lockhart, USFWS

Henry James (1921) called Tolstoy’s War and Peace a ‘loose baggy monster’, just the epithet I need to describe this week. It’s been a bit all over the place and I haven’t stuck to the point. To begin with, I finished my micro-netnography which, as I hinted to Eli, had me take a detour both from the need to focus narrowly on one aspect of the mooc, and from the role of documenter by getting embroiled in philosophical distinctions. To turn this to advantage, I learnt a little phenomenology, found a friendly connection with the course leader (limes!) and thought about the necessity, the value and the restriction of setting specific tasks, the first two seeming to outweigh the last.

I created a precarious soundtrack for my philosophical road clip which got mangled in the upload to YouTube, so, now short of time, I bolted on a happy tune and left it at that. This was, of course, a mistake, quickly picked up by Daniel, but which made another important lesson for me. In the same way that words matter (noun and verb), my dissonant soundtrack performed a different meaning to the one I intended to express (at least some of the time). This cinematic literacy, evident in all my coursemates’ netnographies, is something I’m not well versed in, leading to an imperfect understanding of digital (and analogue) cultures.

All over the place, too, because I picked up an interesting podcast and paper which probably look forward to the next block rather than summarising this, added some random infrastructure thoughts and threw in the conservation ecology of the black-footed ferret.

James, H. (1921). Preface to The Tragic Muse. London: Macmillan & Co.

Weekly Summary Week 6

Image: Ministry of Stories, Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ministryofstories/6152500834

A sense of anxiety has prevailed this week induced by time passing without being lifestreamed, (spent within other communities) and broken ifttt applets. Unease has emanated from that social media feeling of returning from the bar on the EDC pub crawl to find the rest of the group has decamped elsewhere. Am I not flagging because I’m flagging? I feel the ‘internet does this to me’ in the instrumentalist sense of it enabling a continually renewed offer, the uptake of even a fraction of which I can’t hope to accept, with its unending exhortation to consume everything now – even, and especially, education.

This sense is compounded by some of the articles flagged up by my fellow-students (sincere thanks to them) in which I read repeated calls to action to do something about our black-boxed algorithms, our democracy, our education system … the list continues in this digital community in which we ‘find ourselves’. How long do we have to be there before action is taken? It is being taken, but just not evident amidst the constant scrolling attention-grabbers and fake news items of the social media we enjoin our educators to use. Capitalism’s constant press is getting in the way of learning whilst urging us to sign up for more, creating a ‘behind the curve’ angst whilst the money-makers are acting now, making money.

There might be more links to this summary if it were a summary rather a list of things to attend to and broken applets, but my thoughts have been on a philosophical road trip, musing about the online lectureweaving wall hangings, the point of learning and styles of 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. https://mr.crossref.org/iPage?doi=10.4135%2F9780857020055

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

Week 4 weekly thoughts

Image S B F Ryan, Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/47572798@N00/8397808475

I liked this music on Soundcloud because, as a set of variations on a theme, it serves as a melodic link between Blocks 1 and 2. From early cybercultures and their playful interpretations of the net, EDC is turning to concentrate on network-enabled community cultures and their meaning for education.

Looking back, variations on a theme make me think of our burgeoning ability to create iterations of our human selves as cyborgs, each slightly different from the original, although whether an improvement, is subjective and up for debate.

Looking ahead, variations hail the start of my chosen mooc, A Philosophical Road Trip.  I chose this mooc for its experiential introduction to phenomenology and the mise en abîme effect of making an ethnographic study of students of phenomenology. It is a philosophy which urges an active observation of the world and of ourselves. It encourages us to explore and exploit the double take so that we waken from perceiving the world as expected and view it anew and differently: epoché.

Following this philosophy, I might uncover some of the tensions and obscured constructions behind what it is to become part of an online learning community. I may observe “tensions between the creative, open sources practices of web media and the economic and commercial forces with which they react” (Lister, 2009, p.205), tensions between a Socratic understanding of knowledge delivery and theories of connectivism and distributed expertise, (Stewart, 2013) and tensions between a free community sharing a common interest and a forced, ersatz participation.


Lister, M. … [et al.], (2009) “Chapter 3. Networks, users and economics” from Martin Lister … [et al.], New media: a critical introduction pp.163-236, London: Routledge

Stewart, B., (2013). Massiveness + Openness = New Literacies of Participation? MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Technology, 9(2), pp.228–238.

Testing and not just for the sake of it #iAMb

Testing ifttt for my Week in iAMbs tweets.

I had an idea to summarise the week in iambic pentamaters, or at least one. Not exactly contemporary digital culture perhaps! It’s called #iAMb because the i confers a more up-to-date image it might otherwise not claim, in a corporate, Silicon Valley kind of way and co-constitutes the question-statement-proposition I AM. (Who we are as humans has been a theme of EDC so far.) The b is silent, it’s the parasitic worm code and/or the unrevealed element in the sociotechnical mix and/or power’s concealed cipher.

Warning – I’m no poet!

Testing and not just for the sake of it

This week’s iAMb hangs on the word testing. I’m thinking here of testing boundaries – the blurred boundaries we have been thinking of in the first EDC block, such as between the human and the machine, between education and learning or education and technology. Testing boundaries is what we are doing in this experimental learning space. Education and learning are all about testing, hypotheses and understandings, experiments and prototypes. Testing has connotations, too, of how education is a testing of ourselves, and perhaps necessarily so, to enable us to move forward.

Not just for the sake of it could mean that this testing is important, to me here, and to humans in general. We are testing the boundary of human technological perfectability and sinister outcomes of Artificial Intelligence. This testing matter is important and education is a means of giving voice to individuals to which this public learning space attests.

The predominance of monosyllables makes the sentence sound a bit robotic and the choice of and and not but after testing marks a pause, but less of one, to simulate the pace of life on the internet.

Of course, I was just really testing ifttt to see if it would work with another hashtag :).