Co-constructed ecosystems Week 8

ecosystem
Photo: Flickr @giveaphuk

I started my week trying to find out what exactly algorithms were. I had a vague understanding that they were part of the coding that looks for patterns and then changes functionality of certain online spaces, usually to do with shopping and social media. I’ve mostly come across them through social media feeds where influencers are usually advocating for you to turn notifications on about their posts. What surprised me when I started looking for information about how algorithms work, almost as often information on how to manipulate them popped up.

I was trying think about how algorithms may influence education and where they might fall short when I stumbled upon the amazing Joy Buolamwini. She highlighted the real consequences of how having a lack of diversity in programming can impact technology in ways we do not expect. It was evident from her experience that technology rendered her invisible by not being able to read her features. I wonder how many other invisibilities are not yet evident.

We met for our weekly Skype group and some of the bigger themes emerging from that conversation were about how algorithms are used for control and surveillance. We wondered if this might cause students from certain, ethnic, socio-economic backgrounds to be marginalised.

The TED talk on How algorithms shape our world. Was really insightful on how algorithms link. The ‘ecosystem’ metaphor Slavin used echoed Active algorithms: Sociomaterial spaces in the E-learning and digital cultures MOOC (Knox 2014).

It was in this vein I found Hack Education’s article about the Algorithmic Future of Education. Watter’s highlights how the marketization of education and how important ‘care’ is when dealing with students.

I rounded the week off working with Stuart by comparing how algorithms work in different online spaces.


Knox, J. 2015. Algorithmic Cultures. Excerpt from Critical Education and Digital Cultures. In Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. M. A. Peters (ed.). DOI 10.1007/978-981-287-532-7_124-1

The Algorithmic Future of Education

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This article highlights the problems encountered with teaching methodology based on technological instrumentalism.

It also draws attention to the marketisation of education and how much money is now being spent in venture capital investment in education.

Another aspect it looks at is how a utopian view of technology, like students being able to have their own private tutor in a machine, overlooks the human/emotional side that is so strongly accompanies real student-teacher interaction.

How algorithms shape our world

We live in a world run by algorithms, computer programs that make decisions or solve problems for us. In this riveting, funny talk, Kevin Slavin shows how modern algorithms determine stock prices, espionage tactics, even the movies you watch. But, he asks: If we depend on complex algorithms to manage our daily decisions — when do we start to lose control?

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I thought this TED talk was interesting as Slavin indicates that the way humans and algorithms interact is an ‘ecosystem’, a complex interconnected system when one facet cannot survive in the same way without the others. This supports the idea that ‘spaces…cannot be entirely controlled by teachers, students, or the authors of the software’ Knox (2014).


References

Knox, J. K. (2014). Active algorithms: sociomaterial spaces in the E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC. Campus Virtuales, 3(1): 42-55.

Pinned to Technology on Pinterest

Just Pinned to Technology: What are algorithms? (Infographic): http://ift.tt/1XjFBFc http://ift.tt/2mWSfPw
I’m trying to understand how algorithms work, how they came into existence and how they will be relevant to the future of education.

I thought I would pin an item from Pinterest into my feed because while browsing for my content there were quite a few articles from users who were very unhappy about the algorithmic changes Pinterest made to the way pinners interact with their audience and other pinners.

Below is an article that talks about how you can outsmart the Pinterest algorithm.

Another blog on how Pinterest algorithm changes and how they affect users.