Leaders and Monitors: The best and the worst of education technology

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Last week I attended the Holyrood Connect Learning Through Technology event where I saw a rather jawdropping demonstration of the very best and very worst that education technology has to offer.

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I posted this blog post in the Tweetorial as well as embedding it here as it highlights the grave need to call out software providers to consider the ethics around people’s data and stop privileging the surveillance as a selling point. It is yet again a ‘because we can’ function and Lorna Campbell demonstrates that the voice of reason may be a small voice in the dark. This all seems to resonate with the general direction of our discussions this week and the reality of a surveillance society, framed to us a method of keeping us safe.

What happens when algorithms go ‚Äėevil‚Äô?

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Algorithms are the powerful mathematical tools which shape so much of modern life, from the news which appears in our timelines to the adverts which pop up on our computer.

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This short excerpt from the BBC considers large scale data driven algorithms as a parallel with legal systems in that there is no perfect solution and it is a system of smaller parts coming together as one.

Considers the concept of ‘algorithmic discrimination’ and refers to the Microsoft Tay (bot) taken offline after only 16 hours due to rasicist output.

Liked on YouTube: Person of Interest: Season 1 Trailer

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The dystopian future portrayed in this television show set in the present, seems ever increasingly nearer. It is a tale of one man’s invention of a machine which ‘thinks’. Ultimately, it came down to man against machine, man against man and machine against machine. The ethics were at the heart with the inventor constantly worried about the impact of his invention on the human race. Despite the fictitious basis it constantly raised timely and important questions that we need to ask ourselves in a technological era.

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Just Pinned to #mscedc: http://ift.tt/1xkIKIq | Sensemaking with Learning Analytics @gsiemens #apereo14 keynote | I’m connecting the dots and hoping the apereo community gets on board with a full scale development of learning analytics open platform as an LMS plug-in.

Week 8 summary

Another week has flown past before I feel I have truly got to grips with it. I am a bit stuck¬†in a ‘catch up one week at the start of the next‘ loop. I really enjoyed looking at¬†and commenting on quite a few¬†ethnographies, but made myself move on mid-week. However, I did add Pocket to IFTTT!

Trying to make sense of algorithms was worrying as I am definitely out of my comfort zone with numbers never mind big numbers. I began by watching some instructive talks and videos.

Despite my focus on my YouTube algorithm exercise the main element that has come through my week is yet again online community. On Twitter I spotted a good article about Google and education and this started a conversation about community and sharing and it turned out to be very circular indeed.

The¬†Tweet from Amanda Taylor re article in the Conversation, author, Ibrar Bhatt brought algorithms¬†and/vs serendipity to life: Amanda in Lancaster University, worked in Queen’s previously, Ibrar wrote article whilst at Lancaster University, now works at Queen’s in a different department from¬†me. When I first retweeted the article I had no idea where Amanda was located or anything about the author so discovering such close network nodes showed me how algorithms are at play without me even realising, as I have no recollection of how I came to follow Amanda in the first place.

Lastly, as the week closes I am again thinking on the paradox of Higher Education’s continual resistance to change whilst simultaneously lauding technological innovations as potentially¬†disruptive. Each time change is slow and minimal with a¬†focus on administrative benefits rather than the learning experience. The virtual learning environment, VLE, is an ever present piece of evidence of this.

There you go Jeremy, proof I act on your feedback Рword count under 300!

My video artefact: algorithms

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I have tried to pull all of the different elements of my week into a single video artefact: readings, audio produced in part by algorithms, visuals generated by algorithm alongside the algorithmic generated YouTube recommendations for me. The final curated video displays the human aspects behind the numbers.

Comment on A Mini-ethnography by cthomson

Hi Linzi
Now looking at your presentation on a PC rather than tablet I can see it isn’t you! I spent more time initially on the images in the presentation than the text. I loved them all.

Your comment “you have to look beyond the veneer” is something that I hadn’t considered at all – very interesting that people may be writing only with a false sense of politeness.

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Comment on Digital_Ethnography by cthomson

Thanks Jeremy
This is a fascinating angle that I hadn’t considered fully. I didn’t spot any explicit physical meetups. However, there were two distinct connections: the first that many students had been advised by RMIT staff to join the MOOC to enhance experience of formal courses and the second is that a lot of people working for local government in Australia connected and some already knew each other. I suppose this highlights the importance of the central node in the network, that people are drawn to common localities despite the virtual delivery. Did you find that there were significant numbers from Edinburgh (or even Scotland) on the #edcmooc?
Clare

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Comment on Linked form evernote: My micro netnography by cthomson

Thanks Eli
Your photos are fantastic (hard to choose between the tea and the bikes as my favourite). It really is a bit unexpected to be learning about one thing by learning about another!

Thinking about your comment “whether or not we‚Äôd be happy with peer review if it was how our final grades were decided and I think that is a big question” – in #deuloe we did anonymous peer review (the reviewer knew the writer, but the writer didn‚Äôt know who reviewed) with tight guidelines. However, this feedback could only IMPROVE the final mark given by the tutors. Here I think the anonymity and guidance were key. Also, we did three each so your peer review did not sit in isolation ‚Äď it seemed a good balance and a good learning experience. Really not sure how I would feel if the final mark was significantly influenced by peer grading.
Clare

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Comment on My microethnography: https://t.co/G08wdLn0f9 Stories of a MOOC #mscedc by cthomson

This is wonderful, Anne
“I was inspired to produce videos for this micro-ethnography because of my need to be creative and because the atmosphere I experienced in the MOOC community drove me to express myself in an artistic way.” – your videos definitely created a dark, trapped atmosphere for me and the opening photograph set the scene perfectly.

I’m guessing the ‘feeling’ of community within the MOOC must have differed from the majority of online courses being of such a difficult nature.

It is an inspirational, sensitive presentation, thank you.
Clare

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Comment on Linked form evernote: My micro netnography by cthomson

Hi Eli
I loved your beautifully stylised ethnography. It would have been a bonus to see some of your photographs.

The peer review debate that it kicked off is really interesting. This is the third module in Mscde that has involved peer review for me and is in stark contrast to my MOOC experiences. I am wondering if it is due to small course size, formal qualification, masters level, longer duration or a combination of all or some of these elements? It is a skill in its own right and sometimes I find it difficult to get meaning across correctly.

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Comment on Tweet: Micro-ethnography by cthomson

Hi Chenée
What an interesting comparison and two so very different experiences. That you highlight the two specific differences in the community around the simple task of introductions is very illuminating. I realise that the IoT participants seemed to be quite strategic and knowledge hungry but the fact that the other TLtF participants gave lengthy introductions after being encouraged to give more than a ‘hello’ must say more than it simply being down to the LMS used. I just checked back on mine, and there were also prompt questions for the introductions task that resulted in rich responses.

I loved the added touch of the two pieces of audio, I am assuming that each represented your experience of the MOOC. Trying to learn in a large, echo filled chamber allows me to visualise your feelings so clearly. Good use of Sway.

Thanks
Clare

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Week 7 summary

My stream is unusually skewed this week, light at the start and heavy near the end. There were several reasons for this, I was at a conference on Tuesday, my MOOC analysis was ongoing and I think my frustrations at IFTTT were beginning to drag me down a bit. My initial response to my feedback was that it was exactly what I had been expecting, however, as the week went on I think it did over shadow my output to some extent.

Continue reading “Week 7 summary”

Comment on Digital_Ethnography by cthomson

Thanks Ren√©e, good questions. I can’t remember where the 5000 was reported, I think it was at the beginning when the course facilitators made a video of all the participants but as the number of comments doesn’t really reflect/support it, perhaps it did include previous iterations.
It was so interesting to hear about community projects about cycling, unused spaces in towns, healthy eating, litter, flood/earthquake destruction etc discussed within an online community. However, like you I discuss my ideas/interaction with the course with friends and colleagues more than online. I think defining community on or offline is difficult and a flexible, reflexive approach might be better than a concrete ideal.

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Comment on A Mini-ethnography by cthomson

Hi Linzi
That was a fascinating account of your experience, especially the part about the advice that you should actually choose a different course. The discussion element is so complex within the MOOC platforms. Whilst there were thousands of comments in my course I wouldn’t say there were significant numbers of conversations despite the encouragement from the course facilitators. However, there was a lot of creative engagement so I considered that to be a successful outcome from a blended x/cMOOC, but perhaps you wouldn’t have. Research into MOOCs as a concept appears to be incredibly difficult.
I agree and disagree with Daniel – I found Spark more limiting once I actually started to create mine and abandoned it quite quickly but I did really like your ‘eye’ – is it you in the middle?
Clare

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Digital_Ethnography

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My aim was to produce a video for this and I had all the transitions/animations in place but then decided to do via a Dropbox link and opted for a document only due to PowerPoint Mac and export to mp4 choice not showing. I’m not overly happy with it but it is the end of the week and time to move on. I really enjoyed the MOOC itself and will continue with it to the end.

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Just Pinned to #mscedc: (4) Twitter
Even though this graphic is for a training audience I thought it captured the message well that as educators we should be guiding and facilitating the learner to build their own meaning and knowledge.

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Just Pinned to #mscedc: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2017: Paying With Your Face – MIT Technology Review
This is more an image for the next block but it also seemed to visualise the complexity of being an assemblage in an online community.