With fervor I read and think and write about what I increasingly see as two favourite strands of thinking of mine. One being philosophical, the other being creative – which sounds terribly vague. What do I mean by this:
Does it all make sense and if so which? Who are we and why and what does digital education have to do with it? This strand of thought has almost no connection with studying how to assess student achievements in an online context or scaffolding or similar practical ideas.
The other passion is creativity. It is nothing I chose, rather something that chose me. I enjoy applying my philosophical thinking in creative ways, playing around, foolin around, hoping to give a body to a thought. So I play with video, sound, image.
Both come together in my digital artefact, when I take a radically philosophical approach and turn it into a very physical form. It takes passion to question the very core of your work. I wake up in the morning, have my first coffee on bed, pick up my iPad and start working. Every single day, Monday to Sunday. I chose Digital Education freely. I do it because I want to. It is my passion, allowing me to be who I am. Philosophical and creative and thus not only have meaning and purpose for myself, but contribute to what I feel passionate about. My artefact will do nothing less but ask if what I love exists and if so, what it is: Digital Education.
Learning is not the aquisition of information, but the making of connwctions between chunks of knowledge, the making of meaning. The same is what we all tried analysing the tweetorial, adding meaning to the data, because as it seemed, the algorithms do not yet do this for us – although I am convinced they will at some point.
One of the main challenges we face as humans is the automatic process of our brain, producing, yes creating patterns, wven where none are. You could say this is the algorithm of our brain and we must learn to be aware of this and teach ourselves to see the complexity of the world, see that everyone is unique and different.
What do current algorithms do? Put a label on the individual? Or break up perceived groups?
Do algorithms help us be the best we can be? Or do they make the same mistakes we make ourselves, yet with unseen efficiancy.
And do we actually know what we want algorithms to be?
The past two weeks, I was undatisfied and unmotivated. So many many topics I want to work on, yet not enough time, not enough energy and not yet producing the results I want to see myself producing.
I believe we need a new type of Humanism to prepare ourselves for a better world. Trans- or Posthumanism are more a danger than anything else.
Why is video in education not what it should be? Why is it not professional?
Spring is here. There is work to do. Motivation reestablished.
Not quite satisfied with my first data analysis of the Tweetorial, I chose an alternative approach. I tried to understand the dynamic of the conversation and which role individual users took. For this purpose, I came up with the idea to draw a diagram, displaying the communication. I chose a Tweet by Jeremy Knox (JK) and looked what happened. Several branches of conversations evolved from Jeremy’s initial Tweet. I randomly picked the first one. For a better understanding of the chronology of the conversation, I came up with the idea of “rounds”, with each new Tweet being a new round. The first Tweet happened in round 0, the last in round 9. The idea was to look not at the whole Tweetorial data but do a micro analysis, to better understand the dynamics of the conversation by purely looking at the connections and not at the content at all.
JK makes the initial Tweet, not adressing/ mentioning anyone directly, but using the hashtag #mscedc. Thus everyone looking for the jashtag is invited to comment.
MS picks up on the tweet and replies, including in his reply the hashtag, BUT DROPPING JK.
DJ joins in mentioning MS and including the hashtag.
MS replies to DJ, mentioning him, using the hashtag. So far, so normal.
Something intersting happens. EA joins in and RE-INTRODUCES JK, mentioning him, MS and DJ and using the hashtag.
NP joins the conversation, mentions all the above, uses the hashtag.
So does CP, who joins now.
Again something intersting happens: NP DROPS the hashtag, closing off the conversations for others in the #mscedc area.
CM joins in, mentioning everyone above, now not using the hashtag, which was dropped. Interstingly he finds the conversation, ALTHOUGH the hashtag was dropped.
LM joins now, too, and also without having come across the conversation by means of hashtag. She mentions everyone above. Yet the conversation dies here.
JK started the conversation and was mentioned in most Tweets, but remained silent.
DJ joined in round 2, was mentioned in every round, so he was practically bombarded with mentions, but remained silent for the whole thread.
The people seen in the diagram but without connections replied to JK’s tweet and started a different branch of communication.
So I draw the graph above and now I am reminded that I am not the first, doing this sort of things. I guess I must have seen it somewhere, forgotten it and then thought it is my own. Nevertheless I found it helpful to draw it manuall and thus think and find what I wrote above. Oh and it looks neat.
For my analysis of the Tweetorial, I have looked at two categories and (“Top Users” and “User Mentions”) and added another two (“Mentions per Tweet” and “Average rank”). You can look at the Excel spreadsheet I created here: mscedcanal
Here is a screenshot of the spreadsheet.
Selected questions arising from the provided data analysis:
Angela Tsui did not take part. Did anyone even realize? Is it because she is in Hong Kong? Is she?
Jeremy and James got the most mentions. Does this reflect power structures in the course?
Philip sent the most Tweets, but his “mentions per Tweet ratio” is somewhat low. Does this say anything at all?
Philip’s timezone is hours behind. He sent the most tweets. Angela’s timezone is hours ahead. She has no Tweets. What does this mean?
Eli has no top five rank in “number of Tweets”, “mentions” or “mentions per Tweet ratio”, but ranks at position 5 overall. tweetarchivist would not have given her due respect. What does this say about tweetarchivist or Eli’s performance?
Leaving out course tutors Jeremy and James, the top overall users are Nigel, Renée, Eli, Daniel and Colin.
The following users ranked in the top 5 at least once: Philip, Colin, Nigel, Helen, Jeremy, Eli, Renée, Daniel, James, Stuart and Ben.
Who are Ben Williamson, Monica Bulger and Jo Glover?
Monica Bulger, Ross Garner, Jo Glover and @Dirkster71 got mentions without tweeting. Does this make them super important/ relevant? Did they simply forget to include the #mscedc hashtag? Why do the not show up in the “mentions per Tweet” category?
Dirk Schwindenhammer has two Twitter accounts (and others possibly, too). Does this influence the results?
Do language barriers influence Twitter behaviour?
Is any of the presented data and data analysis relevant at all? Does it say anything about quality?
“Number of Tweets” and “mentions” are data provided by tweetarchivist.com. “Mentions per Tweet ratio” and “average rank” are data provided by Dirk Schwindenhammer, based on the data provided by tweetarchivist.com. Are any of the categories of any use?
Did instructions provided by the tutors prior to the Tweetorial influence behaviour and how?
Imagine this blog as a bookshop. As my bookshop for you. And imagine every post here as a book I offer to you, dear customer.
In my bookshop, you will find three sections: The Weekly Reviews, The Recommended Posts and the Lifestream. Each section offers a different selection of books.
The Weekly Reviews
Let me be honest with you. I guess I would not have this shelf of Weekly Reviews in my shop. But I must. The man makes me. The man is James Lamb. And let me tell you this, too: I am damn sure happy he makes me do it. First of all, I would not even have the whole shop without him. And secondly, I love this Weekly Review section which I keep for him. I get the impression it makes me a better bookshop owner. So cheers, James!
The Recommended Posts
Do you know these tables in bookshops where they put their recommended books? Those the shop thinks you should buy and read? This is exactly what this section is all about. Hand picked staff favourites from our vast collection of books. A kind of “best of” section. Don’t leave my shop without at least looking at the covers.
But there is this third section of the shop. A kind of a black sheep bookshop section:
See, this is a massive part right at the back of the shop. Thousands of books, on shelves, on tables, yes even piled up on the floor, some big, most small, covering all kinds of topics. Some have pictures, others have not, it is quite a variety. But, well… this part of the shop is a mess. Whatever book I like, it goes there. But there is no structure. If you browse the section, you might stumble upon something which catches your interest. You might as well not. It is a pure chaos. And although I like every single book back there, the chaos of the Lifestream frustrates me greatly.
I have thought about ways to sort it out. Not to much avail. Yet I want to be a good shop. I want to be service orientated. And, I admit, I want you, dear customers, to see all the clever little books I have. But oh dear, it’s not working.
And our minds?
Now what if all our minds where like this bookshop of mine? And what if teachers were to assess the quality of our shop and our books? How could we, the students, make sure they get the best possible and accurate impression of all the books we call thoughts? And what can they, the teachers, do, to make this happen? And maybe even help us a bit organizing our little shop?
Especially in an online learning environment, when most and sometimes all we can show is text. When there is no water cooler talk, no random running into each other while communiting to school, just words, typed into a machine and uploaded at this or that part of the internet.
Maybe this is education. More and more books, some sort of structure, a lot of mess, too. And the teacher as the customer, coming to see and giving us valuable tips how to make the best out of it.
If algorithms could possibly help everyone involved on this massive task? Not adding but recognizing structure. Summarizing. Highlighting. After all ther might be a grrat little book nack there in the back and it might be a shame not finding it. And there might be a trend of topics, not even the bookshop owner is aware of. Help is needed ot at least very welcome.
Reached my wordcount without even covering three days of seven. As my data analysis already sugested: I am pretty busy online, mostly work-related, but this blog only shows a fraction. Adding metadata to all posts would be insane. IFTTT integration is a mess and onlinine limtations only convey fractions of all I am actually doing and thinking.
Some on the course adopted the structure of my blog for theirs. (A, B) My podcast inspired another podcast. Someone was so kind to privately remark on things I say.
There are more examples of people being kind to me and non-violently influenced. I feel understood and valued. This feels good. I am human. I want to be loved. I need to be loved. The fact that I am studying Digital Education does not and can not change this.
We are humans and as such built to love and be loved. Over at DEULOE I said: Mothers’ brains change for love (Hoekzema et al,2017). Adolescent brains change for love (Albert et al 2013). I am aware of „the ways that technology and human, social and material, are deeply entwined“ (Knox 2014). Yet „learning outcomes are expressed in terms of potential for action“ (Macleoad). And the choice of how to act is ours.
The question I keep asking myself is: What about digital culture is uniquely digital? Is the digital maybe simply a modern frame for the ancient painting we humans are? Does the digital maybe change the quality or the quantity of the things we do and are, but never change the things themselves? And should we, therefore, maybe consciously choose to adopt an „instrumental“ position (Hamilton, Friesen 2013)? Are „Post-Humanism“ and „Transhumanism“ (Bayne 2015) only theoretical concepts denying our human reality? Do we as digital scientists solely focus on the aspect which distinguishes our profession from others, the digital, by which we loose ourselves?
I love, I will, I must, I do study the frame, but never forget there would be no frame without the picture. (272 words)
Albert, Dustin, Chein, Jason & Steinberg, Laurence. 2013. The Teenage Brain. Current Directions in Psychological Science 22: 114-120. doi: 10.1177/0963721412471347.
Bayne, Sian. 2015. What’s the matter with ‘technology-enhanced learning’?. Learning, Media and Technology 40: 5-20. doi: 10.1080/17439884.2014.915851. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2014.915851
Hamilton, E. C., Friesen, N. & A.. 2013. Online Education: and Technology Studies Perspective. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology Volume pp 39: 1-21.
Hoekzema, E., Barba-Müller, E., Pozzobon, C., Picado, M., Lucco, F., García-García, D., Soliva, J. C., Tobeña, A., Desco, M., Crone, E. A., Ballesteros, A., Carmona, S. & Vilarroya, O.. 2017. Pregnancy leads to long-lasting changes in human brain structure. Nature Neuroscience 20: 287-296. doi: 10.1038/nn.4458.
Knox, Jeremy. 2014. Active Algorithms: Sociomaterial Spaces in the E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC. Knox , J 2014 , ‘ Active Algorithms: Sociomaterial Spaces in the E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC ‘ Campus Virtuales , vol 3 , no. 1 , pp. 42-55 .
Macleoad, Hamish. 2017. The Position Papers; the First Example. Edinburgh: https://www.moodle.is.ed.ac.uk/mod/page/view.php?id=37573
Oh yes, I should be working on this blog. Yet I don’t.
I tend to comment on other students’ blogs, but I have not yet figured out, how to IFTTT can be used to automatically post this activity on my own blog. And I do not really want to. I comment on other folks’ blog because I want to, I find it interesting, I like the other guys, I enjoy working with them. I do not do this to show off, to make an impression on my tutors. Am I risking good grades?
I should put some meta information on my posts, so my tutors can see what I am doing and why. But seriously? I am doing a lot already, I believe, and doing something somewhere online and then doing something more on this something somewhere else – it is not only the workload that bugs me, it is also this egocentric approach I would feel like taking. Come on, it’s only me. No big deal.
I do not like the looks of my blog here. It could be prettier, more user friendly, simply better. But I have my own blog in a diffefent corner of the internet. And I am not a web designer, nor a programmer. I am many things. Ain’t that enough?
Am I lazy? Do I lack motivation? I reckon I simply do not really know or approve the WHY of all the work I should be putting in. I wake up every morning, go get a coffee, get back into bed and start reading my Twitter feed and other EDC students’ blogs and I start commenting, replying, working. Oh what a perfect start to the day. This is what I am doing right now. Why would I spoil something I love? For grades? For status? For future job opportunities? Oh very nice, very nice, very nice, but maybe in a next world. This might sound crass to anyone else, but after almost killing myself with depression I am simply reluctant to do things that just don’t seem right for me. I am aware that this position I take is rather unprofessional and irrational maybe. And I assume it might change with the course of time. But right now, I take the risk, smilingly, leaving meta data to those who truly embrace them, while I hold on to my coffee.
Let me assure you that Knox text on „Algorithmic Cultures. Excerpt from Critical Education and Digital Cultures“and others could have easily been quoted here, just like my algorithmic play might conveniently have answered questions about changed actions or ethical issues. I have consciously decided against including these and other aspects in the work. I have chosen an audio essay, reminiscent of fiction radio plays still found on air today. I believe and hope this medium will serve best both a cognitive and unconscious understanding of the implications of the present use of algorithms, hoping the listener themself will be asking and answering the relevant questions arising from my work and the topic as such. I don’t want to spoil my own party by offering answers and solutions.
Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. ” — Immanuel Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals
What we believe and feel to be true and right can be seen as our individual identity. Although our concrete actions might look ambiguous, they do or should root in a consistent set of maxims. Once our contradicting actions stem from contradicting maxims, we are “acting out of character”, we are not being true to ourselves or might not have yet realized or discovered who we are. Trying to find out ourselves who we are is a constant process and part of who we are. Adopting conflicting maxims, identities, due to forces outside ourselves, however, is to be avoided, as the consequential behaviour can not only lead to unfortunate effects for ourselves and society, but also demonstrates power structures acting upon the individual which should be avoided.
Working my way through different readings and remembering all the other papers and occasions which involved discussions of multi identities, well, I could not keep my mouth shut, I reckon, because I get the strong feeling (motivation?) that we are making a mistake here.
(Skip directly to the/ my videos below on the same issue if you want ^^)
Let’s stop this multi-identity madness. It is causing real problems for society and ourselves. I am calling for a paradigm shift, away from accepting multiple identities as a (natural) fact towards promoting having one identity everywhere all the time. If we as scientists and scholars merely describe and analyse the different identities or roles we all seem to have, we are not only cementing this situation, we are also promoting it and fostering it, giving ourselves and everyone else an alibi for acting lile this and we are actively creating and sustaining a world, where people actively adopt different identities, because they are being taught that this is natural, unescapable and that they are expected to behave accordingly.
We should be aware of the existence of multiple identities, we should understand why this happens – and we do both. But we should also study the negative consequences for society and the individual and(!) we should study and promote a change for the better.
Or of course we can alternatively consciously decide to take the role of the passive observer. “Oh look, this child is going to put a fork into a socket. I predict she is going to die. Oops, just happened. Anymore tea anyone?”
We do not have different identities. BUT: Our brains are constantly busy trying to understand the world. Unfortunately the world is very complicated, so we have two systems in our brains working (Kahneman 2012), sort of cleaning up the mess this world is in. Our brain arranges the world we perceive, it applies structure, order to it, it groups things into categories. This makes it easier for us to function. The problem with this is, however, that without us realizing, we oversimplify, we generalize and thus make things more alike in our perception than they actually are (see Tajfel and Wilkes 1963 on stereotypes once again).
Let me give you an example:
As a teacher we have twenty students. If we choose to evaluate every student individually in every aspect relevant to our teaching, things get pretty difficult and complicated, this would take up a lot of time and energy. So instead we categorize. We actively produce segments, chunks. Boys here, girls there. Those good at maths and those who struggle. Rich kids, poor kids etc. We try to apply some sense of order, structure to a heterogenous group to make life easier for us. By this, however, we make generalizations, which in effect tend to be wrong when appplied to any one individual. But as most of this happens unconsciously, we are not even aware of the unjustice we are doing to every single child.
Now our study of presumably different identities within an individual is based on the same principle. We see the world, the world is difficult, we try to impose some form of structure. Analyzing the character of an individual takes years for professional psychologists. We as educators don’t have the skills and the knowledge and time. So we make this analysis of the individual easier for us by creating different categories within the individual.
So what I am saying is this:
1) We do not have different identities, unless we are diagnosed with schizophrenia.
2) We are all, everyone of us, not only very complicated but also totally individual.
3) Although we are animals built in a way that we automatically categorize, we should be aware that this leads to a multitude of wrong perceptions and practical problems for society and the individual.
4) Apparant inconsistencies within an individual are normal in our lifelong journey of development and self-discovery.
5) Instead of cementing these inconsistencies by giving scientific explanations like theories of different identities, we should learn how to help our students, to become more consistent, to find out who they are, who they want to be, to liberate them, to empower them, to be who they are without fearing social recrimination, and help them to face and embrace their own imperfections, their own facettes, their own ambiguities.
(Those of you with a good auto-translate might be interested in an earlier article I wrote on this: http://www.schwindenhammer.com/2013/11/05/lehrer-mussen-milieustudien-ignorieren/ )
Having spoken about identity, let me now try this: I will note what identity is, why we develop identity, what might be the problem with the display of different identities, and what we should consequently do. I will back this up with yet another (passionate?) video, summarizing all this below. What is identity?
Gee sees it like this:
“When any human being acts and interacts in a given context, others recognize that person as acting and interacting as a certain “kind of person” or even as several different “kinds” at once. […] The “kind of person” one is recognized as “being,” at a given time and place, can change from moment to moment in the interaction, can change from context to context, and, of course, can be ambiguous or unstable. Being recognized as a certain “kind of person,” in a given context, is what I mean here by “identity.” In this sense of the term, all people have multiple identities con- nected not to their “internal states” but to their performances in society.” (Gee 2001, p.99)
Why do we develop different identities?
We develop different identities by learning about different social contexts and learning how to behave in different social contexts. Thereby we learn and adopt different identities. Let me quote Hanks on the learning aspect of this:
“Learning is a way of being in the social world, not a way of coming to know about it. Learners, like observers more generally, are engaged both in the contexts of their learning and in the broader social world within which these contexts are produced. Without this engagement, there is no learning, and where the proper engagement is sustained, learning will occur.” (Hanks in: Lave and Wenger, 1991)
Now a student on the course I am currently taking, mentioned a coworker, saying “his reactions on the inside are different to the behaviour he shows on the outside.”
So he is not acting upon who he is (on the inside), but what he believes others expect him to be. He is pretending to be different from who is is, because he wants to belong to the group and being how he truly is would risk his participation in the group.
This is what I believe to be the normal case of multiple identities and I see this as a sometimes passive/ unconscious and sometimes active/ conscious influence of society on the individual and I believe this is a display of power and wrong.
It is a (I believe well studied) mechanism of forcing the individual to comply with the expectations of society. There are reasons for this, even good reasons. I nevertheless believe this is wrong, as I believe nobody has the right to dictate upon others what or who or how they should be.
Consequently, we should try to create a community in which everybody can be who they are without fear of being judged or excluded. We have to help people to develop a sense of self, of being able to participate in society without the need to corrupt their own identity.
For your viewing pleasure, please look at these two small videos, making a hopefully passionate and educated plea for the above.
Gee, J.P. (2001) Identity as an Analytic Lens for Research in Education. Review of Research in Education, 25, 99-125.
Kahneman, D.. 2012. Thinking, Fast and Slow. London: Penguin Books.
Lave, J. and E. Wenger (1991) Situated learning : legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge England ; New York, Cambridge University Press.
Tajfel, H. & Wilkes, A.. 1963. Classification and qualitative judgement. British Journal of Psychology 54: 101-143.