EDC Week 4 Summary

Palapye, Botswana

Its been a another eventual few days of travelling for me this week, this time to a small town, just barely!, called Palapye which is situated an hours flight away from my home base of Johannesburg to Gaborone, capital of Botswana, and then a three hour drive north on the A1 highway, Botswana’s busiest transit route, to the north eastern interior. Apart from a small university (BIUST) there is a coal mine and an exceptionally large power station as well as single hotel (but with very poor wifi) so what little viewing, tweeting and commenting I could do was inevitably slow or did not in effect work at all, even after several attempts to reconnect.

I was however able to access the very detailed readings on the next phase of our programme. Kozinets (2010) and Fourniers (2014) insights have provided some excellent background on the ethnographic task ahead and the detail they have provided as a background to the process will make for a far easier study on the chosen OER.

I’ve decided to review a MOOC that involves Learning Analytics, partly due to my ongoing interest in the topic, but, also for the fact that I have some familiarity of the subject matter which will give me, in my opinion, the opportunity to study the communicative, collaborative and knowledge development and provision aspects more closely, separated from the subject matter itself. After a comment to this effect on Twitter one of my fellow students proffered if this was the right approach and if this could potentially skew my judgement? Hard to say really, time will tell but I don’t believe this will be the case. Ready to dive in~!

2 thoughts on “EDC Week 4 Summary”

  1. Hello Myles, thanks for this summary and well done for quickly selecting a field site for your mini ethnography. Well done also for getting into the readings early in this block: this will certainly help your thinking in the coming weeks – in fact you’ve already acknowledged that to be the case.

    ‘Apart from a small university (BIUST) there is a coal mine and an exceptionally large power station as well as single hotel (but with very poor wifi) so what little viewing, tweeting and commenting I could do was inevitably slow or did not in effect work at all, even after several attempts to reconnect.’

    This in itself is a valuable addition to your lifestream experience. I have been having conversations recently with a colleague whose research has concerned mobile learning in Africa. He has been to keen to point out how our ideas around connectivity in the West are out of step with what is currently possible in some emerging nations. And so your lifestream over the last week talks about the inequality of access to the digital: fascinating stuff.

    ‘After a comment to this effect on Twitter one of my fellow students proffered if this was the right approach and if this could potentially skew my judgement? Hard to say really, time will tell but I don’t believe this will be the case.’

    From an ethnographic perspective I wouldn’t see this as skewing your judgement as much as needing to be up front about your own experiences and interests. Realistically, a researcher cannot enter a field site without some ideas or their own history: what’s important though is to try and let your thoughts be guided by what you see within your community. At the same time, prior understanding of the subject matter will certainly be helpful considering the short time available for the exercise.

  2. Hi James, and thanks again for a comprehensive commentary!

    Yes, the limitations in some resources and restricted access to things like the web and bandwidth is a large part of most discussions around the use of technology for education here in Africa. I felt this quite acutely in the most recently completed IDEL course where I saw more than once that the conversation was based very much on first world problems facing technology enhanced education only. As one of the two Africans on that course I felt compelled, and maybe a little duty bound, on occasion, to act as the voice of the developing economy of which there are more than a few around the world.

    However, Im happy to say that the situation is improving almost daily and access to technology is taking place now at an unprecedented rate across the continent, or at least in southern Africa where I am most engaged. Ultimately it is the more developed discussions we would actually all like to be having so it s a good thing that this will be less of a factor in the years to come.

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