All posts by npainting

As well as being a mature student I manage and develop a digital academy for a multi-national pharmacy-led retailer, focusing (forgive the pun) on the Opticians part of the business in the UK. I’m a qualified optician but have not worked in professional practice for many years, having spent over a decade leading internal communications and moving to learning and development about four years ago.

Week 12 summary…and finally

Back in the day the final news item used to be a light-hearted  piece about a skateboarding duck or similar.

Lionel the skateboarding duck – borrowed from

This isn’t going to be one of those…

So, what have I learned?

My biggest take-out from this course is summarised by these quotes:

"division of the social and the technological, and [...]the reduction of their complex entanglements to a clear relation of subordination" 
Bayne, S. (2014)
"...the MOOC as a complex entanglement of humans, educational institutions, technologies and geographies..."
Knox (2016)
"...the algorithm represents a much more complex relationship between humans and non-humans in education, pointing towards an increased entanglement of agencies..."
Knox (2015)

The field of education doesn’t exist in a bubble, isolated from everything else in the world.  Aspects of all three cultures we have studied (and more) have an impact on it, whether that’s in the way people perceive digital technology, how me might use it, or the negative effect its misuse might have.

cyberculture logo

At first I thought of cyber, community and algorithmic cultures as different eras, akin to the past, present and future.  My view now is that the three coexist, although one may be dominant in a particular situation.

I found the whole enhanced-human / android concept fascinating.  It’s clear that we’re already there in some respects. In the field I work in contact lenses, wave-guided laser eye surgery and digital hearing aids all have the potential to provide benefits that go beyond the restorative.

In my professional practice an awareness of our increasing entanglement with technology translates into treating technophiles and technophobes with equal care and regard.

Having gained an understanding of ethnography is very helpful.  Supporting an on-line community is a big aspect of my job and one I see as, potentially, the most rewarding.  One if the reasons I joined this MSc was to experience on-line learning as a student, so I now know I had ethnographic intentions from the outset.  I found Kozinets (2010) particularly helpful and comprehensive and I’ve already quoted from it on several occasions at work.

algorithm culture

“Making visible the invisible” will stay with me forever! It’s a great way to summarise the possibilities (and pitfalls) of analytics.  There was enough content to spark my interest and it’s a topic I will study further in the future.

The format is liberating, although being time-oppressed I found the loose structure tricky.

  • The first block was the most engaging and stimulating for me, I’d put this down to the greater sense of community created by the group activities.
  • The (deliberately?) fragmented communication in block 2 was a jarring contrast at first.
  • Block 3 merged into finalising the Lifestream and I didn’t have enough time to devote to both.

One other element I had to come to terms with was referencing non-academic sources.  I’ve resolved the mental conflict this caused me by looping back to ‘complex entanglements’ and realising that these sources (even fake news ones) have legitimacy in the context of digital cultures.

To Jeremy and James and my fellow students.

Incidentally the ‘…and finally’ news format lives on here!


Bayne, S. (2014) What’s the matter with ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’? Learning, Media and Technology, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2014.915851

Knox, J. (2016) Posthumanism and the Massive Open Online Course: Contaminating the Subject of Global Education, Routledge Taylor and Francis Group

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

Time ladies and gentlemen please

Public house ‘last orders’ bell

Despite being tasked with keeping the ‘lifestream’ going this past couple of weeks, whilst ‘tidying it up ready for submission’, I’ve found the latter has left almost no time for the former.

I’ve just finished adding metadata to the content I’ve linked to, and completing and publishing draft posts that I didn’t have time to work on earlier.

Feedback from my tutor Jeremy on the weekly synthesis needing to be just that I’ve found tricky to deal with, as my published posts detail my thoughts at the time and tutor and fellow student comments won’t make sense if I go back and edit them, so I’ve left them as they are.  Hopefully that’s not a bad decision.

So just the final summary to complete and then it’s full speed ahead on the web essay.  Arrrgggghhh!

TWEET: why people really love technology

I’m gathering together content to present a dystopia versus utopia view of technology for my ‘web essay’ and this interview provides some useful views.

Week 11 Lifestream Summary

I’ve made a good start on tidying up my blog this week, finally getting around to finishing off several draft posts from earlier course blocks.   There’s still more to do though and I’m grateful for these two weeks to get the work done. I’ve not felt any compulsion to edit existing posts, where I have added comments I’ve clearly marked them as additions to maintain the authenticity of the ‘lifestream’.

I have also been researching predictions for the future of social media, machine learning and artificial intelligence. There are a couple of items relating to this in this week’s blog posts and my reflections on them are included where I have had time to reflect on the ideas expressed in the relevant videos and articles.   I intend to add more metadata to these during this week.

Currently I’m full of cold and feeling pretty grim so I’m hoping I’ll be over that in the next few days and ‘on my game’ for the final furlong. An idea I’ve had for how to present my ‘web essay’ will require some testing to see if it will work as I intend it to.  It’s a concept that takes its cue from the film ‘Sliding doors’ and will be presented in video format, a medium I’m reasonably comfortable with and one that I haven’t made use of in the course so far.  Fingers crossed!


Interesting views on social media

In an article on Todd Wasserman suggested that“The switch from desktop to mobile appears to have changed how people behave on social media, or at least, how they define it.”  

Wasserman’s reasoning is a follows “A few years ago, the conventional wisdom was that young people were exhibitionists at heart who had no reservations about sharing their data with the world. Mobile changed that. When you sit down at your computer to write, you might expect your words and actions to be seen by the world. On mobile, though, we’re used to sending messages only to our closest friends and family. Snapchat’s success bolstered that view.”

I can see the logic in this argument but at the same time my own experience suggests that mobile is fast becoming the new desktop.  Whereas a few years ago I would have spent a considerable amount of non-work time on a PC, many of the applications that would have required a PC are now available more conveniently on a mobile device.  I don’t spend any less time in front of a screen, if anything my time ‘online’ has probably increased, but more of that time is on mobile devices.  I’m not sure I’m any more, or less, concerned about privacy when using a mobile device or a desktop computer.  However, Wasserman refers primarily to people much younger than me in his article and he does point out that there are differences in which social media platforms particular age groups use.  This article was written a couple of years ago and, in my household at least, I can see evidence that supports his view, with both of my sons switching to messaging apps to communicate with their friends and making much less use of apps such as Facebook over the past couple of years.

What I find interesting in Wasserman’s assumptions and predictions in this article is the suggestion that the tool (mobile versus desktop in this case) influences online behaviour.  This is contrary Kozinets (2010) view that ‘technology does no determine culture’.  Kozinets proposes that ‘they are co-determining, co-constructive forces’, although he goes on to acknowledge that ‘our culture does not entirely control the technologies that we use, either. The way that technology and culture interact is a complex dance, an interweaving and intertwining.’ Once again we come back to the point also raised by Bayne who refers to the ‘complex entanglements’ of the social and the technical.  However, if there is reason to believe that the shift to mobile is having an impact on people’s online behaviours this has implications for those of us wishing to use online digital tools for educational purposes.


Wasserman, T (2014) What Facebook Will Look Like by 2024,

Bayne, S. (2014) What’s the matter with ‘Technology Enhanced Learning?’ Learning, Media and Technology, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2014.915851 (journal article)