Tag Archives: algorithm

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 http://cdn.images.express.co.uk

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

TWEET: too easily distracted

A shocking indictment of how ineffective those side bar adverts can be that I’m having to force myself to look at them.  In contrast the ads that appear in the timeline are virtually impossible to miss, which is probably why people find those more annoying.

Possible learning here for the placement of information in e-learning design.

SEO Lesson 8 Keyword Optimizing Header Tags H1 – H6 on Each Webpage by Tidyrank

SEO Lesson 8 Keyword Optimizing Header Tags H1 – H6 on Each Webpage by Tidyrank
via YouTube

One of the concerns about algorithms is the way that certain information can be privileged over other information due to its position in search rankings, and the bias that can be introduced by only showing search engine users links to content that is similar to content they’ve previously looked at.  This video shows some of the mechanisms behind how that happens.

TWEET: Adchoices from the advertiser’s perspective

A rather telling quote from the opening of this blogged article reads “The good news for advertisers is that [the Adchoices] icon is fairly small and unobtrusive; most consumers don’t even notice it.”  However, the closing remarks are more positive from both a consumer and advertiser perspective.  “I’d love to see Google go the extra mile and offer additional information to advertisers.  Sharing information gleaned from muted ads could be a game changer for PPC advertisers. […] Analyzing the results from this would allow advertisers to understand whether their ads simply aren’t resonating with their audience, or if they are too repetitive. Armed with this information, they will know when they need to create fresh ads or adjust their ad delivery settings.”  This feels like a good example of how analytics can be used to drive improvements, although it appears in this case that the data isn’t being made available to those who could make the best use of it.

Incidentally, in a moment of pure serendipity, while tweeting the above I noticed a link to follow my nephew’s partner on Twitter – algorithms in action!