Final Lifestream Blog Summary: Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

Over the past twelve weeks, I have produced a surprising amount of information, including hundreds of posts, my Block 1 video artefact, a poetry Netography and a critique of Learning Analytics for Twitter and Google.

In Block 1, “digital culture” and the exploration its meaning caused initial anxiety, but I eventually re-focused through discussions and postings. The weekly readings – core and supplemental – also offered valuable guidance.  The Lifestream blog was especially helpful as both a repository of information and a place where I could ramble without academic formalities (for the most part but not entirely).

Investigating the creation of a new “race” of humanity – posthumans or transhumans – was quite engaging. Discussions with James, especially in re Frankenstein, were intriguing and deserve further investigation. The use of AI applications in education will also be the subject of future inquiry.

In Block 2, I participated in a poetry MOOC.  Looking at a community I had never been a part of, and creating my Netography about it, was quite enjoyable.   Of great meaning was writing my own poetry, posting it on the MOOC site itself, then emailing it to the professor who was very encouraging and seemed quite genuine.  I realized that some aspects of culture cannot be digitized such as the flow of energy and emotion in one’s surroundings.  Feelings of inclusion and uniqueness also cannot be effectively programmed or made subject to an algorithm.

Block 3, specifically algorithms, was initially somewhat intimidating.  After considering what algorithms do however, and how meaningful they can be, relieved that somewhat.  As an educator though, I considered the subjective application of algorithms as one who is looking for meaning in learning.  Can an algorithm teach me meaning, or just point me in a direction it determines I should want to go?  The meaning of community was also analyzed in this Block, in terms of how and what true “community” should consist.

And then there was (is) Twitter.  I normally use Twitter for basic information.  My research skills lead me beyond Twitter if I desire more.  I did find Twitter provided a link to classmates for exchanging information, resources, media sharing, and cheesy jokes. I learned presence is not always about location but substance.

The Learning Analytics (LAs) exercise was useful for revealing quantitative information.  It did not tell me the context of Tweets, or the quality of any exchange absent additional information.  I reflected on my own research methods and discovered how much those methods are guided by algorithms.  I also learned just how predictable I had become.

One part of the course that could have gone better was the IFTTT application.  It was awkward at first but I became more adept at its use as the course progressed.  Then, I began to be spammed quite frequently making necessary to go back and adjust IFTTT settings. I did however, trash some bona fide posts and had to have them resent.  In the end, I managed to get it working enough to avoid continued issues with spam.

Another unfortunate aspect was my inability to fully participate in Google Classroom and Skype chats.  I attended two, but the times were such I was simply unable to manage the others.  I have chatted with other classmates apart from the course schedule and have found those quite enjoyable and informative.

Finally, while my Lifestream blog looks messy, cluttered, and disorganized, I know where everything is.  Each pile of clutter is a facet of the wonderful journey I have been on in this course.  My experimenting and use of technology certainly leapt bounds from where it started in Week 1.  If there is one main concept I will take away from EDC17 is that no matter the level of technology humans meld with, a shred of humanity will always protect our presence as individuals.

Link to Lifestream Blog page:   http://edc17.education.ed.ac.uk/pdowney

The End

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Who Rings the Bell When It’s Time to Get Off the Bus?

Here is an interesting point I only just realized:  In the movie The Day The Earth Stood Still, Klaatu made a reference to a Supreme Being.  Remember, the film tells the story of an alien from another world who comes to warn the Earth that if humans move their violent tendencies into space, and threaten other worlds, the Earth would be destroyed by a race of robots Klaatu and his people had created to maintain galactic peace.

In the process of all this, Klaatu was killed by humans, and his body recovered by the robot Gort.  Through the use of some mysterious machine, Klaatu’s fatal injuries were healed and he regained his life.  The human woman with whom he had formed a friendship wondered what power he had over life and death.  Klaatu simply said the Supreme Being made those decisions, not he or his people.

This caught by interest as it addresses, albeit inadequately, the issue of human progression into posthumanism.  Humans can integrate human and machine, but is there still a superior power, a “Supreme Being” we still must answer to?  this question was not answered in this film, but the issue itself was acknowledged.  Today, we still grapple with the question of how far is far enough when it comes to human-cyborg relations.  When does our exploration of making better human become over-reaching into spiritual realms better left to whatever we define as our Supreme Being?  Or is there a limit?  Who answers the question of what is too much?  What has gone too far?  When is it time to stop?

#mscedc

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Will I Ever Enjoy Video Games Again?

I wanted to write this down so I wouldn’t forget it, and to make it part of my Lifestream blog.  I was thinking yesterday about video games I like to play, specifically the old “Asteroids” game, where you move a spaceship around the screen and blow up asteroids that seem to appear at random from around the game area.

I don’t know what the algorithm is that determines when and where asteroids appear, or how, when hit by my blaster, they break up into smaller bits.  Of course, as asteroids hit each other, are shot with a blaster, or collide with my ship, the trajectories and speed of movement changes, again seemingly at random.

I was just thinking as I was playing the game, that I seemed to be spending more time and concentration now on detecting patterns in asteroid appearance and movement, and less on developing my skill as a spaceship pilot and gunner.  I owe this break in focus on what I’ve learned in this course about algorithms, or perhaps more to the point, what I think I have learned but really don’t know.

What I do know however, is that I will never look at or play another video game the same again.

. . . *sigh*

#mscedc

Week 11 Summary: “Gone Fishin’!”

This past week I have basically “gone fishing.”  This is a term many people use to describe their state of mind when circumstances are seemingly out of order a bit and they are fumbling about for a course of action or train of thought. This past week, I have spent quite a bit of time fishing: reading postings from my classmates, and offering some of my own, all in an attempt to narrow down what and how my final assignment will look like.

I suppose to be more specific, I want to go back and discuss themes we covered in Block 1.  These themes of digital culture I found quite intriguing especially now as there is more and more focus on the integration of technology into the daily lives of people.  As I was discussing this with friends at lunch, the tentacles of technology (good or bad) are now reaching beyond the laboratory or “drawing room” and are now on display as we watch TV, listen to our iTunes, even as we talk about medical issues with our physician.  I read an article I posted about on Twitter that humans are moving into a new form of slavery as we allow technology to influence and even control almost everything we do.

I also find so interesting the concept of human-cyborg-robot integration and the benefits/ramifications of that.  Looking over my postings over the course, I reviewed Frankenstein, I, Robot and other “fictional” characters that would seem now to be not so fictional.  What really grabbed my interest however was not so much the technology involved but the subjectivity of the posibility of when these machines achieve self-awareness, or sentience.  What does that mean for humankind?  Will humans as we know them to be now eventually cease to exist?  How far has technology come that machines can not only be made more human, but can be made to BE human?

Of course, as always, I shift around and focus on what this may mean for education and the pedgogies we use in the classroom.  I am not sure it should be a difficult question but I am finding it to be just that.  How will we teach in the future?  How will we LEARN in the future?  Back in the days of the original Buck Rogers and The Twilight Zone these questions were basic entertainment.  Now, I believe this are very real and legitimate issues that are standing right on front of us, right now, today.  I would love to take, or even lead, a course dealing with just this issue.  I regret we only had a couple of weeks to bat this about.

And of course, what medium will I use to pinpoint my fianl assignment and make it coherent and not to out of the box?  I used Lino for my Netography and that turned out fairly well, I think.  I am leaning to that again.  I will of course ook at other platforms to see how creative I can be yet not over-extend my presentation so it seems too busy or unorganized.  In short, I want my final assignment to reflect the fishing trip I went on and came back from, and not reveal the fact I may still be gone.

#mscedc

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2001 and Beyond . . .

(This post is a re-post of a comment I previously posted)

Of the many interpretations of “2001: A Space Odyssey” that have been presented, one that is intriguing to me is the movement of humanoids from being at the mercy of nature to a position of self-determination. At the beginning of the film we see pre-humans simply existing as nature provides. Subsequently, bones are found to be useful as tools and weapons, allowing one group to exert dominance over another. The film then moves into the future where humans have evolved and created machines that aid them in just about every area of life. As we progress through the story line, HAL attempts to block human efforts to continue or alter the prescribed space mission to Jupiter, ultimately failing to stop Dave from Dave’s own personal mission. The end of the film seems to provide the demonstration of the evolution of humans to a post-human existence as the “Space Child” appears, hovering over the planets.

The question I presented in my previous post looks at how pre-humans moved from being nature-driven to self-driven. Humans became active participants in their own development and at least partially determinative of their own destinies and futures. As we move into an era where machines are allowed, as HAL was allowed, to control our lives and be integral in whatever decision we make, at what point do humans move back into the position of being “nature driven” and lose any control over ourselves and our future? At some level this question gives new meaning to the concept of “The Circle of Life.”

Can You See It and Taste It . . . For Real?

I came across this article somewhat by accident.  It reminded me of the replicator used in the Star Trek shows that dispensed food and drink to crew members.  This article details how, through the use of electronic signals and sensors, the taste and color of lemonade can be transmitted from its source to a glass of water.  I understand this may not be a direct application of AI as we have discussed in this course before, but it does connect in the sense that sensations such as taste and vision are being replicated and transmitted within an algorithmic framework that mimics real human sensations.  This is just another facet of real humanity being replicated into artificial humanity.

A simple form of sensory illusion has been in place at Disneyland, for example, for years.  On certain rides the smell of old buildings and musty odors are commonly sprayed around for sensory effect.  On one ride at California Adventure, when the carriage flies around California orchards, the smell of oranges and other citrus are present in the subtle vapors sprayed above the heads of the passengers.  But these features are the results of the simple process of chemical sprays and mists.  The technology detailed in the article cited below is a step further into mimicking the electronic signals used by the human body to transmit sensory signals to other parts of the body, or across space.

If this technology  ever gets perfected I wonder how far we can take it?   What the classroom?  Could we use such tools to bring past historical events alive to students?  Events such as the Battle of Gettysburg: could we mimic the smell of gunpowder or the stench of a field hospital?  In studies of the Middle Ages could we bring to life again the smells and colors of the roadhouse where travelers ate and rested on weary journeys? Could we taste what food may have tasted like 100, 200, or 500 years ago?  And what of medicine?  Could we use the smells of medications, diseases and the real colors of tissue in order to train our medical personnel more effectively? Of course the medical value would be substantial in helping people with sensory deprivations to enhance what may have been lost through disease or injury.  I have posted a couple of things on this blog related to the regeneration of tissue, drawing “inspiration” from Frankenstein’s Monster.  Using Frankenstein again, can we couple this technology of sight and taste with the potential re-animation of tissue thus restoring senses lost?  Or, in terms of post-human development, using these advances to create a new form of human, a cyborg for lack of a better term, equipped with all of the sensations a “normal” human would possess.  Coupled with what we have discussed already about AI, the potential for the next step in human evolution could be somewhat frightening and/or exciting to contemplate.

And what of our schools?  How much technology is too much?  How far can, or should, we go in providing students the means to complete assignments, understand calculations, contemplate the subjectiveness of paintings and philosophy?  I am reminded of the scientists in Jurassic Park who cloned dinosaurs but had no understanding of the basics of the genetic dispositions of the animals they thought were so beautiful and majestic.  As Dr. Malcom told them, they simply built on the work of scientists who had gone before yet did not try and understand the actual work those prior minds had completed.  Is that what we are doing to our students with all of the advanced technology we now place at their fingertips?  They can accomplish great things now, but do students really understand HOW things work in the first place?  What if they can put humans on Mars, yet when the power goes out cannot complete simple arithmetic on an abacus or slide rule or do long division?  Perhaps the issue remains, as Dr. Malcom put it (and I paraphrase), in terms of how far we push ourselves into the post-human world, it is not a matter of if we can but rather if we should.

To re-state perhaps a little, the possibilities of this technology could be limitless.  Yet, with any application that further stretches the edge of the evolutionary envelope from human to post-human, we must consider the ramifications of it. How far can we go?  How far should we go?  What is the positive potential as opposed to the negative?  Is there the possibility of abuse and if so, what is it and how great is the danger?

My own personal opinion is that sometimes I believe our technological demands and accomplishments are proceeding much faster than the ethics and morals of the technology that need to be considered.  One must ask, for any technological advance in question, what is the rush?  Is there such a dire need for this specific technology that consideration of the ethical impact of it has to wait?

I don’t have the answers to many of these questions.

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Week 10 Summary: An Alternate Reality or An Impossible Dream?

This week we have looked at Learning Analytics, for which I have posted my analysis here http://bit.ly/2nD5DI3.  In this analysis, I, in a nutshell, went somewhat off on a tangent and looked at the exercise as a statement of why we do analytics and not necessarily how analytics reflect what we do.  I summarized the positions of Verbeek (2011, 2013) and Foucault (1997) who assert that we need to be affirmative actors not only in the use of technology but its creation and declaration of purpose.

As usual, and characteristic of Blocks 1 and 2, the class engaged in discussion regarding the ethical and moral ramifications of technology.  This discussion was perhaps more prominently in Blocks 1 and 2.  What I did see more so in Block 3 was a diverse range of analytics and the types of data sought to be measured and ultimate use.  Perhaps I missed some things, but I failed to see much reference to the initial programming of the applications themselves, e.g. how was the the Google Search algorithm programmed and how could it be changed or modified and by whom?  The Twitter algorithm, in my view, was not so much about quality but of quantity, unless of course you purposely measure quality by quantity itself.

My readings took me through Knox, Verbeek, and Foucault primarily, and some others such as Braidotti.  The issues I found myself circling back to are displayed in the following video clips.  In short, we have technology and we know what it can do.  The real questions we should now focus on are why do we need these technologies and how can we be involved in establishing their purpose to begin with?

Are we seeking an alternate reality or an impossible dream?  Or neither?  Either by choice, chance, or force, the algorithms we use to move into the next realm of our evolution can be influenced by our own sense of purpose.  And what if, and when, technology evolves its own sense of purpose or the ability to change its fundamental programming?  These are questions for future, ongoing discussions.

http://bit.ly/2nDh6XS  The prisoner resists the insertion of technology into his life in order to alleviate loneliness and give him a new sense of purpose.

http://bit.ly/2nDaqJg  The Man of La Mancha creates a purpose for himself yet sees the impossibility of fulfillment; yet he strives on in spite of it all.

Week 10: Learning Analytics Critique

This last week we looked at the summary of our Learning Analytics exercise and tried to decipher the meaning of the data collected.  While I had the most Tweets, there is no discernable information indicating the quality of those Tweets in relation to the questions asked by Jeremy, James, and others in the class.  The data was more quantifiable in that it measured the number of Tweets, the words used the most, who made any comments at all, etc.  There was little, if anything that I saw, reflecting the quality or relevance of any comment to the stated discussion topics.

A more subjective indication of the overall participation of class members would be the total number of Tweets by members.  This would indicate a willingness to engage with each other on the Twitter platform, but again, would not necessarily represent the quality of the exchanges.  An example would be the number of posted cheese jokes (some of which I found very funny).  The data mined from the exercise does not reflect the number of cheese jokes or the reaction to them, unless you look at the number of times the words “cheese” or “cheesy” were mentioned.  And even that number might be misleading if the words were included in a post addressing a different issue.  What was of interest however, was the resulting discussion among classmates about the quality of the overall data collection in relation to quantity and how the two may be co-reflective.  Some class members posted their own versions of the LA assessment and what the data meant to them.

The comments rendered by my classmates did however bring to my mind some interesting reading I had been doing on the ethics/morals of technology.  I think this fits into what we as a class have been discussing.  I have been looking over a couple of articles by Verbeek and Foucault that assert humans should not take an “outside position” when assessing technology but rather a “limit attitude” (Foucault 1997) whereby we do not focus on the ethics of having technology but rather on how the technology is designed and implemented.  In other words, we as humans are involved in the design and implementation of the technologies that govern, or steer, our lives (Verbeek 2013).  To clarify, an “outside” stance could be interpreted as oppositional to technology as opposed to the “limit attitude” where the individual stands on the border of the technology (but within its sphere of influence) application and assesses its value from that point of view.  Braidotti (2013) quotes Verbeek by stating, ” . . . technologies contribute actively to how humans do ethics (Verbeek 2011).” This statement implies to me that technology, including data mining, or Learning Analytics, is meaningful only when humans use it as a means to revise their lives rather than use simple statistics that may not accurately portray real life circumstances.  This ties in very well with the assertions of Foucault and Verbeek that we should be active participants in the gathering, analyzing, and application of data from the technologies we use.

This position may be wise in terms of our exercise of Learning Analytics.  Rather than looking to see whether the collected data is valid or not, we need to understand its purpose and how that data is collected.  We can also be in a better position to partake in the creation of the application and any revisions that may be necessary. Then we can make viable decisions on how the data is used in our lives, wherever that may be.  The ultimate objective, or at least one of them, is the use of that data in the assessment of our exercise or assignment and how successful it was or not.

“In the context of technology this means that the frameworks from which one can criticize technology are technologically mediated themselves. We can never step out of these mediations. The most far we can get is: to the limits of the situation we are in. Standing at the borders, recognizing the technologically mediated character of our existence and our interpretations, we can investigate the nature and the quality of these mediations: where do they come from, what do they do, could they be different?” (Verbeek 2013).

Per Foucault and Verbeek, we need to look at the data from within, standing at the border of its application and become a part of how that data is collected and eventually used.  This puts a more human element into the equation of the ethics of the assignment in terms of placing a value on it rather than just seeing it as a collection of sterile numbers and charts.  Verbeek (2013) asserts, along with Foucault (1997) that technology is a part of our lives.  I interpret this to mean that I should accept the fact of the presence of technologies, embrace them and work within the parameters of those technologies, using them to enhance my life and work, rather than taking an outside stance and continuing to assess if the technologies should be part of my life in the first place.

Finally, I will end this with a quote from Verbeek which, I believe, sums up what I am trying to express:

“While we cannot conceive of ourselves as autonomous beings anymore, because of the fundamentally mediated character of our lives, we can still develop a free relation to these mediations. Without being able to undo or ignore all of them, we can critically and creatively take up with them. Being a citizen in a technological society requires a form of ‘technological literacy’. Not in the sense that every citizen needs to understand all technical details of the devices around them, but in the sense that we develop a critical awareness of what technologies do in society” (Verbeek 2013).

References:

Braidotti, Rosi (2013, p.41).  The Posthuman.  Cambridge, UK; Malden, MA. Polity Press.

Foucault, M. (1997a). “What is Enlightenment?”. In: M. Foucault, Ethics: subjectivity and truth, edited by Paul Rabinow. New York: The New Press

P.P. Verbeek (2011, p. 5). Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

P.P. Verbeek (2013). “Technology Design as Experimental Ethics”. In: S. van den Burg and Tsj. Swierstra, Ethics on the Laboratory Floor. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 83-100. ISBN 978113700292

Reply to Week 8 Summary Comment by James

James, you are right in stressing algorithms are not static but change as the focus of the inquiry changes. Perhaps I would have been more accurate by emphasizing that algorithms are not necessarily capable of initiating changes but only react to external changes as expressed by a change in search terms or other forms of original inquiry.

Response to James’ response to Week 9 Summary

“. . . even if all five of your high schools shared a curriculum and even the same assessment exercise, as long we ask students to ‘work digitally’ in the preparation of the work, the experience will be different.”

James, your sentiments on this are correct and I think reflect the ongoing battle educators have in standardized testing. We seek to established norms, or algorithms, that will indicate the level of proficiency students achieve in a certain content area, or as predictors of future success in university or a chosen vocational field. Where the real frustration lies is the unknown quantities and qualities of experience, motivation and innate drive. As our algorithms this past couple of weeks have shown, searches may be made “easier” when Google or Facebook as two examples, can predict what or who we are looking for, but the algorithms cannot predict, or perhaps even decipher, internal motivation to even begin the search and how the search may turn given the results, or lack of, received.

As with algorithms, standardized testing should be used with caution. It is good to have established learning objectives as we do in EDC17, for example. Those objectives however, are achieved not by everyone in class creating uniform essays or blogs or Tweets. As has been displayed over the course of the last few weeks, we each approach the ultimate objectives of the course in a different way, but do manage to end up in reletively the same place at the end. With testing, it is wise to have specific goals and standards that need to be met. What is not usually accounted for is the fact that learners, even with the ultimate objective goal in mind, will reach it by diverse paths, and some perhapds not at all. In my opinion there is no algorithm that can adequately, or even fairly, account for the subjective nature.

Week 9 Summary: Changing Direction Can Give You Whiplash

This week we looked at algorithms and how they influence us not only in our private lives but in our vocational situations.  While much of our study of algorithms seemed to focus on the inclusion or exclusion of search results in Google, Facebook, and other social media or news platforms, I tried to look at another facet in how we determine what information is relevant to us as teachers, to our students, and how we use that information to refine our definitions of relevance.

For me this was most poignant as I use algorithms in some form almost every day.  One major concern I have is that of the five high schools in my district, three use different curriculae in any one content area than the other two.  Therefore, what is being tested in our common assessments may not match up with what is being taught or tested at any other school.  In general I believe this makes algortihm use in testing student proficiency invalid and basically a waste of time.  Is this fair to the students?  Is this fair to parents who are under constant pressure to be more involved?  Some of our Tweets this week addressed these issues.

I began to fully realize the senselessness of our testing cycle after reading Gillespie:

“The algorithmic assessment of information then, represents a particular knowledge logic, one built on specific presumptions about what knowledge is and how one should identify its most relevant components.”

Also, I read several posts and the underlying readings supporting them which kept taking me back to our studies in Block 1 of digital cultures.  I am now thinking more of how algorithms determine, or at least influence, the social, and professional, paradigms we adhere to and how we go about trying to predict the outcomes of our day baesd upon preconceived perceptions of people, behavior and circumstances.

#mscedc

 

 

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Google’s Algorithm Revision

I see Google is now going to use “direct teams” to flag what may be considered offensive search terms.  What is determined to be “offensive” will be determined by Google.  Searches that contain offensive language will then be flagged and although the search results will not be affected in any way, the searches will be listed with less offensive results being listed higher in the order.  This will, in effect, be a change or revision in the existing algorithm that could impede individual research of offensive content for legitimate reasons.

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The Boomerang Effect: Algorithms to Learning Analytics Back to Artifical Intelligence

In the readings and discussion so far this week I have found some interesting information about learning analytics.  The basic concepts seem to be very familiar as they are something I use every day in trying to determine student success, predict failure, and what I may be able to do in my own lesson planning to influence either objective.  In my readings, I found this interesting exchange between two of our reading’s authors, George Siemens and Mike Sharkey.  Very generally, the discussion forum was focused on the variable definition of learning analytics and how whatever your chosen definition could be applied.  I have included almost all of the discussion between Sharkey and Siemen, only editing out what I determined (if I am allowed to do so for this exercise) to be irrelevant at this point.

The reason I have used a large part of their discussion was that I wanted a record in the same place of the context of what Sharkey and Siemen were talking about.  I found it so applicable to how myself and others in my field approach academics and how we define success or failure in the classroom.  This is a struggle I deal with throughout each school year as I move with the ebb and flow of students’ accomplishments during their assignments and assessments.

The following discussion took place in Learning Analytics Google Group Discussion, in August of 2010 (the exchange below is conveyed verbatim and has not been edited in terms of grammar, syntax or emoticon use):

Mike Sharkey:

I wanted to add a dimension to the discussion, specifically around 
defining success.  In the descriptions of learning analytics we talk 
about using data to “predict success”.  I’ve struggled with that as I 
pore over our databases.  I’ve come to realize there are different 
views/levels of success:

Academic: 
In its simplest form, academic success means getting a good/passing 
grade.  That works for a 15-week course since you can use the first 
few weeks of data to predict the remainder of the course.  However, I 
work in an environment where courses are 5, 6, or 9 weeks long (we 
teach courses one- or two-at-a-time in serial).  That prevents me from 
using data within a course to predict the outcome for that student. 
There’s a second part to this argument about whether good grades = 
success.  That’s a discussion we need to have over a beer so I’ll pass 
for now. 😉 

Another academic metric is learning outcomes.  Look at assessment 
data and use mastery of outcomes as a gauge of success.  If the 
institution does a good job measuring learning outcomes, this is a 
possibility. 

Progression: 
If we can’t measure success within a course, we might look at it 
across the student’s program.  From an academic standpoint, that means 
GPA.  That will just lead us to the same discussion about whether or 
not grades are a good measure of success.  From a practical 
standpoint, success may mean “is the student still attending”.  Are 
they progressing through the program in a timely fashion?  This isn’t 
a good qualitative measure, but the argument can be made that if the 
student is still attending, there’s a better chance they will succeed 
in the program (especially when you compare that to students who have 
stopped attending and have zero chance of graduating). 

“Are they attending” is aligned with engagement.  Is the student 
actively engaged in the course?  We can measure this by attendance 
(did they show up) or by some alternate engagement metric (e.g. number 
of actions in the course LMS).  We can even get more detailed on the 
progression metric and look at two dimensions: 
– Persistence (when is the last time we heard from the student) 
– Density (over the last x weeks, what percent of the time has the 
student been engaged) 

I have started to model metrics and I haven’t come to any solid 
conclusions yet.  It really boils down to who you are and how you 
define success.  Different parts of the institution will have 
different definitions. 
I hope to chat more with you at the conference in February. 

Mike 
Director of Academic Analytics 
University of Phoenix 

 George Siemens:

Hi Mike – thanks for contribution. Last year, I met someone from U of Phoenix (can’t remember how it was!) and they mentioned some of the current – and planned future – use of analytics at UoP. It was quite advanced from what I’ve seen at other institutions. Analytics require explication. Online courses, programs, and institutions are uniquely placed to be early trail-blazers of analytics.

Good question about success. Success has come up a few times already and, as you note, will be different in different situations and institutions. Or learners, for that matter. For some learners, simply passing a course could be defined as success. For others, only top grades would be seen as success. 

Your points about persistence and density form part of the research that needs to be done around analytics. What learners characteristics contribute to success (however it is defined)? Which signals or deviation from those characteristics can we observe early enough through analytics to intervene to ensure success? Some great areas of research and exploration!

Mike (and others from the perspective of their institutions) – would you mind sharing a bit more about how you use analytics at UoP? What is working well? How are learners responding? What technology are you using for data collection and analytics? What role does visualization play?

George

In conclusion, sort of, when Siemens mentioned the types of analytics being discussed would work well for online course, etc., it reminded me of the evaluations we completed in the Course Design for Digital Environments course at the University of Edinburgh just last Fall.  We had to consider various analytical frameworks to create operable and meaningful learning outcomes for the courses we designed.  Of course, these outcomes were both dependent and determinant of the curriculum and activities we included in the course structure.  It is very easy to see, from my perspective, how difficult it is to create and implement a solid strand of outcomes yet try to address as many of the different facets of learning and teaching that each teacher and student face each day.

#mscedc

Comment on EDC Week 8 (!) A weeks review of alogarithms.. https://t.co/ovTscw6OJO #mscedc by jlamb

Hello Myles, thanks for this review of your study of algorithms over the last week. And good to see you experimenting with another medium to convey your ideas, this time using Thinglink.

By coincidence, I’m writing this reply while in the background my son is watching his preferred dinosaur cartoon on Netflix. Even though we make use of the option for different profiles for each member of the household, I’m still amused by the some of the films that are recommended for me: the algorithm is sophisticated but not flawless. Unless of course someone else is using my profile to watch comedy-actions films…

Whilst accepting that it might be irritating for you, I was nevertheless amused by your mention that Futurelearn is now spamming you on account of your work around the micro-ethnography. An unintended consequence of the microethnography (combined with other influences) beyond the intention or control of those who designed the EDC course. It would be really interesting to see whether the subject of the advertised courses picked up on other of your online activity?

Within my own research something I’m interested in is how the experience of the marker might be affected by the algorithm. I’ve been thinking for instance how the experience of watching the same video assignment – and perhaps their interpretation – will alter depending on whether the student uploads their work to YouTube, Vimeo or MediaHopper? To apply this to my experience of your own artefact here, when I first looked at your Thinglink assignment my eye was temporarily drawn to the related images beneath: Chelsea Football Club (perhaps because earlier today I glanced at the sports news on the BBC website using this computer?); a crest for the city of Downey in California (because earlier this evening I had a Twitter exchange with Philip Downey from our EDC class?); suffragists and women pioneers (possibly because I had recently followed up your post about Ada Lovelace?). This would seem to be a really nice link into week 9 where we’re looking in particular at how algorithmic culture and learning analytics affect education: in this instance, my experience of viewing your work has been shaped by influences beyond what you intended as the author, and beyond my immediate control as the author. Fascinating stuff.

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Response from MOOC professor

I recenly sent an email to Professor Jared Leising, at Cascadia College, telling him I had participated in his Innovative Poetery of Cascadia MOOC, and that I had completed an ethnography on his course.  I included a poem I wrote for the course as well.  I have attached below a copy of my letter as well as the response I received from Professor Leising.  It is not much a reply in length but he does express more than nominal appreciate for my participation in his group; enough to share my contat with his colleagues.  I thought it quite nice and a solid capstone for my effort.

Professor Leising:
I am a student at the University of Edinburgh, and am completing requirements for the Master of Science in Digital Education program.  I am also a Social Studies and Life Science teacher at a high school in Southern California.
As part of the coursework for my Education and Digital Culture course, we had to find a MOOC, enroll, and complete an Ethnographical study of the course.  I chose The Innovative Poetry of Cascadia, as I used to live in Oregon and the topic was, honestly, outside my field of expertise.
​I must say I thoroughly enjoyed working through the modules although I was not able to participate in the course during real-time.  What I did do was read many of the poems and thoughts of the other participants as well as exploring information about the Cascadia Poetry Festivals.
I have included with this email a link to the study I completed.  It is not presented in a typical research format but on a platform I believe allowed me to more fully express the color and spirit of the course and themes.  Lastly, I thought I would try my hand at poetry as if I was an active participant in the course.  I hope you enjoy what I have included.
Please feel free to repond if you like, and if so, I look forward to hearing from you.  Thank you.
Philip Downey

(From Professor Leising):

Thank you, Philip.

I shared this with my co-teachers.  It was a lovely surprise!

Really thoughtful and interesting to see it presented in this way.

Jared

#mscedc

Week 8 Summary: Are We Really That Transparent?

This week we have been looking at algorithms and how they work and what effects do they have on our lives.  As a teacher, I am always on the lookout for a better way of doing something, and doing it more efficiently.  So, this week I looked more specifically at student academic behavior and what algorithms we use to not only predict academic success but do explain the lack of academic success.

I looked at a few algorithms based upon desired outcomes.  One was the solving of Rubik’s Cube.  A simple algorithm but inherently infuriating to follow to success (at least for me).  The algorithm follows a straight-forward precept that if you do this then this will happen.  There is no human element involved if you don’t account for patience and perseverance.  http://bit.ly/2mfTMvU

Mudeen wrote an article, which I have referenced in a previous post on my Lifestream.  A guest at a school was asked to analyze a student’s academic performance.  The guest’s analysis was incorrect based upon the fact that he failed to consider the human side of the student such as socio-economic status or motivation to succeed.  I find this to be true in my own teaching experience.  A teacher cannot always predict what a student will or will not do, by looking at a previously determined set of rules or certain biases of one sort or another.

And then of course there are the algorithms used by Facebook. YouTube, Pinterest, and others, that offer me articles and visuals in the same genre as what I have viewed previously.  But again, algorithms cannot seem to consider the human element.  What if my interests change?  What if while reading through offerings on a particular subject matter, I wish to see an opposing view?  An NPR study found that search algorithms are unable to adequately deal with that type of deviance from what algorithms predict my behavior should be.  http://n.pr/2mfRgWp

Mubeen, J. (2016) Humanizing Education’s Algorithms. EdsurgeNews, June 10, 2016

Is My Environment Really All That “Smart”

This week we are looking at a vast variety of algorithms and how they determine, or reflect (or both) our past behavior patterns and future predicators of behavior.  We see algorithms choose what shows or movies to watch on Netflix and YouTube, make recommendations for reading on Amazon and Kindle.  The attached article is an interesting treatise on how algorithms, based upon personal interactions, can predict or determine how well we socialize and what constitutes effective social interaction between people.  The “smart environment” project had as one of its primary goals the gathering of data to determine how people can remain more independent especially as they grow older, as well as to provide information as to how employees can improve production with increased socialization at work.

http://bit.ly/2nn9Xrn

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The Human Element: Necessary or an Add-On?

In Humanizing Education’s Algorithms, Mubeen (2016) begins by relating an instance where he analyzed a student’s academic performance patterns, based upon a computer program (algorithm) designed for just that purpose.  What the algorithm did not take into account was the human element.  This caused the analysis to be way off mark.  The student’s excellent marks, especially in math, belied the fact he was homeless and had access to a computer at the local library only twice a week.

Further, what has technology relegated teachers to become?  Are we lecturers and dispensers of information only, or do we still have the mandate to give our students the human touch, that element of community not created by machines or apps?  Mubeen goes on the say, “An algorithmic approach is not sufficient to serve our students. Joshua has met with success because his teachers are active agents in his learning journey.” (Mubeen 2016).  The article’s impetus is that while programs and such are fine and perhaps necessary, they alone are not enough to create and maintain an environment of learning whereby students may become, and remain, successful.  The teacher is there and must be aware of contingencies that computers and programs are not able to handle from a purely subjective point of view.

Basically, and to be guilty of re-stating, the thrust of this article is that we can only really make sense of the learning process if we take into consideration the human element.  Algorithms are wonderful tools for what they do, but can an algorithm insert the human quality?  We have discussed this before during our time studying AI and robots, etc.  The process, or the machine, can mimic performance, but can it mimic intent? Apathy? Motivation?  this are questions that educators must address beyond the technological tools available.

Mubeen, J. (2016) Humanizing Education’s Algorithms. EdsurgeNewsJune 10, 2016

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Week 7 Summary Revised

As James noted, my Week 7 Summary really did not address the themes of the week.  I realized this when I wrote the previous Summary, but wanted to present what took some of my time during the week.  On reflection I could have simply made a different entry and title but I didn’t so . . .

As for the theme of Block2: Community, looking back again at the midpoint posting by James, I see how the themes of the prior weeks are moving, or have moved, together.  We started off the course trying to figure out this crazy thing called IFTTT, which some are still having issues with.  Then we moved into space, presence, and community.  A good portion of the feedback received this past week from James was focused on my use of apps or tools to make my presence more pronounced not only in my blog but on the net overall.  James encouraged me to use other forms of media and programs in order to expand my opportunities to connect with others.  I see the value in this and I have been working to get more apps and platforms set up for that purpose.

So far, the tools I have used have been Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Lino, Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube.  New apps I have looked at are Bitly, Padlet, Flickr and Reddit.  I am sure there will be more but for now I am trying to get how IFTTT fits them all together so they work correctly into my Lifestream.  One aspect I have to incorporate is the use of video in my Lifestream feeds.  So far, I have inserted pictures, images, and some vide from YouTube.  I will have to work on using other forms of media in order to fully experience the connection in community our themes have explored.

Renee FurnerComment on My microethnography: https://t.co/G08wdLn0f9 Stories of a MOOC #mscedc by Renee Furner

Renee Furner

Another really impressive and creative piece from you Anne – thank you. It’s a really emotive arrangement.

I really liked your comment:
“When MOOC members go beyond participation and become teachers, contributors and storytellers, the online community is enriched and strengthened.”

In a sense, the MOOC members are projecting themselves into the community – their experience, their feelings, their history their knowledge. In this sense the location of what is valued/what can be learned from becomes ‘distributed’.

I also thought that one reason your MOOC might have been more participatory is the role of empathetic listening when dealing with such fraught subject matter. While we should listen empathetically more frequently, I doubt many do (certainly based on most of our peers’ experiences in their MOOCs). In contrast, one’s humanity prevents one from speaking over or ignoring sensitive subject matter, or those things very important to another (like in Philip’s MOOC). Maybe listening is the key (an idea which I must also credit to Linzi, through her posts on my blog).

Thanks again for sharing. Your artefact construction is inspirational!

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Is it really all a matter of perspective?

Flow Chart

As the image implies, we have a connectedness that stretches beyond ourselves.  The use of imagery such as this provides a decent visualization of how our brain uses algorithmic principles to function. I am wondering how, in the coming weeks, I will learn this as it appleies to the various topics we have discussed in this course.  Another question would be how, as the next image shows, can computers use our spoken and written words, to create algorithms for use in mental health treatment and beyond? (Pestian, et al, 2017).

To branch away from the aforementioned, I have had several comments on my Ethnography, but more pointedly, on the poem I submitted as part of it.  A couple of comments were from classmates in EDC17, and a few others from MOOC participants.  I think this may be the sum and substance of the MOOC I studied, and which I found myself immersing into rather than simply being an outside “participant.”

The purpose of the MOOC, the REAL purpose I now am starting to realize, goes beyond the stated objectives of the course, which were to share experiences and thoughts about Cascadia.  As some have mentioned, my Ethnography drew them in and caused them to spend an unexpected amount of time looking through my collage of pictures and texts.  It seems my Ethnography served a purpose beyond its stated objective as well.  Rather than turning into a dry, sterile presentation, I found creating it drew from memories and experiences that have long been filed away in my brain.  How we we remember is a fascinating realm in which to dive into.  Good and not so good memories:  we can either dredge them up, churn them up, recreate them, or remake them.  It is interesting how present circumstances or perspective, can cause us to see the same memory as good or bad.

Perhaps Weeks 8 through 10 will help me understand the algorithms at play in bringing past memories back to the forefront of consciousness, as I learn how different apps use those algorithms to help us create, express, and even sustain, creativity outside of ourselves.

Pestian, J. P., Sorter, M., Connolly, B., Bretonnel Cohen, K., McCullumsmith, C., Gee, J. T., Morency, L.-P., Scherer, S., Rohlfs, L. and the STM Research Group (2017), A Machine Learning Approach to Identifying the Thought Markers of Suicidal Subjects: A Prospective Multicenter Trial. Suicide Life Threat Behav, 47: 112–121. doi:10.1111/sltb.12312

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Week 7 Summary: My Contribution to my MOOC (sit down before reading)

My Summary this week is to just reflect on my MOOC experience once again, perhaps a bit more specifically.  As I have mentioned before, I lived in Cascadia for a number of years and have done some extensive travel in the region.  It is just a wonderland of treasures from beaches to mountains to rivers and lakes to plains and canyons.

While I was completely mesmerized by my classmates ethnographies, I am especially proud of mine because I found, admittedly unwittingly, a MOOC that touched me in personal ways.  I truly felt again the meanings of space and presence in this course.  I realize also will be going way over the word limit for a summary, so I will ask simply I be indulged in this instance.

In closing and, per James’ request, here is what I wrote, or rather scratched out, as my contribution to the Innovative Poetry of Cascadia MOOC.  I give this simple caveat:  I am NOT a writer nor a poet. But one thing I did learn from this MOOC was that it really doesn’t matter.  The participants in this MOOC and others like it just express feelings as they are experienced and write them down.  So with that, I give you…..this….

Meanderings by Philip Downey

Looking down from the cliffs at the meandering Columbia

I wonder where such an amount of blue comes from.

To the East I see where the gorge narrows

Where each drop of water fights against the others

In its struggle to reach its Western ocean home.

 

In front of and below me the water meanders by

As it makes its way through a flat plain.

Today however, the wind has brought the surface

To a raging froth of foam and spray

Upon which a rainbow of color plays and moves,

Some against the wind and others riding the air currents

As they bounce and swirl among the waves.

 

I find myself feeling jealous of the journey

Of those countless drops of water.

The course they are in will take them to their home

In the distant depths of the sea

Where forces of nature will once again capture them

And deposit them perhaps in some faraway place

Where their journey will repeat and then repeat again.

 

I wonder, as sometimes I do about myself.

Where these drops came from and where they will go

On their endless journeys to places unknown.

Perhaps one day, some day, I will know the secret of their travels

Sharing in them as I move through eternity

On an endless journey of adventure and discovery.

 

“Technology is the exteriorization of our nervous system.”

When I saw this blog entry, and watched the short video with it, it struck a chord with me.  As a life science teacher one of the units we cover in class is of course, the nervous system.  The network of nerves, to make it simple, connects all organ systems of the body and influences every action or reaction taken by the body in growth, fighting disease, metabolism, reproduction, etc.  I thought the comparison of technology was very insightful, and honestly, not one I had really thought of.  The technology we use in this course for example, connects us all, no matter where on the planet we find ourselves, whatever vocation we are in, whatever interests we have and so forth.  I have seen examples of how we struggle with the technology and getting it to work right, and how when it does work, it can be amazing.

The nervous system connects each cell to billions of other cells, and does so at an amazing pace every second of every day.  When a connection is broken, new pathways develop that re-connect the pathway. This really is an absolutely incredible visual of how we, as humans, stay connected to the world whether we want or need to, good or bad.  When a connection is broken that we need or want, we attempt to re-connect by building new pathways of communication.

Another interesting facet is how we are attempting to make Artificial Intelligence mimic actual humanity.  True, the trend has been to focus on more domestic tasks but recent research has sought to extend AI into more cognitive and emotional aspects of humanity.  In Block 1 I mentioned several films that reflected those objectives, albeit in fantasy form.  I would say however, that recent developments are pushing back on the fantasy as researchers get closer still to re-creating humans with cybernetic characteristics and abilities.  In the spirit of the aforementioned article and video, perhaps the more understanding we have of our own innate communication and networking capabilities as humans, the closer we get to achieving the form of AI that truly represents who we are as humans.  In a theological sense we are turning the doctrine of creation on its head.  Rather than God creating man in His own image, we are trying to create beings in OUR image; to some that would seem a rather presumptuous undertaking.

I have included the url for the article and video here again for reference.

https://t.co/2tmt3kvJs5

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Comments from msleeman

Jeremy, thank you for some wider positioning / reflecting on the metaphor I adopted – it’s very illuminating for me. The sense of borders and control coincided with me reflecting on previous work with David Delaney’s 2010 book ‘Nomospheric Investigations: The Spatial, The Legal and the Pragmatics of World Making’ (London, Routledge), which I also refer to in a Lifestream post entitled ‘@philip_downey Not been to law school…’ The MOOC as a nomosphere was a helpful background metaphor for me, and generative in framing it within the airport site.

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Week 6 Summary: Self-Reflection is Clearer in Still Waters

I have spent this week being more involved in my MOOC.  I have also spent time reading through the blogs and twitters of others as we discussed the ideas of community.  The more I have read and written, the more I am convinced that community has definite connections, and parallel contexts with, space and presence.  Classmates have offered a variety of statements about the MOOCs they are participating in, from surface involvement to deep embedding of themselves into the course structure and activities.  While it is true that the deeper one goes into an activity there will seem to be the building up of a foundation of a community; the more investment is injected which results in more enjoyment or fulfillment being taken away from it.  I certainly found this true in my own experience.

Although many of the postings in my MOOC from others are somewhat dated, there are a few lingerers still posting and using the MOOC as a springboard into the Cascadia community.  The commonality of the MOOC participants is not determined by geography, although that helps in terms of having a point of reference. The common core of this MOOC’s strength is the forging of common interests and the willingness to share those with others of the same mind.  There seems to be no shame or pride in what is posted, only the expression of real feelings and sentiments about the people and culture of the Cascadia region.  I do not recall a single post or offering that was created in anger or derision.  Perhaps this is an anomaly, but it was certainly refreshing.  All in all, I enjoyed my experience in The Innovative Poetry of Cascadia, and hope it helped me to realize that self-expression outside my personal “box of experience or expertise” is not something to be embarrassed about.

A New Definition of Community?

I just read an interesting quote in the book, “The Posthuman,” by Rosi Braidotti (2013).  On page 58, Donna Haraway is quoted as saying,”…the machines are so alive, whereas the humans are so inert!” (Haraway 1985). Based upon our discussions to date in this course, I wonder yet again about the purpose and intent of AI, and how that evolutionary emergence will replace basic human endeavors like simple work, complex calculations, etc., etc.  Visions of “The Jetsons” come to mind where the entire household is run by robots; or “The Forbidden Planet” where a machine eventually learns to bring into reality the base desires and fears of organic beings.  What came to mind first was Klaatu’s remarks (“When The Earth Stood Still”) to the inhabitants of Earth as to why he and his fellow “aliens” created robots to begin with:  so they (humanoids) might pursue more profitable pursuits.  In doing so, they left the basic operations of law enforcement and police services to robots.  Klaatu also left open what exactly he meant by “more profitable” pursuits.  (An interesting side note here is that later in the film, Klaatu makes mention of a supreme being that has the ultimate say in matters of life and death, thereby limiting the influence of humanist dogma in deciding the fate of the universe.  Of course, this may have been more of a bone thrown to the censors of the day rather than a covert political/spiritual statement by the makers of the film.)

Nevertheless moving along . . .throughout film and written media, robots/cyborgs have been viewed as human or humanoid creations that serve the humanoid purpose or have eventually run amok and tried to destroy their own creators.  I suppose my query here is by injecting AI into our society, or community, are we trying to enhance our community, transform it, or create a new community with what we view as a new, and revitalized purpose?  Further, does the answer to any of those queries reaffirm we ares till struggling with what “community” is supposed to be?  Or, what we think it ought to be?

If community includes in its description the subjective and emotional interaction of beings that live within that community, how would an artificial form fit into it?  We have discussed the lack of emotions inherent within robots and cyborgs, unless those emotions are pre-programmed into it.  In that case then, is the robot or cyborg really feeling those  emotions or simply reacting to what the data chip has scripted for it?  And if, or when, robots/cyborgs develop true sentience, like Sonny in “I, Robot,” then how will those new lifeforms be integrated into the existing human community?

I am not convinced the deeper, moral questions have been adequately addressed simply because it is clear to me that technology has far outpaced humans.  We can create these wonderful machines that look and act and even talk and feel, like humans.  But, what happens when we thy break out the pre-scripted environments they have been placed in and start making independent decisions; especially decisions that may run contrary to human interests and intent?

How then will “community” be defined?  And perhaps more poignant who, or what, will define it?

Braidotti, R. (2013). The posthuman. Polity Press, Cambridge.

Haraway, Donna. 1985. “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s”, Socialist Review 15:2 (1985)

Week 5 Summary: Which Came First, Community or Technology? (I bet you look at the chicken and the egg differently)

This week I have looked at readings and many, many postings, and many, many websites that have to do with community.  It has also been interesting reading what other classmates have written about the concept of community and how they are finding different variations of that theme not only in their own readings, but in the MOOCs they have chosen to enroll in.

Applying an interesting definition of web technology, Knox (2015) described it as “. . . the invisible means to connect people.”  I found this definition could be taken in a number of ways, especially when considering the format of my MOOC.  Artists and poets use technology to be sure, but their sense of space and community seems to be founded in the “invisible” forms of nature and the spirit of the fauna and flora of that space.  Kozinets (2010) addresses the idea of how culture is formed by stating, “With our ideas and actions, we choose technologies, we adapt and shape them.”  In each case it seems clear that mainly, technology is merely a tool to describe the communities in which we naturally find membership.  Technology, in a sense therefore, does not alter or create the community; technology simply makes the community more accessible, more relative to others, or easier to describe.  So, is community created in spite of technology or is technology developed in spite of the culture it is applied to?  Interesting questions, I think, reminiscent of the age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Knox, J. 2015. Community 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

Kozinets, R. V. (2010) Chapter 2 ‘Understanding Culture Online’, Netnography: doing ethnographic research online. London: Sage. P. 22

Missing the Trees That Create the Forest

In an interesting article I read just today, I was reminded of the old saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.”  But it is in the reverse that I mention I mention it here, “You can’t see the trees for the forest.”  The following quote is from the article I read:

“When we treat data as a “given” (which is, in fact, the etymology of the word), we see it in the abstract, as an urban fixture like traffic or crowds. We need to shift our gaze and look at data in context, at the lifecycle of urban information, distributed within a varied ecology of urban sites and subjects who interact with it in multiple ways. We need to see data’s human, institutional, and technological creators, its curators, its preservers, its owners and brokers, its “users,” its hackers and critics” (Mattern 2017).

To me, in relation to what we have been looking at this block in terms of community, I think people have a tendency to overlook the essentials of the individual in favor of the overall community.  what do we learn from Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets?  We keep up with daily news.  We are reminded of birthdays for people who are not only our friends (which is important) but the birthdays of friends of my friends, and their friends, and so on ad nauseum.  We are reminded of dates and events that we may never have been associated with other than we “know” someone in our feed who may have been.  This is the community in which we find ourselves today.  A community of data and information that likely has little or no meaning to us personally.  We use “data” to connect via platforms of all kinds.  In this course alone some of the “connections we have made with classmates and instructors have been Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Google Hangouts, and a myriad of others.  And, we try to tie them all together using IFTTT to one degree of success or another.

I wonder sometimes as just how deep our connection with others really is.  I know I have had some meaningful exchanges with others in the class over one channel or another.  And honestly, for most I have had little or no contact depending on if I happen to comment on their blog posts or not.  I have been too consumed negotiating the forest that I have failed to stop and consider the trees.  Interstingly, the participants in the MOOC in which I am enrolled seem to want to stop and not touch and feel each tree, but every bush as well, smell every flower, watch the birds and listen to the wind whistle as it moves among it all.

The question that presents itself is who is more a part of a community, me or them?  It is a hard question and of course the answer is determoned by what kind of community is sought by each individual or group.  So, I suppose the answer ultimately is academic, or at least rhetorical.  But I digress, I think.  The quotation above, and the article overall, speaks of looking deeper and considering the individual, of seeing how this community is built and who built it and why.  I find myself falling into this trap on many occasions: looking so hard at the forest but not seeing the individual and unique trees that make the forest what it is supposed to be.

Mattern, Shannon.  “A City Is Not A Computer.”  Places, February 2017.

Variations of a Theme . . .

I have been experimenting with a couple of platforms to present my Ethnography: Pinterest and Lino.  I have chosen to do the ethnography in a visual, or virtual, manner, as an alternative to the more traditional written style.  My goal basically is to hit on some of the themes of the MOOC in which I am enrolled, Innovative Poetry of Cascadia, and then use pictures to exhibit those themes.  Captions are to be used to explain or further expound on what each picture is supposed to represent.  I hit this idea off James this morning and he seemed fairly enthusiastic about the idea.  I am not sure however, how much enthusiasm he will retain when he sees my final product(s).  And I say “products” because I am my just put a link in my Lifestream to both of them and just see what happens.

One thing I will say now is that the MOOC has been quite interesting. I have mentioned this before but it bears repeating I think.  The readings I have had to do and the comments submitted by other participants show a real interest in the culture and environment of the Cascadia region.  I find this attitude very satisfying.  Having lived in Oregon for several years, although I am not a native of the area, the thoughts and feelings expressed are very familiar.  People in the Cascadia region develop a very strong attachment to the region and are keen to express that attachment in a variety of ways. I realize other people groups do this as well, for example those from the Southern United States, or from regions in Europe and Asia.  I also saw this to a degree when I lived in East Africa for several months.  Cascadia is no different:  the inhabitants see the land and animals and the entire ecosystem as a way of life.  Everything is connected and there seems to be a communication between fauna and flora that is almost spiritual in nature, delving deep into one’s soul and creating a permanent link between man and other beings, and even non-living things.  I mentioned this in an earlier post that the attitude is almost like The Force in Star Wars:  every creature, every non-living thing, is connected in some way, and in a way that cannot be broken.

Well, as I am waxing somewhat poetic or even romantic, I find I am trying to put myself in the place of someone still roaming the rain forest of Olympic Nation Park in Washington, or scaling the sides of Mt. Hood, or fishing the rivers and waterfalls of Oregon and Washington.  There is very little of a digital nature involved here, which goes against the idea of EDC.  However, the theme for this Block is, in part, the theme of Community.  In the writings and musings of the participants of this MOOC, I find they have created a “community” not built from WordPress or Twitter, but from an internal connection to the tangential spirituality of the Earth, and the creatures and features that inhabit the space around us.  Indeed, the folks in this MOOC create and experience the presence of community in their common fondness of Cascadia.

#mscedc

Convo with James re format of Ethnography

The following is a copy of my conversation with James regarding the format of the Ethnography.  I had an idea that due to the abstract nature of my MOOC, I would try and present it in a way that was more reflective of the feelings and viewpoints of the participants.  (As a note to avoid the appearance of revealing any confidentiality, I have copied our conversation here per James’ encouragement.)

From Me:

James, I may have missed something but in what form does the ethnography take? I have posted a trial visual ethnography more to display what I am doing on my Lifestream rather than meet the assignment requirement; but I am wondering if this is the type of format we can use?

If so, then my plan is to add text to each photo as a descriptor of how the picture relates to what the purpose of the MOOC is designed for. This course is so abstract I am not sure a more formal write-up would really fit.

From James:

This is really great. A request: paste these ideas and questions into a blog post as it will look really good in your lifestream and I think the whole group will benefit from our conversation: if you’re ok with that? But yes, agree entirely about presenting ethnography in ‘alternative’ form: I fully encourage that. Excellent stuff, Philip.

#mscedc

MOOC Update

I have been going though the lessons in the MOOC I chose, “Innovative Poetry of Cascadia”.  It has been very interesting and really has turned out to be what I was hoping for.  I am not necessarily a poetry aficionado, but the personal comments on the boards by many of the participants in class have been revealing. Primarily what I have seen are postings expressing a deep connection to the geographical region.  This connection is more than simple geography or occupying space; some of these people have seemed to immerse themselves into the mystery of Cascadia, developing an identity almost that transcends just physical locale. It is as if they have opened themselves up in a spiritual fashion to what they see and feel is the Spirit of the mountains, the rivers, and the ocean.  It reminds me very much of the stories I heard as a child of my own Native American heritage, and even the feeling of myself and others who engaged in the surfing sub-culture on the Southern California beaches.

Very interesting.

Note:  The photograph on the left is a view of part of the Cascadia Region of Western Canada and Northwestern US.  The photograph on the right is a simple house built of natural materials for birds or small animals.  It represents the desire of the inhabitants of this region to care for all forms of life in as unobtrusive a manner as possible.

#mscedc

Week 4 Summary: MOOC Sign-up…WHAT have I done now?!

I just signed up for the MOOC for my Block 2 Mini-ethnographic study.  I went through several MOOC platform choices, EdX, Coursera, Canvas, etc., and finally settled on a course offered through Cascadia College in Western Canada:  Innovative Cascadia Poetry.  The course description, quoted from the MOOC site, is thus:

“This interdisciplinary course delves into the geography and poetry of the Cascadia bioregion, exploring the area’s physical landscape, its cultural roots, and the innovative poetry produced there.”

I chose this MOOC for a couple of reasons:  it offers some kind of discussion board activities as well as individual assignments and, it is outside of my personal, professional and geographic exposure radius.  I did consider MOOCs that played into my role as a teacher or graduate student, or might have enhanced my professional skills as a teacher, but I chose this basically to add a facet of learning to my academic and personal tool boxes.  There are no robots or AI.  But in terms of what we want to evolve into we must include how we view where we have come from and where we are now.

As far as how does this fit into my readings for the week: I have been thinking about community quite a bit and know that literature is a vital and rich source of how and why and where people are. Even in the last block, when we watched a variety of videos, in each one there was at least one reference to a piece of literature that provided a foundation for the impetus or motivation of the primary characters.  I am hoping this MOOC will allow me to delve more abstractly into the arena of community.

So, off we go . . . yahoo!

Doldrums . . .

This week has been slow going.  I am trying . . .trying . . .to get through the readings.  On top of it all we are re-writing an assessment for my History class and that is taking way too much of my time, although necessary.  And I am trying to make an attempt at meaningful comments on some of my classmates blogs and posts.

But I still feel as if my feet are mired in some kind of sludge that won’t let me move forward in any perceptible way.  Here is hoping this weekend brings a bit more energy and gumption to my efforts.

Loneliness of Space . . . Or Is It?

I have poked a couple of teasers at Linzi this morning about “HAL” and “Alien”.  And something just occurred to me regarding the concepts of space and presence.  i posted a comment on Twitter that one of the teaser lines for the movie “Alien” was “In space, no one can hear you scream.”  And it hit me:  Space is a void that we can occupy.  In the context of that movie line, it is true, in space no one can hear anything.  However, when space is filled with something, e.g. oxygen, the presence of a being can be detected.  Space is no longer simply occupied but is occupied with a discernible presence.  I just thought I would throw that idea into my Lifestream and let it swim around for a while.

Choosing a MOOC

I have been looking through the expansive MOOC list and to be honest, there are many that pique my interest.  I am sure there is a vast array of information and resources I could use in my own classes.  The problem I am having is that I have completed two MOOCs in the past and neither really did much for me.  I realize this is not the focus of the exercise for EDC, but I would still like to be involved in something that is interesting over the long haul.

In any case, I am still searching; but I am chiding myself because I think I am making this harder than it should be.  Come on, Philip, pick one already!

Comments on chills

Loved it. Only the coldest of cold hearts wouldn’t have a soft spot for some stop motion animation.

If life can be broken down in to a series of ones and noughts, can everything we see be considered, recorded and analysed frame-by-frame?

I’m reminded of the android in the Twighlight Zone clip posted by Philip in his artifact.

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Comments from apowers

I liked the way you reduced the times between the jumps to different images and overlays. This combined well with the shots of you clicking through the browser tabs that gradually got more frantic.

Some questions:

Is the piano part played by yourself?
I am noticing that most of the EDC artefacts are mainly presenting digital cultures as unsettling and negative rather than positive. Would you say that you artefact reflects your general attitude towards digital technologies? Or is the tone an aesthetic decision decided by the artefact?

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Comment on Looking to get my visual ‘thing’ done today. Artifact or artefact? Online discussion @ https://t.co/GtQUJt785I and I’m still unsure #mscedc by chills

Hi Matthew

I liked your visual artefact a lot and I think you did achieve “the familiar but unsettling” really well.

The Framed video recalled Memory 2.0 – as if a precursor to it, set in the past, with the photographer remembering or imagining someone and an element of this reverie being interactive as he was led to the perfect viewpoint for his shot.

Framed was much more gentle and less threatening than Memory 2.0, which set it in contrast to the photo montage of your Pinterest board. Some of the double eye images and the Blow your mind photo did provoke a “double take” and I liked the juxtaposition of those with vintage, royalty and animal photos. It was a great assemblage and called to mind ideas about the representation of cultures, as well as themes of time and human modification and perfectability. Another strong impression I got was the multiplicity of viewpoints as if in celebration of the mix and the impossibility of categorising or polarising.

Cathy

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Comments from Schwindenhammer

Absoluteley. And let me point out something else here:
I intentionally spoke about my daughter, because I knew or expected that this would evoke an emotional quality. I could have increased this emotional motivation by posting a pic of my girl (which I did not, because it is not me to decide what pictures of her are online).
I believe reading this article conjures pictures in the reader’s mind, not only making it easier to remember the article but also increasing the level of motivation and engagement with the article, again increasing the possibility to learn and remember.
If done intentionally, I regard this as a legitimate and academic procedure. After all we write to be understood, don’t we?

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Comments from npainter

Absoluteley. And let me point out something else here:
I intentionally spoke about my daughter, because I knew or expected that this would evoke an emotional quality. I could have increased this emotional motivation by posting a pic of my girl (which I did not, because it is not me to decide what pictures of her are online).
I believe reading this article conjures pictures in the reader’s mind, not only making it easier to remember the article but also increasing the level of motivation and engagement with the article, again increasing the possibility to learn and remember.
If done intentionally, I regard this as a legitimate and academic procedure. After all we write to be understood, don’t we?

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Comments from npainter

Hello Dirk, this is a charming and thoughtful post.

I wonder what this says about the way cyberculture has permeated popular culture when not only do themes emerge in TV shows for children, but that you daughter is able to articulate a position in relation to human/machines?!

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Comments from Schwindenhammer

Hello Dirk, this is a charming and thoughtful post.

I wonder what this says about the way cyberculture has permeated popular culture when not only do themes emerge in TV shows for children, but that you daughter is able to articulate a position in relation to human/machines?!

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Comments from mthies

One of the really nice things about being a tutor on the EDC is being introduced to unfamiliar content and genres from popular culture. I’ve never been any sort of gamer (post-48K Spectrum) so it’s interesting to learn more about ‘serious gaming’. When I watched your video earlier in the week I was drawn into the YouTube comments and it was interesting to see the reverence and emotion that posters attached to the game and its music.

On top of this, the ambiguous nature of the protagonist – human or cyborg? – made we wander whether some of the ideas around cybercultures are commonly used or explored within games? If so, bearing in mind the popularity of gaming, I wonder whether in future iterations of EDC we might look towards games as a way of exploring the different conceptualisation of cyberculture, in the same way we have used film and to a lesser extent music this time around?

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Comments from Schwindenhammer

Thanks for this weekly summary – nicely critical and also captures the character of what’s been in your lifestream (and why). Great that you were able to weave ideas from the literature into your summary (which is difficult to achieve in such a small space).

‘The physical and the philosophical make up digital cupture’

I wasn’t sure what you meant by digital ‘cupture’? A quick Google search reveals a wine tumbler? I’m not picking you up on grammar in the blog (I’m in no position to do so!), I’m just interested in your idea here. I presume though from the wider post that you’re arguing that as educators we need to think critically (philosphically) about digital, as well as showing an interest in range of technology (practical).

‘So my work on answering the question above has started by asking it in the first place.’

I really like this. If I interpret this correctly, the content of your lifestream blog has in itself addressed a question you posed earlier in the course (in your first video in particular, but also more generally)? If that’s the case I’m really glad as it suggests that your lifestream content has something to say about your activity over the week whilst helping you to investigate critical ideas around education and technology that interest you. Excellent.

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Comments from npainter

Thanks for this weekly summary – nicely critical and also captures the character of what’s been in your lifestream (and why). Great that you were able to weave ideas from the literature into your summary (which is difficult to achieve in such a small space).

‘The physical and the philosophical make up digital cupture’

I wasn’t sure what you meant by digital ‘cupture’? A quick Google search reveals a wine tumbler? I’m not picking you up on grammar in the blog (I’m in no position to do so!), I’m just interested in your idea here. I presume though from the wider post that you’re arguing that as educators we need to think critically (philosphically) about digital, as well as showing an interest in range of technology (practical).

‘So my work on answering the question above has started by asking it in the first place.’

I really like this. If I interpret this correctly, the content of your lifestream blog has in itself addressed a question you posed earlier in the course (in your first video in particular, but also more generally)? If that’s the case I’m really glad as it suggests that your lifestream content has something to say about your activity over the week whilst helping you to investigate critical ideas around education and technology that interest you. Excellent.

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Comments from mthies

Hello Myles, thanks for your weekly review.

‘However the results have been outstanding and Im overawed by the talent that surrounds me.’

Likewise. I’ve only glanced at the work – Jeremy and I will be commenting on them later in the week – however there’s some fantastic work in there (including your own). Having only glimpsed the work, I’m struck by how many of artefacts include content other than images as a seemingly vital meaning-making component, and in particular sound. I suppose this neatly picks up on the conversation we’ve had before where Sterne (2006) encourages us to look beyond the visual in our conceptualisation of cyberculture.

‘But this leads me to a question: How much of an influence does the culture of the participants on a programme such as ours play a part in creating successful collaborative learning experiences?’

I really like this. Your point acts as a very useful reminder that for all that we might get excited about the possibilities of digital technology around education, we need to see them as a part of wider social and cultural system, as Hand (2008) argues. And going from there to think about Bayne’s (2014) paper problematising framings around technology-enhanced learning, it reminds us the digital is more complex than tools or spaces to deliver teaching and learning outcomes, not least as the technologies are entangled with human interest – the community you mention.

As you suggest, this is a really nice bridge into week 4.

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Comment from Helen

I’m listening to this now whilst making this reply.

Obviously there’s the title, however was there something about the song that particularly resonated with any of the readings or the course themes we’ve been discussing? A short bit of metadata would be good here – almost like liner notes in fact, explaining why this song made it onto the album.

I like it. Another one for me to download, for sure.

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Comment on Visual Artefact – by cpsaros

Daniel, what a wonderfully personal artefact! I love your first image. It’s quite beautiful. The light from the screen and the rapture on your face definitely suggests that there might be some form of enlightenment hidden beyond what you are seeing. The blurriness add too because it supports the idea of the lines between the body and technology being blurred too.

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Comments from cmiller

Colin, what an original fun way to interpret what we’ve been doing on the course!

The thing that probably struck me about your post is the ease in which you move around the Minecraft environment. I never managed to do that well in Minecraft. Are you using it as a metaphor for how we navigate digital spaces in terms of technical ability and where we feel comfortable online? How we interact with others? I noticed some places were more populated than others.

I also like how you managed to enhance your artefact with the soundtrack from the film referencing Sterne. Thanks for your unique perspective.

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Comment from Helen

Hello Helen, a really nice (and nicely critical) weekly summary here.

‘As I’ve already mentioned, this process is an interesting one, with the blog allowing for a spiralling* return to ideas and concepts. I did, however, wonder about *your* experience as readers. Will you be willing to return to ‘old’ ground, will you see the additions? Are you a new reader anyway? Or am I simply throwing ideas out into the ether which will never be read…?’

I think I would see the blog as an ongoing conversation, not only between us but with the wider group at different times. Of course there’s always the danger that I won’t hear your reply with so much happening therefore if there’s something you’d particularly like me to comment on (which I haven’t) please do just let me know. There’s so much attention grabbing content across the lifestream blogs that it’s possible I might miss something so do just shout out to get my attention!

I’m unfamiliar with Bruner’s work therefore please do tell me more if the situation arises in your blog.

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Comment on Digital artefact: Post-human classroom by cpsaros

Daniel, thanks for letting me know how you read it. I think its always interesting to see how we navigate different digital spaces.

I wanted to use all my own photos but unfortunately Thinglink wouldn’t let me upload the ‘links’ unless I bought the premium version which I tried to do but was only allowed to purchase it as a business because of European VAT laws.

The main big photo is mine, as is the picture on the board. I set it up in one of the classrooms were I work. The images in the links are hyperlinks to images available online, unfortunately my only option on the free version.

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Comment from Helen

‘The rich, complex, creative bundle of emotions, ideas and responses that is the learner is channelled through a reductive algorithm and spewed out as a data set.’

I love this! We should return to this comment in block 3 when we move on to talk about algorithmic culture.

And it was good to ‘meet’ you too. For all the different ways we are able to interact in digital spaces, there’s still something special about a group of people speaking face-to-face in real time.

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Comment from Clare

Hi Stuart, I’ve been mulling over this over the week and I think that technology assisted medicine probably still is cyborg-esque in the same way that telephones are, they aren’t physically part of us (yet) but still contribute to our cyborg selves in Miller’s paper. That paper gave me a better understanding of the term cyborg and how to look at everyone now through that lens – we can’t see pacemakers or replacement hips for example sticking with the healthcare link. I now see the cyborgs in our videos as the extreme far end of the cyborg spectrum not the norm.

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Comment from Clare

Hi Daniel. 2000 seems only a blink away for me so it good to be reminded at how far technology has become intertwined in our everyday lives since then. I don’t think that your focus on the text is necessarily related to being less visual – the lyrics were the central element and the visuals only a support so you picked up on that straightaway. Efficiency was one of the key elements I took away from the three weeks of cyberculture, I think we need to be very careful at how and when we employ technology in our lives and education. Just because ‘we can‘ is not enough.

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Comments from Linzi

Ahhhhhhhh someone who has totally avoided text and sound to make a purely visual artefact.

I will be interested to see if this will elicit as many comments as the artefacts that are more…Informative? Direct? Less abstract?

It’s hard to think of the right word.

With this we get to project our own interpretations and meanings. I can see a heartbeat for humans, a chaotic circle for networks, vague letters in the background perhaps suggesting the belief that all objects are laced with information if only we can figure out a way to get it out.

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Comment from Clare

In the text/lyrics what seemed jarring to me was the idea of sending off for a book. If we were in age where you could build music making robots surely they’d just download it onto an ipad or something. I see that the lyrics are from 2000 which explains it. Interesting to see how culture develops in unexpected ways.

One of the themes here seems to be “efficiency”, the idea that we can invent tech to do the dull stuff and we can just go and “live our lives”. This means making value judgements that are made in what work should be deskilled and automated. In this artefact drum loops are implied to be an unimportant part of the music and therefore open to automation, something which as a drummer myself I would argue against.

Another thing I’ve just noticed is that all my comments are based on the text rather than the visual aspect. I always suspected I am not a very “visual” person. Oh well.

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Comment from Helen

Helen, what a fantastic idea to turn your artefact into a commercial! I think it was very astute to play on people’s fear of being unwell in order to go for the hard sell. In the UK it is sometimes easy to forget that health care is big business and I suspect if you were to sell a product like this your biggest customers would not be people scared of being ill; the best customers would be the drug companies trying to keep any product affecting their profits off the market.

Amazon did something similar by buying out the company which developed the robotic technology for use in their warehouse and thereby taking the competitive edge in online shipping. http://ift.tt/2dutZOi

Thanks for providing this unique perspective.

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Comments from smilligan

This is an interesting post (and wider conversation) Stuart.

I wondered whether you felt any of these ideas – those in the New Scientist and your own – resonated with the course readings we’ve been looking at in block one? I thought there were a few points of interesting crossover. In fact if this is a subject of interest, it might be interesting to revisit this theme when we move on to talk about algorithmic culture in block 3.

Meanwhile, as a light-hearted aside I’ve just finished reading The Restaurant at the end of the Universe therefore I might disagree with C.S. Lewis’ position on two heads 😉 :-/

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Comments from apowers

Wow! This is more like an ‘Art House Movie’ than an end of block artefact. Great production quality, particularly the soundtrack, which I think is the hardest element to get right.

As Chenee observed it is unsettling. I did find myself wondering why the moments of skating weren’t oases of calm amongst the frenetic activity of the day.

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Comments from smilligan

Thanks for this weekly summary, Stuart.

‘Looking back on my blogging activity over the last three weeks it’s incredible to consider what I have learned from the readings, tutorial sessions, Togethertube sessions and interacting with the blogs of others.’

I know that it’s hard to say very much in 250 words, but I would be interested to know what the main ideas are that you’ve pulled out from this block? Even better, you could perhaps link the main ideas to content from the preceding week’s lifestream, if that worked.

‘I had been reluctant to consider the possibility of technology penetrating the mind. But as we slowly turn into human/machine hybrids then perhaps we may start to behave more machine like – networked and efficient.’

At the danger of sounding mischievous, it does assume of course that machines are necessarily efficient! I wonder whether we have a tendency to conflate machines with efficiency and to place humans in opposition as distracted and flawed? And if so, to what extent does this kind of framing come from the depictions we find in popular culture (and particularly science fiction, as we saw in the film festival)?

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Comments from smilligan

Thanks for your thoughts here, Stuart. I’m intrigued by this idea that we might be able to use songs as a way of working through some really quite challenging ideas in the literature around cyberculture.
Something that might work really well in the future in your blog is to juxtapose the song lyrics against the words taken from the journal article or book chapter, and them to come in with your own thoughts on how they sit together, or why you selected them.

Depending on how the cybercultures playlist is received we might attempt one for community cultures – I’ll keep you posted in case you find it a useful way or thinking about some of concepts we’re touching on during the course.

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Comments from cmiller

Hello Colin, looking back over your lifestream this week it seems you’ve been prolific in gathering and interacting with content.

I know you Tweeted about this, however what is it that you don’t like about Twitter? Although having said you don’t like it, do you see how it could be useful in your work around education (and that’s not a leading question)?

You’ve rightly acknowledged that your lifestream blog is becoming more diverse in terms of content, particularly with the introduction of music. Once you’ve had a chance to tinker with IFTT (and I acknowledge your frustration with it) and the pinterest images appear, the blog is going to really look the ‘scrapbook’ approach we talked about during last week’s Google Hangout.

You mention that after some initial difficulty you managed to make some connections between songs and some of the course themes. Out of interest, did you find that a useful way of exploring any of the ideas we’ve been discussing around cybercultures (for instance in the way we sought to do through the film festival)? Did you get a chance to read the Sterne reading from the cybercultures block: as someone with an interest in music/sound I think you’d like it (and I do find his writing more accessible than some).

With all this diverse content coming into the lifestream it would be really helpful to add little bits of metadata to add a running commentary and briefly explain the presence of a particular film clip or article: but you’ve acknowledged that yourself in the summary.

You mention that you haven’t managed to really apply the course themes to education just yet. Not to worry as there’s still time. And of course, some of the course blocks might be more suited to your own practice than others. Perhaps what we’re about to cover in community cultures will enable you to make more immediate connections with your own work? I would certainly be interested to learn more about what you do at Heriot-Watt, if you think there’s a way of bringing that into your lifestream blog. At the same time, you’ve mentioned your interest in virtual reality: could the mini ethnography exercise that we’re embarking on give you a way of bringing the course more directly alongside your educational work and interests? Could you select a field site relating to your work or educational/technological interests? At the same time, you could also think about shaping the final coursework assignment around your practice or interests, although there’s plenty of time yet to think about that.

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Comments from smilligan

Nicely done sir. I loved the audio, it has a Hitchcock esque feel to it. Listening to the soundtrack I had the feeling of the soundbites emanating from an old TV somewhere off camera and this gave the piece an almost vintage quality. I liked it a lot!

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Comments from smilligan

Great theme, powerful message and very well executed. Each element is carefully outlined. This reminds me somewhat of a trip through a gallery, or in one of the “multimedia” type installations. I’d love to see more this through a VR head mounted display, or indeed, in reality as an exhibit somewhere.

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Comments from smilligan

Loving this Stuart. The very quiet music throughout give an eery, slightly scary background while the images and sounds build a great picture.

Really well thought out, that dithering was worthwhile.

Gotta love Adobe spark 🙂

Eli

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Comment on Digital artefact: Post-human classroom by cmiller

“the liar living in the formal network of the lie”.

Excellent I love this line!

We are all complicit in that which we seek to critique, but there are those who would rather deny a sense of self, than to admit that there is wrong in what they do.

I enjoyed exploring your “thinglink”. I wonder if it was designed to be read from front to back, as our eye is drawn through the perspective, or top to bottom, as might a machine…

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Comment on Pinned to #MSCDE on Pinterest – Week 1 artefact by hmurphy

Thanks for this, Eli! This was a super clever way of conceptualising the affective progress we’ve made, while also being a comment on how hard it is to break away from an ethnocentric perspective.

I also liked your use of the word ‘promise’; there’s something in the promise vs the reality which is so interesting. Thanks!

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Comments from chills

Interesting to see you elaborating on the concept of time in relation to cybercultures that you brought up in the tutorial.

Do try to stick to the 250 word limit for these weekly summaries, it’s tough, but a good discipline! I also know that you were a little less active with the lifestream this week, however good job with linking to specific content and weaving these into your writing.

Lots of good and useful reflection here, and a really drawing together of ‘time’ as an underlying theme with which to conclude the cybercultures block. There was also some fantastic writing, I thought this was a particularly engaging passage:

Yet we seem not to be sufficiently prepared to “navigate” the “devastated absence” (Bayne, 2015) left by the departed humanist – it is a desert space with no gods peopled by human chimeras and curious cryogenic recoverings, where we might fall prey to creeds of greed and insularity.

This made me think about how much of education seems to be about (humanistic) values, and some kind of ethics must replace the reworking of humanism.

And the last section on ‘your’ time is fantastic!

I was also thinking about time here in relation to the technology instrumentalism and essentialism discussed by Bayne (2015) – in the sense that I was wonder what the ‘source’ of this elasticity was for you. Does time derive from ‘speedy’ technology (an essentialism), or from our desire to use it quickly or slowly (instrumentalism)? Maybe what you describe here is a useful recognition of the non-dualistic in-between, where those ‘times’ end up influencing each other.

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Comment from Helen

This is a really super and succinct summary Helen! It sounds like you’ve drawn together some really useful conclusions for block 1.

Good to hear that you are considering socio-material perspectives as a valuable ways of navigating the cybercultures themes. I certainly think that this kind of theoretical sensitivity can account for much more of the nuance in our relationships with technology, rather than relying on determinist positions, which feel much more like commitments that critical positions. I am reminded of one of your posts, however, that questioned ANTs normalising (perhaps colonial?) tendencies. There are definitely questions about who defines the important relations, however, that doesn’t negate its ability to surface issues of power and inequality. I’ll be interested to see if these perspectives carried forward for you into the ‘community’ theme.

Nevertheless, inequality, privilege, and cultural influence in the context of cybercultures are potentially productive (educational) themes to consider for your final assignment, should you wish to return to some of these ideas.

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Comments from Linzi

Super reflection here Linzi!

Do try to stay close to the recommended 250 words, however. It is difficult when there is a lot to reflection upon, but also important to work within limits.

Having said that, you surfaced lots of interesting themes here that relate directly to the cybercultures block. I particularly liked your comments about information exchange and bodily, face-to-face presence. There is something really interesting to explore here I think, perhaps related directly to the kind of education that you work in – it seems to me that dance education works with the body, with physicality, with our bodily presence in space, in ways that are overlooked by many of the ways technologies are discussed in relation to ‘learning’. In other words, it seems to me that dance isn’t all about ‘information’, yet that is the way a lot of technological enhancement in education is discussed.

I thought the tweet you sent today, and the great conversation you started, was also a potentially really useful critical angle for you: about kinaesthetic learning, and ‘touch’. So much of ‘cybercultures’ seems to be about ‘virtual’ worlds, avatars, and disembodied information. But that is not the only way we can think about education and technology, right? Could be some really productive themes here to return to for your final assignment, perhaps?

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Comment on Week 3 Synthesis – A New Approach by jknox

Excellent weekly summary here Daniel; suggesting overall themes that tie your explorations together, and specifying exactly what you’ve done with your week! Nice work.

I’ve been watching the musical influence in your blog unfurl with great interest, and super to see here a fresh take on ‘serious play’. You are taking such a creative and rich approach to the blog (and the very idea of ‘blogging’), and it is fantastic to see. The song lyrics and notes were really great responses to the cyborg themes – Cyber Maracatu is particularly superb, as is the line: ‘we spit and curse, transmit and disperse.’

I also really liked the musical interpretations of speech you shared. Trump’s jazzy ‘China’ had me in stitches. Actually, I’m going to watch it again right now…

I think you are absolutely right here to raise questions about the seriousness of scholarship, particularly given the form your lifestream blog is taking. The question of what ones ‘learns’ from creating a ‘lifestream’ in this way should be at the forefront of your thinking. I think your individual lifestream items have tended to focus more on the theoretical ideas in the course, rather than explicit connections to education – that is perhaps a way to develop your blog in block 2. Having said that, thinking about the form of your blog is perhaps one way to take this. Given your theme of ‘play’, might we understand your lifestream as a kind of improvisation itself, using feeds to respond to the theories you are reading about? I suppose within that, you are also learning ‘about’ the various ideas. That might be one way to continue thinking about ‘learning’ here: whether it is something representative of the course themes, or whether it is something that emerges through your practice and improvisation with the lifestream.

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Comment on Looking at YouTube short summaries of Haraway’s ‘Cyborg Manifesto’. Anyone found any particularly good ones? #mscedc by jlamb

Hello Matthew, perhaps when it comes to preparing the digital essay you might want to think about experimenting with something in video form? Give it some thought and, assuming we agree it’s an appropriate format for the subject of the essay, we could talk about places to host it (Vimeo for instance attracts many fewer comments) and the use of images (for instance looking at Creative Commons).

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Comment on Lifestream summary, week three by jlamb

I’m enjoying reading your reflections here, Matthew.

‘On the readings front, I regret I’ve not found time for a biblical reflection on Donna Haraway. She’s threaded through various postings, and a lot of my thoughts. I’ve got stuff to say, and I’m trying to think how to say it. I’d like to try something multimodal in that regard.’

Perhaps this is something you could come back to within the digital essay towards the end of the course? The assignment will give you more time to work with some of the ideas we encounter in the course, in a way that it’s hard to do within the lifestream blog. We can talk about this (or any other essay ideas you have) later in the course.

‘Walking into daily chapel the next day, hearing the piano playing, it wasn’t the same sound for me as on previous days. A lovely moment when the Lifestream spilled over into the non-digital everyday. I value those moments.’

I’m glad that our encouragement to think about music and sound has contributed to this lovely (and eloquently described) moment. As Sterne suggested in his historiography of cyberculture (2006), we have a tendency to heavily emphasise the visual when perhaps sound and other form provide a lens for thinking about the digital. Of course, ‘lens’ itself has a strong visual orientation so perhaps I’m also guilty of perpetuating this notion!

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Comment on Just looking at the blog by @Eli_App_D https://t.co/ZRIoWvQdPd – great to see other sides to life for a fellow student. Thanks, Eli! #mscedc by jlamb

This works really nicely as an accompaniment to your own weekly summary of the lifestream, Matthew.

That it’s so difficult to keep up with all the varied content coming into the lifestreams perhaps says something not only about digital culture, but also about the mixture of opportunities and challenges of education within digital contexts more generally?

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Comment from Clare

Great week 3 summary, and reflection on the end of block 1!

Do try to stay close to the recommended 250 word though. It is tough when there is a lot to reflection upon, but also important to work within limits.

That said, you’ve offered a really excellent critical summary here – the distinction between emotion and computer code is contextualised well, and the Norman quote (1993) provides a promising way of approaching this in non-dualist or -oppositional ways. I do think we need to move beyond utopian / dystopian binaries, particularly in the education technology field, otherwise we miss all sorts of nuance in the ways our relationships with technology unfold.

Fantastic quote from Roszak too – I must look this up. Embodiment is certainly one way we can critiquing simplistic notions of A.I. as pure ‘information’.

Ending this block with more questions is no bad thing! Perhaps with some time away from these ideas – as we discuss ‘community’ and ‘algorithmic’ cultures – you’ll find a way to connect with education.

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Comments from apowers

Great video Anne! It’s incredibly unsettling. The disorientation and repetition you manage to convey so well is often evident when navigating new digital spaces. Sneaking skating in there, making it relevant to your own teaching, was interesting, perhaps that disorientation is exactly how I would feel on a pair of skates.

I really love how you manage to incorporate bodily functions like a heart beating and breathing connecting the body to the digital.

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Comment on Weekly round-up: Week 3 by jknox

Interesting to hear that you’ve tried to limit tweets going into your lifestream. I was waiting for someone to suggest this! Might be a good way of keeping your lifestream focused on particular ‘choice’ items, a way of ‘curating’ it. That doesn’t mean, of course, that you don’t still continue to use Twitter, just that you control your lifestream a little more.

Good to also see you reflecting on education, and seeing this feature in your lifestream. Critical thinking is definitely the way to go here – think back to IDEL week 3 and 4 on criticality. This also reminds me that Jen shared a useful video on critical thinking in Twitter today:

https://twitter.com/jar/status/827458892879818752

The idea that lecture capture is a good thing could certainly be questioned, from institutional, teaching, and student perspectives, each with different nuanced. One of the key ways we can use scifi critically on this course is to recognise that it can be very flawed, however it can also be creative. The dystopic visions of surveillance cultures in scifi are definitely creative ways of perceiving our current use of technology, and a good way of developing a critical angle. Perhaps this is something to bear in mind for the final assignment? It might be productive to link things to your current work with lecture capture?

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Comments from apowers

Anne, I watched this off the Tweet link you posted. I really like the sense of acceleration, overlay, and the challenge to process and keep up with it – and the associated feeling that if I was not simply flesh-and-blood I might manage it better. Skating on thin ice, and waking up smelling the coffee? Many thanks!

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Comment from Helen

Hi Helen

I like your thoughtful commercial very much and appreciate the unnerving and threatening undertones. It made me think immediately of canaries down mines and how the “employment” of them could literally be a matter of life and death. Betty appeared to be a luxury product for the affluent, but if turned mainstream – I’m so conditioned to want to say “she” – could signal just as much danger to humankind driven by similar commercial and political enslavery. How times haven’t changed after all!

Thanks for the shoutout to my poll which I had neglected after setting up, so it is me who thanks you for your commentary!

Cathy

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Comments from smilligan

Stuart, I really like the interaction of visuals and sound; the reworking of the familiar (e.g. Six Million Dollar Man intro) with new visuals; and the overlay of symbols on pictures. A rich mix, befitting the theme. Thank you!

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Comment from Helen

What a wonderful contrast of past and present Helen. A really thought provoking artefact and very visually stimulating.

It made me consider how educational institutions view students as data because so much of their funding is dependent on results. This aspect of education dehumanizes students which in a way (if I stretch Haraway’s metaphor even further) transforms them into cyborgs where their past, gender, race, or class are inconsequential.

What was also interesting, and since I don’t know what period the older images are from, is how little has changed in the way we perceive the physical space of classrooms, even in the digital age. I only comment on it as I used the same kind of space in my artefact.

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Comments from mthies

I especially like the comments in the final minute about the speed with which ideas are processed, and the risk of not centring / settling on, and pursuing, one idea down its rabbit hole to see where it leads. I wonder if tech creates, or enhances(!) this possibility.

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Comments from Linzi

[…] course readings, Noss (2013), Bayne (2014) and Miller (2011) I began to view technology as a tool that can either enhance humans or increase the ways in which educators deliver their teaching […]

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Comment from Helen

This is a great commentary and a stimulating visual artefact. Thank you, too, for the CC-O comment. I suspect your suspicions are right about consumerism, and I hope that comes up more as the course unfolds.

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Comment from Helen

Thanks for a succinct comment on the article (mine on my Lifestream was much more wordy…). And I like your connection with assemblages – that’s helpful in trying to understand that concept.

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Comment on Comments on Matthew’s blog by msleeman

Eli, I’m passing through your blog at present, and don’t honestly know if I’ll pass this way again (the multiple blogs are enormous and growing to try and travel them all, and back again, and I’ve not got any alerts on them, to save drowning my feed). Just a quick comment: I’ve felt Pinterest has been incredibly ‘flat’ as an experience. Just pinning. I don’t know if I’m missing something – do you think I am?

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Comment on Take Home Message From Block 1 by chills

Hi Daniel, thanks for this really excellent and helpful post which clarifies the readings of Block 1 for me and corroborates some of my own feelings about the clarity of Bayne and the creative imagery of Haraway. Your ambition to be able to combine the two (which I think you do) recalls our human drive for perfection. It’s just a matter of how far we will go to achieve it.

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Comments from Linzi

[…] my students regarding technology in the dance studio. The conversation acknowledged our previous discussion on their connection with smartphones and the technology that we use already to observe and evaluate […]

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Comments from smilligan

Like you, I spent much of this week dithering: your dithering has paid off: this is great! I really liked the last message about technology having the power to change evolution and the responsibility that brings. I echo Cathy’s comments on the high production quality here too!

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Comments from atsui

That is a very interesting survey for the students. One thing that came to my mind was if I was an employer and a student told me he/she used technology in class and so forth, I would certainly delve into that. I would not necessarily be interested in what was being used, although that could be pertinent, but I would ask the student to explain in detail how the technology was being used. A follow-up question might be to ask the student to explain how their use of technology would actually benefit my company or organization, or how it may be improved. #mscedc

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Comments on atsui

That is a very interesting survey for the students. One thing that came to my mind was if I was an employer and a student told me he/she used technology in class and so forth, I would certainly delve into that. I would not necessarily be interested in what was being used, although that could be pertinent, but I would ask the student to explain in detail how the technology was being used. A follow-up question might be to ask the student to explain how their use of technology would actually benefit my company or organization, or how it may be improved. #mscedc

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Comments from cmiller

I’ll definitely get back to tying it back to the readings, and education too. I think I’d like to revisit all my posts to add more meta data/context to them before we get too far in to Block 2.

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Comment from Helen

Hi James,

Thanks for mentioning Matthew’s blog post to me: it was fascinating to hear his ‘prediction’ about the impact which Bayne’s paper might have on responses to BETT!

Your observation about results is a pertinent one. As well as the notion of technology being touted as a means of ‘improving outcomes’ (what does that even mean?!), there has been a rise in the use of technology to report on outcomes. Huge stands devoted to ‘data dashboards’ were present at the show. The rich, complex, creative bundle of emotions, ideas and responses that is the learner is channelled through a reductive algorithm and spewed out as a data set.

Thanks for your ideas as to how I might move forward with this space. I’ve spent a chunk of today revisiting my previous posts and adding more ‘metadata’ around them. This returning, reflecting and augmenting is an interesting experience and marks a shift away from the linearity of the blog experience in IDEL: we’re weaving complex fabrics using threads from a range of media, sources and thoughts.

Good to ‘meet’ you in the Hangout btw! And hope you’re having a great weekend.

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Comment from Helen

[…] based on the readings, our Hangout tutorial and the second Film Festival discussions. As I’ve already mentioned, this process is an interesting one, with the blog allowing for a spiralling* return to ideas and […]

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Comment from Helen

[…] adding more metadata and reflections based on the readings, our Hangout tutorial and the second Film Festival discussions. As I’ve already mentioned, this process is an interesting one, with the blog allowing for a […]

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Comments from chills

Hi Myles, thanks for your comment. I think you have hit the nail on the head when you ask how it might have been interpreted without the words! I think it was very poorly executed and it does need the commentary although it shouldn’t. I would like to blame the technology but it was entirely down to this particular human/machine assemblage!
Cathy

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Comments from chills

Wow Cathy, what a wonderfully creative piece of stop action EDC mastery! Wish I had thought of something as good as this. Well done. I like your explanations too – I wonder how it would be interpreted without what you have written? It would be interesting to hear what other EDC’ers would make of it. For instance the comment about the item Ex is holding being a brush and not a gun(which I originally thought it was before reading your description) makes for a very different interpretation.Great work.

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Comments from smilligan

Hi Stuart,
I really admire the professional quality of your visual artefact. I like its clarity and the way that the message builds from technology as enabling the body to be medically restored to a suggestion of facilitating something more sinister. I still seem to talk about technology as “enabling” or “facilitating” when really what I’ve learned is that it is the human/technology assemblage that has the agency.
Cathy

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Comments from smilligan

This is a fascinating post and comment, thanks Stuart and Helen. George Orwell’s dystopian “thought police” immediately spring to mind. Regarding your points, Helen,

– I like to think that disclosing our feelings is the “natural” position as I like to think being truthful is the norm, but as we are social beings and therefore the “natural” is the social, we must have learned that withholding the truth and failing to disclose is sometimes in our best interest.

– It isn’t often that I have thoughts which aren’t common to most people, but they have been mediated through my brain and body and experience which does in that sense make them unique.

Cathy

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Comments from mthies

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really found you by accident, while I was searching on Digg for something else,
Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say thank you for a remarkable post and a all round
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Comments from mthies

Aw, this was a very nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort
to produce a great article but what can I say I procrastinate a whole lot and don’t
manage to get anything done.

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Comments from smilligan

This is a really interesting evaluation of a very very complex topic. I agree that losing the ability to conceal our thoughts if we choose would lead to a very different situation than we’re in now. Though I wonder if we’re already on that road? There are definite issues surrounding privacy and surveillance and our ability to conceal what we think. However, I have two follow up questions:

– do you think that our ability to disclose (roughly) what we choose is actually connected to our mind and soul (which makes us unique)? is it innate, or a social construct? (I’m in two minds – no pun intended!)

– do you think that ‘thought’ in its natural form would make much sense to an onlooker? or is it our interpretation of that thought that makes it intelligible? I strongly suspect that if a robot were able to read my mind right now it would very quickly go into shutdown… 🙂

-Helen

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Comment from Helen

Hey, Helen, I’ve never had a ‘ping back’ before. Thank you! I thought you were spam for a moment. All part of my learning curve, and glad you liked the ‘Gumdrop’ thoughts. Go well on your Lifestream! Matthew

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Comments from chills

[…] involving techology in some way. This isn’t surprising since Bill Thompson remarked in this podcast that he was wary of institutions that need to develop their ‘digital’ strategy – […]

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Week 3 Summary

http://tse4.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.mhJ0k35VCCJW0NSLI7krgQEsDF&pid=Api

Last week we discussed AI: Artifical Intelligence.  This week we were asked to consider music a part of our journey through the theme of cybercultures.  As I have been wondering about the term “artificial intelligence” I have concluded, perhaps later than others, that AI simply refers to intelligence that is created outside the holder of the intellect itself.  That intelligence is then inserted somehow into the recipient, activated and implemented.  I know this is not profound but I have to go through my process here.  The real question I have been struggling with is how does the robot or cyborg, as an “intelligent” entity, grow?

I looked at clips from a variety of films and other posts submitted by classmates.  Most notably and what I spoke in our Google Hangout session, was the societal parameters robots/cyborgs will be expected to live by and, will artifical “beings” be able not only to mimic human emotions but understand the subtleties those emotions must take in given circumstances.  Music can be one of the areas that may be the most difficult to measure in terms of intelligent application.  Robots, like Data in Star Trek: The Nest Generation, can mimic thousands of musicians.  The question is however, can he “feel” the music he is playing?  Composers will tell us that music is felt and it is emotional.  Hence we come back to the question of whether robots/cyborgs can really assimilate or be able to produce, in and of themselves, emotions.

#mscedc

Comment on Watching https://t.co/wXl8P9SUOO the key = ‘correctly’ (2:01 mins in). But what does it mean/look like? Cf. https://t.co/BgN7Z5Nlka #mscedc by msleeman

Helen, well done on surviving a week on a stand at any trade show – a truly exhausting prospect. I’d love to probe the instrumentalist impulse some more, given that it is so widespread. I resist putting it down simply to limited reflection; I presume there are some political / cultural wirings running through it, but I can’t feel my way towards them. Any thoughts / literature on this – from Helen, of others?

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Comment on Watching https://t.co/wXl8P9SUOO the key = ‘correctly’ (2:01 mins in). But what does it mean/look like? Cf. https://t.co/BgN7Z5Nlka #mscedc by hwalker

I was on a stand demonstrating O365 at BETT…it was a long week.

The conversations I had with teachers and with other exhibitors about technology, teaching and learning reflected exactly the instrumentalist views which you and James highlight. I read the Bayne paper on the way to the show and this heightened my awareness of the over-riding rhetoric present during the show, that technology is ‘in service’ to learning; it is a ‘tool’ which will ‘improve outcomes’ and ‘engage learners’.

I didn’t get to listen to any of the talks (I missed Ken Robinson(!)), so I’m not sure if a more nuanced position was offered by the speakers in the BETT arena. I fear it probably wasn’t. Also, based on my visits to numerous schools over the years, I fear that the assumptions and beliefs expressed about technology are echoed, at scale, in the wider education community.

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Comment from Helen

Hi James,

Thanks for mentioning Matthew’s blog post to me: it was fascinating to hear his ‘prediction’ about the impact which Bayne’s paper might have on responses to BETT!

Your observation about results is a pertinent one. As well as the notion of technology being touted as a means of ‘improving outcomes’ (what does that even mean?!), there has been a rise in the use of technology to report on outcomes. Huge stands devoted to ‘data dashboards’ were present at the show. The rich, complex, creative bundle of emotions, ideas and responses that is the learner is channelled through a reductive algorithm and spewed out as a data set.

Thanks for your ideas as to how I might move forward with this space. I’ve spent a chunk of today revisiting my previous posts and adding more ‘metadata’ around them. This returning, reflecting and augmenting is an interesting experience and marks a shift away from the linearity of the blog experience in IDEL: we’re weaving complex fabrics using threads from a range of media, sources and thoughts.

Good to ‘meet’ you in the Hangout btw! And hope you’re having a great weekend.

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Comments from smilligan

Thanks for this interesting post Stuart – I really like the way it pinpoints the tension between whether technology is working for or against us. I love the line “while our bodies sit in chairs, waiting for our minds to come back”. Where are our minds when we let technology take over?

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Comment on Tweet! Vlogging versus virtual classroom by hwalker

Eli, this post reminded me of my mortifying experience many years ago when I applied to become a TEFL teacher. Part of the interview process required us to teach our fellow interviewees something. The other applicants were brilliant: we were taught the basics of using a chanter, how to ask for directions in Chinese and the Two Step.

I had arrived with only five tea-towels, ready to teach everyone how to transform them into chickens…

We focused a lot on the inherent value of the process of learning (anything!) in Digital Game-Based Learning. Gamers have to learn how to play games and that requires a multitude of skills and attitudes which have real value. How to recognise the value of that learning and how to harness those skills and attitudes within the structures and strictures of an often rigid formal educational framework is the challenge. These are two useful chapters about the transfer of learning from video games to ‘RL’ : http://ift.tt/2kDgqAm

http://ift.tt/2l81OWK

(If you’re interested, I’ll try and get an instructional ‘make a chicken’ video sorted over the weekend!)

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Comments from mthies

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searching on Google for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say many thanks for a fantastic post and a all
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much more, Please do keep up the great job.

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Comments from chills

[…] in my lifetime, being already someone who can remember early computers and first debates about hypertext. I am out of time, not knowing any of the digital cultural references, and, as a human in the old […]

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Comments from chills

[…] How audible and valued is the voice of the student? After the annual student surveys many universities run advertising campaigns to prove they are listening to their students, “You said, we listened …” This is the voice of capitalism and commerce as institutions have to compete for student numbers. Audrey Watters regards the voice of the student as muted and controlled. […]

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Comments from chills

[…] with our machines, and trying to make sense of the not-quite-in-control to see if it attests to, or incarnates, our learning. We are tech voyeurs being surveilled, surrendering our data and privacy. We are […]

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Comments from chills

[…] mean that this testing is important, to me at least. Education is a means of giving indivduals voice. The predominance of monosyllables makes the sentence sound a bit robotic and the choice of and and […]

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Comments from chills

[…] a bit robotic and the choice of and and not but after testing marks a pause, but less of one, like life on the internet. Of course, I was just really testing ifttt to see if it would work […]

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Comments from chills

[…] Time stretches when I see that Haraway (2007) enumerates the breached boundaries between, for example, science and religion, the human and the technological, the human and animal, and consider that these ontologies have been called into question for some good amount of it. Yet we seem not to be sufficiently prepared to “navigate” the “devastated absence” (Bayne, 2015) left by the departed humanist – it is a desert space with no gods peopled by human chimeras and curious cryogenic recoverings, where we might fall prey to creeds of greed and insularity. […]

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Comment on Posthuman Indie Landfill Music – The Sound of Cybernetic Logic by Cybernetic Maracatu | Daniel’s EDC blog

[…] This music is enabled by digital technology. I would not have found out how to play my approximation of maracatu without youtube, the practice could not have been documented and shared without cheap MP3 recorders and sound cloud. This kind of usage of digital technology stands in contrast to the more restrictive possibilities of the “band in a box” guitar pedal I posted about previously here. […]

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Comment from Helen

Helen,

I love your reference to Wayne and his words resonates with my ongoing exploration of the body and technology. Although, I have struggled to answer your question as I seem to have taken an anthropocentric stance.

Linzi x

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Comments from Linzi

[…] will they have a lack of empathy and physical connection with other? Over the years there has been discussion over the increased interaction with technology and if the exposure will change the way children […]

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Can robots learn the cognitive meanings underlying learned behavior?

What I mean by this is can robots or cyborgs discern the underlying meaning behind certain learned behaviors?  My case in point is this clip I offer from the film I, Robot.  Here, we see Will Smith’s character explaining the meaning of an intentional wink to the robot, “Sonny”.  Later, “Sonny” uses an intentional wink to save Smith and the scientist who helped create “Sonny” from harm.

Now, a wink is a physical gesture humans do thousands of times every day, both voluntarily and involuntarily.  “Sonny” learned one of the intentional meanings of a wink, when connected with certain other behaviors, is a subtle form of signaling to another person or, in this case, a robot to a human.  This had not been programmed into “Sonny” per se, but he (it) learned this wink’s meaning through observation and cognitive reasoning.  Hence, my initial question.  But perhaps another question will be if robots or cyborgs can successfully develop not only deductive reasoning skills, but deeper cognitive skills as well, does that put them closer to meaningful sentience and therefore allow them to be considered new life forms?  And when is it acceptable to refer to “Sonny” as “he” instead of “it”?  (This last question presented itself in a Star Trek:  The Nest Generation episode, but that will have to wait for later.)

 

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From “Frankenstein” to “Robocop” and Beyond

 

Our discussion of The Cyborg Manifesto this morning got me thinking of Frankenstein’s Monster.  I had made the comment in the group that Frankenstein created his monster within the social and cultural paradigms of the day.  The Monster sought self-realization and self-fulfillment by operating, albeit in a crazy and psychopathic manner, within those parameters. Actually, if you read the book, and then watch Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein, The Monster does not act so far out of bounds of reality that many in our world do today.  He, like many others, has no sense of self-control, no patience, is totally amoral and apathetic to the feelings of others. His sole focus is eliminating his own loneliness and meeting his own desires.  This central theme in his life is the result of a previous life of crime and brutality, which has irreparably defined him.  I think what may be unnerving to us is our realization of how close we may be to feeling each of those emotions within ourselves at one point or another.  But fortunately, unlike The Monster, we don’t manifest them all at once.

Cyborgs on the other hand, as described in The Cyborg Manifesto, have no social or cultural paradigms to operate within.  They are seeking, through whatever convention is most efficient, their own sense of realization or fulfillment.  This may come via prior programming or subsequent programming based upon learning experiences.  The development of “Data”, in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series, and “Sonny” from I, Robot, may be a good examples of this.

For us, looking at cyborgs from our own human perspectives, see these created “beings” as cold, heartless, and at times cruel.  But is that really accurate?  To label cyborgs like that may assume we believe them capable of being the opposite, an assumption which may not in fact be true.  And if we mix cyborg technology with our own natural system, we get something akin to Robocop, which spends a good amount of time fighting the memories of the past with new urges and desires more attuned to cybernetic tendencies.  The end result, at least according to Hollywood is a reconciling of man of machine into a functional unit capable of feelings yet able to put them aside, at least temporarily, in favor of the sterile performance of programmed tasks.

In any case, I was left this morning with a good supply of philosophy to think about over the weekend.

#mscedc

Comments from Linzi

Hi Dan,

I think social sanctions should be put in place to prevent negative outcomes!?

The students talked about trends and that they have a fear of missing out on the latest news, gadget, music and fashion. Unfortunately, it seems that Peer Pressure seems to influence their choice in technology, apps and online activity.

Linzi x

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Comment on #mscedc https://t.co/E4lsa6YLF7 the first 4 lines for me relate to the need for a critical studies approach to technology. — Daniel Jackson-Yang (@dabjacksonyang) February 1, 2017 {LinkToTweet} by jknox

Nice idea here to re-interpret song lyrics to bring them in line with our digital cultures critique!

You might have seen the elernenmuzik project that came out of a previous EDC: http://ift.tt/2k5mp0j

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Comment on Instagram: Race, gender, sexuality and class by jknox

Nice connection here between Haraway’s (rather classic) cyborg manifesto and present day politics.

I wonder though, what can you say about the role of technology here. Haraway clearly has something to say about the ‘cyborg’, but how does that kind of relationship with technology relate to contemporary political exchanges? How is technology involved in the expression, or indeed the control over, race, sexuality or class?

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Comment on Fear versus promise by jknox

Interesting post here Eli, and a nice connection between scifi and ‘the day to day’ of education technology.

I think this is one of the key things we are trying to explore in this course: whether ideas from scifi films or literature can ‘bleed down’ and influence our ideas about technology. It seems here that the surveillance of 1984 becomes the way that the ‘data capture’ of video lectures is understood. In that sense, the ideas from 1984 might provide a useful frame for taking a critical stance on lecture capture.

I suppose one could imagine that the next step after video capture is the student rating of videos, and perhaps the next step after that is the using of ratings to measure teaching performance?

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Comments from mthies

The march towards the replacement of cheap menial labour gathers pace. Millions of unskilled works would probably watch this with both wonder and a growing sense of trepidation. However, seen another way, witnessing these robots in action should be a signal to anybody that life long learning and development is the only way to stave off eventual replacement by a machine. As educators we should also not be too complacent as the capability by AI’s to teach perhaps only basic skills may be upon us sooner than we think.

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Comment on Lifestream, Tweets by Renee Furner

Thanks for your comment, Jeremy. You are quite right, the link to cybercultures is tenuous at best! Having recently readSiân Bayne’s (2015) paper, I was more focused on the ‘what is wrong with technology’ criticism of TEL terminology (i.e. narratives which separate technology from social practice). Here the connection is, as you have highlighted, more directly linked to our block on algorithmic cultures. I guess, though, in my mind there is also a loose connection (not made in my post!) between these new ‘smart’ toys and those of J.F. Sebastian in Blade Runner. I find that world to be quite a lonely one, where human-human friendships are replaced by human-machine ones.

Also, there’s the idea of enhancement, in that if we extend the discussion beyond toys with voice recognition that collect data and ‘speak back’ to include the full range of digital technologies marketed at children, we encounter dialogues which position the said toys as necessary for children’s development of digital literacies and future life opportunities, and which will enhance their cognitive growth. As Bayne (2015, p. 11) highlights, such narratives of cognitive enhancement create ‘a discursive link with transhumanism’.

On this last point, a friend who is parent to an eleven-year-old and a seven-year-old in Hong Kong recently raised her concerns about the pressures placed on parents (I would say largely by corporate marketing but also from within education and between parents) to future-proof their children through giving them access to digital tools, and programmes which teach them to code, for example. My friend argued that it was more important to focus on developing distinctly human qualities, such as empathy and imagination, but that her focus on this was at odds with the educational and cultural perspectives surrounding her. While I don’t disagree with the need for development of empathy and imagination, I also don’t see (digital) technology-rich environments as necessarily limiting these. There still seems to be a this or that / technological or human / scientific or creative tension at play, which is reflective of the human / cyborg opposition within much of cyberpunk. To me, there seems to be room for more non-binary thinking within discussions of who we (or our children) might be as humans in the future/within an age so enmeshed in digital technologies.

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Old Meets New

I suppose this is an odd picture to include in my blog this week, but when I stopped to take in the beauty of it, it struck me as symbolic of our topic. The seahorse is an ancient and beautifully engineered natural creature. It is inquisitive, mobile, it grows, and it has a sense of survival. It also possesses an internal “clock” that regulates every activity it must engage in to survive. The watch represents the technology we use to govern almost every aspect of our lives. From eating to procreating to daily activities, we rely on technology to keep us on a proper bearing.

This week we are discussing the creation of new “life” in the form of robots, androids and other types of technology. Into these “lifeforms” we will put programming that allows inquisition and learning. Robots and androids will be mobile and have a sense of of survival (antivirus, etc.). The only human activity a robot cannot duplicate at this time is procreation, although there are some models that seem to be able to engage in simulated sexual activity.

Also, see in the watch face part of the reflection of the seahorse, but not entirely.  Is this symbolic of what happens when we create AI that can duplicate us?  Robots and other types of androids can resemble humans, but the image of ourselves we see in them is not quite complete.  Philosophers can go nuts with this.

A question that comes to mind here, for me, is when do the natural processes that have allowed man to survive for thousands of years end, and new technologies begin? Or, in what way does technology have more governance of our lives than our innate abilities?

#mscedc

Using Holograms in the Classroom

Using holograms, or HumaGrams, in the classroom is becoming one of the latest techniques to get information to students using technology that is engaging and enjoyable.  The attached article describes how a Russian company has created holographic programs that allow students to interact with curriculum.  Specifically, one program brings into view the molecular action of molecules in such a way students may manipulate them and learn how they work. The video from YouTube looks at several late technology methods of classroom instruction, especially holograms.

 

http://www.cio.com/article/3150963/education/making-holograms-in-the-classroom-a-reality.html

 

Comment on Lifestream, Tweets by jknox

Great article to bring in here, I really like Ben Williamson’s work. I was wondering how you were linking this to the ‘cybercultres’ themes? I can certainly see how this will link to our algorithmic cultures block later in the course – worth keeping it in mind for then.

Thinking about your post on ethics and AI (from Ghost in the Shell), there might be something in thinking about how this article points to other (and more critical perhaps!) ethical perspectives. Rather than thinking about the ‘human rights’ of the machine (the classic ‘cyberculture’ kind of position), we might think about the ethics of human/machine relations. The ones described here – the accounting of participation, the normalisation of linear progress, the persistent comparison of human behaviour to data sets – seem to be relations with significant ethical dimensions.

Where technology influences culture (and clearly vice versa), should we be talking more about ‘ethical relations’ than assigning ‘rights’?

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Comment on Ethics in the age of androids and cyborgs by jknox

Excellent to reflect on Ghost in the Shell here Renée (and in your other post), it’s a classic! The sequel is good too, but the original film is pretty hard to beat. I might go and see the Hollywood remake (supposedly this year), but it might spoil it!

Memory seems to be a key theme in this kind of SciFi doesn’t – Bladerunner as you say is another classic example here. I can’t help thinking it is a bit of an easy slippage to equate what we (humans) experience as memory, and the kind of data storage we find in computers. I tweeted a panel talk from John Searle and Luciano Floridi earlier this week (https://t.co/VRUXpQi47V) which offers a useful critique of AI. Searle’s (rather classic) ‘Chinese room’ argument is that computers can only deal with syntax (the arrangement of symbols), whereas ‘us’ humans necessarily also deal with semantics (meanings behind and connected to symbols).

In that sense, machines are immensely powerful, but quite stupid. I wonder then, is there a more pressing need for ‘ethics’? Not for some imagined intelligent machine, but for the increasing use of rather stupid machines to make decisions on our behalf? Might be a good way into critiquing TEL there…

Also, I couldn’t get tube chop to work, but I know the scene well. Hadn’t thought about it in particular before, but it is compelling isn’t it? Is it perhaps that the hacked garbage collector had lost his ‘authenticity’ as a human, because his memories had been replaced. In that sense he was seen as rather pathetic because he was no longer human, going by the general premise that memories make us human.

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Comments from mthies

While there may be some benefits to our online security that come from this type of technology, overall, it is yet another example of enhanced analytics tracking, recording and profiling even more portions of our lives. To my mind, the question of the ethical repercussions of such action will be going on for some time and is not the real issue. The major problem I have is the laissez faire attitude of consumers and future users of digital services who wont mind a jot that this goes on. In fact many will actively encourage it and rejoice in its ability. Im probably at risk of being cast as a Luddite but the risk of this data being used for manipulation and subtle, unconscious coercion is not beyond doubt and mostly I dont trust human greed and the need for power to stay away from abusing it.

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Comments from atsui

Bang on.

I would be interested in how technology was defined in the survey or in the minds of the students when they answered. It’s such a broad term that it makes impossible to actually figure out what is meant. Is a student using a laptop in a lecture using technology? A calculator? Looking at a projector? Where does the line get drawn?

I also came up with some other ways to critique the survey. First of all it is only drawing upon American College students for its sample. Perhaps students in other nations feel different?

Secondly, students did not identify technology usage as the attribute they thought was most likely to help them find a job.
“When asked to identify skills that make them attractive job seekers, students are more likely to cite their interpersonal skills (78 percent) than any other attribute, including grades/GPA (67 percent), a degree in a marketable field (67 percent) and internship experience (60 percent).”
So I don’t think this backs up the argument that students are demanding more tech use in the class room.

Thirdly, it is always worth questioning whether the purpose of a degree is to make one ready for a career. When there’s so much debt attached to studying and most people’s way out of debt is through labour then it is hard to make this argument but that doesn’t mean it is a given that degrees are for finding jobs.

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Kepler Revisited

In 1619 Kepler wrote a treatise whereby he used mathematical and music formulas to show the planets and other celestial bodies produced music of their own as they traveled thru space.  Here is an example of that…

#mscedc

Comments from mthies

Although this piece of technology is being presented playfully its probably going to find its way into the market at some stage and will be lauded as the next ‘cool’ tech to have. Referencing Miller (2011) using this and similar devices is setting humans on a path to a cyborg nation without many probably even realizing it! I dont believe that the dark fictional wet-ware type integration between human bodies and electronics will ever catch on (ala Borg from Star Trek ) as the aesthetics of technology will trump any usefulness by almost all except the most hardcore of technologists. Instead it will be more along this style of design and may well be a combination of all manner of devices into an all seeing, all knowing, all sensing and full experience delivering devive

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Comments from cmiller

“Out of interest, what is it about this type of digital interaction that you are finding motivating?”

The background of other people, who are looking at the same subjects and coming up with radically different ideas. Some are clearly well practiced scholars, who know how to write in an academic voice, some are not. But all see things that I can use in my blog posts with my own voice. The fact too that despite all our differences in experiences, motivations and ambitions, we are all pulling in the same direction, as a community. We’re free to drop in at any point, comment, have our own posts commented on. It’s an incubation period at the moment perhaps, but I really enjoy the discussion around the ideas, and the forming of what might yet become a holistic view on the subjects raised which would never be possible to achieve if you were operating in isolation.

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Comments from cmiller

I really do not like looking at twitter, or perhaps I just have to become accustomed to it. It used to be such a simple, almost elegant piece of design and it’s now just a cluttered mess of adverts, promotions. The direct messaging works well enough, but holding an asynchronous discussion via the main twitter feed is tricky compared to less crowded areas such as this blog comment section; a moodle forum, or even Facebook. It could be an issue of familiarity.

Twitter is good for bookmarking links though now that IFTTT is working smoothly. I’ll certainly go back and try to put a sentence or two of context with the links I have been sharing.

The idea of me doing my week in VR hasn’t gone too well so far. I haven’t managed to get it all set up. I’ll hopefully get to that tonight.

Thanks for the feedback. You didn’t comment on my note on constructivist activity. Given the feedback I had on my essay, I’ll assume that I need to go back and read some more on that subject before I can use it comfortably in conversation.

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Comment from Clare

Hi Clare,

That is a really interesting article.

I don’t know if its coincidence but I have been noticing quite a lot of similar stories in the news this week about technology being used to advance healthcare.

If recent news is to be believed then we could increase our lifespan through technology assisted medicine rather than mechanical parts.

Do you think that is still cyborg-esque?

When I think of cyborgs I picture a character similar to the one in this week’s video ‘We only attack ourselves’. But what if there is no immediate visual sign of technology present?

Stuart

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Comment from Helen

This is a really fantastic weekly summary Helen!

Great to see you reflecting on your specific lifestream items, and drawing this together into themes.

Binaries, dualisms, and oppositions seem to found everywhere don’t they? Perhaps they are ways of ordering the world that we find useful, or even comforting. They rarely seem to account for the nuance and complexity of the world around us, I’d argue.

Interesting ideas here around the combativeness of posthumanism too. Braidotti’s The Posthuman (http://ift.tt/2kGHEUi), if you can get hold of it, might be a good read here, given that she describes critical posthumanism as the end of the opposition between humanism and anti-humanism. Nevertheless, I do see your point here, and the critical here may tend towards the confrontational. I wonder, though, if some of that is warranted, given the discrimination with which a ‘Eurocentric humanism’ has exported and privileged a particular model of human being, to the detriment of all others.

Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

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Comments from chills

Fantastic summary here Cathy!

Great to see you referencing specific lifestream items, and reflecting so interestingly on your EDC explorations in week 2.

The whole earth catalogue is a great link for our discussions of ‘cybercultures’: technology framed directly as an alternative space. You rightly identify the critical angle here around utopian thinking, and the tendencies that have masked much of Silicon Valley’s alignment with questionable social practices.

Can we make a link here with calls for ‘learning cultures’ that call for personalised technology, or social networks that challenge the hierarchy of the institution?

‘Fake news’ is a nice link here, and highly relevant to our third block on algorithmic cultures. Look forward to surfacing more of this discussion then. It is certainly topical!

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Comment on Enhanced – discourse and other pretty bots by jknox

Really enjoyed this Chenée!

This was a fantastic idea – to undertake a bit of a micro-ethnography/discourse analysis of BETT, drawing on Bayne’s TEL critique (2014), and I really like the way you approached it. We’ll be doing more around micro-ethnography in the next block!

Really liked your comments on Snapchat filters too. I think this is such an interesting area (and one we’ll perhaps touch on in block 3 when we look at algorithms): automated visuals that change our appearance. It reminds me of the ‘selfie’ camera on one of my phones (a Xiaomi), which helpfully tells you your gender and your age when you look into it. Of course, its hilarious, because it usually gets it completely wrong. However, really fascinating issues around normalising gender and age appearances.

Great to see that you bumped into my colleague too!

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Comment on Performativity and collapse of context in an educational space. Week 2 by jknox

This is a really interesting post Chenée, and performativity is certainly a productive way of analysing lifestream blogs on this course. Do remember, however, that the focus of these weekly summaries should be directed at your lifestream content specifically, rather than general reflect on the course. We need to see how you are explaining your lifestream choices each week.

Nevertheless, this is a super reflection, and one that definitely has a place in your blog. The nature of what we’re trying to do with the lifestream – logging our activity on the web – necessarily blurs the boundaries between our ‘learner’ and our ‘social’ identities (amongst others). I do feel that we need to curate our lifestream, as part of showing our awareness of how we present ourselves, and our activities, online. Working on the public web as we are on this course will encourage more of a ‘content collapse’ than other courses, however we should be making choices about what is relevant.

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Comments from Linzi

Useful summary here Linzi!

Glad to hear that you are more enthusiastic about your lifestream after week 2. Do try to remember that you need to reference and discuss your specific lifestream items in the summary – it should be your chance to say what you added in the previous week and why you have added it.

The issue of aggression is really interesting. I’d encourage you to try and frame this in educational terms, perhaps looking specifically at the readings in this block and making connections with the ideas expressed there. How might the theme of ‘cyberculture’ frame issues of behaviour online, and what kind of assumptions might we carry into education?

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Comments from cmiller

Hello Colin, thanks for sharing this video and the accompanying post.

I’ve watched the first ten minutes of the video and am enjoying it. I wonder whether it would be possible to bring some of the ideas alongside the content from the readings? If you’re finding the readings challenging (although I see you’ve already tackled Hayles so well done on that), you might want to start with those by Miller and by Bayne as I think some of their ideas come through quite clearly and might lend themselves to thinking about some of the ideas in your blog. Bear in mind you can always revisit an idea or post in your blog – it’s your blog, after all.

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Comments from cmiller

Hello Colin, thanks for a nicely clear summary.

‘Reading and commenting on other blog posts has been a great motivator’

Out of interest, what is it about this type of digital interaction that you are finding motivating? And how does it compare to your interaction on Twitter which has featured in your lifestream but you don’t mention?

As you know I’m going to spend more time commenting on ideas within your blog in the coming weeks, however I just wanted to say not to worry if you don’t feel you can grasp all the ideas in the readings just yet. Some of the ideas we are confronting within this early section of the course are quite challenging whilst at the same time being new to many of the group. This being the case I would be surprised if you *didn’t* find some of the ideas quite challenging to comprehend (which they are).

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Comment from rpoor-hang

Hi Roxane, great to see that your lifestream summaries are under way!

Sorry to hear that you’ve had technical difficulties with the lifestream, do please get in touch with me directly if you need guidance for using IFTTT, very happy to help you get set up with a couple of feeds.

Twitter would be a great start. Remember that you do have some control here – within IFTTT you will be able to define the kind of Twitter content that goes in to your lifestream. You might limit it to Tweets with the course hashtag, for example.

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Comment from Clare

Superb summary post here Clare!

You are referencing and explaining specific lifestream content, and drawing together relevant and interesting themes. Nice work.

Hand’s ‘narratives of promise and threat’ paper in this blocks readings will reflect your utopian and dystopian themes, as would Johnston’s ‘Salvation or destruction: Metaphors of the Internet’, a bit of a classic if you ask me: http://ift.tt/2jOTHhq

I think you centre in on a rather productive critical perspective here: when we continue to see technology as utopian (it is making our lives better) or dystopian (it is challenging our authentic humanness), we often miss important analytical frames. The relationship between ‘Ed Tech’ and business is certainly a critical perspective that is often overlooked.

Really interesting reflection on marginalisation here too. I wonder if we couldn’t see the opposite here too? If the cyborg is about enhancement, wouldn’t its technological mixings be limited to those that can afford them? The ‘digital divide’ might also encompass those who are affluent enough to be ‘enhanced’. Aren’t those that can use search engines on their mobile devices already hugely advantaged in terms of getting hold of information and knowledge?

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Comment on Week 2 Synthesis by jknox

Useful summary Daniel!

Good to hear that you are now happy with your blog, and well done for persisting with the organisation and customisation. These first two weeks are definitely an opportunity to experiment, and you’re now hopefully in a good place to work on the content.

Remember that the weekly summaries should be direct reflections on your lifestream content from the previous week – why you added specific videos or tweets, and how they relate to your thinking about the course. Try to get that kind of focus in future summaries.

Perhaps you could tweet specific posts that you’d like to get comments on? I’m sure people will respond to a request!

‘1.) Record a cybernetics inspired spoken word improvised music piece with my band.’

This sounds fantastic! We’re definitely trying to encourage audio (as well as visual) responses to the course themes, so this would be a superb addition to the block.

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Comments from smilligan

Hello Stuart, thanks for a very clear weekly summary. And well done this week for tackling the course readings and weaving the ideas into your blog.

‘I’ve been considering old ways of life and how they have been modernised by use of technology.’

My eye was caught by your reference to ‘old ways of life’ and wondered whether you needed to unpick this a bit. I’m not immediately disagreeing but if you could perhaps link it to a particular bit of content from your blog I’ll follow it up there. I’ve been enjoying reading (and commenting) on different parts of your blog just now so perhaps I’ll find the connection (as I did with your references to Sterne and also to digital inequality). However if you could do a bit of ‘signposting’ that would help a little bit (and means I don’t miss out on reading something you’ve been working in).

Again, thanks for the weekly summary which looks like a good record of what’s been happening in your lifestream this week.

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Comments from smilligan

Hello Stuart, Daniel – I’ve enjoyed reading your conversation here.

I’m glad that Sterne is including in the reading for the EDC course because I do think that sound is often under-considered, particularly in comparison to the visual. In fact I think this is reflected in what you have both said here, the sense that sound isn’t always fully attended to or investigated or though-through. Possibly of interest, you might have seen from Jeremy’s video introduction at the beginning of week 3 that we are keen to invite pieces of music in response to some of the ideas we are exploring here: perhaps you might suggest a song in response to Sterne, for instance?

‘I have also been considering the histiography of cyberculture that Sterne proceeds to investigate. He mentions transition from analogue to digital – To that I’d add digital immigrants to digital natives, human to cyborg, offline to online and physical to virtual.’

I don’t always think that talking in terms of transitions around technology is always very helpful. I can see why it’s convenient or helpful to do this in order to recognise change, however I think there’s the danger of suggesting clear cut binaries, whereas in reality I think we see a more complicated (and maybe untidy) co-existence of digital and analogue, online and offline, and so on. That said, I recently read that Norway was about to switch off FM radio in favour of digital so maybe things are a little more clear cut in some places after all!

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Comments from smilligan

Thanks for this thoughtful post, Stuart. And well done also for weaving-in ideas from the reading by Hand.

Something I particularly like about your work here is the recognition of the complexity surrounding the digital and education and society. As we’ve touched on during the film festival, technology so often seems to be framed in a utopian/dystopian binary: in contrast you expressed your own enthusiasm for the digital whilst recognising that it also has its darker side. At the same time you’ve made the point (by drawing on Hand) that we need to see digital technologies as enmeshed with society and human, rather than imagine that they exist in some form of vacuum.

I was also intrigued by your point about inequality and I imagine this idea might resurface in the other blocks within the course. Your anecdote reminds us that we need to be really careful in making sweeping judgements about access to technology within education. We so often hear a technological determinist position which argues that education needs to adapt in order to keep up with the technical interests and abilities of learners: but in this clamour to embrace the digital, who gets left behind? I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to see Dirk’s blog however like you he has been exploring ideas around inequality and society and seems to be making the point that the effects of transhumanism might not be felt equally across society.

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Comment on Weekly round-up: Week 2 by jknox

Really nice summary Eli!

It’s good to hear this feedback about IFTTT. It’s not perfect, but it does seem to have the kind of flexibility we need for the lifestream in this course: being able to add feeds from a wide range of sources.

I really liked some of the topics discussed here. This division between technology as a legitimate aid or a necessity is interesting, isn’t it? One might think about that in terms of where we situate the boundary between the human and the technology: the former seems to imply an authentic human ability, which the technology seems to ‘enhance’, while the latter doesn’t seem to be as clear. If the task cannot be done by humans alone (number crunching huge amounts of data, for example), it seems to indicate something more like the entangled condition that Bayne (2014) discusses? If we can’t perform a task without technology, then, when we get the tech that does it for us, we change our behaviour as a result, right?

Great to see you experimenting with the format here. It seemed pretty well done to me, although I guess I was focusing more on the audio than the visual. I recommend thinking about the 250 word length guidelines here, and how they might translate into a summary of this sort. Everything you were talking about here was relevant and interesting though, but do try to stay within the discipline.

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Comments from mthies

Hi James,

Thanks for the comprehensive feedback. I was a little worried it was going to be somewhat inaudible but it seems to have been okay. Admittedly, I was intentionally trying to mimic a comically cyborg type voice so as to drive home the overarching theme of high level AI’s in this part of the course. I was also cogniscant of your advice to try different mediums and spun this together with a consistent thinking from one of the secondary readings.

The reference to digitally representative versions of ourselves is definitely in reference to that which we will see directly. But in considering this further we are seeing this with our current, limited view. I imagine that 20, 30 or even 50 years from now there will be ways of perceiving others that goes to a level we cant even begin to fathom yet as the limits of electronic based technology begins to be overtaken by organic engineering. Learning through the actual gifting of experience could be much closer and wouldn’t require us to learn anything the ‘hard’way again!

I didn’t even pick up on the avatar headshot and the voice. Very nice!

Thank you again!

Myles

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Comments from mthies

Upon reading Sterne (, J (2006) The historiography of cyberculture, chapter 1 of Critical cyberculture studies. New York University Press. pp.17-28. ) I was immediately struck by the fact that up until now there was little investigation into the non visual aspect of high technology in media and culture. Science Fiction is traditionally very visually stimulating as its job is to conjure radically different visions of futures best understood through a lens. But we are probably missing a good portion of the experience of the future of human existence by dismissing sound, feeling, smells even. All these things will exist in future so they should receive their own amount of focus at some stage too.

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Comment on Watching https://t.co/wXl8P9SUOO the key = ‘correctly’ (2:01 mins in). But what does it mean/look like? Cf. https://t.co/BgN7Z5Nlka #mscedc by msleeman

Thanks, James – and, any others, either as visitors or exhibitors, what was it like as an event? I’d not anticipated some might be exhibitors: that, to my mind, widens the aperture quite a bit. Up until now, I’d only thought about people going to ‘consume’ the show, not to ‘produce’ it. The interface there is especially interesting.

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Comment on Week 2 Summary by jknox

Super summary here Renée,

The DeBaets paper looks great, thanks for sharing that, it’s now on my reading list! Transhumanism, for me, trends to inherit something of the Eurocentric humanism that has privileged a particular model of human being (white, male, rational), and assumed this to be an underlying authentic kind of universalism. From that position, ‘enhancement’ through technological means is rather specific, and limited, and directed towards particular ideas around cognition, and reason.

So, it is great to see you reflecting on some of the ethical issues surfaced in ‘cybercultures’. The normalising of particular human conditions seems to be apparent here doesn’t it? certainly, that would be one productive way of analysing the film clips we have viewed. If you can get hold of Braidotti’s book ‘The Postman’ (http://ift.tt/2kGHEUi), that provides some good critical post humanist perspectives in this area.

Following Helen, I liked your final point her about asking questions about the ‘purpose’ of using technology. This reflect Bayne’s point about the commitments and values we have for teaching, I think, and how we might bring these to bear own our decisions about technology use.

Coming back to the politics of Transhumanism – for which I really need to read that paper! – there is something to be said here for ‘taking a position’ in relation to humanism. This is precisely where critical posthumanism differs from anti-humanism: it’s not necessarily a rejection of all those Eurocentric, essentialist ideas, but rather an opportunity to (re)evaluate them. That, to me, sounds like an ethical way of working with the theory.

Well, lots to make me think here, thank you! Now, must get on to reading your analysis of Ghost in the Shell, sounds interesting!

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Digital String Quartet…amazing… https://t.co/2Vrpz6gwlZ #mscedc

Using several helicopters and musicians and sound recording techs in each one, digital music is presented in a most unusual form.  The sounds of the helicopters are digitalized and emitted into a musical arrangement.  This is only a short video but it captures another facet of converting the components of high tech machinery into a beautiful digital arrangement of music.

#mscedc

 

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Comments from mthies

Thanks for sharing this, Myles, it’s absolutely fascinating. I wonder, would you be able to add a short bit of metadata – just some notes, to contextualise this? Looking across the blogs I think we’ve been under-considering the aural dimension so it would be nice to give this a short explanatory note to open it up to the group.

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Comments from mthies

Hello Myles, thanks for this fascinating and thoughtful weekly summary. I found the delivery – in your cyborg-voice – compelling.
I’ve just listened to it three times in-a-row. I think this really effectively shows how within digital educational environments there are particular opportunities to match the medium with the meaning, so that something like your voice becomes in itself a critical device. We’re all for this in the EDC course.

This is possibly by accident, but what I also liked was the contrasting representation between your own Soundcloud avatar and the ‘not-quite-human’ voice. While both are digital in that they depend on sophisticated processors and calculations, there was something about the juxtaposition that made me think about both the papers by Bayne and Miller in the way that they point to the complex nature of the relationship between human and technology.

In your summary I was particularly interested in your suggestion that:

‘In a future that will be dominated by more digitally representative versions of ourselves’

I wondered whether you meant this in specifically visual form, or whether you were alluding to ideas around machine intelligence and emotion, touching on some of the themes that have emerged during our film tutorial discussions? As time allows, I would be interested to read – or indeed, hear – more of your thoughts on this.

Meanwhile, I’m going to listen to the soundclip again.

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Comments from Schwindenhammer

Hello Dirk,

Thanks for this video. You’ll have to forgive me if I’ve misunderstood what you had in mind, however I really like the point you’re making that we need to see the digital (whether that be ideas around transhumanism or whatever) as part of a society more generally: as you say, ’no digital without social.’

Your video seems to challenge those who would excitedly proclaim the possibilities of digital technology without seeing how they might be subject to, or perpetuate, inequality. If the technologies exist that can transform education/what is means to be human, who has access to these technologies, whether through wealth or opportunity? When we talk about embracing digital technology in education, who gets left behind?

If time allows, I’d be really interested to hear your own thoughts on the video – a director’s commentary 😉 – which isn’t to say that it doesn’t stand alone or need explanation: I’m just intrigued.

Thanks again,

James

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Comment from Helen

Hello Helen.

By coincidence I just commented on Matthews’s blog (where he talks about the BETT show) speculating on whether any of the group who attended the event would have had their experience affected by reading Bayne’s article in advance: and here you are reflecting on the same experience!

‘This perception is a key reason why technology adoption fails: questions about how technology and practice are complexly intertwined and how technologies necessarily change, affect, and radically alter processes and behaviours are infrequently considered.’

This really struck a chord with me and I think emphasises how important it is that we think critically around the digital and education, rather than defaulting to ideas around technologies satisfying educational outcomes.

What your reflections here also remind me is that the relationship between education and technology is subject to a range of interests beyond developing understanding: profit, a culture of performativity and so on. Without having attended the BETT show, I wonder whether the framing of ‘technology as tools for achieving education goals’ reflects the interests or pressures of those attending: the need to show results.

Talking more generally about your weekly review, I’ll be interested to read more about your recipes next week – in fact I think your critical reflection on the BETT show merited a separate blog post in its own right. All the same interesting reading and I’m looking forward to dipping into your blog as the week unfolds.

James

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Comments from npainter

Hello Dirk,

Thanks for this video. You’ll have to forgive me if I’ve misunderstood what you had in mind, however I really like the point you’re making that we need to see the digital (whether that be ideas around transhumanism or whatever) as part of a society more generally: as you say, ’no digital without social.’

Your video seems to challenge those who would excitedly proclaim the possibilities of digital technology without seeing how they might be subject to, or perpetuate, inequality. If the technologies exist that can transform education/what is means to be human, who has access to these technologies, whether through wealth or opportunity? When we talk about embracing digital technology in education, who gets left behind?

If time allows, I’d be really interested to hear your own thoughts on the video – a director’s commentary 😉 – which isn’t to say that it doesn’t stand alone or need explanation: I’m just intrigued.

Thanks again,

James

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Comment on Jarvis AI: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know https://t.co/nwmg9u9AZg Using technology as subservient here, responding to life’s needs. #mscedc by jlamb

Hello Joy, I think this would help with a short explanatory note – what the Course Handbook refers to as metadata – offering a short explanation as to why you included it in your lifestream. For instance, what does it have to say about some of the course themes we are exploring in this block? Alternatively you might approach it as a blog post in its right, perhaps relating the content of the article to some of the readings – Miller (2011) for instance?

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Comment on Making robots more human by jlamb

When you say ‘difficult’, Joy, do you mean hard to achieve technically (for instance, ‘how can we programme emotion into this robot?’) rather than human characteristics that can be problematic e.g. emotion, feelings?

And out of interest, what is it about the Bender and Gumdrop characters that made you like them m