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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