Week 4 Summary

In week 4 in Education and Digital Cultures we moved from cyberculture to community cultures, with a reading and preparation week for a micro-ethnography of community within a MOOC commencing in week 5 (today).

The site of much of my posting this week

Posts in my lifestream reflected concerns about how to conduct the micro-ethnography, with a youtube video by a student outlining how to conduct a netnography (Kozinets’ 2002 term for ethnography adapted to the study of online communities) and a video of Kozinets outlining a case study of a netnography for marketing purposes. The former video alluded to the need for caution when declaring your research intentions because it can affect community members willingness to participate. Yet, such a declaration is required ethically (followed up in a post linked to a slide-presentation by Kozinets on the ethics of netnography, and discussion of the risks of ‘decloaking’ anonymised data). The difficulty of declaring research intentions unveiled further concerns about what constitutes an appropriate distance between observer and subject within netnography, which was taken up in Twitter discussion [1, 2, 3] with Chenée Psaros and through reading articles by Hine (2008a, 2008b) and Gatson and Zweerink (2004). The difference between an E3 (Hine, 2015) and a cyberspatial approach to netnography was also briefly investigated.

The notion of community cultures was introduced lightheartedly through a suggestion to Eli Eappleby-Donald that we use Hypothesis to peer annotate web documents for the course, a Twitter shout-out to a friend for advice on what MOOC to focus on, and Timothy Leary’s 1994 prediction that human communication would be taken up by ‘interscreening’. This discussion was deepened through examination of the values, ethos and characteristics of MOOCs, sparked by reading of Stewart’s (2013) paper, and followed up with a youtube clip exploring her earlier (2010) research with McAuley, Siemens & Cormier. Another idea from Stewart’s (2013) paper, that networked learning such as MOOCs can foster the development of participatory cultures and new literacies was interrogated with a focus on what counts as literate with new literacies (and on how these literacies are developed), and the role of meta-level processes in literacy (Belshaw, 2012).

Finally, throughout the week there was discussion between course peers about our visual artefacts [1, 2, 3, 4], which I will continue to comment on this week.


Week 2 Summary

Week two has primarily been focused on the ethical concerns of new technologies. A paper by Amy DeBaets (2011) led me to a greater understanding of how transhumanist perspectives sit across the political spectrum. It was interesting to learn that it is quite possible to be technologically progressive but politically (economically) conservative. Introspection of moral imperatives continued through analysis of Ghost in the Shell, review of discussion between Joi Ito, Scott Dadich and Barack Obama on the moral programming decisions of self-driving cars, and the cultural implications of ‘perfect’ female robots for human female body image. I explored the ethical discomfort further through examination of robot use in Japan, and my subsequent reading of Jenniffer Robbinson’s article on Human Rights vs Robot rights.

Lifestream feeds this week were primarily concentrated upon building community. I’ve been there for peers, offering to test IFTTT streams – it’s strange to see because generally I see myself as less technologically able. I do seem to be able to troubleshoot, mind..  a core educational area in the press this week.

What is clear this week is that technology is not separate from culture. The influence is two ways, and we do need to be proactive in the decisions we make about which technology to use in education. Always, we need to ask.. is there a purpose? What are the consequences? No technology for technology’s sake.