My lifestream blog contains a blend of sourced and composed resources that reflect the key themes of Education and Digital Cultures. To fully explore each theme I conducted a series of practical exercises to gain insight from both an institutional and individual perspective. The content of my blog highlights many different points of view on each theme and is reinforced by experimentation that ultimately allowed me to construct knowledge of each topic through experience.
I was intrigued by cybercultures and the concept of posthumanism. It would appear that the human race is no longer satisfied with colonising digital territories and now seeks to infuse technology with our minds and bodies. I learned of an ethos that digital is better and that mechanical intervention will inevitably lead to progress whilst acknowledging the antithesis and realising that this may not always be the case.
As with most scenarios where the physical and digital worlds intersect there are inevitably ethical considerations to acknowledge. I noticed that ethics was a recurring theme throughout each block of the course, be it the ethics surrounding cyborgs, online communities, and analytics and big data. I learned that that no matter how great and efficient digital cultures make us, we are still human beings with qualities and principles that cannot be expressed digitally – ethics and responsibility being the two most relevant to the course.
Throughout the course I have questioned if, as human beings, we are supposed to benefit as individuals from digitisation – particularly when studying algorithmic cultures. In studying my own performance and analytical data from an online learning activity, I gained experience of the impact that exposure to learning statistics has on students. I realised that whilst big data and analytics support the notion that digital is better, within education this may only ring true for the institution and not the individual. This was an invaluable experience in connecting my understanding of the course themes to the content of my lifestream blog.
On conclusion, one could also observe a shift in digital culture over time. In the early stages the purpose of digitisation was to assist humans to do basic tasks. This gradually evolved into doing machines performing complex tasks and exceeding the limitations of human form. In the present, we are using technology as an alternative form of intelligence and as a tool for efficiency and predicting the future. Certainly, if transhumanism and cyberpunk ideologies come to pass, then the human form will play a lesser role in both education and the wider society.
Lister, M., Dovey, J., Giddings, S., Kelly, K. (2009). Networks, users and economics. In New media: a critical introduction. M. Lister (Eds.) (London, Routledge): pp. 163-236.
This week I have been reading through my Lifestream blog and tidying up my tags and metadata.
In a way I have been analysing some fairly low key learning analytics on myself. After adding and editing the tags on all of my posts I was able to quickly identify and notice the key themes that I have studied over the duration of this course. Until recently I had considered basing my assignment on algorithmic cultures and their influence in shaping digital education. However after reviewing my tags I noticed that over the last 11 weeks I have shown the strongest and most interest in community cultures – particularly within MOOCs. As a student, it was the first time I have been able to use data to make an informed and proactive decision about my studies with no influence from my tutors or the University as an institution.
I used the rest of this week to dabble in some of the less popular themes within my blog, such as the use of music in education. My tweet referencing a blog that draws metaphoric comparisons between MOOCs and music albums killed two birds with one stone. I was able to revisit the music themes whilst exploring the use of metaphors with community culture.
I have also visited the blogs of my peers to see what technologies have been used over the course to create artefacts and ethnographies in the hope to find some inspiration for presenting my digital essay.
During this week’s Google Hangout, James Lamb asked me about the differences between the Tweetorial and the discussion forums within a MOOC and how they each contribute to what I describe as digital cacophony. The above image notes some key differences that I observed whilst participating in each.
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Thanks for such positive feedback!
I think it’s an interesting point you make about the LMS. Something I noticed very early on in my second MOOC was how differently the tool was used and I certainly think that it played a big role in inhibiting interaction.
I was really good to be able to discuss this MOOC with you behind the scenes. The interaction we had , help me identify the key differences in regards to community development and community participation.
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Hi Stuart – and thanks for your comment and generous review!
I’ve added a more wordy, written format of my micro-ethnography, because, as you allude to, there are quite possibly more factors that were influential in the low uptake of communication. The short version:
-it’s a new ‘group’ – it’s probably unrealistic to expect norm formation and relational exchanges, as per Kozinets’ community progression model (2010);
-the MOOC only lasts for 6 weeks at any rate, so it is unlikely that participants anticipate future interaction, and therefore they may remain task oriented (Walther, 1997, cited in Kozinets, 2010, p. 24)
-the course is, like many MOOCs, information oriented, and prescriptive about what needs to be learned. Perhaps real participation needs to be student driven: students deciding what and how they learn (and with whom).
Heading to your blog just now.. Thanks again!
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I LOVE how you have presented this in Sway. It looks great!
I’m jealous that you got to experience two MOOCs. I’ll be honest and say I was tempted to change too.
It is refreshing to read that you had a more positive experience in your other MOOC – particularly because it too was provided via FurureLearn.
I’ve read other ethnographies that suggest the community experience was influenced by the functionality of the LMS – your findings certainly suggest that this may not be the only reason – which has restored my faith in the MOOC somewhat.
I mentioned to James that our interactions behind the scenes helped to make sense of the course. Perhaps if others were afforded the same communications then their experience would be very different.
It is an very interesting point you make about the pace in which people progressed through the two courses. I fully agree that the main reason for this was peoples unwillingness to become involved in the course community.
Great work as always.
(and bonus points for using Sway)
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Fantastic work as always! I love the way you have pulled your findings together.
I also focused on discussion forums for my ethnography and also noticed the affect that limitations of the LMS have over community development.
Would you say there were other factors that played a role in the poor uptake of communication between participants?
Well done again!
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It has been a relatively quiet week on my Lifestream Blog this week as I found myself ploughing my efforts into my micro-ethnography.
However, I would name the theme of the content that I had managed to get up as motivation. Following on from last week’s themes of “backstage” and factors that influence the development of community cultures, this week I have been considering how MOOC participants react to these factors and if their individual motivation for enrolling on a course can influence how well a community develops.
The YouTube video entitled Global Digital Culture: Cultural Differences and the Internet suggests that online spaces aren’t neutral and that they mirror the values of both those who enter these spaces and those who design them. I felt that this video was consistent with the findings of my micro-ethnography in that the scale and wide range of motivators within a MOOC can make community building a difficult task.
I was wary that I may have made a bad choice in deciding on the Internet of Things MOOC for my micro-ethnography and that my experience of the course may influence my decision to attempt another in the future. Therefore the rest of my Lifestream content is comprised of my comments and interactions within the MSCEDC community to draw further conclusions. I am pleased that it certainly appears MOOCs are enjoyable, meaningful and social places if the main motivator is learning.
I really enjoyed reading your work.
I was particularly interested when you said that you would see the course through to completion despite acknowledging that there are things that you find obstructive or off-putting as a learner. I considered motivators and completion rates in my ethnography so it was good to read of your experience.
I also wondered if you felt that the pre-recorded videos felt staged and over enthusiastic? The ones in my MOOC did and it gave a very strange feel.
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