I’ve been studying all things algorithms this week and found it to be a massively complex yet fascinating topic. It almost feels as if it would be impossible to fully comprehend the scale and spread of algorithms and the influence they have on our daily lives.
To that end, this week’s content on my Lifestream blog has helped me to start make sense of it.
My ‘How algorithms rule the world‘ post helped me gain some perspective about how computer based algorithms can affect the physical lives of every day users. I firstly considered this from an educational point of view however my thinking expanded somewhat after considering the policing example within the article. I now feel that algorithmic culture has a direct influence on societal culture.
I am fascinated not only with the use of algorithms to benefit large volumes of people, but also their role in predicting the future based on likelihood and probability. This theme was touched upon in my cyberpunk-related post with a reference from Red Dwarf.
My final two entries explored social factors (podcast) and big data influence (lecture) when experiencing algorithms on the internet. It was exciting to then have the opportunity to extend this knowledge into my final task.
My studying for the week concluded with a mini-experiment that I conducted in partnership with Chenée. This was a great opportunity to learn first-hand about the amalgamation of social and material factors in influencing an online experience. Our findings complimented Enyon (2013) in that our options are often influenced by the trends set by the wider, global population.
Enyon, R. (2013). The rise of Big Data: what does it mean for education, technology, and media research? Learning, Media and Technology 38(3): pp. 237-240.
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’be spent much of my time this week “lurking” in my MOOC looking for some inspiration to base my micro-ethnography on. I’ve been toying with a couple of idea throughout the week but still remain slightly indecisive. The Baggaley (2014) reading had me considering taking a metaphoric approach to my ethnography, however the Fournier et al (2014) paper had me fascinated by the idea that a community within a MOOC is fabricated by a rich and complex mass of people with differing motivations and agendas – and as such, I feel it may be better to study it on it’s own merits.
Anyway, I call this week’s theme “Backstage”. I have been trying to look under the bonnet of my MOOC and turn my attentions to what could be going on behind the scenes rather than what first meets the eye. This was prompted by me noticing some behaviours of MOOC participants that would suggest that they are there for other reasons than to learn about IoT. The course leader kindly informed me that a whopping 8566 people are currently enrolled on the MOOC. Based on this I was able to put the size of the discussion forums into perspective and appreciate just now many “lurkers” and “newbies” are taking a passive interest in the MOOC.
I’ve also been considering what influence (if any) factors such as course design, activities and assessment are having on the community. I have noticed some closed question discussion forum prompts that are making communications between learners difficult. However I have noticed that the learners with the most “likes” on their comments often pose questions and offer experience of their own to start discussions of their own. This probably explains why I often think of the IoT MOOC as a connectivist/constructivist hybrid.
Baggaley, J. (2014). MOOCs: digesting the facts. Distance Education 35(2): pp. 159-163.
Fournier, H., Kop, R., and Durand, G. (2014). Challenges to research in MOOCs. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching 10(1): pp. 1-15.
Things have progressed a little slower than I would have liked this week – mainly because I had a bad cold and a busy week at work. I have however, made some pleasing progress with the course readings.
I found the Kozinets (2010) chapter very interesting and could relate to it by comparing my own experiences – of which I have blogged about. The aspects of online communities that he referenced in his publication is of high relevance to the themes that I am hoping to investigate with my micro-ethnography. I spent a little time investigating communities out with a learning environment to understand the dynamic and interaction between members of different online communities. I was able to reinforce some key themes raised by both Kozinets (2010) and Stewart (2013).
I have made some important progress with the ethical considerations for my micro-ethnography in contacting the MOOC facilitator and provider to obtain permission to conduct my research. The responses that I received would perhaps suggest that requests of this nature are quite common. I shared my findings with my peers via the Digital Education Hub in case they could be of any help to anyone else enrolled on a FutureLearn course. I am now confident that I have covered all angles and am ready to progress with my research. It is my intention, however, to check with James and Jeremy just to make sure.
I also enjoyed another group tutorial this week. I always find it really useful to hear other students thoughts and opinions around digital communities and use it as an ideal opportunity to ask my tutors questions.
Kozinets, R. V. (2010). Understanding Culture Online. In Netnography: doing ethnographic research online. (London, Sage): pp. 21-40.
Stewart, B. (2013). Massiveness + Openness = New Literacies of Participation? Journal of Online Learning and Teaching 9(2): pp. 228-238.
Week 4 has been my quietest week of lifestream activity yet but the week has certainly been one of the busiest. This is largely due to me tackling two of the core readings by Knox (2015) and Lister et al (2009).
I spent some time browsing and considering a wide and varied range of MOOCs to enrol on that I will ultimately base my work throughout Block 2 on. Eventually I settled on ‘The Internet of Things’ facilitated by Kings College London and delivered via FurureLearn. I chose this course as I felt I had at least a little prior knowledge of the subject to make sense of things as I progress through the course.
I blogged about my first impressions of the MOOC and my observations on the (large) community that has already formed within it. Already I am wondering if my observations are clouded by my own experience of the tight-knit community that my peers and I enjoy on the MSc Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. In comparison the MOOC students seem largely anonymous and insignificant to each other.
My Lifstream blog also includes some relevant news stories that have coincidentally appeared on the BBC news app throughout the week. I have explained why I think they are relevant to the core readings that I have completed so far.
I was late in accessing the EDC17 group on the hub, however I started communicating as soon as I was able to. Next week I hope to continue my readings and further consider how I am going to approach my ethnography.
Knox, J. (2015). Algorithmic Cultures. Excerpt from Critical Education and Digital Cultures. In Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. M. A. Peters (ed.). DOI 10.1007/978-981-287-532-7_124-1
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.
It’s hard to believe that Block 1 of the course is drawing to a close already. 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.
This week I enjoyed the group tutorial on Google Hangouts. It was good to put some faces to names and to discuss the course with my peers. It was handy to have the opportunity to discuss the visual artefact as it had been playing on my mind for a while.
Nevertheless, when it came down to it I really enjoyed creating my artefact. I guess the main reason that I was struggling was over the decision of what theme to cover. I mentioned during the tutorial that my head is full of new and interesting issues about cybercultures and it was difficult to filter through my thoughts to focus on one theme.
In the end I decided on the themes of cyborgs and the influence that cybernetics currently has over the human race and where pogress could take us in the future. My decision was inspired by the contents of an earlier blog post where I touched on the idea of collaborative thinking.
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.
This week I have been continuing making my way through the reading list for Block 1 and further exploring cybercultures.
I enjoyed our second group session on Togethertube and initially I found the viewings a little harder to make sense of compared to last week. However, after watching them a few times I noticed some similarities between them. The majority of clips demonstrated machines/robots communicating in a human like manner and being capable of humanlike independent thought – certainty far more advanced then the binary operation usually associated with them.
I’ve also spend some more time in thinking about the impact technology has had on life and culture. I’ve been considering old ways of life and how they have been modernised by use of technology. Some tasks have been made more efficient, some quicker, some cheaper, some have replaced people all together.
I have been giving some attention to virtual reality and how our senses can be manipulated to have better than life experiences. This was inspired by the Sterne reading and his example of sound being overlooked in favour of virtual artefacts in the creation of virtual worlds.
Furthermore, I have been reflecting on some of the issues surrounding equality and inequality as a result of cyberculture. It is quite overwhelming to think of the influence technology has had over just about everything and scary to realise some problems we have created in pursuit of digital excellence.
The first week of Education and Digital Cultures has been really quite incredible. Not only because I am in awe at the technologies that we have been using but also the idea of cyberculture and posthumanism.
It really does boggle the mind trying to comprehend the influence that technology has on today’s society and culture, both from the perspectives of where we would be without it and the seemingly limitless places that it will take us to. It is just as difficult trying to imagine a boundary where the human race would be willing to slow technological progress and go it alone.
It is well documented that machines can make us bigger, better, faster, stronger and push us well beyond our physical capabilities, but this week I have been considering the spiritual side of machinism. Can what makes us unique and individual be enhanced through technology? There certainly seems to be an expectation that machine intervention will inevitably lead to improvement. However there is a danger that it can damage the qualities in life that make us function as humans (love, compassion, kindness etc).
Perhaps this is why this week I have noticed a paradox in human beings craving advancement but seemingly unwilling to forgo dominance that they have over the universe – and to that end I introduce you to my new friends Siri, Cortana and Alexa.
Machines help us reach limits that we simply wouldn’t be able to reach on our own. But do they help us develop as a race?