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.
It was good to catch up with the group during this week’s Google Hangout. I always really enjoy discussing recent tasks and themes with my peers as I always find a new and interesting points to consider as a result.
One example of such points would be considering the difference between text based communications on Twitter in comparison to those within a MOOC. My hand-drawn diagram within the ‘#mscedc Digital Cacophony – Tweetorial vs MOOC’ post suggests that despite not being purposefully built for education, I found Twitter to be a more suitable forum for group discussion.
Following the Tweetorial I further investigated the need for analytics and big data within education. In the post entitled ‘Big Data, the Science of Learning, Analytics, and Transformation of Education’, Candace Thille noted that online environments encourage students to collaboratively move towards set goals whilst being able to synthesise knowledge to apply in new contexts. It is that ability that held my interest throughout the week and became a consideration that I took into my critical analysis of the Tweetorial.
For my critical analysis I examined the analytical data from the Tweetorial. I found myself comparing my performance to that of my fellow students and documenting my thoughts from both an individual and a collaborative perspective. The data would indicate that I made a lower than average contribution which on initial observation could be interpreted negatively. However I felt that I both contributed and received useful information throughout the activity and constructed new knowledge as a result.
I felt that this week afforded me the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the topics and themes that I have been studying.
Week 9 already! Wow!
This week’s Lifestream activity has been dominated by the group ‘Tweetorial’ in which we investigated some topics and issues highlighted in the recommended viewings and readings. In summarising my Tweetorial activity, I would note that I contributed to discussion threads surrounding the following key themes concerning Big Data and Learning Analytics (LA):
- Ethical considerations
- Social media influence on algorithmic culture
- Big data influence over students
- Algorithmic pattern identification
- Dependence on analytics
I felt it essential to explore the vastness of Big Data and to consider the implications of identifying patterns when it is analysed. I felt that this week’s recommended material focused on either how data was gathered/analysed or the resulting consequences for students. Therefore, I became increasingly interested in the gap between big data and hypotheses and what new knowledge we can discover from the space in between. My ‘Analyzing and modeling complex and big data’ post attempted to address this issue.
Following on from the ‘Tweetorial’ I was motivated to explore some of the issues raised to put them into a relevant context. My ‘Learning Analytics – A code of practice’ post summarised my investigation into a JISC funded LA project in which the project team addressed many (if not all) of my concerns around ethics and student intervention. In hindsight, I had only really considered LA from the perspective of the institution and the learner – not of the individual as a person.
It was another enjoyable week and I’d like to thank my tutors and peers for a very engaging Tweetorial.
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.