Apr 102014
 

Welcome – Jeff Hayward

Jeff is noting how this is the twelfth annual elearning@ed event, and that’s a really notable length of time for an internal event like this.

There’s a real buzz about technology enhanced learning, eLearning, or whatever you want to call it. There seems to be a stepping up a gear and a real sense of fun and creativity here. Lots of rethinking of pedagogies, and of teaching and learning and the use of technology in this. And I think we’ve tended to do it that way around, and kept a solid idea of skills that students need as they go out into the world.

I also want to thank all of you working on MOOCs. And I wanted to thank all of you who are involved in the online masters programmes. I think we are quite unusual to have so many of these, so fully across the university. As the first phase of the DEI programme comes to an end we are well on our way to the 10,000 student target. Now that’s the good bit. But I know our students would like greater consistency in our use of technology, and technology a cross the programme.

Part of the stepping up a gear has been the advertising of senior posts in online learning. We include online learning in the job descriptions of senior staff in schools, of senior management, and that’s really significant. We are seeing schools who haven’t been involved in DEI yet, are coming forward now. We have ambitious plans for investment in digital education. And we have recently formed a new division, headed by Melissa Highton, within Information services to take this forward. And MVM teaching and learning technology team are joining IS so we will have a big experienced team taking this forward. So a lot of excitement and fun looking forward!

Keynote: Cargo cult teaching- the importance of authentic practice – Ross Galloway

Thinking about what authenticity might look like I felt there were three key areas to authenticity: authentic practice by instructors; authentic practice by students – particularly thinking about what students will go forward with in their careers; authentic practice in educational research.

I want to start with the notion of authentic practice by instructors. Here we have our classic 12th C picture of a lecture… And that’s pretty much looks like lectures now…. Very passive audience…

But there are alternatives as well. But there are movements around active learning, group learning. Problem based learning where students are more active, more engaged. So another picture of a lecture theatre here shows students working in groups, directing their attention across the row, not to the front.

Why should we care about how we teach? Here’s some compelling data from physics (hake, am. J. Phys. 1998) which shows evaluation of a number of introductory physics courses. It shows “gain” – the difference between pre and post testing, showing any improvement. Normalised gain of 0 means people have learned nothing. Normalised gain of 1 means they have learnt everything. Passive learning doesn’t show much over 0.3 gain. Active engagement varies but sits much higher in the 0.5 the 0.6 and above. So I will be bold and say that active learning is what works. The evidence is there. Surely we should be in a golden age for active learning then?

Surveys in the US did show 87% awareness of evidence based reformed approach. And almost half used them. Slightly lower in the UK… But still good… Except there is a catch….

For physics in the US more than a third of instructors who try these new approaches, subsequently discontinue (Henderson etc al 2012). In biology instructors report that they don’t see better results? What happens? Well we hear instructors saying “I tried it, it didn’t work!”.

So I want to talk a bit about Cargo Cults. During the war cargo planes were dropping materials and supplies. Locals also benefitted. But the war ended and the planes stopped. So locals missed that, they knew you needed watchtowers, then planes would come… But they didn’t. And this is a real phenomenon….

And that’s a bit like what has been happening with these new teaching approaches. So in physics 1/4 to 1/2 of instructors deviate significantly from established design of evidence-based teaching approaches (Henderson and dancy 2009). And a wide variation in actual classroom practices for the “same” approach (Taylor and finkelstein?). It’s like those wooden control towers… It looks like they’ve done the right thing but it’s not going to work the same way…

So an example. Peer instruction… You might pose a question. Let students think and vote, let students discuss amongst themselves, students revote, whole class discussion, confirm and summarise. That’s the evidence based approach.

But what happens in reality in some classes is people miss out the “students think and vote” so you never get that marker in the sand. Asking the question first means you have thought and committed. So you have to confront why there is disagreement. You want to engage and resolve conflict, reform existing conceptions. Skipping it means students votes come from a very different place. How many of those skipping that stage don’t even know why that step is there?

The other part which Is often missed out is the confirm and summarise stage. Students can get partway through learning, be developing ideas. But that confirmation and summarising is really important,it firms up what the correct approach is and why, is confirms what has been learned.

So, what to do? Well don’t blame the instructor! “Us versus them is not constructive” (dancy and Henderson 2010). Instructors are often not hugely aware of learning theory but that doesn’t mean they are unbelievers, that they aren’t open to change even if they do use traditional methods.

Avid don’t tell instructors what to do – an informed partnership works better (Henderson and dancy 2007). We are instructors because we are experts, we know what we are talking about. And there are key pragmatic reasons that some practices are hard to do – room layout can make a huge difference for instance.

So what do We do?

Classroom approach needs to correspond to the authentic practices of the educational reform. Implementation needs to be supported.

So that’s the polemic, now some examples. And starting with a failed experiment in reformed approaches. I can talk about this failure because it is mine!

So for undergraduate physics we have an assignment marking rubric. It works well, it’s supported by research. We look for techniques that experts use. For instance for mathematical execution and final answers we explicitly include “evidence of meaningful evaluation of answers”. So we want students to check over, assess, confirm things are correct. So, it makes sense. Super. Expert like.

What happens in practice? Students do this for equations like e=mc2. Where there is no point of doing that! Or they fail to do something in the equation and note a discrepancy. But don’t go back and recheck it. So they evaluated it but did not actually used it as a tool. They got so very close!

What’s the problem? From an expert perspective you do this stuff automatically… You work and correct as you go. But students see it as a hoop to leap through. It’s not useful or effective.

It’s not enough to encourage students to do what we do. The practice must be authentic within the context of the students activity – right there at that moment. It must be real. If it’s not it’s just that hoop to jump to. So I will take these things out of the play context, focus them in actual useful practices.

And that last section. Authentic practice in educational research. A happy successful example. Let’s go back to that peer instruction process. Wouldn’t it be nice to close the loop, to feed results into how we write questions. Why do this? Well voting responses highlight some concepts that are easily shifted – big gain. But sometimes we see something where the gain is very small pre and post discussion etc. how do we find out what happens here? Well we use smart pens. They give real insight into what is going on. These pens digitise and include microphones, captures pen strokes and audio recording in sync. I don’t listen in, that’s not fair… But I get to see process data. So this technology told us what went wrong in this question with terrible gain…

Firstly it was a negative question so confusing doubles. And there were lots of confusions about the symbols using in the question – which isn’t important. The concepts are the key focus or should be. And the question saw students focusing on irrelevant features. And symbols activate formula-based approach. These are superficial but divert students from talking about the core concept. I learned a lot here. I do walk the rom but students can feel inhibited so this technology really helps.

So we rewrote the question. We added an image to set up the idea of what was taking place. It’s no longer negative. And we took out symbols. But numbers still had to be here. And we retested this approach. And we went from gain of 0.09 to 0.51. That’s a great result. We did this for a number of other questions, revising question based on insights. Some saw modest improvements, some substantial improvements.

The smart pen technology is highlY effective for observing student process. It was embedded in a really authentic experience, the real classroom setting, real problems students were solving. A really authentic experience.

So, authenticity. Are we being authentic as instructors? Are students playing at being students or can we make their experience authentic and real and relevant to them. And how can we ensure when we look at educational research it’s relevant and authentic to us, to our teaching context.

Q&A

Q: thank you so much Ross. I was thinking about what you said about failure. You admitted something didn’t work. You talked about constraints for instructors… How can I encourage instructors to try something that might not actually work, that might be a failure, to engage and enjoy that experience regardless
A: I think there is no easy answer to that. But, welts all relative. Even when reformed practices don’t work well they are usually better than what went before. Didactic passive lectures work alarmingly poorly. Students often learn from books, from friends, from the libraries but take little from the classroom in that form. My practice could certainly be better but it’s an iterative approach. Even if you try it only once or twice a semester, to learn from something appropriate and authentic to their context. Incorporate small pieces and build from three,

Q: what data do you get from the smart pens?
A: you can see an animated PDF of line moving and audio effectively, it’s a proprietary format. Students transcribed, or looked for keywords, coded independently to make sure similar. That’s tricky actually. That takes some time to do but if I see two thirds hung up on symbols, that’s probably significant.

Q: I like to throw the messiness at my students, all the ambiguities. So if you clean up that question are you removing those?
A: I do like those ambiguities but I include those a bit differently. I have my students read ahead. We focus on fundamental concepts as most peoples fundamental concept of the universe is actually different from physics and deceptively difficult to shift. We do embrace ambiguity but not in lectures, in workshops where we have four or six tutors around and we ask big real world ambiguous questions. So questions like “how many street lights are there in edinburgh” – a question to think about what they can see, what they can estimate… The technically gifted students hate this. At school they are rewarded for the right answers. Physicists get employed because they have the skills to think “well I can see 12 lights from here so if I think about how many there might be across the city based on that…” to think around the question, not to have a single right answer.

Q: I am trying to take the same approach online. But we are having difficulty with students response to this approach. These are a mixed mature student group from ten different countries and significant portion ask “where is the lecture?!” Have you had this?
A: we have had some responses like that. We ask students in teed back surveys about these formats versus other classes, about what works and what doesn’t. Overwhelmingly they embrace it and write very nuanced responses. 85-90% like it! a few are neutral! and a tiny but very civically core don’t like it. For them though it’s about explaining why, the evidence base for this approach. I don’t see it much in my class but in the literature there are reports that students think it’s instructors being lazy. Not true of course, it is more work and you absolutely have to be on top of your game. But we do have the issue of students being very conservative. Every year we have a few students who only want to study like school. Don’t want to do coursework, workshops etc. exceedingly risky for them. So you have to convince the students to engage here. One thing I do in lectures is ask students to speak to someone who doesn’t agree with them – little happens, then I say “and if you can’t find anyone I will talk to you” – and that does the trick!

ePortfolios, ACJ and reflections – David Pier CMVM

Our programme, ChM are surgical programmes devolved with the royal college of surgeons. So we will be talking about process we use at the milestone between specialist training and practice. W try to get our surgical trainees, who have been in raining for many years, to go from “how could you treat this condition” and instead to weigh up evidence based approach to “how will you treat this patient?”. These guys have a lot of core knowledge, but we are looking at the application of this knowledge.

And these guys have lots of surgical retaining but they may not have had any research training, to assess that evidence. They will have some skills but we have this academic skills module looking at evidence based practice in surgery, finding the evidence, assessing ones own practice and implementing change, critical appraisal, non-technical skills. We really want them to think how they as a leader can impact how things happens. We teach some of these skills through information, particularly through discussion boards but we also wanted to ensure there was assessment. And that assessment had to be e,needed in their day to day work, be real vent, and be based on wreak every day cases. So we came to the conclusion that we wanted to use a reflective eportfolio – which would be very well aligned to the types of portfolios used professionally. So these could see something in theatre, reflect upon it. We wanted to be as reflective as possible. Students can upload thoughts to VLE into a private area. We had some requirements but the main thing was to get thoughts down as they happen, to put as much in as possible.

What we hoped was that they would capture lots of events. They witness a huge number of events, they are in surgery every day. And they may see a different or new technique or practice or experience. Then we wanted to reflect on this event they had recorded. Then to look for the evidence, see how that relates. And hopefully that will lead to a set of objectives… Which may just be about doing more reading in the area…. And then there may be some follow up, some reflection back to those objectives. This is a two or three semester assessment. And we hoped that actually this could go further… There might be a gap in the evidence… Perhaps you design your own scientific study for instance… Could potentially use this inn the research project at the end of the programme. It has happened to some extent but not quite all the way through.

So for the reflective eportfolio we wanted to make it organic but there had to be some sort of structure. So we gave five categories to use – can be swapped around – but gives structure. These are: quality improvement and patient care, research and experimental design, teaching skills, self-learning, and ?)

So we asked students to go and do this. Some took it up but some were very skeptical. The personal tutor system has helped a lot here. When you tell them that you are already doing all of these processes – this is just a structure to use – that does click with most of them.

We obviously have to mark this, and we have six marking categories and they don’t match one to one. Self disclosure, critical analysis, evidence based analysis, learning objectives, teaching and learning, research principles. These are based on gmc guidance, experience from Undergraduate portfolios, form the evidence. We mark across all of these.

So, in the first hear that we did this we had some initial confusion. This was around the time the Adaptive Comparative Judgement (ACJ) tool appeared – a tool for comparing a pair of pieces of work (and selecting which is better). and we thought this would be brilliant for peer assessment, to leave comments, to find how their work fits with others, to understand the best one. The rank order is the only measure that comes out of the system. There was as slight hiccough. We wanted to students to mark all the examples. And we wanted tutors to mark them all as well to compare. But it didn’t quite work – both sets of marks were combined together. But this did help students look at lots of examples without having to deal with marking criteria. Students mostly found it useful (ranked it ok to very useful). About 70% of students tried it out. Those students did seem to do better in summative assessment. Now they are self selecting so that might be a bit biased, but it does seem to help.

The second time around we made some changes, we used exemplars from the first year, we did some peer assessment and asked students to assign a grade, and let them know our grade. And where a notable gap – where students don’t quite get it – between those we have been able to offer extra support. In the past we have had students concerned or not understanding where their marks sit. But that peer assessment has helped a lot so they can see how they sit against others. Students have questioned marks to tutors also mark and often that is very similar, meaning students are more accepting of the peer marks. We did reduce the narratives required… Students hadn’t quite understood that. And gave a word count. Posts got wordy… So having to reedit strange themed the writing and kept posts concise.

Largely students enjoy this. Even those that don’t love it accept that they need to do this as a consultant and do find it valuable. And many are now using in their own clinical practice building on this experience.

And just to end some acknowledgements and thanks to Paula Smith, helen Cameron, Ewan Harrison.

Q&A

Q: how do you manage to keep it authentic from students point of view. Student reflections from students point of view, and personal take. Does looking at each other’s work mean mastering the art of producing outcomes that perform well but are not authentic.
A: interesting question. But there is a right way to do this. We want students to take this and becomes. Better student. Maybe they do a presentation, and see audience not engaging, so want to make it better. Students commenting May question the evidence, suggest ways to do that… All of the experiences they have are relevant. You just try to focus them on particular key issues and find places for improvement. The experiences a re what they are finding day to day. Very authentic in that sense. But there is a system to help them go through, to see progression.

Digital vs “real” – Lindy Richardson, ECA
I am from edinburgh college art so we’re are teaching students about design. I wanted to talk about the difference between learning about design from real experience, or learning through a screen. My students would love to do everything through the screen!

I want to give you three examples we have given to our students to balance the experience of real design and the virtual elements of design,

So the first project was called THE CAST. We wanted to make sure that students engaged with real materials. They could bring smart phones, cameras, but also sketchbooks and materials to record the experience. So we went on a bus trip to a derelict modernist building. Full of beautiful tactile experiences. One of the problems with technology is that we don’t have that haptic technology yet!

So this building is concrete, it has burnt wood, it has graffiti, it has moss growing in it. It’s fantastic. And we asked them to record the experience, and not just with their camera – so taking sketches, rubbing, touching things, smelling things, noting what they might do with materials back in the studio. And then we mixed students up – different courses and differnt disciplines, all I’m workshops… This confused them a bit! They are printing in the fabric studio, they are making fabric formed concrete, working with hot glass, and engaging with and touching and examining these experiments. Sharing all this stuff too – they all want to prove they did this so they update Facebook or twitter. But they were physically together and talking and collaborating. It was so exciting. And it was wonderful for the staff – to have people in our department who had no idea what then are doing but up for experimenting. So they made 3d bags out of concrete. The materials were informing the design. The materials led here, and non soecialists pushing innovation through challenging preconceived expectations. Can dividing the tasks to experts inhibit what takes place?

So we have images here… Glass burning into the textile. Playful experiments scarring the concrete. And that’s brilliant. The expert wouldn’t have thought of that!

But let’s bring this back… Students have to be ready for the real world. So we get them in the studio designing repeating wallpaper… Create handrawn motifs, full scale designs in repeat manually using photocopies and drawing. Then photoshop workshops in repeats. Then work on colour separation.

What did students learn here? They learned how to create a half drop by hand which really helped me to understand the process before learning how to do it in photoshop – where the repeats can get very square.

Another learned how to make a half drop repeat by hand and it was less manageable than by digital means… Their finished wallpaper may not have looked as strong but the evidence was very strong…

And another found both new and found both helpful – and evidenced it well.

The thing here is that we have all these students with different learning styles. And it’s so important to understand the colour separation process, and what can go wrong. Ding that be hand makes a huge difference.

So we get students to manually and digitally create prints. Photoshop can really lack fluidity, but with experience of the manual process the digital pieces can end up more fluid…

Our students are amazing with their thumbs! They are skilled in some ways to we are loosing traditional skills as well. I am very conscious that I go to teach a technique. They will youtube it, try it once, and then never again. We don’t perfect, or get the nuances. W miss out because of that screen.

So… The 45 bus route project. Students had to travel the whole route and to work as a group… We’ve had a chat about group work already. It can cause a lot of friction… Students try to get out of it with Facebook, Instagram. Snapchat, email, blogging, phoning… But face to face interaction championed in the end. One made bread, one made jam. They met to make and do and prepare presentation. The blog is brilliant, I’ll make sure that’s shared with Wilma to pass on!

Now we’ve all been sitting paying attention to the front… I want a little hands on authentic experience, to chat with each other as they do this…. Hopefully you can chat to your neighbours. So I will teach you all to finger knit! My attic is full of fabric and wool and things! So I have wound up a ball of wool for each of you. Take one and we’ll all try it….


E is for experience – rob thomas

I think I am the case study here! I am relatively new to the full time academic world… When I first came to the university is was introduced to this term “eLearning” and I’m not entirely sure I understand what eLearning actually means yet. E, I think, is for experience. Everything else I think adds values to that experience, and adds value to that experience. In my trying and career I never went to unversity. I did my first degree with the open university in a pre digital age, everything was handwritten including the feedback. Very positive. But the highlight for me was the week long summer school where you had an opportunity to reconnect with reality, with yourself… And got a chance to play with things. It was an incredibly important moment. And I think it’s something that could be missed in eLearning, a critical element that cannot take place electronically. (Rob notes that he’s still attached to his finger knitting. It’s adding some swagger to his style though! )

So… Looking at a milk carton that has beef cows on it… It wasn’t authentic… It hadn’t been checked. There was an issue of credibility here… And looking at the notorious “bingo!” Poster after the budget there was a significant error of judgement there. A real issue of authenticity…

From my experience outside of academia much or learning, training and assessing is a person mediated process. We don’t learn from digital materials.

Whether organisational learning, individual in structure or evaluation, the central mode is the direct experience of those involved. Organisational learning can be a process… But organisations often don’t learn, they end up repeating mistakes in a loop.

Digital tools aid communication and information, to most learning is through doing. They are means to process and manage information. The learning is about the physical or the behavioural doing.

Life is authenticated by the self. Experience is self authenticating. If wea re caught up in rights and wrongs and assessment, we continue to believe in what someone tells us. There is a disconnect… When that person leaves academia that person needs to be able to understand their own authentic experience. It’s a very sensitive idea… Authenticity is spatial and temporal here. Things change.

I mostly teach online… We try to make it organic, to make them think of the content to an extent. Ideally when a course has been taught, the materials would self destruct. Don’t keep the traces (other than for the external examiner). We should be forced to rethink all over again. Just because we think we have authenticated something once, doesn’t mean it’s still useful one year on…. Can be so far from meaningfulness and relevant. Bit of a hangover from powerpoints and lecture notes. Should be forced to start again.

Out in the real world there is work experience. Some universities and colleges do sandwich courses (just 9.5% in 2002-3, 7.2% in 2009-10 of full time cohorts did this) And the Wilson Review found there were huge advantages. But it’s hard work to provide that experience, for industry, for employers. So it’s hard to do but gang disconnect is really important. So we have to to think about how we can better prepare students in vocational courses to be empowered to understand the workplace, the subject, and to learn about organisations. And those soft bits, how to work with people. Group work for an hour is fine but working with a diverse group for a year is a very different beast in terms of what you learn, how you relate content and how you project yourself in a team environment.

I think the general approach that didactic lectures is dead. Like online material can just kill it. And there is also an opportunity for students to step up and express an opinion, and encourage students to do this. In the real world that is how people learn. This is the medium by which information is shared, or dissected, or understood. The flipped classroom is effectively the way we learn in industry. Here we are implying this is a new concept, been going on for centuries in the outside world…

So individuals learn from colleagues, from mistakes. I think we need to allow people to make mistakes. To move away from grading and negative impacts of mistakes. To include training. To experience the outcomes of organisational learning. Organisations learn from consequences…

However lessons learned belong to the organisation but are held by the individual… And individuals leave… Which is why organisations end up repeating mistakes…

Blended learning tends to be the model for industry. Grown organically. Organisations have employed blended learning for some significant time.

The traditional project management cycle are: problem, design, implement, monitor, evaluate, adjust and go back to the problem. A cycle. But you can add in “innovate” between monitor and evaluate. That can feed up to a “new problem”, and some “abandon” at the point of evaluation – a cycle within the cycle essentially. Industry tends to abandon unproductive activity. And abandon unuseful problems or ideas when no longer valued. A speedy way to work.

A couple of examples… Logical framework (log frame): projects have objectives, they have means of verification, imdicators, assumptions, outputs and lessons. Those assumptions could be things we. Know but students don’t. Or assumptions students make that need to be addressed. And the important part here is how we learn from those lessons. So many discoveries that can be used.

When I joined the university last year the were performance and development reviews… A system that evaluates and makes you accountable… This seemed the norm for me so I didn’t understand some colleagues reticence. This is a key human resource management tool, it’s for your benefit to exploit…

So I will leave you with a T.S. Elliot quote “where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information”.

Q&A

Q: why is abandonment different from adjustment
A: adjustment is you still working towards the same goal. Abandonment means a whole new goal is persued!

Networked Scholars and Authentic Influence? – Bonnie Stewart, University of Prince Edward Island
It is a big honour to be at the university of edinburgh, particularly because the university’s reputation for digital education is well known in my field. But also because my name is Stewart so it’s lovely to be in Scotland!

Now there is a question mark in my title to raise this as a question. How many in the room use twitter? (Quite a lot of us do). Now ther at cliches that circulate. But there are ways to use twitter beyond celebrity. My work looks at twitter and scholars. And I think twitter is a space for networked scholarship for us as scholars. With pedagogies… But what does it mean to be authentic in these networks, particularly in the scholarly ways.

The question of influence is a complex equation. Traditionally in institutional worlds is that teeny group that understands your work in that instiution, and we have outsiders, external markers, or the journal you publish in… Where you went to school, the last grant you had… And all of a sudden things like twitter come into that mix. Both concepts centre around reputation, albeit in very different ways. When you are present and active in spaces like twitter you are creating an identity position.

Willinsky 2010 says that in an academic world scholars are taught to understand reputation with some subtlty and depth.

Now, what am I doing here? In another country? Well I’m a graduate student. I have twenty years experience as an educator, early experience with MOOCs. But my twitter profile is probably a major reason I am here. This is a parallel identity really…

So I want to talk about authenticity in networked scholarship and how you perceive it in the world you live in. These people on screen are people I work with, whose books I read, who read my blog… They are the public sphere in which I speak and build my reputation, and I am part of how they build theirs.

Online networks enable different forms of identity legitimacy, and authenticity. There is the scholarly world, and the what people ate for lunch on twitter world. I study the overlap, the place where higher education is changing.

The fire hydrant is a great metaphor for information. There is abundance. We have moved from paper texts to a world of persistent, replicatable, abundance of information. How many of you teach? (Many of us), how many of you let students have devices out in class? (A lot of us). That’s happily higher than I sometimes expect. Our students can have Wikipedia at hand with more information than we could ever have.

And we have a real changing educational culture. Public and institutional values have been changing. Public values have moved to a more market value or vision of the university. It’s a messy mix and intersection of open and closed systems, of knowledge security and knowledge abundance…
And there is increasing pressure to go online – to engage with the terrible MOOC monster!

Within this networks are one way in which the channels of abundance can be managed. It is hard to try to take everything in from the fire hydrant of information. If we don’t have ways to structure and understand that information we will quickly be overwhelmed. Traditionally we had gatekeepers to knowledge based around institutions. They remain useful but many are not within those spaces, many are not allowed to speak in those spaces. So many use these open online channels.

Networks are not just online or offline. Not binaries here. If you have families you will have complex and different relationships with each individuals. Networks operate in the same way. We already have networks and literalise for dealing with them. T our institutions do not have ore existing literalise to deal with them. See yesterday’s LSE blog headline for instance – about the lack of reward structures within the institutions for public engagement. And my work looks at this as a matter of literacies.

So if we. See the marketoonist.com social network adoption cartoon for something on this,networks require time to understand what counts, what’s useful. In order to succeed in networks the price of admission is that you have to create a public identity. If you don’t have that centre to connect to, people cannot connect. That public identity can be confusing. It’s not about the tech or getting stuff online, its about building a different identity, creating those ways of being and of building relationships. Networked identities are multiplicitous and faceted.

I’m conducting a small ethnography right now. I have fourteen participants and eight exemplars who have agreed to let Bonnie show their profile to others to ask questions. And I did three months of participant observation on twitter and blogs and ten interviews about how they make sense of their networked participation.

The classic media story is about people reading more of your stuff – see pat thompson and Inger from Thesis whisperer’s recent paper – but it’s not just about dissemination.

I have three junior scholars or ohd students here, they don’t have big voices in their institution. They have used blogs and twitter to establish a presence, to share career and academic challenges.

If you see someone on twitter and they are quite formal and only talking about their work, and they are probably quite new. That’s not how we chat. We talk about other stuff – sushi and cake, and aren’t those nice boots. Ambient relationality between people. And twitter allows people to speak back to academia and to speak from the margins of academia. Whilst our academic policies are changing you can still be the only disabled person in your department , or the only queer person, or the only person of colour… An connecting to peers elsewhere has real value there…

Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times lamenting the lack off public scholars. He often does. People spoke back on twitter to point out that they are there, they just may not be of the lofty stature to get from attention… And twitter gives you a voice out, and from further afield…

But…

The is real concern that institutions will try to control and contain these activity. The university of Kansas put in a policy to contain what they say on twitter, regardless of academic freedom, regardless of tenure.

And Alice tiara, a peer of danah boyd, feels that the more quoted or well known she is, the less candid she can be…

And there is a big signal to noise filters. I get ten or fifteen articles each week that look amazing on twitter. But if I expand them all I could never finish my research!

And positioning fatigue can be time consuming, complex, and really problematic. And sometimes identity can seem to get in the way of each other…

And sometimes immersion can be required. Tweets from a conference talking about how it’s hard to “get” twitter without full immersion in the space, in those relationships.

In terms of social media being a signal that is fully immersed… Well it’s not happening and might not ever. And I’m trying to see how to signals can come in, so I’m looking at literacies for understanding academic networked publics. Institutions tend to be product focused, about mastery, bounded by time/space, hierarchical ties, plagiarism, authority in role – and everyone knows what that role signifies. In the public sphere of networks the individuals actual works factors much more than your role. For the institution the audience is the institution and the academy. In the public social sphere the audience can be the world…

So, authenticity. There is a lot that circulates in public networks around influence there is snake oil. We have yo be wary. And the word “authentic” can be dangerous in digital contexts. For many people authentic means real, and not on the computer. And even for those of us looking at what it means to do authentic digital world, the word authentic suggests a binary. So what is synthetic work online? What does it mean to do synthetic education? We all encounter the cultural narratives where teaching online is perceived as synthetic in and of itself. Keeping those naming a and binaries open is important.

One of the keys of being authentic online for me, is showing your work. Showing the logic of where you got, and how you got there, and citing as you go, and credits ideas, then you are more likely to be taken up as authentic. Even if you are blogging you may want traditional citations. You should, credit a conversation on twitter that triggered the thought. In networks we also need something to fasten onto. Transparency is key.

Metrics. The numbers that track your performance and participation. Tweets, followers, etc…. They are not meaningful. You can buy followers. Not common in education… I used to circulate in the blogging world and I’d meet bloggers who started six months previously with 60k followers… Signalled that’s what they were into.

Now I will show some exemplars. David White (@daveowhite) people looked at his profile and thought maybe it didn’t look exciting, but saw he was at Oxford, so they thought maybe they should follow him. But he tries to show more in his profile. He signals a joke in his bio – “the “o” is hitchcockian” (a North by northwest reference). This is playful. He’s doing visible identity work. As individuals we are really not used to doing visible identity work beyond the age of 24 really. You have to in networks. It takes courage to do that.

Looking at Audrey Watters profile! she does lots of identity work. She has a playful picture obscuring her face a bit. She links to her site, she calls herself an author – traditional credibility. And the big thing people note is her 21k followers. What that means, particularly when she follows fewer people… And note she follows almost 2000 people, she’s not broadcasting and following no one, she is networking. And she tweets a lot. About 21k tweets. She’s contributing. She has credibility… Now the numbers don’t tell us if she is entertaining or if it’s the quality of her work. I would guess both. But those number lend credibility.

Now Valerie Lopes at university of Toronto has a simple profile and bio, no background picture. Not massive follower count, fairly equal number of followers and people she follows. Her focus seems to be on her main role to she tweets a lot and has credible. Audrey doesn’t have an institution, she’s a freelance journalist. And dave uses twitter as a parallel research space to his institutional space.

If you see someone following a lot of people, tweeting a lot, pushing out stuff about products or projects…

At NLC 2014 Terry-Lynn talked about “technologies alone are not going to create mobile practices. Fluencies of navigating scale, negotiating openness, way finding, and curation”. The more you leave traces of your work and connections, the more you make sense of it and show credibility. Curation also matters. If you get overwhelmed by twitter, shut it down for a bit, come back to it and them manage it.

Maha Bali just published Bonds of difference: illusions of inclusion – hybrid pedagogy. She is in Egypt and I met her in a MOOC, a group that came together really in Facebook. It feels likea. Global conversation. T in this article she and an author from, I think, India say that yes, this is global and super but we really still need to think about the power relations here. Networks open up the power relations of the institutions. Hunt networks can continue power relations of sexism, racism, ableism. We always have to think about the power relations and who has a voice in networks.

I won’t make you use networks but we need to learn and keep learning to read networks, institutions need to keep learning, to understand what is authentic contribution, and what may not be.

Q&A

Q: I was interested in your slide with a sort of binary between the institution and the individual. And I’m thinking about staff having issues with negotiating that space, navigating having a public role in the networked sphere. And the balancing act for supporting students to balance that sphere. Do you have questions from your research to negotiate an area where we ourselves may lack expertise?
A: those institutional and network literacies are binaries in a way but they already interact. I think we still need institutional literacies, that’s really a space where we need reflection. A way to see what we already do and not leave those behind, but to learn new literacies as well. And in power terms institutions have a crucial role in keeping vibrant spaces for education. But we have to recognise that institutions adna be hide bound…. I’d like to think of ourselves as almost code switching – knowing when to call on the reserves and power of the institutions, and when to look out to the public sphere for what it does well. I would be concerned to see us only on one side of that screen. For my teaching – bachelors of ed students online, and offline but mostly blended. Sometimes my students are very institutionalised and concerned with moving beyond the social contract. Sometimes they need me to be fully literate in what the institution can provide to support. Sometimes they need me to be literate in networks and what that can offer them professionally. Depends so much on I divas students or groups of students and how they see their role.

Q: I’m sure many of us are guilty of saying what we do on our twitter profiles where we say what we do then adding “views are my own” for a mixed personal and professional account…
A: it can be difficult to have multiple accounts. Depends partly on an individuals role and status within the institution is. Avid what can be shared. I do not have my institutional role on my twitter profile. When I started on twitter I was on maternity leave. I have changed images but not text (much). I basically trade that freedom for the lack of credibility or affiliation. I’m ok with that trade off. Most do have their institution on their profile. If you do that… If you know you want to say things that are possibly unregularly and your institution may not want to hear… You might want to take it off. If you are having general conversations about eLearning that’s probably fine. If you want a presence to speak truth to power from a vulnerable position you have to remember that is persistent, that is replicatable that is public, you have to put your paycheck behind it. But this is why Kansas is so concerning, this idea of full overview of all accounts. If there is viewing of everything that public sphere becomes constrained. And we may see more pseudonymous accounts. And those aren’t anonymous, they are trustworthy and trusted identities… So you could be that person and build relationships without knowing your real name, recognising what you have to say may require protection.

Q: does @bonstewart resemble Bonnie Stewart and how does that work/change?
A: I think @bonstewart may be a better representation of me. In class my students don’t see a full rounded picture of me as a person, we are pushed for time. Following someone on twitter you can get bigger broader ideas of the person. For me what you see if what you get, especially online.


The student experience – Alex munyard

This year I have convened a short arts group or look at how we can maximise the open online resources online, within the university and also in a sort of global academic community. There are also questions about who will use this, just academics and students or more diverse audiences. So there is a real opportunity to become an open access leader.

So what is opening up lectures live? How does the open educational resources work? It means opening up lectures, slides, syllabi, the materials we share with students. Somewhat along the MIT open courseware model but more slickly, and justified on pedagogical grounds. There are good reasons to open up materials across the university – for revision, for learning, for developing ideas. If the university of edinburgh strives to be a global university they have to make moves to prove that. The idea that universities are global public goods, and I think this is something OER can be A hugely important pat of this. Students can record their own lectures but doing this across the university will assist those with students for whom English is a second language, to maintain quality. And the idea that you wouldn’t go to class if the video were available is just wrong, the evidence shows that students do go to class. But we need to use tech to stretch learning, not just using tech for its own sake. Talking out to a room of students isn’t pedagogically justified, just what we’ve done for centuries.

In terms of lecture recording… ELearning represents a real opportunity to make education more accessible, particularly for those with disability. Offer greater efficacy for tapping into students with diverse needs or interests. And a real benefit for international students. When more staff online and more resources available, there is a greater onus on staff to think about how they put material together. I guess to reiterate my core premise, technology should only be researched, invested in, when proven, and when there is pedagogic rationale. To it should in no way limit playfulness or creativity or risk taking.

So to conclude let’s innovate and embrace change. Predominant age old teaching methods need to change, we need to overcome traditional views of that.

Q&A

Q: at the risk of being slightly unfair… If we go down the oath of not only recording lectures, but also massively open course ware… Where is the value in paying your fees, coming to edinburgh, finding a flat… What’s the authentic experience there
A: I think the benefits of OER are multiple faceted. Firstly they would benefit in person students preparing to attend, selecting their course, and engaging in interdisciplinary work. And the wider audiences won’t become students here. MOOC takers are using resources not students at a edinburgh university. So that model can accommodate that idea.

Q: interesting initiative. Do you think full time students will be able to take advantage of having resources from other courses. They are time pressed so will they actually devote their time to that?
A: I think different students will have different focuses. A physics student might use mathematics resources to support that. Science students passionate about the arts may want to engage. But some will not want to engage in other subjects, but I think seeing and engaging with different theories of pedagogies could be very beneficial.

Q: my concern would be huge materials available without support… How would that work? Particularly if they felt they had expertise from doing or engaging with that material without support.
A: well I think not everyone in the University will take that course. It would need to be presented appropriately. But I think if we went down this route there would need to be massive support for staff to make this martial available. I don’t think that students would be graduating from every subject. But something that let’s students have a more rounded and holistic experience. If we make degrees better for employability… A holistic degree should equip students for the world. I’m not claiming that this agenda will make students in every subject… But that space for exploration can only enhance opportunity.

And now we have two videos from students from the MSc in a digital education

Authentic online learning – Ed Guzman and Anna Wood

Ed’s video:
https://vimeo.com/90484211

Anna’s video:
http://learningfrome-learning.blogspot.com/2014/04/authentic-online-learning.html

Technologies and collaborative learning – rubie rennie and students

Jingao
Technology offers lots of opportunities for scaffolding (gibbons) for students in the zone of proximal development (vygotsky 1978). So for instance collaborative opportunities include teaching language and vocabulary around animals by engaging with authentic virtual animals in second life.

And technologies, particularly web 2 (mak and coniam 2008) enable comment, feedback, peer support, and feedback that is rapid and regular, not just from the tutor and not just at the end of the course. For instance through reflective blogs.

And technologies promote collaborative learning by creating environments wher learners can change the social context cues (Ortega 1997) that may be problematic or inhibit the,. They can play with gender, even present themselves as animals.

Technology offers many opportunities for collaborative learning and when I become an English teacher in china I plan to make use of them!

Victoria
I have already been doing some online teaching in china? There are two ways this tends to be done. One is video recording lectures, replicating the lecture experience, not really eLearning really. The other way is using chat software or teaching software to teach students, whether commercial software or sns and chatting software. A word about the commercial software… There is potential value here for us to do this. There are huge quantities of people online and using online courses. But there are softwares we are already using… QQ, YY chat, wei Bo, sian UCAS, Wei chat, Skype. But there are disadvantages… Of seeing each other, not very secure… But these are very commonly used, very flexible, vary familiar, and in Chinese context we could easily use these software.

I want to talk about the main problems in my teaching process… The infrastructure needs to be considered. And we have to understand the students use of the internet. And the use of the technology should consider the context. Students used to technology can easily use it to achieve their gaols. For those less familiar with technology the class can be a much bigger challenge. Also worth noting that in china it is not usual to use email or blackboard to access information, and there is room to develop here. But we have some restrictions. We can’t use youtube or twitter or Facebook in China. Can’t share that. Can’t share experience of using them. Here we could share that experience and those learning materials with classmates, tutors, supervisors etc. so we need to think about that context carefully when we think about our students. Infrastructure is part of that too. There aren’t computers or internet access everywhere, sometimes videos could be downloaded and shared with a class, say.

Ivy

I’m going to talk about my online learning experience in china, at high school . But in china we cannot use computers or mobile devices in school. But one teacher did set up a course on non Kent Chinese literature via blogs, for us to access after school from home. We hadn’t studied this topic before and was really exciting. And it could help students to create their identities. School life can be very sessful and very separate from daily lives. But online courses can let us reshape our knowledge and identities through learning online.

After we entered university we had more opportunity to access online courses. But these courses are videos. Students can only watch the videos and not directly contact the tutors… And there are some people who came up with the idea of a video chatting course using taobao.com, the biggest shopping network online in china. So teachers sell courses in their taobao shop, and students can talk to teachers via Skype, FaceTime, or QQ. Helpful as some students in remote areas of china don’t have access to many learning resources. And moreover these courses are very flexible, students can negotiate with teachers. And it’s closest to face to face interactions.

sheng

I became a student when I was 6 years old, and I have been exposed to traditional Chinese pedagogic models for 17 years. So Herrington 2006 really struck a chord. We need something exciting and interesting and new to engage us. So I chose online learning as an additional course.

When I was an undergraduate student of English we did have an online learning space… It did have lots of functionality but we barely used it. So when I first got here I struggled with the ideal of communicating with staff via emails, how to use learn/blackboard. I think that online students are more likely to be a let To access good authentic materials to explore as language learning.

With online technologies tasks can be set to be authentic experience. Learning in second life enables students across the world to share in a learning event. It provides authentic opportunity for English learners to meet and learn. The authenticity it provides is bette than any other computer mediated communication tools. In techno life seminars, interviews, presentations can be simulated. Presenting in techno life is pretty similar to doing that in real life. And second life is in china, as are other technologies like this, but many teachers are not realising the benefits yet so when I go back to teach I hope to do that!

Q&A

Q: when you showed the screen of the learning environment I had a sudden shift in perspective about what our VLEs look like for our Chinese students. I can’t read the symbols at all and obviously my students do know the language. But it was a real shift in perspective was really interesting. Do you think the challenges can be overcome?
A: I think it’s good to explore tools like second life etc. but for learners especially at younger ages, we have to provide support and explain these environments to the students so that they can cope….

Q: do you think checking all the blogs that students might come up with will take more time for the tutor?
A: I think making a blog is a new experience for a student. There are disadvantages to using blogs but lots of advantages too. And I think that for me everyday I use ten or twenty minutes for a app that could be spent on a blog. It’s just a way to learn and I think we just compare disadvantages and advantages.

A: it is true that at the beginning of using something you haven’t used before it can take some time. When ruby first introduced us to second life I found it hard to find where our meeting was… So I asked coursemates. I thought this is a waste of time but as. Got more used to it it becomes more useful and valuable.

Making it real: authentic teachers online Daphne Loads, IAD
I wanted to talk about authentic teachers…. We have talked about authentic tasks, authentic assessment…not sure we’ve heard authentic teacher yet…

So let’s talk about what an authentic teacher may be, particularly online? Snuggest ions here include a catalyst for learning, someone who brings their own perspective and personality to learning, and someone who continues to learn.

So here’s my thinking… I’ve been a teacher for a long long time… Ie tried to be an authentic teacher for a long time, now trying to learn what it is to be an authentic teacher online… I’d like to take you through my thinking about being an authentic teacher…. About artefact… Some think a crown or jewels, something precious, something old, something that shouldn’t be there that is produced in the profile, hammers and spanners and tools.

Well often people talk about something made by a human hands, or art. (Seeing image of the tenth muse/Sappho, a relatively modern sculpture in Jupiter art land. Something invested with human meaning and that sets up human exchanges. And might be something historical, telling us something about the humans that created it.

Or it tends to be some sort of evidence of something… Something that reminds us of human error or weakness – for instance an X-ray with a. Shadow that is actually created by a braid of hair…

And the other response is just “a thing”!

So saying that an artefact is something made by human beings that tells us about being human, an object.

Teaching is an artefact. There was a time when saying teaching was almost a dirty word, needed to talk about learners and learning. So teaching is an artefact, something made by someone human, their creativity and perspective but also errors and issues from being created by a human.

I think as a teachers learning and teaching online I try to be genuine. But it comes and goes. Maybe I want to reach out to you. But sometimes I just want to run away home. But most of the time I am trying to be genuine, to share myself. Sometimes sharing my humanity brings something valuable to my teaching.

If you want an example see prof al Phil rice of Philadelphia university, his MOOC on modern American poetry. It was a series of interactive, engaged conversations with (graduate) students that gave me a real sense of what it was to engage with American poetry… Tackling difficult stuff, Gertrude stein, because of his authentic engagement. I got a bit of an unlikely crush on him because of his humanness… Carl Rogers said that one of the things that happens is that if we use our humanity we have an authentic feeling that we can use. And my being authentic tic can draw out the humanity and authenticity of students.

Parker Palmer talks about there being something important about being human and making a mistake… Look at what happens in the room… If students are ok calling it out, and the teacher acknowledges and discusses that then real learning is taking place, it’s subject centred learning…

Some yes sharing my humanity or our humanity can get in the way of teaching…

For instance I was learning to use illuminate live… The instructor I could see him, he couldn’t see me. I had to press happy or confused… I could press either… (Ace this wasn’t at this institution) and that was my choice as a learner…. There was no “shut up and let me do something button”. Or humanity is not always the nice bits, the warmth, the inclusion… Sometimes it’s the wanting to just tell you everything you know… He’d given me this unhelpful little piece of autonomy. Not good.

Another example, more complicated. A friend in another institution teaches on the sociology of pain… She was teaching online… Had built up good rapport with students… And she wanted to talk about her experience of childbirth… Something strange happened… Students stopped calling her “doctor” and started to call her “mrs”. A shift in the relationship… They had the ridiculous idea that someone who had had children could not be an academic expert. Now I think my friend should have come back at that with the sociology of power but I think she was too taken aback by the reponse…

And then we have the issue of not accommodating the context. When I first started teaching large groups it was after teaching small groups. I wanted to make eye contact… And I found myself running around the room like a demented chat show host! So I had to adapt… Getting them to talk to each other, to write notes to each other, things like that…

Recently I did a talk on collaborate and couldn’t see the students… And I found the silence really disconcerting… A colleague said “well that’s easy, get them to vote every two minutes”! Not being aware of the context, that got in the way of learning a little bit for me…

So I think authentic teachers online are not people who tell you absolutely everything, or disclosing everything…. But about making careful judgement about when that precious artefact of their humanity. So I think authentic teachers online… Are aware of their humanity and making careful judgements about how much of their humanity me to share. And those themes came out of others talks for me today!

Authentic Information – what can analytics tell us? Anne-Marie Scott, Information Services TELS
I wanted to share with you today some reflections looking at some of the analytics we can get from our technology enhanced learning contexts. I can’t thank daphne enough for setting me up well for this. My background, like Daphne’s, is in literature and Scottish literature… Thinking about moral fables like the cock and the jasp, a chicken who finds a jewel and throws it away… But it is symbolic of knowledge and and nature and of not valuing this precious thing… And I think that can be a lens for analytics…

I’ve been digging through some of our data… Kind of two facets… Learning analytics (personal use of data) and educational analytics (institutional data) and a lot of that work so far has been about figuring out what the heck this stuff is!

So an example from one of the medical VLEs (heat map of activity). This is based on some excellent work our team in MVM have been doing on analytics and student engagement… This is data on how and when students engage. One works mainly towards the end of the evening, the other works intensely early in the morning… But no value to bring to this without understanding the student, the stuff that is not in the analytics. This is a real fast and frugal sort of measure!

The next piece is data from inside our VLEs… Which tools two schools within the same college use… And here we have school A and school B… It looks really very different… Both schools about 70% of courses use learn, pretty high level. So how would this compare with obligatory online medical msc vle usage. Would logins be a good proxy for engagement Less pretty patterns here… Logins turn out not that useful…

So I did the same pattern checking for the school with all the use of social tools… Same patterns… But actually it turns out they don’t use these tools… Discussion boards are in the default template so every course has it, but they are not being used…. But it’s no proxy for understanding what is happening… There is useful stuff here but context and interpretation is everything… The machine can’t do this for us…

Great article – learning analytics: the new black (booth 2012) talks about learning analytics risking becoming reductionist approach for measuring “a bunch mod stuff that doesn’t matter”.

And I’m just beginning this work… We have some work this year and next year… So this year we are looking at what so of analytics might be useful in the VLE, gathering requirements… Maybe trialling MVM approach in moodle. Bet also how to find bette management information, quantifying the data available, seeking feedback. Sense making activity. Next year we have some funded resource available to make some of this happen… Developing tools to better expose data within the VLEs. Developing reporting on our use of central eLearning services. We want to particularly highlight to schools what is happening in their local context and to continue this work Ina. More engaging and inclusive way…

So, what can analytics tell us? Wella. Glib answer (a) quite a lot AND (b) absolutely nothing at all. Humans make these decisions, won’t be machines or business information systems that will make the difference here, context is everything.

Summary and close of formal presentations – Paul McLaughlin, eLearning@ed Forum Committee, School of Biological Sciences
I started this conference but it wasn’t my idea… We were trying to illustrate a concept to Ruby.. And came up with “authenticity”. But it was accidentally no great idea. Land I think it’s gone pretty well! I took note of some key themes I saw coming out today…

The idea of authenticity and messiness… Going against each other to an extent… Came up in Daphne and Ross and Lindys talk. And also we had the idea that our systems or structures can get in the way – in Inger and the business schools talk about cultures that exist… Also institutional failures – Bonnie highlighted failures to reward public scholarship and public engagement. And we haven’t come to terms with students making mistakes (as in robs talk) or teachers making mistakes in front of students (Daphne’s talk). Bonnie kind of talked about the dichotomy with real life. I think none of us will forget the highlight of the day, Lindy’s knitting stuff…. That physical learning matters. And then we saw David peer talking about authenticity and engagement in the portfolios. And I was amused by Micheal begs and the idea of prescribing under stress… The exam being stressful is probably authentic… But you could make it really authentic with switching between tasks – a plate spinning task! And I was impressed by the TESOL students form a moray house and their experiences of learning…

So we took an abstract idea and had everything from finger knitting to load balancing in the cloud! And we can reflect how lucky we are to have such diversity in the university!

Finally a note of thanks to all those who have organised today: Jessie Patterson, Jo Spillar, Marshall Dozier, Ruby Rennie, Sharon Boyd, and anyone else I may have missed!

And with that the talks are finished and we are off for refreshments and the poster sessions.

 April 10, 2014  Posted by at 9:55 am Events Attended, LiveBlogs Tagged with:  1 Response »
Apr 092014
 

After a day away at the Spatial Memories Design Workshop, I am back at Networked Learning 2014.

The spaces of networked learning
Sian Bayne is introducing the session by saying that spatial dimension have been raised at a number of sessions throughout the conference.

Richard Edwards

When we use the term “networked learning” are we being literal or metaphorically. What is the conceptual significance of the network in networked learning? For me network is inherently relational and therefore spatial. And that informs the we need to think about both networks and learning. Space is often treated like a black box, observed rather than analysed. The classroom, the blackboard… I think it is no coincidence that open learning is so central to networked learning but how do we frame this?

There is the concept of the framed economy of space, David Harvey et al. Focused on space divided by economic conditions, globalisation, urbanisation, inequalities. Then there’s Doreen massey’s feminist concept of space and of time, the gendered nature of such spaces and their orderings. There is the post structuralist idea of space, for instance Sian has used the open striated spaces. And then there is john murray and co’s socialist take on spaces. The power, the practice of associating and disassociating.

There are two particular things that interest me. One in relation to technology, the other our conception of learning. One is computer mediated. Codespace. The “hidden curriculum” of networked learning and digital education. When we think about spatially, we can decentralise the subject. That’s yet to really be teased out but very interesting.

Q&A

Q: what about pedagogues of networked learning?
A: one of things we. Have to think about in our research is to consider when we are using things as analytical concepts versus when we are using the. As pedagogues in practice. I’m interested in network spatial analytically. But one might want to think about them pedagogically, how we might do that in new and interested ways…

Q:
A: one of the things that’s such a Central concept is the nature of learning. Various ways to understand that. For me drawing on spatial theory, and indeed actor network theory, is thinking beyond ourselves and our cognitive engagement with learning, but of learning in relation to other people, other systems… But does that compromise the fundamental understanding of learning. I guess I’m trying to push at how far we can go with this. Assessment for instance… What does decentreing the subject mean for assessment when all of our existing practices are about centering the subject?

Q: if we decentre the subject aren’t we talking about resource management – assessing the environment and the subject…
A: yes in terms of ecology and sustainability in education
Q: so what competencies do we need to do that sort of thing?
A: competencies of relating to others and their environments.
Q: Why can’t an economist do this?
A: they can. But so can others. One of the issues of education is that we think too much about people detached from their context. Part of my work here is about understanding the nature of being human by understanding context, not to deny what it is to be human by denying that context.

MOOCs and spatial theory – jeremy Knox

I’m going to try and apply spatial theory to the MOOC. In particular talking about three different types of spaces: the global institution – a particular sort of space by coursera, Edex, udacity; the homely – the domestication of the global; the overwhelming – another way to think spatially about this problem, the global and the local coming together.

Sofi you look at how big organisations promote themselves, the image of the globe is really rather prominent. Edex shows the globe spinning and the nodes of a network forming in that. Significant because MOOC organisations appropriate the globe to symbolically talk about their reach, but also appropriating the idea of the network for what they want to do, to reach far corners of the world with education.

The other thing they do is have missions and visions. Udacity talk about a mission to bring accessible, adorable, engaging and highly effective higher education to the world. The key word is “bring”. And their publicity strongly suggests who they may be targeting. The MOOC companies both promote and explicitly are trying to reach developing world countries. At the coursera conference recently one of the dashboard metrics is percentage of student so rom the developing world.

I also wanted to talk about the colloquial sign up page features, so coursera talks about “Courserians”. So the way the organisations measure reach is sign ups to the platform, that’s how they measure how far they are getting across the globe. And coursera released a visualisation of how they think of themselves across the world. The image is of a globe and is generated by data. Data is something I haven’t heard much this week but it is significant and is something MOOCs are bringing into the education world. The shading of the coursera map effectively makes the world come into being by the uptake of the platform. And there is a significant difference between who delivers the education, and who it is delivered to.

So there is a dominant form of education here is of transmission. And it is transmission from the developed world – the US predominantly, Europe, Australia – and the developing world.

So those nodes delivering the courses… These are institutions with the buildings and architecture up front, used to legitimise the offering. Princeton, Harvard, etc. all present themselves in the MOOC via images of their physical campus, imposing buildings.

The form of transmission in MOOCs is largely video. Either head and shoulders videos, or to a room. I will come back to that…

So we have the idea of transmission in a very one way direction. But one interesting reaction and example against that concept is an institution considering the homely, and to domesticate what can be troubling about the global.

So this is al philright(?) who works at the Kelly writers house. This is where the MOOC is from. This is a significant presentation of the MOOc space. Al invites us in. He’s inviting us into the world of contemporary literary poetry world. It’s authentic. And you can go and visit. In that video you meet those working at that house. All of these people talk about the kitchen, the food, etc, and photographs of the community, this family who have visited the house are prominent. The videos are also notably al and some of his students discussing issues. He does most of the talking though.

And indeed some edinburgh students taking this MOOC tried to recreate the video in their own kitchen. It’s a domestic scene recreated in domestic ways. Students love the video tour, being able to see the place. And many ended their comments by saying “I wish one day I could make it”. Seems to be an acknowledgement that this won’t entirely work, the whole globe can’t visit.

And I wanted to move to the third kind of space. I hope I gotta cross transmission. And welcoming in. Simplistically these seem very separate, but how might we overcome this?

So this Part I’ve called the overwhelming… I am privileged to teach on an eLearning and digital cultures MOOC here. And we encouraged students to create digital artefacts. One of the prominent reactions to that was of overwhelming nene being overwhelmed, lots of somewhat negative comments there… But I wanted to flip that a bit. Some students responded visually to that chaos. We had a visual task in the MOOC, and we saw reimagined Tokyo tube maps, we see people falling through the rabbit hole. I think we saw are action to unfamiliar space – of neither dominant transmission not homeliness – in our MOOC.

But why is this interesting? Well seeing this student image of an overgrown house with the statement “yes, she’s home, she’s just a bit busy with edcmooc”. I like the idea of neither form dominant and structurally… The growth

Q&A

Q: on the buildings front… When you ask them institutions are looking for conversion rates… May want that presentation for that reason
A: certainly one reason for that presentation I think, others too… Not a significant driver for our MOOC, only a few sign ups from it.

Q: that first type of presentation is about imagining yourself there. That second type was about community… What emerged from your space?
A: I’m integer in that… Emerged from students, also from technologies… Interested in what came about spatially, rather than what we designed.
Comment from Christine sinclair: when we were approached to do the MOOC was “just think what you could do with 1000 students” but we had 42k. But it was exploration for us
A: what interested me most here was the focus on the individual and how things come together.

Terry Lynn Thomson – mobile work learning, spatial re orderings and digital fluencies

I am ingested in learning outside formal spaces. Savage , Rupert and law 2010 talk about the digital being bound up with reterritorialising space. Massey 2005 talk about multiplicity. I conducted research with 23 workers in Kenya, Rwanda and Canada and looked at their online learning practices – their engagement with others. Piecing together networks and materialities both with scale and focus, and having to live with fragmentary/also lashing things together… There were interactions that highlighted mobilities. But certain Immobilities were significant…

Many devices that are theoretically mobile do not, in fact, create or enable mobility. Ingold 2012 talks about the tensions of becoming here. Participants described complex cheorographies around his technologies, dictated by task, power supply access, etc. so material and relational practices really made these spaces. The making of mobile space was complex, the physical with the digital. Hemmet 2005 talks about the reassertion of the spatial in these types of ways.

Actually contrary to rhetoric, there are ,any frustrations and Immobilities. And for some of my participants the materials were struggling to become more mobile, in the same way as his gestures of mobility.

So four things here. The issue of digital fluency: flipping from one to one, to many go many; negotiations of openness, etc. so one way educators could support adult learners is to help them find ways through spatial re orderings and mobilities of work learning practices.

Q&A

Q: how do you educate around these mobilities
A: I don’t know, what do you think?
Q: seems tricky…but needed…
A: some school areas around the world attempt to do this, but in the context of a world where many adults do not have that understanding… Lots of questions here…

Q: I’ve been a learning technologist for a while, quite good at this… But still don’t understand everything… Don’t we need to educate ourselves before educating others,..
A: one of my participants Makori, an it consultant, took an online course, took the idea of one authoritative sources, and he had so many devices, wanted an iPad but

Q: I encouraged my students to share an app they find really useful. One way to address this is to be transparent and open, rather than apologetic for using devices
A: well one of the interesting things about entrepreneurs and the self employed is that this stuff is so time consuming, so difficult, can be so hidden

Q: how do you educate for digital fluency. Doesn’t use really do that?
A: technologies can educate you but if that’s how you want to learn… Well that’s about how you choose to be critical… I do think that all technologies try to lead you down a certain path… So I don’t know how you do that exactly.

Policy networks, database pedagogues and the new spaces of algorithmic governance in education – Ben williamson

I want to talk about new sorts of actors in education. Some on schools, some relating back to that. But I want to talk about several elements. The idea of policy mobilities – new structures and styles of decentralised, educational policy and network governance. To talk about mobile bodies and algorithmic traces. And finally the kind of mobile code spaces.

So I really want to ask questions about how new policy networks are seek b to reimagine education. Trying to map relationships between new kinds of actors and relationships between actors, and also the COde acts in Education project (link?).

Part of this idea is about government not being just my about central government, but also actors across public and private and third sectors. We see flows of policies from, say, private sector flowing into ouboic sector. Hultqvest 2001(?) talks about such flows.

In education we see educational governemce through mobile cross sector policy. Et works – govt departments and initiatives, commercial companies, NGOs, philanthropic organisations for instance. Steve ball (2012) has written about this wide range of actors in educations policy.

For me I am interested in the idea of their sectors, local controls think tank demos, nominet trust, the young foundation, nests, big society network, the innovation unit. All of these organisations seek to reimagine and reconfigure ouboic space through networks and digital platforms, they are also connected to a global picture of organisations nudge think tanks and policies are on the move, partly through these networks.

So we see these cross sector policy networks, labs, intermediaries, reimagining education. Moving from a sort of bureocratic place to a more individualised data driven concept.

So going to mobile bodies I want to talk about networked learning, database pedagogues, and the distribution of learners and learning.

So I wanted to start with the RSA, the Royal society of arts. They have a programme called Open Minds with particular curriculum eye, and they are also looking at using networks – see n squared report by Paul Or,arod. They blend the technical and the social networks at the heart of oublic sector learning.

The second area is The Innovation Unit’s report in learning futures – a report talking about institutions as “base camps”, in “learning commons” and “extended learning relationships”. And discussion of an innovation ecosystem. The same organisation has created reports like 10 ideas for 21st century education – calling for radical re imaginings of education, the disappearance of classrooms as spaces. Talking by out tailored and individualised learning. And particularly computer generated playlists of videos, seminars, small discussion groups, and 1:1 learning. Also a lot here about digital expertise, social networking for peer to peer research. And you can see here a collapse across institutions and relationships… By new kinds of actors.

And I wanted to also look at the education foundation – claims to be first independent think tank for education in the uk. One of their big reports has been a We book guide for educators, and taking that tool, mobilising it to the educational domain. That as an infrastructure it is transferable. Some complexities here, the horizontal nature of Facebook connections may not be what we want to reshape all educational relationships to be.

So we see a new expert knowledge and vocabularies of human behaviour and socialite based on theories from social media… Of digital commons, of smart mobs… Many of these are coming from places like Facebook. Facebook have an in house sociologist and data science team, those practices are coming through these kinds of actors into what we do… As if our networked social brains have evolved to demand networked social media. This may reflect Hacking 2007 ideas of addressing kinds of people, who others (Facebook say) imagine we are.

And that brings us to the issue of database pedagogues. Data is increasingly important to our understanding of pedagogy. Mackenzie (2012) talks about this centrality of a databases to the world.

Nests digital education programme very much focuses on learning analytics which gathers data about the learner in order to generate ideas or prescriptions for further learning. So we see things like Knewton. It gathers data on the learner, uses psychometric data etc. to “personalise” the data to the learner. So the learner is visualised and understood as data, metrics, numbers, and increasingly visualisations… The actor is transformed in order to be acted upon.

beluga markets itself as a smart service able to behave with intelligence, combines “intelligent data” collected by educational institutions with students own social media “off put data” to reshape the experience for the learner.

These code spaces are about automated and anticipatory governing and data doppelgänger a, production of objectified individuals whose data is used to classify and sort the individuals into types.

So we can see then that these kinds of activities, these kinds of bodies… Urey 2007 talks about us not as private corporeal bodies, but as bodies distibuted across systems through our trails etc.

So what I’ve begun to try to trace out is the idea of networked governance with wide range of players seeking to reimagine education through vocabularies, expert knowledges and techniques of dpnetworks and database providers. Governance through code spaces, understanding the learner through data traces. Activating learns through automatic pedagogues

Q&A

Q: I’m not convinced the network is determining the governance but reflecting those back for financial/political reason. And much of this data reflects growing commercialization of the student, data use mirrors that used in corporate contexts.

A: There is flow between these sectors and some of that is from government to these organisations.

Q) what methods are you using here?
A: that’s exactly the focus of methodological workshops we have been running. Partly with data scientists and programmers. Need hybrid methods, beyond more comfy social science. Ethics. I’m trying to follow the actors… Tracing the ideas and how they coalesce. I don’t tend to go and speak to them, although I have spokent to the director of research at demos on their new social media analysis tools

Q: all sorts of discourses about understanding the learner. We have the official discourse. Why is this policy move towards disruption, removing gates to traditional education. Where’s it going. What’s the benefits.
A: not sure I can answer that directly, I’m more interested in tracing the routes. Looking at a book edited by Martin law and ? Rice. They look back to the worlds fairs and this fascination with data goes a long way back.

Disrupting the illusion of sameness: the importance of making place visibke in online learning – Phil Sheil and Jen Ross

Jen isn’t here today as she is en route to Dallas. I want to use her journey to start thinking about maps… So her route from Heathrow to Dallas passes many cities… Comparing that airline map to this map of a journey by elephant – very detailed, very differnt.

So I will come back to maps… In education we see these ideas of learners quietly reading. Learners works together in ordered structured spaces. But I don’t think these imaginings particularly gel with the formal learning environments… Blackboard collaborate for instance. Some spaces reflect sameness.s they literally reflect our own faces back to us. Drawing on Sulla and djallalwer? Talk about education beyond the nation state, as a response to globalisation. But how may the realities be similar or differnt.

Some of my own colleagues work in Africa where only five hours of power were available. One student required a synchronous session be rescheduled because of restrictions on internet access in Egypt.

So Jen and I wanted to reflect on out own students. Students were able to indicate where they were located on the map, or favourite places… In some cases mini biographies emerge, often with temporal aspects “I work here, I live here, I went to a conference here.”. This allowed students to show spaces important to them…

Second example from the DiCE group, one task was creation of my digital postcard from participants on the MSc in a digital education: a photo, some text, some sound. For instance a computer with a cat and the noise of purring.

So Jen and I wanted to think about sameness and difference in digital education contexts.

Q&A

Q: could you talk more about distanced cosmopolitanism
A: particularly about dan Alger wrote an earlier paper on embodiment which is also interesting here.

Q: have you looked at how the student imagined the student
A: no but that would be interesting. But on that world map the staff took place too.
Q: I was talking to someone yesterday about imposter syndrome… Maybe that understanding of how the students imagine us might have a real impact for us as teachers.

Wider discussion

Q: Ben, that was an interesting overview. What is exciting, what is concerning… How does this data and doppelgänger a stuff relate to, say, open minded news
A – Ben: I’m not opposed to data analytics… A long as we area ware of how the data is generated… And how the system is interpreting the data and understanding the learner. Vying little critical work on that area. I am interested to better understand that. And what goes into those sorts of technical fix for defined problems
Q: what is the panel excited about. And what are you worried about.
A – Ben: I’m excited about the opportunity for research in layered code spaces here.. Software lays on top of but also underplays everything, managing how educational institutions function.
A – sian: exciting but real challenge is that the institution is so bound to campus, and to nation state. And difficult to think about how we challenge that
A – robin: I came out of foucoultian and Marxist analysis so I, concerned about those analytics… In terms of MOOCs and the monetisation of it… Obvious way to do this is to sell user data on as Facebook and Google do. But I remain optimistic about the use of technology for citizen science and citizen social science.

Comment: I’m fascinated by visualisations, by the manipulation a and map projections that distort reality. A lot of this is the methods questions… There area. Load of people structuring the language that shapes the world we engage in. Because they talk in code. Literally. I know that some digital humanities people coopt that, say “oh I, the social scientist”. How do we have a dialogue rather than handing social science over to those coding
A – jeremy: I think the key thing is to not draw the line. Seems to be driven by computer science, social network analysis… So we Need to engage. That code that underlies it…. We have this thing where we have to visualise to understand the code… And that could be more productive
Comment: numbers have been important for a long time. Combine that, with the visual, and the data doppelgänger who can be brought and sold… Is that a way to instantiate, to create a more sophisticated other self? In to way that may be easier to move, or commodify…
A-Ben: john hannay(?) talks about we make spaces manageable… Making the individual knowable, inspectable etc. we don’t often see the data, but the visualisation that is one step away…
A- sian: maybe that’s how we decentralise assessment – look at a students visuals at the end of the course!
Comment: isn’t half the problem that I don’t know my doppelgänger until I come up against some sort of problem – rejection for a mortgage or something?
A – Ben: and that data is constantly being recombined, reshaped, it’s an active practice or active accomplishment. Like rutherford’s work on a data analytics in children’s services
Comment: but I’m a really minor part of that dominant system, I’m a very small part of this…
A – Terry: I think when we talk about mobilities… Those maps, those spaces all disappear when points on a map… But doing that, reimagining the spaces, takes away from the specifity of space and the context…

Comment: I’ve been in conversations about big data and visualisations… Often presented with a visualisation as a done deal..
A-Ben: the concept of data not being theory free but not being an educational theory
Comment: or the issue of “we don’t need theory, we have data!”
A – robin: for us as educators the idea of education and learning sire ally hollowed out. There isn’t one shared understanding. We need to strongly re articulate what we mean by educational spaces or learning spaces. To some extend all spaces are learning spaces. Bernstein was against the idea of all spaces being pedagogised but, to some extent, that’s what we do.

Conference plenary

Christine Sinclair is introducing the discussion session. And we will be starting hearing impressions from different people on what has been taking place, what we have been doing. And we should have time for some discussions afterwards.

Jeffrey on the hot seat discussions
These take place ahead of the conferences. They are an opportunity for discussion, for reflection, often amongst those with more robust perspectives. The discussions took place on a site linked from the main site. You can find each of these online, including some who weren’t about to join us at the conference in person.

These discussions are about widening nerve extending the space… We look for input, to hear reflections on those discussions. So I want to recognise and thank those involved. These are exciting opportunities to have that sort of interactions. Eve heard really interesting papers here, and discussion, but there isn’t always opportunity to dig a little deeper. To engage in dialogue, to engage where this really happens. To understand what networked learning is really all about, and to put into practice what it is we talk about. And I hope we can get more direct input – if you took part, what was that experience like. Please do think about that, what could we do, and how can we look at that In the future.

Comment: as an experience of a newcomer to the conference for me it was great just to read everyone’s comments and get into it… Although tricky to get into the discussions sometimes. Display sometimes quite confusing, sometimes hard to follow… So layout could be easier to navigate.

Christine: it was in Ning this year wasn’t it?

Jeffrey: yes, we’ve used ning for the last two but other technologies before

Terry Lynn: I found it so useful taking ideas from those hit seats to feed into our paper, that was an incredible gift for us.

Martin: that was part of the idea of them… Not sure many have mentioned the hot seats during their presentations

Terry Lynn: we did that.

Christine: thanks to Jeffrey for the hot seats and the SCHED.

Jeffrey: yes, and feedback welcome on both of those.

Marshall dozier – doctoral symposium
Reporting on behalf of group of Tim fawns! Phil Sheil and jeremy Knox. Like all good students we made a bit of trouble. And like all good parties there were gate crackers and that made the sessions all the more fun. We questioned multimodality. We were introduced to the idea of “Skatology of digital sociology” from Tim o’Keefe. We also benefitted from mentors stirring up our discussions at the session. And we came to a really messy and interesting collective understanding of digital technologies.

Christine: the twitter feed really captures that event. And many of those who saw that wished they’d been three!
Marshall: like all good parties!

Reflections on the conference – steve fuller
Thank you for inviting me as an outsider. I’ve been trying to figure out just what this community is. The conference has run for 18 years when clearly networked learning meant something else entirely.

Are you a professional grouping? Neil Selwyn”s opening talk, which not all agreed with, called for that sense of criticality that might enable you to colonise an authoritative space in a productive way. Let me say where I would more strongly sit, which is this so of grouping in relation to the institution and the higher education organisation. How will this group be seen by HE administrators looking at the problems and concerns. You need a more defined idea of the university – it is not just a space. But this group is in a good space to understand this as a group looking at technologies mediating all aspects of the university today.

The other side is of this is research… My senses is of importing to this field, not exporting – although digital droppings may be a great contribution here – but where are the contributions, the concepts feeding out to other fields. Of you want to develop this field professionally you need to develop it in a more serious way…

One thing that frustrates me about this, and other fields with a support type function is that of observation, looking in. But it seems there is more of my responsibility not just to observe but to see problems at head, issues coming up and to offer suggestions and advice. And that means that I think you have a privileged and positive impact that you could make.

Comment: I think networked learning thinks of itself as being critical. You describe it as in support role. I understand that in a technical way. But there is increasingly a professional world of educational technology but networked learning sees itself as a serious and rigorous research event, at distance from a field that is professionally located in support role, where literature is often grey and funded by those with a particular agenda. But I took from your talk that we have to articulate that better so that others can see and understand it.

Comment: I really like that idea of colonising networked learning. I was thinking also after Neil’s keynote, talking about being critical and having the agenda of pessimism. But I’d like to see more positivism and action. Wondering how we could make something similar. I think at edinburgh you have maybe done that with the MOOC! But I’d like to think about how we. Can do that more.

Comment: Steve’s observations as. An outsider who has spent sometime with us are really worth us thinking about, particularly if we have set up artificial boundaries around ourselves, rather than crying out if we feel misunderstood – I say this as so done from a field that has complained about being misunderstood but it has been their/own fault.

Comments on the conference by former co-chair David
As a conference we really come from the perspective of pedagaoguey as a focus rather than technology. We came in around open pedagaoguey in 1998. We’ve moved away from that towards concepts like online trust, communities in online learning… And how that has been exhibited throughout the conferences. And more recently in the book series coming out of the conferences. How that has captured the feeling coming out of networked learning… Seeing the shifts and history of the space.

I talk about practice because even though we are researchers what we look at is so much about practice, about how we put things into practice. But we also see a move towards networks and how networks work in that sort of disembodied ways and what we y to achieve in networks… Away from pedagoguey in some ways… But reflecting our need to attract students. Add we are seeing technology perhaps trying to take over our role? Is it a meaningful thing? How does it compare to the thoughtful pedagogues within networked learning, and the issues of deep learning and pedagoguey? And our values here? I’m not sure about the answer but I am concerned about the possible consequences of disembodied learners understood through their data… So I am interested to look forwards to consider whether we focus on values, on pedagogies, away from MOOCs for attracting students…

Comments on the conference from former co-chair – Vivienne
I will take a different tack but that will surprise no one who knows both David and I. Networked learning has always been concerned with the role of the university and the insitution. We do aim to be mindful of the role of the individual in the networked world. We have always been thoughtful about who we ask, what our responsibilities are to ourselves and to others in this world. And with the huge range of papers this week we need to be critically thoughtful and aware about how technology is changing how we engage with, make sense of, and respond to the world.

Comment, Sian Bayne, university of edinburgh: what I’ve seen networked learning become is something we desperately needas a. Field. A space for critical space for discussion around what technology is doing to learning. We were so excited to host it here as it is the key thing in the year. So I hope we continue doing this and focusing on sometimes risky research in this space.

Vivienne: I was discussing with colleagues why this conference has become this space… I think it is because the networked learning raises those issues… So the networked learning becomes to disappear

Comment: I want to put in a plea for networked learning to not just be about technology, to not just be about HE. There are plenty of conferences for both of those. The interesting stuff here is about the impact of technology of learning, and of learning outside and beyond the university.

Martin (current cochair): the external factors have more pushed that. Maybe we need to think about articulating better the pedagogical theories we are developing, informing practices for learning. For me it’s profession learning, networked spaces… Not just HE for me.

Comment: I want to refer back to David’s comments… The axiomatic nature of networked learning makes it special, and different, and those underpinnings are crucial to differentiate us from other fields we touch shoulders with regularly.

Comment: my take on this is that in 1998 university websites were left to departments, development was very open… And we have moved away from that. We may not just be about technology but we have to engage, we have to udmerstand,otherwise we fail to understand the code. How else to avoid Facebook funding some policy somewhere that shapes our world. We have to engage with technologists, and to understand the code.

Steven: I agree with all of that.

Comment: we invited Judy Marshall to the last event, some scratched their heads as she applied sustainability to networked learning… But what other technology conference would do that! I also want to guard against seeing the social network as the meaning of networks… I would move against that. We need to think of networks in that broader sense…

Jeffrey: there are some nice definitions on the website there. Much of the discussion is about what networked learning means… It sounds like all of the possible understandings are valid… And useful when explaining to others what we are doing when we attend these events. And when we think about what was that, how does this apply to us… ?

Christine: I think that’s a very nice point to leave this discussion on! And with that over to our conference co-chairs martin and Donald?

Martin: I think that’s a nice point, reflection and bringing things together, for the next conference, our tenth anniversary. I was wondering how many review papers we actually have. Maybe for the next conference it might be a nice theme to think about… As well as looking back, to look forward.

Donald: I think that is a good idea… We know that the conference will be… Somewhere… In 2016. Probably also within Europe. Watch this space! I think it’s been a wonderful conference. And we have a huge list of people to thank.

So we would like to thank our keynotes steve fuller, and to neil Selwyn in absentia (steve receives a gift, and notes he has homework!), thank you to sian Bayne, Christine Sinclair and fiona Lennox, and Jen Ross and Hamish Macleod for all of their work organising this. Thank you to Marshall dozier, jeremy know, Phil Sheils, and Tim fawns for a wonderful wonderful doctoral symposium. Thank you also to Louise and the staff at the conference centre. And thanks to Jeffrey for the hot seats! And thank you to tom and to steve wright for their work on the hot seats. Thanks again for all the hot seat presenters. And there are two other people to thank. Alice jesmont and Chris jones, for those that know the, Alice continues, in many way, the spine of the conference providing administrative continuity. And finally we’d like to thank David and Vivienne for all of their work on the conference since 1998… And with that safe journeys home and we will see you in two years time!

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 April 9, 2014  Posted by at 9:05 am Events Attended, LiveBlogs Tagged with:  1 Response »
Apr 072014
 

Today and Wednesday I am at the Networked learning Conference 2014. I will be attempting to LiveBlog the sessions I go to but, as I’ve been struck with a headcold, I’m going to make a stronger than usual caveat that there may be some errors, typos, etc.

Sian Bayne is welcoming us to the university of edinburgh and to the city in general. She is here representing the DiCE group, organisers of today’s event. Sian is saying that this is the best research orientated conference in our area, and always a highlight of the year. She is also giving an introduction to the city – some genuine highlights and some entertaining words of caution.

And now over to the conference co-chairs **. They are welcoming us to the ninth networked learning conference, the first was in 1998. Huge thanks being extended to the local organisers, and to those that have been supporting the co-chairs with the programme.

Online pre conference events – hot seats and online discussions pre event and post event. Thank you to those helping to facilitate this. Also note the app, SHED. We have colour coded doors to match the app now. And also a favour to ask. We want to create a book of the papers, and we want to crowdsource opinion on the three most interesting papers that have really stuck you over the event to feed into that. And thanks are being extended to our two keynotes. And a welcome for any feedback, new ideas to engage and promote the conference etc. do provide feedback – and I’m sure that extends to those following online as well…

Christine Sinclair is thanking Marshall, Tim, Phil and jeremy who organised the doctoral symposium this morning. And handing over to Chris Jones to introduce our opening keynote Neil Selwyn.

Neil Selwyn – networked learning in 2014 – why it is crucial to be critical

Neil opens with a referendum joke! He has taken the title of the conference and wanted to give a spin on that. I tend not to go to too many ed tech things, I take a critical take on this stuff… Sometimes I’m kind of wheeled out to be a panto villain but actually from the papers, from this mornings symposium, I think there are some great critically minded people here, so hopefully my talk will be about empowering rather than converting you.

I’m a ferocious self-googler. When I do that I find that my impact is terrible – I get raised early and argued against. Or I have said something sarcastically and it has been quoted without the quoted appreciating the sarcasm – his one Wikipedia mention is in that direction. I should be pleased I’m on Wikipedia… But whenever I google myself it is entertaining. I do see undergrad blogs that are fantastic – students tell it as it is. One student suggested I “just need a cuddle”, it’s amazing to see your work reflected that way.

Social media back channels can be particularly interesting… I was Ed Media in 2010 – an enormous conference. I went on 1.10. Within a few minutes in as being accused of being a naysayer…

So today’s hashtag is #nlc2014… Backchannel with caution!

In one respect I should expect critical responses to being critical. One of the first phrases I learned in Australia was “such it up princess!”. I like the idea of the young people, the who cares “haters gonna hate” attitude. But I get a bit dispondent, I want to do some things better… I want to have more impact, I want to makes. Stand for galvanising the critical mindset. Conversations and questions we should be asking. I want to make a pitch for reclaiming the “c” word.

#1
The digital revolution hasn’t taken place. We live In a world where the same inequalities from thirty forty years ago are still there, to some extent even more entrenched. Educational and networked learning still have a lot to prove. We are beset by the no significant different phenomenon, so questions we have to ask. Education is really digital but it’s often mundane. We use PPT, VLEs, turnitin… But often a digital gloss and education having same radiations, structures etc. we were promised jet packs but all we have is PowerPoint and MOOCs. We have to think carefully about this whole hype, hope, disappointment cycle. The dies of “technology meets classroom, classroom wins”. Take the MOOC. 2008, looks so exciting, idea of cMOOCs, but look where we are now in 2014 where we have these subverted, captured by these different agendas. We seem to be amongst disruption and change… But generally this field is disappointing, be interested in state of the actual, rather than state of the art. We aren’t stupid. We know this. But we tend to turn a blind eye.

If you saw Latchem 2014 railed against the quality of papers being submitted to BJET. Saying “there revolution is always about to happen”.

#2 being critical is not in the ed-tech DNA

I think people in this world tend to be very positive. If any of you follow Lev Manovich you’ll have seen him having a rant in December about how every event seems to be about celebration. I think there are great parallels between contemporary art and our field. Those outside of contemporary art don’t see the point, see it as self indulgent. And those within it feel they are changing the world. A critique here calls out “accomplice paranoia”, the fear of bursting the bubble. Vito Campanella 2010 talks about contemporary at world constantly eluding the possibility of critical judgement, leaving slace only for friendly and convivial sharing of nothingness.

There are two reasons I think some of this is true of our field. Firstly we really want to make the world a better place. “Technology enhance learning” or “computer assisted learning”, making the defecto role of those working in this space is of the positivity of technology, it only having a positive impact. And that’s true of technology and society in other contexts…. The one laptop per child slogan “not every child in the world has a laptop, this is a bug and we are going to fix it”, that kind of mindset can lead to madness.

I think there is a real need to question whether
Are we afraid to “rock the boat”. We don’t want to bite the hand that feeds us. It’s not in our interest to say that this is emporers new clothes. It’s not exclusively technology. Education generally seems to be about creativity and innovation these days, not about criticality at all – see stearn 2013, Communication in critical studies.

So there is much to be lost in being critical. My problem is that (a) education and technology does not seem to be working but also (b) money is averted towards these initiatives. We need to calm down a bit. We need to slow down a abit. Stop being desperate to find the next big thing. And we. Need to grow up a bit. We are stuck in wow land. Or a teen place of wanting to smash it to the man by being disruptive – the open tech community can be particularly guilty of this. We have to be more adult, worldly, cynical. In a positive way. Criticality can be positive, it can be constructive (lovink 2008). I think this idea of being realistic, perhaps even fatalistic can be really helpful, better than current idealism.

But how can we do this? Three approaches…

#1 the dictionary definition (of being critical)

So actually thinking about both merits and faults of the worth. This is being sceptical rather than cynical. It means asking difficult questions. I love these questions from Sonia Livingston: q: what is really going on? Q: how can. This be explained? Q: how can Things be done otherwise?

So I think we. Have to more specifically ask:
– what underlying values/agendas are implicit
– in whose interests does this work? Who benefits?
– what is new here?
– what are the unit tended consequences… What are the second order effects?
– what are the potential gains… What are the potential losses
– what are the social losses being addressed?

#2 in Praise of pessimism

I recommend reading dienstag 2006, getting over the idea that not all problems can be solved. It’s not about being defeatist. But to approach educational technology from the perspective of expecting nothing. Gramscis idea of being a pessimist by intention, an optimist by will. But we should have modest intentions. Try to be more honest about not believing we a re sating a Revolution.

#3 Critical theory

I’ve been getting interested in this, from Frankfurt group onwards. Increasingly interested in thinking about how we can address educational technology from a critical theory perspectives. Ed techs re profoundly political processes. There are issues of power, control, domination, conflict, resistance, struggle. There are concerns with empowerment, equality, social justice and participatory democracy.

Nigel thrift, the philosopher, has these found aspects we can bring to research… Of bringing a powerful sense of engagement with politics and the political, a consistent belief that there much be better ways of doing things than are currently found in the world, a neccassarily orientation to a critique of power and expression…

There is some great stuff on sociology if tech. Christian Fuchs social media a critical introduction? David berry’s critical theory of education. And nick dyer witherfords games of empire. So much in this space, though not in the digital education world.

So what can we really learn here…

#1 power and politics – dominance and equality. The nasty bits that get in the way if our idealism

#2 asking questions, testing limited, pointing out contradictions. Interrogate, poke at these ideas, test the logic. You don’t have to have the alternative answers to critique other work.

#3 doing something and for I g change. It’s not critical in the negative way, you can force change through being critical. You don’t need to solve through a new app. (See Fuller and Goffey 2012 – Evil media). I have a lot of sympathy with design approaches, but you cannot have design as an alternative to criticality. You can’t design your way out of all social problems. Design Asa. Critical act in itself has real merit though.

Let’s just finish with how we might move stop… The five habits of five highly disaffected people if you will..

#1 need to depersonalise how we perceive EdTech – not what your family, your students, your grandchildren do. You’re experiences are not the general experience.

#2 need to be nasty. Or at least disagreeable. Part of why I am drawn to those critical tweets. There should be conflict.we. Shouldn’t all agree with each other. This is why I recommend Audrey Watters on twitter and her hack education blog.. She is snarky and awkward Ina brilliant way. But…

#3 we have to do this with humour and good grace, you can make great points through humour. Audrey’s buzzword bingo for SXSWEDU is great for this. We need to be aware of the importance of language, it’s fun but the underlying point is serious.we. Need to be playful in our deconstruction of the field.

#4 need to be contrary, contradictory, uncertain. Danah Boyd’s new book is it’s complicated. Geoffrey seimans stopped doing keynotes because of his concern at the rock star and solution driven nature of the space, he wrote a great blog post on this.

#5 need to be persistent and prominent. I saw great papers this morning but this group are not typical of the networked learning or technology enhanced learning space. The most interesting people who are most critical seem to swiftly move onto other areas. You need to beat the system, stay at it. A message for me too. The field is full of rubbish… Hmm… Did I say that out loud!

One of the most recent books I write was distrusting educational technology – neil Selwyn. My own book publishers cocked up the title to “distributing educational technology” at the launch. That’s how unthinkable criticism in this area is.

The questions we ask shapes the way we are living. John wheeler, talking about quantum physics said:

“Reality is defined by the questions we put to it”

We need to define ourselves with critical questions… And what better way to start than here at this conference…?!

Q&A

Q – Bonnie Stewart, Canada: I appreciate the provocation but… I’m a big fan of Audrey Watters too. But she’s not nasty, she punches up. She’s critical on the one speaking to the many level… Is nastiness more authentic when you talk peer to peer versus up to the powers that be?

A: I love when she punches up to the powers that be. Yes, peer to peer… You talks this morning about social networks and digital scholars… Between ourselves we need humour. Nasty isnt maybe right. Maybe snarky or spiky is better.

Q- Laura chenovitz, university of Cape Town: since you moved to Australia what’s your take on the geopolitical landscape in technology trends and education and technology

A: I am fascinated by global brands, by international development. It’s another critical aspect that is really important. The big business of this is astonishing. The $7 billion industry of educational technology is fascinating. One of the reasons I wanted to work in saucy trails was to tweak my outlook a bit.

Q: I enjoyed that talk much more than I really wanted to! The point I grapple with… If you have the luxury where what you produce in your daily work is critique that’s great. For many their job relies in taking action… To what extent can a critical mindset be part of those contrained circumstances. Perhaps partly it’s about the scope of faction, what is doable, what actions one might take. Think that gels with being modest in effects. But then I wonder that if you have freedom tow ct as critical commentator you can trump and squash that local action

A: I am privileged to be a tenured academic, I think we have a requirement to be critical. I am fascinated by danah boyd. She finished her ohd and went to work for Microsoft, criticised for working for the man. And if you see what she does there, she has a great team of critically minded researchers there. She is working within and to influence Microsoft. I’ve done work for Microsoft, for big business before. You can either be a teenager and reject them, or you can try to engage and influence. So academics have a need to be critical, but you can work within other spaces in critical ways to shape those places.

Q: I think a lot of people working on critical takes on education, get along to wollawonga? And meet the authors of becoming critical. I agree with much of what you said. We are tied to assessment regime, and we don’t get credit for that in a way. These are more than dialogical objects.

A: I don’t claim to be totally original here. I’m trying to bridge those working on critical theory and critical takes on education, and to technology education. They tend to sit rather separately at the moment. It has been possible to get funding for critical approaches but it is quite difficult.

Q: do you actually need a cuddle? What I can’t square with what you are saying… It appeals to the intellect but much of the emotions are negative. But when compared to happy smiling sales pitch of commercial educational spaces. We can develop critical voices but when a salesman turns up with that smiling picture where is the money going to come in?

A: I think that’s where humour and snarkiness comes in, and can help us here.

Q: thank you for your talk. I have a question about what exactly you are critical of at the end of the day. Is about technology not delivering what it is supposed to. Or does it deliver but it’s in the wrong hands politically…

A: there is a need to say this in this field, more than in sociology and ethnography space. I have a problem with promises of technology. It can be good. It hasn’t realised potential. It can be a Distraction and financially and intellectually a real diversion. If we invested like this in education generally what impact might ewe have. Resources a re finite one cucatkpn, looks at the California iPads for school kids debacle. I have no issue with big business per say.

Q- Claire westrick, university of Warwick: I do live in the real world but OA of that is applying for funding… Given how I have to do that, and to place the university brand how do I calm down, slow down and grow up.

A: VCs and politicians work in kind of five year cycles. We have to be savvy about why we do the things we do. Convenient stories play well to audiences we are working with. It’s about changing the conversation. But to takea. Historical take on technology and education, maybe make decision makers think differently with that longer context. I think that’s possible.

Q-cal meany, Uni of Toronto: as someone looking to get a job, looking to supervise me… Being critical can be so hard. Finding the right supervisor can be tough… Any advice?

A: I’d say play the game, publish a lot, tick the boxes. PhDs are such a privileged position to push back boundaries, Dow hat you want. Probably easier to do in land than anywhere else. You an. Make your research be useful and to be constructive, it’s getting the balance right. It’s difficult. Not sure I can help with advice on getting a. Job.

Q- elem rose, Uni of Brunswick Canada: I’ve been writing critically on you cation for a while. I wanted to ask about pessimism… I seem to be stuck in that… Technology seems to suck up our time so much. How do you deal with pessimism.

A: I’m a bit if a contrarily. If everyone was critical I’d probably be enthusing for technology. None of us could work without technology. I think pessimism is good. And technology is really good too. Amazing inert action on screen, on twitter, often far richer! Maybe I’m arguing against myself.

Q: I thought that was terrific. I wanted to pick up on what we do next… T&l think about choosing our friends when we talk about thinking critically. We have our own choices in our own teaching. And there are people who are concerned by personal freedoms and justice who work outside the academy. I’ve done work with trade unions. There are charities as well. So thinking about our friends when we think about thinking critically.

A: absolutely. Thinking critically in our own teaching is really important. Teaching is really important. Similarly getting voices to news media etc., where real people are. The stuff that went on in future lab was often really good. Think tanks, outside the academy can be interesting. Do is I’m looking a t although they seem to be more design approach at the moment. Unions are important though, my latest book is on technology and the university brings some of these in. Hugely important.

Q: I enjoyed your talk. Looking at it you treat criticality as a method you can apply to everything. But I am sceptical of the validity of treating theses sorts of skills as general. There is no method of being critical, it’s being critical in specific contexts. But not that much solid stuff about how to be critical. In Denmark those critical of iPads are academics but they are being pushed out by politicians. So I guess is want to ask if your five bullets are genuinely a critical approach, is this just a straw Man to attack?

A: it’s a spectrum. And a disposition to add to the mix, a starting point. There are concrete projects.we. Are doing a project on open a data at Monash. E want to ask critical questions of data in schools. Asking critical questions, considering those who are not usually included in those discussions. May result in tools or apps, but it will certainly raise those conversations, those argument ts. But sure five take home messages is a bit pithy, I take that criticism.

Q: my own work is with practical teachers in secondary and HE. Looking at impact of technology on their working lives. Seems to be a lack of freedom in the ways teachers can talk about education without being perceived as Luddite. Still a really deterministic mindset in education than in ither appeal es. This seems important to publish… Where should I publish that?

A: that is important. And where to publish? well probably not an academic journal? Blogging and tweeting good but tends to still go to the ed tech bubble. So mainstream print press important. Publish as much as possible in as many places as possible. Often the weird little newsletter items get the most interest. Throw enough mud at the wall I think.

Q: I am coming from a country, turkey, where millions has been spent on iPads for schools. As scholars when we begin to ask our research questions they already have the iPads. I think we need to speed up. We have a new problem of non generalisability. So many studies, projects etc. but all so different and cannot be out together. In terms of research methods what do you think?

A: you are also coming from a country trying to ban twitter and YouTube. Really important and interesting factors in the concept. We have to move beyond technology as positive or not positive towards something more nuanced. Need politicians and leaders to think that way. If you get everyone iPads you have to not think that will raise money, improve grades etc. because those are not the questions to ask…

And with that, it’s off to coffee for us.

Perspectives on identity within networked learning – Jane Davis, Catherine Cronin, Joyce zeitzinger

We really do mean perspectives here… And this session is very much about making you think. The hashtag for this session is #nlcid

Jane Davis is starting first talking about:

Dimensions of identity and the student experience of networked learning
So who am I? I’m myself, things like my twitter profile, my professional role, my former student role. I’m particularly interested in us thinking about what it was like to be you in your last experience of being a student.

For me as a student being a student and a practitioner had a lot of overlap for a while…. At a given point being a student had more precedence than other roles. But when foster came to my college my student role had to take a. Back seat for a while. There is a high degree of porosity and merging, that all has a real impact on students and what they do…

I want you to think about your role when you were a student, I want you to think about your roles and how they overlapped…. (We have coloured paper and pritt stick to help!

We all have different diagrams here. No two of ours are the same… And that represents very different priorities – with students not being the most.

Peter Burke and ? Sanders talk about the nature of your identity standard as a student. Mark Smithers asked about this on twitter recently. I want you to think about what you felt when considering your student role identity. What influenced you? What shaped your perceptions of the student role? What did you expect to get out of being a student?

(We now have another activity, numbering possible expectations we may have had). Again. None of us match up exactly.

Can’t well (2007) reenergised Burke and Reitzes, 1991 work on student identities by bringing up the idea of dimensions of the student role identity:

– academic responsibility – about meeting objectives
– sociability
– intellectual curiosity
– personal assertiveness – goal orientated whether academic or not

All different continua. You have all the pressures of students roles. And we have all those expectations. And hey, we just called them students.

So in terms of impact… We have the salience of the student role identity (goals and priorities), and porosity of roles (trust, willingness to share). And lastly we have the relational nature of affordances of the learning place/space. Thinking of affordances as having a relational meaning. And then lastly thinking about David Whites idea of digital native continuum we think about the nature of engagement/practice with technology for learning (reflecting practices of visitor, tourist, tenant or resident).

And now over to Catherine Cronin

Networked learning and identity development in open online spaces

I want to use janes ideas as a springboard to move a level up and think about our interactions with students. I wanted to start with a quote from Joi Ito talking about education as a process entirely to do with context and experience.

Space prepares you to receive or to respond – from jenny mackness’ “sensing spaces”, royal academy of arts. So I want to talk a bit about teaching spaces, lee rainie and Barry well an talk, in networked, about networked individualism. Here networks are not bound by geography or family. Mobile technologies have only exaggerated and accelerated this. And temporality. danah boyd talks about space constructed through networked technologies, and the imagined collective by which this takes place (boyd 2010). Spaces used to be private by default, public by effort. Now we talk about Things being public by default, private by effort.

Alex couros talked about the networked teacher, building on the idea of the networked individual. The tools and media change all the time but the point is that we all are networked individuals. Looking at my own about.me website I very much curate a multimodal, immediate space rather than point to a static institutional page.

So how do networked teachers and networked students encounter each other? We both have these multiple spaces, how do we interact? Can define these in three ways perhaps, physical spaces, bounded online spaces, open online spaces. Some events use all three. But in terms of pedagogical choices and identity and power, it’s important to think about what’s possible and. What the advantaged and disadvantages of these spaces are.

In physical spaces we often have to work against the tyranny of rad hitecture.we can. Create live and vibrant communities with students in physical spaces. But we do have spatial and temporal constraints. Bounded online spaces do give us some more freedom, we are a little bit freer in how we express ourselves. But for instance students can only use their own birth certificate name in the LMS. And we have privileges in these spaces. Whereas in open online spaces we can choose to identify ourselves by our own name or representation, identity play can seem challenging.

Danny miller (2013) reflects that those different identities are there but not acknowledged in offline spaces. But open online spaces can be challenging all the same. And those open spaces are public by default, private by effort. Many students have confident online social identities but perhaps not confident scholarly or professional or similar identities. But we can model those, students can play with disposable student identities etc.

So looking at a visualisation generated via martin hawkseys tag explorer looking at #icollab which were discussions from students looking at social media across multiple institutions. They engage with students beyond the classroom and see instructors modelling themselves as. Students, breaking down the student/learner dichotomy.

Kris Gutierrez (2008) looked at language learning, found that all formal spaces were not effective. But if you creates. Third space, both formal and informal that can be more productive. About spaces like twitter, google+ something like that. Use some skills they may have to combine formal and informal learning. Students are learning that if we only engage in formal spaces there is an inauthentic divide there. So third spaces bridge informal and formal learning. And a bridge between intact groups and communities, and into bigger networks. It’s pretty scary to go out on your own as a Newbie to get out onto a hashtag but we can help students practice, to establish those literalicies.

We cannot deny these third spaces, and to only focus on formal spaces. – Etienne wenger (2010). Keri facer and neil Selwyn talk about the importance of learners practicing different identities.

And now over to Joyce seitzinger:

Curate me! Exploring online identity through social curation in networked learning
So I’m talking about ways in which people enact their identity through curation, or at least interacting with information resources. I wanted to look back at how we are talking about this. E.g. Siemensa and weller talk about “reduced resistance to information flow”, vent dear Kline focuses on cacti cities, learning by finding, learning by adding new information…

At the same time if you go online there is a term for interacting with information – just looking at google trends – is that term “curation”. As I researched this…. There is a journal of digital curation but that’s about data and archiving, curating artefacts not for an audience or time but generating massive collections which may be accessed sometime by someone. But if you search around content curation tends to be about driving traffic, SEO, quite a negative connotation. And then we have the idea of social curation, that’s what fascinates me…

So I want to kind of propose something of a. Definition of social curation:

“The discovery, selection,…. To be useful for the community” [full version needed]

So you have all these artefacts out on the internet. And you have a process (discovery, selection, collect, sharing). Many discovery tools here – twitter, Facebook, zite, flipboard… And you have the humans election la. And then there is the collection process and sharing – although you may not share things.

So that was a bit of a primer… But what are the opportunities here? You have Goffmans presentation of self, and the idea of impressions of self. Nowhere is that more apparent than in social collections. That can look like this – a Pinterest profile… [i note a nod to Portlandia’s put a bird on it in the mix there].

So that’s about enacting an identity through third party artefacts. Danah Boyd’s criteria for an SNS is about links between people, of that being articulated. But actually around social curation you might only connect around the artifact – see harro and? Pinterest study. Connection doesn’t have to occur to view or engage with artefacts. Online identities do not automatically require heavy personal disclosure. Curation is perhaps a good intermediary step for those unwilling to disclose but want to build an online identity.

Another issue you get on social media is the issue of collapsed context. The issue of not friending your students on above book say… Here again curation is a possible alternative. And the role being acted becomes clear from the context of the (Pinterest) board.

And another way to communicate around curation is through community identification through curation…

Which brings us to the next mapping activity… Using the digital visitor/digital resident diagram into a curation one… So map your curated collections

[private at one end, bounded in centre, open at other end; personal at top, institutional at bottom]

Can be interesting to think about which of those closed or bounded objects should be there, are those bounded collections mobile if you change roles? If. You have loads and loads of different tools maybe you need to tone it down. Good to take stock, to enact your identity, but not jump on every bandwagon.

And now we move to the plenary, an opportunity for questions, to have a. Conversation…. To discuss…

Comment: we were talking about how personal and institutional don’t seem right. Much more personal and professional.

Joyce: that’s dave whites axes and they liked at students. I think personal and professional might make more sense

Jane: and actually going back to earlier diagrams an opportunity to see how things mesh…

Comment: also maybe aligned more to discipline or profession rather than institution.

Comment: Catherine when you talk about the networked student, and of spaces. That’s kind of an outsider view. Student view here sees paths, activities etc. not in the separations of space.

Catherine: not sure if martin and leslie is here is very much about student perspectives. My work is about those interactions and where interactions take place…

Comment: you need to consider time in there too. If you focus too much on space you miss there

Catherine: yes, and there seems to be less constraints about time in open spaces

Comment: I wanted to ask about good curation and bad curation. You shouldn’t just dump stuff but leave some sort of comment, but then is that arrogant, is my comment important?

Joyce: I disagree with the perspective that you have to add something for it to be good curation. Just bringing those together is a form of added value and certainly a form of curation

Comment: can I add to that that I retweet things I don’t agree with at all but which I am curious about, want to see reactions to. To attribute this to me wouldn’t be correct.

Joyce: some people will say that on their profile but twitter as a space doesn’t neccassarily assume you agree

Comment: on that first bit what you said, Catherine , reminded me of the concept of liminal space.

Catherine: liminality is about moving towards, but luminiferous talks about a raw formative space. Away from either/or…

Comment: liminal space, classically, doesn’t mean having to move away or towards something. But of being in a tansitional space or identity.

Catherine: I need to explore that in relation to identity and power

Comment: on one of your slides you had a really big blob compared to others… You seem to assume that student is an identity that is desirable. A lot of negative connotations of the “student”.

Jane: the examples of roles is actually taken from my doctoral research. I found some students who wanted the archetypal student experience, and it was about being away from home, forming a social group etc. they felt that when visiting home still identified as a students. But we also had lots of mature students, lots of part time students where being a Student meant something so different. So when we think about learning environments we have to be very aware of those other roles and any assumptions about the holistic nature of them. The two profiles I showed though, those came from my research.

Comment: have any of you been talking about data identities. Tools like Netflix or spotify as rich spaces that curate us almost…

Joyce: really interesting. I was involved in a crowdfunded research project. We collected all tweets from this to build a networked diagram. Very rich. And could see how impact changed by tweeting In a particular way. Huge amount you can. Lenin. But tools like scoopit and Pinterest it can be harder to pull out data. And of course there is that whole black box aspect to much of this data.

Jane: Mark Hannibal on twitter tweets a lot about quantified self…

Please do keep discussion going on on the hashtag #nlcid.

And with that the session has finished.

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 April 7, 2014  Posted by at 3:15 pm Uncategorized Tagged with:  2 Responses »
Apr 032014
 

Today I am at the Digital Humanities: What does it mean? session at Teviot debating Hall. I will be running two workshops later but will LiveBlog others talks taking place today.

We are starting with an introduction from Jessica from Forum, who is explaining the background to today’s event, in exploring what digital humanities are and what it means to be a digital only journal.

The first speaker today is Lisa Otty

Lisa Otty – Digital Humanities or How I Learned to stop worrying and love the computer

I’m going to take “digital humanities, what does it mean?” In two ways. Firstly thinking about literal definitions, but also thinking more rhetorically about what this means.

Digital humanities generate many strong opinions and anxieties – hence my title borrowed from Dr strange love. So I want to move beyond the polemic to what digital humanities actually means to practitioners.

I want to ask you about the technologies you use… From word processing to Google books, to blogs, twitter, to Python and raspberry pis (by show of hands most use the former, two code, one uses a raspberry pi to build). There is a full spectrum here.

Wikipedia is probably the most widely used encyclopedia but I suspect most academics would still be sceptical about it… Can we trust crowdsourced information? Well it’s definition of digital humanities is really useful. What we should particularly take from this definition that it is a methodology, computational methods. Like critical theory it cross cuts different disciplines, which is why to slot into universities structures.

Chris Forster, on the HASTAC blog (9/8/2010), talks about digital humanities as about direct practical use of computational methods for research, of media studies new media, using technology in the classroom, and the way new technology is rescaling research and the profession – academic publishing, social media, and alt-ac (those academic-like but from outside traditional structures, eg based in support services).

So I’ve recrafted this a but. Digital humanities is about:

Research that uses computational methods and tools. Probably the most famous proponent of this is Franco Morello, who uses quantitative computational methods in his area of literature. This is work at large scale – often called scalable reading or distance reading. So for instance looking at British novelistic genres 1740-1900 he has created a visual representation of how these genres appear and disappear – frequently in clusters. Moretti says that this maps out the expectations of genres over time.

Similarly Moretti has visualised the characters in Hamlet and their deaths, mapping out that characters closely related to the king and closely related to polonium then you are toast. Now you could find that out by reading Hamlet, but with that approach you can go and explore other texts.

Research that studies digital objects/cultural. Lev Marovich has founded the concept of cultural analytics. For instance a recent project looks at people’s self portraits online, how they present themselves, how they describe themselves. They found women take more selfies than men, women take them in their early twenties, men in their thirties, and people I’m susan Paulo like to recline in their selfies – not sure what that part tells us!

Research that builds digital objects/tools. For instance the Carnegie Mellon Docuscope which looks for linguistic markers and rhetorical patterns. Interestingly colleagues at strathclyde using this tool found that structurally Othello is a comedy.

So you may be building tools for your discipline or area of research we also see tools built around digitised texts, such as Codex Simaiticus. This has been digitised using a process which photographs the texts in many didn’t light levels and conditions, including ultra violet light. This allows scholars to work with texts in new ways, to read previously inaccessible or delicate texts. And there are 3d imaging techniques too. So digital images have really important implications for humanities scholars, particularly in areas such as archeology.

This computation research fits into four key fields:
– digitisation and TEI, the latter a metadata mark up language which is really scholarly best practice to use. Whole projects are based around setting up details in TEI.
– mapping and data visualisation – like Moretti, georeferencing etc.
– text mining/topic modelling
– physical computing – a catch all for digital imaging and similar technologies

I wanted to now focus on some projects with a close association with this university.

– digitisation and TEI – the Modernist Versions project
– mapping and data visualisation – PLEIDES, extracted georeferenced texts from ancient classical texts
– text mining – Palimpsest uses text mining to georeferences references to places in texts to allow exploration in situ using mobile phones.
– physical computing – digital imaging unit at edinburgh university library is brilliant, has a fantastic blog, a rich resource.

So to the rhetorical aspects of DH.

Roberto Busa (1949-2005) undertook a visionary project with IBM, the Index Thomisticus. He was really the first person to connect text to the internet. The world of 2005 when that project went live was very different to 1949.

The term Digital humanities was coined in 2001. Computing was already about teaching, publishing, convergent practices… The definition of DH which relates the field to to a three ring circus really connects to Chris foresters definition.

By 2009 we reached a pivotal moment for digital humanities! it moved from emergent to established (Christine ?, UCLA). Some enthusiasts saw this as the future. But it generated a kind of equal and opposite reaction… Not everyone wants borders reshaped and challenged, they were already invested in their own methods. New methods can be daunting. What seemed most worrying was what digital humanities might bring with it. Anxieties arose from very real concerns…

There has been an encroachment of science and the precariousness of the humanities with medical humanities, cognitive humanities, neuro humanities, digital humanities. Here the rhetoric sees scientific methods as more valid than humanities. People like frank morello don’t help here. And to what extent do we use these scientific approaches to validate humanities work? I don’t think the humanities would be any less precarious if all used such approaches.

And there are managerial and financial issues, Daniel Allington, himself a digital humanities scholars. He describes humanities research as cheap, disadvantagious from two perspectives, both funders and universities. Sometimes theses projects can be about impact or trendiness, not always about the research itself. matthew tanbaum(?) describes it more tactfully, with DH as “tactical coinage”, acknowledging the reality of circumstances in which DH allows us to get things done, to put it simply.

And who is in DH? Generally it is a very gendered and a very white group. Typically teenage boys are the people who teach themselves to code. The terms can be inaccessible. It can be ageist.it can seem to enforce privilegde. There are groups that are seeking to change this, but we have to be aware of the implications.

And those tools I showed before… Those are mainly commercial companies, as we all know if you do not pay for a service, you are the product, even the British newspaper archive is about digitising in order to charge via genealogy websites. DH has a really different relationship to business, to digital infrastructure. I want to tell you about this to explain the polemical responses to DH. And so that you understand the social, cultural and professional implications.

Geoffrey Harpham, in NEH bulletin (winter 2014) talk about research as being about knowledge but also the processes by which it is brought into being. We are all using digital tools. We just have to be conscious of what we are doing, what we are priviledging, what we are excluding. digital humanities scholars have put this well in a recent MIT publication. They point to questions raised:
– what haloens when anyone can speak and publish? What happens when knowledge credential in is no longer controlled solemnly by institutions of higher learning?
– who can create knowledge?

I liken this time to the building of great libraries in the nineteenth century. We have to be involved and we really have to think about what it means to become digital. We need to shape this space in critical ways, shaping the tolls we need.

Matthew Kirshenbaum talks about digital humanities as mobile and tactical signifier. He talks about the field as a network topology. DH, the keyword, the tag, constantly changes, is constantly redefined.

And in a way this is why Wikipedia is the perfect place to seek a definition, it is flexible and dynamic.

Digital Humanities has to also be flexible, it is up to all of us to make it what we want it to be.

Q&A

Q1) is this an attempt for humanities to redefine itself to survive?
A1) it’s an important areas. The digital humanist does work collaboratively with the sciences. The wrong approach is to be staking out you space and defending it, collaborative work is tactical. So many post phd roles are temporary contracts around projects. We can’t just maintain the status quo, but we. Do have to think strategically about what we do, and be critical in thinking about what that means.

Q2) coming back to your Wikipedia comment, and the reinforcement of traditional privilege… I’ve become increasingly aware that Wikipedia can also be replicating traditional structures. Wikipedian in residence legitimises Wikipedia, but does it not also potentially threaten the radical nature of the space?
A2) you’ve put your finger on the problem, I think we are all aware of the gender bias in Wikipedia. And those radical possibilities, and threats are important to stay on top of, and that includes understanding what takes place behind the scenes, in order to understand what that means.

Q3) I wanted to ask about the separate nature of some of those big digital humanities centre
A3) in the USA there are some huge specialist centres at UCLS, university of Victoria, Stanford, create hugely specialist tools which are freely available but which attract projects and expertise to their organisation. In a way the lack of big centres here does make us think more consciously about what digital humanities is. I was speaking to Andrew Prescott about this recently and he thinks the big DH centres in the UK will disappear and that it will be dispersed across humanities departments. But it’s all highly political and we. Have to be aware of the politics of these tools and organisations when we Use and engage with them.

Q4) given we all have to put food on the table, how can we work with what is out there already – the Googles of the world who do hire humanities experts for instance.
A4) I didn’t mean to suggest google is bad, they are good in many ways. But DH as a tactical term is something that you can use for your benefit. It is a way to get into a job! That’s perfectly legitimate. There are very positive aspects to the term in terms of deployment and opportunities.

Q5) how do you get started with DH?
A5) a lot of people teach themselves… There are lots of resources and how too guides online. There is Stanford’s “tooling up for the digital humanities”, Roy rosewhite centre has DH tools. Or for your data you can use things like Voyant Tolls. Lots of eresoures online. Experiment. And follow DH people on twitter. Start reading blogs, read tutorials of how to do things. Watch and learn!

Q6) are there any things coming up you can. Recommend?
A6) yes, we have an event coming up on 9th June. Informations coming soon. You can sign up for that to see presentations, speak to scholars about DH, and there will be a bidding process for a small amount of money to. Try these tools. And there is also a DH network being established by institutions across Scotland so look out for news on that soon!

And with that I ran two workshops…

Panel Session

We have Jo Shaw chairing, Ally Crockford! Anna Groundwater, James Loxley! Louise Settle, Greg Walter

Greg
My project is not very digital, and largely Inhumane! I think I’m here to show you what not to do! My project is theatrical, the only 16th century play form Scotland to survive. It had never been performed since 1554. We kind of showed why that was! It is 5 and can half hours long… We got a director, actors, etc. funding to do this, and why is so hard to do financially. So we set up a website, Staging and Representing the Scottish Renaissance Court, with HD video that can be edited and manipulated. Endless blogging, twittering, and loads fore sources for teachers etc. and we have local dramatic groups who are taking the play up. The Linlithgow town Players are performing it all next year for instance

Ally

This is incomplete but my project is called digital manipulation a, grew out of AHRC project with surgeons hall in edinburgh. The city is first UNESCO city of literature but medically it is also historically one of the most important cities in the world. So makes some sense to look at those two factors together. So my site, a mock up, is Dissecting Edinburgh. A digital project, based on omeka, designed for non IT specialists but it’s still pretty tough to use actually. They have plugins and extensions. Bit like wordpress but more designed for academic curation. For instance have an extension that has been used to map literary connections between real locations and HP Lovecrafts work. And you can link sources to comment back to full text. And you can design “exhibitions” based on keywords or themes. Looking for similarities in sources, etc.mthat is the hope of what it will look like… Hopefully!

Louise
My IASH project uses historical GIS to map crime from 1900 to 1939. Looking at women’s experiences, and looking at policing. Geography became important which is how I came to use GIS. I used edinburgh Map Builder… Although if you aren’t looking just at Edinburgh you can use Digimap which has full UK coverage. I wasn’t technically minded but I came to use these tools because of my research. So I got my data from court records and archives… And out that into GIS, plot them on the map, see what changes and patterns occur. Changes appear… And suggest new questions… Like plotting entertainment venues etc. and I’ve used that in papers, online etc. I’m also working with MESH: mapping edinburghs social history which is a huge project looking at living, dying, making, feeding, drinking… Huge scale project on Edinburgh.

James
This is a blog site plus I suppose. This was a project Anna and I were working on from 2011-2013 based on a very long walk that Ben Jonson took. I was lucky enough to turn up a manuscript by his travelling companion. I was exploring a text, annotating it, summarising it, and creating a book… But Anna had other ideas and we found new digital tools to draw out elements of the account… Despite being about a writer and a poet it’s much more a documentary account of the journey itself. So within the blog we were able to create a map of the walk itself…. With each point a place that Jonson and his companion visited. This was all manually created with google maps. It was fun but time consuming. Then created a database used for this map. And then there markers for horse or coaches. We worked with Dave in our college we team to help with this who was great at bringing this stuff together. For each place you could find the place, the dates visited, distance form last point, details of food of drink etc. sort of tabulated the walk… And that plays to the strengths of the texts. And we could calculate Jonsons preferred walking speed… Which seemed to be thresh miles per hour – seems unlikely as he was in his forties and 20stone according to other accounts at the time…

Anyway in addition we used the blog to track the walk, each going live relative to the point that Jonson and his companion had reached. And the points on the map appeared to the same schedule – gave people a reason to go back and revisit…

The most fun was the other bit…

Anna

I’m going to talk a bit about how we did that I real time. We want edit o be creative… Because we didn’t want to do the walk! And so ewe tweeted in real time, using modernised version (and spelling) of the text in the voice of the travelling companions,and. Chunked up into the appropriate portions of the day. It felt more convincing and authentic because it was so fixed and authentic in terms of timing. (See @benjonsonswalk). We did it on trace book as well. And tweets showed on the blog so you could follow from tweet to blog… It unfolded in real time and always linked back to more detail about Ben Jonsons walk on the blog.

Now… It was an add on to the project. Not in original AHRC blog. Just built it in. It was 788 tweets. It was unbelievably time consuming! We preloaded the tweets on Hootsuite. So preloaded but we could then interact as needed. Took a month to set up. And once up and running you have to maintain it. Between us we did that. But it was 24/7. You have to reply, you have to thank them for following. We got over 1200 followers engaging. Fun bit was adding photos to tweets and blog of, say, buildings from that time that still stand. What I wasn’t expecting was what we got back from the public… People tweeted or commented with information that we didn’t know… And that made it into the book and is acknowledged. It was real Knowledge Exchange in practice!

James: the twitter factor got us major media interest from all the major newspapers, radio etc. madden. Big impact.

Anna: Although more and more projects will be doing these things, we did have a novelty factor.

Jo: what was the best thing and the worst thing about what happens?

Greg: best thing wasn’t digital, it was working with ac tors. Learned so much working together. Worst thing was… Never work with trained ravens!

Ally: best thing is that I’m quite a nerd so I love finding little links and. Connections… I found out that Robert Louis Stevenson was friends with James Demoson (?) daughter, he had discovered cloroform… Lovely comments in her texts about Stevenson, as a child watching her father at work from out of his window. Worst thing is that I’m a stickler and a nerd, ow ant to start from scratch and learn everything and how it works…. The timeload is huge.

Louise: best thing was that I didn’t know I was interested in maps before, so that’s been brilliant. Worst part was having to get up to speed with that and make data fit the right format…but using existing tools can be super time saving.

James: best thing was the enthusiasm of people out there, I’m a massive nerd and Ben Jonson fan… Seeing others interest was brilliant. Particularly when you got flare ups and interest as Ben Jonson went through their home town… Worst bit was being heckled by an incredibly rude William Shakespeare on twitter!

Anna: the other connection with shakespeare was that Jonson stayed at the george at Huntingdon. You have to hashtag everything so ewe hashtagged the place. We got there… The manager at The George write back to say that they stage a Shakespeare play every year in the courtyard. They didn’t know Jonson had stayed there… Love this posthumous meeting!

Q: what’s come across is how much you’ve learned and come to understand what you’ve been using. Wondered how that changed your thinking and perhaps future projects…

Anna: we were Luddites (nerdy geeky Luddites) but we learned so so much! A huge learning process. The best way to learn is by doing it. It’s the best way to learn those capabilities. You don’t have to do it all. Spot what you can, then go to the write person to help. As to the future… We were down in Yorkshire yesterday talking about a big digital platform across many universities working on Ben Jonson. Huge potential. Collaboration potential exciting. Possibly Europe wide, even US.

Ally: it can change the project… I looked at omeka… I wanted to use everything but you have to focus in on what you need to do… Be pragmatic, do what you can in the time, can build on it later…

Jo: you are working on your own, would co working work better?

Ally: would be better if cross pollinations cross multiple researchers working together. Initially I wanted to see what I can do, if I admin generate some interest. Started off with just me. Spoke to people at NLS, quite interested in directing digitisation in helpful ways. Now identifying others to work with… But I wanted to figure out what I can do as a starting point…

Louise: MESH is quite good for that. They are approaching people to do just part of what’s needed… So plotting brothel locations and I’d already done that… But there were snippets of data to bring in. Working with a bigger team is really useful. Linda who was at IASH last year is doing a project in Sweden and working on those projects has given me confidence to potentially be part of that…

Greg: talking about big data for someone and they said the key thing is when you move from where the technology does what you can, and moves into raising new questions, bringing something new… So we are thinking about out how to make miracle play with some real looking miracles in virtual ways…

Jo: isn’t plotting your way through a form of big data…?

Greg: it’s visualising something we had in our head… Stage one is getting play better known. When we. Get to stage two we can get to hearing their responses to it too…

Anna: interactions and crowdsourcing coming into the research process, that’s where we are going… Building engagement into the project… Social media is very much part of the research process..there are some good English literature people doing stuff. Some of Lisa Otty’s work is amazing. I’m developing a digital literature course… I’ve been following Lisa, also Elliot Lang (?) at strathclyde… Us historians are maybe behind the crowd…

Ally: libraries typically one step ahead of academics in terms of integrating academic tools and resources in accessible formats. So the Duncan street caller lets you flick through floor plans of john murray archive. It’s stunning. It’s a place to want to get to…

James Loxley: working on some of these projects has led to my working on a project with colleagues from informatics, with St. Andrews and with edina to explore and understand how edinburghs cityscape has evolved through literature. Big data, visualisation… Partly be out finding non linear, non traditional ways into the data. This really came from understanding Ben Jonsons walk text in a different structure, as a non linear thing

Q: what would you have done differently

Louise: if I’d known how the data had to be cleaned and structured up front, I’d have done it that way to start with… Knowing how I’d use it.

Ally: I think it would have had a more realistic assessment of what I needed to do, and done more research about the work involved. Would have been good to spends. Few months to look at other opportunities, people working in similar ways rather than reinventing the wheel.

Greg: in a previous project we performed a play at Hampton court, our only choice. We chose to make the central character not funny… In a comedy… A huge mistake. Always try to be funny…

Anna: I don’t think we messed up too badly…

James: I’d have folder funding into the original bid…

Anna: we managed to get some funding for the web team as pilot project thankfully. But yes, build it in. Factor it in early. I think it should be integral, not an add on.

Q: you mentioned using databases…. What kinds have you used? Acid you mentioned storify… Wondered how you used? What is immersive environment for the drama?

Greg: I don’t think it exists yet.a. Discussion at Brunel between engineers, and developers and my collaborator…

Ally: I think there is a project looking in this area…

Louise: I used access for my database…

James: to curate map data we started in excel…. Then dave did magic to make it a google map. Storify was to archive those tweets, to have a store of that work basically…

Anna: there are courses out there. Take them. I went on digimap courses, ARCGIS, social media courses which were really helpful. Just really embrace this stuff. And things change so fast….

And with that we draw to a close with thank yous to our speakers….

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 April 3, 2014  Posted by at 1:57 pm Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , ,  No Responses »