Jun 192013
 

Today EDINA is hosting a talk by Martin Hawksey on data visualisation. He has posted a whole blog post on this, which includes his slides, so I won’t be blogging verbatim but hoping to catch key aspects of his talk.

Martin will be talking about achievable and effective ways to visualise data. He’s starting with Jon Snow’s 1850s map of cholera deaths identifying the epicentre of the outbreak through maps of death. And on an information literacy note you do need to know how to find the story in the graphics. Visualisation takes data, takes stories, and turns them into something of a narrative, explaining and enabling others to explore that data.

Robin Wilton georeferenced that original Snow data then Simon Rodgers (formally of Guardian, latterly of twitter) put data into CartoDB. This re interpretation of the data really makes the infected pump jump out at you, the different ways of visualising that data make the story even clearer.

Not all visualisations work, you may need narration. Graphics may not be meaningful to all people in the same way. E.g. Location of the pumps on these two maps. So this is where we get into theory. Reptinsp, a French cartographer, came up with his own systems of points, lines, symbols etc. but not based on research etc, his own cheat system. If you look at Gestalt psychology you get more research based visualisatsions – laws of similarity, proximity, continuity. There is something natural about where the eye is drawn but there is theory behind that too.

Jon Snows map was about explaining and investigating the data. His maps were explanatory visualisation and we have that same idea in Simon Rodgers map but it is also an exploratory visualisation, the reader/viewer can interact and interrogate it. But there are limitations of both approaches. Within both maps it’s essentially a heat map, more of something (in this case deaths). And you see that in visualisations you often get heat maps that actually map population rather than trends. Tony Hirst says “all charts are lies”. They are always an interpretation of the data from the creator’s point of view…

So going back to Simon Rodgers map we see that the radius of a dots based on the number of deaths. Note from the crowd “how to lie with statistics”. Yes, a real issue is that a lot of the work to get to that map is hidden, lots of room for error and confusion.

So having flagged up some examples and pitfalls I want to move onto the process of making data visualisations. Tools include Excel, Carto GB, Gephi, IBM Many Eyes, etc. but in addition to those tools and services you can also draw. Even now so many visualisations are made via drawing, if only final tweaking. Sometimes a sketch of a visualisation is the way to prototype ideas too. There are also code options, D3JS, SigmaJS, R, GGplot, etc.

Some issues around data: data access can be an issue, hard to find, hard to identify source data etc. Tony Hirst really recommends digging around for feeds, for RSS, find the stuff that feeds and powers pages. There are tools for reshaping feeds and data. Places like Yahoo Pipes, which lets you do drag and drop programming with input data. And I’ve started touching upon data shapes. Data may be provided in certain ways or shapes, but it may not suit your use. So a core skill is the transformation of data to reshape data, tools like Yahoo Pipes, Open Refine – which also lets you clean up data as well. I’ve tried Open Refine with public Jiscmail lists, to normalise for those with multiple user names.

So now the fun stuff…

For the Olympics last year for the cultural Olympiad last yer in Scotland we had the #citizenrelay tracking the progress of The Olympic torch. So lots of data to play with. First talk twitter (Topsy) media timeline. Uses Timeline by verity plus Topsy data. This was really easy to do. So data access was using Topsy, it pulls in data from Twitter to make its own archive. Has API to allow data. Make it easy to query for media against a hashtag. Can return data in XML but grabbed in Jason. Then output created with timelineJS. You can also use google spreadsheet template from timelineJS template (manually or automatically). Used spreadsheet her, yahoo pipes to manipulate. Can pull data in with google spreadsheets, when you’ve created the formula it will constantly refresh and update. So self updates when published.

Originally Topsy allowed data access without API key but now they require it. Google app script, JavaScript based – see big Stack Overflow community – has similar curl function for fetching URLs and dumping back into spreadsheet. Have also done this with yahoo pipes (use
Rate module for API key aspect).

Next as the relay went around the country they used Audioboo. When you upload AudioBoo geolocates your Boos. So AudioBoo has an API (without key) and you can filter for a tag. You can get the data out in XML, JSON and CSV option but they also produce KML. If you can access a public KML file and paste into Google Maps search box then it just gives you the map. Can then embed, or share link to that file. So super easy visualisation there. But disappointingly didn’t embed audio in the map pins. But that’s a google map limitation. Google Earth does let you do that though…

So using Google Earth we only have a bit of work to do. We need t work out the embed code. So Google now provides a template that lets you bring in placemark data (place marker templates). You can easily make changes here. And you can choose how to format variables. Yu can fill in manually but can also be automatically done SL use Google AppScript here. I go to AudioBoo API, grabs as JSON, then parses it. Then for each item push to spreadsheet. So for partial Geodata these Google templates are really useful.something else to mention: Google Spreadsheets are great, sit in the cloud. But recently was using Kasabi and it went down… And everything relying on it went live. Sometimes useful to take a flat capture as spreadsheet for back up.

So the next visualisation… Used NodeXL (SNA). This is an open source plug in for excel. It has a umber of data importers, including for twitter, Facebook, media wiki, etc. just from the menu). And it has lots of room for reformatting etc. then a grid view from that.

And this is where we start chaining tools together. So I had twitter data, I had NodeXL to identify community (who follows who, who is friends with who) so used Gephi, which lets you start using network graphs. A great way to see how nodes relate to which other. Often using for Social Network Analysis but people have also used it for cocktail recipes (there’s an academic paper on it). There is a recipe site that lets you reform recipes using same approach. Gephi is another tool.. You spend an hour playing… And then wonder about how to convey to others and you can end up with flat graphic. So I created something called TAGS Explorere to let anyone interact – and there are others who have done similar.

Another example here. A network of those using #ukoer hashtag and looking for bridges in the community, the key people. This is an early visualisation I created. It was generated From twitter connections and tag use with Gephi, but then combined and finished in a drawing package.

This is another example looking at different sources. A bubble chart for click throughs of tweets. Man get a degree of that info from bit.ly. But if you use another service it’s hard to get click through however can see referrals in Google Analytics – each twitter URL is unique to each person who tweets it so you can therefore see click through rate for an individual tweet. This is created in google spreadsheet. An explore interactively, reshape for your own exploration. So this spreadsheet goes and uses google analytics API and Twitter API then combines with some reshaping. One thing to be aware of is that spreadsheets have a duality of value and formulae. So when you call on APIs etc. it can get confusing. So sometimes good to use two sheets, second flr manipulaton. There’s a great blog post on this duality – “spreadsheet addiction”. if you are at IWMW next week I’m doing a whole session at Google Analytics data and reshaping.

Q&A

Comment: study/working group on social network analysis, some of these techniques could be buildpt onto our community of expertise here.

Comment: would have to slow way down for me but hopefully we can devise materials and workshops to make these step by step.

Martin: But there are some really easy wins, like that Google Maps one. And there is a good community of support around these tools. But for instance R, if I ask on Stack Overflow then I will get an answer back.

Q) is there a risk that if you start trying to visualise data you might miss out on proper statistical processes and vigour?

Martin: yes, that is a risk. People tend to be specialists in one area rather than all of them. Manchester Metroplitan use R as part of analysis of student surveys, recruitment etc. this was from an idea of Mark Stubbs, head of eLearning, raised by speaking to specialist in Teridon flight. r is wily used in the sciences and increasingly in big data analysis. So there it started with expert who did know what he was doing.

Q: have you done much with data mining or analysis, like Google N Gram?

Martin: not really. Done some work on sentiment analysis and social network data though.

 June 19, 2013  Posted by at 3:34 pm Events Attended, LiveBlogs Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Apr 122013
 

Today is the third and final day of the Lancaster Twitter & Microblogging conference. For more on the event see my Day One and Day Two liveblogs. Today there are only a few sessions over a half day so this will be a rather shorter post.

Firstly it’s off to:

Cracking the code: Towards a semiotic understanding of Twitter and its use by media fans by Rhiannon Bury

Since Twitter came on the scene on 2006 it has seen rapid growth, particularly since 2009. There are thought to currently (2013) be 500 million registered users, 200 of whom classified as monthly user. Smith counts over a billion monthly users of Facebook and Pew has found 65% of US adults using Facebook, 8% using Twitter in 2011. Latest figures were 67% use of Facebook, 16% use Twitter. Huge growth but still niche use. Twitter is just ahead of Pinterest which didn’t even exist in 2011. But it is being used by fans, so Neilson has found – not sure of process though – 20 million TV viewers tweeted whilst watching. I did some work on Television 2.0 research a couple of years ago and found most don’t tweet but that younger fans use twiter more frequently than older fans (Pearson -1.26) ; more female fans (39.3%) using twitter than male fans (30.9%) but that reflects the fact that women are more likely to take part in this sort of participative media.
I don’t have time to go through all of the literature but there is a lot on self-presentation here – goth identity etc. Ruth’s work is really useful here, Goffman is trotted out a lot. I wanted to conceptualize Twitter as a structure for communication, a social orientated approach from Rowland Barthes, and John Fisk’s work in television studies. I won’t have time to cover everything here but I want to start with the semiotics of twitter, the framework for my work. So there are two types of relations: Syntagmatic relations (horizontal axis) – this is about linearity; combination; addition; deletion (going back to Barthes here). Paradigmatic relations (Vertical axis) – is about. See Daniel Chandler 2002 etc. The difference is about the presence or absence of signifiers in the text. So we have ideas of Denotation (first order of signification – Saussure) and Connotation (second order of signification – Bathes).
So the tweet is about using or breaking the rules here. I will look at this as a visual and temporal paradigm. There are so many versions here but I’m sticking to the web version of Twitter here. So an example of a tweet here. One can be very bounded, no relationship to other. But authorship is important e.g. quotations. And profile image, name, username and the importance of temporality – that date stamp. And we have that @symbol which is built into the system  to allow exchange (added to meet user needs/demands). We can see intertextuality here, communicative structures. Honeypot and Herring talk about classifying tweets, they were very interested in @sign and conversation. But I think we can look at structure of this beyond that. The role of RTs, the time issue. I want to understand that text box as tweets. I want to understand them as a way to understand  the secondary texts – the TV studies and media studies perspective. And that other type of secondary texts – the other fan writing etc. As Henry Jenkins points out there is always a set of relations of affect. There is an emotional connection to the text for the viewer. I want to look at some of those aspects of fan tweets here.
Microblogging and aggregation (it’s complicated). We talk about this stuff as microblogging but is it? But this is not a paradigmatic relationship. There is a shared syntagm – all it really has is newest to oldest. We do that with email but Twitter changes how we interact and experience that – using on mobile and tablets that structure has far more impact, the software emphasises nowness and currency. All the aggregation tools emphasise these. And there is minimal intratextuality – not always connections, often loose. It’s a bit like images on your digital camera – there may be a connection but it’s not neccassarily present or obvious.
So when we think about Twitterverse… It’s central to the idea of microblogging but we can’t clap eyes on it. We only ever see a partial view. So Twitter has this idea of aggregation as connotation – but that is that partial and incomplete view. Twitter’s structure emphasises that… the homepage is that partial personal view. And that stream is on the right hand side, very western left to write thing. But without us creating these posts there is no content so that drafting button is prominent. Quote here from Nancy Baym (@nancybaym) about how you can possibly pay attention to large numbers of followers. So, understanding these texts is about understanding context, ideology, etc.
I have done over 60 inteviews and wanted to pull some quote out. My fans emphasised consumption over production. So one comments on following everything posted by two people they are fans of / with. Another talks about multiple areas of fandom and engaging in that traditional fandom through twitter. But there is discussion about the direct connection between fans and stars, I’m not suggesting this is all the time, but my fans really emphasise the importance of a really direct connection to key stars, to these representations of them. But we see hints of syntagmatic failure, a fan complaining that the structure limits understanding of news to the “now” so they use other media to find out what is actually happening. Going back to the Honeypot and Herring 2009 idead of the potential of addressivity: that possibility of direct comment to the creators. That being able to address comments directly matters, whether or not there is a reply, and those reply having huge impact on those fans.
I do want to look at areas such as hashtags, recipriocity etc. For myself I found it’s giving me more of a rigour to my own analysis. Twitter is important, not just describing its usage.
Q&A
Q) Could you further explain the failure of the syntagmatic fail?
A) main rule of Twitter is no more than 140 character. So that really limits what you can put in there. That’s why Twitter conversations can be trivial. People get around it, they use abbreviation from IM etc. But what the fan is saying here is that for a fan who wants to know more about what’s happening with, in this case, Nathan Fillon, their tweets are not enough. That is a failure of what they say and do to some extent.
Comment) But is that a failure? Maybe that switching is a success?
A) Absolutely. I’m not saying that 140 characters is failure. But it’s that idea of needing to supplement in this case. But in larger picture it’s really value added.
Q) What about dialogue between fans and dotted line back to original object, adding things in?
Comment) Yes, bulk of what I see on Twitter is commentary, addition, etc.
A) Absolutely, this is one piece from user aggregation riff. But yes, we need to get into that, we need to think about user exclusivity. And that issue of viewing conversation. It’s absolutely central.
Comment) It makes it really complicated as time then splits. Not a single temporal line but multiple branches. And in terms of asyncronicity what about retweets? Some people retweeted a year old tweet when I was presenting the other day.
A) Sure, the retweet does show that age of tweet, but it shows up the way that you would read it as a the perceiver of the retweets. Hypertext theory and intertextually is really essential for understanding Twitter.
Comment) Top Tweets also warps the idea of age of tweets etc.
A) Yup and that’s a whole big ball of wax but I’m trying to factor that in.
Next up will be:

Use of Weibo by UK universities and Chinese students: A study of intercultural micro-blogging by Nick Pearce, Durham University (and Yimei Zhu, University of Manchester)

Nick teaches a lot of international students and works with recruitment areas of the university as part of his teaching work around social anthropology. It occured to me that we could be using Weibo to market what we do, but also interested in that idea of engaging with a social media in a language you don’t speak but where you can sort of see what’s going on. I have been working with Yimei Zhu and she does speak Mandarin so whilst I talk about not understanding what is being said, she does and her research is very much around analysing exchange on Twitter.

So today I’m going to talk about this in the context of UK Universities and some exploratory work.

UK Universities and social media – the focus here is on marketing/recruitment. It’s a cheap/low cost means of interacting with multiple audiences. So when I came to Durham I set up a Facebook page for our courses and we get maybe an enquiry a week through Facebook. Not sure if they might have contacted us another way but they are able to. And similar idea behind our Weibo page. Although this would be an institution-wide Weibo page. That multiple audiences aspect does matter though. You can see a top five chart of Universities on Twitter – ranked by followers and retweets (http://craig-russell.co.uk/demos/uk_uni_twitter/index.html). Not a surprise that OU is biggest – it’s the biggest university in the UK so that makes sense. They have an active Facebook page as well – although that was not all good news. You might get 1 in 10 bad comments, but 9 out of ten challenging that comment. You lose some of that control but your “product” (though I hate that word) gets out there. The chart of followers drops off fast… For Durham our Twitter profile is busier than our Facebook page.

There are issues in follower numbers. There is the issue of fake/zombie followers (zombie is a Weibo term but it’s a lovely term). There was a hoohah when Yale joined Weibo, and they got a huge number of followers instantly. But analysis showed that there were only a few hundred followers that were actually active. There’s a suggestion that Weibo may have had something to do with those fake followers, Yale certainly didn’t pay for them. But it’s easy to gather raw figures but it’s not really a good measure. For me Facebook comments and enquiries count far more than “likes”. Even more so for the OU perhaps. Interactions matter here. There are alternaive analytics – e.g. Klout, PeerIndex… but not much better than raw figures. It’s important to be careful and critical of numbers.

So what about China. Chinese students are a significant part of international cohort – 79k in 2012. Facebook/Twitter restricted in China (you can access them but only through dubious means, but they do get use). What makes that interesting is that those using Facebook in China tend to be more political, to go to that effort you need that. Weibo was set up in August 2009, has over 360 million users, it has restrictions but no one is being forced to use it. It is clearly popular and clearly became popular very quickly… regardless of whether we think many of those users are fake/zombies.

So looking at my Weibo profile it is quite Twitter-like. I follow people… but I’m not sure how I came to follow them. You can post in English here. And you have animated gifs – which I’d love to see in Twitter! But interface all in Mandarin. My colleague speaks Mandarin but uses no social media. I use social media all the time but don’t speak Mandarin… when she asked how to log out I found it faster – that’s a reflection of how like other sites Weibo looks. Other big similarities here. There are assymetrical follower relations (like Twitter, unlike Facebook) and there is 140 character limit. But in Mandarin that’s a lot! Ai Wei Wei says that that’s a short story. But some differences here. There is ID verification – it is supposed to be your passport number but there’s a suggestion that that’s not a rigorous checking process. Censorship is rather opaque, you only really encounter it by gaps and absences. But remember that Twitter is moderated – you get taken down or reported for some actions. Thinking back to Lee Salter’s plenary we saw people jailed for Tweets. There are differences there but also more similarities than first apparent maybe. And you have other differences: animated gifs but also gamification. So I am “level 1″. In Twitter it’s maybe about follower counts, in Weibo you get to new levels and you get a special patch/badge. So Weibo may have started as a clone but I think it’s gone beyond Twitter in some features.

So I went to my boss, the head of the University. I wanted to look at UK Universities on Weibo. There is no table of these. So Yimei did a manual search using the HESA list of universities and various search terms. I talked about ID verification but there is also verification of pages, a whole other levels. 58% had presences; 43% had verified presences. Posts are mainly in Mandarin, some in English. So, we did set up a Weibo page but verification is tricky from the UK. I got sent a very tricky Mandarin form, no indication of who should sign in. They wanted an official stamp, and that had to be in red. It takes weeks… So we have a page, tweeting going on – mostly retweeting comments about Durham.

Looking at and understanding Weibo when you don’t speak the language… it’s odd. Twitter isn’t global. Weibo isn’t global either, although expanding and just launched a Thai version. No reason that Weibo couldn’t launch an English language interface and have that take off. People are happy to sign up to Apple and hand over power and choice to some extent. I’m not saying that will happen with Weibo but seeing that other cultural context lets you look at these things in a new light.

Q&A

Q) The counts on your profiles are different on Twitter and Weibo. Any of those numbers can be normalised in some way. APIs for both will show you more detail of that data.

A) Yimei has been looking at content and interactions and she’s been noting changes, interactions and the role of time.

Q) Your comparison of censorship – I don’t think Twitter is that harsh.

Comment) There was an article this morning, in Hong Kong there are removed Tweets and censored Tweets. Also papers on censorship of Weibo, based on large data set.

A) Chinese Communist party control the broadcast media. Their response to social media, there are some who fear social media… You can censor afterwards but you can’t stop people tweeting. One of the founders of Weibo, a private company, was making a democracy point.

Me) Different types of censorship: political in China, commercial on Twitter – much more about brands etc. Now that may have different impact and ethical implications but those are both forms of censorship.

Comment) Yes, I think so. In China censorship really isn’t a line here though, it’s never clear what is/is not censored. Sometimes things appear to have been censored relatively at random.

Comment) Weibo functions because the government lets it and works within it’s mandate. Twitter chooses to censor

Me) Yes, but Twitter is not just making choices, it also comes under government pressure to censor – they have censored tweets in the Middle East after pressure from some governments, they were also pressured to censor and restrict during London Riots

A) Find that feature of social media very odd: people like Pinterest ignore copyright law and sort of reset rules in how they run having ignored those rules. Would YouTube have taken off if all non-cleared video content been removed/censored?

And with that we have to finish a really lively wee Q&A.

Plenary: Saying ‘sorry’: Corporate apologies posted on Twitter by Ruth Page

Johnny is introducing Dr Ruth Page and mentioned her book Stories in Social Media, and her article on Self Branding and Celebrity in Social Media. Last year Ruth organised an event at Leicester on social media which was a particular inspiration for this week’s event. Ruth is also Chair of new special interest group in Linguistics. David Bartam, Johnny Unger and Ruth are currently coauthoring a book on researching social media.

I am a little ambivalent about going last but at least I should get the last word (ish). So my talk is on “saying sorry”. I’m going to start by making some opening remarks on Twitter, why it is significant to corporations, a bit about the data set. And I need to make an apology myself – my section on corporate “talk” is not about apologies per se but contextualising apologies. Then I’ll look at approaches to apologies, characteristics of corporate apologies, and the application of linguistics. There are some interesting potential approaches coming from our highly varied backgrounds and disciplines here.

Twitter is public, participatory environment (Jenkins 2006); virtual marketplace (Bourdieu 1977); driven by value of attention and visibility (Marwick 2010). There is a direct access there – complaining to Starbucks or an airline say – but that isn’t evenly distributed power. In 2012 I argued that it works like a virtual marketplace and that that is around attention and visibility – reach of tweets, scale of followers, influence, etc. But that’s not the only way that attention and visibility shows up. It also shows up in linguistic choices in Twitter, how people shape interactions to those affordances, and an opportunity to see how those inequalities and hierachies works.

How is Twitter used? It’s electronic word of mouth (Jansen 2009) – and that matters to company, they mine that all the time. 51% of users follow users/companies (Edison research 2010). But there are different types of twitter accounts, there are corporate and/or personal accounts. But I’m interested in corporate and branded accounts. You also see distinct accounts for specific purposes, e.g. customer care accounts.

So, where did I start to get intereted? My data isn’t designed in response to a specific research question, the research has evolved organically from my work for last few years. My data is based on around 180k tweets harvested from 100 publicly available accounts, using custom Python codes pulling data from named accounts. Firstly I was comparing company use with “ordinary” use – although “ordinary” isn’t really the right word here. people said “you haven’t looked at hashtags”, and I did. So I started to look at the very different corporate use of hashtags. I had 40 companies, 30 celebrities, 30 “ordinary accounts”. Gathered data in 2010 and 2012. And today I’m talking about around 1200 tweets with apologies in them.

When I harvested the data I wanted to distinguish between updates, things that were public but with an @username, and the RTs. It doesn’t take into account quoting or MTs etc. as those are newer practices. So I was interested in the distribution of those types of tweets. In 2010 all types of users favoured the one-to-many broadcast pattern (the update), what does that say about identies and how individuals manage their interactions with others?

So how do companies use Twitter updated? There are interactions initiated by the company – pushing things out; broadcast the brand – through hashtags; broadcast across platforms – link analysis; broadcast conversational snippets – modified RTs (less occurance in new style RTs which isn’t covered here). So looking at occurance in hashtags we see that hashtags occur in the updates, they are in the one-to-many not the @reply one-to-one posts. And the use of hashtags is increasing. But this is odd, hashtags started off as folksonomic phenomenon to allow your topic to be promoted and found. Twitter changed their search algorithm so that you can find topics easily BUT the use of hashtags is increasing over time. The most frequest hashtags across all accounts is #FF. But digging further corporate hashtags tend to highlight products, corporate positioning, or making searchable the companies as producers. Whereas ordinary people’s hashtags seem to reflect the community – mainstream media, consumer interests. Yes Twitter gives ordinary people a voice, but they are still positioned as audience, as consumers when you look at those tweets.

I also looked for links in tweets, corporate accounts use much more links and their use it on the rise. There is a rise of the amplified talk. Originally in 2010 I saw links as ways to signify authority as recommenders, as endorsers. But different things happening now. General trend in links – Twitter is more multimodal – photos and videos increasingly important. And Twitter is increasingly multi-platforms – Facebook groups, Google Plus, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Daily Booth, VintageCam, YFrog, Whosay, Mobile Apps. Posts to multiple sites or connecting sites. Images are used to indicate products, what they are selling. But that’s not all that’s happening. In 2010 ordinary users tended to share clear links to articles in their field, their own blog – you could tell what their profession was. Corporations point to own web sites, promotional offers. Real collapse of professional/personal now taking place. Now ordinary uses point to some professional identity links, but also general life, photos, interests (e.g. fashion etc). Corporate use is a little different, some corporate professional links, but also sharing of images by customers/users, of experience images etc.

The last sort of tweets being shared are modified retweets, You see that celebrities their use is declining. Their use is slightly declining for ordinary users. But their use is increasing by corporations. And how does that happen? It’s about sharing compliments, feedback, things that promote their brand. They show they are engaging but in a very specific and careful way.

When I look at distribution of tweet types in 2012 there seemed to be few changes but Corporate use is radically different – many more addressed messages. Why is this happening? Up to this point I had looked mostly at updates, so it was time to explore addressed messages. I started with concordance techniques from corpus linguistics. I looks for the words that appear much more in just those addressed messages compared to all those other messages. I used the remaining dataset as the reference dataset, addressed messages as the sample. And certain words appear much more often, such as “hi”, “thanks” etc. They don’t just occur often, they often occur together. For instance “@username Hi [name], sorry for your frustration. Please follow/DM us additional details regarding this and we can try to help. Thanks.” So we are seeing the rise of customer care here. But it’s not just corporates who apologise…

Difficulty of apologising…

  • Reluctant apologies – [cue Big Bang Theory clip of Penny reluctantly apologising to Howard. And being told to get over herself by him. Then him bursting into tears].
  • Punk apologies – [cue music video]
  • Politicians apologise – [cue Nick Clegg Apology Song video]

Even cats say sorry… even Whales say sorry when Twitter is over capacity…

Apology as a “post event speech act” (Spencer-Oatey 2008) – I’m following this understanding. This is recognition of something going wrong, acknolwedging that, reconciling parties. Enables future interaction and restoration of equilibrium (Ogiermann 2009). But research literature looks in linguistics tend to be about private apologies but there is a need for more work on public apologies, of apologies in large corpuses.

There is huge use of “sorry/apologise” here – aggregated data for both (and americanised spellings) show huge use of these terms in corporate tweets. Semantic components of an apology based on Bloom Culford(?) in 1989. Semantic components:

  • Illocutionary Force Indicating Device (IFID) e.g. we’re really sorry
  • Taking responsibility
  • Explanation or account
  • Offers of repair
  • Promise of forbearance – not to make same mistake again.

In the 1200 tweets there was only one case of taking responsibility, and only one case of promise of forbearance, both were in ordinary accounts. Maybe commonsense reasons – liability, appropriateness, responsibility or role of person speaking.

You see lots of Illocutionary Force Indicating Devices. But there are very different approaches. Companies avoid restating the problem in 66% of apologies. The reverse happens in ordinary accounts – 58% of their apologies. My favourite of the apologies was “I’m sorry for the slugs in your strawberries”. It is good to acknowledge what you are apologising for but that is very risky, you risk raising the profile of the issue or validating etc.

10% of corporate apologies give an explanation, 27% of ordinary users did. When companies did explain their apology they shifted blame: denied the offence – telling the user they got it wrong; place blame with third party; factors beyond the company’s control (e.g. legal requirements, weather, etc). And on the rare occassions companies do accept responsibility they do that in a very specific way. They use linguistic constructions that made it very hard to see responsibility, e.g “sorry for the ongoing issues caused by the Booking Office cluser, there is a staff shortage in the area and we are working on it”. You need to show yourself in best light is the theme here, and a good way to do that is to make offers of repair. When company does that they happen in a very specific way with an awareness of the multi-party nature of the interactions. Offer of repairs tends to be something monetary or tangible – but not the tweeter doing that.

So these apologies are embedded in wider interaction. You see this in the way that questions occur in corporate apologies. 22% of corporate apologies and 13% of ordinary apologies include a question. Another aspect is the use of imperative, they are telling the customer or giving a command. It happened in 33% of corporate apologies, not at all in ordinary apologies. So often further contact initiated by company – e.g. “standby for a message” or further contact required by customer – e.g. drop us an email. That latter type are often hedged. But these are risky, they don’t close the loop, they risk the customer not responding, following up etc.

Openings and closings tend to be quite specific. Companies tend to use “Hi” and end in “Thanks” and a signature. Ordinary people do not. 37% of companies include a signatures, none of the ordinary accounts to. More interestingly perhaps, 19% of apologies posted by companies include greetings, that “hi”, but again no ordinary accounts to. They seem to be trying to build rapport, but that marks them out as different from ordinary users. So companies using this startegy mark their social distance, and show structures derived from email, not from conversation. But you do see alternative openings. Discourse markers (5% in company accounts, 27%(?) in ordinary accounts) – several flavours, so can, for example be associative expressiveness e.g. “Oh, I’m sorry” etc. Emoticons are also used to intensify negative sentiment or to upgrade positive sentiment – for offers of repair say. But sometimes it doesn’t match well. Some mismatch of negative responses – smiley to mitigate negative response. And sometimes it’s about promoting rapport (especially in line with future interactions).

So, what does this mean. The reason companies apologise in this way is to avoid face-threatening damage to reputation – e.g. avoiding restating problem. Mitigate face-threatening damage… [sorry, couldn't keep up there]. So the implications? apologising is important strategy in use as part of customer care. There are repeated, distinctive patersns suggest a particular genre shaped by purpose of interactions and positions and roles of participants. So, the application here? Well it’s interesting for it’s own shape, you see the patterns you may not otherwise see. But challenge for myself is how do we use the work we do as linguistics in a way that helps other people. Well one of the things I’m doing is talking to London company who are creating social media analytics software, to create customer care software to make this work better. Perhaps not always pushing interactions into other spaces, closing loops, showing responsiveness etc.

Final thoughts – obvious limitations here. I haven’t taken into account participant perspectives; haven’t looked at whole interactions, just the apologies, it’s not the whole iteration; small number of accounts considered and not neccassarily noting location and cultural differences between Uk and US say. Possibilities though – what do you want to do with your work? Where can other perspectives by useful?

Unfortunately we finish without time for questions. I wanted to ask whether the rise of hashtags didn’t reflect the adoption and maturity of use by companies, or the use of hashtag campaigns. Hashtags also create links unlike search terms so have added value. And I wanted to ask about the issue of collapse – there has been a Twitter corporate strategy to boost use by media, by celebrities, as part of advertising campaigns all of which encourage collapse. Wider use and adopting of Twitter beyond professional spheres also have a big impact on collapse here, of the types of interactions, of the merging of followers etc.

 April 12, 2013  Posted by at 12:56 am Events Attended, LiveBlogs Tagged with: , , , , ,  2 Responses »
Apr 112013
 

It’s day two at the Lancaster Twitter and Microblogging Conference. As I did yesterday I will be live blogging the parallel sessions I attend, the plenaries, etc. But much of the conversation around this event is to be found on Twitter on the #lutwit hashtag.

Factors influencing academics’ use of microblogging tools in teaching and learning by Nordiana Ahmad Kharman Shah

Nordiana’s research looks at the use of microblogging and the factors in that use and the complex issues around adoption and use.

My work specifically looks at the use of Twitter and particularly how Twitter can increase or enhance teaching and learning (Dunlap and Lowenthal 2009); classroom use (Junco et al 2011) student use (Wakefield et al 2010) etc. There is a qualitative study of academic tweets (G. Velatsianos 2011) found that scholars engaged education and sharing best practices, used it for information resource and media sharing, to have an online pesence etc…

But Selwyn (2011) highlights some issues around social media use: the assumptions about omnipresences/ubiquity of internet access and the digital divide; belief of “digital student”, that the students will explore and use these tools but not all will, some may struggle with use; And there is unclear discussion in terms of social media in relation to learning and teaching contexts.

The literature here is growing but evidence still lacking. See Reuben 2008 for the potential in education for Facebook and YouTube but Twitter hasn’t yet found the right niche.

My first research questions here is around the different ways that academics use Twitter. This will be investigated through a qualitative approach to obtain detailed understanding of the use of “Twitter of Academics”. The research sample will be academics in HE with a Twitter profile and regular microblogging activity (defined here as once a week). There will be a thematic analysis using the Twitter API. The theoretical framework for this work is practice theory – mapping academics ongoing interactions as revealed through recurrent practices, the concept of the “practice lens”; and academics practies of Twitter – may be conceived as a continuum in which activities dynamically change influences. The research will begin with interviews, transcribe and analyse three of these; then observation of Twitter (300 tweets); and observation of Twitter and also using sentiment analysis (of those posting).

Interviews will have thematic analysis (inductive and deductive). The observation of twitter posting qualitative content analysis, deductive approach. Both will be combined to gain a fuller understanding of use and factors. Sentiment analysis (see Pang and Lee 2008).

There are some categories of activities which academics claim they use Twitter for. Conversation for instance has been selected by them, I have defined sub themes of:question and response; for opinion; for update activity. Information and sharing breaks down into research/publication; quick information; links information/news (retweet). Engagement breaks down into student; research community; public. Connecting and networking breaks down into: professional; social; community; research collaboration; seek opportunity. Identity breaks down: professionalism/profile; online presence; self presentation. Learning and Self promotion also sub categorised here. I have also categorised tweets into status; conversation; sharing resources; social.

So the discussion is about so many differing roles and activities. There are many faces of the “new” academic – a real balance to be struck around all areas of role, public engagement and impact agenda, and of course teaching, research, and opportunities.

I have created a research model of factors influencing academic use of microblogging – academic identity; technology affordances; public engagement, etc.

Q&A

Q) Monica Lalanda, doctor in US: was it hard to find that number of academics using Twitter?

A) At this point – at the beginning of the research – it was hard to find academics using Twitter. But this summer it became clear that there were far more academics on Twitter. I think this is a good time for this research. I’m not sure about percentage of usage at the moment. Some use it mainly for teaching. Some use for publishing only. Academics are starting to engage on Twitter. Lots of training and promotion around use of these tool.

Chair) There are some studies in the UK of use of Twitter by academics – see LSE Impact Blog.

Comment) I’m sure there are a lot of prejudices, many don’t see the potential, are concerned about the timing.

A) One of my interviewees is a doctor who is very happy to be able to update colleagues and patients in what he does. He has gained patients through his use of Twitter. But I was quite surprised at his usage. At the beginning I am quite surprised at this use but he is engaged in community and research community and he found organisations and media have asked him for views because of his presence.

Q) Sentiment analysis – can you say a bit more?

A) This is a new area in some ways. Analysis tends to be on content rather than sentiment. I want to explore what they are saying on Twitter and how that relates to what they actually feel, what that relationship that. Many of the academics I interviewed don’t want to enter arguements on Twitter, they don’t want to impact their own or their institution’s reputation.

And we had a diversion there about the backchannel and tone… (not appropriate to amplify but challenging) back to the questions though:

Q) Are there particular characteristics of how academics tweet compared to how others tweet.

A) Interesting question. There are real contrasts between different academic Twitter users.

Chair) Offering to share some sentiment analysis work on corporations.

Whose piper and whose tune? Discursive practices in informal learning events on Twitter by Peter Evans

This piece of work looked at the phenomenon of tweet chats on particular professions and interests, usually regular and they vary a lot. e.g. lrnchat; innochat; edchat; PhDchat. The topic is usually selected in advance and the actual tweeting is within a time limit, usually 60 to 90 minutes. All organised around the hashtag. There are some people who always attend at the core here. Some teachers described these as their main professional learning activity.

I wanted to explore how professional practices are being “talked in to being” in discussion events held in an open online environment, I particularly looked at Human Resources professionals. I looked at three events on hashtags here over three months. These vary in how many participants attend (between 54 and 72), some had 10 tweets per minute, some less. But this stuff isn’t easily constrained. Schneider and Foot (2005) describe this issue of web spheres – the bringing in of other resources, chats, tweets, etc. So looking at a blog about the event provides additional context. One participant decided to recontextualise their Twitter contributions in a blog post. And you see comments that there are poeple outside of the chat who follow up, ask questions, and a blog post has been used to address that. And there is an example here of someone correcting themself – for own happiness as much as those who may see the Tweets.

So these events are hugely expansive, you have to cut the cloth as best you can. I focused on the event archive and then started to explore outward until I reached the point where time no longer allowed. I approached the data in terms of discourse analysis, using a division that Heracleoud (2006) came up with. This splits discourse into Communicative action; discursive structure – this is the use of shorthand etc .; generating common meaning – a shared understanding of human resources here which was required to join in, to be part of this event.  A particular problem here was “what is human resource development”. It’s really not well understood at all, real split and shorthand in academia around US approach (v. corporate and profit orientated) vs European (self empowering ideas). But that doesn’t work McKendrick suggests a hologram metaphor here. But as a professional body of practice there is no standard approach, it’s fluid and contested. There is no manual. But early stage researchers, professionals, customers etc. expect there to be a standard and professional approach.

It did prove very difficult to make sense of this all. I decided to draw on ANT and translation, different perspectives on the hologram of practice, to try to develop networks of people who agreed on translation. Those network assemblages reinforce that idea of professional structure.

I actually started off using the structure of these chats, using a structure designed for unstructured group work in classrooms. So here we see an initiation, then a string of suggestions or propositions to get conversation going. One suggestion dies out fast, another gets limited interaction, another gets little, another becomes complex and connected… it becomes hard to trace. And things migrate off into discussions entirely unrelated to the chat but using the same hashtag. Indeed you sometimes see tweets asking for help in dealing with what’s going on, what that structure is. Simpson (2005/6) talks about conversational flaws. A retranslation of a topic that allows the discussion to flow. Many of these suggestions and propositions with different levels of success in the example I’ve shown actually came from a single individual. But capture of the conversational flaw has to be accepted by the audience, it’s a two way thing, not just projection of power in itself.

There is some thematic structure that comes out of these discursive networks. And some interesting behaviours. A couple of examples here of participants dismissing topics. Kirkpatrick is a widely used model in this field, 98% of businesses use this model and yet these Twitter users mock it or treat it as a drinking game. Similarly classroom off-the-job training is treated as an irrelevant, old fashioned, dehumanising practice. Is made to look ridiculous through sharing of images of Victorian classrooms.

So I came up with these three areas of discussion here. Change – and change as being in deficit because of Managament & “the business”, and Human Resouce Development. But this mix was constantly reassembled and changed depending on who was speaking, what the topic was. So, the symmetry thing. The people organising and engaged in the chat recommend use of third party app, like Tweetdeck. So you get a multi column view and the same tweet can reoccur in separate places. For participants these chats are seen as part of much wider community of practice which they are involved with. So they have a single column for event but eyes on other things… and that all starts to merge as they take part in the event. So the technology changes how that event is consumed. It appears to potentially have some impact on how that discussion is shaped, which utterances are priviledged by which users.

So, the piper and tune… it changes all the time. It gets redefined during the events and over multiple events. The hologram is both restrictive and expansive – you have to see it from one perspective but has to be seen by multiple perspectives.

Q&A

Q) Norreen Dunnett: Did you get a sense around these hashtags that they felt like a community or was it more permeable than that?

A) I think there is a core group that sees themselves as a community, they see each other as different from others. e.g. in introductions they present themselves differently. And they try to capture conversations more often. Others are drawn in quite a bit. The core group are very similar and there is overlap between several hashtags (we looked at several) and different dynamics on different days and different times, some opportunity for social network analysis here. A slightly weird mix of community and permeable.

Q) I was really interested in your comments around the difficulty of sense making, of constraining data collected, of knowing how to deal with archives etc. But I don’t quite get the hologram metaphor, can you say a bit more.

A) McGoldrick talks about it as a reconciliation of contradictions around this. The idea of HRD as management and business discipline, about growing or improving the business, but at the same time it has the aspect of development, a discourse about developing employees, about learning and empowerment of individuals. The Hologram idea recognises all of these elements. Where are someone like Monica Lee says that we just shouldn’t even try to reconcile those factors. The metaphor is about looking in and seeing what you want to see, but also having capacity to see other things, that by shifting your gaze you can see those elements.

Q) Karin: Could I ask you a little bit more about the use of ANT and what it added in terms of your conclusions?

A) It’s a good question. I’m not sure what it adds to be honest. Other than giving a loose framework to hang ideas off. The idea of network assemblage works well, the idea of entry criteria (the Kirkpatrick issues) but also the symmetry of the material. I did some work on community managers and relationship between Twitter chat event and a presentation, that they moved from cynical position to enthusiast through chatter. But this work is part of a wider piece of work where ANT will be used to some extent.

Plenary: Working and playing on science Twitter by Greg Myers

Julia is introducing Greg and referring to his book, The Discourse of Blogs and Wikis - it visibly perks up her Understanding Media students apparently!

There is, btw, a real life handout! https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BHkEFg_CEAAG2Gu.jpg:large

I want to look at 8 tweets. This first is an Aprils Fools joke about Twitter. Mars Rover behaving like a celebrity on Twitter, sulking out of Twitter. So I want to talk about different kinds of Twitter feeds, different communities, different behaviours etc. Much of the quantitative research we do and cite looks at big stream of data without any reference to differences. But I know many of you here are focusing on qualitative aspects. Back when I wrote that book that Julia mentioned blogs were being treated the same, and that seemed so lacking in understanding of their distinction. So I want to basically ask… is Twitter really one genre?

Looking across the programme we have use in the Lords, tech companies, EU, academics, cricket fans etc…. can that be one genre? These are communities use Twitter for different activities. They do develop different kinds of texts, for instance, more or fewer RTs, URLs, replies. Even if they use some o fthe same feaures such as conversational particles. What are these questions and do those differences matter in our research?

So, why study Science Twitter? Well it’s one community: research scientists (there are other people who tweet about science of course). They are a great community as they have been good at networking since the 1660s. But they are an odd community for Twitter as they work in a system that rewards formal publication system, there is a divergence there. Networks of texts, also samples, people, skills, equipment, methods, money (see ANT). And Scientometrics links made by citations – impact comes from the idea that science is measurable in these ways.

There are two themes from Science and Technology Studies I’d like to bring in. Firstly the heterogenity if scientific networks – texts, materials, equipment, skills, publics, money (ANT, Callon, Latour, Law). But at the same time Rhetorical tensions between empiricist repertoire, impersonal and timeless claims in the formal literature <missed ref>.

But there is a huge volume of prior work on scientific texts, those working in science and technology studies would say what I’m saying about Twitter is really not new. So if we look at a quote from Henry de la Beche to Adam Sedgewick in 1834, published by Rudwick in 1985. It’s a very tweet-like exchange… BUT it takes place in letters and only becomes public when published 100 years later. And that is difference.

So in my handout you will see sample tweets. I have a corpus of tweets from Scientists, and a cohort of comparison tweets. See thelanguageofblogs.typepad.com. You might do concordance analyse such a corpus for topics – and here you will find keywords around science, research papers etc. But there are also other keywords that are telling. e.g.

  • But also I (less elision) – subjectivity indicated compared to other tweets)
  • of (more complex NPs) – more like other science writing
  • but (concession structure) – perhaps this is what makes an academic an academic!
  • may, maybe, some (hedged statements)
  • and a negative keyword: love – they just don’t use those sorts of terms, they evaluate in different ways.

So there are empirical grounds for seeing this community as a distinct community, but they also present themselves as a distinct community as well.

So, onto Tweet two! These tweets are at 10.30 at night – a “solidarity check in” to ask if anyone else is still working. Gets very playful responses. So this is “phatic communication” – that is communication solely for the sake of contact, not sharing information:

  • “still” implies this is late
  • “#GoTeam” parallels this to other shared projects (Merkhofer, Zappavigna)
  • “#ThursdayNightScience” invented for their shared activity
  • “Woot” – online gaming term
  • But where is “here” – well they are not in the same geographic place. The obvious inference being is everyone online, but also the less obvious inference is “in the lab” and this idea of solidarity.

And now to turn to Tweet Three. This is a series of tweets about a fieldtrip. Two kinds of time in these tweets. From inside “headed out” (current action), “my spring break” (current period defined in terms of work), projected future contacts. And from outside “early to mid Pleistocene” etc. Once he goes out he has limited mobile reception. We see a few images shared but of his campside at dawn, not his work but a sense of that experience.

Now to his return… tweets about a late flight. So more complex time. Present moment looking back to immediate past (nap) and forward to immediate future (this week’s lecture) and with very few verbs.

So, why do time references matter? Well they present themseleves as a community sharing norms, focusing on work, they have the shared ideas of terms, of routine, of publications. This is what everyone else does on Twitter but these references to time are a different representation of science work from that in journal articles or popularisations.

But there are more unique things here. Science tweets link A LOT and comment on them a lot. So here we have an example of something of a takedown of @drphilhammond’s tweet about children and screen usage. A response comes back with citation. response back from experimental psychologist criticising sampling basis and link to blog post. And others join in and say it was a mistake that that original cited article was published.

So the first post takes for granted that stating those two facts will be uncontroversial. Response uses irony to criticise. The response with textual citation (not a link). Response questions the cited work using a link. So reference does not settle the matter (unlike Wikipedia). And a real sense of reaction to this media person representing mediacal science (representation regress? – Collins).

Onto tweet 7, a chat about bafflement. It’s a kind of criticism. Sort of self-criticism of her own bafflement with technical term and time of day. But suggests something else to criticise there. See also LOLCAT on term “Thermodynamics” also representing confusion.

And our final tweet to the tag #chemophobia. This is about expertise. So an urban ecologist and science outreach person in Ohio. She doesn’t know about organic chemistry but has read something on a food blog about chemicals. Used #chemophobia tag, used for fear of chemistry going wrong etc. rather than toxicology. Asked for someone to fact check. Delayed response but eventually gets a response with whether this reaction occurs, does it exist, etc. Comes back with paper. Then she responds saying “but both chemicals in apples, naturally occurring”. SO I’m interested both in the intersection here between science and non science, but also science and science in another area to your own. So the original questionner is not a chemist and raises a question that acknowledges that. A (non-addressed) chemist responds with brief unsupported evaluation but she comes back with her own analysis to that.

So… two kinds of evaluation across these samples. There is personal stance (e.g. Yup, 7am, wildly wrong). And there is impersonal reference to shared norms of methods, citations, rhetoric, publication – the idea that critiquing an article that breaches norms settles the issues. And also hierachies of authority worked out for present purposes in the exchanges – this is where specific mentions become so interesting here, the idea of certain individuals as authoritative sources.

The implications for science stufies cover two themes: embedding of science in everyday life; rhetorical application of norms of evaluation to texts. Non-scientists would get useful (and entertaining) view of science by reading these tweets. It contextualises science in everyday life and work. But that message probably doesn’t get out. I was struck yesterday by the idea of a bubble around the European Commission. I think some of the same here, the tweets tend to go to scientists, science communicators and science educators. There is a large and somewhere sealed off world here. Almost no replies from outside. And many of the tweets are concerned with boundary work. They both open science up but also maintaining it’s distinctness, it’s inaccessibility.

But other questions here… If you do see this as a community, how does this compare to other communities studied here. This is a community that thinks of itself as a community. How distinct is the genre? Do they use affordances differently to others? Do they have different practices or simply a different register, different works because they talk about the same thing. And how does that relate to other kinds of practices. No point to study in detail unless it relates backs to other things. The people I look at are teaching, writing articles, outreach. Time patterns fit that. Other communities have different time cycles to them. In my sample I chose widely followed people. Between 3000 and 10,000 followers. And for most of us that sounds pretty good, particularly if you are tweeting about obscure aspects of astrophysics. Their authority on Twitter is about what they do there. Some are authoritative in their field but many are not as influential outside of Twitter. And finally how permeable are the boundaries of the community? Not very perhaps. Some other communities may reach out more, particularly in terms of followers and retweets.

And finally a picture… A fluffy toy and his genetic biologist look alike.

Q&A

Q) Ruth: My question is simple and small. You spoke about the corpus, what was your reference corpus?

A) I chose a corpus from another specific group, rather than all of Twitter. I chose 10 scientists and I chose reference corpus of 10 others tweeting on very specific topics (similar number of followers but all tweeting on differing topics). Roughly conmparable. For most recent samples I used the same people.

Q) Me: You talked about the exclusivity

A) For some they are. One is into women in science and feminism. Another is into hip hop (and science), so lots on music. So they tweet on other topics but they seem to have an exclusive type of engagement and response on their science tweets. I suspect that many of them have lots of followers because of those other interests but that mixture of interest isn’t represented by crossover of audiences responding.

Q) How do you define “community” if at all?

A) These individuals refer to it as a community, e.g. “ThursdayNightScience”. Now at conferences they are very specific but the community they refer to communally here it is all about belonging to this giant scientific community – which doesn’t really exist elsewhere and doesn’t respect traditional hierachies. Quantitatively you could see the links between them to see a nice graph.

Q) Sean, Lancaster: You talked about the boundary work around expertise. But could you see these as breaking a boundary, reaching beyond expertise to others, as in TV shows and spoilers in Jenkin’s Convergence Culture?

A) Maybe not about hierachy. It’s not about this person has a right to speak, and this one doesn’t. Quite often people ask for help from anyone on Twitter, and get a fast response/advice. You are calling this a boundary hybridity, that’s probably fair enough. Thing you see in ANT all the time. Boundary object that means different things to different actors but both can use it in an interesting way.

Q) Monica: I belong to scientist group which is more active than most. I wanted to ask your opinion about what is happening in Britain, the GMC has new social media guidelines for doctors which does not allow them to have anonymous accounts because of the privacy of information they hold. There is protest around that, a petition about that. And that is reasonable on commentary about economic cuts etc.

A) I haven’t studied doctors so not aware of professional structures but I think it’s a shame not to have the possibility of anonymity. Only one of those I am looking at is anonymous @scicurious but that allows for lots of playfulness. There have been a lot of articles where Twitter has acted as critique of peer review process, taken down research in hours. No less than Dorothy Fisher has said, ok Twitter may have a role here. Anonymity does seem to have a useful role here.

And now for lunch…!

And we’re back…

Twitter as professional practice: A case study of cricket journalism: @aggerscricket by Julia Gillen

I want to introduce a cricket journalist called Jonathan Agnew (@Aggerscricket). My work draws on David Barton’s work of “technobiography”, a very socio-cultural dynamic view. Agnew is migrating from the role of journalist and public person. It is framed as a personal Twitter account, views his own, but his website is the BBC and there are lots of pointers that this isn’t a regular Twitter user.

I’m taking a media ecology view (Barton [1994]2007 – ecological view of literacy) here but I’m quite critical of it at the same time. Postman 1970 sees it as a sort of moral issue. Nystrom 1973 sees this as a study of complex communications systems and environments, interested in interactions, technology, technique and human process of emotion. And <another key ref missed>.

In 2006 the UK Parliament decided that television coverage of international cricket should be on free to air TV. But the rights don’t always go that way. Sky have the rights for many of the live TV coverage leaving the BBC with other means, predominently radio. A key thing to say about cricket. I am talking only about Test Cricket, which takes place over five days, frequently ends in a draw, and much of the time very little is happening and there are unscheduled breaks. And that could mean dead air… so there is a great traditional of literary coverage of cricket, it’s about much more than the sport.

The cricket media ecology… start with The Economist and a comment about surprise that the Test Match Cricket on the radio was still running, and that it is now on the web. But I wanted to dig more. To see what attitudes Agnew displays towards Twitter including relations to other communications, I’ll be talking about my methodology as well.

So I have taken a sensitive ethnographic type of approach. I started in March 2010. There were interactions on the website. There were some sample tweets. And then in 2011 Agnew wrote a book and he was also enthusiastic about Twitter so I analysed his media coverage. So I did some intense data collection. Starting on 10th August 2011 I collected all tweets in real time, who he replied to etc. preserved in a word document. Also looked across other media. Some other samples here and there. In part my approach was flexible and did change as I collected through it. For example… Agnew tweeted “15 mins to live chat” so I went and joined that and recorded that to see what that was like. And one of the things that was interesting there was seeing attitudes towards Twitter expressed in other media, and how those media related to it. So he receives a direct question about Twitter. He says he enjoys it, he likes comments during his radio commentary. But also implicit references for those also on Twitter. Makes a comment about his dog in the sign off… if you only interact in other media it’s not noteworthy. But if you follow him on Twitter you know he plays with his dog on Twitter – interacting with an account someone else set up for his dog.

So I’ve coded all of Agnew mentions on media in the book. It’s ostensibly about cricket but he is very interested in media. Radio gets the most mentions but, notably, Twitter gets the second most mentions. At the time “Aggers’ Ashes” was promoted via what he called “Twitter tour”. Related to that the @theashes follower situation arises and he melds that offline persona to the online persona of that Tweeter. He also playfully recommends follow another Twitter user who does a better job than him. He doesn’t do that. When I followed Agnew on Twitter in real time he went from 7am to 8pm (he barely stopped for lunch). So I followed him on 10th August 2011, the first day of a test match but the day after the riots. One of his followers tweets about the weather, also about the riots. His response *just* addresses the weather. Listening to the radio commentary it becomes clear they have been told not to mention the riots. But they elude to it, you wouldn’t understand comments like “I can see smoke in the distance”, for instance, without that context. And you see him respond in an authoritative way about the ECB confirming test match goes ahead as planned (meaning both weather and riots).

He does engage in arguement sometimes but, for instance, shuts down someone who tweets what seems to be a homophobic insults. Bourdieu (1999) takls about “difficult spots”: “difficult to describe and think about”. Only looking at a much larger quantity of data did I realise that this hadn’t been a homophobic comment but a reference to a co-commentators criticism of another team.

There are many ways Agnew involves others in his construction of stories. So pulling out the key tweets around “Moussaka Special”. He comments “treating the wife to Moussaka Surprise. Theory being devastation in the kitchen means I won’t be asked to cook again for at least 6 months” – refers to specific type of comedy. “The Wife” is a term he doesn’t usually use so that’s a reference to a type of comedy. The narrative builds. tension mounts… then two surprise tweets, the moussaka is good, and she tweets too and joins that narrative!

So really interesting narrative construction; and merging of online and offline.

Agnew did leave tweet for a while. He gets lots of abuse but attack by another author seems to be what drives him off Twitter for a while. I’ve used this idea of “change agent” (Mullins, Kozlowski, Schmitt Howell 2008) as he is quite influential in this rather traditional cricket world, and he has that trust to be that change agent, something you see more widely in adopting in Twitter. And you see these realms of onstage and offstage personae and performances on Twitter and intersections between them.

Q&A

Q) Did you tell him you were doing this?

A) I did, he didn’t acknowledge it – sort of said a few times but I’m there in a huge (200k) audience. I’m still planning to send fully written up version to him for comment.

Q) You talked about Agnew moving from journalist to public figures. As you went through data collection did you see marked difference in tone of Tweets as follower numbers grow.

A) I’d say no actually. But by beginning of 2010 he was already well on the way, his role attracts a certain amount of attention anyway. He was already a skilled user of Twitter, building stories, orientating to audiences, some moments of tension, the abandonment. But interplay generally there throughout. But will think about that more carefully.

Q) One of the things I thought between celebrity and “real people’s” use of Twitter was how much they retweet them. One thing you could look at is how much they retweet, distribution phenomenon. Also terms of address that vary between celebrities and others. Celebrities address a collective group of followers.

A) I’m not sure he is really a celebrity here. He’s more a personality.

Comment) I’d say microcelebrity eg Alice Marwick

A) Certainly he has a lot of interactions, requests to retweets, lots of iteraction. Your comment does give me an angle. But I’m not sure celebrity is the right work.

Comment) Perhaps about tipping point here, not about celebrity status but number of followers.

A) I think Agnew is about driving change etc. He did start encouraging web 2.0 use because you could speak to everyone but actually he has become someone who extends the broadcast models.

Comment) He is followed by far far more people than he follows, classic broadcast/transmit model. Reach is the wrong term or concept but that broadcast behaviour is something that is different.

A) yes, I do make that comment in my conclusions but that’s a fair observation.

And now its me so the liveblogging stops!

An analysis of professional exchange and community dynamics on Twitter around the #OR2012 conference hashtag by Nicola Osborne and Clare Llewellyn

The Prezi is here and I highly welcome comments!

But the in-person version sparked lots of questions so I think it went well and hope some attendees pass on their own use cases to the Twitter Workbench team (I’m happy to pass comments on!).

Authenticating leadership ‘like a boss’ by Tom Van Hout

Like a Boss is parody rap. Everything if followed by “Like a Boss”. Massively popular, huge amounts of tweets about this. A tweet evergreen if you like. Refers to finesse or authority. Or just their way. People, animals, objects. e.g. Many presenters have presented Like a Boss at this conference!

Leadership discourse. From management and business studies we know that leadership is about meaning. There is the transformational leader, the charasmatic leader, visionary leader. Often quite gendered as well. There is a lovely paper by Baxter in Journal of Social Linguistics in how female leaders shift in and out of various “role traps”. The Like a Boss phenonemon ties into these aspects.

Vernacular writing is an area of huge interest, this is inter personal in nature, spontaneous and unplanned, dialogical by default. The Like a Boss hashtag and tweets displays some of these. So an example here – a micromeme here. But we see lots of sharing of quite mundane achievements. Also identity as heritage discourses (around gold star stickers). Also performances of being a boss, judgements of enoughness. Now vernacular writing, why are we drawn to it? Well the rational is pretty straight forward. More people write than ever before. They write more. Digital media enables that. And as we all saw yesterday during weird Q&A session writing goes public. And finally my interest here is about identity practices. Here we see really diverse identity practices and the use of “emblematic resources” <ref?>, and an enormous range of features that could see you doing things “Like a Boss”. From buying shoes, getting out of bed, high-fiving a shark. But the meme does cohere and what makes that happen is that these are forms of self-presentation and performance – identity-as-heritage (cultural capital – like the star stickers). And identity-as-creative-play – about subverting the norms, creative play. Cue discussion of a dog on a wingback chair – why is it funny? It’s anthropomorphised, it’s a superior expression somehow, pokes fun at self-styled ways. But I’m really interested in how that meta commentary, how far that ranges. Some of these self-performances don’t work. What is the benchmark for being or doing Like a Boss does. About “enoughness” – the resources recognised as successful. Not fully developed but… online, on YouTube, views and comments etc. index what it takes to be a Boss. That measure is policed online constantly. Ideally we want an indexical range of how you perform this successfully.

In conclusion. We approach digital communication in an ethnographic perspective. We look at vernacular cultures and cultural politics. We look at leadership discourse – management of meaning and language game. We look at vernacular writing – networked writing, scale. and we look at identity practices – enoughness, self-presentation.

Q&A

Q) Isn’t self-tagging yourself “Like a Boss” a form of Index. So the measure is whether accept it as such?

A) Yes, the tweets identify successes in being “Like a Boss”. There are wannabees. The data we have… the notion of enoughness divides those who can (e.g. retweets) and those who want to.

Q) In what way is Like a Boss different from Like a Pro? In terms of semantic features.

A) Like a Boss calls on more cultural toughness etc.

Q) Can I ask about “enoughness”… if you use rankings, popularity, as a measure…?

A) As one measure…

Q cont.) So how do you measure that they really like that. And secondly what other measures

A) No answer yet.

Q) RT as a measure of goodness for a tweet. About variation of users. theoretically scale free in Twitter. 30 RTs would be the best day of my life for me, for some that’s every day. How do you account on that?

A) We don’t want to look at celebrities. Only normal folk.

Q cont) But a continuum there. Some random people have 20k followers you know?

A) Imagine we will, and others have done, look only at a particular range of followership.

Me) Compare RTs for other stuff – so does the Like a Boss stuff

Q) Vernacular use of Boss is very different isn’t it? Gaming connotations? Slang connotations? Not just leadership here? Maybe why more sticky as a meme

A) Sure, those come in.

Comment) Like a Pro just not  as grabbing, those other uses include “that’s Boss!” a very 70s and 80s style.

Discussion breaking out around whether “Like a Boss” is a valid tag for some tweets in Tom’s data. And then on Pro vs Boss. Boss being more contentious, declaring power over others, superiority, dominance etc. And that others don’t care how their seen – cockiness, single mindedness, self-belief…. and now into the “great man” theory of leadership. Also discussion of ironic use.

Tom: I have been able to collect different things here. Initially tweets but that is harder with the API. Collected some

 

The personal in political tweets: The use of Twitter during the 2010 British and Dutch General Elections by Todd Graham

There are three players in this twitter research: politicians, media and citizens. I’m going to specifically look at how politicians behave in social media. Today I’ll look at the UK General Election but we’ve also done work on Dutch elections and on-election periods.

We took a sample from a 2 week period (April 26th to polling day, May 6th 2010). We focused on main three parties. Any candidate who tweeted in this time. 19% of conservative candidates; 22% of labour candidates; 26% of Lib Dem candidates. And a large cohort of tweets collected distributed unevenly. We did content analysis with a team of 6 trained coders. The unit of the individual tweet. The context unit of analysis was the Twitter page – that conversation. You needed that context to code them correctly, that was crucial. We had a dozen or so categories but I will focus on 4 main ones. Type of tweet; interaction with; tweet function; tweet topic. See Graham Broersma Hazelhoff and van’t Haar 2013 for the statistical analysis. I’ll be talking qualitative analysis.

Firstly to say something of the three Prime Minister candidates. Looking at frequency of mentions. 22nd April and 29th April see a big spike. Those are the last two TV debates. They had a substantial influence on tweeting. Also an increase in tweets towards polling day (less sharp).

In terms of tweet types this was basic: normal post (48.2%); reply (?%) ; retweet (?%); retweet with comment (?%). Huge difference between conservatives vs lib dems and labour. Latter two parties interacted far more. Who were they interacting with? The public lagely, politicians (mainly own party but some debate from labour candidates), party activists (hardly ever conservatives), media, etc.

We looked at tweet topics. 80% of all tweets were about Campaign and Party Affairs. Very minimal policy talk by comparison. Some “other” chat as well. The function varied more broadly. Lots of tweets about the campaign trail (23.1%); campaign promotion (20.9%); criticism and arguing (22.9); acknowledgement (9.7%); other functions less substantial. So a typology here. We saw Broadcasting with 5 behaviours: updating; promoting; party stance; etc.

Updating accounted for 23.1% of tweets. e.g. those shown from @Jeremy_Hunt and @andrew4mk. Perhaps this isn’t an unusual thing to track in the media. But some politicians did this in a more novel way. Some gave a sense of closeness, of being part of the campaign, of knocking on doors with them…

Promoting was around 20.9% of tweets. This was largely about promoting the party or the politician, their success, their performance etc. But the Lib Dems were quite interesting. They promoted the most, but they were also really creative.@CllrDaisyBenson called out for non-celebrity endorsements and got great personal endorsements and responses.

Critiquing (17%) tended to be very superficial, about style, performance, rarely any substantive critiques of policies. Created polarised Twittersphere. Really party orientated so particularly polarised during the debates for instance. Politicians complain about this BUT they do this. And a number of followers and members of the public called them on this. Stephen Coleman and Dan Jackson’s work finds that this sort of discourse puts citizens off politics.

Interacting also had 5 behaviours: a range here so:

Attacking/Debating (9.9% of tweets): these were again superficial attacks. Typically one-off exchanges. Extended debate was rare. a yell each way but no further. Ironic as the debates – which triggered many of these – was supposed to open up debate but rather shut down here.

Mobilising/Organising (3.7% of tweets): Labour and Lib Dems really led this. @DrEvanHarris tweeted about 1400 tweets in this time period. He was chat up new followers and then ask for their help in campaigning. Candidates also shared behind the scenes type tweets.

Advice giving, helping and consulting (3% of tweets): about connecting with the citizen. Consulting with the public was about 1%. Conservatives not tweeting in this way. There are maybe 7 or 8 candidates represented in these advice and consulting tweets.

In terms of Twittering about their personal life. We had a code that just marked tweets as “personal”. e.g. Louise Mensch tweeting about running. But we are recoding those as political and personal often overlap. We also want to code the personal. But looking at some samples we saw use of personal in combination with updating – combining campaign trail with personal life note (cats and chocolate + envelope stuffing). Using personal to promote. Very common with those with young children. Tom Watson tweets about his 2 year old. Using personal to attack and critique – using kids or pets to raise funny attacks. Using life experience to draw attention to a particular issue – eg “My aunty tells me”… or use of personal experience to support arguement over several tweet discussions, e.g. on Trains.

This work is still progressing. Analysis ongoing. And looking at that mix of personal and political.

Q&A

Q) What did you do about tweets with links, e.g. to policy documents etc.

A) I have a whole codebook to deal with these. so lots of politicians tweeted links to newspapers with an attacking headline – so we coded it as attack. Or links to policy on blog – coded for that function. We basically clicked on the links and coded that up.

Q) Two questions. How did you separate whom category? People act in different roles. Also for functions categories – literature theory or your own coding?

A) Coding scheme is a combination of factors. Reading the literature. Inductive coding, also Darren’s work on politicians on Twitter influenced our coding. And we had four steps in that process of checking role of the people being interacted with. Context helped, the coders clicked through to profiles, sometimes Googling that person was required, we made some rules and procedures for that.

Q) Did the party train/constrain/orchestrate these for them? If not it seems really interesting to be outside the party machine as other publications are?

A) Labour and Lib Dems had a campaign coordinator for social media. And they had keen early adopters amongst their candidates. Conservatives not so much. Found suggestions they didn’t have much.

Me) Conservatives did hire someone for social media some time back. I’ll see if I can dig that out.

A) There was a piece in Wired… may be same one…

Q) What about images and coding?

A) We did code images in tweets but there were not many of them.

Q cont) Often they mess up that personal thing…

A) We coded them as critiques on the whole (one critiquing own party leader!)

Q) Political tweets are domain specific data. Can you develop something automatic based on your work?

A) We are doing that now, have multidisciplinary team. We are working with people in linguistics. Taking out 60k tweets and having programme learn from those tweets to try and reuse it for the next election. But context would be the tricky thing here. It was a big part of the coding process.

Comment) Programmes great for explicit texts. Much harder to deal with irony. But it’s machine learning and you need a small training set hand coded, then software learns from that and can be applied automatically to wider data set.

Professional Twitter Panel

This is our final session of the day and is about Twitter use by those with “between 1000 and 10,000″ followers on Twitter. Pre conference tweets suggest that’s a slightly controversial grouping but we shall see shortly…

Participation was sought in advance for this session and there have been two tweeters coming forward. One a Gothic Literature academic, the other @scicurious who is a prominent science blogger.

So this will work in two streams. Already have discussion on #lutwitrc up here, we’ll also keep an eye on #lutwit tweets.

I started by asking about when you find time to tweet. If you don’t tweet much it seems there is never time. If you tweet a lot it seems like a non issue. @scicurious just tweets regularly as part of the day – it runs in the background. Johnny is commenting that he tweets intensively at conferences like this, but less so at other times. But do retweet then etc. It varies a lot. When reading or writing tends to be less so than when doing things like marking and want a diversion. Several other comments. Me, tend to have in background but real morning/evening rythems. Comment that Twitter has made tweet archive of your own twitter archive to see clear patterns there. Greg: I asked Dorothy Bishop, Professor of Psychology about why so many tweets are at 7am and she said “well academics are filling in forms the rest of the day!”. Penny: comments on extreme unevenness over course of day and over longer term. Comment: also about how long you are on Twitter – count has different meaning. A measure of total tweets varies radically. Maybe come back to that as very active tweets mean something differently. Julia: we are assuming one person is one account but you may be tweeting to many accounts and time intersects with identity, not neccassarily 1:1. David: I think Penny was suggesting that we treat Twitter like other communication – we don’t measure how many chats we have in a day. Me: but the account is there, so tempting. But presence is inferred from tweeting as well, so not tweeting suggests not present.

Discussion of time to write a tweet. Rebekkah Kills says it takes no time. Comment that reading takes time, not tweeting. Takes time but not much. Greg: interested in issues of timing… e.g. cultural norms around eating and talking at the same time. Me: it’s about context here, what are expectations. For a personal tweet I may have hours to reply, but for a professional tweet or an enquiry to a service twitter account expects fast replies. Greg: I am constantly surprised, but shouldn’t be, about the speed of student email replies. So fast. Four hours can be slow. Comment: my girlfriend tweets and uses facebook and kind of sits down to “do facebook” and I think people do do that…

Greg: so that takes us into other media use. Johnny, do you have the same posts going to Facebook and Twitter? Johnny: no, I used to, then used to unlink now totally unlinked… Comment: I’m wondering about Facebook and Twitter and the idea on Putnum on strong and weak ties. greg: your practices change depends on speed of tweeting but also how many people you follow. Julia: I do find the temporal aspect changes. Facebook bring different time zones in at different times. Synchronicity on Twitter puts me out of touch with those in other timezones. Greg: I take part of Flickr365 and we do a daily update but we all tend to post at the same time, it’s a daily rythem to keep up with. Different to always on. Me on ties: I think strong and weak ties exist in Facebook and Twitter, not a clear distinction. And also timewise there are timezones of interest/habit beyond location – e.g. those staying up late in UK vs daytime in US.

Onto anonimity and pseudonimity. Me: recommending Violet Blue’s writing on Google+. Greg: BitPHd is a blog I read and it is very successful but wouldn’t be possible with real names for personal comments could damage tenureship chances. Any other opinions? We are all academics pretty much, do we assume freedom with our employers here? Comment: if you google me you find an old account which is an issue. Johnny: I feel ambivelent for adding “views are my own” on my profile. I think there is no need for there to be an issue there. Karen: don’t think that “all views are my own” thing, doesn’t cover you legally. Law hasn’t caught up. Look at UCU’s advice on social media. There have been cases no matter the disclaimers. Tony: social media used as brand management and reputation management, tricksiness around that. It’s problematic. See link tweeted to my study. So disclaimer not a bad idea from personal perspective, distance self from institutional or departmental position. I use it on my Twitter account. Me: its about setting expectations, perceptions. Comment: I’m from China and think pseudonyms are safer. greg: my research showed that people like to see a face, a person, not a blank or object avatar.

So, moving onto impact… I’ve thought about number of followers and of retweets. Is that impact? Is something else? Me: well Klout may be silly but that idea that followers, activity, replies, retweets and the presence of influential people in your network and their engagement with you has some merits. Klout have interest in numbers for marketing reasons… David: Why would you do that? Same concerns as impact in any area of academia Greg: I have a practical reason, for sampling. For journals you would check impact factor in choices. But maybe an issue about impact and influence being perceived as about marketing is an issue for any sorts of measures here and how they could be perceived. Todd: we’ve been interviewing dutch politicians, for them getting tweets picked up by news media is key. For political leads and celebrities the pick up by mainstream media might be a measure. Comment: opinion leaders matter here too, not about counts. Greg: indeed, concepts move beyond Twitter, to concepts from before Twitter around influence and impact here. Comment: impact in my work is about reaching sources, spreading news etc. in crisis organisations. Organisations mobilise resources on the ground through very influential presences and accounts.

Final topic… We had a question from, I think outside the institution, am I OK collecting Twitter data without institutional data? Apart from all the Terms of Service, Copyright, what are the ethics of it? Start with gut ethical issues and then move onto legal issue. David: yes, it’s public but designed for Twitter. The same as saying… would you have ethical issue with using voxpop in a newspaper and then reprinting it. Greg: I don’t see problem with that. David: an ethical issue… it’s recontextualising it. You need ethical approval for closed Facebook posts, but media does use and attribute that. Greg: do we all agree that Facebook is clearly private and needs ethical approval? Tony: issue is expectation. Facebook has expectation of privacy. Issue for Twitter is whether people quoted assume the audience is public. People get it wrong. It can be ticklish. My feeling is that hashtags are somehow signals active participation in a conversation. David: On some sites you might feel you are posting to that site but you are reposting to Twitter. Similar issue to local newspaper vs pick up more widely. Could feel very different. So continuuation of same ethical issue. Comment: Really good article about this by danah boyd about levels of publicness in social media. Applies here. Looking at hashtag corpora some feel private, single post. Some massively public hashtags with lots of responses. I tried to anonimise usernames but near impossible to anonimise tweets themselves. Have to be savvy consumer but can we expect that of everyone. Julia: ethics matter in social media, just as anywhere else. And getting to know Terms of Service matters. Looking through Twitter not all ToS are as clear as they could be but you can communicate and ask questions. Really different attitudes to text made public and screenshots. Many layers here. You as researcher in institution, the wider space and world expectation, and the legal side of things. So many layers. Can be tempted to think we are insulated from these kinds of things, a world you should be just as careful as. Johnny: the Twitter ToS directly conflict with the idea of anonimity. Twitter makes it hard for researchers. Comment: need to separate ethical and legal issues here. We should consider the ethical issues for ourselves. ToS is about brand not users. Researching, taking data for analysis, and then publishing are two different things. And publishing may be at a conference (temporary, closed) but on slideshare say that’s difference, or in a book or paper that’s different again. Comment: can we separate legal and ethical issues here really. Issues of good faith, of relationships with data providers etc. Greg: I deliberately left this to the end as I think it would be concerning if, because it easier ethically, all analysis was quantative, but there are many issues to discuss… and those discussions will hopefully carry on at #lutwitRC and #lutwit.

And with that – and my apologies if the notes are a little hard to follow, I’ll mull a better format and may update accordingly – the formal sessions ended  and we moved into the evening with the launch of Language Online: Investigating Digital Texts and Practices by David Barton and Carmen Lee followed by a lovely conference dinner for continuing those (and other) discussions… More from the final day of the conference appearing on the blog tomorrow.

Apr 102013
 

For the next three days I will be blogging from the Lancaster University Twitter and Microblogging Conference, where Clare Llewellyn (UoE Informatics) and I will be presenting our work on analysing #OR2012 tweets tomorrow.

Keep an eye on this post for notes on today’s talks (programme here) once things get going at 11am. The Twitter hashtag, #lutwit, will probably also be very busy!

Introduction to Twitter and Microblogging: Political, Professional and Personal Practices – Julia Gillen and Johnny Unger

Julia is introducing the conference by outlining the interest in this topic at Lancaster. Greg Myers work on blogs and wikis and Nathan Jurgenson’s work on digital dualism, and Julia’s interest is in political discourses. For Julia some of the motivation for today was attending AAAI on weblogs and social media in Dublin in June. In some ways a super experience, cross-discplinary and people from Twitter there. Went to each o fthe Twitter sessions and listened to what they said. Some real overlap with University of Maryland – academics embedded in Twitter. Lots of people at the conference analysing large data sets in social media, and journalists there using social media. But I was uneasy at the event. Why were the Twitter, LinkedIn, IBM poeple there? To analyse the data for profit. Academics had some research interests there. Lots of the research was linguistics research and corpus linguistics but those presenting never used the terms. So there was a need to really examine Twitter from different perspectives, from different linguistics perspectives, real world problems and issues. There are many motivations, academic and otherwise, and a really good mix over the next few days.

Johnny Unger is now giving a brief practical overview of the conference and the Lanyrd site which acts as the authoritative programme. He is also introducing this afternoon’s Twitter Q&A with Nathan Jurgenson who will be joining the room from Twitter and video feed and suggesting we read two of Nathan’s papers ahead of that:

We will be able to ask questions ahead of or during the session (and I’m sure they are welcome from outside the room #njqa) via Twitter or in the room via Johnny.
And now a comment from the chair of tomorrow evening’s Professional Twitter plenary session, with Twitter users between 1000 and 10,000 followers about #lutwitrc (rc for “Reality Check”) engaged, discussion in a talk here and with tweets in the background. This is more on practicalities of Twitter and Tweeting than on the academic side of Twitter. Again I’m sure input from others will be welcome.
A quick comment again from Johnny: please do tweet. #lutwit is the general hashtag for the sessions. Johnny suggests adding GF4 for lecture theatre 4 etc. If there’s a better system etc. that’s fine. Some special hashtags already mentioned. You can tweet any questions about the event to @lutwit13 (or ask in person).

Plenary: Online freedom and repressive law: The paradox of digital journalism by Lee Salter, University of West of England

Lee’s research loooks at interactions between new media and traditional media. Julia came to know his work through the book he co-authored with Janet Jones, Digital Journalism (Jones & Salter 2011). Lee is also in town as his film is playing in Lancaster tonight.

I wanted to start by pointing to issues we may be talking about at the rest of the conference. My issue in social media is both how it relates to traditional media but also around the paradoxes social media can lead to. I want to focus on some of those issues through some of the more controversial areas where social media has been used.

So as we know Twitter is lots of different things to different people, it’s an integral part of modern journalistic toolkit, a ranting space, a means of sharing links and photos, and it’s a campaign and protesting tool – which I’m particularly interested in, and those discourses around this.

In the book I don’t go for hyperbolism or doom and gloom. However there are real extremes in the coverage and discourses around social media. In the coverage of the Mumbai massacre Tom Sutcliffe, writing in The Independent, rallies against the coverage on Twitter. Of course months later the paper were up and tweeting. But discourses of hyperbole does need to be modified, reined in. Twitter grows out of the use of UGC by journalists. Anar Thorson argues that Moldovan and Iranian elections see Twitter being used to generate news on the ground, “a hub for first hand accounts”.

More recently we see a journalists in a hybrid environment – breaking stories on blogs and twitter before appearance on broadcast or print. Thorson sees the coverage of the election on blogs getting greater viewership than maintream press in some cases. The criticisms of Twitter describe it as nonsense, as repition. Thorson moved to work on the “Arab Spring” and he cites NPR’s Andy Carvin as one of the paragon examples of really good tweeting. He tweeted so rapidly that Twitter tried to delete his account as they thought he might be a spammer. He used Twitter to collect first hand accounts, to verify rumous and discussio, to gather fast moving information. Benjamin Doherty critizes Carvin work as he says that he couldnt see any other NPR journalists working with activists and protestors against the Israeli state in that sort of way, keeping their job.

I want to talk now about whether Twitter really has changed corporate communications, how journalism has changed, what the power relations are.

It’s notable that journalists, as gatekeepers of information, tend to reflect existing power relations. The suggestion is that Twitter and social media have changed those power relations. Thorson argues that journalists do have incentives to protect the traditional press role but that use of social media is changing those power relations. Chadwick argues the change of relations between elite sources and elite journalists, particularly in terms of temporality. The routine news day is based around routine deadlines. Powerful sources of information can sync and interface with those times of day in order to feed the news system. Social media do not follow those patterns so closely, the news routine is interrupted. But I’m not actually sure that interruption is actually occurring. We know that participation and influence is limited by the resource base that people use. The range of people that use Twitter is limited, those that use it effectively is even smaller. Pew’s research in the US finds only 15% of internet users using Twitter, only 8% doing so daily. Only a quarter of Twitter users have ever tweeted. In the Uk research shows Twitter users as being higher income. But in the US Twitter users tend to be younger, female, urban, and more black and hispanic users than might be expected. There isn’t one profile here.

Bruns and Burgess, et al. (2011) [thanks to @mdanganh for the clarification and URL] found Twitter use in Australian elections being about traditional power and professional relations, with social media amplifying those central conversations. But activists are now engaged in loosely coupled relationships with newsmakers, the majority of those interactions have little impact, but only a small number of Twitter users make a real difference, push the conversations, etc.

There has been little work on Tweet’s intregration in mainstream media. Thorson writes not about Twitter but about “Have your Say” information and the BBC during elections. The use of this tended to represent middle ground. Wiki News did things a little differently, they required a neutral point of view. But what does “neutral” mean, especially in controversial areas. Twitter is obviously different to these two spaces. It isn’t censored, it isn’t moderated. A colleague who writes for the Guardian was complaining about Twitter as a chaotic medium, that they integrate it in a conventional linear narrative, but it doesn’t fit with discursive structures of journalism.

Now when I mentioned the Arab Spring, a lot of the attention of journalists and scholars looking at the Arab Spring has been a focus on the particular conflict in the middle east and North Africa. If Twitter had really penetrated the mainstream I think we would have seen different discourses. There has been a real role for Twitter in Syria, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, and we have seen that covered and rather overstated, but we don’t see coverage Bahrain or Saudi Arabia, say. There are various assumptions we can make about the focuses… social media tends to be used to illustrate what is going on by particular groups, very media savvy protest groups and a need to communicate to the outside world via social media, then bounce back via mainstream media (e.g. particularly in Egypt). So the discourses of social media here fitted with the mainstream news agenda and that’s why it had leverage in some areas much more so than others.

We know that Twitter power relations reflect mainstream roles – mainstream journalists have far more followers than others. Because social media has been used within the mainstream news frames. We see parallels between protest in the middle east and the UK at the same time became reported by mainstream media. I’m going to play a clip of reporting of conflict in Egypt – the images, the placement of the camera, the emphasis, etc. here (from World News Today). The interesting here is the way that the conflict between the protestors and the police are represented, the alignment of the journalist to the protestors, the reference to petrol bombs as defensive, the slight giggle in the discussion of rock throwing. Compare that with a clip from the student protests in the UK at the same time (BBC News), this time the footage includes a dismissive nod towards attacks on students by police here. Social media told a very different story to the new coverage.

This notion of communicative freedom that takes place… when Tunisia and Egypt shut down Twitter and Facebook there is outrage. In the UK David Cameron talks of shutting down BlackBerry, Facebook etc. raises far less media question. But the question

Andrew Cameron and Barbara Tool call the “Californian Ideology”, the internet is just there, it’s natural as John Perry Barlow says. Now that is not a reality, it was set up by government, by institutions etc. Laurance Lessig (in code and cyberspace) talks about political regulation and economic regulation, and norms or hegemony. And I think these may explain why Twitter regulation isn’t neccassary. The traditional public/private dichotomy is disappearing, it’s broken down, but law hasn’t caught up with a paradoxical medium like Twitter. Nor do the users. Take Paris Brown for instance, elected as a Police Youth Comissioner who is 17, and people found tweets from the ages from when she was 14 or 15… they included crude comments about sex and drugs. Do we really expect 14 year olds to understand that dichotomy? She stood down yesterday. Andrew Brown wrote some nasty comments on Facebook and was jailed for 12 weeks. An 18 year old was arrested for making comments about Tom Daley’s deceased father. And of course there is the case of Peter? because an off the cuff comment on Twitter was taken to be a terrorist threat. People aren’t very aware of this dichotomy, and the outdated law is the major problem here. Many of these cases date from the 2003 communications act. This allows prosecution for comments deemed to be offensive, obscene, etc. comments. Many comedians do not get taken to court or taken to prison for comments of those type (e.g. Frankie Boyle or Richard Littlejohn), whilst the same types of comments on Twitter and social media seem to be taken very differently. Which is particularly odd given there are no specific press freedom laws here. ”improper use of public communications network”

Mitchell Stancombe was jailed for three years for a tweet asking when the riots would start in Southampton. The idea of incitement to riot predates these media and the punishment has been disproportionate. And discourses did not make it into the mainstream media. Tweets such as “This is what happens when you consistently opress [sic] the youth, have some of your own medicine #londonriots” did not make the headlines. Rob Proctor’s work on Twitter showed the most powerful tweets dominating, dissenting voices shut down, the clean up operation after the riots dwarfed the riot tweets. He argues that those who were rioting did not use Twitter, they knew they would be caught. Blackberry Messenger was far more popular for that reason.

Now another reason not to close down those spaces hasn’t really got anything to do with communicative styles, it’s to do with the modes of British Policing. We can talk about “permissive transgression”. They allow law to be broken to a certain extent “policing by consent” then cracking down, the idea being to minimise conflict. The police also lack intelligence – but social media allows huge gathering of intelligence. The other function of social media during protests and riots is quite amusing. The police try to contact and engage those that they think may be protesting. Since 2010 there really haven’t been a central starting point, an organiser, etc. They try to reach out to a leader in the protest, but there is no leader. When I looked at protests in Bristol, different students from different colleges would arrange 4 or 5 different protests, but which one got popular was luck really. no one was in charge.

Def? and his colleagues have looked in depth at how the police use Twitter in conflict. To try to calm situation, to try to engage, to provide information, and to try and name and shame individuals. On occassion some individuals were acquitted… one of these had his house burned down because he had been named as possibly involved in protest. There is a growing sense of identifiable data, of the need to be private in case seen/named/photographed etc.

And I want to end on the opposite take on this. Anonymous, as a group, is full of paradoxes. On the one hand the group is anonymous in terms of membership, representation etc. but they are also Anonymous, a brand essentially. And they are desperate for their actions and hacks to play a propaganda role so they have to play to the mainstream. They say “Twitter is their link to the world”. Looking at @YourAnonNews this is “one of many” Anonymous accounts, you cannot verify it, there is no hierachy and leadership here. They say “we are legion” and that’s a very deliberate term. Anonymous attached Israel over the weekend, I asked about a previous operation and I spoke to “Commander X” and asked him about interfaces with mainstream media. He advised we watch the “We Are Legion” documentary. They started posting quotations from the documentary at the same time as they appeared in the documentary – wasn’t a coincidence, he had control of my machine. So it’s a very weird group to interact with and talk to.

Commander X called Twitter the frontline, the key medium for publicity, it is designed to reach the mainstream journalists. They send out huge numbers of press releases as well. The operations are designed to Shock and Awe, to be too powerful for mainstream media to miss. Commander X says that that is why full blown complete take downs can force the media to discuss it. 1 million followers on Twitter. This is an important organisation. Anonymous going to war online with Israel… this seems major but all of the reporting says the same thing, from an AP release, stating that actually it hasn’t caused any real damage. Israeli government was main source for article. It illustrates those tricky power relations. But I did ask why Twitter doesn’t reject Anonymous or hack them. They say they know they are being watched, they are better at hacking than them, and they say “we haven’t done anything to offend Twitter”. It’s a paradoxical relationship.

Power relations do not seem to have been addressed by Twitter but there are clear opportunities for transformations. There is something but it’s not transforming mainstream media. The hegemonic status hasn’t changed. The integration of Twitter into news discourses doesn’t cause disruption, it follows the patters, it is normalised. But the law fails to address these mediums. Leveson was an opportunity to address that but it didn’t happen. But the paradox, the tension here, is the issue of Twitter as a sphere of public communication and as a sphere of surveillance.

Q&A

Q) In that use of Twitter by mainstream media, how does the Guardian fit in here?

A) The Guardian did become different in riots coverage but had previously been similar to other traditional media outlets. A truly different approach would be to frame those involved in the riots as “primary definers”. I argue that the riots were political but I have many debates with intelligent people who argue otherwise. In Egypt that protest wasn’t that focused but muddies the narrative. That would have been a radical alternative discourse.

Q) Can Twitter be considered unmoderated?

A) Of course it is mediated and moderated. Take downs occur, depends if you think pre-selection or post comment take downs. BBC comments are pre-publication, with Twitter moderation tends to be after the fact. Relatively unmoderated.

Q) My name is Ty Graham, been studying how dutch journalists use Twitter, how that selection might change journalists?

A) Nick Davies wrote a great book called “flat earth news” about the role of PR in news. Throughout the 80s and 90s there were fewer journalists covering more and more who became reliant on press releases and PR. Journalism already has it’s problems. The choice isn’t between seeing or calling a source, and doing that directly vs Twitter. It’s more between press releases and Twitter, and Twitter looks better there. But one of the problems is selecting tweets that fit with the journalist or the discursive angle of the journalists. The daily mail won’t highlight tweets against it’s position for instance.

Q) To what extent does reporting of conflict reflect regulation – so in the case of Egypt the UK press is not regulated by the state, in the London Riots they are, their reporting of Tweets may inevitably be related to their own relationship with the state, with the politics of that protest, with regulation (e.g. license fee negotiation).

A) There’s certainly something there, at least in terms of TV coverage as BBC, ITV, C4 etc. are very much regulated by the state. But newspapers are not regulated in the same way and yet they elected not to frame their coverage differently. People were effectively executed around the riots and that was little covered, just as death in police custody isn’t reflected in reporting. There is a much wider issue with journalism that it wants to reflect and frame it’s coverage in ways that its readers/consumers understand, are not unsettled by, are comfortable with and that really prevents alternative discourses, radical reframings etc.

Q) follow up: surely in a rolling news era TV sets the agenda here though? Surely agenda is also set by whatever has the best pictures?

A) Well perhaps but news organisations in print also produce video; TV news producers use social media; there is such blending and merging here. And there is a real concern around the use of video. In the London Riots all of the major broadcasters handed over footage to the police and there is real concern that in the next protest those journalists may well be finding themselves targets for that reason.

We’ve just had a good lunch break, now moving to parallel strands and I have selected:

 

Building rapport in conference live tweets by Giorgia Riboni, Milan

Giorgia and her colleague C. Degano analysed conference tweeting to understanding discourse. Most participants seem to be addressing tweets to academic peers, not a more public audience. They seem to represent communications within a particular community, an efficient self-promotional tool perhaps? The main question I want to ask is “If scholars’ conference tweets are targeted at an audience of peers, how do they build rapport while sharing information?” and wondering how conference tweeters strategies vary or overlap with speakers strategies, with Erving Goffman’s essay The Lecturn. I am calling on SFG Halliday 1985 (Interpersonal Funcation); Goffman 1981 (Frame Analysis); Hydland 19?? (??)

Corpus was around 2000 tweets, hashtag based collection of 8 pplied linguisitics conference live tweets. With a reference corpus of conference scripts. John Swales Conference Corpus (2009). 23 lectures and around 77k words. I will be sharing the findings of my qualitative analysis rather than my quantitative analysis although the qualitiative results are based on that. In my data 81.5% of tweets were original tweets; 12.8% were retweets; only 5.7% were replies. It doesn’t seem that the tweeters are reluctant to engage, rather they want tweets to reach all or most of their audience instead.

looking at Goffman’s typology for audiences, these don’t seem to quite apply here. Marwick and Boyd 2010 find the effect of “networked audience” – the idea that tweets might reach a global audience of peers rather than replies which only reach a small audience. Hydland 2001 talks about metadiscursive elements and engagement markers. On Twitter there are both engagement language devices (Deixis – in person this is about “I’m pleased to be here” etc. in tweets this is a little different ; questions and imperatives; conversational elements; evaluative elements – these tends to be a matter of positioning yourself in the academic community, paying compliments, etc.) and engagement markers (e.g. @, RT, etc.). Looking at markers – hashtags enact a social relationship. The @ sign are a deictic marker of addressivity at the beginning of the tweet, it is about mentioning when mid-tweet. RTs also are about mentioning another user and representing that in your own stream (User X has posted the following (Zappavigna 2012). But in conferences there is a driver for participants’ own personality and perspective to emerge, probably hence the low level of RT.

Conference live tweeter can act as an “Animator” but there are hybrid or ambigous models here. Sometimes Animator and principal; Author or principal. This hybrid ambiguity amplifies the tweeter’s voice in relation to the speaker. And this relates to the scholarly voice, the role of the speaker (Monacelli 2009) which may represent their role, organisation, etc. and the textual self of the speaker (Goffman 1981). Goffman talks about the speaker as a performer, a method of transmitting content rather than the textural self projects in the course of the lectures delivery. But for me the textual self of the speaker is equally important as, thanks to Twitter affordances, the public and private spheres are collapsing and colliding together and thus the construction of the textual self includes both the scholarly voice and the personal voice. There is a backstage frenzy. Doesn’t mean that distance-altering mechanisms are not there, you see irony and humour, parenthetical remarks, and text brackets as well.

Conclusions. Speakers establish conection with attendees by engaging their rhetorical audience, discursively constructing their textual self and altering their alignmen with the public while transmitting their talk. But that the tweeters also perform, often using the same strategies as the speaker. Conference live tweeters can send notifications; transmit their personal and public self etc. Contact Giorgia @Giorgia_Riboni.

Q&A

Q) David Matthews, Lancaster: One of the things you mentioned was the low number of retweets. One explanation was that people want their own voice to emerge. I’m wondering whether you’d think about asking them, interviews with those you examine, as there may be other reasons. for example people using twitter at a conference don’t retweet as they know their peers are present at the conference as well, that information will already be available.

A) I agree that ethnographic approach would benefit these studies. As a live tweeter I have my own opinions and have been trying to verify those using my corpus.

Q) Mark: Have you engaged with set up, e.g. TWitter wall. Like this morning the wall ran after the talk but not during them. There is a twitter wall in the foyer/lunch area. What is the impact of that display on live tweeting. What is your experience in that?

A) A good comment. Didn’t do this as part of research, think I should have. What we are experiencing today shows that what we see of the tweets can really shape Tweets and interactions.

Q) Anthony McNeill, Kingston University: Looking at research on Blogging by Susan Herring for instance, that monologue was the trend but dialogue did occur in bursts. Some continuity between blogging and microblogging there perhaps. And 140 chars means a retweet really limits what I can say… does that have an impact.

A) Yes, initially I think that was an issue. New RT button changes that somewhere. Tweeters feel the need to credit the tweet so that may be a challenge. The way that they conserve textuality is also interesting. You consider your own tweet but you also consider your tweet in the wider context of the corpus of Tweets.

Q) Is it normal that live tweeters are present?

A) Yes, but the audience may not be.

 

Polyphony of discourse on and about Twitter: Analysis of Twitter uses in the European Parliament, Commission and Council by Sandrine Roginsky (@enirdans)

My work started with an article I saw saying that Twitter was useful for commissioners to communicate. I saw a tweet from Vivian Reding, Vice President of European Comission on the election of president Elles in 2012. It certainly won’t be a commission view. Twitter allos some form of free expresion of actors who are also part of institutions. Professionally though there are guidances around speeches etc.  Maingeuneau says that “institutions mask the conflict” but on Twitter we still see that conflict. So the research question for me here is whether Twitter make it possible to combine various registers of communication or genres of discourses,and the role of the “neutral speech” the “truth of speech” etc. You cannot have both. My hypotheisis that the communications of the institutions as public organisations on Twitter leads to blurring of personal and private, and that

French discourse analysis – Caroline Olliver-Yaniv and Claire oger which is from perspective of political sociology. See also quote on Witschge 2008 the poential of the internet for opening up public discourse cannot be evaluated without properly understanding the context. My method included participant observation, interview, etc. I had ready access to the institutions for this work. I looked at the European Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament. Today I will really focus on the European Commission.

In terms of the context you should note that there is a general injunction for institutions and staff of the Commission to use social media (see EP, Stategic Plan of Communication 2011-2014) as it offers “unique cost-efficient oppotunity for interactivity with citizens”. There is often a perception that there is a deficit around EU communication, but worth bearing in mind in the Commission’s use of others’ tools.

Who is in charge here? At the Commission there are 6 people dedicated to SNS (only). Important to know that Commission has very decentralised communications team. The Social media team is quite small – and on short-term contracts – but Twitter use is spread across the Commission. The European Council has one social media manager – not really communicating in general as much. At the European Parliament there is a team of 30 people dedicated to both social media and the website of the institution. The age average of these staff is around 25-35 year olds.

Ollivier-Yaniv and Oger found that institutional discourses re those officially produced by an individual or organisation. There is some evolution here of our understanding of the institution in Twitter. You have speakers who are Commissioners AND politicians. And you have Commissioners and Staffers both communicating on Twitter. Many voices for this one institution. Too many accounts for the institution. I did this full time for three months and I couldn’t track and follow them all! And there are even more since! There was one main institutional account, one for each Director Generals, 16 personal Commissioner accounts, 16 spokespeople of Commisioners, more for specific programmes and services, 27 nationalities etc. Very difficult to keep track of them.

The Commission has pushed for their staff to be on Twitter BUT not everyone is allowed to speak on behalf of the institution. See Bourdieu 2004 on the role of authorised speakers (and unauthorised speakers). However even for a researcher working on Tweets of the Commission it is near impossible to work out who is authorised to speak on behalf of the Comission. No clear guidelines here, even when staff were asked. Was told by one person that it will be obvious form indications of the the Twitter account. But same person said that her Commissioner’s account was “her personal account, she writes whatever she wants”. So very unclear whether personal or Comission views.

Moving to discourses. Institutional communication (Pasquier 2011); Political communication (Gerstle 1992); Personalised Communication (Jacobson 1994?). One Comms Officer tols me there are two types of tweets, political tweets “which are more interesting” and more personal.  If we take the account of Jose Manual Barroso (@BarrosoEU) – this actually changed names three times here. The rebrand changed the account to both a more personal and more political account. There are some Tweeters do speak on a more personal basis. Viviane Reding again seems to be much more personal. Laszio Andor does similarly but words those tweets in far more personal and informal ways.

However there are a great many more professional type tweets than wholly personal tweets. I found three types of tweets. But I am interested in the paradoxes of enunciation on Twitter and contradiction between the discourse on and about Twitter. Words like Objectivity, Impartiality, Loyalty, Discreion, Circumspection vs. “the best information are those which have not yet been communicated yet”. There is a tension between the rules and the aim of participation on Twitter. Really a huge contradiction. Interviewees all said the argumentative, very political tweets were the most interesting but at the same time they said that you really can’t do that. Most of what is tweeted is much more institutional communication. Probably rather less than one interviewee’s guestimate of 70% institutional to 30% personal political.

Some validation of hypothesis here. Smoothing of political discourse on Twitter.

Most interviews in their discourses on Twitter, they said it was a good way to reach “citizens” or the “man on the street”. But when we looked at who followed and interacted with them it was predominently media and others from the Brussels e-bubble. So it is not a good tool to reach the “man on the street” but very useful way to reach that “Brussels e-bubble”.

Questions – validation process and control of speech within and outside the organisation suited for Twitter.

Q&A

Q) Something about identity, and the need to have a certain professional character. It seems that in order to be “professional” they have to tweet a news feed, they are locked within a bubble of who they are, what they are representing, do they belong in a medium like Twitter.

A) A good question, I have the same question myself. I don’t have an answer exactly. The discourse they have about Twitter, especially Twitter rather than Facebook as they see Twitter as most useful, but I’m not sure at all. A researcher (geugeugis?) found that there is a competition between civil servants and politicians. And The civil servants are winning but Twitter is subversive to that, a way to produce own communication. But you can see the touch of civil servants in that prevelance of institutional tweets, very administrative form and tone for this. So many accounts though! There was also a debate around actor, around digital rights, strong debates and those did take place in those debates. None of the EU institutions took part in that debate. They said they don’t know how to act, how to participate, how to be part of the conversation and perhaps take sides in a way.

Q) Simon van Houts: covering the EU as a journalist is notoriously limited, “mediated mediation” – are the Twitter channels another part of this?

A) I think so. I have started to look at journalists and their interactions with EU accounts and I think I would agree there.

And after a biscuit we are back!

Uses and risks of microblogging in organisations by Soureh Latif Shabgahi

Soureh is particularly looking at use of social media tools in SMEs, and use of microblogging here. Two of the relevant tools here are Twitter and Yammer. From previous literature a majority of research into microblogging has taken place in larger organisations. Generally uptake has been large organisations who have adopted tools after early uptake and trials by some of their staff.

Yammer is an enterprise-orientated microblogging tool without restriction on number of characters.  (A’lvaro et al 2010; gunther 2009; Giles 2010). The messages shared are private to the organisation and it appears that over 70k organisations are using Yammer. However there is little research on enterprise microblogging, 30 papers starting in 2009. Most papers are in US and Europe. Key authors include Kai Riemer and Dejin Zhao. Riemer focuses on microblogging influence on communications. Dejin has focused more on awareness.

I have categorised themes in usage. The main themes are around coordination; reputation management; forming relationships’ Awareness and sense of connectnedd’; Record information for future reference; sharing knowledge/information; discussion. Personal dimensions also come in here, for instance using Twitter for finding work related updates, I have mapped that to Awareness and a sense of connectedness.  There are also face to face discussions that come out of microblogging discussions. These include areas such as work related stress etc.

In considering these tools I also categorised the risks associated with enterprise microblogging. One risk is the restriction on messages, that limitation to 140 characters; difficulties of using the system; distraction – particularly time cost, the noise to value ratio, ; privacy of employees; Security of the organisation.

Data collection via semi structured interviews with 20 SMEs in South Yorkshire area, most of which were IT based companies. But have also gathered results from SMEs in other areas, e.g. educational companies, sports companies. Based on interviews also observations of some companies – of messages posted by employees during the interviews or at a later date. Also used questionnaires to SMEs and received over 100 responses – some from companies I hadn’t contacted directly but had been passed on to them. All interviewees were asked to complete the questionnaires. Analysis has been carried out on a sample of 4 interviews, as the basis for thematic analysis for broader collection. In one SME case I interviewed two staff members, the first was a manager who had introduced Twitter and Yammer, the second was a manager who was using Twitter for their organisation. And I have pulled out some of the uses and some of the risks involved.  Interviewee 1 said that Yammer allowed sharing at “speed of thought” making it easy to use, saw Twitter very positively, as a way to market and engage with customers. Yammer as internal tool, Twitter as tool for reaching audience. Interviewee 2 liked perpetual connection – 24/7 mobile access – and talked about network effects, use for marketing etc. and possibility of attracting new customers.

In terms of risks Interviewee 1 said there was a risk of upsetting colleagues via Yammer – can type quickly and find an upset colleague. On Twitter you can phrase things badly, that had happened, and there was a reputation impact. Interviewee 2 also talked about the risk of hacking – Yammer includes very confidential discussion so real risk there – and of distraction of Twitter.

Turning to Interviewee 3, specifically about Twitter, found the scale very positive and liked the “follow” concept. For their business that was really important. There was a real value to restricting their message. Short messages allow people to decide quickly if they want information, they don’t have to read a lot. But also identified “accidentally just mentioning something” as a risk.

These first two organisations were very positive in tone. However Interviewee 4 was much more negative about use of Twitter. They saw Twitter as very famous, good for marketing and attention, probably needed for mass communication. However in his eyes it’s mainly a “social media tool” in that it is effective for communicating with friends, not with professional cololeagues. Because some private information had been leaked they were particularly aware of that risk. Spelling mistakes are a real risk. And they felt that most users of social media were younger and perhaps not mature in dealing with these issues.

As this research goes forward I will add further risks and uses to my diagrams. My study will focus on the risks and will look at policies and guidelines and how to handle risks when they arise. So for instance Reputation (e.g. spelling mistakes) and Upset/Offend Others will be added to the risks.

Q) Me: Risks – have legal risks been incorporated? Also were SMEs

A) Risks: looked at risks of microblogging and regular blogging tools. Lots of similarities. Some risks that are specific to blogging and probably vice versa. And probably will use policies and guidelines into those risks. In terms of SMEs: First question I ask is whether they use microblogging or not, sometimes I have to explain what microblogging is. Almost all companies I contact are using Twitter, lots of IT companies use it. Some are still in process of adoption. Still debating internally. Did interview them as well as wanted to capture that process of adoption. If aware of them and considering them I did include those SMEs.

Q) You picked companies with high IT knowledge. How would that map to companies with less IT knowledge perhaps? e.g. Health and social care.

A) My focus is mainly in the area of IT I have interviewed companies working in education, sports, some charities. It will be interesting… 80% are IT so there should be some scope for comparison of them with other companies.

Q) Peter Evans, UoE: Study is about use of microblogging by companies. Did you look at use of microblogging by employees not just by companies – and regardless of company policies, particularly around knowledge sharing.

A) It was difficult to find companies in the first place, I spoke to max 2 people and focused on manager who introduced it plus one other. One of my questions was about whether personal or business account was being used. One of the risks which majority of companies using personal accounts identified was the sharing of business information on personal accounts, felt that spelled trouble for the whole company. Some had specifically introduced policies and guidelines as a result, e.g. do not mention the business at all.

Q) So I hadn’t heard of Yammer before…?

A) It was hard to find Yammer companies because that is private communication but I met some of the Yammer staff and was able to find some companies through them.

Comment) Yammer is used a lot in local government.

More than just passing notes in class? Twitter backchannels as new literacy practice by Tony McNeill, Principal Lecturer in Educational Technology

Tony wants to start by linking his presentation to the main conference themes, on the many diverse and creative ways Twitter is being used… or maybe misused. So I love this Onion headline “Twitter creator on Iran: I Never Intended for Twitter to be useful” which is quite fun, not as funny as some others in the Onion, but it raises a few things. That negative, trivial, vacuus perception of Twitter. The other side is that all technology is really a misuse of technology – to put it to purposes for which it was never intended (e.g. using screwdriver to open a can of paint). Like Howard Bloom saying all reading is misreading, so all technology use is all misuse.

So in an image of a lecture we see a lecturer in the room and two participants in the backchannel. It was a minority force a few years ago. Now it’s commonplace, participation starts weeks or months in advance. Signing up for a conference means the schedule, the people, but also the hashtag. See eg a tweet about conferences sounding like the tic tic tic of typing – maybe out of date in era of smart phones.

Tony’s core question is whether this back channel is new or just a new take on old/existing practice. To answer it we need descriptions of practice and theorisations of practice. So I want to start by thinking of ways to theorise the backchannel. Tony defines this “the digital communications space used for primarily textual interactions alongside live spoken presentations generally delivered in a physical environment”. Sometimes there are images and multimodal elements in the backchannel too.

You can see Nathan Jurgenson’s critique of the term “there will not be separate online and offline conferences happening, [...] Twitter isn’t a backchannel it’s the session at the front.”. My own take is that there are backchannels and that front channels are not automatically physical, they can be digital. Back channels go way back – looking at this painting we see chatter at the back of the room. But there are roles in this room.

So I want to stick with the notion of backchannel. My theoretical frameworks are New Literacy Studies and New Mobilities Paradigm, both of which have their origins in Lancashire. So firstly New Literacy Studies are an approach around reading and writing practices, sees literacy as plural, socially embeded, and about identity and power. And a sub area of this, New Literacies, is whether new digital technologies really lead to new literary practices. Is there a new ethos in Twitter backchannels or does technology just enable what we’ve already done.

Types of backchannel tweets:

  • minute-by-minute/live tweeting
  • note taking/resource sharing – and co construction and collaborative aspects
  • personal commentary
  • dialogue – some dialogue but more monologue than dialogue
  • fun /playfulness.

There are also new conventions in the backchannel, competances to be a participant:

  • use of event specific hashtags
  • @ messages
  • retweets (RTs)
  • invite muting/unfollowing when backchannelling

All of these are implicit knowledge we need to understand.

New Literacy Studies are interested in context and in power. I was at a conference a few years ago on podcasting and there was a hastily improvised hashtag, We had a speaker from Apple and we were interested to hear ideas etc. but we got a real sales pitch. So one comment here “I really *want* to like this talk but it’s not playing to me… ” and others followed suit. We are shown a promotional video and the tweets get more angry and more defensive of being sold to. It was interesting to see that very tense mismatch between audience giggling and speaker presentation. What was going on here? Was it just silliness, boredom, irritation? I think it was something else. Academics were going beyond that academic identity but at the same time reinforcing the importance of the conference space for sharing and discussion, a reaffirmation against the sales pitch.

My second theoretical framework are the New Mobilities Paradigm (Shelly and Urry 2006) which about social life no longer being about physical proximity, being more about moving, technologies enable remote connections. Having intense but meaningful contact at a distance. A book I’ve been reading lately, by Daniel Millar, on parenting and migrant workers from the Phillipines and how that is facilitated by Skype seems to fit with these theoretical frameworks. And Shelly and Urry are against sedentarism.

So, with a new mobilities perspective how might we see the conference. The “sedentarist” conference is about face to face encounter; bounded in time and space’ impermeable (delegates only); backchannels a “distraction”.

Backchannels potentially challenge those ideas in many ways:

  • virtual/phsyical (e.g. I tweeted various links days ago using a tweet scheduler that you should see now)
  • digital/analogue
  • then/now
  • not here/here
  • interloper/delegate

There are all sorts of bizarre things. The digital is present in physical spaces – twitter walls appear in a few conferences. danah boyd had a really Twitter wall fail a few years back when very uncomplimentary tweets weren’t visible and thus weren’t addressable.

Early ethnographic perspective. Miller and Slater (2000) wrote about needing to treat the internet as embedded and continuous in daily lives.

On the backchannel theme…. Starbucks sponsored an ice skating rink at the Natural History Museum. Tweet to their tag: #spreadthecheer and you appeared at the ice rink. Starbucks weren’t stupid, they moderated it when they saw the tweets appearing but not fast enough… a skater had photographed it. The virtual was made physical in the space, photographed and tweeted and shared over 1000 times back in the digital realm.

A tentative conclusion: Backchannels constitute a new literacy practice and structure (plus two sub points

Q&A

Q) A question here… in a previous role I looked at digital scholarship… given the cost and environmental reasons will there always be physical conferences?

A) I think that we are between two ways of doing things. We are doing some video streaming of some of the plenaries. Live bloggers here… we are mid point between physical and online conference. I’ve done some technology conferences where that participation is online and that’s comfortable, there will be more use of that in the future…

Comment) Actually I think the real back channel is in the pub so I don’t agree…

Q) I went to a conference called Gin and Joy Division specifically about that… I wanted to ask about the backchannel and the thing… it’s often very multilayered. Some events I’ve been to have huge numbers of parallel conversations, which sort of gives you more of a sense of response to what is presented. Have you thought about that at all? What does the back channel say in response to the paper? Is it always sniping and jokes?

A) I always enjoy that… If someone is looking at the laptop when I’m talking you may be doing something broadly positive – looking something up, following up interesting themes. For this conference I’m not sure but a colleague who has done more quantitative work found that some conferences with successful and busy hashtags actually it comes down to half a dozen or a dozen people producing most of the tweets. But I see it as generally positive, ranging from banal (wifi, dinner, etc.). I have seen some real dialogue and co production of knowledge going on… a lot of people talking about automatic transcriptions etc… real dialogue… One post at that conference said the participant was struggling but backchannel was keeping them engaged. But it can be snarky too.

Q) Rhianon: I have to admit the description of backchannels being snarky… maybe a British thing… in fan communities especially the back channel can be about informing those beyond the room who cannot be physically present. Not about criticising the speaker but dissemination of information… about an augmented confrerence.

A) The same happens here. But snarkiness comes from US blogs, and IRC backchat really. But still broadly positive.

And it’s back to the main room for our second plenary…

Twitter Q&A with Nathan Jurgenson (@nathanjurgenson) by Nathan Jurgenson and Johnny Unger

This session is taking place in a more novel way. Nathan is joining us via Google+ Hangout on video, and also via Twitter. Johnny is chairing in the room. We have been asked to read Nathan’s work on the IRL fetish and to think about his work on digital dualism. Do we as academic researchers critique these things, are we guilty of these things… ?

Johnny: I will start with a question from my own experience: I often talk with colleagues about students using technology in the lecture room – computes, smartphones, tablets etc. Some find that quite concerning and threatening.

Nathan: That is one of the issues of digital dualism. A lot of the time these issues are confused with access and presence. We are trying to come to terms with that. Digital dualism we often overestimate the role of the online in the offline, and the other side of that, we underestimate the role of the offline in the online. The assumption can be concerns that students are checking out of the room. They may be but they may not. But it’s not about whether to make that compromise or not, it’s not about online or offline, its about how you augment the on and offline with each other. They are different spaces but they are enmeshed. And we should neither under or over estimate that enmeshment. Personally I am terrified of MOOCs, the idea of no face to face contact scares me. I run a conference, Theorising the Web, is certainly enmeshed though, if you weren’t on Twitter you only see half the conference.

Digital dualism is the fallacy of looking at the online and offline as disconnected and unrelated. Facebook is real of course. And the IRL Fetish is about value judgements about those spaces, as seeing people on phones, using technologies etc. as anti social, to see ourselves as more real or authentic because we are offline. When Sheryl Turkle talks about walks on the beach… she wasn’t disconnected, she’s connected but her social space is the NYT op-ed pages, rather than Facebook.

And, with that Nathan is offscreen and turning to questions on Twitter… the room has fallen silent and migrated to #njqa. And I shall move with it but return to liveblogging when Nathan appears onscreen again shortly.

And… after a weird half hour…

Johnny asks how that went? Nathan says we agree too much! He has lots of stuff to read and look at after the questions, I think there was a lot of digital thinking going on there. I am joking there but some long reads, some discussion online. Feedback from the audience is “too loud” which is very much an ironic comment, it’s been super quiet. I’ve commented that we’ve privileged the backchannel to frontchannel… very little backchat in the room. So two lessons, maybe Twitter isn’t the backchannel, maybe you need music… or more person to person chat…. maybe it was too quiet. But we are in a lecture theatre and the physical layout certainly doesn’t encourage chatter. Nathan: architecture affordances is one-to-many structure. Twitter is many-to-many format so disjunction there, conceptually interesting. Comment from the room: quite creative, real creation of content in the room. Johnny: when people are asked to create content they do that rather than chat. Nathan: indeed, may not be best format for conference where networking is so important. But really great experiment, test running this novel way, really interesting.

Our final plenary for the day took place after dinner and was, it must be said, pretty much unbloggable. In:

Facebook is like Disco and Twitter is like Punk by Rebekka Kill

We were treated to something between performance art, a great retro DJ set, and a really thoughtful musing on the cultures and practices of social media. I can’t sum it up adequately here and without Kill’s unique DJing persona, but her slides and some of the music can be found in this blog post from her performance at the Shift Happens conference in 2012.

And with that Day One is truly over. Day two sees my own presentation taking place so expect a few gaps in the blogging!

May 312012
 
Screenshot of Dave Pattern's Webinar

I am attending a webinar from Dave Pattern, Library Systems Manager at University of Huddersfield today.  He will be talking about their Library Impact Data Project and I will be taking notes throughout. The usual caveats apply that this is a liveblog and potentially a bit for of typos etc. The session has been organised by Scotland’s Colleges and you can find out more about this webinar and other events on their Webinars page.

The hashtag for this project is #lidp and the whole team is available via Twitter. We have been using the data we collect for a number of years. We are often guilty of making a lot of assumptions about how students use our resources. We have also been trying to measure the impact the library has on student attainment and experience, particularly in the current funding era.

Defining Usage Data – this might be circulation transactions, e-resources usage and also building entry stats indicating use of physical facilities. JISC recently completed an activity data programme and they broke it into user activity data and attention data.

About 6 years ago we started to look at our own library data, with a view to thinking about those students that do not tend to use the library, to look for trends, see what has changed… things like seeing a huge increase in use of e-resources. Not a huge declince in print usage despite this. For the librarians we have been pulling out quite detailed data on usage. We use a system called MetaLib for eresources. In 2005/6 you see very little use of eresources but each year it increases. We also see stats for our Horizon system – our catalogue – and for Sentry, the system for access. It’s useful to look for patterns and trends here.

Screenshot of Dave Pattern's Webinar

One of the other things we wanted to do was identify students who would want library training etc. When we talked to student reps they asked if there was a link between how students do and how much they use the library. When we looked at the stats we didn’t see any significant difference between use of the library and grades, we’d just had a refurb so sort of hoped for a pattern but just reenforced that the library is for all.

BUT when we looked at borrowing levels there were double the number of loans for those who got a first and those who got a third. e-Resources seemed to have a linear relationship. Definitely something there. Looking in more detail we could see that some students who never used the library got a 1st! Many logins to the eresources system was strongly correlated to grades of a first (borrowing more than 180+ books over 3 years). This is interesting stuff…

Complex graph of usage and grade

As we started to show these around we had questions about whether this is just at Huddersfield or the same elsewhere. And we had lots of questions about whether what was happening was statistically significant. So we applied to the JISC Activity Data Programme. Our project aimed to prove there is a statistically significant correlation between library use and attainment amongst other things.When the project kicked off we set up a hypothosis to test – that more book use results in better grades in a statistically significant ways. We had multiple prokect partners who each were asked for appropriate data (most could provide at least two of the three types of data requested).A few challenges here. Concerns on the UK Data Protection Act 1998 (University Student Handbooks), Data anonymisation challenges, data extraction (one security system regarded this is as their own data), finally we did manage to release the data though ??

Broadly speaking it transpired that Huddersfiels’d usage data is broadly representative of UK HE Libraries. But there was an issue here… continuous data made it hard to indicate a true correllation. Some libraries could include renewals as well as original loans, but not all.

So if we look at our own data from Huddersfield… it appears that students who get a first are using an increasing number of books and resources. One of my favourite graphs shows that students who get a first are already doing so in their first year, they seem ahead already. Are those students also used to using public libraries? Do they have better study skills? Really interesting to more in this area.

Slide showing stats on first year usage of resources

Looking at non and low usage of materials… Seems to be a real clustering around non and low usage… and indicates a real need to do more to get students aware of the library.

Non and low use of resources vs grade


Phase 2 of this work is now underway and we are looking at Huddersfield data specifically and using final %age marks and looking in much more depth to try and show significance and causation. We are also looking at UCAS entry points and if improvement between entry points and degree result includes any sorts of patterns. Is non or low usage a warning of drop out or incompletion numbers?

 

Looking at EZProxy stats. Here we seem to have a strong correlation in the average usage and final %age grade. Same for item loans. Looking at the time of day accesses we see most heavy use in the core daytime hours. In the very late night we see those with a third using more eresources than their peers. It’s not a significant effect but notable. And we see early morning as the time when those likely to get firsts are using eresources and physical library resources.

Usage and grade by hour of the day

Looking at nationality we see that the UK born users use books more often whilst EU students seem to have much higher use of resources and really higher use of PDFs and eResources, particularly those from New Europe.

Usage by nationality

Students who drop out appear to be 10 times more likely to not use eresources. This may be an indicator of those that are struggling with courses. Want to look at stats like VLE usage etc. to see what else we can learn here.

It seems that prior library usage before university is pretty important. There is a statistically significant correlation between HE library activity and final degree outcome. And evidance elsewhere seems to confirm this. See ACRL Value of Academic Libraries work for instance – in the US they don’t tend to collect usage data because of issues such as the Patriot Act.

So, what next?

More data to be released. Keep an eye on the blog: http://library.hud.ac.uk/lidp. And keep in touch via Twitter (#lidp).

Q&A

Q1 – Nicola) Is that the stat on use of non e-resources also suggesting something about physical stock and relevance not just usefulness of eresources?

A1) Yes, it probably is… we know students do borrow more books and use good resources… but what value they get out I’m not sure. We need to do focus groups… it may be that if you pick good resources you may borrow fewer books but are more focused on what you need to download etc.

Q2 – Lynn) Dave, assuming all your students joined in 1st year? Any research as to library use/attainment for those joing eg 2nd year via college articulation?

A2) We haven’t considered that but it’s a really good question for us to think about.

Q3) Are many students distance learners at your uni? Does this influence eresource usage?

A3) We do have data at partner colleges and abroad – the eresources data would be really interesting to look at and see if there are big differences.

Going back to that first year data… there is a sense that it’s almost too late to teach students information literacy at that stage, they are already set in their ways and studying practices

Q4 – Nicola) Have you had any feedback from students about this data?

A4) We have made findings available to academics. We have had them trying to scare their students a bit but we have been careful to say that it’s early data though. Will be interesting to

Q5 – Lynn) With library loans, have you looked at number of different titles (ie breadth of usage) as opposed to simply number of loans?

A5) Potentially we could use that data. For a number of years we’ve had recommendations in our catalogue… perhaps we should do a “students who got a first and borrowed this also borrowed that”. And

Q6 – Nicola) Do you have any way to compare the usage in the library with usage of non library stuff e.g. Google Scholar/repositories elsewhere

A6) A lot of the eresources data is via EZProxy. We moved to Summon rather than MetaLib. We push both on-campus and off-campus use of that. We obviously can’t capture use of Google Scholar etc. so I think that will need to be something for focus groups I think. Would be interesting to look at 3rd year students, yet to graduate but likely to get a first, and see what their habits are, how they are using things like Google Scholar etc.

Dave will be at CILIPS Scotland Conference in a few weeks so do say hello if you are too!

 

 

May 152012
 

This evening I am at a talk by Henry Jenkins, notes will be tied up but here’s the raw form live from my iPad:

David Gauntlett is introducing us to Henry Jenkins, Professor at University of Southern California, prior to that he was at MIT and he is in the middle of a European tour around his new book Spreadable Media which he will be talking about today…

So I’m in this sange place where my book is in the publishing process and won’t be out for months. As a blogger I’m used to being able to post stuff up right away and I always fear my books will be out of date by the time they are published.
My last book, Convergence culture, came out about 6 years ago. Since then… Second Life arose, kind of declined again. Niche media and audiences, the long tail became more prominent. Social media has grown hugely, become prominent, YouTube and Hulu have appeared since, into Twitter. Web 2.0 was still being thought about by Tim O’Reilly and others. People ask me if by convergence culture I mean web 2.0 and I say no, we’ll come to that later.
Spreadable media is about looking at consumption. We wrote a white paper called “If it doesn’t spread it’s dead” [part one can be read here]. Joshua Green and sam grew and I transformer that white paper into the book that will be out in the autumn. We also talked to ex students, businesses, contacts. Much of this will be made available freely. And we hope the book is a provocations, the beginning of a discussion of where social media is taking us. And this Turks abOut that discussion. And my tour started early enough to coincide with occur wall street… People were there as zombies, as games as thrones characters.. The occupy sesame street protestors, super hero protestors. Protestors adopted and remixed popular culture, this stuff spread and snared across the web in the way occupy wanted to do.. It met the goal of provoking debate, discussing equality of opportunity. How it engaged a variety of populations and what they talked and thught about inequality in America.
This character is pepper spray cop. This could have been a small local image and stor bt the remixing of images we’re circulated, making t a memorable issue and widely distributed.
At the heart of Spreadable Media is about distribution, grass roots communities as the heart of how material spreads. Corporations routnelytme releases of media – doctor who or Sherlock taking moths to reach the us for instance. But, let’s bracket piracy off for a moment, and think about how else those media artefacts circulate. This book is about hybrid circulation- producers and others sharing and distributing.
I don’t use the word viral, it suggests a lack of agency. See Neal Stephenson‘s quote and theory on viral media in a nutshell. It lets those in control think that they have this killer virus and t.hat this stuff will just spread. Let’s of baggage removing agency here. We call it spreadable media… We don’t care if you think that sounds like peanut butter… We think it works as an alternative to stickiness and a deliberate contrast to “viral”. The generative aspects of circulation is what we are interested in. A social and cultural model of how information circulates on the internet.
Kony 2012 is a video created by a group called Invisible Children. We had been study them for about eight years. One of their videos went viral, was spread widely much more than they expected. They ask us to spread the message… But in 4 days it got 70 million views. The biggest US tv shows get 40 million viewers.  It reached more eyeballs more quickly than anything on US TV or in US theatres. They expected to get around half a million viewers. The result of that many views was tragedy, one of the filmmakers had a nervous breakdown. They had been making these for years and had a reasonable idea of spreadability but this film totally exceeded these.
SocialFlow looked at words in Tweets that spread the video… They targeted celebrities and you that here. We have cities like Dayton Ohio… Not the big cities for these things usually but where groups were active. A wordless of those tweets we see words like Love Life bt also multiple constituencies come in – schools and colleges vs church groups.
The whole critique of activism/slacktivism is watch a thirty minute video on the internet become a social activist. But in this case there were already students here who were already protesting, it didn’t emerge from nowhere.
Georgetown University looked at social activism. Those who frequently engaged in pro optional social activity are likely to take further action on behalf of their cause. There is some sort of political effects,the networks are shaping she media landscape bt by reporting This spreadable media they have a big impact and spreadable media is increasingly having an impact independently.
Depending on which numbers [of various stats shown on screen] believe we are seeing a pattern of engaged in promotion and acts of circulation of news and information. We get more and more of our news that way and we need to think about how that shapes our worlds.
Cory Doctorow says that part of the reason we have current copyright laws is that we are mammals, we reproduce only a few times… We need to think more like dandelions, spreading things widely, some will succeed, some will fail. An author or a media maker needs to think more like a dandelion and trust people to find media and circulate our work. Doctorow puts that into action in his own work… He thinks as an author that he is at much more risk of obscurity than bankruptcy. And he shares all of his books under Creative Commons licenses and has reached the best seller lists. People know who he is, they know his work, they are happy to pay for their copy.
E.P. Thompson talks about ongoing social and moral systems and he talks about the centrality of trust and the threat of instability and of changes in economic models. We see messages that “piracy kills music” but people say no, “sharing is caring”. We are at a time where we will see lots of to and fro. Sharing is the core factor in social media – how does that connect to traditional economic models and cultures, right now one side is frightened of free content, the other is frightened of free labour (Facebook using our data say).
My issue with free labour is that circulation is part of a gift economy. If you had a hot date and someone left you a £100 note you would feel pretty weird and bad about that! You cant just insert cash into this type of equation.
The framing of an action is crucial here, it changes the nature of the action and she social signifiers. I buy a bottle of wine, take it home and remove the label I’ve changed that commodity into a gift. And giving t to a friend if that friend told me off for paying to little he’d be a bit of an ass. There is social value here, gift value, it’s a complex set of meanings we attach a sharing action. We can connect this to other work on gift culture, we refer to Lewis Hyde in the book.
Sharing can lead to warm feelings, can justify the act of sharing. See this LOLCAT that will look like John Lennon to over forty year olds, Harry Potter to those below. This is cultural studies 101. People have their own cultural frames. You are not servicing the advertiser you are instead using the ad for your own conversations.
Joshua Green put a diagram together of the evolution of the LOLcats, someone has put together something great on this talk around lolcats etc.
Anime is a really an interesting example here. Mimi Ito talks about the growth of anime. The fan culture generates value and builds the market through the circulation of illegal copies through fans, piracy builds the market. Then companies step in and engage… This happens more and more.
Religion is also invested in sharing here.they have a mission to spread the word – if someone steals a bible is that theft or is that spreading gods work? Their models give us something interesting to hind about in terms f spreadable media
Independent artists and filmmakeers can connect to audiences without engaging with gatekeepers,through various crowd sourcing ventures. Shines like kickstarter which funds things through very interested communities. Lost zombies is a similar idea, a crowd participation project. DVD the third stage here is brave new films activist collection – they gather fans who commit to see a film as a way to get a theatre screening. This changes circulation, creates stronger bonds between audiences and creators. It works. Enter for some than others. Those making low budget, zombie, sic if films flourish, as these a
Have established fan base. Those fr minority communities, African American audiences, Asian american audiences, LGBT audiences, they are u deserved and kee. To see media abut the, but those missed out are innovative esoteric filmmakeers.
Now going back to web 2.0. This is a business model. Participatory couture is different but they are two sides of the same coin here. Web 2.0 companies have friction and tension with their communities and users. We want participatory culture, we shouldn’t try and adopt the web 2.0 label. Web 2.0 began in 2005 but social networks many many years before this, before the web. We had kids making a form of zines protesting slavery etc. because its hard to set type they used abbreviations… Including LOL, the practice and logic does connec up. The a auteur radio fan communities. The early sic if communities. Undergrad news in the nineteen sixties, new media in the nineties. Allow these are stugges to control and shape the nature of our culture of our consumption. This relates to commercial companies by tus a struggle.
Brecht critiques radio for being one directional and advocates participatory culture. Youll note that I talk about More participatory culture Rather tha participatory culture. We have people who are nt taking part, there are more people who need to participate.
Hans Magnus enzenberger in 1970 talks about copnstituants of ratification culture. My mentor john fiske’s last book understanding popular culture says that new tools create new challenges, it doesnt guarantee any so  outcome, good r bad. Participatory culture is worth fighting for but we have to mansTain a distinction from web 2.0
Looking at political use of a participatory culture. Here we have palemtian protestors… They regulary do protests, film them and sharing… Fr instance they painted the selves blue a la avatar and filmed his. Yo can view this critically or positively. This group harnessed popular culture for triggering debate and I choose to see it this way, but you could see this as a negative
Trend. Although there are long histories of dressing as other cultures in protest so that does
Superman comes ut: “I am superman – and I am undocumented”. There was huge debate about this, complaint about changing supermans values. But his story is of passing, f secretidentity… superman is a great playful way of evoking protest.
This is the Harry potter alliance… They look at what is evil in our time, how do we change the world. This is a decentralised network of crisis on all sorts ftopics. Ad they are now moving on fromharry potter, they launched a campaign around the launch of the hunger games. Asking fr do Atkins o Sco hunger. They received a cease and desist  letter from studios, they published it online and the press coverage per press release meant the film company backed down, lions gate films approached them and asked what they could do…
So with that I shall stop…
DG: we think of ourselves as thoughtful critiques of these things. There is a new book by Natalie fe town and colleagues called misunderstanding the internet which does just that.. They skewer twitter as being only consumed by middle class’s… But so are academic books and endpapers… So… What are responses to critiques who see you as a technological determinists
HJ: wel. I was at MIT for 20 years, I know technological determinism wheni see it. You have to startwth social and cultural contex John has a quite that everyone in the middle ages had a larynx but tall were allowed o speak. I want to think abut education, resources, cultural empowerment. In the us about 95% of youth have technology access but far fewer feel able to use this in meaningful way. I am pro learning here.
DG: we had a debate on your Blau about how much of this is remix and fan culture, not original creation
HJ: one of your colleagues was criticising the lack of original creatin work compared to most peoples activities. But spreadingu can be a creative act. The most rapidly growing spreadable content is amateur mati
Email.the spreading is meaningful, nt justnriginal content creation. The idea of voting with your feetisnt meaningful if you don’t pick what’s on the table but increasingly we are curating from a vast array of media of all types. People are watching the world through the eyes o people who now they can participate, who know the can when they nt to. We need to get rid of structural barriers to participation. To provide support for those who are not yet waiting to participate.
Q1) can I go bac to the idea f viral vs spreadable. You said that you don’t l,e viral as it lacks agency. But is agency not ore subtle tha that. Can it nt be Interrogated more.
a1) absolute,y but starting with the idea that there is no value of agency, a model like viral is the wrong way to go. Richard Dawkins idea of a meme is a productive term – I’ve been persuaded by communities like 4chan. We must stifle the idea of increased democracy.
Q2) I’ve seen stats that professional content on YouTube has vastly I creased and bloggers are being encouraged
A2)  talked about the withering of mass media but it’s not going to happen… It will not be the only media. In the us YouTube has made more Asian stars by far than traditional media. You nan read that several ways but I don’t this circulation will dispose distribution but will sit side by side. We need both very often, but the bottom holding the top to account.
Q3) I wanted to g back to the Facebook quote on sharks brands. I was wondering about the tre d for sort of social commerce – commercial I ce gives to share things.
A3) this is a thing people are calling AstroTurf, a fake grassroots system. But it’s interesting top me that rands that have the money to advertise are desperate to pretend we have bottom up power… I think this is a transitory a trend… In many cases this stuff is exposed, but it really shows the shift in power. Grassroots is powerful enough to meant to fake it.
Q4) I have a question about methodology in exploring ways in which participation takes place?
A4) this book isn’t about theory and methodology, it has a Gow to trigger discussion. I tend to discuss methodology a bit separately. I use social media mapping and visualisation here as Kony 2012 this works well and backup our own research work. But we are currently doing 50 interviews with community participants, pretty much ethnographic approach. Book just out on net organs is about a pretty large eth Gorky dog web communities. These are the kind of toos that I find helpful. Yo really want to combine qualitative and quantitative approaches. Looking at meaning and social implication s aof acts of sharing.
DG: with pepperspray cop we have a creative clash of great seriousness with silly funny playful materials…
HJ: i think pepperspray cop is the community equipment of the editorial cartoon, a way to make something satirical and me oracle, sometimes you laugh at black humour, sometimes informed by actual issue. Jason ? Has the notion of drillable to complement spreadable media as an idea.the Palestinian a avatar protestors had loads of information on their website to drill into. One of the issues for invisible children was that they had taken down a lou  of content on the website ready for the new campaign so there was very little to contextualise the video. That need for drillable context is something I tell activist groups to think about.
Q5) how do hosed these changes and leanings culture?
A5) well I have another book coming out called reading and participative culture and have worked with the. Arthur foundation for years and have a white paper I’ve writte. Further open participatory learning. E are designing a digital toolkit for teachers to share successful learning motors via social media. W are dong a lot on that space right now. Making learning relevant to Lear era, bringing what is outside othe schoo, into the classrooms to allow p
Collaborative learning. In my country schools tend to block participatory media and that kaes it impossible for students t engage in those sorts of environments. This is usually justified as protection for children, but I what wa does blocking access he them. Sure.y better to support and improve digital literacy. My colleagues says most young people lackan Nile me for. Blocking social media leaves stude ts more ilnerabe than before not less. S we bring participatory Media into the classroom we connect students to the world around them.
So… Some chapters will be coming to the website in November as the book comes out.
 May 15, 2012  Posted by at 8:38 pm Events Attended, LiveBlogs, Week In the Life No Responses »
May 152012
 

Today I am at the Designing for community-powered digital transformations workshop at Tate Britain, London. I am live blogging but there is no wifi so this could be a bit glitchy as I’m working with a 3G dongle.

David Gauntlett

I’m running this network, an AHRC funded digital transformations network that we are running. This is the third out of four events we are running. Associated with today we have a talk by Henry Jenkins this evening.

Wifi – sorry, there is none and that is a bit embaressing. Sorry about that. Will be coming to Tate Britain soon though.

This morning it’s a bit more cultural sector, this afternoon is more university related. Jen Bailey will not unfortunately be able to speak today due to family illness so we’ve rejigged the schedule a bit.

Speakers include:

John Stack, Head of Tate Online - a brief history of online participation on Tate Online

The Tate Britain, Modern and St Ives holds the nations collection of British, modern and contermporary art. The key part of our mission statenet is that our role is to increase the public’s knowledge, understanding and appreciation of British art rom the 16th century to the present day…

Historically that’s mainly been through exhibitions but increasingly thats online. Those exhibitions tend to be rather monolithic with one voice and a role as broadcaster. But we are moving to something much more open, representing many voices and engaging ar more in dialogue. We want the museum to be a place for dialogue and debate with many voices both within and outside the museum.

All of our 70,000 art works are digitised. The site gets about 1.1 – 1.9 million a month (depending on big blockbuster exhibitions, holidays etc). This makes it the UKs number two arts website. The number one is the Arts pages of the Guardian newspaper website. And we have won 3 Webby awads, 2 baftas, 3 museums and the web: best of the web, 1 BIMA etc.

So the website is really on a journey from Brocure to Channel to Platform. The site launched around 1998. Around 2003/4 ish we were becoming that idea of Channel – really thinking of thoe online visitors as an audience and the gallery being our big space but online being a discrete channel with original content like films, papers, etc. And our website redesign moved us to being a space where things happen, where audiences and engaged and involved in our activities.

If we look at that first website the navigation is basic, and very much about the physical space, the copyright notices, online samples to physical content, even a site guide. Looking at 2006 you start seeing channel content emerging – collection at the tipm, research is appearing online and our scholarly journal, online courses and interactive learning resources, young tate – special site for young people also Tate kids area, you can start to see all these resources begin to emerge. But these are still items we produce for you to consume. Moving onto the beginning of 2012 we can see the rejig before we launched it – it’s an updated version of the 2006 model.

In general in Tate we are starting to hear a lot of use of “engagement”, “participation” and “interactive”. But who does that? One of the challenges is that everyone does… from Marketing, communications, learning, curatorial, research, huiman resources, national programmes… etc. It’s not just posters and advertising anymore. It’s social media now, things that are viral, things that are engaging to people and encourages sharing with peers. And how do we get key messages about Tate out into the world. The learning department are moving from captions on walls and talks in the gallery towards active activities that facilitate learning. Curators, especially younger/newer curators are really interested in blogging, in social media, and in use of these tools by artists as well as for communications. Our research team are interested in research projects being blogged, being open throughout. The Human resources team want more ongoing dialogue, ways to find those people who may want to work here, to have those people engaged and aware of opportinities. And our national programmes, work with partner organisations are very much about social media about community engagement etc. So all of these people are starting to look like each other a lot more and use these key terms. So on the one hand we have to facilitate that and do that coherantly.

So our currect website is better than the old one… One of the key things to point out is that the lead thing on the home page (btw only about 7% of visits start/go there but everyone obsesses about home pages) is not our current exhibits but is about a core piece from our permanent collection and an interpretative text authored in a personal way and with comments enabled.

So what I’m going to do is romp you through the last 4 or 5 years of interactive projects at the Tate and we’ll maybe send David the links and get them up on the blog.

Tate Britain ran an exhibition of modern photography called How We Are Now – we are not known for our photography collections, something people associated much  more with the V&A. There was a desire to put that message across of the Tate as a place to engage with photography. We were asked for a web mechanic for uploading and sharing images. We decided not to build but contacted Flickr. We let people upload around 4 pictures each and had thousands in. And we showed these on screens in a sort of virtual gallery that contributed to the narrative of the show. It was a big success.

We then, after an exhibition at Tate Modern looking at street photography, did something similar and then had artists curate 100 photographs which we then used the print on demand service blub to create a sort of “alternative catalogue” (though not allowed to call it that) and sent that out to the 100 people that had contributed.

We also did a project with Threadless. We had an exhibition called Pop Life at Tate Modernn. We asked young people to design a T shirt inpired by the exhibition. We used Threadless as the platform for that and then a curator selected the winner and the t-shirt was sold in the exhibition shop.

We had an exhibition on the Vorticists and we did a project with Creative Review. We asked designer to give their take on the Voriticist magazine Blast. We did that with Tumblr. Again the curators selected a numbe rof images fo ra limited edition posters and gave them away at one off events. Again we used an existing site and community of that site and our own community… and a physical manifestation back into the world.

A few years ago there was this turbine exhibit – a post apocolyptic world in 2058. We asked the public to submit a short story inspired by the theme or the exhibit. We posted these on a sort of blog. With image projects we’d get thousands but here we had 99 contributions. Again we had curators pick 6 of these and you could download these as an audio book narrated by Christopher Eccleston.

Ai Wei Wei created a piece for the turbine hall at Tate Modern and he’s very active on social media. Under the stairs in the gallery we had an interactive space where Ai Wei Wei would pose a question and you could respond and engage with them or ask him a question – and he would send video responses (we sent him a laptop and webcam). When the health and safety concerns about walking on the exhibit arose that became the key topic. And then three quarters of the way through he was arrested. In total we had about 25000 video recordings and a website where you can view these, look for responses etc.

This is our Tate Kids website – our award winning site for children. Children can create a profile on there, they can upload images of their work and display it. It has, for obvious reasons, got only limited community/social media functionality but it means we display and engage with others art ere.

Tate Collectives is a site targeted at young people for challenges, image competitions etc. to engage with these audiences

 

Turbinegeneration is a mainly closed space for school communities working together – much of what happens with this space is behind the scenes.

 

Hello Cube – part of the yarrow Tohama exhibition. There are boxes you can put your hand inside it if you are there. But if not there in person you can tweet it, give it instructions. It responds to your instructions and takes a photograph and tweets it back. It’s a kind of artwork interactive thing in the gallery.

 

We are increasingly active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Much of this had been led by the web team. We actually have @tate only because of the enthusiasm of one of our staff members early on which is great. We get feedback and reviews via social media, we ask people to do this. On Twitter we started, one friday, the hashtag “#artweekend”. We contacted galleries we were working with on touring programmes and asked them to recommend things to do… and lots of others joined in as well.

 

A more fun thing we do is “#artfilmtitle” – puns on film titles with artist names.

 

Returning to our main website we have rebuilt it from scratch to really enable interaction, comments, etc. We now have weekly debates on a Thursday – may or may not be directly relate to Tate. And we push those out through social media. Increasingly we are also trying to use things like blogging to get those who hold the knowledge to share it. I can update the website but people really want to hear from the curators, they really know the subjects. We try to get them to write about commissions, new acquisitions, etc. The marketing department like it and we like it as it helps us take the website to that platform place.

 

The Great British Art Debate – this is a project with 6 other museums and is about touring material and it aggregates activity on a blog, YouTube, Flickr etc. It’s a hub to those various spaces and discussions.

 

BMW Tate Live: Performance Room – This is a space online dedicated to performances. An artist comes in and it is livestreamed through YouTube and commentary is received back. Some artists are nervous about this, some are actively enthused.

 

Art Maps is a project about taking art out into the world. It’s shifted to being more about user generated content, phones etc…

 

So, what have we learned?

  • Keep it simple – you need to be able to communicate in a single tweet
  • Go to where the audiences are – this is why we use social media
  • Give a good incentive – at various points in the Flickr project we’ve had comments that say that “this is a cynical way to get more content” – we don’t need more content but we do want to engage
  • Set a timeframe – this is really important, increasingly in the web department. One of the ambitions we have is to get far more engagement around the Tate archive and how we’ll scale up to do that is one of the challenges for us
  • Allow time for community engagement and moderation
  • Have fun!

 

And some questions

  • Are you impacting on the brand? Yes, and you need to be fine with that. Our brand proposition used to be “look again, think again” it’s now “look again, think again, join in”.
  • When we have all that contributed content online where does the authority of the museum sit now? What if you get contradictory comments? These challenges are coming to us…
  • Who in the organisation is undertaking this work? Web team? The whole organisation?
  • How can activity initiated from multiple departments be joined up and transformed into a coherant user experience?

 

Q&A

Q1) How do you evaluate these campaigns? Is there a way to measure the return on investment?

A1) Good question. Historically it was measured in visits, dwell time – these were the metrics. These still count but engagement and interaction is much harder, much more qualitative. 500 comments saying “yes cool” vs 3 scholarly comments aren’t really best measured by number. We’ve taken the stance that we will do these things. We are not really asked to justify this work. But there was an Action Research project by Culture 24 called “Lets Get Real” looked at measuring engagement around these kinds of activity – a kind of suite of metrics that need interpretation as well as qualitative surveys.

 

Q2) Curators selecting the short list of items vs public curation?

A2) One of our projects on Flickr, there was a discussion on the boards saying that these pictures selected by the curators were “boring” pictures. And there was a whole thread of people sharing their own favourites. It wasn’t a philosophical thing but we saw this as a project not a contest so there isn’t a sense that one is more valued rather than less valued.

Q3) I am interested in your collaboration space here and how you encourage that….

A3) One of the things we have talked about but haven’t properly done is about more group activities and the possibilities of online group activities. And functionality needed for people to form their own groups.

Q3) And the issue of how long you keep that up…

A3) Of course one of the key issues for us in our space is around copyright

 

Jake Berger, Programme Manager at The Space, BBC – The Space: A Creative Adventure

This is a new joint project from the BBC and the Arts Council and I have a quote here that nicely sums up what it’s about. Art on TV.Documentary can be like a guided tour rather than an experience of that art so this is an attempt to address that.

Our gaols are to build digital capacity in the arts, to support digital creativity and experimentation, to connecti arts organitions and others together, to create a lasting legacy. We had a challenge as we began this project 9 months ago and built it in 6 months… but what were we going to build? We wanted something to offer navigatiuon that provides easy access to the content both when the system is relatively emopty and as it expands to offer manu hundreds of items. We wanted it to be simple but collect lots of data that could enable more complex navigation. We wanted to keep the design simple – we wanted the content to be more exciting than the box!

We chose one brilliant UX designer and one brilliant graphic designer and asked them to “do all the things you’ve alwauys wanted to do but we;re never allowed by your clients” – so we had Vibeke Hansen and Caroline Smith working on this. We wanted to create a system that brings artists to audience and brings art to all sorts of screens and devices – managed and maintained at minimal ongoing cost. We wanted this to have information about the meduaa entered directly by organisations themselves into a custom web tenmplate – so they have the control directly.

So we have thesopace.org. This is globally available, free, big names and emerging companies, visual arts, music, theatre, dance, festivals, poery and literature. There is and will be new material throughout the service. It’s lightly curated and moderated. And we have live output from major arts events. And there is video on demand, audio, images, text, games, etc.

The current site changes 7 times a day and that content is growing and growing. And you can access the site on your phone, on your web TV, tablets, smartphones, etc. and an app for Freeview HD 117. And we have various projects such as the John Peel room which you can go online and explore. And the Listening Machine – a realtime stream of 5oo twitter accounts build by Goldsmiths University with the sound created based on sentiment, subject, etc. The samples were played by members of the British Symphonia. This will be available until October so producing a 5 and a half month long piece of music…

We are also putting up High Definition filmings of the Globe to Globe season of 37 plays in 37 days. We have content from the Tate, from the BFI. We have a Beginnings series on the first films of various directors for instance. We have Will Self thinking about reinventing the literary essay. We have some Tate Shorts to view.

We have 2 developers, one systems engineer and 2 designers but at various times we have said no to others at the BBC because of how we want The Space to work.

We will be available across four digital media playforms – computers, smartphones, tablets and smart TVs. We will also be on the community channel. We are also using social media tracking and promotion technologies and personalisation and recommendation features to refine the homepage to your interests without you having to register.

So the technology principles here are that the Space builds nad extends the capabilities of the internet – not just the web. It is build around iopen technologies and designed to work seamlessly on as many devices and browser as possible (HTML5, javascript, CSS). There is no app, only web apps – the thing with apps is you need a new one for every phone. We have a website with app like functionality which is harder to do up front but easier to maintain. We take the data, it goes into our content management system – a hacked version of WordPress – and we put content into a transcoding process to make video work for multiople devices. And we are using pay as you go cloud services for storage, hosting and delivery. We don’t use existing BBC technology or infrastructure.

At the end of the experiment we wat to hand thespace.org to ACE. Open source the technology to create a “broadcaster in a box” that can be used and build upon by a wider world. And that code will be shared under Share-Alike so any improvements are shared with the world.

In theory so long as the CMS is extensible we shouldn’t have too uch trouble storing all of the required metadate and content. It’s portable across different cloud providers, it’s sharable.

We went live 2 weeks ago. We have a small back office system. And we think we’re working quite well with the contributor organisations and we have had some nice comments and good numbers of views (over 300k views in 2 weeks).

There are grant funded commussions that are at the heart of TheSpace. We had 743 expressions of interest in these grants. 116 invited to apply. And some increadible things were suggested. 53 got grant funded commission s and a handful of direct commission. These include 37 Shakespeare plays in 37 different languages, Stocukhausens Helicopter Quartet, Revirth of BBC Radiophonic Wrokshiop, D gaming environment, 2 lost Hitchcock films from BFI… all are listed on the website.

So, evaluation? Well constant evaluation is integral and essential to this project. We are using a BBC and Arts Council frameworks to assess Quality, Reach ad Value for Money.

 

Q&A

Q1) It’s a very nice project and you seem to be doing all the right things… But it’s still a broadcast model around a data keeper

A1) Editorially the Arts Council are in control. The production and delivery method is fairly broadcast-like but they send it to us via Dropbox.

Q1) Yes but the creative input and interchange with the audience?

A1) Yes, that’s a very good point. We haven’t got social embedded onto the site. The reason is that for reasons up to this point is that the BBC is very cautious about personal data and has very strong position on content moderation. We couldn’t have built the infrastructure using cloud services and maintained that integrity. And we couldn’t afford to moderate the social. So each item can be posted out to social spaces but comments come back through the individual arts organisations and if they want to push back to us they can. It’s purely pragmatic reasons. Everyone knows that this is a missing element but that’s where we find this.

Q2) YOu are bringing artists to audiences but what are audiences bringing to artists. And what audiences do you want to reach out to?

A2) The social bit is currently missing but it’s only 2 weeks. We have until November. But there is all sorts of content there. We do not mean to ape television. We want it bigger, more open, more dialogue. We are only 2 weeks in. But we don’t want to mimic Sky Arts of BBC Four. We want to open out in every way. Television is very expensive editorially. Art in its many forms isn’t neccassarily something 2 million people want to watch. That’s the creative opportunity here – to reach out to those who are going to be interested.

Comment  from David Gauntlett – we did invite The Space partly because this is a sort of midway between a totally open model and a broadcast model. It’s doing something different.

Q3) You rushed over the evaluation slide, could you say a bit more

A3) There will be a conference in November and the evaluation will be taking place around that. And I know the Arts Council is keen to share as much of this experience as possible.

And now… the breakout groups…

So, we have reunited for reporting back.

The User Participation discussion decided to compare theSpace vs the Tate. We felt theSpace is quite like iPlayer or Flipboard. Not really a user participation model. And then we talked about the potential for the Tate. We also talked about the British Library crowdsourcing soundsscapes from the UK – similar model to some of the Tate’s projects.

And we talked about  RunCoCo – a model for participative curation. And about co-curation potential, resistance. We heard about the National Maritime Museum Flickr Commons space. And finally we looked at crowdsourced content that gains a bigger audience – a project in Manchester was discussed. And we wondered is participation online enough or does there need to be something more that shows there is a bigger audience for that work.

The Designing a Multiplatform Community for Online Participation group [the one I was in] really fell into two areas. The idea of the branded community, the organisation reaching out into different types of  community and platforms. And the self-regulated community with perhaps more risks, artist led projects, fan projects etc. We had quite a lot of examples of how this had happened in practice.

The Governance group talked about theSpace model, that this is like a stage. And we talked about the audience exploring, discovering things and constructing community. Shift to focus on process rather than product. We also identified a tension between ownership and copyright. How do you give things – content, discussions etc. back to the community? How do you define that community? There is a lot of fear of what is and is not allowed. Risk taking is a particular issue for bigger organisations. International, legal and copyright frameworks are all important here. I think we scratched the service here perhaps. We did talk about trust, moderation, how you manage user contributions, quality, etc.

And a break for lunch… and we’re back…

Martin Rieser, Professor of Digital Creativity, De Montfort University – Mobile Communal Creativity

Spatialised technologies. We now have this amazing ability to map information to the physical world. It’s about social interaction with a specific place and connects to memory and rehearsal.  And we are starting to see these as augmented technologies. This idea that life if augmented. And a quick plug here for The Mobile Audience which is a book looking at the changes since the mid 90s.

First of all we need to talk about the subjectivity of mapping and why we need to beware of spatial data. We can look at colonial bias. Or we can look at population mapping or time mapping (why Stranrare is not a great place to be in terms of time). And scaling Google Maps shows us how inexact they are. And we are also inexact creatures – if you look at a map of the senses/sensitivity of the human nervous system for instance.

We have done a varierty of projects here. The Riverreins project gathered local history and we used Layar to do this and also used QR codes for all locations. And we posted stickers of QR codes on the buildings to which we had connected stories – provided as voice overs and videos. And we wanted to get the community to upload their own materials to add to this.

We also did a project, Codes of Disobediance, in Athens where we looked at street graffitti,. We went out into the community and asked a number of questions to people there. We again used stickers related to place. And you could walk down the street and get popular voices talking about living in the crisis etc. It is online (though all in Greek of course). And a lovely example here was a poster made by kids that we were able to put a QR code. We also put a sticker up at the space where a young man was killed by the police and which has become a kind of shrine.

Greenview. This project is about green energy. It’s difficult as it’s a concept, it’s not a visible thing… We did a Widget project for your computer showing energy use. But we wanted to do something more interesting. We created a cartoon ecosystem – visualising CO2 on a street, we had an energy changing week. We know this doesn’t change behaviour but that infrastructure is useful. And we were then inspired by Tamagotchi. We created a little animated city where you can take ownership of energy use. We are trying to roll this out to Leicester schools now.

This project and others can be found at: http://www.pervasive.org.uk – Pervasive media site

Crowdsourced cycling routes of Leicester. You could record your routes, your thoughts on the best ones, and we are now completing a second phase on this project where other content can be contributed. And very much using the Sustans model of creative cycle routes. We also worked with commissioned images projected onto large buildings in the city.

Roman Leicester – this is a cross-disciplinary project where objects can be connected to a map interface/AR and then those objects can be interrogated. And a second phase will allow local history groups to add their own thoughts and comments. We have created virtual buildings and characters to interact with. And the kind of interfaces we are looking at are iPhone map and augmented reality type materials.

And I really wanted to talk about the potential for mobile and locative media and the possibilities for using local knowledge and specificity. The relationship to location is absolutely essential to that process particularly for mobile media.

Q&A

Q1) I’ve been working on a project in Manchester also looking at mobile. Thinking about changing the relationship with the city and the institution.

A1) That’s very much the idea of what I’ve been talking about. The original RiverReins project was done with Manchester but it was too early and it was hard to find funding. People have trouble imagining how these things will work. But the idea of the city as a series of layers to explore is really key. I’m really looking forward to Augmented Reality at the Tate.

Q2) Do you see a big difference in how people use these tools? QR vs Layer say.

A2) With layar you can look around, you can relate these to the landscape. When we started using this layar was a very new idea. I think QR codes work well for specifics – easier to directly grab information as you needed it.

Q3) Did you check 3G access on these specific streets?

A3) We did for these yes.

Q4) How did you evaluate these?

A4) We used PhD students for this and we used exit reviews and also user behaviours. A mixture of qualitative and quantative. And we also wanted to know how emotionally engaged people were with this material.

Q5) What impressions do you have of virtual participants?

A5) We are getting some work done to improve the upload for some of these projects to encourage more participation.

Q6) Does this link to Digital Leicester?

A6) Yes, there are links.

Claire Ross, UCL – Putting the Visitor First

So, don’t we do this already? There can be a real built it and they will come kind of attitude. I am going to talk about User Centrered Design – we are really big on this at UCL. It’s about finding out what people really want. Using evaluation and data to really inform decisions. Why do this? To give the user ownership of this.

Principle 1: Put the user first – support their needs, goals and values. We do know about institutional needs goals and values but how do those relate

Principle 2: Keep it simple. Do one thing simple and well

Principle 3: Be consistent

Principle 4: test with users from the beginning and again and again…

Principle 5: test again

This goes with another concept: Agile. There are four core values around Agile all of which focus on the user, on usability, on user feedback and on planning improvement. And there are further 12 principles here. So…

I’ve been working with the Imperial War Museums – most is in London but there are five museums and an online presence here – and I have been using User Centred Design and Agile processes with social media to augment the collection. We have a gallery booth, an online space and mobile access to create some viral spread of content, visitor interpretations of the collections, discussions etc. That’s the minimal number of spaces we need to be in for this to work.

Team work is central here – there needs to be buy in from the team for this to work, and from absolutely everyone. his is a hard task. We have a project board – from DG of IWM down, we have the project team creating this social idea, we have an advisory panel and a number of researchers. We have work streams, we have developers, desiners, testers. And crucially we have visitors – they are part of this project in a core way.

Agile in design – we have milestones for all areas. We have clear delineated progress plan. and part of the idea here is to deliver frequently – we are delivering prototypes in iterative runs that allow us to try, test, feedback, change and move on. This gives you the freedom to make mistakes, understand and correct these. Many of these projects are online but face to face is a more efficient way to work. Questionnaires I hate, interviews and focus groups work much better for guaging what’s going on. Measure software – having knowledge of use earlier lets you tweak early. Keep it simple – you have to focus on and build for your users. Don’t waste your own or your visitors time. And you have to evolve your design… and test these all.

So if we have a look here you’ll see sketches on an iPad or piece of paper – people will give you a quick honest opinion. And we then took draft designs to users. Tried again, tried again… we had about 6 iterations and we now have a working model in gallery. There is still lots to do. This comes back to the idea of user tested design. Users need to be embedded at every point in the design. Social Interpretation is a one year project. It is easy to launch once and do feedback in that time but to be successful it’s much easier to consult the users earlier on, they can feedback before you have built a product.

If you want to do this you need to be Agile in your project management. Tight scheduling and limited funding can make this particularly challenging. By looking at the user and asking them questions you can work quicker and more efficiently. And you really have to welcome change. That’s really important and  you have to respond to change quickly. And you also need to reflect regularly. But you also need to maintain pace, keeping an eye on your objectives. Be steady without stalliing.

So how does this work in smaller museums? Well we’ve done something smaller at the Grant museum of Zoology. This project is called QRator. We are looking at how digital labels can create new models of public engagement. 10 iPads around the museum host provocative questions and users can respond and these codes are displayed next to objects – when browsing the museum you can take part in this, to browse this. We have also evaluated what people are saying and why they are saying it. We had 2700+ contributions (29k words) – these are live labels. We categorised all comments into categories of “comments about museum” = 42%, “comments on topic” = 41%, “noise” = 17%. This project used “radical trust”. Just because users can abuse you doesn’t mean they will. You have to trust people to open up in these ways.

Breaking down comments further you seen that a lot of comments were on a single exhibit: a jar of moles. The museum didn’t know that it was a prize exhibit in that way…

Looking at engagement we saw about 1 in 3 visitors contributing. When you ask a question

http://blogs.iwm.org.uk/social-interpretation/

http://www.qrator.org/

Q&A

Q1) My question is about participation. What the participation you want is? What is the quality for this?

A1) We want people to contribute something – and to then explore that. My ultimate idea is that you can’t really design for a particular type of participation until you know what type of participation you might get.

Q2) Did you do some scoping on what visitors wanted in this work?

A2) With the Imperial War Museum visitors in routine visitor feedback groups were asking about discussions, about more active participation in some way. And when we then asked about how that would work we started to build up an idea.

Q3) There’s an ongoing debate about the hierachy of what the museum says versus what the public says?

A3) That’s one of the most difficult things, particularly at a big institution. And the idea of how/when you might archive those comments, when you add those to the content management systems. We haven’t addressed that yet. User comments sit in middleware right now. But that’s a real challenge.

Q4) Is there a way to vote comments up and down?

A4) There is a Like and a Dislike button and also a Social Moderation button. The comments are not moderated here. If a visitor reports a comment as unacceptable that will mean we intervene/remove. We hope Like and Dislike will really help. But we find that visitors really enjoy reading all of the comments – we are getting a lot and people are reading them all!

Q5) How far back do you go designing with the users… in this case isn’t it more sustainable to design with the users. So it’s user driven rather than user centred.

A5) I would love to do user driven design but museums aren’t brave enough yet..

Q5) I have seen user centred design in creative arts spaces and SMEs but much more about user driven design now. It might also be about how you incentivise the audience to come and design with you, not just that institutions don’t move forward to next design stage.

A5) I think it’s the next step really. But these things are so institutionalised that you need top level buy in for that. We are not quite there yet.

Q6) to do that you need to have super engaged and enthused users… and I would argue that those are no longer typical experts.

A6) I take your point. I try to ask every user about their experiences, not just those who agree with me. Not just niche groups. It’s a case of trying to get that balance. It is hard with digital platforms as they often attract the enthusiasts. Interestingly people at IWM didn’t like the idea of digital but when we said you can fit  more words there people were excited – they wanted to read more, to scroll more.

Sunil Manghani, York St John University – #AreWeContent?

I’ve been using this phrase – both the idea of “are we happy” but also the idea of “are we the content”. And I think about Alice in Wonderland… she is exploring but she’s always the centre of her experience. How do we feel comfortable? Are we extending out? Are we hyperlocal? The anxiety issues of Alice in Wonderland doesn’t quite ever go away for me. I’ll move on to conversation, comments etc. soon. But I wanted to start with data/culturomics

I recently attended one of the Hack for Culture events, this was in Liverpool. And I’m not sure whether we achieved anything there exactly. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Google Books project with 5 million books used to examine culture. Data is available, and a way to analyse culture. But can be disturbing. So if you look at a map of Tate Liverpool’s ticketing showing geography and social class. This is done with ScraperWiki – quick and easy but what about ethics and methods? There are a new group of researchers who may not be academic researchers or institutionally affiliated but are just interested in the data. What is the role of the data? Is it helpful? How?

And I also wanted to talk about Adonis Hawkeye’s 1940s essay on media, he said “the whole world is mae to pass through the filter of the culture industry”. It was very much of it’s time, the era of war information, propaganda etc. But that essay is still relevant today. We have become quite comfortable with the idea of the “culture industry”. I think I’m interested in the culture of the “social industry” and my main concern are the major platforms of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr etc.

::: update :::

Here are the rest of my nets from the day, to be tidied up a bit:

 

 

So finally I want to talk about the screen and the ways we engage with screens. We have a big rhetoric about cooperation – thinking about?? Conversation/engagement from dialectic to dialogic.

He sees cooperating as hard and that it’s important that it is hard. Dialogics idea is not like a jigsaw puzzle. My argument is going to be that the kind of dialogues on screen end up being quite dialectic. I think it’s the reason why a number of these players are on the more distant end of the spectrum in terms of engaging with users.
The idea of the openendedness of dialogics should work with Facebook, an ongoing friendly space. Richard senate worked with Google Wave for a research project and was quite excited about t but he commented that this space ended up being quite dialectic. Someone commented about gender, no one chatted further, and at the end it became clear that that was really important. These social spaces can often lose key comments. I am deeply critical of the fold – you often don’t read beyond the last few comments and different voices can be lost.
How can we create spaces that are genuinely able to make this work. The gap between empathy and sympathy. How does empathy come through online. Social spaces are neat and organised but can we cognitively deal with this. Even the use of things like speech bubbles can be better than a boxes interface. How things feel matters. For me Facebook echoes so strongly the ideas of bruckheimer about automation, FreeTime etc.
Perhaps some of the things I’m interested in is about making conversation appear on screen more like a mind map so you can move In and out of interesting items. I felt the space looked quite refreshing. Touchscreens in galleries are quite clunky, how do you hide data behind something more pictorial and engaging, and get people thinking…
I am questing whether now the culture industry is made to pass through the filter of the whole world (web)… ?
And the idea of difference being made through these platforms
Q&a
Q1) I have the impression that even in Facebook or the museum… It’s about your personal life experience… What is the common experience here?
A1) the cult of the individual is all around.. Your own point of view, your cultural identity is so crucial here. I that already a barrier to cooperation and collaboration. Here?
Q2) these sites are so driven by commercial interests…. They all look the same. The Tate stuff looks the same, pinterest is about personal collections of materials, I’d love to see a sort of pinterest for museums of personal taste… More than the comments of the qrator model.
A2) I am looking forward to working more with the tate. But my students have such high expectations. But o we need to dismantle the Templars here? David in your book you talk about individuals making their websites… Working from scratch is so creative.
A2 – comment) I think pinterest has interesting possibilities especially for collating video
A2- john s) there are standard ways to engage online, search boxes are expected to be in one place, logos in another… We dd a 3d mind map of one o our exhibis. The national film board of Canada ave made a series f nteractive films that should be checked out
Comment from David – please tweet links to any websites mentioned today.
Discussion
One of the drivers for today’s event was the support of ravelry. Mini communities of interest
Rivalry and copyright, binding, having to register to look.
Responsibility of response. The opportunity to comment back to comments. Curate your own conversation there, people up stuff up bt do they always respond… You can turn a comment around, facilitate that conversation. More than one meaning to a piece, topic, etc.
Easier said than done. A nice comment you can only really respond with thank you.
How you value, archive etc. is a really important point. Again her you have Nieve comments that become valuable because of facilitation of those comments.
One of the themes that emerged… People that trained as curators. Offal trained people, get cross when others claim to be curators/creators.
I’m a big fan of together and what senate says we’ve lost the rhyzomatic approach and movin to hierarchical approach but social media brings that back. It is positioned in an oppositional politics.
The problem is turning that into a meaningful context, reflecting and making changes.
But senate says you make change where you are on her local basis.
This sense of when yo walking any space, the sense of looking at objects and tryin to have an experience. Visitors may come in with a set idea of what the experience you have. That sense of yourself rather tha your knowledge of the object, looking at yourself as well as the other. Conversation processes. Not knowing more about the object…
It’s about empathy, empathising with your audience, and towards yourself. Often you don’t see yourself in the picture.
I did some design research with the arts council, recording visitor conversations in front of objects. People did seem to engage in incredibly personal ways. And personal journeys. One who had commented only onthe weather in each painting. One whose wife had died a year earlier and came every day as a way to manage his grief. People craved expertise b they are very capable to have their own interpretations
Did you d anything with these recordings, looking at the art kiosks. We did a bunch f things, we recorded people using the kiosks, we sent people off with Audio recordings, and we did audio recordings of those who had used kiosks… We got some amazing data here. The recordings themselves were for the research, it would be lovel t share those sorts of experience cs though.
Where does contributions lead to? It seems to a waste to just gather data.
But survey we want greater engagement with the exhibits as an endpoint
The supposition there is that the engaged commenter is having a richer experience and that is very dangerous
We want certain things from our audiences bu we need to nt privilege one experience over another
I was in a gallery exhibition the other day and we were talking about the exhibition and someone came up and said that we should be whet as its a library. Loved all of this.
Sobering comment. We have a little bit of flaw in content and form of our discussion. Basic frame is about art. Those people who do engage with art… They don’t d things to be hateful etc. it tends to be warm and fuzzy feelings that are reflected in engagement. That is the exception. When we talk about citizen engagement etc. the last example should be art! Most inventive use in man countries are extreme political movements.
Audience.. I wanted to ask…. We differentiate between online spaces and offline spaces…. Different engagement, different spaces.
40% of Tate website visits are from overseas. We did analysis with 150+ user groups… I don’t think tha out activity is purely about driving visits to the physical gallery. Seeing art in person is better tha an image of t…there’s something called the arts council segmentation and we tried to apply that to online spaces but that was really difficult… This kind of analysis of digital visitors is in its infancy. When we say visitors, we mean browsers, we don
T know if there are many people viewing a specific screen.
I went to see a beautiful exhibit at Tate St Ives where it was a white room and you added your height. The Tate and others could do much ore to make online a creative space not just a discussion space
Closing
1) An ongoing question around conversation and what you do with that stuff. And starting c versatile – see Henry Jenkins spreadable media
2) Expect more from people
3) fourth and Fiona event is on learning and is at UCL and we have some interesting speakers there too.
4) if you want to guest blog, just say
5) if you don’t want to be on video, say now.
6) thank yous to all of our organisers, fur speakers.
 May 15, 2012  Posted by at 11:54 am Events Attended, LiveBlogs, Week In the Life 2 Responses »
Apr 272012
 
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Today and tomorrow (and hacking right through the night) I’m in Glasgow for Culture Hack Scotland 2012. I’m along to play with data, to see what cool stuff other people create and to particularly see how our Will’s World dataa marked up version of Macbeth – is used.

This is the second CHS and last year I brought a laptop and charger but not a huge amount else. However I saw some really cool projects last year including some super hardware hacks. And this year the organisers are keen to see creative responses to data… and this makes packing quite the challenge… What to bring?

Well the laptop + charger + several extension cables was a no-brainer. What else?

An iPad, mini camcorder, pico projector, sound recorder, cables, cables, more cables, various paper and pens and pencils, and a few emergency chocolate snacks all seemed sensible too…

As did some lego, sketchpad, tripod, a mini desk lamp, and clothes pegs (for improvising a screen for the pico projector – of course). And the funghi packaging? Well that’s my mini Arduino kit just in case I can think of a neat way to programme my little heart charliplex in a creative way, preferably with Macbeth data…

As for what’s in my virtual bag well that’s more exciting: huge amounts of data from the CHS; lots of tools for non/timid developers like Yahoo! Pipes, Google Docs (there’s a lot you can do with their spreadsheets), many eyes, etc; and useful hosting tools like Dropbox. Not to mention the nuts and bolts stuff on the laptop: gimp, arduino, dashcode, voodoo pad…

Watch this space to see what we create!

Apr 252012
 
Screenshot from the ViTAL Webinar on "Flipping"

This lunchtime I have been attending a ViTAL webinar (held via Adobe Connect here) on “flipping” which they describe as “the video-based approach that emerged in the US and has raised huge interest in the UK and Europe”. There is more background in an article on flipping in the UK edition of Wired this month: http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/04/flipping-the-classroom/

Our presenter for this session is Carl Gombrich, Programme Director for UCL’s undergraduate interdisciplinary degree: Arts and Sciences BASc. Carl has Maths, Physics and Philosophy degrees and is a professional opera singer!

 

Screenshot from the ViTAL Webinar on "Flipping"

Screenshot from the ViTAL Webinar on "Flipping"

So here are my notes from Carl’s talk:

This is my first webinar – in fact I’m really pretty new to technology in general. He’s currently setting up an interdisciplinary degree of Arts & Sciences. It’s a major launch of a degree for UCL, it starts with 80 students this year. And we’re really thinking in this climate – and the recent changes to student fees, funding etc – about how we can best engage our students. I am entirely focused on teaching – I’m not involved with the REF at all – and I am desperate to do something better than huge lectures to foster engagement with students.

So about 18 months ago I started to hear about “Flipping” with the launch of the Khan academy. I’m a fan of those and would have loved to have had access to those videos at school. So I wanted to think about how lectures could share content and do this ahead of the lecture so that contact time is really saved for stuff that really counts.

The idea of Flipping comes from about 2007 – Bergman and Sams although some say they have been doing this for much longer – where there was real questioning of why we gather students together in person in a room. I wanted to think about their model and think about how to make contact time more useful, more valuable, so wanted to add polling to the face to face sessions so that lecturers can really get a handle on what students want, to foster engagement through questions and why that’s a good idea.

You can see a 12 minute presentation on my blog about the kit I used but lets just run through quickly. I used the Echo 360 lecturcast system – the tool used at UCL. You just download it and it’s a few clicks to get started. I used a bog standard camera and mic – the built in options on laptops are fine. The lecturecast system could pair an image of the speaker with any materials. You can switch between the materials as you want. You can use MS Office docs along with any bespoke images you want. The exciting thing about video is that you can make it pretty interactive. You can stop the material, you can replay it to engage more with something you don’t understand etc. The other kit I used was a tablet – a little graphics tablet – I use Wacom/Bamboo – it just lets you underline, circle, highlight content as you want.

Actually after the presentation I did for the HEA I have learnt far more about how you do this stuff… some of the technologies are far more fluent, allow realtime noting etc. I think PowerPoint for Mathematics is a real killer. You have to see the process as you do in music, it’s visual, you learn best from seeing people thinking aloud. I think Khan does that so well, not everyone agrees but I think he’s a really excellent teacher.

So, that’s what I did. I think that sort of model is transferable to any old-style model. Any old knowledge transfer system should be transposable to the idea of making videos in advance. But if you want to do that what do you do?

Well you need to record lectures in advance – at home, in the office, event outside. Use lecturecast – this bit is easy. Then you ask your students to view the lecture before the timetabled lecture slot. Now that, of course, may not work… So… ask your students to upload 3 questions each with timings based on the video lecture (to indicate when questions arise) and send these questions to Moodle – everyone can see the questions that way and you also have evidance that the student has viewed the lecture and raised a question. Cognitively I think that’s very interesting but inevitably there’s also a command and control aspect here about ensuring students are taking part. And my colleague Matt Jenner has helped me set up some basic tracking in Moodle to know that students are participating. The other thing we dop is take a poll of the most popular, say 10 questions.

I was recently at a conference with Thrum, the man behind the Audacity web programming course at Stanford which you should look at as that is truly revolutionary, and he also uses polls and questions to gauge student need, to shape the teaching.

So back to what to do… the final stage is to go to the timetabled lecture slot with questions – interact, debate, solve problems with the students. That’s where it’s really pedagogically interesting. You get to know the students really well, you can get a sense of learning type (if you believe in those) and you can really get a sense of how they are doing. It’s a way to get back to more personal relationships in learning.

So the good things about this approach are that students can interact with lecturers on questions that interest them, problems they want to work through. Students can be split into groups and perhaps support each other (see Mazur) but the key bit is they get their questions answered. Better relationships are built up especially around mentoring, contact, etc. And submitting questions could be part of formative assessment so that everyone is involved in learning and that can really soldor that engagement. And that old lecture time can be used for summative assessments – short tests, blog pieces, group work, longer assessments etc.

And the bad things here?

Well some are concerned about the kit working, technology issues. But I am really a middle aged late adopter and I can manage, we owe it to our students to engage in this stuff and it’s easy to do.

“It will take me double the time – 1 hr to record the lecture, 1 hr for the interactive class” – well perhaps in the current fee climate we owe it to our students to spend that extra time. But being kinder on the lecturer you also do not have to rerecord the lectures every single year but you can rerecord as needed to update or correct anything. And like writing lecture series you can do this far ahead of term. And colleagues have pointed out to me that we don’t have to spend a full hour video – a series of shorter more intense videos might be better and allow you to really focus on the threshold concepts. I don’t know how much more work this would be – maybe 25% more in the first year but reducing over time. But the gains are so much more than any additional time one puts in.

“I hate working to camera” – I loathe working to camera, particularly I hate still images. It’s a real issue for me. But it’s where we are with the technology… I remember my grandparents generation refusing to use the telephone! We all use email now and I think video is really becoming that ubiquitous. We just have to go through that process of getting used to it.

“Students and colleagues will make fun of me or say inappropriate things about my style or the lecture” – this is falling away because of the ubiquity of video. There is an issue with trolling but it’s not a big issue with this sort of video. BUT there is a good reference in my slides here – students have other things to do, we need to rise above those concerns.

References:

And references from the community in the chatroom here:
Q via John Conway (Moderator)) We’ve had a comment about the Panopto product – it lets students annotate notes and save to their own profile, and they can then make them available online for discussion.
A – Carl): Lecturecast isn’t well used yet in UCL. The idea of polling questions in advance is the reflective thing – students can go away, come back, think about the questions. We learn when we aren’t thinking directly on the topic so those gaps can add some real advantage.
Q) What is the difference of Camtasia and Echocast 360?
A – Carl) I think they are versions of lecturecast systems but fairly similar
A – John) Lecturecast is the concept really. Camtasia is a vendor of several sets of softwares. It’s something that we’ve had to be careful to phrase things – see the previous presentation on Lecturecasts on Ning.
Q) What about doubling student study time?
A – Carl) Well we know the thing students most value about studying at university is the contact time and so I think making that more useful will be appreciated. But perhaps it does require reshaping of expectations. perhaps you shave reading time to allow this video engagement. I don’t think you add too much time and hopefully it will be something they value.
Q) Our experience at Aberystwyth is that lecturers are not keen to videoed and students are not that bothered to see them. The audio and the content are the key thing.
A – Carl) Speaking to colleagues there I have a sense that a face is really important for younger students – perhaps children/young people not adults. The audio is the key bit for older learners. But I’m not hugely sold on video particularly. The ability to draw on the screen, to show the process etc. is really important here.
A – John) We have some material on the usefulness of capturing body language – adding additional feedback and information here.
A – Carl) Matt here at UCL has made another point – there’s something on my blog about “do you need to see your lecturer”. I think a few minutes to see them on video may be enough. If you never see/meet someone in the flesh you lose something BUT once you have that, once you have a sense of them as a human, then you can go back to the virtual and use that sense of them to really better understand what you are engaging with online. I think there not meeting/meeting via video/meeting in the flesh. Both of the latter are important but perhaps we don’t have to do as much in person as we once did.
Comment) In teaching negotiation video is hugely important
A – Carl) That is a hugely important point I hadn’t considered – any teaching that requires understanding human interaction – psychology say – will really make the
Q) Do you make any of your material available under an Open Educational Resource model?
A – Carl) I’m not sure if we’ve worked out the economics of this… if a lecturer makes their materials available for free what does that mean for the lecturer and for the institution, doesn’t it undermine that? I certainly don’t want to release them all before students get here. Maybe I’m just not brave enough here!
Q) Many lecturers are used to presenting materials but some are not used to being facilitated? Should we offer training on how to be a good facilitator? For instance would they need training on how to handle debates in the classroom?
A – Carl) Gosh, maybe. I’ve always done my teaching the way I do. I suppose I just expect teachers to have those skills and I’m lucky that setting up a new degree I can choose my colleagues here. But if you don’t naturally engage with clickers, with new technologies that have proven pedagogical value then yes, you would want/need access to training.
Q) What is you say something untoward on camera?
A – Carl) That’s a really interesting issue and is far beyond just education. I would hope that we would really learn to handle this as society in a sensible way. As educators we should lead though. I think if you make a comment to a group of 200 people that isn’t being recorded should be fine with doing that when you are being recorded and be backed up by your institution.
Q) Could you use some of the captured content in the classroom?
A – Carl) I think you would not want to show long clips but with a bit of planning using a clip related to the key questions as you are addressing those.
Q) What feedback have you had from students?
A – Carl) As I mentioned earlier I am setting things up for September 2012 so I don’t have research base for this teching method yet but we do have research that what students value most is contact time. We are also trialling some split screen head to head debates for students to engage with
Q) How will you evaluate this approach?
A – Carl) Some open ended questions at the end of term will probably be the way to do this. I am cautious about over scrutinising students – I just think that’s the wrong atmosphere for what we’re trying to achieve.
Really most of the first and second year undergraduate courses you might be teaching are already on the web in some way – via existing educational materials online. But you really add the value meeting the teachers face to face and discussing and engaging with them.
Comment) Isn’t this the same as reading before a lecture?
A – Carl) Yes, some of my colleagues have said that! But the medium is really changing. In a way we’ve always asked students to do pre-reading – and they have rarely done that. But I think video, I think polling students is a qualitative shift that makes this difference.
John) Thank you all for coming along today and if you have any further questions and comments do take a look at the ViTAL (Video in Teaching And Learning) Ning community:  http://vital-sig.ning.com. We will address any questions raised there on Ning and perhaps in a webinar in the future.  The next webinar will be on video and pedagogical design.

 

Apr 132012
 

Today I am at the eLearning@Ed Conference 2012. This is an annual event focusing on experiences, innovation, and issues around elearning and based at the University of Edinburgh. As usual this is a live blog and will likely contain typos and occasional errors – do leave a comment if you have a correction!

Please note: the LTS team are livesketching the day with an iPad today as well: http://tweelearning.tumblr.com/

::: Updated – you can now view all presentations here :::

The schedule for today (and these will be updated and transformed into headings as the day progresses) is:

Welcome – Professor Dai Hounsell, Vice Principal Academic Enhancement

It’s lovely to be here this morning and to be reminded of how wonderful a place to work this is with such a creative and innovative community. And this is such a wonderful Edinburgh title “Pushing the Boundaries, Within Limits”. Indeed you may recall a campaign for Glasgow called “Glasgow’s Miles Better” and someone created a mini local Edinburgh one “Glasgow May be Miles Better but Edinburgh is Ever So Slightly Superior”.  But that note of caution is sensible. There has been so much talk about how elearning is going in mainstream that we can lose sight of how

We are pushing boundaries but then what sits within those boundaries is really changing. The University in 2012 would be unrecognisable to someone stepping out of a time warp from 1992 say. I think many of our practices and notions of what makes good teaching can be the consequence of old ways of doing things. That’s part of the challenge of breaking boundaries. A lot of our boundaries are part of the past. If we had started with word processing rather than pencil and paper would feedback have become a thing we do after the fact? And if we think about collaborative learning it really challenges some of our colleagues in terms of what they think is right or fair, some funny words can come back in response like “collusion”. As an aside a colleague speaking in Scandinavia found there is no word in Swedish or Danish or Norwegian for “collusion”, it’s all just “collaboration”.

When our colleagues get nervous about the possible downsides of students collaborating together we have to recognise that they won’t change overnight but we also have to realise that it’s valid and right to push them. And on that note I shall hand over to Wilma.

Wilma Alexander, chair of the eLearning Professionals and Practitioners Forum is welcoming us and telling us that eLPP is changing it’s name officially today to eLearningEd. This is intentionally less obscure and should help to clarify what the group is about and particularly to help colleagues in the University understand what we are about.

So to introduce our first speaker: Grainne has been invited along today because much of her current and past research looks at the kinds of issues Dai has talked about in his introduction

Keynote – Openness in a Digital Landscape. Professor Grainne Conole, University of Leicester. Abstract

I’m going to talk a little bit about the notion of openness which I’ve been working on at the Open University and more recently at University of Leicester where I’ve been since September. I’ll be talking about technologies trends. I’ll talk about learner experience. And I’ll talk about open practices – Wilma pointed out the hashtag for today (#elearninged) and how many of you tweet [it's most of the room], that sort of thing is really changing what we do.  Then I’ll be a little more negative and talk about teacher practices and paradoxes. I’ll talk a littloe about new approaches to design. And then I’m going to talk about metaphors and the need for new ways and types of descriptions.

Technological Trends (http://learn231.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/trend-report-1). In the 2012 Horizon report we’ve seen mobiles and e-books highlights. In Leicester the Criminology masters programme have just given all of their students iPads as part of the package. We have Game-based learning and learning analytics – that latter is a sexy new term to explain the types of analytics we can gather on how people learn and use our materials, resources, tools. Gesture-based learning and the Internet of Things – there was a lovely article on the Guardian. See Also: Personalised learning, cloud computing, ubiquitous learning, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), Digital content, and Flipped dynamics between student and teacher.

If you Google or look on YouTube Social Media Revolution and also The Machine is Us/Ing both of which really give a good sense of how things are changing. And you might also want to look at a report we did for the HEA where we looked at some key features of Web 2: Peer critiquing; User generated content; Networked – this is the power of tweeting; Open; Collective aggregation; Personalised. The report is: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assests/EvidenceNet/Conole_Alevizou+2012.pdf. If we had time

Gutenburg to Zuckerberg – John Naughton (blogs at http://memex.naughtons.org/) and it’s a great book. And he says: take the long view – we could never have predicted the impact of the internet even in 1990; the web if not the net; disruption is feature; ecologies not economies; complexity is the new reality; the network is now the computer; the web is evolving…

Sharpe, Beetham and De Freitas (2010) found that learners are immersed in technology; their learning approaches are task-orientated, experiential, just in time, cumulative, social; they have very personalised and very different digital learning environment. I have two daughters, one is very organised and very academic in her use of technology but she thinks Facebook is the work of the devil. The other daughter is dyslexic and is quite the opposite and loves Facebook. Who loves Facebook? Why? Who hates Facebook? Why? Our students will also be conflicted, have different views. And our students will be using both institutional technologies and outside tools

Open. Open Resources span a huge range – there has been huge funding for the OER spaces like MERLOT, MIT OpenCourseware, OU Learning Spaces etc. Increasingly research here shows that making OER available isn’t enough. In a recent report (http://www.oer-quality.org/) and the OPAL site we looked at what sort of support people need to use OER effectively, I really recommend the recommendations and that OPAL site if you are interested in OER.

Open Courses. These Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) get huge numbers of participants but high drop out rate. Really interesting to have open educational materials and open courses (http://mooc.ca/). There is also the Open Access University in New Zealand.

Martin Weller, author of Digital Scholar and blogger, talks about open scholarship and exploiting the digital network, new forms of dissemination and communication. I use Twitter on a daily basis and am connected to about 4000 people there, the speed of disseminating information through Twitter is unprecidented and very core to my practice.

Thinking about Open Research I wanted to talk about some of the spaces I use. My blog, e4innovation, is core to what I do. Repositories have become a core part of what we all do – we have the REF coming up and those repositories are being scrutinised in more detail. And there is use of things like wikis and semantic wikis, bookmarking like Diigo, Slideshare, Dropbox, Academia.edu etc. Although I tend to use Twitter and Facebook mainly. I’m on Google+, Academia.edu etc. but don’t tend to use it.

Really interestingly Google now has a Citation tool within Scholar and you can set up a profile. And for sure these will be increasingly used for promotion, for REFs etc. This uses an algorithm from Physics I think. I applied to be a visiting lecturer recently and they asked what my h-index was.

Teacher practices and paradoxes – there are huge opportunities here but they are not neccassarily being fully exploited, we see replication of bad pedagoguey (electronic page turning for example). And intensive research universities like Edinburgh there is also a real tension between teaching and research because promotion is based on research not teaching practice and that pressurises time and attention.

So thinking about Learning Design we have been building up a series of principles. At Leicester we have Carpe Diem workshops on learning design and we’ve been combining this with some JISC work quite effective. Our 7 Cs are Conceptualise then… Capture, create, communicate, collaborate, consider. That’s an iterative cycle. And at the end of that you Consolidate.

In September we will be launching an MSc in LEarning Innovation using much of those learning design resources to think about how we approach this new MSc. So I’m going to share some of our slides and resources here. The Programme includes a series of “e-tivities”. We trialled this with a group of sessions with teachers in South Africa online over two weeks with 8 slots of 1.5 hr face to face sessions and additional work around this.

Peter Bullen and colleagues at the University of Hertfordshire has this concept of How to Ruin a Course – a great way to think about and improve a course. So we used linoit.com – a virtual sticky board – to think about what would and would not be included, what elements would be needed, and what would definitely not be in there. And then we colour coded for types of course content (eg communication and collaboration, content and activities, guidance and support, reflection and demonstration). And worked through this in Google docs, mapped this into a course map. And that has been pulled out into a plan for the course, technologies and expectations. The point about these different views is that they are designed to be iterative and improved over time. They may look simple but they are grounded in good and substantial imperical research.

We have also tried to reuse as much OERs as possible, to adapt others, and to create as needed. We’ve done a learning design resources audit to think through all that we need to deliver this course. We’ve built in various aspects, we decieded we wanted some podcasts, maybe a little interview or snippit of people like Diana Laurillad and at the OU we found students found these sorts of snippits really enjoyable and useful.

And then we’ve broken down the course activities into Assimilative, Information handling, Communicative, Productive, Experiential, and Adaptive activities. We have a little widget you can use here. And that gives us a picture of the type of profile of a course and lets you adapt it over time. This view can also be used quite significantly with students. I did an OU Spanish course and you get this amazing box labelled “Urgent: Educational Materials”. When I did OU Spanish my weakest area was communication by far. There is a really interesting link between what the course profile looks like and what the students need and take in.

As we started looking at the Learning Outcomes…. We didn’t do that first as you can get too stuck into the words here, easier to look at this later when you have a sense of what will be done. And then we can draw things together looking at how the Learning Outcomes and the Assessment (and all learning outcomes should be assessed) and how these are hit along the timeline of the course. So we mapped that conceptual model. And then we went back to linoit and set up a week by week outline where everything comes together. We can then drill down to a “task swimlane” and put into a little template for the e-tivities. And we are also drawing on some nice tools from the OU library in terms of information activities etc. And then finally we have an action plan for how we do this, a detailed thing to close the loop. These kinds of workshops can be very stimulating but you have to be able to follow up in a practical useful way.

And finally…

Metaphors. The ones I’ve been playing with are:

  • Ecologies – the co-evolution of tools and users, a very powerful metaphor; Niches colonisation of new habitats – Google+ perhaps; Survival of the fittest
  • Memes – particularly drawing on Blackmore here: something that spreads like wildfire on the internet, but perhaps we’ve gotten too cosy here
  • Spaces – campbell 72 talks about the cave, the campfire where we present, the mountain top, the watering hole – how might these apply in elearning
  • Rhizomes – the stem of a plant that sends out roots as it spreads… multiple interconnected and self-replicating and very like ideas and networking. Drawing on dave cormier here. Those of you on Twitter will recognise that sort of close furtive network of connections I thin.

The future of learning: technology immersed, complex and distributed… fuller notes on Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/GrainneConole/conole-edinb urgh.

Q&A

Q1) You talked about Learning outcomes need to be assed, can you talk more about assessment

A1) Assessment is fundamentally about articulating whether students have understood what we wan them to learn. I’m certain our old approaches are no longer appropriate. One of my daughters was

Q2) I was interested in your last slide about digital futures and was interested in whether you had looked at opening up coding practices

A2) I was involved in a project around x-ray chrystallography as Chemistry is my original background. Making raw data available we have questions of ethics and a very different way to share our ideas when still developing. But when I blog things openly I get feedback that improves the work. I think more open approaches particularly regarding data coding could be really interesting

Q3) What can be done to reduce the marginalisation of those not already using technologies?

A3) A lot of teachers do feel threatened, they are under a lot of pressure. I think this goes back to day 1 of lecturing in Chemistry. I was given a bunch of content and drew on my experience. I learned as I went and I think that’s how a lot of teachers start. I think we need to ease teachers into to easy conceptual tools that let them assess what technologies may or may not be useful – they don’t have to use everything, they can’t possibly know everything, it’s about baby steps.

And on to our next speaker…

Motivated, Omnipotent, Obligated, and Cheap: Participating in a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) – Jeremy Knox, PhD candidate, School of Education. Abstract and Biography.

The research I will be talking about today is my PhD research on MOOCs which has been a participant observation pilot here based on three different MOOCs: Change 11, Change Education learning and technology – George Siemens, Stephen Downes and Dave Cormier; Udacity CS101 – Independent company created by Sebastian Thrun; MITx – first course offered by MITx.

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. Udacity published 90,00+ enrollment numbers; MITx published 96,00+ enrollment numbers; Change11 has less, perhaps 1,300 active in the first three months based on my experience so far.

Open is perceived in the MOOC as both Open Access and Free. And for both Udacity and MITx that is what they do. That’s also why participant numbers are so hard to estimate for MOOCs – the door is open to entry but also to exit. Big gaps between enrollment and active participation. In the Change11 MOOC there is a more open curriculum and can decide their own outcomes and are encouraged to self-assess – a slightly different model.

Online tends to come down to either a central or distributed space. Udacity and MITx have central spaces where all the learning takes place – a little like an institutional VLE basically. So you have a central space with video lectures, notes etc. Again this is a point of difference with Change11 – all their content is created by participants rather than one organisation. So it is distributed across the web – blogs, twitter, etc.

Courses – MOOCs are structured courses. Udacity and MITx are very traditional with clear aims and objectives. Here you have to learn about building a search engine or about circuits and electronics. In Change11 students far more choose what they learn.

Hopefully that gives a sense of what a MOOC is, that there are various models in use here. So I want to talk about some terms I think might also define the MOOC.

Motivated – a central aspect of being a participant in the MOOC. Downes (2002) says that if you are not motivated then you’re not in the MOOC. There is an assumption of motivation and no central intent to encourage, support, motivate students. Perhaps an issue mappable to wider OER discussion. And some work by Downes found that as little as 4% of participants are active in the MOOC. Here I’m showing a viualisation of communication on Twiter between Change11 participants – you can see a small number of highly active participants/course members.

Omnipotent – is perhaps more relavant than open. They are sold as learners having lots of control over the learning process. They promote learner defined aims and self-assessment. That implies an innate ability to self-direct within the MOOC which we’ll come back to. Traditional education is framed as a passive process within this type of promotion. I suggest this isn’t just about Change11 which heavily promotes this way but also about MITx and Udacity the same need for self-directed students is assumed. The MOOC dissolves itself from responsibility for the students.

Obligated – Change11 requires students to aggregate, remix, repurpose and feeding forward. Participation is seen as essential in the MOOC. This is down to the model of the network that underpins connectivist theory and the MOOC. The more connected you are, the better the learning is. The network isn’t an analogy for learning, it is learning in connectivism. So as the network decreases so does the learning. So something to say there about collaboration. There is a tendency in the MOOC to enforce participation – important for the individual but also essential for the whole. So despite the idea of autonomy the network is crucial here.

So I think Omnipotent and Obligated are real clashing factors here… a problem for the MOOC.

Cheap – perhaps in the financial sense. But more in the sense of responsibility. Learners are responsible for own motivation, they must self-direct, in Change11 they have to decide outcomes and self-direct, if the learners don’t participate there is no course. There is a tendency for MOOCs to shift responsibility from the institution to the student.

So to finish… I would suggest that to rephrase Downes to “if you’re not motivated then it’s not my problem!”. Now I think there is an arguement for the institution or organisation to take that responsibility.

Q&A

Q1) I’ve participated in Change and I was a wee bit late contributing materials. I was excited to take part but it was rather demotivating as little was going on. Rather than Cheap perhaps Collaborative is more appropriate. Is that a better word than cheap?

A1) Yeah I think that’s part of it but I wanted to get at the fact that the institution should be involved. I think collaboration there would have to mean the institution also collaborating in the process.

Q2) Aren’t you trying to impose formal learning expectations onto an informal, lifelong learning space?

A2) I think I am questioning whether being able to self-direct is innate and whether this discourse of openness and access is actually right as these are not neccassarily innate things, that access to technology and understanding is not open, these are learned things.

Q3) I’ll come back to some of these issues but there is an interesting philosophical difference in France where courses were open and people can join and disappear. Perhaps this about opening opportunities for people to find out more and explore that learning but perhaps dropping out of these spaces isn’t a failure but a choice also.

A3) that is a fair point.

Wilma is now talking about the university of edinburgh’s innovative learning week which took place for the first time this year and our next speakers will be reflecting on that experience.

Case studies – Law less ordinary: reflections on Innovative Learning Week in the School of Law – Dr Gillian Black, School of Law.

I want to talk about one of our most successful ILW events. This was our Criminology photo competition organised by one of my colleagues who lectures on the criminology degree. She asked students to identify images from news, videogames, films etc. around crime and injustice. The challenge was to use the image and use text to change our expectations. This was set up on PebblePad and you needed to send in an image, text and the name of contributors. Students took images, shared them with commentary. And she also wanted this to be freely available and publicly available. You had to login to add images. But you could comment as you would on a blog. It ran from the beginning of January to he end of Innovative Learning Week. It was very popular.

I think the winning entry was an image on the idea of “Facebook Rape” or Frape. The success was such that Dr Suami is looking at running an exhibition of these images. And that reenforces that this didn’t just happen online but also was part of our offline practice as well.

Why did this work? Well Dr Suami is a very popular lecturer with enthusiastic students. And it was fun. But those of us who found it difficult to get students along in person perhaps will understand that an advantage of this activity was that students could take place at any time and on their own terms. I hope this will have a lasting legacy.

The other aspect here was that the activity did cross courses, engage colleagues, really brought the programmes together.

Followed by: Changing Atmospheres – The 1 Minute Film Project at the School of Geosciences. Dr Elizabeth Olson.

This project involved 5 academics designing this over two months. We set undergraduate geography students a challenge! We set them the task of recording audio and video separately and then making a one minute film about it. So there was a technology aim here. It was a two day challenge. We trained them the basics of filmmaking – a good shot, storyboarding, artistic outputs, sound recording. Sent them out for 5 minutes to capture stuff. Then we had a full day for capture. We borrowed tools – H1 and H3 zoom mics, HD camcorders that the department has for research. We used Mac Pro and PCs – brought in some extra kit of our own into a lockable room. We ended up using Audition (free software) for audio, And some of our free tools we used what software we had so Adobe Premier CS5 and Final Cut Pro – we didn’t have to induct them in any of the software really.

Feedback we had was really interesting – the storytelling aspect complimented everyday practice. A worrying comment that this was the most useful 2 days of the year! And another found it invaluable as an opportunity to explore the city as good geographers from a very different angle. We let students vote on the films so I’ll show them from least to most voted on films. [great wee films although speeded up scenes seem particularly popular]

We had increadibly popular feedback, a lot of students want to carry on filmmaking as a hobby, and students have talked about using film and photography into their assessed work. It was increadibly labour intensive, increadibly good fun.

After a short tea break we are back for some case studies which are just being introduced by Marshall Dozier

Case study – 2012: A MATLAB® Odyssey – Antonis Giannopoulos, School of Engineering. Abstract

Really I should have Dr Craig Warren, my former PhD student, as author, it’s all his work but he is on holiday at the moment!

So I will be talking about turning a traditional lecture based course into a largely online course. But lets start with what MATLAB is, how we used to teach it, why it needed to change, the aims of the new course, what new material was creates, what tools we used and some feedback.

So MATLAB is a programming environment for algorithm development, data analysis, visualisation and numerical computation. But it’s about problem solving, they don’t come in to learn programming for it’s own sake. We teach some sort of programming, usually in second year, in Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Mechanical engineering – we all arrived at MATLAB separately but as we were all teaching the same thing we though that we could really do something here to bring our teaching toether in some way.

We were teaching MATLAB through lectures and some computer lab-based exercises. If you aren’t a programmer or don’t like programming these lectures can be really hard to engage with. We can have live examples, movies etc. but it’s not hugely effective. Those lectures were ok but not very exciting. We wanted to change this a software tool you really only learn and learn through programming tend to learn through doing something as a hands on experience. So we saw this as an opportunity to really create engaging interactive material. We created a 5 credit module and use this as part of other modules. We wanted it to be online, self-paced, self-study model. Pass the buck to the students to take responsibility for working through the materials. It was very much targetted to those with no prior knowledge of MATLAB or with no previous programming experience. And we wanted them to learn to be competent using the most common features of MATLAB to solve engineering problems.

The tools we used were screencasts created with ScreenFlor and also a Samson Go Mic. And we have online course PDF assembled from LaTeX source – LaTeX is old tech but lets you output your material to all sorts of different formats.

The new material created includes a core comprehensive PDF with link sto lots of supporting material; self-test excercises; tightly intergrated screencasts linked from PDF – showing and describing basic MATLAB concepts and providing solutions to exercises.

You can have a look at the site here: http://www.eng.ed.ac.uk/teaching/courses/matlab

And I’ll give you a demo here of a screencast.

This course is being used in all of the different 2 year undergraduate courses across engineering. They develop numerical and programming skills and are being used really well. We have the courses as self-paced materials but they are well supported – my course we have 10 x 2 hour labs to work through problems etc.

Student feedback has been really good. We intentionally limited screen cast to 5 mins maximum so you go and do and practice as you work through the course. The course is available outwith the university. The screencasts are on YouTube. They’ve been live for 2 years so we’re starting to be able to analyse usage. We plan to publicise the course within UoE. And we want to use this course to develop similar material for other software tools that are part of degree programmes in engineering. And we want to look at other ways to make core materials available in more interactive ways – maybe with tools like iBooks for instance.

Acknoweledgement here must be given to the Edinburgh Fund Small Project Grant which helped fund this work, to Dr Craig Warren of course, to colleagues across Engineering and LTSTS for their support.

Q&A

Q1) You mentioned that MATLAB was really expensive and I was just wondering whether students have access to that software away from the lab as that can be really important for learners on self-paced courses.

A1) So the student version of MATLAB is available on all university machines across all labs etc. But students can also access MATLAB remotely via nx. It’s not as easy as it could be but they do have access whenever they need.

Q2) Any plans for transcripts for deaf students. And I think you could be making the course inaccessible to those students with those videos. And transcripts may help foreign language students.

A2) I haven’t thought about that particularly. I think that

Q3) You talked about analysing use -how are you looking at this and are you starting to look at student performance

A3) Craig is starting to do this. We have seen far better performance on final exams. But we need to do more.
Case study – Maps mashups as a teaching aid. Richard Rodger, HCA

I’m going to be talking about the AHRC funded Visualising Urban Geographies project. And I want you to imagine yourself as geographically challenged students here. We are great at the cultural aspect of history but I think we need to do far far more with geospatial perspectives on history.

Our objectives were to create a set of geo-referenced historical maps of Edinburgh, to reach a broader public, to develop open source software and avoid GIS…

And the contributions of my colleague Stuart Nichol and the staff at the National Library of Scotland’s Map Rooms – which is a fantastic resource – has been crucial here.

So we started with resource development. Maps were scanned and geo-referenced. One of the core issues to address was the thorny issues of boundaries and we wanted to make multiple types of boundaries available for all of these maps.

So maps have lots of historical information of course. I want to give you a few examples here. So looking at Edgar’s 1765 map we’ve given this topography – Edinburgh is certainly not flat! These maps have huge detail – looking at Edgar 1765 – so pick out something here, West Bow and Victoria Street perhaps, and I’ll show how this changes through 100 years of maps here. You can trace changes on the map and relate it to other documentary material and resources.

And then of course there is the chronological map – Chris Fleet of NLS is very proud of this form here, the map started in 1870 and gradually it grows to show the expansion and changes to the city over time, giving a 2D map a more dynamic feel that will appeal to a more general audience and their spatial awareness.

It’s probably evident here that our data is held in all sorts of different places… The Mapbuilder is all about address based history – census data, taxation records etc. So we used a geocoder to exploit these address based history. And we were plotting these points on a historical map – anyone can plot on a google map but it’s adding it to the historical map that adds important value here. So you can look, for instance, at clustering of addresses of solicitors in Edinburgh. When addresses have been geocoded they can be exported as a KML and viewed on a historical map. So the distribution of edinburgh solitors from 1861 superimposed on a relevant historical map. If we look at the same sort of group of solitors from 1811 we can see a move of location – that needs investigation. I think that’s very much about the change in practice in the law around this time, from lower new town to more central commercial areas.

Other ways to make this sort of data available to the wider public. So looking at James Colville, the Edinburgh Cooperative Building Company Ltd, the colonies and his walk to work in the 1870s – looking at this data you can see real social change over time.

Similarly you can look at James Steel, 1869 – Easter Dalry feu – and see the development of Haymarket over time.

Another tool we have here allows you to measure distance from the tool, you can see the trip of Colville’s walk around the colonies – the distance, the gradiant, the area of his travels. Very useful.

Of course addresses are one thing but also wanted to think about properties in Edinburgh. So boundaries and juristictions are very important here. So we’ve used our own data on properties here. One of the greatest contributions I think is in the definition of these maps – by creating shapefiles for these maps we can pour data into our thematic mapping engine. We can use those boundaries to express complexity in administration areas of the city. You have to imagine a mosaic of overlapping juristictions and some areas that are entirely dislocated from the rest of the city. For a historian to have that laid out so you can then plot data into those maps with the appropriate boundaries. Whilst we did it for Edinburgh it could be for any city really.

Q&A

Q1) How have students been finding these tools and what have they been doing with them?

A1) History in practice. Dissertations and advanced projects. 8 different types of case studies of that. Possibly talking to the converted here but they have responded really positively. And there is a community neighbourhood project in Wester Hailes that has found this work really useful and there has been lots of community engagement here. And there is also a project on mill sites in Perthshire that have also been using this data.

Case study – ‘Engage & Reveal’ project – Lindy Richardson, ECA

I’m going to talk to you about collaboration. The title should be “Reveal & Engage”. But after listening to everyone today I’m going to rename it “Engage, Reveal & Engage”. One of the challenges we have is about engaging our students. We artists can be quite separate in our practice until it comes to showing off – much of how artists use the web is about showing off our work!

So I want to start by talking about collaboration, working together to achieve something. Artists do get together whether virtually or in the flesh. There are loads of collaborative drawing projects line the Moly_x:an international moleskin sketchbook exchange – you can find this on Flickr. Artists draw and send on and new material is added. It’s a progressive linear collaboration. You contribute and it is physically exchanged and posted on the web. You haven’t actually interacted with the other artists though. It’s actually quite remote.

I set up a project in ECA to help students to understand how to physically interact with others’ work. Student one had two areas of pattern, student two had two different areas of patterns. And the idea was that they printed onto the print bed. Then for the second screen you had to print on the person before you’s work. They freaked out! The idea was about physically interacting and engaging with their fellow students’ work. We do lots of physical stuff in art which allows lots of handing on of work rather than collaboration – but you wouldn’t do that with one person researching something, another writing an essay, etc. So the idea here was that they engaged with and reflected on the process but still students in the printing project were mainly thinking separately…

So, I then set up an international collaboration project. This was British Council funded across cultures encourages collaboration through physical exchanges of materials from indigenous cultures. So we showed students Ayreshire needlework and Paisley paislies. Students responded to that original inspiration. And partner students in China did similarly, took inspiration and sent to us. And then the idea was to exchange these fabric pieces and we would add or subtract to these as part of the exchange. And what I expected was absolutely not what we got! So we sent a beautiful hand embroidered pieces and many of thenm came back quite crunchy, quite glued. Some of our students were quite upset by that.

So… Reveal and Engage… was a project at ECA to encourage our students to work together and to move out of their bubble, and to find synergies and common research areas. So we wanted them to contact each other, to engage in dialogue and to be collaborative. As artists and designers when we put up our materials online that’s our name, our work, and some text. So we did this event in the sculpture court. Each student got a 1.5 metre square space to pitch themselves. We taped out squares, they could pick their own area and sell themselves. You were speeddating each others work basically. Interestingly a few programme directors said no to this event. But when the event ran the students kept coming up and wanting to join in. I was a bit naughty and let them take cards and engage but not pitch themselves.

So the students required to provide a concise statement about your areas of interest and research focus. And examples of their own practice. It was really good for the students to think about that. So the students had a name plate with name, email, mobile number, website (where appropriate) and programme. In the second year we were asked for name badges though one student hated that. The students had to make 5 contacts. This was excruciating for some of them. It’s so easy to do this by phone, email. etc. To force them to do this physically was alien but was really really helpful. They had to make a minimu of 5 follow up meetings for discussion and potential development. Some were nervous about having too little interest, others were overwhelmed. Students quickly became aware of how effective and relevant their approaches were.

One of the most important things was to encourage students to enjoy the experience. to make contacts outside your area. And it will have huge benefits in the future. So here is an image of an ECA fashion show where students from textiles and fashions have worked together.

And then… ?

The challenges of working together became apparent. We set up staff surgery sessions to help with this and this also allowed you to work with both students at the same time, staff from outside your own areas. And that helped a lot as you can set up “collaborations” but as staff we often leave students to it and they need some of that support to make that work.

Some great collaborations took place – lots of fashion and textiles students working together, a great example of a performance costume and jewellery designer coming together. And the students really became aware of transferrable skills, particularly around communication, presenting themselves, being professional.

So how is the collaboration and the success of this venture assessed? We use the e.portal – we give feedback and the students have to also reflect on themselves and only then do they see both aspects of feedback in parallel, we use peer assessment, we had some sessions with the students themselves. But there are challenges here. Our students are very visual but they are not as keen to put their work into writing so this means we can have great projects and work from students but then their poorer performance on written aspects and reflection can effect their feedback or performance.

Next a project with concrete, glass and textiles in collaboration with Saint Peter and his collaborator as muse [I'm pretty sure that's wrong, correction to come], an incredible concrete thing. And we will produce something amazing marking collaborative forward direction with the University which ECA is now part of.

And now, to lunch!

‘Enhancing the student experience- Representing, supporting and engaging with our 20,000 members’ – Rachel King, Martin Gribbon and Andew Burnie, Paul Horrocks (in absentia), EUSA. Abstract

Through this session we hope to give an overview of EUSA’s activities and to give an idea of the practices and activities that IT tools have been used in our work. We had hoped that Paul Horrocks, a third year maths student whose work you will see, would be able to speak today but he’s tied up with exams at the moment but we wanted to acknowledge him here.

Our visiiojn is to represent the student voice effectively to the university and beyond, to support student academic and social wellbeing, provide opportunities for participation and development through student activities, and things like discounted food and drink etc. We like to be a collaegue, a critical friend etc. to the University. All students of the University are automatically EUSA members unless they choose to opt out.

Representation is really important, we have to show we are listening and responding and to know how best to support students. Our general meetings have had poor attendance in the past, often not quorate in fact, so we have, for the first time, run a referendum online this year. And we had an average of 2000 votes on each item versus meetings that would have perhaps had 120 students so that’s been a success we think. We do also try to encourage students to engage – we can seem like a strange and perhaps irrelevant interruption in studies. So we do things like supporting candidates for the student elections and telling them lots of tips and hints about how to run a successful campaign… [we are now watching a video made for candidates on how to deal with nice and very difficult students you are trying to engage with - on YouTube as Election Advice - Door Knocking; Election Advice - Lecture Announcements].

Representation is most effective when student led so I am handing over to Andrew to talk about a very successful online petition that he led…

So last year registry informed us that they planned to reduce the month of exam schedules down to two weeks, were really angry and upset as that crammed near 10 exams into a very short period. I am lucky, I’m a representative for my class so I could email student colleagues and to let the university know. We were able to get it increased back to a three week period. But that wasn’t great. Many students hadn’t heard about this until my email, they didn’t feel informed or consulted by the University. So I set up an online petition – I wanted name, I wanted to know about course and school to see if this was just an issue for me and my colleagues. Then I wrote some code to turn the responses into a spreadsheet and look at the statistics. I thought that we would have loads of Science and Engineering responses but we actually had loads from HSS. And we had good responses from first and second year students. The most responses were from Informatics, not surprising as my school and they personally had an email from me. And I got a lot of students on joint degrees commenting as they felt that their dual schedules were not properly accomodated. I also had Google Analytics on the site to see activity. I shared the comments that had been placed. Those pages were used quite frequently and students were really thinking about whether to sign it. It was first just promoted on Facebook by me and by emails to my school. On the third day I send EUSA an email asking for it to go to class reps. When you target emails at engaged people like class reps. And it went pretty viral on Facebook. So we saw lots more responses. And Twitter was useful too but not many. Most students use Facebook, a lot don’t use Twitter – but computer scientists do. So, we had all these responses and, with EUSA’s support, we got the decision reversed by Registry. So why was it successful? It was student led and that’s crucial. Well it was a petition about only one issue, it was focused and clear, but you could personalise it with the comments box. People could participate in different ways – by signing the petition, by sharing on Facebook or even coming to the meeting with Registry, allowing that engagement on lots of levels was really important. Back to Rachel…

One of the other things we do in supporting our members is the services like the Advice place – we offer accomodation, health, etc. advice and that’s all online now. And we have been working on outreach with a roadshow around the university campuses to explain what the Advice Place is and does. And part of that is ensuring their Facebook Page and Twitter pages are up to date. The Advice Place is now in the Dome with a lovely new centre. You can see that they are sharing information on Twitter about student support funds, condom deliveries, where to find them, etc.

Societies are a really big part of students lives here, there are over 160 and we have been setting up a database of all societies so we can train treasurers etc. And you can now engage online, join online, pay your subs online etc. Each society has a page they can update and let people know what they’re doing.

We also have a volunteering centre in the Potterrow dome now and students can come in or look online for volunteering opportunities. The volunteering centre can easily add opportunities and students can easily sign up. I really encourage you to take a look and think about volunteering opportunities you may have – there is almost no part of the university that wouldn’t benefit from some volunteering effort.

We also have various peer support services – there is an International Buddy Project, and a project called Tandem – for people who want to practice speaking various languages, just talking not academic stuff, and that’s open to staff and students. We also have a scheme called Peer Proofreading and it followed a pilot in recognition of demand among non-native English speaking students for reliable sources of help in proofreading student work. The proofreading is purely about spelling and typos, not about academic content. So the student submits some work, it gets sent to a trained volunteer proof reader, and they send back feedback and the student can meet to discuss issues etc. And there is a community of proofreaders building up – a Facebook group for them, we’ve been surprised about how many students were keen to train as proofreaders actually.

And we have an initiative called Path Finder which is about choosing appropriate classes. At the moment students have the DRPS only, it’s hard to navigate that system. And it also helps highlight prerequisites etc. The idea is that students and staff have coauthored course descriptions. Students can see both sets of information and can see the consequences of that course in terms of course eligibility etc.

So far they have the DRPS data and BOXE reports and we hope that Paul, who has been designing this, will be able to work on this over the summer and will be able to get some financial report to do this. And now over to Martin…

I’m going to talk about a Facebook page we set up for Freshers Week. I don’t think this is neccassarily groundbreaking but I wanted to explain why we used that approach.

This was a Facebook Group, called Edinburgh University Freshers Week 2011. It has 2131 members. The first post by a student was on 17th June 2011 and actually we had 1000 members already at 17th July 2011. Students really want to engage early in the year.

So why do this? Well students want to come together before September. It allows students to ask questions they might otherwise keep to themselves or each try to ask individually. So it allows students to share experiences and expertise. However a downside there is that not all answers will be correct so we have to keep an eye and comment where there is an incorrect answer address that. We use social media a lot but this is by far the most successful social media activity we’ve done, it’s really enhanced the student experience.

So to look at Facebook here you’ll see a typical question which was about whether or not accommodation services should have been in touch, it gets 26 replies and they find solutions and approaches. And we have another student looking for others on his course. And others share where they will be, finding out who will be in your halls etc. You also see students setting up their own groups for various accommodation spaces etc.

We have set up the Edinburgh University Freshers Week  2012 group already. They have to ask to join. I’ll accept them only if they are real people. Businesses we decline. But we’d encourage any staff who want to to join this group and help students feel part of the University. Back to Rachel…

Future challenges for us certainly relate to engaging with our ever-growing and diverse student body, and ensuring there are inclusive and accessible learning and teaching – podcasts and WebCT being of concern at the moment.

Q&A

Q1) Are you thinking about having any special focus on distance students as we increasingly have more of these

A1) Rachel: We are talking with the University about this. There is alo an independent group called SPARKS that support student associations who are also looking at issues around distance students and how to support them so we are engaging.

A1) Martin: Obviously Facebook and Twitter etc. are globally available. We do also email about events on campus and campaign etc. to all students, distance or not.

Q2) DRPS is not only difficult for students, also very difficult for staff too. The Pathfinder system looks great but how do you plan to keep information current?

A2) One of the things that Paul has been so grateful is that the school felt that to set this up they needed the ability to maintain and keep this system up to date. And there would be a student coordinator every year and to add new data every year.

Q3) Are there plans to roll out Pathfinder to other schools?

A3) They would very much like to. They have tried to design it so that that’s possible.

Case Study – ‘The Idiots Guide to Collaborative work practises: Author, The students’ – Victoria Dishon, School of Engineering

I’ve been doing some work with our students on how they engage with their academic studies using technology. When I started doing that there were significant discussions in our school about what students do when they receive an assignment from us. I didn’t say what sort of technology I was looking at. I just asked students about technology.

Someone from another organisation said that “Engineering does a lot of group work, do you provide collaborative software? What do the students do when you give them an assignment?” and although I had some ideas I wasn’t actually sure.

So to see why we do so much group work we needed to look at our degree programmes. And all of these are accredited b the relevant professional body (e.g. Institute of Mechanical Engineers) and as a result the activities and assessment is very structured. So I’ll show you our mapping of specific learning outcomes to the degree programme from when we were most recently accredited in 2008. So if we have a look at these learning outcomes the ways in which these are phrased clearly requires you to talk to others, to exchange knowledge. And there is a requirement to manage and participate in shared experiences, in group experiences.And that is experience that you need to have for the real engineering world. And you need to understand customer relationships and peer collaboration.

So, I decided, going back to that original question, that I needed to speak to my colleagues about this and ask them that question. And my colleagues said: well it’s difficult to say; it depends on the assignment; I don’t really care as long as it comes in on time; well they must talk and meet. Some of my colleagues know really well what their students do. And it does depend on how much they are involved with a specific assignment. But generally it wasn’t really clear.

So I thought did I ask the right question? Did I ask the right people? So I decided that I better ask the students… So normally if you send out a student survey you will get 10-20 responses from super keen people. But I got 200 responses!

So I asked if they were using social media or file sharing sites for a class activity or an assignment. 94.5% said yes. I asked about what they were doing with them. There were tick boxes etc. and also loads of comments. I’m happy to share the detailed data here and will be doing that with my school of course. Students were using social media to discuss how they use class materials. Students upload tutorial sheets to Dropbox or Facebook and working their way through the tutorials. They write their workings out, take a picture, share it, correct each others work, explaining what they’ve done wrong. etc.

Students responded that they do this all the time, it’s not part of their assignments alone, it’s a core part of what they do. They do a lot of filesharing – for varying reasons. Mainly they do that because email isnt very efficient and don’t want stuff lost in the email boxes. And they are creating shared materials, not just assignments. So they had more in their toolbox than we thought. Not hugely surprising but the data is super helpful. We have decided we want to explore this more. I originally sent this survey to all our students. I followed up the survey asking if students wanted to come and chat and follow up on this. Seven students came to chat for half an hour, most went on for an hour and half in the end. All of those students were happy to work with the school to develop tools to help them with their learning. But that was a very self-selecting groups.

So some examples…

A 1st year Civil Engineering student has a laptop and smartphone. They are part of her life – not just her studies. She uses facebook every day mainly for social activity and she uses it as a lifeline to back home in Aberdeen. And that link was really important to making her feel her at home at university. She is also happy to join in work on there. There is a year 1 Civil Engineering FB group – they gossip, they share class info etc. Its set up by students themselves. She did join in a FB group for sharing documents and discussing an assignment. After that completed that group stopped. She uses dropbox as more reliable and harder to lose than a USB stick, She uses text messages to arrange personal and academic meetings. Not a big fan of email – it doesn’t seem personal enough for her. She’d prefer phone or Facebook.

A 3rd year Electrical and Mechanical Engineering student is a class rep and uses technology across personal and academic life. He use doodle to arrange meetings with email confirmations. He uses Dropbox to manage all files and to co-create academic materials. He doesn’t use his school file space at all. He also uses Dropbox to upload tutorial questions and past exam questions. And they use mobile phone or iPad camera to share notes etc – that was much more widespread than I realised. He regularly creates and managed FB groups, managing a University of Edinburgh Society page including advertising. And he uses FB to plug gaps in the knowledge between his two disciplines that are not fille sby the academic materials.

A 4th year Electrical and Informatics student. He considers himself to be completely digital, uses a laptop and mobile. He sees everything online as his front space to the world, that it is his personal brand, and how important he thinks that is. He uses Google docs, dropbox etc. And he’s created loads of spaces himself here.

So the commonalities here…

  • Ease of use
  • frequency of access – want everything when they need it and where they are
  • consideration of the tools that met the differing academic and social requirements
  • all demonstrated levels of understanding of privacy and security issues that suggested these had been considered before I spoke to them
  • all consider these tools to be essential to their acadenmic work set
  • the development of these strategies happen mostly without UoE staff directio or guidance, through peer discussion adn actions.
So… what do they do when we give them an assignement? They go out into the world and gather their digital office tools, on a bus, at the flat, in the library or in the computing labs,. They work together, they work separtely and they share. And they do a great job of this without us
Q&A
Q1) This sounds very positive but are there students who fall off the edge here..
A1) We had a real mixed set of responses. Some students were struggling and didn’t want technology forced on them. One of the students – the one that created the 3rd year mech eng FB group. There were 102 students in that coure, and 98 were in the group and the four students were being sent that material separately to keep them up to date.
Q2)
A2) We try to provide flexible students who have the knowledge to go out and find the materials needed for any task – whether an assignment or any other challenge. We are saying to them here is the way to identify the problem, find the right tools and find the solution. So it’s about giving them the skills and toolsets to address any number of issues.
Q3) By the time you’ve reacted to what students say they want they will have moved on… or by formalising that space they will move on because they don’t want you there surveilling.
A3) I would quite like to have shown you the FB groups students use so I asked for permission but they said no. It’s their space. If they want us to help they will ask that, or many will. My concern is about those who are not confident to do that. But us going into their spaces is an issue, it would put them off. It does raise real questions of how you support technology and what technology you support.
And after a short tea break it’s onto the next session…

Case study – Digital Feedback – Dr Jo-Anne Murray, CMVM Abstract

I’m going to talk about some work we’ve been doing out at the Vet School. Some of our students are engaged in online distance education courses so when I talk about digital feedback I’m talking about distance students in particular.

Interaction and communication is key to engaging students in online learning. This is really important when you look at the literature. So it’s about building a community learning experience. So we provide virtual lectures that can be accessed asynchronously. We have a virtual classroom that allows realtime interaction between students and the instructor. We also have text based syncronous discussion. And we have our own virtual campus in Second Life for students and interactions between students and instructors.

So we do provide an aspect of ongoing feedback. But when we come to assignment feedback this has typically been text based and has been delivered by email or through the VLE. Feedback enhances learning. Hand-written comments can be given weeks after submission. And when we think about students perspectives of feedback and the National Student Survey our students are not all that satisfied with the feedback particularly the timliness of feedback, the level of detail and the comprehension of that feedback.

We have lots of work on feedback for traditional students but there has been pretty limited work on the role feedback plays in distance education. Most studies have only examine text-based feedback. And can be limited due to lack of verbal and non-verbal information. Two important factors here are social presence and the sense of instructor interaction, things like friendliness, humour, ways to let the student know that the instructor is concerned and interested.

So thinking about digital technologies… we could use audio, screencasting, webcams. Although quite limited there are some programmes using digital feedback in HE. And this potentially gives us an opportunity to provide richer more detailed feedback, more comprehensive feedback, more timely feedback (but not taking more time to produce), nuances conveyed through tone of voice and use of learning. So hopefully enhancing the relevance and immediacy and usefulness of feedback.

So our case study here relates tio the MSc/Dip/Cert in Equine Science. This is delivered part time over 3 years. And it is delivered using a blend of online learning methods, through asynchronous and synchronous discussion. Students enjoy and thrive on quality unteractions and we really try to promote a sense of presence in the teaching. But feedback on assignments lacked that.

So we trialled feedback on dissertation proposal assignment. We used screencasting software called Jing to deliver this digital feedback – it’s a free to download software, it’s easy to use and it’s less time consuming than generic feedback sheets. So if I play you an example here you can talk through the feedback but also highlight relevant text and the key areas being discussed.

We asked students for feedback. All of the students reported digital feedback as helpful and preferable to written feedback. Felt it much more personal and helpful. Some also found seeing the text being discussed particularly helpful. In terms of improving the students work many of our students felt that it did improve their understanding of how to improve their work. All students said they would like this type of feedback again. Most found it was easy to access, we supported those who had more difficulties.

In terms of tutor feedback and how I found it it was very easy to use, it felt more personal to each student, probably included more detail – I was able to explain to a student how to improve her work far easier through talking than through writing it down. And less time consuming.

In conclusion I would say it’s a very valuable tool for providing feedback. It was a very positive experience for both tutor and students. And it really enhanced the quality and timeliness of feedback.

Q&A

Q1) You used JING, I suspect that it was stored to their own server… so who has that recording. Are there any issues with that?

A1) You have to watch out how you upload the recording to the servers but you can make it private to a specific URL. I have downloaded those files to our own servers as flash files so they could be deleted if we wanted them to be.

OER, OCW, MOOCs and beyond: open educational practice European research & Discussion – Professor Jeff Haywood,Vice Principal Knowledge Management and Chief Information Officer.

What I’m going to cover is to quickly look through OER, Open CourseWare, MOOCs etc. and educational practice, and to speak about what we do and don’t do here at the University of Edinburgh. And to end on a set of slides on economics.

If you want to read the best text on this it’s Taylor Walsh’s Unlocking the Gates (available free from Ithaca). So OER or Open Educational Resources… it is an area of real interest to those that are in th eeducation for development and developing nations etc. so organisations like UNESCO etc. have funded these. And funding from HEA, JISC, Jorum etc. have been important to the creation of OERs. And people like Open Nottingham and Leicester for instance have really stepped into this. We have tried before and may want to revisit.

What is OpenCourseWare is kind of a hodge podge of resources, many of incomplete. MITs set are rated quite highly but many of the resources that are referenced are not open, you cannot do the readings here. There are standards coming through here… there is development of ISO standards takiing place. And the Open University is one of those who have stepped into this domain and into free courses and the space of the MOOC. The thing to note here is the idea of fully automated courses. Standford’s first course here was CS 101 and if you see their FAQs you are entirely walled out of the institution and you get no credits for the course. MITx awards you a certificate but not tradable in the academic exchange sense. And ChangeMOOC which is about the converted learning with the converted.

I also wanted to talk about Coursera which is a Stanford spin off. There is a question here for Edinburgh… do we build our own. For us we think it makes sense to join in with an existing leader so we are talking with Stanford adn Coursera to open that up and looking for volunteers to build materials for that space.

And I wanted to move on to OEP – Open Educational Practices. The OPAL website (oer-quality.org) and this is about thinking about what you might do and what you might need. In terms of structure and need you will find some super thought provoking discussion in the documentation there. There is a classification scheme with a Low to High Learning Architecture scale and an OER Usage scales rom Low to High. So for an institution you can conciously think about conciously where you may want to be on that spectrum.

The OER University – also mentioned earlier – one of the crucial things here is that it is going to be cheaper for the learner – there is a note there for cheaper rates for assessment and credit. So it has the model of learners learning from OER, supported by volunteers, then open assessment from participating institutions, then grant credit for courses, and students are awarded diplomas or degrees [Jeff is showing a diagram adapted from Taylor 2007]. So we are seeing some decoupling of the institution here…

So I have been working on a project, OERtest, with Hamish McLeod, Sue Rigby and others, looking at how one can go about testing knowledge from OERs. And the guidelines we’ve been building up are concerned with entire course-modules offered as OER – the OER must be an entire course unit/module with full course materials, LOs, guides, assessment protocols, supporting documentation, equivelent to a unit/module offered in any HEI. It is intended for units which have been made available entirely online in one space. So it’s perhaps more like a MOOC.

We have several scenarios here. One is an OER traditional student who attends our institution, studies OER modules, request assessements, then use credits within the same institution. Many were nervous about that but seemed like the most straightforward idea.

The next scenario is an OER Erasmus which is the notion of a student completing a course from another university that is used at home institution – a Stanford CS module say as part of an Edinburgh programme.

Another scenario is an OER RPL is not a student at all, studies OER module from… whereever. And requests assessment from our university and uses credits from our university. This is very much like recognition of prior learning. It should work with relatively flexible institutions. But if you look across Europe some organisations regulate that sort of possibility and process and indeed regulate the cost for those sorts of work.

So the critical bit is you have to understand where in the qualification framework you will define yourself as an institution. You decide the level you want to work in. And how many credits you will assign to the work to be done. And then associated with that when you issue the marks you have to tell the people who are receiving those credits how the credits are acquired. And all of the students that graduate have a certificate explaining how the teaching took place.

So…. we took the proposal about teh University offering credits for other learning to the Senatus Academicus and actually they were quite unphased, as an institution we have real confidence in our ability to ensure that the right process takes place to ensure that we this properly if we decide to do it.

Economic Models..

OER

  • cost for HEI is the sum  of value of all inputs needed to design, develop, maintain course materials and delivery platform plus ensure visible.
  • return on investment – reputation, increased applications, signals quality, pro bono service, complies with current ethos
  • Cost for learner – not a lot of evidance that suggests that the value to the learner community is significant. Time to use, need to integrate into other learning.
  • ROI for learner – additional learning materials for course or pleasure. There is some evidence that users of OER are already students looking for additional materials.

OCW…

MOOC

Cost for HEI: again as per OER plus lite-touch tutoring/support and lite-assessment mechanism for certifiate (if offered) and “advertising” and keep pushing these courses.

ROI for HEI – all of the above but stronger, arena to “practice” OEP – and that’s a place to play that is separate from your main institutional practice

Cost for learner – as OCW but more structured/demanding – and that can mean more drop offs/out

ROI for learner – closer to the “educational real thing”, possible “proof” of competence as certificate – not a trivial thing in some parts of the world, It will cost you ££s for your certificate but that proof of competance is fairly inexpensive and may be well worth that investment.

So… ROIs on accreditation of OER-based learning (=MOOC+Assessment+Accreditation)

The Cost for HEI:

IF (unbundled curriculum = 0)

ELSE (course materials/tutoring = MOOC)

+ full assessment for credit + ward)

ROI for HEI = as MOOC + ££s for assessment/accreditation

Cost for learner = time, ££s

ROI for leaner = accreditation, certification and the pleasure of learning.

So… the cost implications of OER-based learning… Well…

  • Level 9 UoE course = 120/6 = 20 credits @ £9000/6 = £1500 if taken “normally”
  • Cost to assess learning achieved = 1 day work – £300/£600 (gross salary/fEc)
  • Cost to validate/award = 1 day work = £300/£600
  • Cost to learner for 20 credits = £600/£1200

So cost only low versus normal course. So if we want this to be cheaper then the assessment must be lighter, must be different from normal assessment. So needs to be lighter and automated. Which is great for competance based courses, not so much for qualitative courses.

And finally… we know what it costs to do it… what are we going to chage for it. The price can be set for any number of reasons…what can the market bear – which is important for most of our courses and why the business school charges twice as much and dentists can charge even more. And then there is the impact on current offerings of price differntials, small or large. Impact on reputation for quality. Loss-leader approach? Purposeful cross-subsidy for pro bono services etc…  How do you position your institution?

Conclusions – well there are spaces that you can experiment and play with in th ewider educational ecologies for traditional universities. Change in education has been slow, perhaps leading to complacency, or at least low agility. Awareness of why one is there is important for reputation and sustainability. There really is no such thing as a free lunch both for universities and learners.

Q&A

Q1) I don’t think I agree that the crunchy bit of the issue is the economic issue, I’m concerned that the MOOC movement isn’t going back to 1990s style automated learning and isn’t very pedagogically interesting.

A1) I agree to an extent if we’re talking about what MOOCs have largely done to date… a lot have come from computer science and engineering type disciplines where there are competencies that can be assessed in more automated ways. But you need to get the learning outcomes and credits right here and a trade off between the types of course you run in these spaces versus in person courses.

Q2) My issue is about what kind of learner we have in mind. Getting into the university has a bunch of pre-requistites, that’s partly about fairness of admission, partly to make sure students are able to complete and succeed in a course. If you create a course that anyone can take we might as well just open our doors.. that’s one of the implications I think. Isn’t there another or better way to tackle disadvantage of access. Should we provide a bridging process.

A2) I think those are legitimate concerns. But it depends on how you view entries to a MOOC. Participants only get assessment at the end of the programme, that’s one part of the answer, and the other is that this model is predicated on crowd-sourcing the answers to your questions. We shouldn’t assume we have to have the answers to everything. Maybe answers will come from knowledgeable others. Perhaps you moderate them, But it’s not your responsibility as an institution. It’s a different mindset to the one behind our closed gates.

Q2) So how do you manage those expectations?

A2) Well the key thing is it’s a different experience I’m talking about here.

And finally…

Dr Jessie Lee is closing the day for us with thank yous to the speakers, to the committee who have put today together, and information services and the Institute for Academic Development, and lets thank everyone who came along today as well.

And with that we are done here… lots of interesting stuff today and lots of thoughts and ideas to follow up on.