weeknotes [23042014]


OK, I’m not long back from holidays over Easter so this is looking back over a few weeks (ooops). I have been:

  • continuing to work on my research on professional learning in open online environments. I really need to blog more on that to conduct “data analysis out loud”. The image in this post is one of the sociograms from part of the study
  • had an article published here
  • finally submitted (and paid for) recognition through the Higher Education Academy
  • ongoing supervision of various Masters’ dissertations
  • completed a review of a paper for an academic journal
  • contributed to a ‘blue skies’ thinking group to inform the emerging School strategy
  • attended a seminar on social network analysis and digital data and another seminar on innovative and collaborative approaches to online assessment
  • attended the hugely enjoyable Network Learning Conference in Edinburgh and see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for my notes on the conference
  • attending internal meetings on CPD and credit rating.

All in all, a pretty good few weeks.


Network Learning Conference day 3: Spaces of network learning

Back at the Network Learning Conference for the final day and the final plenary. I’ve written up the main speakers but not the two Pecha Kuchas from Terrie-Lynn Thompson from Stirling and from Phil Sheail [for a more complete record of the session, have a look at the live blog from @suchprettyeyes here.

Starting with Richard Edwards on theoretical aspects of spaciality in network learning. Reflecting on the paper he has produced. A key question is whether the network is it network or conceptual? A network is relational and therefore spacial and so requires an explicit spacial theory in considering network learning. Space is often blackbox within which action takes place, the network is assumed rather than analysed. Space is often used as enclosure, in the classroom, textbook, curriculum. But how open are networks and in opening networks, what closures also occur and different network framing has different outcomes and effects:
Political economy of space on everyday life. Network learning is related to economic ordering of space;
Feminst framing of space in terms of power geographies and overcoming the public private binaries;
Post-structuralist framing of space eg, open and striated;
Materialist turn including the mobilities approach. Networks as assemblages of agencies and of associating and disassociating in networks.
Using spacial theory in relation to technology and in the conception of learning. Learning is technologically mediated and encoded in hidden networks.
What is network learning? especially in decentring the subject in analysing network learning.

Q. what about pedagogy in network learning
A. we need to turn theoretical insight in to pedagogical approaches and cites CoPs as an example of theoretical analysis leading to a pedagogical approach and spacial theory will need to do the same.

Q. How is decentring the subject progressing and where is it going?
A. Central to this is understanding of learning and drawing on spacial theory to redefine our concept of learning away from human cognition towards learning as association between human and non-human. What are the implications of this for existing educational practices

Q. Does decentring the subject then make education a resource management issue where the human is just part of the system?
A. This points to the need to make connections between things and being sensitive to the environment. To overcome the educational focus on the individual divorced from the environment.

Jeremy Knox on MOOCs and spacial theory. No need to explain what a MOOC is and want to look at some of the hyperbole of MOOCs looking at visual representations of spaces: (i) MOOC as global instiutions (ii) MOOC as homely - a dmoestication of the global (iii) the overwhelming - a problem that may be addressed spacially.
MOOC provders make explicit presentation of selves as global - of nodes and ties across the world. So present a global reach and appropriating the internet to do this. The globe is also presented in relation to mission and visions - bringing what they do to 'the world'. This is aimed at the excluded and those countries in economic development. The World Bank is promoting MOOCs to LDCs as access to higher education. So this is a colonial move that people "sign in to" as, eg, "Courserians". So reach is presented as number of sign-ups. Coursera present the MOOC world through data of sign-ups - as fewer or more students. The world comes in to being by signing up to Coursera. But the institutions providing the courses are mainly North American and Western European HEIs. This can be framed as education as transmission to the excluded or disadvantaged.
HEIs present themselves as traditional HEIs using the buildings as a way of legitimising the education being provided.The educational transmission is achieved through the video lecture.
In the homely space seen in a reaction to this globalised trajectory in a particular Coursera course. So a course introduces itself with a tour of the building the academic staff work in as a specific, localised building as "an invitation" to join. So presenting an 'authentic' learning opportunity. The video emphasises the academic community and the mundane - the kitchen and food, who visits the building. Rather than video lectures, the course is presented through videoed discussions in a domestic scene. This was well received by students but also stating that they wished they could be there themselves.
So these are two directions - as transmitting or welcoming in to the institution.
The overwhelming space: citing the EDC MOOC included asking students to contribute content as par tof the resources of the course. At MOOC scale this generated an overwhelming volume of resources. Some students started to respond to this volume of data through visual representations of the chaos and complexity. Presented the individual as lost in this unfamiliar and surreal MOOC space. This third space appears to combine the inside of the institution and the external reality for the students.

Q. Many MOOC provders are seeking a conversion rate from MOOCs to mainstream courses. So there is a marketing agenda to the presentation of HEIs.
A. Yes this is clearly a factor, but it is not clear how [HEIs] will monetise MOOCs.

Q. How was space preconceived in the EDC MOOC?
A. Well, I’m more interested in how the space emerged rather than the design intent.
[Christine added that they didn't want to move away from the Massive).

Ben Williamson [Stirling Uni] discuses space and educational policy as new actors are mobilised in to education policy. Key themes for discussion include (i) policy mobilties as networked governance, (ii) mobile bodies and out transformation to digital traces and finally (iii) on mobile code spaces of education. Has used methods of policy network analysis and tracing key discourses through website, reports, blogs etc.
Policy mobilities and government enacted by many actors through governance. Policy flows between different public and private actors. In education can see increasing movement between policy networks including government, think tanks, transnational institutions, intermediaries, foundations and charities – ideas flow through these different actors. Currently ideas of decentralisation in UK include a focus on the third sector, social entrepreneurs, and the good society bodies (NESTA, Young Foundation, etc…) seeking to reconfigure public services through digital systems and big data. Generates a more distributed network.
Mobile bodies: network learning and database pedagogies mediating education and the individual learning. Looking at the RSA’s Oening Minds competence based 21stC learning, emphasis social networks, social learning. Innovation Unit’s innovative learning programme looking at a reimagined educational institutions llinking to lifelong learning in terms of innovation ecosystems of learning providers enabling a ‘learning commons’ and extended learning network. Looking at a radical reimagining of education spaces and places with a major focus on data-driven personalisation of learning, peer-to-peer learning, new metrics for lifelong learning and enhancing the power of the student.
The Education Foundation is a new foundation/ think tank. Its first main project has been on the use of Facebook in education – mobilising Facebook in the educational domain.
In these examples seeing a shift from expert knowledge of education to a vocabulary derived from social networking and social media; data-driven and data analysis on online behaviours. This vocabulary addresses ‘kinds of people’ not who we really are.
Database pedagogies as our world is increasingly ordered and sorted by database algorithms. NESTA’s digital education programme driven by data analytics to develop predictions/ inferrences to personalise education base don predictions of the learner’s direction. The learner is transformed to data to be enacted upon. See also Beluga, that makes data-driven predictions about learners.
So we’re seeing learners transformed to ‘data doppelgangers’ intervening on the individual based on what their data says about that learner. So data is generative rather than descriptive. This generates mobile bodies as flows of data distributed across (panoptic) network systems (Urry) .
Overall, these new actors in educational governance generates new data driven management of spaces of education including through the automated production of pedagogies.

Q. what methods are being used.
A. this is the focus of the seminar series on the decoding project. This may involve working with computer scientists and be inter-discplinarity.

Q. why is there this policy shift to alternative models of education and who benefits?
A. can’t answer that really but the interest in data and comparison can be traced back to the C19.

In the following discussion an interesting point was made that learning analytics are not theory free but have no explicit theory of learning. We are weakened in the arguments as we have weaker common understanding of learning and education.

So that’s me from the conference – I can’t attend the last Plenary session. Its been a really interesting conference with lost of new (to me) ideas to consider – well worth attending and I hope to present at the next one (2016?).

Network Learning Conference

More from the Network Learning Conference with Peter Jandric on Research Methods & the post-disciplinary challenge of network learning. Good research has an ‘itch to scratch’. In the case of network learning, there is a range of different methodological approaches. Raises the question on how to compare and synthesise different approaches in network learning?
The Rise of Disciplinarity: Ancient Greece had no discplinary borders but as knowledge became more complex so disciplines began to emerge eg, the seven liberal arts identified in the 7th century that still form the structure of humanities disciplines in western HE to the present day. The liberal arts articulated as the education of a gentleman by C19th (Parker 1890) implying other educations suitable for others, eg, vocational. So disciplinarity became linked to issues of class and culture.
Linking disciplinarity and technique – as human techniques develop, there is increased complexity and so we need more disciplines to cope. But this leads to fragmentation between disciplines as the restrictions of specialisation missing the bigger picture. But also disciplines must therefore, shape how we perceive the future possibilities.
Disciplinarity and the network: radical changes in science occurs through ‘blue skies research’ led by superstar scientists that is formally recognised. But what gets funded is applied research (STEM etc.).
New fields of research such as environmental science and network learning that is postdisciplinarity (see Buckler 2004). The diversity of the field requires diverse knowledge. This opens up large opportunities for forming connections between disciplines and research methods but faces large epistemological challenges.
Four postdisciplinary approaches:
1. multi-disciplinary learning, eg, through technology studies, through learning theory
2. interdisciplinarity seeks integrative results through different methods
3. transdisciplinarity seeks to inform and transform research through integrating disciplines
4. antidisciplinarity where disciplines abandoned entirely.
All these approaches opens up questions on the nature of inquiry on network learning. Points to the importance of being critically conscious of the way we inquire in to network learning.

Q. is antidisciplinarity feasible given strengths of disciplines but also if no disciplinary boundaries that is an interesting space to be in?
A. cites example of HIV AIDs as educationallisation of medicine eg, through preventative awareness raising.

Point made that network learning is a field which people bring their disciplines to.

Cathy Adams and Terrie-Lynn Thompson on materialities of posthuman inquiry. Have you considered the tools used in research may also shape that practice? These can be positive and negative on the research process. But academic expertise is bound up with technologies used daily and shapes that practice and their performative outcomes. Digital technologies are the encoded materialities of academic practice. Looking at the insights provided from Actor Network Theory and from phenomenology. Ingold explores the link between materiality and phenomena in correspondence. ANT subject-object separation are undermined through symmetry while in phenomenology, subject-object division becomes translucent.
Research practice assemblages of long lists of tools for diffusion, search engines, storage tools, visualisation software, etc… Enrolled in the research practice through digital traces including digital artefacts. So digital devices may participate and co-research in research storing, sharing and extending data. This deccentres the human expert in elicit and generate data and can be dynamic leading to movement and slippage. So the researcher is deskilled as research outsourced to digital tools and upskilled eg, in research data curation.
NViVo presented by QSR as a solution to the ‘problem’ of qualitative research but the software may configure and surcumscribe research practice (see Introna 2012). Research found NViVo enhanced the quality of data while reducing the tactility of research and enhancing the position of the technologist. Researchers found that demands of NVivo overtook the intent of the research. Researchers must subscribe to the methodological assumptions and structures of the software.
What are the implications of encoded research practices for researching networked learning. That the non-human actors should be treated as part of the research team – their views taken in to account.
Fluencies can be seen in
1. Agency as researchers is shared with encoded actors as entanglements
2. Research practices undergoing deskilling and upskilling including through the attraction of delegation
3. New enactments of data
4. Scale, mobility and scale of data reconfigured.

Points of friction: research defined by technologies; perceived as less objective is less techie; attraction of exotic tech; outsourcing of research tasks; increase in expectations of speed of research.

Q. push back on issue of symmetry and there is a qualitative difference between human and non-human in the research assemblage. That a telescope allows us to see the moon but is not a co-researcher
A. argues that the non-human component enhances the researcher. In the case of encoded technologies, the algorithm is too often black-boxed but its impact on the research process needs to be opened up.

And running out of steam now but worth following the tweets here


Network Learning Conference: keynote from Steve Fuller

We’re now into the afternoon of the second day of the conference with Sian Bayne welcoming Steve Fuller but not knowing where to start or stop. Steve works in sociological methodology and epistemology. Steve has published widely on sociology, STS and post humanism.

Steve’s lecture is on the academic lecture 2.0.
His original training is in the history and sociology of science and main concern is in social epistemology. How knowledge is produced and distributed from a normative perspective. We can bring together more resources, distributed more wideley and people are better able to deal with or analyse such knowledge resources and so justifying the tab of the ‘knowledge society’. So what difference does a university make? HEIs are resilient but what is their distinction now beyond the simple bundling things together efficiently?
Steve is pro university in a classical notion of the university in Humbolt’s perspective of the academic as a transmitter of research through teaching. Prior to Humboldt (start C19) the interesting intellectual activity was occuring outside the university, eg, the enlightenment, the industrial revolution and the development of science – all outside the university. Humbolt incorporated the enlightenment spirit in to the university presenting the university as a dynamic institution. Before then, HE was to train people in the learned professions or as land/ wealth owner. Humbolt changed this, in part as part of a wider agenda promoting Prussia from being a second level country. HEI’s to do more than pass on tradition but to innovate.
So HEIs one of the earliest institutions to promote innovation. HEIs one of earliest corporations as self-organising with purposes of its own that extends beyond the life of the individuals involved so has a life and purpose and impact beyond a single human life.
So now are HEIs just about looking to preserve themselves or should and can they evolve? This was Humbolts idea that HEIs should evolve and produce graduates to go out to improve the world. Here the lecture was very important – the soul of the modern university.
Going back to the idea of before the enlightenment HEIs about transmitting traditional knowledge. But in C18 arose ideas of alternative forms of knowledge and so orthodoxy no longer good enough. The enlightenment about not just reproducing knowledge but that each individual can think for themselves as “dare to know” and make jusgements for themselves.
By the C19 could see revolutions and established orders were changing and market economies firmly established so what sort of leaders and thinkers do you knew. Humboldt driven by this alongside nation building. The points to the value of the lecture as not about the reliable transmission of knowledge given the range of media available, and the lecture is very authoritarian but its value in its asymmetry is that if the lecturer is good is the exmplification of the practice of ‘daring to know’. You do not want the lecture reducible to the Powerpoint and book chapter.
Prussia C19 lacked a generalised freedom of expression so was a precious thing for those entitled to free expression had a responsibility to study and understand things carefully before ‘daring to think’. Academic freedom was originally a guild right of freedom of expression and students train themselves to make judgements by attending different lectures and hearing different perspectives.
The Humboldtian university to act as an incubator of freedom and exploring what it means to be free. Freedom here meaning free for making informed judgements. Lecturing is an artform of the university and should be preserved as such. But the market of the networked learning pressure against such lecturing practices towards shallow learning and the transmission of established bodies of knowledge. Thus market pressures in HEIs act aganst the spirit of the enlightenment that makes the university a distinctive institution.
If HEIs seek to compete in the knowledge transmission market then universities will loose. Universities need to understand, identify and protect their core distinct identities. If concerned with knowledge transmission then you don’t need universities but rather you need a validating agency to certify that a student has attained “good knowledge”.
Moving on to the persona of the intellectual as someone who can improvise as an image of what it is like to think in public. Improvisation presupposes the existence of text – to improvise away from the text and exhibit their powers of thinking for themselves. A key challenge is that we’re able to record more and more of what we do often owned by someone else so we need to do something new each time to avoid infringing IPR. If you reliably deliver standardised lectures, you will be replaced!
The separation of research and teaching is a major challenge to this re-emergence of the enlightenment spirit. The idea of translating research into teaching is seen as a secondary task and this underpins a division of labour in HEIs. The outcome is an impoverishment of the lecture as a transmission vehicle and so it makes sense to get the content from an entertaining lecture online. But a lecture is like jazz and improvisation. Cites Liszt as a virtuoso adding new variations on traditional musical themes. For the 19C academic gained influence through enacting on and embellishing on their written texts as improvisation.
Lectures were a key part of university’s brand, the great universities had the great lectures engaging in public thinking and motivating students to critically read ‘the texts’. [In effect, the book and the lecture were a combined package].
So the uniqueness of a university is to take thinking and improvisation of conveying information as someone thinking for themselves. If all your interested in is cutting edge research or imparting vocational knowledge then there are much more effective ways of doing this than universities.

Q. Why is the lecture the best way of supporting students to think for themselves rather than, eg, direct dialogue?
A. but students still need to learn to think for themselves. A lecture has a argumentative form with an expectation that people will object. The key issue here is enactment and role-modelling of a public disputation (as well as in seminars, tutorials etc….). The public performance of thinking for yourself is the unique brand of the university.

Q. can we not model thinking for yourself beyond the oral tradition?
A. an important aspect is taking responsibility and multi-modality includes a danger that you can avoid taking responsibility by blaming the text, the slides etc… It is important to show the process of weighing and measuring alternatives perspectives.

Q. how can academic freedom be rearticulated in a networked world?
A. everyone is an information provider and universities should be more adventurous in entering these spaces, eg, in promotion of the strong lecturers. Links this to recruitment processes as academics should be performers – that HE should be dramatic! but this also requirs higher production values – Hollywood productions and Hollywood budgets!

Network Learning Conference: ANT symposium part 2

Back again after the coffee break with more tech issues as trying to bring in Chris Bigum from Australia, on exploring the potential of publics click pedagogy.

The presentation has started but with extreme echo so makes it impossible to hear at all. … The session is being recorded and hopefully will be available later. So we can engage with what’s happening in the room now, later.

So we’ve moved on to @JeffreyKeefer on the power of theory looking at doctoral liminality of the PhD experience in times of difficulties and painful experiences using translation and use of theory to help students through difficult periods. Started with looking at the messiness of liminal periods and the experience of Aha! moments and does theory play a role in that. Using a narratibe inquiry so used stories and found that theory moved students to do something and push their research forward.
So used ANT to provide the insight that theory that was used by students for their research also provided insight in to helping them pass through these liminal experiences.

Now its a dialogue on performing blended learning as a product and as a service. Looked at network and blended learning (blended as a community of inquiry). NL presented self as coming from a socio-cultural perspective and BL from a psychological perspective but both reject the theory-practice separation. Discourse of pedagogies involve community and support but this is absent in more comercial learning businesses leading to looking at Callon’s notions of product/ commodity and services as conceived and sold. Performing as a commonity, BL is sold to HR departments (the learner is not involved). So sales is key in enroling to the network around BL as a commodity, eg, as sales of units of learning. So the learner is largely ignored in the processes.
The BL network involves lots of material supports especially automated emails, call logs, etc. Also found that the learning network did not involve the interaction of learners with oneanother but the overall learning network is dense and integrated.

Q. this networking pattern is commonly found in online Q&A boards where the direct interaction is minimal to getting answers to specific question.
A. gave an example of a failed language learning network that had a Q&A structure but failed as not appropriate to language learning.

Q. what is the criteria for being considered as a learner
A. learner is name given to them by the network but whetehr they are learning or not is debatable.

OK, for the rest of this symposium, as we get in to the beer tasting, I’ll be moving over to Twitter.

And here’s a selection of Tweets form the sessions:

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 20.29.27 Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 20.28.40 Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 20.28.52 Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 20.29.05

Network learning conference: ANT Double Symposium

Here we go with the second day of #nlc2014 and an extended session on Actor Network Theory and network learning. We’ve been promised beer tasting!

The idea is to do some network learning: live streaming and recording the session. Quotes Guggenheim (2011) on sociology of translation fails in own claim of “truth to materials” due to its ultimate focus on text and proposes engaging more directly with the senses. So presenters here are being asked to not present the paper but to do things with the audience – the papers can be read at any time but the session is unique and bound and can involve enagaging with the materials (in this case, beer).

Starting with three short pecha kuchas:

Jeffrey Keefer: welcome to the session. I’ll be presenting and asking to Tweet on all three tags #nlc2014; #PhDchat; #ANTsymp. Talking about a researcher community on Twitter, #PhDChat. Meets regularly to support PhD students. Using ANT to look at Twitter differently and look at the # itself. Started in 2010 with a small group of PG students but quickly grew around shared interests: what is a literature review etc.. and met weekly. Growth came through asynchronous following the # and using the #. Found 52% tweets came from 10 people and reference to “following the actors” and treated the tag as the actor. The assembly was the # used for synchronous and asynchronous discussions.
What was the involvement of the tag: #phdcaht
ANT works slowly (Latour) as not seeking generalisability but looks at the network now. Is based on notion of symmetrical leveling between human and non-human actors in the network.
Translation as a theory of power through four stages of problematisation; interessment, enrolment and mobilisation. Technology can direct how people interact including via temporospaciality. Participation only possible through the # used correctly so enrolment was broad in scope as the # could be used by anyone. The tag brings us together but is problematic given people use the # differently. The # demands a mobilisation from actors. The # has a practice based focus on peoples’ research/ study practices.

Now looking at simulation based medical education project from Lancaster. Involves human, non-human, symbolic actors involving lab-based simulations and debriefing. The projects introduced online briefing prior to simulated clinical situations. The introduction of online learning introduced/ assembed wider actors and involved new translations. Faced problems around external access and password protections with inadequate IT support from the NHS Trust. The response was to employ someone to liaise between the project and IT staff. Involved the assemblage of mannequins, IT, staff, students, images, protocols, scenarios etc. Fragility of the network seen from some students lacking confidence in being observed and debriefed. But failed to enrol wider Trust including Trust IT policies and national networks to attract resources for sustainability.

Terrie-Lynn Thompson: The uncoding of ANT. How do researchers deal with coded materialiities of software, platforms, data, algorythms. The web is a process. Leads to the question of what is and how to work with digital data. How is the data is accumulated and integrated to everyday practice. ANT attends to the ‘thingly’ gatherings in the performance of practices. Data is not a thing but is relational – Ingold’s critique of ANT argues for a shift of focus from objects to processes and relations. Savage (2012) on the dynamics of data and is fragments and entangled in flow and circularity. Need to think more critically on the mobility of digital data both small and big. But often data capture involved freezing practices that looses the dynamic nature of that data. Data can be frozen as immutible and retranslated to new purposes, situations and contexts. How to work with the liveliness of digital data and rethink research practices for the sociomaterial examination of digital data.

Q. On the problematisation of the #
A. Often # used in the context of a synchronous event but is used in different ways including as if someone owns the # or using the wrong #, not using the #.

Q. Could you expand more on your thoughts on use of digital data and work of Savage etc. on dynamic nature of data and method?
A. Network learning field there is great variety of methods and data. Handling volumes of data from lots of different sources and formats and so our data management is increasingly sophisticated.

Q. Question on the methodological interest around zombie data of actors being both present and unpresent.
A. I think this links to what I called freezing practices and raising the questions of how we might return data ‘to the wild’. Actors in networks engage in translation that keeps that data lively.

John Hannon, Matthew Riddle and Thomas Ryberg on assembling the university and connecting the institution and social networks. Showing a map of Australia from 1827 that materialises a particular agenda around land appropriation while we’d now recognise the map as wrong, it was not wrong then and for that agenda.
Looking at two networks of social networking and institutional learning and the assumptions of misalignments, disruptions and tensions (Ravenscroft 2012, Czemiewicz and Brown 2010). Re-examining this assumption through Callon’s (1998) notion of framing and asking when social networking overflows the framing of institutional learning. Results in an effort of keeping the frame in place. Also addressing a weakness of ANT by also looking at the values and trajectories in a network.
Looking at data from a project involved students using mobile devices on a business foundation course. Some students used devices and SNS for group work in their studies and connect socially while other students who knew eachother better did not use these devices for social networking and prefered to interact face-to-face. Other data found students acting as gardeners gathering resources and posting them to dropbox and facebook in parallel to the ‘official’ LMS (Moodle). So this reduces the need for students to avoid going into Moodle so no evidence of student presence in Moodle. This illustrates the gap between student digital ecologies and institutional systems with occassional overflows where the ‘underground work’ becomes visible, eg, in coordinating action that is then presented through official systems as concerted action. So students use social media for scholarly activities but this rarely overlaps with institutional technology use.

Q. What were the student motivations and goals and what might that mean for the development of the networks
A. prefer to think in terms fo practices rather than individual motivations and can perceive values emerging through the practices of the networks.

Ailsa Haxell on exploring textuality and textually transmitted disease. Particularly interested in shifting data from context to new context it is in some way betrayed and the data is altered unavoidably – how data is retranslated by using technology and by people retranslating text.
Example of texting as a ubiquitous practice but is academic literature has a dominant discourse presenting texting as a practice of young people involving emotional avoidance. Very few messages on positive aspects of SMS. This links to issues of whose voices are heard and not heard and who is excluded but also that networks are harder to mobilise to support/ fund, eg, counselling work delivered through text.
Academic or any practice is not neutral (Law & Singleton 2000) and processes of ‘othering’ (Harraway 1992) so academic practice is involved in making particular realities.

Now for a coffee break.

Perspectives on identity within network learning

Well my notes on Neil Selwyn’s keynote got lost but am back for as session on identity issues in network learning with @janedavis13, @catherinecronin and @catspyjamasanz collaborating together on identity research. See #nlcID

Jane Davis on the conceptualisation of identity linked to roles in networked learning. Identities as Jane as me/ myself; as a student; researcher and practitioner. As a student, her roles included as practitioner, mother, student and partner but these roles changed over time especially over salience (as most prominent) at any given point in time.

So roles and identities merge over time and impact on what students do/ how they act.

So participants now to create diagram of own roles as students. As so individual to each student so we can suggest each student identity is unique.

In considering student identity, role identity depend on expectations in a wider social context. Shaped by family experience, or someone elses experiences, marketing of HE etc.

Again, these expectations are different to the individual.

Dimensions of student role identity as (i) academic responsibility; (ii) sociable; (iii) intellectually curious – scanner out seeking new knowledge; (iv) personal assertive – want to win awards, prixes etc. Each student has some of each dminension alongide expectations and roles but we try to aggregate all students as just ‘students’. And these change over time according to most salient role and porosity of roles.

Impact on student participation in networked learning:
relational nature of affordance of the learning place; nature of engagement/ practice with technology for learning reflecting practices of visitor, tourist, tenant or resident). The more intellectually curious student more likely to adopt resident behaviours while the responsible student will adopt tourist behaviour using the technologies suggested / required by the tutor.

Catherine Cronin. Quotes Joi Ito on education as about becoming a node in a broad network of distributed creativity. Jenny Mackness: “space prepares to receive or respond”.

Networked individual (Castells) – based on social networks emerged with easier travel, use of telephone etc. while the internet brought in notions of openess while space and time redefined by mobile tech
Danah boyd defined networked publics as created through technologies and networks and communication now public by default.
Alec Couras came up with the concept of the networked teacher. That a teacher is a networked individual – is multimodal, networked and immediate.
Students are also networked individuals. So the question is where do networked students adn teacher encounter one another: physical spaces; bounded online spaces and open online spaces. Much teaching uses all three spaces depending on pedagogical and other choices.
Physical classrooms do not require lectures but that involves fighting against the architecture of the lecture hall. Bounded online spaces also have architectures that are more flexible and less temporally bounded and a bit freerer in how identities are defined and instructors are privileged. In open online identities allow reconstruction of identities as multiple, culturally contingent and contextual. This is true of all identities but more explicit and messy in open online spaces.
Instructors can join networks with students and share networks with students within consistent or multiple/ ‘play’ identities. Instructors can be seen modelling themselves as learners.
Her research is exploring the idea of a third space where student and teacher scripts – the formal and informal – intersect creating the potential for authentic interaction. Involves using formal and informal communication to enhance the learning experience. So the third space links formal and informal learning and link communities and networks. Using skills and confidence development in learning and community spaces to spread out to networks. ref Wenger “negotiation of productive identities”. The third space offer opportunities for teacher and student identity development.
Joyce Seitzinger on exploring online identity through social curation. How do we currently discuss curation in terms of online information resources with earlier academic literature is vague discussions of information resources and information flow, sharing and acquiring. Van der Klink talks about curation as learning.
On google can see an increase in searching on the term ‘curation’. Curation can be categorised as digital curation (digital repositories); content curation involves SEO and driving web traffic; social curation where the intent is to do something social. Defines social curation as:
“The discover selection collection and sharing of digital artefacts for social purposes”
Involves collecting in a cluster of resources eg, on Pinterest, Scoop It etc..
But users need to find the resources. For a student this may be through the LMS but as learners become more independept so using social cites like Flipboard, Facebook etc… and then select resources of interest which can be collected privately or openly and then shared. Sharing can happen simultaneoulsly to collecting, eg on Scoop-It.

Online identity through exhibition, ref Goffman’s presentation of self through social curation of ‘this is what I like”. Enacting an identity by sharing resources of a third party.
boyd, discusses online identity in SNS as involving connections while social curation does not involve connecting directly to an individual as a follower etc. Also, such curation identities does not involve a lot of self-disclosure online. Also avoids some of the difficulties of collapsed contexts between teachers and learners. Also community curation can present identities through supporting online communities.

Participant activities on mapping our curated collections and whether their are in bounded or spaces and therefore how transferable these are, eg, if moving jobs/ employer.

Point made on distinguishing between private and professional identities but also the academics tend to identify with their discipline communities rather than specific institutions.

A question on the quality of curation, eg. including a comment on a Scoop. But value is not just added by commenting but also by the act of curation – that adding a resource to a collection already adds value and is a comment in its own right.

Q. that links third space with liminality as a between spaces. But using third space as a description of a transformative space between formal and informal learning spaces.

Q. on data identity such as through netflix of spotify data that curates an identity.
A. yes, this is an area of interest. Also looking at how links/ networks form around the curated collections.

Network Learning Conference: doctoral symposium

The Network Learning Conference is starting with a doctoral symposium on Monday 7 April. The conference hashtag is #nlc2014

The symposium is in two blocks, the first is presentations and the second block is a discussion session.

Bonnie Stewart on Exploring networked scholarly identities and influences. [@bonstewart]. Majority of the audience use Twitter and or blog. Bonnie’s work considers who we are as academics online and what that means for higher education. She also thinks ‘outloud’ with networks of colleagues within and beyond the individual institution and that what intrigues her in terms of network learning.
Adoption of SoMe often broadcast focused and loosing the interactional nature of these technologies. Networked and scholarly practices intersect especially around reputation and influence of academics. The traditional markers of influence and reputation are institutional-led but this is subverted in working in networks.
Network reputations often measured by metrics of eg, followers/ following but these are inadequate as measures of influence.
Networks of individual academics are fluid and dynamic and overlapping with different audiences and are transparent and traceable. Can often see context collapse in understanding the geographical and organisational, gendered and cultural contexts which have to be navigated as an individual node in the networks.
Research conducted as an ethnography involving 13 participants observed and interviewed ten. Interested in the networked literacies in online networks and are these different from institutional markers of influence and reputation. Main uses of SoMe were in terms of dissemination and community including connecting ‘around the mundane’. Once perceived as having online reputation, this changes how the individual is identified, eg, no longer ‘just’ a grad student. There are also liabilities and positioning fatigue from constant navigation of these networks.

Mary Bolger on How Servant-Leadership enhanced intrinsic motivation in MOOCs?. Servant leadership is a philosophy/ way of life involving listening, empathy, building community and seeking growth of others so focuses on others rather than self. Also draws on self-directed learning and self-determination theory. Cites Knowles continuum of pedagogy to andragogy along with heutagogy.
Self-determination theory links competency, relatedness and autonomy building confidence and motivation in learning. Also used Trompenaars and Voerman’s Dilemma Reconciliation Theory that draws on a cyclical logic seeking to combine the best of two alternative positions (the win-win).
The tech-touch dilemma is another continuum between low tech but high touch and high tech (networked learning) but low touch. Her research seeks to identify how to develop high-tech high-touch learning via the servant-leadership style of engagement. Servant-leadership become goal in itself and self-perpetuating.

The philosophical positioning of the study is of subjective study with an epistemology of value-centred knowledge. Also draws on humanist and determinist views in understanding agency and the limits to agency.

Kyung Mee Lee on A Foucauldian Critical Discourse Analysis of Distance Education at Open University . Decided to focus on distance rather then networked learning to look at the history of distance learning. Discourses embedded in the labels of open education, from Open Education Resources to MOOCs generating a dominant discourse of openess. Foucauld position finds that the dominant discourse regulates how we think about distance education and so is an exertion of power rather than a ‘true’ position and so the focus of research shifts to issues of impact and how discourses may become dominant. This research looks at emergence of dominant discourses at particular institutions at particular moments in time and multiple discourses in competition with oneanother. As a result, alternative discourses are marginalised and so are problematised where the dominant discourse is normalised. This research looking at two open universities on the discourses on distance education. Identified distance education discourses as open, learners as self-regulated and technological innovation leads to pedagogical innovation. Combined interviews and document analysis. Chose a time period of 2002 as the time when the HEIs decided to put many/ all courses online. Since 2002 the discourses evolved to increasingly emphasise technological innovation alongside the more established discourses of openess, flexibility and excellence. A key site of tension is between an emphasis on openness vs technological innovation.

Cormac O’Keefe on online ethnography adult skills e-assessment. e-assessment involves the use of online or computer-based assessment so is a wide range of activities. The research uses trace ethnography which is similar to virtual ethnography and emphases the mundane that also involved the hidden traces from the technology itself, eg, code traces in computer/ network logs. The research is looking at local and transnational networks in complex networks of test setter, software routines, databases, test taker, learner objects etc…. Transnationality is an outcome of using the online and how the technology is distributed. Policy networks are also being mapped.
Conceptual narrowing a key process in the research of the test in terms of socio-technical practices to seek ways of measuring human capital that can be turned in to calculable objects that turn back through policy and local networks. Thus to inform local and policy decision-makings. So this shows how e-assessment is a material process and practices.

Steve Wright the standardisation of taste: challenges around a written accounts of sensory, sequential and multi-modal data. Three stages of research around becoming a beer judge informed by ethnomethodology including Conversation Analysis amd Membership Categorisation Analysis, Foucauldian methods of tracing histories of taste and so draws on Actor-Networked Theory. Conceives of technology in a wide definition involving apparatus, technique, organisation and network (Winner 1977) so Steve’s research is focused on technology as categorisation and classifications and how these are represented and performed. There is a beer XML standard for describing beer recipes and beer standards that has been turned to an iPad app. How to present aspects of taste in a written thesis? So is experimenting with the use of different fonts, using comic strips, images and scanned documents with hand written notes and retaining his own commentary in the final document/ thesis.

Now moving onto a coffee break and then groups discussions so i won’t be taking live notes for the rest of the symposium.

Professional learning, informal learning and ‘wicked’ problems [2]

Following up on my previous post on learning and wicked problems here, the following diagram summarises a learning process in non-routines knowledge work. Again, this comes from Peter Sloep’s Chapter on Networked Professional Learning in Littlejohn, A. and Margaryan, A. (2014) Technology Enhanced Professional Learning: Processes, Practices and Tools. London: Routledge.

What I like about the process described is its iterative nature and that, ultimately, the ‘vague problem’ doesn’t really disappear through a simple solution. Rather, my reading of the process is that ‘solutions’ and their implementation generate further understanding of the vague problem, hopefully making it less vague and so initiating a new round of evaluation and analysis. But also, any intervention also generates new unexpected and vague ‘problem’s to be learned about and addressed.

Wicked problem solving


Social Network Analysis and Digital Data Analysis

Notes on a presentation by Pablo Paredes. The abstract for the seminar is:

This presentation will be about how to make social network analysis from social media services such as Facebook and Twitter. Although traditional SNA packages are able to analyse data from any source, the volume of data from these new services can make convenient the use of additional technologies. The case in the presentation will be about a study of the degrees of distance on Twitter, considering different steps as making use of streaming API, filtering and computing results.

The presentation is drawn from the paper: Fabrega, J. Paredes, P. (2013) Social Contagion and Cascade behaviours on Twitter. Information 4/2: 171-181.

These are my brief and partial notes on the seminar taken live (so “typos ahead!”).

Looking at gathering data from social network sites and on a research project on contagion in digital data.

Data access requires knowledge of the APIs for each platform but Apigee details the APIs of most social networks (although as an intermediary, this may lead to further issues in interfacing different software tools, e.g., Python tool kits may assist in accessing APIs directly rather than through Apigee). In their research, Twitter data was extracted using Python tools such as Tweepy (calls to Twitter) and NetworkX (a Python library for SNA) along with additional libraries including Apigee. These tools allow the investigation of different forms of SNA beyond ego-centric analysis.

Pablo presented a network diagram from Twitter using NodeXL as ego-networks but direct access to Twitter API would give more options in alternative network analysis . Diffusion of information on Twitter was not possible on NodeXL.

Used three degrees of influence theory from Christakes & Fowler 2008. Social influence diffuses to three degrees but not beyond due to noisy communication and technology/ time issues leading to information decay. For example, most RTs take place within 48 hrs so tends not to extend beyond a friends, friends friend! This relates to network instability and loss of interest from users beyond three degrees alongside increasing information competition as too intense beyond three degrees to diffusion decomposes.

The  direct research found a 3-5% RT rate in diffusion of a single Tweet. RT rates were higher with the use of a hashtag and correlate to the number of followers of the originator but negatively correlates to @_mentions in the original Tweet. This is possibly as a result of @_mentions being seen as a private conversations. Overall, less than 1% of RTs went beyond three degrees.

Conclusion is that diffusion in digital networks is similar to that found in physical networks which implies that there are human barriers to communication in online spaces. But the research is limited due to the limits on access to Twitter API as well as privacy policies on Twitter API. Replicability becomes very difficult as a result and this issue is compounded as API versions change and so software libraries and tools no longer work or no longer work in the same way. Worth noting that there is no way of knowing how Twitter samples the 1% of Tweets provided through the API. Therefore, there is a need to access 100% of the Twitter data to provide a clear baseline for understanding Twitter samples and justify the network boundaries.

Points to importance that were writing code using R/ Python preferable as easier to learn and with larger support communities.