Category Archives: Uncategorized

Facebook network

A sociogram of my Facebook networkI am currently trying to catch up on the Coursera MOOC on social network analysis . My main aim in taking the course is to force myself to learn about using Gephi for network analysis. The course so far has been clear and well presented but its early stages. Also, using Gephi on the Mavericks version of OSX has been a pain largely due to Java as Gephi won’t run on the default install of Java. The solution can be found on the Gelphi forums here although I’m still having some problems with Java.

I don’t use Facebook much and was a bit surprised at the density of the network as a whole but having that number of sub-clusters was less surprising considering the stop-start nature of how the network developed. I’ll have to find out who the single unconnected nodes are once the Java issues have been resolved.

Business School, Disrupted

See on Scoop.itNetwork learning

In moving into online education, Harvard Business School discovered that it isn’t so easy to practice what it teaches.

Peter Evans‘s insight:

This is a fairly long article on HBS move in to online learning. For me, it is an example of how the assumptions that "MOOCs = online learning" are dominating and corrupting analysis of digital education and education innovation. 

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Open Source Scholarship: GitHub for Academics – Next Steps

See on Scoop.itNetwork learning

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Open Education | Open Education Europa

See on Scoop.itNetwork learning

Peter Evans‘s insight:

A really interesting set of stats from the European Commission. In particular, the number of MOOCs from Spain is interetsing and I would wonder if this is partly due to domestic demand but also demand from Southern and Central America?

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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: 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.

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.

Today .. in pictures

Its been a day of research, or thinking about what I’m doing and sorting data out. Summarised as:


Screen shot 2014-01-24 at 16.00.33



and working out an initial structure for a data chapter:

Data breakdown

Happy holidays

Off for a four week holiday. And when I say holiday, I mean catching up on PhD work while eating copious quantities of mince pies