Tag Archives: digital education

IT Futures at Edinburgh

I’m attending the IT Futures conference at Edinburgh today. These notes are not intended to be a comprehensive record of the conference but to highlight points of interest to me and so will be subjective and partial.

A full recoding of the conference will be available at the IT Futures website

The conference opens with an address from the Principal, Sir Timothy O’Shea with an opening perspective:

Points to the strengths of the University in computing research, super-computing and so on, and ‘ludicrously’ strong in e-learning with 60 plus online postgraduate programmes. In these areas, our main competitors are in the US rather than the UK.

Beginning with a history of computing from the 19402 onwards. Points to Smallwood and using computers to self-improving teaching and Papert on computing/ e-learning for self-expression. 1980s/90s digital education was dominated by the OU. 1990s the rise of online collaborative learning was an unexpected development that addressed the criticisms that e-learning (computer assisted learning) lacked interactive/ personalisation elements.

2000 saw the rise of OERs and MOOCs as a form of providing learning structure around OERs. Also noted the success of OLPC in Uruguay as one of the few countries to effectively implement OLPC.

Argues that the expansion of digital education has been pushed by technological change rather than pedagogical innovation. We still refer to the constructivism of Vygotsky while technology innovation has been massive.

How big is a MOOC?
– 100 MOOCs is about the equivalent in study hours of a BA Hons. A MOOC is made up of a 1000 minnows (I think this means small units of learning. MOOCs are good for access as tasters and to test e-learning propositions. They also contribute to the development of other learning initiatives, enhance the institutional reputations including relevance through ‘real-time MOOCs’ such as on the Scottish referendum. MOOCs provide a resource for learning analytics.

So e-learning is mature, not new, and blended learning is ‘the new normal’ and dominated by the leading university brands of MIT, Stanford, etc. A huge contribution of e-learning is access.

A research agenda: to include modelling individual learning, including predictive learning support; speed of feedback; effective visualisation; supporting collaboration; understanding Natural Language; location of the hybrid boundary (eg, in practical tests); personal programming (coding) and how realistic is it for meaningful coding skills for the non-geeks to  be developed.

Open questions are around data integrity and ownership; issues of digital curation; integration of data sources; who owns the analysis; should all researchers be programmers?; and how to implement the concept of the learner as researcher?


Question about artificial intelligence: Answer – Tim O’Shea’s initial research interest was in developing programmes that would teach intelligently – self-improving teachers – but using AI was too difficult and switched towards MIT’s focus on self-expression and for programmers to understand what their codes were doing. Still thinks the AI route is too difficult to apply to educational systems.

Q: surprised by an absence of gaming for learning?

A: clearly they can and cites Stanford on influence of games on learning motivation

Q: on academic credit and MOOCs

A: Thinks this is inevitable and points to Arizona State University which is attempting to develop a full degree through MOOCs. Can see inclusion of MOOCs in particular postgraduate programmes – heuristic of about a third of a Masters delivered via (external) MOOCs but more likely to be taken forward by more vocational universities in the UK – but using MIT or Stanford MOOCs replacing staff!.

Now moving on to Susan Halford on ‘Knowing Social Worlds in the Digital Revolution’:

Researches organisational change and work and digital innovation. Has not directly researched changes in academic work but has experienced them through digital innovation. Digital innovation has kick-started a revolution in  research through data volume, tracking, analyse and visualise all sorts of data. So data becomes no longer used to research something but is the object of social research.

Digital traces may tell us lots about how people live, live together, politics, attitudes, etc. Data capturing social activities in real time and over time rather than replying on reporting of activities in interviews, surveys and so. At least, that is the promise and there are a set of challenges to be addressed to realise the potential of these data (also see this paper from Prof Halford).

Three key challenges: definition; methods and interdisciplinarity

Definition–  what are these digital data: these are not naturally occurring and do not provide a telescope to social reality. Digital data is generated through mediation by technology and so is not naturally occurring. In the case of Twitter, a huge amount of data, but is mediated by technological infrastructure that packages the data. The world is, therefore, presented according to the categories of the software – interesting but not naturally-occurring data. Also, social media generate particular behaviours and are not simply mirrors of independent social behaviour – gives the example of the ReTweet.

Also, there is the issue of prominence and ownership of data. Survey data often is transparent in the methods used to generate data and therefore, the limits of the claims that can be made from the data. But social media data is not transparent in how it is generated – the data is privately owned where data categories and data stream construction is not transparent. We know that there is a difference between official and unofficial data. We do not know what Twitter is doing with its data but that it is part of an emerging data economy. So this data is not neutral and is the product of a series of technological and social decision-making that shapes the data. We need to understand the socio-technical infrastructure that created them.

Method – the idea that in big data, the numbers speak for themselves is wrong: numbers are interpreted. The methods we have are not good for analysis of large data. Research tends towards small scale content analysis or large scale social network analysis but neither are particularly effective at understanding the emergence of the social over time – to harness the dynamic nature of the data. A lot of big data research on Twitter is limited to mathematical structures and data mining (and is a-theoretical)  but is weak on the social aspects of social media data.

Built a tool and Southampton to dynamically map data flows through ReTweeting.

Interdisciplinariety: but is a challenge to operationalise inter-disciplinarity.

Disciplines imagine their object of study in (very) different ways and with different forms of cultural capital (what is the knowledge that counts – ontological and epistemological differences). So the development of interdisciplinarity involves changes on both sides – researchers need to understand programming and computer scientists need to understand social theory. But also need to recognise that some areas cannot be reconciled.

Interdisciplinarity leads to questions of power-relations in academia that need to be addressed and challenged for inter-disciplinarity to work.

But this work is exciting and promising as a field in formation. But also rises for responsibilities: ethical responsibilities involved in representing social groups and societies and data analytics; recognising digital data excludes those who are not digitally connected; data alone is inadequate as social change involves politics and power.

Now Sian Bayne is responding to Prof Halford’s talk: welcomes the socio technical perspective taken and points to a recent paper: “The moral character of cryptographic work” as  generating interest across technical and social scientists.

Welcomes the emphasis of interdisciplinarity while recognising the dangers of disciplinary imperialism.


What actions can be taken to support interdisciplinarity?

A: share resources and shared commitments are important. Also academic structures are important and refers to the REF structures against people submitting against multiple subjects. (but is is pointed out that joint submissions are possible).

Time for a break ….


We’re back with Bernard Schafer of the School of Law talking on the legal issues of automated databases. Partly this is drawn from a PG course on the legal issues of robotics.

The main reference on the regulation of robots is Terminator but this is less worrying than Short Circuit, eg, when the robot reads a book, does it create a copy of it, does the licence allow the mining of the data of the book, etc. See the Qentis hoax. UK is the only country to recognise copyright ownership of automatically generated works/ outputs but this can be problematic for research, can we use this data for research?

If information wants freedom, does current copyright and legal frameworks support and enable research, teaching, innovation, etc? Similar issues arose form the industrial revolution.

Robotics replacing labour – initially labour but now examples of the use of robots in teaching at all levels.

But can we automate the dull part of academic jobs. But this creates some interesting legal questions, ie, in Germany giving a mark is an administrative act similar to a police caution and is subject to judicial review, can a robot undertake an administrative act in this way?

Lots of interesting examples of automatic education and teaching digital services:Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 12.10.02





Good question for copyright law is what does ‘creativity’ mean in a world share with automatons? For example, when does a computer shift from thinking to expressing an idea which is fundamental to copyright law?

Final key question is: “Is our legal system ready for automated generation and re-use of research?”

Now its Peter Murray-Rust on academic publishing and demonstrating text or content mining of chemistry texts.

…And that’s me for the day as I’m being dragged off to other commitments.

Distributed curriculum

This Tweet caught my eye today by triggering a train of thoughts on what a ‘distributed curriculum’ might involve.

Digitally Distributed Curriculum

This idea appears to position the curriculum as an outcome of interacting within networks of people, resources and technologies. I wonder if this curriculum is a restating for a formal education context, of the sort of personalised learning I previously discussed here. One of the issues here is on curricula design and whether all students have the capabilities, capacities and capital to direct the generation of their own curriculum in a coherent and sustainable manner or whether ‘fluid curricula’ models will need and be required to be fairly striated or ‘channeled’. Similarly, there is a need to develop successful practices on supporting students and staff in approaches to self-directed and self-regulated learning enabling deep engagement with ‘wicked’ subject problems.

Another aspect to the distributed curriculum may well be a social aspect of both participating in external professional and other communities as well as generating ephemeral communities of learners that ‘swarm’ around specific learning objects and artefacts as well as collectively bringing these objects/ artefacts in to engagement with the subject problem of interest.

eLearning@ Edinburgh

I’m attending the eLearning@Ed 2015 conference and will be attempting to live blog throughout the day.

Melissa Highton, Director of Learning Teaching and Web Services here at Edinburgh is starting the conference and the theme of Designing for 21st Century Learning. Wanted to ask what 21st century learning might be and how it might be different from 20th century. Many aspects of learning and education have stayed the same, but differences around scale, technology, teachers and teaching and, in particular, “its not ok to not understand the internet anymore”.

Highlighting some trends in the sector from the New Media Consortium with trends around maker spaces, changes spaces for learning, BYOD, personalised learning and the wicked problems of recognition and reward for teaching.

Now moving on to a panel of Chairs in Digital Education on views of 21st century learning.

First up is Judy Hardy, School of Physics and Astronomy with personal view and concerns. Looking to the student experience in 2020 and what will it be like. IN many ways, it will be very similar to now: lectures, workshops and tutorials and self-study. But there will be much more extensive use of digital technologies. Uses an anecdote on research methods for honours students that includes a self-reflective assignment and many used cloud based tools and Facebook groups and these sorts of tools and working methods will be mobilised. Also cited research on active engagement in classroom teaching against more traditional (didactic) learning design that shows active engagement has massive benefits to learning achievement.

But why is there lecturer resistance. Cited a survey showing lecturers want to teach and take pride in their teaching competences. So what are the challenges: time – which is a proxy for many things; and pedagogical context, where innovations abandoned early or perceive too much choices. So there are challenges of awareness; ‘how-to’ knowledge and why innovations in learning are important – ‘principles’ knowledge – and understanding these three forms of knowledge are crucial to implementing improving teaching.

Next is Sian Bayne based in the School of Education and Prof of Digital Education. Sian’s talking about Dave Cournier’s Rhizo Mooc, that included Tweets on one of Sian’s papers that was a set reading. The paper was about striated and smooth space in online learning: striated spaces is formal, goal-orientated and ordered while smooth space is nomadic, open and wandering-orientated and these two metaphorical spaces do merge and their boundaries blur. We can map learning spaces on to striated and smooth spaces: striated spaces as VLEs/ LMS and smooth spaces as hypertext, linkages, multimodal assessments, wikis and blogs.How do these metaphors work in 2015 and we continue to have striated spaces in VLEs, progression, e-portfolios, personalisation, adaptive learning, learning analytics, gamification. But also increased smooth(er) spaces such as Twitter, YikYak, augmented realities, flipped classrooms, maker spaces, crowd-based learning. The bigger point is that this field is predominately future orientated with lots of trends forecasts which generates a change acceleration to adapt practices to the ‘next big thing’. But trends are contingent on the situated context (the University of Edinburgh) leading to questions of what sort of institute we want to be and what is the purpose of higher education.

Judy Robertson, Chair in Digital Learning talking about current work and using technology to support learner goal setting. A lot of her work involves user centred design for mainly school pupils related to behavioural change in education and in public health.  Typically games set goals for users but the interest here is user goal setting and setting appropriate goals. Currently developing a game to encourage behavioural change to increase activity levels. Can also be extended to realistic goal setting for students in their study skills. So the question is on designing technology to be helpful but not intrusive.

Critter Jam (FitQuest) is an exercise game for a mobile phone to encourage children to run around. The game includes being chased by a virtual wolf, or to pick up virtual coins. Children can select different goals such as topping the leader board, beating your PB, setting points targets (but how to select an appropriate points goal?). Her research is on self-efficacy and in patterns of goal setting related to increased performance. Also links to resilience in context of goal failure and adjusting goals accordingly – and this could be adapted to, for example, undergraduates.

David Reay from Geosciences and talking on distance education and the development of the MSc in Carbon Management involving the Schools of Business, GeoSciences and Economics. There was a clear demand from students for applied experience and so developed online learning as a response. Initially, developed a role play simulation with face-to-face learning and developed this for online learning that was delivered as part of the MSc in Global Challenges. So now there is a full online MSc in Carbon Management launching in September. He is also developing an online course in sustainability for campus based students linked to graduate attributes around understanding sustainability. Each student will look at sustainability in their subject area to understand what sustainability means and have an excellent online learning experience. His research is on climate change including online teaching and conferencing in terms of its environmental impacts including measuring the total carbon emissions for the online programmes. The intention is to off-set carbon emissions generated by the programme – to be the greenest masters ever!

Dragan Gasevic, Professor of Learning Analytics at the Schools of Education and of Informatics. Why learning analytics is important: especially in provision of personalised feedback loops for students that acknowledges their diverse needs. We use VLEs/ LMS but also rely on many other digital technologies for learning including on the web, using social learning, reflective learning through annotation technologies and blogs. In using digital technologies we are leaving a digital footprint. We have been collecting some of this data since the start of universities. We want to leverage this data to assist teaching, learning, policy-making etc. and this is the point of learning analytics. Learning analytics is about learning and this must not be forgotten – not just data crunching for its own sake but is purposive. Learners are not black boxes but are individuals with many different and not permanent traits, knowledge and understanding, The black box needs to be opened up to deliver the benefits of learning analytics. Looks to CLAS – collaborative lecture annotation system – but the key is to encourage learners to use beneficial technologies. So we have a duty to inform students on the benefits of a technology and to scaffold support for the students to use that technology. Found that students were more engaged with technologies in graded courses and came to internalise the use of the tool in either graded or ungraded courses. So if we teach our student to use a tool they will continue to use that tool even if that use is not required. Learning analytics support and validate pedagogy.

“Counts don’t count much is decontextualised”! We need to account for pedagogical context in learning analytics. Also, visualisations can be harmful especially in showing visualisations to learners/ students so we need to develop analytics literacy for students. We also need to scale up qualitative analysis to improve understanding of learners and to develop institutional policies to support the use of analytics. But the use of learning analytics is contingent for each institutional context – one size does not fit all!

Jonathan Silvertown, Biological Sciences, is talking about the project ‘virtual edinburgh’. The project will turn the city in to a pervasive learning environment for formal and informal education. The future is already here – such as WiFi on buses but also apps such as Walking through Time, LitLong (Palimset), Mesh, iSpot etc.. but virtual edinburgh will also allow interaction between users. Also look to the ‘nearby’ function on Wikipedia. These apps and functions will be linked together through virtual Edinburgh and draws on the teaching and learning strategy priorities on giving learners agency and providing technology to do that. Modes of interaction will involve existing and new apps, peer interaction, game play, new data layers, mashups etc. that can be used in courses or as part of self-directed (informal) learning. The ultimate objective is to create Edinburgh as the City of Learning.


Question: One of the themes is on student digital literacy and what baseline of literacy should we expect students and staff to have?

Judy R: That’s a really interesting question as we cannot assume that students will know how to use it for learning.

Judy Harding: we need to think about how institutional and personal technologies are used with, perhaps students preferencing their personal technologies.

Dragan: the focus should be on study and learning skills and these will not change but that abilities may decline in these due to the affordances of new technologies.

Dave Reay: confession on start of online course assumed students would know about and be able to use particular technologies. Preparation with students is key.

Sian: the research busting the idea of the digital native. The evidence is that what students come to the university with is less important than what we expect them to do. As many of the talks have suggested, the context is key.

Question: on engaged learning[??]

Judy H: the flipped classroom is important in using the technology to engage with larger cohorts of student as the large lecturer will not disappear.

Question: teach honours and postgraduate students and trying to get students to use newer technologies and if not introduced to these technologies earlier, then it may be too late in learning to use these technologies for learning.

Judy H: do we need to be more explicit in encouraging students to develop relevant technology skills in students.

Dave Reay: this will improve in patches and should be a question for programme convenors to develop online learning experiences in degree programmes.

Dragan: we have academic autonomy and so top-down solutions will not work. We need to consider what technologies academics are aware of and can use and so what incentives are provided to encourage the use of technologies. Suggests greater emphasis and recognition of teaching.

Question: what learning technologies are we developing taking account accessibility and the ethical responsibilities of the university.

Dave Reay: the technologies and online courses increase the accessibility to the programmes to new and different students. Avoids some of the challenges of cost, visas, personal circumstances.

Sian: need to differentiate between learning and education – wanting to learn is different from seeking qualifications via formal education.

Dragan: accreditation is an important factor. Also students don’t just come to edinburgh for the content but also for the experience and networks. Online learning also needs higher development abilities at self-regulated learning. We also tend to think in terms of credit hour rather than outcomes and this can be seen in shifts towards competence based education including graduate attributes.

Question: what practical measures could be taken to keep academic staff up to date with what is happening with learning technologies at schools level

Judy R: CoE does include technology in primary such as using Microsoft office but also extreme paranoia about anything social online and allowing pupils outside the walled garden of eg, GLOW

Judy H: not all out students come through the Scottish education system and we need to encourage self-regulated learning for students coming from a vast range of education systems.

Jonathon S: that would be a goo topic for the conference next year.


We’re back from a break with Dash Sekhar, VPAA and Tanya Lubicz-Nawrock from Edinburgh University Students Association on “Co-Creation: Student Ownership of Curriculum”. Starts with the many forms of student engagement such as Kuh’s focus on time and effort aligned to institutional desired outcomes and Bovill emphasises respect, reciprocity and shared responsibility between students and academics.

Co-creation operates on a continuum  from student feedback/ evaluation to students as experts of their own learning experiences expressed through student representations to Co-Creation of the Curriculum. So Co-Creation is a mutuality between students and academics and so shifts power relations between staff and student.

Putting the ideas of co-creation in to action through student-led content where students create their own projects to meet learning outcomes and assessment criteria. Technology allows for more flexible and remote learning.

Student partnerships in assessment: where students select and negotiate the assessment components and weighting to create sense of joint ownership of the assessments. Involved a democratic process for selecting the final assessment process.

Social bookmarking: in a statistics course where as a part of the course, the students had to tag sites and posts related to the course content. These posts were used in a running ‘live feed’. While fairly surface, this involved a shift in how students relate to course content.

We’re now moving to small group discussion so I’ll stop here and be back later. 

Group work over and we’re on to Prof. Ian Pirie, Asst Principal Learning Developments on the use of portfolios and e-portfolios in art & design. Simon Riley (CMVM) will talk about portfolios in medicine. Portfolios are used to demonstrate research, process, methods, outcomes etc. and curate a portfolio for submission for assessment. Portfolios a central to the method of art & design education in the context of sustained practice including art, design, architecture, medicine, engineering, healthcare etc. linked to demonstration of competence.

In the case of art, design & architecture, the portfolio is used from recruitment to almost all assessments. Portfolios include all forms of media and is crucial in entry to the next stages of education and in professional careers.

Simon Riley, on portfolios in medicine. Medical education governed by the GMC as a competency-based curriculum with an interest in allowing student choice.  To enable the student choice element of the curriculum, portfolios were adopted since 1990s.

The university curriculum is closely mapped to the GMC requirements. The different themes of the curriculum is pulled together through the portfolio. Portfolios include case reports, essays, project reports, reflective analysis of professional skills, reflective analysis of experiences, assessment (by viva) and project organisation. The reflective analysis components continue to have room for further development.

There is also a professional development portfolio including capturing the graduate attributes using Pebble+ in parallel to the programme portfolios.

Gives the example of a Group Project that uses an open WordPress site. This involves the collection and synthesis of information and knowledge.

The portfolios are being used for the demonstration of competence and reflection. Portfolios also train students for progression to postgraduate study and professional development. There is a huge amount of commonality between how medicine and art & design use portfolios.

Back to Prof. Ian Pirie on the share pedagogy based on Kolb’s model of experiential learning. In the remaining time, the range of eportfolios being used at Edinburgh are shown. A key issue is transferring the ePortfolio so students can use them outside and after their University forum.


Melissa Highton is in the last slot before lunch to talk about Open Educational Resources: new media for learning, and recent developments on OER at Edinburgh.

Openess is seen as a bold and positive move for the University. Initially, the University set up a task group on the development of an OER strategy. OER underpins a lot of the themes of this conference. The task group involved a range of academic and support services stakeholders. Cites the Capetown declaration of 2007 as a fit with stated intentions around sharing and developing knowledge. This sharing of knowledge and learning resources is enabled by technology. But resources need amending to the local context and we’re not sure if this is possible/ legal. There are also strong opinions that publicly funded resources should be open.

A problem with the word ‘open’ is that it means different things: available, available online, accessible. There is a definition of open: “open data and content can be freely used, modified and shared by anyone for any purpose”. There is a need for rigour in the definition in apart to manage the reputational risks of stating that the university is using open resources and that staff understand licensing and sharing and publishing of material. Licensing tends to be on Creative Commons licenses which fits nicely with the notion of teaching as a creative act – and this is a growing phenomena with 882million items on CC license in 2014 from 50m in 2006.

Fourteen countries have made a national commitments to open education including Scotland. CC licensed material is available from all over the world – which would help in internationalising and diversifying the curriculum.

Edinburgh has launched open.ed as open content resources. Also CC licenses allow us to renew and amend any resources so as technologies change, resources can be updated and so are sustainable.

…. and now its time for lunch….and I’ll have to finish here as I’ve run out of power and that plug points don’t work… 

weeknotes [20102014]

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been

further working through my research involving discourse analysis along with network and other sociomaterial methods for my PhD. I think I’m developing a stronger understanding of of the method “in action” and Technology Enhanced Learning.

I’m also continuing to enjoy the teaching on two courses: Digital Environments for Learning; and Course Design for Digital Environments.

I’m also continuing to contribute to the development of two initiatives which I’ll hopefully write about sometime soon.

MOOCs automation, artificial intelligence and educational agents

Geoge Veletsianos is speaking at a seminar hosted by DiCE research group at University of Edinburgh. The hastag for the event is #edindice and the subject is MOOCs, automation and artificial intelligence.

[These notes were taken live and I’ve retained the typos, poor syntax and grammer etc… some may call that ‘authentic’!]
George began by stating that this is an opportune time for the discussion as MOOCs in the media, the developments on the Turing Test and MIT media lab story telling bots used for second language skills in early years or google’s self-driving cars. Bringing together notion of AI, intelligent being ets.
Three main topics: (1) MOOCs as sociocultural phenomenon; (2) autonomation of teaching and (3) pedagogical agents and the automation of teaching.

MOOCs: first experienced these in 2011 and Change11 as a facilitator and uses them as object of study for his PG teaching and in research. Mainly participated as observor/ drop out.

MOOCs may be a understood as courses of learning but also sociocultural phenomena in response to the perceived failure of higher education. In particular, MOOCs can be seen as a response to the rising costs of higher education in North America and as a symptom of the vocationalisation of higher education. Worplace training drives much of the discussion on MOOCs as illustrated by Udacity changing from higher ed to training provider and introducing the notion of the nano-degree linked to employability. Also changes in the political landscape and cuts to state funding of HEIs in the USA and the discourse of public sector ineffieciencies and solutions based on competition and diversity of provision being prefered. MOOCs also represent the idea of technology as a solution to issues in education such as cost, student engagaement  and MOOCs as indicative of scholarly failure. Disciplines and knowledge of education such as learning sciences not available many as knowledge locked-in to costly journals, couched in obscure language. MOOCs also represent the idea that education can be packaged and automated at scale. Technologies seen as solutions ot providing education at scale, including TV, radio and recording lectures etc. so education is seen as content delivery. 
Also highlighted that xMOOCs came out of comp sci rather than education schools and driven by rubics of efficiency and autonomation. 
Pressey 1933 called for an industrial revoluation of education through the use of teaching machines that provide information, allow the learner to respond and provide feedback on that learner response. B.F. Skinner also created a teaching machine in 1935 based on stimulous/ response of lights indicating whether a response is correct or not. 
Similarly MOOCs adopt similar discourses on machine learning around liberating teachers from administration and grading to be able to spend more time teaching. So these arguments are part of a developed narrative of efficiency in education.But others have warned against the trend towards commodification of education (Noble 1988) but this commodification can be seen in the adoption of LMS and “shovelware” (information masquarading as a course).
Automation is increasing encrouching in to academia via eg, reference management software, Google scholar alerts, TOC alerts from journals, social media automation, RSS feeds, content aggregators (Feedly, Netvibes) and programming of the web through, for example, If This Then That (IFTTT). 
As a case, looks at the Mechanical MOOC that are based on assumptions that high quality open learning resources can be assembled, that learners can automatically come together to learn and can be assessed without human involvement and so the MOOC can be automated. An email schedular coordinates the learning, OpenStudy is used for peer support and interactive coding is automatically assessed through CodeAcademy. So attracts strongly and self-directed and capable learners. But research incates the place and visibility of teachers remains important (Ross & Bayne 2014). 
Moving on to educational agents as avatars that present and possibly respond to learners. These tend to be similar to virtual assistants. Such agents assist in learning, motivation, engagement, play and fun but the evidence to support these claims is ambiguous and often “strange”. In the research, gender, race, design and functions all interact and learners respond often based on the stereotypes used in human interactions. The most appealing agent tending to have a more positive effect on learning. Also context mediates perceptions and so how pedagogical agents are perceived and understood. 
The relationship between the agents and learners and their interactions is the subject of a number of studies on topics of discussion and social practices. Found that students and agents engage in small-talk and playfulness even though they are aware they are interacting with an arteficial agent. Also saw aggressive interactions from the learners, especially if the expert-agent is unable to answer a query. Students also shared personal information with the agents. Agents were positioned in to different roles as a learner companion, as a mediator between academic staff and learner, as a partner.
So social and psychological issues are as important as technology design issues. So do we need a Turing test for MOOC instruction? How we design technologies reflect as well as shape our cultures. 
//Ends with Q&A discussion

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.

Satisfaction with digital education

I came across this survey from Gallup on student satisfaction with digital higher education. The findings make interesting reading from a number of perspectives. While the value-for-money and breadth of curriculum of online learning is clearly acknowledged as key strengths by students. More important are the perceived weaknesses in terms of the quality of teaching, rigour of assessment and credibility with employers.

Also worth noting is that while both four-year degree universities and community colleges are seen to provide good or excellent education:

Americans’ overall assessment of Internet-based college programs is tepid at best. One-third of Americans, 34%, rate such online programs as “excellent” or “good.” The majority calls them “only fair” or “poor.” In contrast, two-thirds of Americans (68%) rate four-year colleges and universities as excellent or good, and nearly as many (64%) rate community colleges this highly.

Also interesting in terms of MOOCs and badging of skills and learning was the finding that…:

half of Americans currently believe that obtaining the knowledge and skills needed to perform a specific job are more important for young people today than earning a college degree from a well-respected university. This broadly suggests that online programs offering more targeted curriculum — distinct from a traditional bachelor’s degree — or even certification in specific skills, could ultimately transform how students approach postsecondary education.

The survey indicates that from a market perspective, online learning has a way to go to have the authority to disrupt higher education but perhaps has more potential for professional learning and development.

Connected & networked higher education

I was interested to read the Connected Learning Environments paper over at Educause. The briefing looks at connected learning environments in higher education and states that:

While e-learning often connotes delivery of information in a sequential, linear fashion, the connected learning environment is integrative, personalized, interconnected, and authentic. Across higher education, leaders and learners are taking note of this evolution in education.

Such environments have the characteristics of (a) a seamless integration with student support services including careers services. This appears to emphasise a function to supporting the student in identifying their own curricula and linking their longer-term goals with module and programme learning outcomes and so may well be a re-articulation of attempts at common credit accumulation and transfer schemes; (b) personalised learning helping students engage with the best learning opportunities through competency based education and (c) authentic learning experiences linking students to research academics, employers, communities etc. in addressing real world problems.

The briefing seems to buy in to the broader discourse of a need to transform or disrupt higher education by breaking down/ permeating institutional boundaries enabling students to study across different institutions and engage in learning through multiple stakeholders.

The briefing does include various examples of elements the connected learning environment being delivered by different institutions which is useful albeit USA-centric.