Tag Archives: discourse analysis

weeknotes [21092014]

OK, what have I been up to over the last few weeks:

Well the supervision of dissertation students has given way to the marking of dissertations. I can’t say I enjoy marking the dissertations I supervised (and am very glad they’re double marked) but do find interesting reading the dissertations that I haven’t supervised for the first time. … and just in case I thought there would be a pause, I’ve already started the first supervision meetings for a new set of dissertations.

piloting discourse analysis for my PhD studies continues to develop as issues are surfaced and I develop a better understanding of the method “in action”.

The writing of a couple of papers for publications continues. One is near completion and just requires final copy-proofing and permissions on images etc before submission. The other required extensive rewriting (and re-reading it, I did find it a shockingly poor piece of work – writing a short paper seems to be much harder…) and I’m waiting for feedback on that new version.

attended and excellent seminar on Unbundling the University. I hope to return to this topic in the near(ish) future. Interestingly, the imperatives for unbundling appear to be coming to the state schools system in the UK (or at least England) with this example of outsourcing school services involving the Academy Enterprise Trust.

Also, we’re now well and truly into the teaching term with the two courses I’m contributing to this semester: Digital Environments for Learning; and Course Design for Digital Environments

 

weeknotes [25082014]

Over the last couple of weeks, my time has been spent on:

A picture of various draft word processed documentssupervising Masters students on the dissertations with most submitting last week

working with three part-time students as they start their dissertations

developing a couple of ideas on a new course involving what is, I think, an innovative structure. More to follow on both of these

piloting discourse analysis for my PhD studies which is both interesting and slightly overwhelming – I mean, how much data can I really use?

writing a couple of papers for (hopeful) publication

preparing for teaching starting in a couple of weeks on two online courses: Digital Environments for Learning; and Course Design for Digital Environments

planning a Course for a different programme on Managing Organisational Learning & Knowledge (MOLK) that will be a blended Course starting in January 2015.

attended an interesting workshop on employability for postgraduate students as part of the Making Most of Masters project. The emphasis on employability is being partly driven by changes in the PGT market as student recruitment is counter-cyclical to the economy. Hence the market for PGT students is expected to become more competitive and requiring HEIs to develop key added-value offers to students which often revolve around issues of employability, employment outcomes and employer engagement.
The Making Most of Masters project started with mapping what work-based learning was already taking place, then defining a model for work-based dissertations and delivering and refining the model to finally generate a self-sustaining model. This is essentially a toolkit for running work-based dissertation projects.

The focus for the next couple of weeks will be on finalising the draft papers and preparing for the teaching…. and, of course, marking dissertations….

Twitter and micro-blogging notes on day 2

These are notes from the Twitter and Micro-blogging conference at Lancaster University for day 2.  The full programme can be found on Lanyard.The Twitter hastag is #LUTwit

Conceptualising Twitter as a discourse system by @mdanganh

Looked at the Function of the # – lead to theory of contextualisation based on John J Gumperz conversational inference and contextualisation cues as surface feature that are verbal and non-verbal. So can be used to understand and analyse #

Cues reconfigure conversational contexts that presuppose and create context as social ordering (Bruns & Burgess 2011).

Key part of Twitter as a discourse system. Identifies four functional operators in Twitter: the RT; the @; the # and the link That have technical and communicative function as well as positioning Twitter as intertextual and interdiscursive

For data drawn from Federal State elections 2010 – 2013 over a four week period each year from parties, media, politicians, public interactions, #. Analysis uses

– profile analysis (quant)

– speech act analysis (qual and quant) (Searle), eg, inform, state, assert, announce, request etc……. Found predominately speech acts concerned with exchanging information, especially from the institutional accounts

– discourse analysis (quant informed qualitative analysis

Use case of Conservative candidate #Rottgen. But lost NRW State election and subsequntly also dismissed as Federal minister by Angela Merkel (as a ‘mother’ figure). Discourse developed as mother metaphor

# frames Tweets in to a story narrative frame that is emergent and the co-construction of meaning.

 

Now on to the plenary session with @GregMyers on Working and Playing on Science Twitter

First Tweet on an April Fools as example of different types of Twitter streams – such as different communities  or genres. @GregMyers on writing on blogging realised that there is not one ‘thing’ of a blog – share a media but are very different. Are we talking about one genre or not? Looking at the different papers at the conference it is clear that there is not a single genre or function.

How do different Twitter communities use Twitter? Are there genre differences. Focus here on science Twitter of research scientists.

Networking is a part of any science project from the 16 century onwards. But as a community, depend for reward on the production of a very different text object, the published paper which is very unlike Twitter. So science community is a network of texts but also involving equipment, people, methods, money (ANT).

Identified two themes of sociology of science:

1. heterogeneirty of scientific networks: ANT. You become powerful in science by maintaining a network

2. rhetorical tension between empiricist repertoire as timeless claims in the formal literature and a contingent repertoire and time bound and contingent activities.

Cites letter from C19 that is very Twitter like albeit as provate letter rather than a public Tweet.

More information on Greg’s blog: http://thelanguageofblogs.typepad.com

Corpus analysis based on keywords eg, paper, scientist, research, etc… but more interesting keywords such as: over use of “i” (compared to other Tweets) as a sign of formality; use of “of” as signifier of more complex; “but” as academic signifier and a negative keyword of “love” as evaluation.

Gives ground to identify scientists as a distinct community on Twitter.

Gives an example of phatic communication – communication for the sake of contact (“who is still working” at 3 am). Problematises the use of the term “here” as “a lab” rather than a geographic co-location. Solidarity building?

Particular interest in references to time: current time – what I’m doing now; temporal cycles of, eg, work , publications, terms; future time (what will be happening); and chunking time eg, pleistocene.

Gives example of scientific criticism and never-ending use of citations and references but also criticism of socio-thermodynamics using LOLcats

Scientific criticism involves personal stance; impersonal references to shared norms and hierarchies of authority for presentational purposes. Found many Tweets involve boundary work, sealing off science and non-science while at the same time concerned with outreach and public engagement with science.

Good set of question of a Twitter community:

  • present self as a community?
  • make a distinct genre – eg, use of RT, links etc…?
  • use the same genre / register?
  • how Twitter practices relate to other practices?
  • what specific kinds of performance are valued?
  • how permeable are the boundaries of the community? How many Tweets get RT from outside the community?

Permeability of the science community enhanced as scientist may be member of other communities that may cross-overs of their specific Tweets (hip hop, feminism/ women in science). But not seeing non-scientists coming back and commenting on scientific discussions.

 

The afternoon session is about to kick-off with Noreen Dunnett on The Tweeting Zone with Twitter providing a mechanism for renegotiating boundaries between Activity Systems. Looking also at how Twitter allows renegotiation of identities and roles of learners and teachers in formal learning spaces.

Referes to liminal spaces as a rite of passage in which a person moves from one state of being to another. Could Twitter affordances at act bridge between Activity Systemas a a boundary zone between different systems and spaces? Does Twitter provide scaffolding between learning and working definitions.

Affordances (actionable properties …. user perceives some action is possible. Gibson 1977, 1979 and Norman 2004). The paper uses Connectivism and Activity Theory examining a teacher training course and the student use of Twitter ordered around a given #

Frames Twitter in terms of a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) as allowing learners to coordinate arrangements between people, materials and technology so the PLE is not a platform but is rather a process that requires agency from the learner [as actor].

Uses ethnographic action research including participant observation, interview and survey. Observation of a Twitter chat over a seven month period with researcher moderating initial discussion. Spaces of learning in, eg, Twitter, enacted in to being – emerge rather that design/ predetermined (Al Mahmood 2008).

Screen shot 2013-04-11 at 13.54.07

Cited example of student who left the course asking for permission to continue to use the hashtag.

Trainee teachers participate in a range of discourse communities simultaneously, spanning formal and informal learning environment. The course tutor conflicted about Twitter and the degree of control and policing role.

Useful Tweet here:

Screen shot 2013-04-11 at 13.45.30

Twitter bridge Activity Systems as discourse communities.

Role of tutor not clear: has emergent and non-emergent elements as the Twitter space was formally set up to support students in placement but tutor also wanted to use it for learning tasks by setting up a series of tasks Tutor was concerned that the students controlled by eg, GTC notions of professional conversation.

References from the presentation can be found here

 

Now out of power and seeking a plug point ……

 

Now at An analysis of professional exchange and community dynamics of Twitter from Nicola Osborne and Clare Llewellyn from Edinburgh

Used Martin Hawksey’s TAGs for grabbing #feeds into Google Docs.

Social media collaboration group came into being to analyse Tweets on London riots using manual analysis and wanted to use more automation in the analysis. Clare developed a prototype as the JISC Twitter Workbench initially for analysis of Olympics on Twitter  but extended in to more general academic use. Currently working on developing the Workbench to work with smaller, discreet data including elimination of direct (unchanged) RTs. Testing Workbench for use at a conference (done aferwards but could be done in real time).

Used algorithm  for LDA clustering but found it no more accurate than incremental clustering 

At the conference, was a lot of interest in, for example, PechaKucha and specific talks that gained a lot of interest.

Found different algorithms appropriate for different size of event/ Twitter hashtags. Clusters confirmed some hunches about the conference.

Noted that clustering does not analyse influence of a Tweet. Confirmed participant feedback on conference sessions. Did identify what was popular (not influential?) and ‘hot topics’ etc which could have been very useful for real time use eg, in back channel. Could imply unpopular sessions not Tweeted but this is not clear.

Very clear decline in volume of Tweets after conference – often sharing links.

Analysis was about the content of Tweets and not about connections between Tweets…

Balance to be developed between clustering duplication versus clustering granularity.

Q of why JISC funded this given the existence of NodeXL

Now time for a break….

Fell behind on the blogging – lack of power, fat fingers etc….

Now at the plenary Professional Twitter Panel which can be followed at #lutwitrc

Discussing finding the time for Twitter and intensity, @johnnyunger very variable in intensity of Tweeting. Mentions that avoiding marking leads to increase in Twitter use.

A number of comments in Tweeting in between times

Screen shot 2013-04-11 at 16.25.01

Tweet when we’re doing other things or when can’t do other things

But also comments about the rhythms of the day – energy, roles etc…

Screen shot 2013-04-11 at 16.28.00

… and in relation to activities in “real life” (sitting on the bus) as well as on other SoMe.

Discussion on whether Twitter is distracting or takes time [but avoids issues of cognitive-shifting]

Moving to ethics, eg, is it OK to be anonymous on Twitter and issue of institutional constraints. Also scales of anonymity, eg, less easy to identify the individual rather than anonymous per se.

Comment on analysis of HE SoMe policies that are very constraining requiring various disclaimers for staff. HE senior management prickliness on potential reputation harm from ‘rogue staff’.

Comment that first rule of the internet that there is no such thing as anonymity – don’t say something online you wouldn’t say elsewhere (from @pennyb).

Moved on to impact – beyond simply number of followers but also who follows.

Discussion on ethics and the nature of public domain with good understanding of the nuances around anonymising Tweets. Also refering to Twitter TOS in tension with research ethics, eg, on anonymity.

Is a profession also a discursive community?

Discourse analysis (DA) is about the study of “language in use” (Nunan 1993, p7) operating at a number of levels (Fairclough 2003; Alvesson & Skoldberg 2009). Heracleous (2006) identifies two over-lapping levels of discourse: communicative action based on interactions between individuals to, for example, share experiences or build relations, and deeper discursive structures that ‘guide’ and regulate communicative actions. Mäkitalo (2012) argues that professional discursive practices are indivisible from professional practices themselves. Furthermore, Fenwick et al (2012) suggest that discursive practices seek to stablise as, what are termed, discursive resources that constitute the legitimised discourses of professional practice. Professional learning and development is concerned with the re-production of those deeper discursive structures.

Bragd et al (2008) argue a discursive community is constituted through common meanings through discursive interaction. So each utterance can be treated as being created through interactions within an identifiable group of actors and texts rather than as the isolated acts of individuals (Dennen 2008). Thus, discourse is a mechanism that generates a ‘feeling’ of being part of a community through contributing to a particular discourse with particular uses and particular terms that are commonly understood as discursive repertoires (Eriksson & Kovalainen 2008) or resources (Rigg 2005). So a community is generated around some level of discursive structure that decentres the individual person to focus on networks of activity and influence (Fenwick et al 2012). Furthermore, discursive communities not only reinforce common understandings among members but also identify perspectives that differentiate members from ‘others’ outside the community (Bragd et al 2008). Hence discursive communities emerge through both collective meaning-making and processes of marginalisation and exclusion that ‘delegitimise’ ‘other’ discursive practices.

Discursive communities can then be seen as central to Mäkitalo’s (2012) processes of identifying what constitutes legitimate professional knowledge resources including vocabularies and dominant metaphors (Francis 2007). Rigg (2005) discusses collective meanings within discourses becoming institutionalised as a common language and meaning-making enterprise within an organisation. Such processes of institutionalisation could also occur through networks of interaction permeating organisational boundaries (Jorgensen & Henriksen 2011) including, for example, professional communities identified through their common discursive practices (Wenger 1998). Hence, a professional ‘field’, in Bourdieu’s sense of the term, can be negotiated, refined and revised through ongoing social interaction made identifiable by its’ repertoires and genres (Czarniawska 1997, 180).

So in conclusion, a professional domain is constituted by discourse and so a ‘profession’ is a discursive community [?]

 

Analysing Twitter

I have recently been attempting a discourse analysis of a Twitter chat event, The analysis process proved harder than I was expecting. Partly, this was due to the volume of tweets where in a 90 minute event, 922 tweets were made, or 10.2 per minute. No wonder participants often mentioned how hard it was to keep up with the discussions.

Given a structure that is messy, difficult and hard to analyse, the Twitter event appears to exaggerate many of the key problematic features of unstructured discussions identified by Belnap & Withers (2008, p8). These include: sequences extending over many exchanges; overlapping exchanges and sequences; short sequences tending to be cut off prior to a conclusion and sequences re-emerging later in discussions. This suggests that the lack of event coherence and stability should be more problematic, but participants seem to use certain strategies including making lots and lots of retweets to keep sequences going or to restart them as well as making series of statements ‘to’ the Twitter event in the hope that one of these statements will get a response. Direct and traceable exchanges tended to be really short but took place within patterns of longer and often fragmented, sequences as participants attempt to negotiate between exchange, sequence and transcript timeframes.

Many of the features of an online discursive and learning community appear to be present in the event. These include aspects of mutual support for information-seeking activities and the exploration of differences. Discourses in the event can seek to reinforce common understandings and thematic coherence between the participants. There is also strong discursive patterns that appear to seek to differentiate participants from ‘others’ outwith the specific community (Bragd et al 2008). Interestingly, as a group of professionals often with managerial positions, the ‘others’ identified and vilified were “managers” or “the business” or “them”.

Also of note was that there was some evidence of intertextual and retrospective sense-making activities. These were more usually in the form of blog posts but could be as other artefacts including diagrams and mind maps.

The study was undertaken as a sort of proof of concept and it did show that these sorts of Twitter discussion events provide as rich a vein of data as face-to-face interactions or other (dare I say) more traditional forms of computer mediated communication. In other words, it worked and Twitter conversations are meaningful.

References
Belnap, J. K., & Withers, M. G. (2008). Discourse Analysis : The problematic analysis of unstructured / unfacilitated group discussions. Conference on Research in
Undergraduate Mathematics Education, Feb.

Bragd, A., Christensen, D., Czarniawska, B. & Tullberg, M. (2008) Discourse as the means of community creation. Scandinavian Journal of Management. 24(3):199-208..