Week 12: the home straight


Well done! You’ve made it to the final week of Education and Digital Cultures! This week we will be continuing our assignment planning and preparation, and finalising our lifestream blogs for submission at the end of the week.

Once again, there are no structured tasks for this week. However, if you haven’t been in touch with your tutor yet to discuss ideas for your final assignment, do please prioritise that this week. Your chosen topic will have to be quite focussed in order to demonstrate good critical understanding, and your tutor – either Sian or I – will be able to help you to direct your ideas and refine your emphasis.

As a reminder, the lifestream blog needs to be submitted by midnight Sunday 5th April, and the final assignment by midnight Sunday 19th April. See all the details here.

Once again, well done for making it this far! It’s been a fantastic 11 weeks and we’ve both really enjoyed your contributions, insights and comradery along the way. Looking forward to reviewing all your hard work in the lifestream blogs and final assignments!

Enjoy the final week!

Lifestream and assignment submission: all the info in one place

Your lifestream should be completed by midnight, Sunday 5th April 2015. This involves tidying and editing the lifestream and writing the final 500-word summary of the entire blog.
See lifestream submission information here
Submit the lifestream in Moodle here

Final assignment
Your final assignment is due by midnight Sunday 19th April 2015. You can nominate up to three additional assessment criteria.
See the assignment submission information here
Submit the assignment in Moodle here


Week 11: moving towards the assignment


We are now starting the final period of assignment preparation, so there are no structured tasks for the next two weeks. This is time to get ideas together and to get feedback and input from the group in doing so, if it’s useful to you. Blogging about your ideas for the digital essay is a good way to prompt feedback from your peers. Your course tutor – Jeremy or I – are also here to help and to give guidance where useful, so please continue to use us as sounding boards too.

The final assignment is due at midnight 19 April 2015, and needs to be submitted via Moodle. Please see the Final Assignment page for more detail and the link to the Moodle submission space (this latter will be up shortly). Once all the assignments are in and marked, we’ll collect them all together in an ‘All the assignments in one place’ page. If you’d prefer yours not to be included, no problem – just let us know.

Over this next couple of weeks you also need to review your lifestream blog to make sure you’re happy with it, write your 500 word summary, and submit it (again via Moodle) no later than midnight Sunday 5 April 2015. There’s more guidance on the Lifestream Blog Submission page. Again – any queries please contact your course tutor.

Best of luck with pulling things together over these two weeks. I know a lot of good ideas are coming through already in relation to the final assignment – please do keep sharing them, with each other and with your tutor. We are really looking forward to seeing what you create.

Week 10: Pulling it all together

In this final week of block 3, and the final taught week of the EDC course, we’ll be drawing together all of your work around the theme of ‘algorithmic cultures’.

Thanks to everyone who contributed so enthusiastically to our Tweetorial on Thursday and Friday (and a bit of Saturday!) last week. It was a fantastically intense torrent of critical discussion around algorithms, and it was great to see the EDC group contributing publically, and so well, to this important debate.

This week you have two principal tasks: 1) you should write a blog post that addresses the #mscedc tweet archive located here, and 2) attend a Hangout session to discuss the block themes and any assignment ideas you have. Find the week 10 page here.

For your blog post on the Tweet Archive, the questions you should be thinking about are:

  • How has the Tweet Archivist service represented our Tweetorial (Use the drop down arrows on the menu items on the right of the page: ‘Top users’, ‘Top words’, Top URLs’, Source of Tweet’ etc.)
  • What do these visualisations, summaries and snapshots say about what happened during our Tweetorial, and do they accurately represent the ways you perceived the Tweetorial to unfold, as well as your own contributions?
  • What might be the educational value or limitations of these kinds of visualisations and summaries, and how do they relate to the ‘learning’ that might have taken place during the ‘Tweetorial’?

We also have Hangouts scheduled for:

  • Tuesday 17th March at 8pm (GMT)
  • Friday 20th March at 10am (GMT)

These tutorials will be crucial for drawing the algorithmic themes to conclusion. It is also our final chance to meet as a group before you complete and submit your lifestream blogs for assessment, and begin developing ideas for your final assignment. If you have ideas for your final assignment, please bring them along to discus with the group. If you haven’t done so already, do please sign up for a session time on Moodle

Have a super final week everyone!

Welcome to the #mscedc Tweetorial!


Over the next two days (Thursday 12th March and Friday 13th March) we’ll be engaging in some intensive tweeting around the themes of ‘algorithmic cultures’ from weeks 8 and 9 of the course. Below is the list of questions we’ll be posing on Twitter, so look out for tweets from Sian or Jeremy and respond with the #mscedc hashtag.

  1. What do we give to algorithms, and what do we receive in return?
  2. How might ‘recommendation algorithms’ be used in education?
  3. What are the key ethical issues introduced by algorithmic cultures in education?
  4. How can educational research benefit from an interrogation of algorithms?
  5. What might be the drawbacks of basing educational decisions on Learning Analytics?
  6. Who controls algorithms, and where can we situate their ‘agency’?
  7. In what ways are we ‘disciplined’ by algorithms?

After the Tweetorial we’ll be considering what Tweetarchivist has made of our conversations. What might this ‘algorithmic summary’ say about our engagement with the block 3 themes? Can’t wait to find out! Happy tweeting…

All the spam….

It’s been nice seeing everyone bond a bit over the spam on the lifestreams, but it’s also a bit of a pain. It seems like we have a only a couple of options for dealing with it, if we want our course site to remain open to commentary from people beyond the course. Either we leave things as they are, and each deal with our own spam individually, or we put a captcha on the comments function. Neither is a perfect solution, by any means, but it would be good to get a view on what people would prefer.

Would you mind completing the poll to let us know your views, and we will go with the majority decision?

How would you like the EDC course to deal with spam?
Introduce a ‘captcha’ for all blog comments
Leave it as it is – individuals deal with their own spam

Poll Maker

Week 9: learning analytics and calculating academics

It’s been fascinating to see some of the results of the ‘algorithmic play’ exercise last week. One of the themes that has come through quite strongly is that of the ‘filter bubble’ or ‘youloop’ in which algorithms seem to operate to consolidate and reinforce existing viewing preferences in a way which limits not only the scope of our activity but the construction of our identity. Martyn did a great job of analysing this in relation to Netflix, Clare’s tiki-toki timeline gave a terrific sense of her wider social media ecology, Jin applied these ideas to TED, while Nick’s play in Audible incisively raised some of these ideas in relation to the formation of selfhood. If you’re interested in following through on this you might find the notion of ‘selective exposure’ (the idea that we purposely select media and messages which ‘fit’ our existing beliefs) to be of interest.

There seems to have been an interesting balance in the accounts between critique of algorithmic influence and an acknowledgement that algorithms are useful to us, as long as we know (or think we know) how to ‘work’ them. For example, PJ’s account acknowledges that he might take some useful guidance on managing his Twitter activity from QuillConnect, while Mihael very interestingly outlines his strategies for managing the way the YouTube recommender algorithms work for him.

Great work – and if you haven’t yet taken a look at any of the above, it’d be worth spending some time reading and commenting on them.

This week we will move on to applying some of these ideas to education more specifically, by looking at the algorithmic organization of the university, via Ben Williamson’s talk, and the rise of learning analytics, via the reading from George Siemens (links to both of these are on our Week 9 page).

The format of our discussion will be via a ‘tweetorial’ over Thursday and Friday, in which we will focus on some intensive tweeting around the ideas raised during this week and the last. We will keep track of the tweets using Tweetarchivist, and use this as a starter point for our hangout discussions next week. So please look out for some starter questions from Jeremy and I on Thursday morning, and pitch in freely! Below you can see the word cloud generated by our discussions over this week, and follow this link for the full range of analytics generated by Tweetarchivist.


Week 8: Welcome to Block 3 Algorithmic Cultures!


It’s been great to see the ethnographic snapshots gathering here, and to get a sense of all the fantastic MOOC studies happening in block 2. First and foremost this week, commenting on the ethnographic snapshots (including your own!) should be a priority. There is so much that is really useful to tease out from your ethnographies, and building up some discussions around the snapshots should also feed into your lifestream and help to demonstrate your wider reflection on the block 2 themes.

Alongside rounding off our explorations of community culture, this week we begin our final theme: ‘algorithmic culture’. We’ll be examining how the complex automatic processes that operate across the web involve themselves in shaping contemporary culture: organising and prioritising particular people, places and ideas. Our focus will be on the implications for education, and you will be tasked with building a critical understanding of what this algorithmic culture might mean for our continuing practice. Make sure to read the introduction to the block here.

This week is about getting a sense of what kind of algorithms are out there operating on the web, and the kinds of procedures that they perform. So your main task this week is to play with algorithms! However, we also want you to document the results in a way that feeds into your lifestream blog, and this will be a crucial way of focusing your thoughts on the implications for education. Most of the examples on the week 8 page are from public social media, so you will need to do the important work here of relating these algorithmic principles to your own experiences of digital educational, and perhaps your own professional context.

Central to our algorithmic play this week are of course the readings. The two core readings will provide important educational contexts for you, and even make some useful links back to our MOOC ethnographies!

So, this week try to focus on:

  1. Commenting on everyone’s ethnographic snapshots
  2. Playing with some algorithms and documenting your results
  3. Reading at least the core texts for week 8

Have a great week everyone!