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.


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