Final Lifestream Summary

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Education and Digital Cultures course and learnt so much at so many levels.

I love the way the course was designed and how we were able to dance our own dance to the music being played. I also liked the ‘flow’ of the course – the Twitter stream and the tumblog itself and being able to read each other’s lifestreams. It was very interesting how everyone brought something very different and unique to the course and how we analysed the materials and approached the assignments through different frameworks and lenses. It was fascinating to see the loop input effect of studying online community as an online community and seeing how ours developed over the weeks.

Looking back over the lifestream posts made me appreciate how much we have covered and how the different themes of the course have interwoven and intertwined. What struck me in particular was how we have come full circle from looking at what it means to be human and transcending human limitations to the limitations of big data and learning analytics and the need for a qualitative humanistic sense-making approach to overcome their inherent limitations. I am now starting to appreciate and better understand the importance of big data and analytics and the impact they have on both us and the environment – from the ‘you loop’ effect to blasting holes in mountains to install cables through which data can pass at high speed. I am intrigued by algorithms and learning analytics but at the same time very wary of the ‘flattening’ effect they have and will look at the implications for learning in higher education in my final assignment.

I enjoyed creating the artefact and was curious to see how we all responded so differently to the readings and materials – both in content and presentation. The micro ethnography assignment was also very interesting and helped better understand the process of carrying out ethnographic research as a participant and observer, and how changing your research aim also means being flexible in your methods. I am still really disappointed that I didn’t conclude my ethnography with a focus on community and that I had assumed that Storify would be a quick case of copying and pasting, which it wasn’t and consequently meant the assignment wasn’t presented as I would have wished. I feel there was potential to do more with the assignment but at least I was able to address several of the issues in the blog comments. I have certainly learnt several very important lessons from this experience, which will hopefully make me a better ethnographer in the future.

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And lastly I would like to say how much I’ve appreciated the support and feedback of both our group and the tutors – so a big thank you to Jin, Katherine, PJ, Ed, Nick, Miles, Martyn, Ben, Mihael, Emlyn, – and a very big thank you to Sian and Jeremy for making it such an inspiring and enjoyable course. Hope to see you again in September.

Week 10 Lifestream Summary

It was very interesting to see the results of the Tweetorial on Tweet Archivist and Keyhole, and my initial reaction was a sense of satisfaction at being mentioned and ‘visible’.

PJ and Nick were the top tweeters by far but the proportion of tweets didn’t unbalanced on Twitter. In fact it felt like everyone was present and participating, and I felt my own contributions were fairly represented.

The top words were ‘algorithm(s)’, ‘learning’, ‘digital’ and ‘data’, which makes perfect sense and is representative of the discussion and discussion questions.

It’s interesting that ‘trouble’ was so high on the list coming after ‘data’ and above ‘education’ but on further investigation I realise that this was because of the title Sian’s talk and the fact that her tweet was retweeted so many times.

There were only 34 tweets on the 12th of March but 118 on the 13th as people started replying to tweets and this accurately conveys how the Tweetorial unfolded.

Sian had the highest number of mentions and came out in the middle of the image, which highlighted how she appeared to be at the centre of the discussion and was the point through which many comments were made.

Interestingly only 36.2% of posts were original posts, 39.3% were replies and 24.5% retweets. I do wonder how typical this is of Twitter.

From a geographic perspective Asia didn’t even figure, despite several of us being based here. America (14%) and Canada (1%) look over represented because of their size and the U.K. (48%) looks under-represented. The location description states that the map shows where in the world the posts originate from but is this in relation to tweeters or number of tweets? – analytics mean nothing if they are not clear and specific.

90% of the posts originated from males. Only 10% from females. The Tweetorial certainly didn’t feel male dominated and I wonder if this is in fact accurate – although we are only 3 females for 8 males on the course and the males were the top tweeters…

86.8% of tweets came from desktop, which is representative for me. Even if I saw the tweet on my phone or iPad, I waited and responded from my computer (although I’m not exactly sure why).

Overall a reach of 21,789 was impressive for a 48 hour Tweetorial based on 26 users.

Although I initially oohed and ahhed at I the data and the way it was presented after more careful analysis I’m not sure that I was any the wiser for it – I was being informed of everything and nothing at the same time. My overriding sensation was that the LA seem to level and flatten, and remove the ‘colour’ of the Tweetorial. There is definitely a loss of perspective as small details are brought to the foreground and overshadow more salient data.

LA is purely quantitative and from an educational point of view teachers are only aware of who is participating rather who is really engaged and producing meaningful and relevant tweets/posts, responding to what is being said and developing the discussion. For LA to be truly useful it would need to also evaluate quality not just quantity.

Knox, J. (2014). Abstracting Learning Analytics. Code Acts in Education ESRC seminar series blog.