14 Feb

MOOCMOOC webs in the wild

From http://www.realestateview.com.au/Real-Estate/dululu/Property-Details-sold-residential-5642755.html (close to the site of the CSIRO study)

From http://www.realestateview.com.au/Real-Estate/dululu/Property-Details-sold-residential-5642755.html (close to the site of the CSIRO study)

Exploring MOOCMOOC as a ‘field’.

MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy… leaves behind the traditional LMS-based “course” model of the MOOC, and will be left to roam wild, free, and grass-fed on the web. Once each week, we’ll hold a hashtag chat on Twitter using #MOOCMOOC. We’ll also hold a series of Google Hangouts On Air featuring guests from the field and from our community. (Hybrid Pedagogy)


The metaphor of a free-range, grass-fed cow made me think of this research, about using mobile sensors to understand cow social networks.

A trial carried out at the Pondicherry study site investigated close (less than 5 m) social interactions of a group of 49 cattle including males, females (sexually active and sexually inactive) and their most recent offspring (Figure 5) and demonstrated preferential social affiliations. The social networks seen in this example display the hierarchy of social interactions and identify key individuals that were more central to the group’s social network. The highest level of social affiliation (contact durations of greater than two hours) was between females and their offspring (Figure 5d). However, one cow (number 25) had a strong relationship with a number of individuals in the group. 

Figure 5 c from http://www.mdpi.com/sensors/sensors-09-03586/article_deploy/html/images/sensors-09-03586f5-1024.png

Figure 5 c from http://www.mdpi.com/sensors/sensors-09-03586/article_deploy/html/images/sensors-09-03586f5-1024.png

I therefore wondered: how might social network analysis of Twitter conversations around MOOCMOOC demonstrate relationships as tweet conversations between participants? I therefore used mentionmap to track discusssions ‘in recent tweets’.

There was a Twitter chat on 11 Feb, so this research on 12 Feb is likely to capture a good amount of data.

This week, MOOCMOOC focuses on Anarchist Pedagogies.

February 9 – 13: Anarchist Pedagogies
Reading: Anarchist Pedagogies, chapter 7 “Spaces of Learning: The Anarchist Free Skool”
Thoreau, Civil Disobedience
Hosts: Adam Heidebrink-Bruno and Sean Michael Morris
Discussion Prompt: Countersites in Learning — Constructing Anarchist Educational Alternatives by Adam Heidebrink-Bruno
Twitter chat: 2/11 at 5 PM EST
Live Digital Roundtable: 2/13 at 8 PM EST

Research carried out 11 hours after the Twitter Chat (4am EST/ 8pm Australian Eastern Standard Time).

First I searched for connections from @HybridPed (the account of Hybrid Pedagogy, the online, open-access, peer-reviewed journal behind MOOCMOOC). I highlighted #moocmooc conversations in blue.

Unsurprisingly, the major connections are to other Hybrid Pedagogy accounts:

  • @HybridPod, “The aural side of , hosted by .” 49 followers.
  • @Bali_Maha, Maha Bali, a Hybrid Pedagogy columnist and academic based in Cairo. 1371 followers
  • @slamteacher, Sean MIchael Morris, Director of Hybrid Pedagogy. 2122 followers
  • @Jessifer, Jesse Stomel, Director of Hybrid Pedagogy. 8324 followers.
  • @krisshaffer, Kris Shaffer, Editor at Hybrid Pedagogy Publishing. 1073 followers.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 7.31.09 pm

Thus we see that institutional affilliation to Hybrid Pedagogy is more influential than number of followers for being part of this conversation. We could explore other aspects of the conversation by highlighting relevant hashtags like #anarchist and #anarchistfreeskool (both used by @slamteacher).

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 8.22.39 pm

Here we see @slamteacher’s engagement with the #moocmooc hashtag (in blue) and the further conversations, as cohost of the chat. @adamheid is Adam Heidebrink-Bruno, an Associate Editor of Hybrid Pedagogy and a cohost of the chat.

We also see a broader set of connections here (all descriptions based on their own self presentation in their Twitter bio, and following links or affiliations given there): an “edupunk language teacher and aikidoka” based in France, 1014 followers;  an academic and Dr Who fan based in Glasgow, 435 followers; a language educator based in Somerset, 261 followers; a providor of workshops to students and teachers in the UK, 274 followers.

Following further links highlights a PhD student in Sweden, 418 followers; an educator in Florida, 371 followers; a lecturer and poet teaching in the Pacific Marshall Islands, 4141 followers;

Most of these profiles are linked to professional and academic information about the person, including their full name and affiliations.

There are less public personas too. One contributor is a “Teacher educator”, with no link to a blog or website, no full name, no location. Her avatar is a woman wearing sunglasses. This suggests that she hopes to maintain some privacy between her Twitter persona, with 242 followers, and her offline identity. Another has an avatar of a glass owl, no real name associated with the Twitter handle, but the bio names an educational developer at a London university as ‘responsible’.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 9.14.09 pm

We can see that, alongside the main #moocmooc converstaion, wider conversations and networks are happening, around closely related hashtags like #digped, #critped and #mtped, as well as #technology and #teachers.

We can also see some spelling errors, #moocm, #noocmooc, #moo which I suggest should be included in coding for #moocmooc.

Outside influences are also visible. #chapelhillshooting refers to the shooting in Chapel Hill, North Carolina the day before. #firebevell is linked to football news. #smallstone is a haiku writing prompt.


How does this analysis help us to understand #moocmooc as a ‘field of cows’?

Firstly: “The highest level of social affiliation … was between females and their offspring”. Biological closeness is the strongest correlation to social closeness in the field.

In the same way, professional affiliation to Hybrid Pedagogy is the strongest predictor of social interaction on Twitter. Working together, collaborating outside of Twitter, strongly correlates to social closeness in the social media space mapped in this study.

Secondly:   “Whilst the data of longer duration contacts demonstrates there are preferential relationships within the herd of cattle, the data of short-duration contacts (Figure 5a) shows that there was also interaction between all animals in the group.”

The Hybrid Pedagogy ‘team’ might be considered joint hosts of the chat, as they all maintained wider networks around the central “preferential relationships”. These networks were widely distributed across Europe, the US and a few links further abroad.

Thirdly: “One cow (number 25) had a strong relationship with a number of individuals in the group.” Moreover “A number of cows (numbers 27, 31 and 185) formed small social sub-groups.”

Individual members of the Hybrid Pedagogy team had small networks that were unique (or mostly unique) to them.

Nonetheless, the ‘field’ is circumscribed. The Twitter chat was not boundless in its partipants. About 20 people were engaged in the chat according to the network charts. All of them were educators. They tend to work in education, digital media, and in the humanities.

Thus, we can hypothesis that there might be a “link between animal behaviour and its environment”, mapping the topographies of the digital/critical/hybrid pedagogies fields might suggest how these discipline boundaries might influence the online behaviour of those inside them.

According to the MOOC MOOC announcement, Hybrid Pedagogy are “aiming less at amassing registrants and more at building community”. Thus a small group of highly interactive participants is meeting their breif of builidng a social community around these concepts.

4 thoughts on “MOOCMOOC webs in the wild

  1. Pingback: Social Network analysis | Sandpit space for MScDE, University of Edinburgh

  2. Pingback: MOOC MOOC: Grass-Fed, Free-Range, Wild?: A giraffe and a zebra discuss | Katherine's EDC blog

  3. Katherine, I was impressed by the fantastic amount of creative thought and analysis that you put into your MOOCMOOC ethnography. Appreciate all the energy that took. You must have been dreaming of cows every night. Cheers, PJ

    • Yes, the animals rather took over my ethnography pretty early–cows, sheep, more sheep, monkeys…
      However, as I pointed out below, I had to write the dialogue but the animation is automatic! I assume it’s an algorithm, but amazing how much it looks ‘intentional’. I remember using the now defunct site XtraNormal to make animations about 4 years ago–I had to chose every single shot, angle, pause etc. This is nearly as good and it just does it for you.

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