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Lifestream/Blog Summary

The lifestream/blog has been a challenge for me to create and looking over the past 12 weeks of posts and information it’s given me an overview of what I have achieved and done on the course. The structure is very similar to a learner portfolio and would most definitely be an option for my learners to do in future courses. Creating the blog and working on it, adding relevant links, information, and material has been both engaging and novel. Towards the end, due to work engagements and other issues I wasn’t able to keep up the initial activity I started with and somewhat petered out. Over the course of the first block I had the time to really get involved, collecting images via Pinterest, posting links to relevant films and discussing items with my peers on the course. I would have liked to pull these conversations into the stream, and looking back over the blog it is something I missed out on.

I think the best way to look at the experience of the lifestream/blog is to break it down into its three components and share some of the ideas/feelings I had over the twelve weeks.

Block One: Cyberculture
This was the most engaging block for me. I have a background in film studies and looking at the way Cyberculture is treated in society today was enthralling. The film festival was great and chatting about the films as we watched them was something totally new for me. Linking the opinion of Cyberculture and education; how some aspects may be stigmatised and difficult to accept in society was also something I had not contemplated before the EDC course. There tended to be a trend of fear/positivity towards all things cyber in society at the moment. Creating the artefact and putting all the images together was also a labour of love.

Block Two: Community Culture

The mini-netnography could have been an entire course in itself, it was difficult not to get lost out there! Looking at course content, social interactions, knowledge formation, and course delivery would have made this impossible. The idea of focusing on different users in different languages will most likely be a theme I will come back to in the future in order to research further. I found it was very difficult to stay a lurker and not be involved, but later realised that I may have affected the outcome of the study by guiding conversations and being a direct participant. Ultimately, looking back of the netnography of my peers I wish I could have afforded more time to presenting the information and findings. My peers did an incredible job in presenting their data, and their work made for really interesting reading.

Block Three: Algorithmic Culture

This section on algorithmic culture was awe-inspiring. From the algorithmic play, to looking at the tweetorial results through tools on the net. Deciding who controls the algorithm and the important part in the formation of culture are two themes that I enjoyed the most and I am sure I will come back and focus on them later on.

In summary, the EDC course has an incredible selection of readings/materials combined with highly relevant tasks/activities, it is also very self-reflexive and pushes the learner to contemplate further areas of study related to each block. Many thanks to my peers and tutors on the course, I look forward to sharing the final assignment here.




Unfortunately I missed the tweetorial, however, as a non-participant, this gives me the chance to examine the findings and statistics from the outside. What can I learn from the statistics and graphs? Firstly, the tweetorial seems male-dominated. I doubt this is the case, but the first graphic places male participants at 90%. The focal point of the tweets came from the UK and North America, with the larger concentration coming from the UK. Looking at tweet archivist, the key discussion focused on algorithms, as set out by the set of questions on the EDC site.

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Given the questions from the EDC site these fit nicely into the themes/questions asked above.

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The mined data links to the questions, however what do we learn from the data? Can we say that the session was successful in it’s aims or outcomes? We really don’t get an idea simply from the summary, we would have to take a deeper look at the actual conversations. We can at least measure whether or not the participants were ‘on topic’ and not focussing on something that wasn’t an order of the day.

What about grading? When it comes to most active users should we reward them? Should the most active users based on frequency of contribution?

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The information cultivated is certainly interesting, yet I feel that we need to look at this information in a more detailed and methodical way. We can get the brush strokes and overview of what went on through the algorithmic data, however in order to have a more detailed picture we should go to the raw data. These tools would be extremely useful in large number MOOCs with 1000+ users where tracking specific themes/topics would be too huge a task to take on.

Week 10 Summary

It has been a little bit difficult, due to work commitments and the busy period just before Easter, to maintain the posts to the lifestream/blog. I have been looking at topics and themes for the final assignment and will most likely focus on algorithmic culture and the art created by Emilio Chapela. Chapela has an exhibition at the Museo de Arte Carillo Gil here in Mexico City, and I would like to investigate themes and links to the EDC course from his body of work on show.

IIAfter all 1051

Adventures in algorithms

This week I went back to Netflix to see what suggestions were waiting for me. Below was a challenge they threw down… Show us what you like, choose some films, we’ll help you find series and movies that you like.

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I had a look at their options and chose these titles:

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Their suggested films were:

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In the initial section, there were choices of films that I had recently watched and ranked, and other films closely related to the genres of film I had been watching.

What was interesting is that I wasn’t offered a broader range of films. I was seemingly typecast :-) into liking rom-coms, superhero based action films, and documentaries on drug traffickers. I didn’t have a mixture of different genres to choose from. My choices, right from the beginning, were limited to recent viewing folly.

I tried to cheat the system. I had a look at the options that were being presented and choose children’s cinema and the genre of horror. My selection looked like this:

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Netflix suggested these titles:

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Who knows where they got drop dead diva from… Possibly my wife’s viewing habits…

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 3.13.10 PMI guess the point here is that I have been placed in a filter bubble, the suggestions being based on my recent viewing habits. Harmless here, but what if it was a political view being reinforced? What if it was a perspective on a current affair or report on a certain issue I may not have heard about.

Applying this in Education

Specialization is a wonderful thing. The deeper investigation into one area of study is something that is usually undertaken at Master’s or Doctorate level. I fear that allowing learners to choose their own bespoke route of studies, informed by algorithms, could lead to early specialization in a certain area and lose that rich, transversal, cross-curricular blend that multiple discipline studies create. Allowing algorithms to suggest or guide our educational journey could create similar outcomes in our learners, one that does not perhaps support diversity.

Netnography – Total Leadership Learning community

What are the netnographic outcomes of this short investigation? (Note, this should be taken to support the Slides found here.)

In regards to the community it’s a mixed bag. Reportedly there are 33,000+ participating in the course, yet I am only involved with smaller groups. Whenever I search the hashtag on Twitter, rarely do I find links to other meaningful content. I am usually confronted with someone inadvertently advertising the course or saying how much difference this is having on them.

I decided to focus on the experiential and look at smaller communities. At the start of the Total Leadership course I signed up to a Spanish speaking group and we initially began to write to communicate via a Skype chat. Later on we decided to meet up online once a week, in a F2F chat. The group was very much full of business professionals, interested in the content, but also focused on making links with other business people. One thing that defined the group as a community of practice was their definition of certain terms and what they understood by them. As they went along defining their ideas, the began to expand and explore on certain themes they developed their own meaning among the group.  Based on clarifying things that they didn’t understand due to the mode of delivery in L2 they pushed the course into the realm of cMOOC. Some interesting aspects arose from their misunderstandings and the discussion of ideas.

I found the course to be a mix between cMOOC and xMOOC as it pushes the student to interact with peers and self reflect, instead of simply consuming knowledge, whilst my experience in the Spanish speaking group further affirmed these beliefs.  It was an aspect of the course which I am greatly enjoying.

Facebook: to be honest I haven’t had the chance to really dig deep into the Facebook group. I found the Skype and group forum interaction interesting and rewarding. The people I have met on the course so far have been positive and friendly, heaping praise on the content and impact it is having on their lives. There is still a buzz around the course.

Week 8 Summary

After finally completing the netnography, I found it a really useful and interesting first step to a more in-depth analysis of MOOCs and their social structure. As educators, in order to really evaluate the usefulness of technology, we should really deconstruct what is going on in MOOCs. This exercise opened my eyes to what we were doing on a social level, and how knowledge was being shared and formed by smaller groups, the concepts of xMOOC and cMOOC explored by Bonnie Stewart also opened my eyes to the effectiveness of these two different approaches to MOOCs.

Unfortunately, due to work commitments, it’s been difficult to write and explore these themes here in depth.

Stewart, B., (2013). Massiveness + Openness = New Literacies of Participation? MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Technology, 9(2), 2013.


MOOC Ethnography

As a participant, as well as a Netnographer, I felt that the only way I could really approach this task and gain important, reliable information was to be a full participant on the course and attempt everything a normal student would. I watched the first week’s video lectures, did the assignments, and then followed the community guidelines to introduce myself in the forum.

On the content: I found the videos very engaging, I felt I was being spoken directly to by the course tutor, Stewart Friedman. Both the connection between the lecturer and a strong sense of presence was there for me, I remember in IDEL we looked at this but I can’t quite remember the author who discussed it (any ideas fellow EDCers?). The content was also very interesting as the course touches on self-help/improvement, I felt very much part of it and the delivery of content is appealing. One of the first assignments was to describe what you expect to get from the course and ethically I posted that I was taking the course as part of the EDC as well as hoping to improve my leadership skills.

On Social Media presence: I managed to use the tweet archivist to follow ideas posted about the course, and I’ll be making a Storify board to post photos and information I find relevant to the study. I also joined the Facebook group for the course and this is where I will most likely focus my attention in the study in order to investigate the community. I went into the course forum and joined a Spanish speaking group. Interestingly this group went against geographical location and focused on the unifying aspect that is language. There are Spanish speakers from all over the world in this group, as opposed to localized study groups based on geography which was present on the forum.

On my peers: At the moment, there is a lot of positivity and excitement among my peers, I’m not sure if this is due to start of the course or week 1’s assignments. Lots of hope/aspiration about what can be achieved through the study. I just handed in the first community assignment and it will be evaluated by one of my peers, the course has two options an individual track and a community track. I will be engaging more in the Spanish forum and participating on Facebook throughout the week in order to gather more information.