Monday, November 9, 2020

Promoting connections around the fringes of virtual classes

Who remembers queuing in awkward silence... which eventually led to carefully negotiated acquaintance and possibly lifelong friendships, or at least learning where you were meant to be next? Social Network Analysis takes a look at who interacts with who on the basis of digital activity traces in terms of the data recorded about interactions. I'm wondering how a typical SNA map of a class/lecture would look before and after the COVID flip to online versions. We used to worry about student chatter in lectures. While this is happening less, if at all, in online classes, and we are glad to still bring students to an 'event', they now join with blinkers on: zooming into the session and back out again causes a kind of tunnel vision with respect to peers. In SNA terms, this would look like a particularly tight hub and spoke network. Although a lecture format is sometimes mocked for requiring one-way traffic from the lecturer to the students, in fact there is a lot more latitude for connections in a lecture setting than zoom, unless there are deliberate efforts to break up those hard-wired spoke-to-hub connections. There actually is no-one else in the room to turn to - what chance purple and black will rub virtual shoulders? How can we enable or promote connections between students? Would putting students into breakout rooms at regular intervals be enough to enable the helpful social learning milieu...? Would #togethermode ...?

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

A Networked Learning Disposition? Round Table at NLC2020

I am looking forward very much to the online/lockdown version of the Networked Learning Conference next week. A lot more people will be able to attend now that it's gone fully online so it will be a very different experience in various ways.
I'm delighted to be hosting a 'round table' discussion on the first day from 13.30-15.45. I'm expecting a lot more people in the room but also, because there's no physical movement required to room-hop, I think people will be far more transient in their attendance - there will be drive-by's.
The topic of 'disposition' is one that has been gnawing at me for a while. The round table format should allow plenty of time for others to also chew back at it. The question I have is whether there is a disposition towards being the ideal networked learner. It relates to a previous question I framed on this blog in 2008, 'what characterises the networked learned'? Are there things about you (apart from sheer privilege!) that make you a good match for networked learning? This is not the same as learning styles although some of the trait words used there may crop up here. I've been working up a mindmap about disposition and I'm looking to my partners in next week's round table discussion to help with developing and refining ideas and implications of this for networked learning practice, design and research. The mindmap for that is embedded below - it's a wikimap so if you want to, go ahead and add some ideas. It makes sense to try and write it all up and I'm keen to acknowledge any contribution. Probably there are whole swathes of knowledge about 'disposition' I'm unaware of so even a tip-off would be appreciated. If you wish to suggest any, please go ahead and add them to the References GoogleDoc:

For a bit more context, Michael Gallagher took up the idea of 'disposition' for his paper at Zagreb's NLC2018. His paper is in the NLC archive and his blog post includes the slides. Among many excellent points, he addressed the critique of 'disposition' being deterministic: post-human perspectives of shared agency should also allow us to avoid that dead-end.
It was great to share the same session with Michael to present my paper on mobilage, originally blogged here in 2017.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


A few weeks ago, a brief exchange on twitter highlighted a difficulty common to many fields: how to enable a way in to the literature.
There are lots of ways of providing an index. Google Scholar does some of it. I don't think any of the databases cover the NL conference archive, and we might want to include other non-NLC sources anyway. We have a saying, 'he who has the vision gets the job'.
Joe used Kumu for his Knowledge Hub. Kumu allows for various ways of presenting the same information, so was preferred over CMAPS, as good as that is. Kumu's free for public maps. Anything that requires effort needs to be reasonably durable and Kumu appears to have that. It also has an CSV import, which, data cleaning notwithstanding, could save a lot of time hand-coding. There may be no way to avoid some of that.
Although in lockdown, Alice kindly sent me 3 exports from the SCHED app used in the previous 3 conferences. So, when I can get to it, this presents a viable way forward. It will still require a fair bit of data cleaning and there are some decisions to make... E.g. whether to re-host the papers, where possible. If anyone is interested to help with this project, do get in touch. There could be some bread pudding in it for you...

Bread pudding