The Crib Sheet

During the exchange I was discussing in the previous post, Becky (Wood) shared an example of one of the resources she had been using to provide whole class feeback:

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During a daily observation, this tweet dropped into my timeline:

At the time, I think I’m right in saying the author, Lauran, was a trainee teacher, so her question was perhaps pitched towards those with wider experience. Including the hashtag #teamenglish helps in that regard, and through its reach, draws in a variety of responses. #teamenglish and the account which acts under the same banner (@Team_English) are relatively young, but have enjoyed an explosion of interest in the year since their inception. An interesting case to study in their own right perhaps, but for now I’ll stay on track and explore where Lauran’s tweet took me what assembled as a result of Lauran’s tweet.Read More »

Pingbacks: hiding in plain sight

Having set thesis drafting aside pending feedback from my supervisors, I’ve returned to my data … and each time I write that phrase ‘my data,’ it bothers me. It’s really not my data at all; I don’t have any particular rights over them, other than, with the help of a bunch of other folk. having assembled them together. Anyway, I’ve returned to my flânografie and am casting my eyes back over the notes I made during the seven months of participant observation. These were the episodes which appeared on Twitter, sometimes in my timeline, sometimes through using search terms on Tweetdeck and often as a result of someone pointing me towards a tweet or post they thought I might find interesting.

“Bloom’s Taxonomy and Twitter” by Aditi Rao, @TeachBytes

In this instance I have Andrea Stringer to thank for pointing me towards the blog post which prompted me to write this. “22 Ways To Use Twitter With Bloom’s Taxonomy” was written by Aditi Rao, @TeachBytes on Twitter. Usually when an item like this came into view, I’d make some notes describing what I saw and adding a few reflective comments. Back in January of 2017 when I read Aditi’s post, I remarked neither on Aditi’s brief introduction to the graphic, nor on its contents. What struck me more was the effect it was having on other people and how they might be learning from it. My attention was therefore drawn to the ways in which other people had interacted with the post and their reactions to it.Read More »

Suis-je flâneur?

“Flanerie” flickr photo by IaninSheffield shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

Several happenstances intersected to bring me to the point where I’m embarking on a different approach to my analysis which is more coherent with my overall study, as I outlined here. The purpose of this post is to put a little more flesh on the bones of the initial phase in which I explore data.

There were two strands which, though unconnected, brought me to this point. The first, as I mentioned in the previous post, was Martina mentioning the process of ‘data walking’ by Eakle (2007). The second was exchanges with Deborah and me becoming intrigued by her blog title, the édu flâneuse and then captured by the quote with which she subtitles it:

“For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate observer, it’s an immense pleasure to take up residence in multiplicity, in whatever is seething, moving, evanescent and infinite: you’re not at home, but you feel at home everywhere, you’re at the centre of everything yet you remain hidden from everybody.” Baudelaire

When I began to explore further, there seems to a small but significant (and eclectic) body of research which draws on the notion of the flâneur in different ways. First it might help if I outline the origins:Read More »

Participant, contributor or co-researcher? Which are you?

“People Want Touch and Keyboard on Clamshell Devices” flickr photo by IntelFreePress shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

‘Human subject’ as a term still found in articles discussing ethics, or ‘participant observation’ from ethnographic literature hint at the source of some of my troubles this week. There have been a host of different people who have wittingly or otherwise become involved as my research has unfolded. How should I refer to them in my thesis? Subjects? Participants? Respondents? Informants? We are not short of terms and can go on from there to include interviewees, co-researchers, collaborators and many more. To some extent, it depends upon the research tradition within which your research is located. For example the British Sociological Association ethics guidance refers to research participants, as indeed does that from the British Psychological Society. The move away from talking about research ‘subjects’ acknowledges the agency that someone invited to participate in research has in determining their level of involvement and respects the contribution they make to the research endeavour. However, the term ‘human subject’ still persists in many disciplines and still forms one of the criteria used in decision-making processes when considering one’s ethical approach: ‘Does the research involve human subjects?’Read More »

A new tartan

“Sumo” flickr photo by Better Than Bacon shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

As thesis drafting has increasingly occupied my time, posts on here have become noticeably less frequent. I must confess that I’ve been finding it realllly tough going! I can knock out a 1000 word blog post in three hours or so, but the same amount of time is often only delivering a tenth that towards my thesis. I suspect that’s because I’ve elected to start with (WARNING: the following terms will not survive through to the final thesis!) a discussion of the literature, the theoretical framing and the methodological approach. All sections draw heavily from the literature so when you’re constructing an argument, you need to pull together the ideas expressed by a number of authors. Although I (usually) know the arguments I want to make, finding the references within the literature is incredibly time consuming. Clearly the notes I made during the earlier stages of my research weren’t up to the job and I now begin to see why some doctoral programmes require you to produce literature reviews very early. I must confess though, that I was in no position 12 to 18 months ago to do that. I’ve only recently begun to feel capable of writing about actor-network theory, sociomaterial approaches and other poststructural and new materialist ways of thinking. For me, there was no shortcut to getting some sense of understanding; it simply needed time for me to grapple and wrestle, to chew and chomp, masticate and munch.Read More »

What do I share with Olympic heroes?

“BBC Documentary Super Saturday 2012 Olympic Heroes” flickr photo by IaninSheffield shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

Michael Johnson met Jess Ennis-Hill in a recent BBC documentary about the London Olympics 2012 ‘Super Saturday,’ as we in the UK came to call it. Michael came up to Sheffield to speak with Jess, so there were a few shots from around the city. In the programme, Jess, Mo and Greg spoke about their experiences of the day, and their lives subsequently. From here I could of course take this in the direction of the grit and determination these three folks showed. How they overcame adversity, fought back and earned the rewards they so richly deserved … and then of course relate that to studying for a PhD … but no.

Over a year ago now I wrote of a reading group I convened in which three profs were kind enough to discuss a reading of a book with me. We went out of the Uni to a coffee house just around the corner. It’s called ‘Tamper/Sellers Wheel’ and has a small, one-table room you can book. The one in the above shot. It’s a small world.

What this did get me thinking though was about fixity and flow. The table, the chairs, the room are all the same as when we used them; the materiality remained the same. The materiality served the same function for Michael and Jess that it did for us; the only difference was the point in time at which the activities took place. So we have two assemblages in which the materiality remains the same (perhaps apart from the drinks!), but the people are different. Initially this worried me somewhat; did the nonhumans in these events have the significance that I’m claiming they do in my research? One way to answer the question is to ask what would happen if each actor was not there, so take the chairs …literally! Could the event still have taken place? Well, yes, though perhaps less comfortably. We, Jess and Michael, could still have completed our exchanges whilst standing or walking around. If the drinks still had to play a part, we might have needed to change the cups for ones which fulfilled the act of ‘drink holding’ for something more appropriate to walking, but yes, the table, chairs and room could all be taken away without affecting the event unduly. Now imagine that Michael couldn’t come to Sheffield, or that the people with whom I discussed the book were in Australia. Distance or separation becomes an actor and has an affect, causing the conversation to need a mediator, like a telephone or Skype. Suddenly, the importance of the nonhumans becomes apparent. Furthermore, the technology is more than a mere tool to ‘be used,’ it becomes an actor which affects the nature and quality of the interaction. Take it away, or swap one technology for another, and the whole interaction changes; you’re obliged to do things differently and the outcome may also be different.

One other thought struck me. Jess and Michael weren’t just using a room, table and chairs like my reading group. They were using the room, table and chairs that we were. Of course we could all have been there at the same time, but things would quickly have become very messy and once more, the outcome would be different. Instead by sliding them apart in time, the two meetings can now take place, even though the nonhumans which participated are precisely the same. I guess what I’m rather clumsily or self evidently saying here is that I might need to think of time as an actor, perhaps in a slightly different way to that when I did so previously. In thinking about Tamper, my group and the Olympians are held apart in different timespaces, despite us participating with the same location and other nonhumans. It is time which enabled our two discussions to unfold as they did. An invisible, intangible, but crucial actor.

There’s a *new* materialism?

“Sociology and New Materialism” flickr photo by IaninSheffield shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

At my last meeting, one of my supervisors suggested a book that he thought might inform my methodological chapter (whatever it ultimately gets called!): “Sociology and the New Materialism: Theory, Research, Action” by Fox and Alldred (2016). At the heart of the book is the notion that we might problematise the human as being central to the research endeavour. Someone must conduct the research, right? What Fox and Alldred offer however is a less anthropocentric view, where knowledge, rather than being revealed or constructed by a researcher, is produced by an “assemblage of things, people, ideas, social collectivities and institutions.” Here then I’ll try to summarise what I’ve learned from the book and what implications it might have for my research musings.Read More »

#80 Days … well, perhaps a little more

“Mark Beaumont (on the right) Joins the Countrywide Great Tour” flickr photo by Geraint Rowland Photography shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

I started my computer this morning and, as I have for the past couple of weeks, opened my browser and immediately checked up on the progress of Mark Beaumont. This Scot is currently involved in a world record attempt to cycle Around the World in 80 Days. As of today, 21st July, he’s on target.Read More »


Using the Treeverse application I mentioned in the last post, I’ve now gone back through my field notes to some of the exchanges I came across during my participant observation. Some were brief and some were longer, but Treeverse provided a rather different perspective, and in several cases brought in some tweets that DataMiner hadn’t captured. In addition to being able to get a better sense of how the exchanges unfolded with time and being able to quickly swap between different threads, the tree view provides an immediate snapshot which is informative in itself.Read More »