Visualising assemblage

Having decided to attempt to describe certain phenomena on Twitter as learning assemblage, I now find myself in somewhat of a quandary. Earlier yesterday, whilst teaching a group of undergrad BEd with Science QTS students about circular motion, we were discussing the importance of sketching free-body diagrams to aid understanding and problem solving. So perhaps it’s the scientist in me that generates the proclivity to want to summarise situations by using visualisations of one sort or another. A quick scan through the back catalogue of this blog will reveal many examples, however I now find myself struggling and somewhat dissatisfied.

I’ve recently been drafting vignettes in which I describe groups and activity on Twitter as assemblage, but I feel the need to produce a visualisation which captures a sense of what that is. The problem of course is that I’m trying to render assemblage, a dynamic process, as a static representation. But why should that be a problem? That’s precisely what I’ve been doing when producing physics free-body diagrams isn’t it? Representing a dynamic situation through a static diagram?

“Marble loop” flickr photo by IaninSheffield https://flickr.com/photos/ianinsheffield/24447353008 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

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“Can Twitter learn?”

“Can Twitter learn? Can a tweet learn?”

“Twitter Expert” by mkhmarketing https://flickr.com/photos/mkhmarketing/8540535352 is licensed under CC BY

Two questions one of my supervisors posed in the feedback on a recent draft thesis section I’d submitted. Despite knowing this was playfully provocative, I’m only too well aware that I need to be able to answer questions like this, whatever their intention. In response, I first need to clarify what learning is within the context of my study. Although there’s an imperative to lay that out within my thesis, I haven’t yet done so because I’ve been wrestling with how learning is conceived through a sociomaterial perspective. What better time to grasp that nettle?

What constitutes learning is often unproblematically taken for granted amongst most educators, however, during twenty years of teaching I can’t recall ever discussing it explicitly as an isolated concept. Read More »

It might be a little way off yet, but …

“thesis” flickr photo by Liz Henry https://flickr.com/photos/lizhenry/147745444 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

The traditional way that most theses are presented is in the form of an 80 000(ish) word report. University regulations usually specify that this should be bound in hard copy format, and ready to be posted onto the shelves in the Library stacks. Recently, in the spirit of openly sharing knowledge, it is becoming common for Universities to also require a digital copy of the thesis for posting to the institutional digital repository. For me then, this will be through the Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive, SHURA. We are also now required, where permissible, to post the data that our research generates. This aligns with my own feelings about research being as open as is ethically permissible, so I have no problem with any of this.

As I have begun drafting my thesis, the necessity for it to conform to the constraint of A4-shaped dead trees is causing me a few headaches. I don’t have a problem with writing text … actually I do, but that’s another story! Read More »

Wither wends my tweet?

I was attempting to write a vignette yesterday about how the tweet which prompted this post actually got in front of the eyes of some people who might be so inclined to respond. If we’re asking a question or seeking advice, rather than sharing a resource or thought, then the audience becomes even more significant than it normally would. Without an audience, like the falling tree in the forest needing someone to hear it, the tweet and the query it carries may as well not be there.Read More »

Mentoring?

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 https://teachbytes.com/2013/03/25/22-ways-to-use-twitter-with-blooms-taxonomy/

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 https://flickr.com/photos/ianinsheffield/36383892350 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 https://flickr.com/photos/intelfreepress/6837433138 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 https://flickr.com/photos/slurm/3989895242 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 »