Archive for the assignment category
This entry is part 11 of 12 in the series weekly summaries

ff7_dc_lifestream05

I began my lifestream with a sense that I would be saving ephemera.  In my early blog posts I played with the ‘why?’ of the activity.  Was I creating commonplace book, a scrapbook of nostalgia, the virtual clippings and travel stubs to remind me of my journey? Or a bower bird, attracting a mate?  If so who was I flirting with – my tutor, my classmates or a wider public?

As the course progressed and the group bonded we looked more seriously at our role, were we curators creating our own cabinet of curiosities or wunderkammer.  I enjoyed Jen and Tony’s discussion, particularly Tony’s articulation of his concerns, in that it set the collector apart from the collection, not with appropriate academic detachment but a tinge of imperialistic superiority.  This was further explored in the ethnography project – should we observe, or engage?  Here I began to see the emergence of a more useful position on lifestreaming: as a record of engagement.  Much of the internet is ephemeral – I don’t see the point in saving your tweets and Gordon Bell’s decision to digitally archive every detail of his life disturbs me. Yet the experience of creating a lifestream helped me understand how maintaining a selective record of your engagement is a very valuable academic or developmental act that has a performative value.

Interestingly the lifestream did not for me contribute to the social aspect of the course.  As a group we interacted well, but primarily through the blogs and Twitter.  I visited other students lifestreams initially to get a sense of which feeds they were using, but once I felt satisfied with the balance of my own feeds my visits to others’ pages was limited to their blogs.  For this reason lifestreaming for me was a personal act (albeit in a public space) which relieved me of having to worry about the appropriacy of what I was selecting.  I chose to link not only websites, images and quotes directly relevant to my work, but also more tangential associations; blog posts which examined how the net and digital technology is changing who we are – social media’s contribution to the emergence of a posthuman population.

Finally, as I moved towards choosing the topic of a final assignment I looked out how disconcerting online spaces can be for both teachers and students.  In a Second Life talk Nik Peachey discussed how in a virtual world a teacher was often left wondering what their students were doing.  Were they paying attention or reading emails?

Usher (1998) talks of (dis)location:

a space and a non-space; a (dis)location – something that is both positioned and not positioned, (dis)placed but not re-placed, a diaspora space of hybridity and flows where one and many locations are simultaneously possible.

Similarly Bayne (forthcoming 2010) notes:

At the same time, the ontological blurring of being and not-being, presence and absence online, are crucial in considering how distance modes re-position the ‘thereness’ of learners and teachers, rendering us in a sense ghost‐like

The lifestream is a response to this enigma of absence/presence.  We become present through our streams.  This is why I noted that the act of selecting gained for me a performative value.  It represented my engagement.  Initially I was concerned with populating my lifestream in order to prove I existed (and was doing valuable work), but as I grew more comfortable with it I allowed it to give voice to my absence.  When mystified by Haraway (2000) I avoided the stream for a few days  as a way of expressing my confusion and need to retreat and resolve myself as a learner.  Similarly, I allowed myself to be playful – to add threads of whimsy: my personal skepticism towards the skill of multi-tasking for instance.

In this way my lifestream became another form of embodiment, and presumably a way for my tutor to gauge my presence and engagement in a non-threatening way.  It gave a little solidity to my phantom self as I haunted our virtual spaces.

Bayne, S. (forthcoming, March 2010). Academetron, automaton, phantom: uncanny digital pedagogies. London Review of Education. [revised version uploaded 10 November 09]

Haraway, D. (2000). A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late 20th Century. in D Bell and A Kennedy, The Cybercultures Reader. Routledge.

Usher, R. and Edwards, R. (1998). Lost and found: ‘cyberspace’ and the (dis)location of teaching, learning and research. SCUTREA 1998, Exeter.

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This entry is part 9 of 12 in the series weekly summaries

After speaking with Jen I decided to do my final assessment on authority, in particular how we sometimes feel that authority is compromised in digital spaces and what if anything we (should?) do to assert our authority.  I first noticed this theme in Hine’s account of digital ethnography:

Along with travel comes the notion of translation (Turner, 1980). It is not sufficient merely to travel, but necessary also
to come back, and to bring back an account. That account gains much of its authoritative effect with the contrast that it constructs between author and reader: the ethnographer has been where the reader cannot or did not go.

and is a feature in the later readings on critical perspectives and even – now I reflect back – in the very first dystopian weeks.

I won’t give away all my ideas in this post – just give you a visual introduction:

respect-my-authority

question-authority

blog-authority

authority

mod admin

authorityyx6-1

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This entry is part 10 of 12 in the series weekly summaries

uncanny

Our new pedagogies may be uncanny but it was with a sigh of relief I returned to the familiar realm of education.  The jaunt through cultural studies has been extremely interesting, but I was getting a little lost without a peg to hang it all on.  It was the readings for this block (especially Bayne and Usher) that made everything fit into place.

I understand the dislocation of online learning, and it is the strangeness that draws me.  I find it liberating – the lack of fixed rules that melt away with the disappearance of classroom walls and chalkboards.  I am interested how this uncanny nature disconcerts some and exhilarates others.  I have never been convinced the the native / immigrant divide that we explored way back in the days of IDEL – if it is that simple then why do I feel so at home in this virtual world, when I didn’t have an email address until my boss begged me to get one in 1997 (the same guy who took me shopping to buy my first computer in 2000 – I think he knew I would never get my Dip TESOL finished without one)?  As I was pondering these issues I kept coming back to Bayne’s paper on smooth and striated learning spaces, which we studied in the Course Design module.  Maybe a posthuman student (and indeed teacher) must be a little in love with chaos, and strange learning.  We have to get comfortable with alternate democratic sources of knowledge.  I remember when it was announced (on the internet of course) that Wikipedia was as reliable as the Encyclopedia Britannica – I have no idea if it was true and no intention of researching it’s veracity – other than googling it (here, see? 2005 – it must be EVEN more accurate now) but I got a thrill of smug vindication when I first read it.  Maybe this is what makes us cyborgs – becoming posthuman is a leap of faith, not technology.

Bayne, S. (2004). Smoothness and striation in digital learning spaces. E-learning 1(2): pp. 302-316.

Bayne, S. (forthcoming, March 2010). Academetron, automaton, phantom: uncanny digital pedagogies. London Review of Education. [revised version uploaded 10 November 09]

Usher, R. and Edwards, R. (1998). Lost and found: ‘cyberspace’ and the (dis)location of teaching, learning and research. SCUTREA 1998, Exeter.