It is the first day of the ninth international conference on Networked Learning 2014 and I made it in time for the official welcome. There was a doctoral symposium earlier in the day that sounded excellent according to the twitter stream but alas I was on the train travelling the fours hours from Huddersfield to Edinburgh so not there in person. But from the terms being thrown around like ‘heutagogy’ and ‘trace ethnography’ and intriguingly PHD research on beer by Steve Wright (@stevewright1976).
There was a great (and funny) intro to Edinburgh & Scotland from Siân Bayne who also told us that we are at one of the oldest Universities founded in 1583.
Need for a critical approach to technology in education
Neil Selwyn, Monash University, Australia was the keynote speaker and his presentation was entitled: Networked learning in 2014 – why it is crucial to be critical.
One of the delegates, Nicola Osborne (@suchprettyeyes) live blogged his talk and the questions from the audience which you can find here: http://nicolaosborne.blogs.edina.ac.uk/
I enjoyed Neil’s keynote specifically his insistence that there is a need to have a critical mindset or critical stance and to keep asking questions about how educational technology is embedded in political structures, power structures etc. and he gave the example of Audrey Watters, who writes about education (and technology), as someone who is an enjoyable ‘snarky’ voice that counteracts the tendency towards uncritical hype that surround some claims for how technology will revolutionise, transform and disrupt education. I find it very useful to read the Hack Education blog so I can understand what Neil was talking about. I think it would be fair to say that there was a mixed reception to the keynote but it certainly got everyone talking about what critical can mean though I am not sure there was much appetite for embracing pessimism as an outlook.
Take a look at Neil Selwyn’s research profile for more information:
I highly recommend Audrey Watters’ blog hackeducation.com
Networked and multiple identities
I headed to the session with presentations by Jane Davis (@JaneDavis13), Catherine Cronin (@catherinecronin) and Joyce Seitzinger (@catspyjamasnz) who had sort of joined up their presentations. Jane Davis started us off with an activity (always a good idea to get people going) mapping our various roles at play whilst we were also students to illustrate the overlap, complexity and how one role can be more salient at one time etc. A very useful exercise in getting us thinking about the complexities of students lives. And I am always happy when I get to glue stuff.
Catherine Cronin focused on the interaction between teacher and students and talked about the benefits of online spaces as ‘third spaces’ that are both formal and informal where students can see teachers being learners etc. She also highlighted – from work by Danah Boyd – that the networked world has brought about a really significant shift from ‘private by default, public by effort’ to ‘public by default, private by effort’. I really like a quote she used from Danny Miller:
“As studies become more contextualised it seems that the real lesson of online identity is not that it transforms identity but that it makes us more aware that offline identity was already more multiple, culturally contingent and contextual than we had appreciated” (Danny Miller 2013).
For me this rings true in relation to so many things at times attributed to a shift to online or use of technologies when in fact it simply reveals preexisting assumptions that we have been taking for granted about for example face to face teaching practices
Check out Catherine Cronin’s slides at ow.ly/vuVF2 and the paper Networked learning and identity development in open online spaces
Joyce Seitzinger talked about curation and made the very interesting point that people are able to use curation tools to build online identity without a lot of self disclosure. Using Pinterest boards as example where focus is mainly on artefacts with minimal info about the person curating the board.
Very much enjoyed my first day at my first Networked Learning Conference and look forward to tomorrow’s many many sessions. All the papers are available from http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/info/confpapers.htm and you can follow us on #NLC2014.
Apologies for the rough notes and slightly rubbish linking, wordpress app not following orders (and it’s getting late) – I have since tidied up the links a bit (on 10th April)
Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen)
photo by @kshjensen (view from my hotel window) CC BY-SA 3.0