Block 2. Week 6. Teaching: Reading off-piste

This data visualisation aims to represent the reading that I did over the past two weeks related to the topics we are thinking and writing about but that’s not on the course reading list. Call this reading ‘off piste’. Each branch represents a ‘reading path’: the straight one is the reading path set out by the course reading list; each branch off this main path represents off-piste reading on a particular topic; each leaf represents a 15-minute segment of reading; the dots the author I’m reading on each topic: Kitchin [2021], Véliz [2020], Brady [2019], Wu [2017] and Savage [2015].

Students often seek out readings by themselves: it’s one significant dimension to learning how to think for yourself and to becoming a more autonomous learner.  The visualisation could  be used as a contrast with standard teacher-facing dashboards which do not show teachers such ‘off-piste’ information. This kind of ‘datafication’ – ‘the rendering of social and natural worlds in machine readable digital format’ [Williamson et al, 2020:351] —  brings with it the risk that ‘only that learning that can be datified is considered valuable’ [Williamson et al, 2020:358]. Off-piste reading is hard to datify, so there is the risk that it, and the autonomous learning and thinking it engenders will be deemed less valuable. More generally, since dashboards seem to limit how teachers ‘see’ students [Brown 2020] by repeatedly directing their attention to features like ‘engagement’ – construed narrowly as platform engagement — off-piste engagement will no longer be seen or counted as such.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

1 thought on “Block 2. Week 6. Teaching: Reading off-piste

  1. Great visualisation here, and I think the ‘branch’ theme really captures the theme of productive deviation in reading.

    ‘The visualisation could be used as a contrast with standard teacher-facing dashboards which do not show teachers such ‘off-piste’ information. ‘

    Excellent point. Analytics often seem to be concerned with keeping students ‘on task’ – there is even application with that very name: Acknowledging and visualising the important excesses and inefficiencies of learning, as you are doing here, seems to be an important part of critiquing and resisting the idea that learning needs to be fast, precise, and without ‘wasted’ time.

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