Time Shifting Teaching

|Matt Offord

Collecting data from last week’s teaching for the last blog in this block, I decided to simplify things and create a simple breakdown of my teaching in terms of time slippage between teaching and learning in covidian teaching. I was also partly inspired by the investigation of #hybridlearning (see dandelion of data), it’s the infiltration of edtech and reading van Dijk et. al. (2018) on the subject of educational platforms. I remembered that I teach one of my courses on Future Learn, one such platform. I thought the current situation of remote teaching along with the teaching I do on this platform skews the times of teaching and learning. I often teach at different times to those at which students learn, a rather odd situation for traditional F2F teaching but not for digital education.

I recorded the daily episodes of asynchronous activity like discussion forums and recorded lectures and synchronous activity like real-time (Zoom) lectures and tutorials plus my daily ‘drop-in’ sessions on Zoom. I also recorded the times I used MS Teams to talk to students which straddles the synchronity barrier as often real-time chat happens there. Finally, I also recorded the amount monitoring of students by watching their activity on the platform they are on (marked in purple with an ‘M’).

The monitoring is, I suppose, a type of dataveillance (I am not sure). The course I am teaching currently involves a complex business game. Students play the game on a simulation platform, so most days I monitor their decisions and, yes, their performance (Williamson et. al. 2020, Harrison et. al. 2020). However, these data concern the game only, and is required to prepare for tutorials. However, it does show how education is increasingly located on platforms and how data-soaked these platforms actually are (van Dijck et. al. 2018).

The data demontrates the extent to which teaching is currently asynchronous. But this is skewed by the recorded lectures which are entirely activity to build a Future Learn course. Campus courses were originally intended to be asynchronous but student dialogue in Semester One led to a greater tolerance of synchronous sessions. These courses have very little video material as video tends to be passive as a form of learning. In summary the teaching is mostly balanced between real time and flexible learning but purely digital teaching tends to push the asynchronous approach ahead.

van Dijck, J., Poell, T., & de Waal, M. 2018. Chapter 6: Education, In The Platform Society, Oxford University Press

Harrison, M.J., Davies, C., Bell, H., Goodley, C., Fox, S & Downing, B. 2020. (Un)teaching the ‘datafied student subject’: perspectives from an education-based masters in an English universityTeaching in Higher Education

Williamson, B. Bayne, S. Shay, S. 2020. The datafication of teaching in Higher Education: critical issues and perspectivesTeaching in Higher Education. 25(4), pp. 351-365.

1 thought on “Time Shifting Teaching

  1. Very interesting to consider the emerging temporal configurations and flexibilities associated with digital teaching and studying, and to consider the kinds of data that might be generated when that happens on external platforms. FutureLearn is an interesting case because it came out of the Open University, but has since been part-acquired by the Australian SEEK Group, a set of companies dedicated to employment and education and dedicated to “world-class products through ongoing investment into AI and technology”. SEEK claims to have reached 70 million students worldwide through its various products. In this sense, it might be an interesting case to keep in mind as we move on to the ‘governing with data’ block, as data-driven education companies like SEEK now have the capacity to influence education at remarkable global scale far exceeding the national borders of government ministries of education. If there is indeed ‘dataveillance’ working behind the scenes in these massive education organizations, and the new models of digital, asynchronous, distance education they promote, it’s happening at dramatic scale.

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