A week of reading

Data Visualisation: reading

For my first data visualisation I chose to log my course-related reading. Initially, I thought I would mainly log my reading of the course literature but it soon turned out that I would end up with quite a few different reading categories. I assumed it would be fairly straight-forward but once I started, I questioned how much detail to include or whether to consider other factors as well. Is it important to record exactly how long I’m reading? And should I log which article I’m reading or is it enough to state that I’m reading some of the course readings?

The time factor, in particular, kept playing on my mind and I was conscious that readers may judge me based on the amount of time I spent on each “task” or overall. What would a learning analytics system think of my efforts? It would probably agree with my findings in that my reading is very fragmented. However, while I attribute this to the exceptional circumstances in which I’m trying to combine work, study, childcare and homeschooling, an automated system would most likely not take these factors into account. Recording time spent on certain resources is easy to do, but as Bulger (2016, p.16) states ‘time itself is not a significant indication of engagement, but rather how that time is spent.’

Regarding the data visualisation itself, it was tempting to make use of traditional tools such as charts or graphs but I wanted to challenge myself and represent data in a different way. I hope my visualisation has achieved this. It was interesting experimenting with shapes and colour and I’m hoping that I can develop my visualisations in terms of creativity over the next few weeks.

References Bulger, M. (2016) Personalized Learning: The Conversations We’re Not Having. Data & Society working paper. Available at: https://datasociety.net/pubs/ecl/PersonalizedLearning_primer_2016.pdf

6 thoughts on “A week of reading

  1. Thats a really good point – not just about time spent but the quality with which it was spent – I guess the same applies to online learning

  2. This is a lovely, simple and effective visualization. I like the way you’ve thought inventively about how to represent your reading. What stands out though is that in producing the dataviz you have had to confront questions about how much detail to include, what to select from all the possible data you could have included, and what to exclude. You’ve also begun asking good critical questions about the kinds of ‘judgments’ that a learning analytics platform might make (how much does your activity conform to or deviate from the ‘norms’ assumed by the software), and the limitations of measuring learning in terms of ‘time’ (when there are so many external factors shaping ‘time spent’ on an activity that would be invisible to the software). Do you think that knowing you were being constantly measured in these ways might make you feel a bit anxious, or change your behaviour in subtle ways?

    • Thank you for your feedback. In terms of constantly being monitored, I think I would feel slightly anxious. Knowing that everything you do is being tracked would make me feel really conscious of having to “perform” well at all times. This, in turn, may lead to subtle changes but I’m not sure that I would learn more effectively.

  3. Nice visualisation, very clear to read and tells a lot.

    A question that came to my mind and its something that I think is probably more relevant now than before the pandemic. The quality of the task done in each location? We are all now generally speaking, stuck in the four walls of our house. Which one is more suitable to learning?

    • I like your visualization, Susanne! Last week I was also tracking my reading for the course and felt concerned about the same question – what will they think about me as a learner? Am I good enough? I guess that by imposing those frames of normality that most tracking systems are based on, the technology is risking to discourage even more often than empower.

    • I initially didn’t want to include location because the options are so limited. While I find my study most suitable to learning, I also sometimes need a change of scenery. Before lockdown it used to be the office or a cafe and now it’s my bedroom or living room.

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