This week I tracked my interactions with others from the course on our blogs. I chose the visualisation to represent a sort of network as this is what came to mind when thinking about engaging with others in a community. As in previous weeks, there are variables that, in hindsight, I could have included which may have provided a more detailed picture. For example, I could have tracked the type of comment (general or question) or all interactions between the other course students. On reflection, however, I’m not sure it would have given me any more insight.
I consider myself as more of a lurker so engaging with others doesn’t come naturally. I wanted to see, however, whether my efforts to communicate with others would be rewarded with a higher level of engagement in general. My visualisation shows that the majority of comments was initiated by me and that I only received a response on around half of my comments. While we could draw conclusions from this, we need to consider that there are many variables that can’t be tracked. The data don’t give much away in terms of why my visualisation looks like this. Perhaps my comments weren’t very thought-provoking, maybe people hadn’t had the chance to look at their blogs during the week or maybe we can only achieve high engagement if participation is assessed. Likewise, when it comes to learning analytics systems, it should be considered that the use of digital data ‘relies on making a number of assumptions that do not necessarily reflect the complexities of social life’ (Selwyn 2015, p. 75). What came to mind when thinking about my data and my learning, was the concept of communities of practice by Wenger-Trayner & Wenger-Trayner (2011) which to them ‘reflects the fundamentally social nature of human learning’. According to them:
Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.’(Wenger-Trayner & Wenger-Trayner, 2015)
Does my picture show an ideal community of practice? Perhaps not. What the visualisation doesn’t show, however, is what I have learnt by simply reading the other blogs. I might have not achieved the engagement I initially expected but I still feel that the exercise was beneficial to my learning.
Neil Selwyn (2015). Data entry: towards the critical study of digital data and education. Learning, Media and Technology, 40:1, 64-82.
Wenger-Trayner, E. and Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015). Introduction to Communities of Practice. Available at: https://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/. (Accessed 13 February 2021).
Wenger-Trayner, E. and Wenger-Trayner, B. (2011). What is a community of practice? Available at: https://wenger-trayner.com/resources/what-is-a-community-of-practice/ (Accessed 13 February 2021).