How am I blogging?
This week I decided to collect data on the how of my engagement with the student blogs.
For seven days I recorded all my blog activity (Eynon’s (2015) ‘what’), and categorised it by how I engaged: visiting, looking (for items), reading, writing, and thinking. I also noted the order in which I took part in these activities and if there were any pauses in activity overall.
Results and Analysis
I decided this time to create a story around my activity, since it has a sequence of phases: posting; reading comments on my posts and responding; reading other posts and commenting etc. How this sequence plays out might be of interest to the teacher who created this whole activity.
Though I have kept time as an axis, I have manipulated the traditional straight line representation to draw attention to the fact that, sequence may be important, but the degree of association between activities may not be based on their difference in time.
I also suggested, through the visualisation, how visible these different activities would be to a teacher, to allow comparision between the available and (part of the) unavailable data.
This depiction of time is inspired by the ideas of gyrification of the cerebral cortex of the human brain, causing folding, which it is thought to help speed communication between brain cells (beyond those that are ajoining).
A linear depiction of time can suggest the further things are apart in time, the weaker/more distant the relationship, whereas this depiction suggests things (and time) are not always that simple. And time is something that is measured and reported as a common feature of learning systems reports and dashboards (suggesting it is important): a dashboard will have already decided how you view data such as time (pre-set options being only an illusion of teacher personalisation and control).
A teacher may look for the story of a student’s enagement in a dashboard, but find no more than occasional glimps of selected (by whom?) types of activity. A very large proportion of even the behavioural activity here is rendered invisible because of the methodology of data collection and visualisation (making the student look initial partially then completely disengaged).
How does this relate to teaching?
- The dashboard answers the research question of its own choice based on the data it has elected to collect and share which, if nothing else, is based on its technical capabilities, rather than needs of staff or students.
- Any options available to teachers when using the dashboard are an illusion of control: all decisions of importance have already been taken.
- Data the learning system does not/cannot collect, is so undervalued as to be not worth mentioning (Williamson et al, 2020) to the teacher.
- When a teacher looks at a dashboard (or VLE report), there is no indication (warning?) that this is partial and incomplete picture of ‘what’ happened and completely missing the ‘why’.
- Dashboards always presents students in a superficial, datafied form, potentially affecting the teacher’s impression of them and thereby their relationship.
- As before, if this data is visible by the institution, this may be read as a proxy for the teachers ability, e.g. to teach, engage their students, or use the learning technology effectively (Williamson et al, 2020).
Eynon, R., 2015. The quantified self for learning: critical questions for education. Learning, Media and Technology, 40 (4), pp. 407-411, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2015.1100797
Williamson, B. Bayne, S. Shay, S. 2020. The datafication of teaching in Higher Education: critical issues and perspectives. Teaching in Higher Education. 25(4), pp. 351-365.