If space is a becoming what kind of spaces do we need for learning?

The second keynote at the Networked Learning Conference 2016 was presented by Sian Bayne. The title of her keynote was Campus Codespaces for Networked Learning, which she framed around the question ‘Do we need other ways to think about networked learning space?’

So like Caroline Haythornthwaite, (see post about her keynote), Sian was pushing us to think about networked learning in a different way, with a specific focus on ‘space’. Of course Caroline has also published about learning spaces:

Haythornthwaite, C. (2015). Rethinking learning spaces: networks, structures, and possibilities for learning in the twenty-first century. Communication Research and Practice, 1(4). doi:10.1080/22041451.2015.1105773

Did they talk to each other before the conference, I wonder, or was it pure serendipity that their concerns for the future of networked learning seem to be similar?

Sian’s argument is that we need to get away from the idea that the architecture of a university is the authentic space making distance education a less authentic space. She said that sedentarism is still driving universities.

Sian talked in turn about

  • smooth and striated space,
  • networked, fluid and fire space
  • code/space

She first wrote about smooth and striated space way back in 2004, basing that paper on the ideas of Deleuze and Guattari (1988) about the limiting effects of hierarchical, striated spaces (see list of references).

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 14.51.52 Slide 10

However smooth spaces are not necessarily utopias, as Frances Bell, Mariana Funes and I found in some recent research.

Mackness, J., Bell, F. & Funes, M. (2016). The Rhizome: a problematic metaphor for teaching and learning in a MOOC. 32(1), p.78-91 Australasian Journal of Educational Technology.

But notions of smooth and striated space are useful for thinking about how we might need to reconsider learning spaces. Is a MOOC a smooth or a striated space? Is a conference a smooth or a striated space?

Sian then went on to talk about bounded, networked and fluid space and the permeability of boundaries. All these spaces are important. She told us that distance students can have ‘campus envy’, i.e. they believe that the on campus students get a better deal, that the face-to-face bounded experience is somehow more authentic, which is not necessarily the case. The grass is not necessarily greener on the other side and absence can make the heart grow fonder, but her students think of the campus as ‘home’. My experience is that meeting face-to-face in a physical space adds value to connection, so I think I understand where Sian’s students are coming from.

Bounded space, networked space and fluid space are all defined by the relative stability of their boundaries and the relationship between elements. Unlike Etienne Wenger’s work on landscapes of practice and the importance of boundary crossing , Sian asked us to consider space in Mol and Law’s terms (1994) – as being fluid, that is, the boundaries are not permanent.

Mol and Law

Slide 20

I particularly liked the notion of ‘fire space’ – here but not here, presence and absence. I am now thinking about this in terms of Absent Presence, which I have blogged about before.  Absent presence in online interaction.

Sian’s argument is that we should offer students topological multiplicity. All these spaces are important. This resonates with my own research using the footprints of emergence, where we argue that prescribed learning spaces are no less important than emergent learning spaces. The need for each and the balance between the two will be determined by the context.

Finally Sian talked about code/space. I suspect that this is where her current research interests lie, whereas mine remain in the effects on identity and becoming of the multiplicity of spaces available to learners. But I was intrigued by the idea of code/space.

Kitchin and Dodge

Slide 33

Code/space is not coded space. Coded space is space which is not dependent on code, but code space depends on code. For distance students if the code fails, then they are disconnected and no longer at University. Disconnection was a topic discussed by Frances Bell, Catherine Cronin and Laura Gogia in their interesting and enjoyable symposium – Synergies, differences, and bridges between Networked Learning, Connected Learning, and Open Education

Ideas of space, becoming, disconnection, connection, metaphor, code, algorithms, collective well-being and different ways of knowing were threads running throughout the conference. It will be interesting to see if they are followed through in the next conference in Zagreb, Croatia, 2018, and how much our thinking and ideas will have moved on.

I will be following Sian and her team’s research to see how these ideas about space for becoming develop.

NLC2016: Sian Bayne keynote references (posted by Sian on Twitter)

Bayne, S., Gallagher, M.S. & Lamb, J. (2013). Being ‘at’ university: the social topologies of distance students. Higher Education 67(5): 569-583.

Bayne S. (2004) Smoothness and Striation in Digital Learning Spaces. E-Learning. 1(2): 302-316.

Carvalho, L., Goodyear, P. and de Laat, M. (eds) (2017) Place-based Spaces for Networked Learning. Abingdon: Routledge.

Cormier, D. (2015) Rhizo15 http://rhizomatic.net/

Deleuze, G. & Guattari, F. (1988) A Thousand Plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia. London: Continuum.

Dodge, M. and Kitchin, R. (2005) Code and the transduction of space. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 95(1), 2005, pp. 162–180.

Hannam, K., Sheller, M. & Urry, J. (2006). Editorial: mobilities, immobilities and moorings. Mobilities, 1(1), 1-22.

Kitchin, R. and Dodge, M. (2011) Code/Space: Software and Everyday Life. Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press.

Knox, J. (2016) Posthumanism and the MOOC: Contaminating the Subject of Global Education. Abingdon: Routledge.

Lamb, J. (2016) ‘Away from the university’. http://www.james858499.net/blog/away-from-the-university

Law, J. & Mol, A. (2001). Situating technoscience: an inquiry into spatialities. Environment and Planning D. (19), 609-621.

Mackness, J. & Bell, F. (2015) Rhizo14: A Rhizomatic Learning cMOOC in Sunlight and in Shade. Open Praxis, 7(1): pp. 25–38

Mackenzie, A. (2002) Transductions: Bodies and machines at speed. London: Continuum Press.

Matthews P. (2015) ‘YikYak’. http://drpetermatthews.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/yikyak.html

Mol, A. & Law, J. (1994). Regions, networks and fluids: anaemia and social topology. Social Studies of Science, 24(4), 641-671.

Pearce, N. (2015) ‘The YikYak lecturer’. https://digitalscholar.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/the-yik-yak-lecturer/

Reticulatrix (2013) ‘#EDCMOOC: School’s out’ https://reticulatrix.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/edcmooc-schools-out/

Ross, J. & Sheail, P. (2015) Campus imaginaries and dissertations at a distance. Society for Research into Higher Education Conference, 9-11 December 2015. https://www.srhe.ac.uk/conference2015/abstracts/0166.pdf

Sheller, M. & Urry, J. (2006). The new mobilities paradigm. Environment and Planning A, 38, 207-226.

Thatcher, J., O’Sullivan, D. & Mahmoudi, D. (2016) Data colonialism through accumulation by dispossession: New metaphors for daily data. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. DOI: 10.1177/0263775816633195

NLC2016 Hotseat notes: Boundaries and Limits of Networked and Connected Learning

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The second Networked Learning Conference 2016 Hotseat was a much quieter affair than the first, but none the worse for that. The topic, facilitated by Sonia Livingstone was – Boundaries and Limits of Networked and Connected Learning 

Sonia posted 4 topics for us to discuss:

  1. Experience of networked and connected learning, their boundaries and limits
  2. Limits to connectivity – how much of it do we (students, teachers) really want, and what are the demonstrable benefits?
  3. Risks of connectivity and what kinds of privacy or control or independence could be lost if everything is connected
  4. Educators’ roles: should we as educators respect students’ concerns to limit or bound learning networks, or should we strive to overcome them?

Experience of networked and connected learning, their boundaries and limits

Discussion in this thread was wide ranging. Sonia’s research is into 13-14 year old young people’s networks and how they manage connections between home, school, their community and elsewhere. She has found that there is some resistance from teachers, parents and students, who want to maintain boundaries and that connections across home and school can become ‘classed’ leading to inequality in learning experiences.

There was discussion about the need to balance connected learning (dialogue and collaboration) with individual or independent learning (silence and contemplation). Too much connectedness is not conducive to learning. Participation can be experienced as suffocation. Private, off-grid, solitude and contemplation are key factors in learning and disconnection is a part of learning that needs to be rediscovered. Identity is an issue.

By the end of the thread we were no nearer determining how students can take control of their learning in and out of school in formal and informal learning.

Limits to connectivity – how much of it do we (students, teachers) really want, and what are the demonstrable benefits?

The point was made that technically there are no limits to connectivity, although physically connectivity can be variable according to bandwidth and geography. The manipulation of Facebook, Twitter and Google in controlling what we see can limit connectivity and digital literacy should include critical questioning of platforms and assumptions. Sonia’s research has revealed that younger people are more willing to change platforms than older people and younger people are more willing to use adblocker software. It was suggested that building digital connections across the age range would be beneficial.

Risks of connectivity and what kinds of privacy or control or independence could be lost if everything is connected

The question was raised of whether (with increasing visibility and traceability online), privacy is any longer possible. This led to consideration of the role of surveillance and monitoring and some discussion of Jose van Dijck’s book The Culture of Connectivity. I spent some time reading around this and writing my contribution to the discussion, but made the mistake of writing it in Word and then copying and pasting it into the forum. To my dismay it copied as an image which meant that none of the links worked – so I am attaching it here. Post about Jose Van Dijck’s work . The point made by van Dijck and Sonia, which was significant for this discussion, is that there is a difference between connectedness and connectivity. Connectedness is social participation. Connectivity is mediated by systems platforms.

Sonia pointed out that in their connections and connectivity young people are at risk of a double whammy of surveillance. In connectedness they are at risk of surveillance from teachers and parents; in connectivity they are at risk of surveillance from the state. I suspect we are all at risk in these ways, not just the young.

Further risks of connectivity were thought to be risks from unknown default settings and terms of use and the risk of context collapse when people try to maintain connectedness in different online spaces.

Mariana Funes pointed us to Dave Egger’s novel ‘The Circle’ and Michael Harris’ book – ‘The end of absence. Reclaiming what we’ve lost in a world of constant connection.’ These books address the question of what would be lost if everything is connected – the loss of lack, the loss of absence and the loss of a non-performative life.

Educators’ roles: should we as educators respect students’ concerns to limit or bound learning networks, or should we strive to overcome them?

This question was not really taken up and discussed other than to say that the answer would be dependent on resolving the tension between learning agency and autonomy, and the teacher’s need to intervene. It will be a matter of progression, topic and context, but learners need uncertainty to become radical sceptics.

 

The next Hotseat dates are: December 6-12, 2015 

Facilitator Steve Wright: What have the ANTs ever done for us? Packing your cases to follow the actors….

 

Selected references and further reading

Livingstone, S. & Sefton-Green, J. (2016, in press). The Class. Living and learning in the digital age. Nyu Press

Livingstone, S. (2015, June 11th) How the ordinary experiences of young people are being affected by networked technologies [Blog post] Retrieved from:http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/how-the-ordinary-experiences-of-young-people-are-being-affected-by-networked-technologies/

Livingstone, Sonia (2014) What does good content look like?: developing great online content for kids. In: Whitaker , Lynn, (ed.) The Children’s Media Yearbook 2014. The Children’s Media Foundation , Milton Keynes, UK, pp. 66-71. ISBN 9780957551824

An Agenda for Research and Design, A research synthesis report of the Connected Learning Research Network. Retrieved from http://dmlhub.net/wp-content/uploads/files/Connected_Learning_report.pdf

Connected Learning. An Agenda for Research and Design. http://dmlhub.net/publications/connected-learning-agenda-for-research-and-design/

Loveless, A. & Williamson, B. (2013). Learning Identities in a Digital Age: Rethinking creativity, education and technology. Routledge

Strathern, M. (1996) Cutting the Network. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute,Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 517-535. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3034901

Light, B. (2014). Disconnecting with social networking sites. Palgrave Macmillan

Mejias, U. A. (2013). Off the Network. https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/pdf/off-the-network

Michael Harris (2014) The End of Absence. Reclaiming what we lost in a world of constant connection

Dave Eggers (2013). The Circle. http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/blog/post/the-circle-totally-transparent

Jose van Djick – Social Media and the Culture of Connectivity – https://youtu.be/x-mdi63Zk58

Facebook told by Belgian court to stop tracking non-users http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-34765937

Barry Wellman (2002).  “Little Boxes, Glocalization, and Networked Individualism.” Pp. 11-25 in Digital Cities II: Computational and Sociological Approaches, edited by Makoto Tanabe, Peter van den Besselaar, and Toru Ishida. Berlin: Springer-Verlag http://calchong.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/LittleBoxes.pdf

Implementing pbl online as a collaborative learning strategy for teachers: the cole https://www.researchgate.net/publication/256476854_IMPLEMENTING_PBL_ONLINE_AS_A_COLLABORATIVE_LEARNING_STRATEGY_FOR_TEACHERS_THE_COLE

Jaap Bosman (2015. Nov 7. Blog post) Connecting and StillWeb https://connectiv.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/connecting-and-stillweb/

Caulfield, M. (2015. Oct 17th. Blog post) The Garden and the Stream: A Technopastoral http://hapgood.us/2015/10/17/the-garden-and-the-stream-a-technopastoral/

Claxton, M. (1998). Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: Why Intelligence Increases When You Think Less. Fourth Estate; New Ed edition

Bohmian Dialogue – http://www.david-bohm.net/dialogue/dialogue_proposal.html

Boundaries and Limits of Networked and Connected Learning

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The second Networked Learning Conference Hotseat starts on Sunday 8th November and will run until the 14th. This time it is facilitated by Sonia Livingstone, a Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics, who has found in her research with 13-14 year old young people in which she follows their networks at home, school and elsewhere, online and offline, that they are concerned about increased connection between home, school and elsewhere, wishing to maintain boundaries. She introduces and says more about her work in her Welcome message in the Hotseat.

Sonia then goes on to ask 3 questions, giving each a separate thread.

  1. My questions for this hot seat are about the limits to connectivity – how much of it do we (students, teachers) really want, and what are the demonstrable benefits?
  2. What are the risks of connectivity and what kinds of privacy or control or independence could be lost if everything is connected?
  3. Should we as educators respect students’ concerns to limit or bound learning networks, or should we strive to overcome them?

Some reading to inform this discussion

Livingstone, S. & Sefton-Green, J. (2016, in press). The Class. Living and learning in the digital age. Nyu Press

An Agenda for Research and Design, A research synthesis report of the Connected Learning Research Network. Retrieved from http://dmlhub.net/wp-content/uploads/files/Connected_Learning_report.pdf

Loveless, A. & Williamson, B. (2013). Learning Identities in a Digital Age: Rethinking creativity, education and technology. Routledge

Strathern, M. (1996) Cutting the Network. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute,Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 517-535. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3034901

Livingstone, S. (2015, June 11th) How the ordinary experiences of young people are being affected by networked technologies [Blog post] Retrieved from: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/how-the-ordinary-experiences-of-young-people-are-being-affected-by-networked-technologies/