The biannual Networked Learning Conference took place this year in Zagreb. NLC is a small but very high quality conference where the emphasis in not on technical issues but on critical perspectives and theorisation of the role of technologies in learning. This year there seemed to be particular emphasis ‘on the political’, broadly defined, with papers discussing the ways in which technology trends like big data and learning analytics aligned with surveillance and control, and how educators might respond to and resist this. My colleague Fran Tracy and I presented a paper on Student Inquiry, Networks of Knowledge and Linked Data which discussed how our experience of developing semantic web applications, and how critical digital literacies might underpin broader politicised inquiry.
The picture is of the Church of St Mark in Zagreb, with its rather splendid tiled roof.
A new publication by Fran Tracy and myself exploring semantic web technologies, enhanced publications and student assessments through the theoretical lens of Ted Striphas’ ‘Algorithmic Cultures’. Here’s the abstract:
Disrupting the dissertation: Linked data, enhanced publication and algorithmic culture
This article explores how the three aspects of Striphas’ notion of algorithmic culture (information, crowds and algorithms) might influence and potentially disrupt established educational practices. We draw on our experience of introducing semantic web and linked data technologies into higher education settings, focussing on extended student writing activities such as dissertations and projects, and drawing in particular on our experiences related to undergraduate archaeology dissertations. The potential for linked data to be incorporated into electronic texts, including academic publications, has already been described, but these accounts have highlighted opportunities to enhance research integrity and interactivity, rather than considering their potential creatively to disrupt existing academic practices. We discuss how the changing relationships between subject content and practices, teachers, learners and wider publics both in this particular algorithmic culture, and more generally, offer new opportunities; but also how the unpredictability of crowds, the variable nature and quality of data, and the often hidden power of algorithms, introduce new pedagogical challenges and opportunities.
Read the article here: https://doi.org/10.1177/2042753017731356