What Sheila’s seen this week

Tweeting is part and parcel of my daily working life and I do genuinely believe it helps me stay connected, networked and informed in a way that wasn’t possible before.  But there are a lot of tweets out there and some are undoubtedly more useful than others. I have my own slightly random filters and value system but this  post on the LSE Impact blog by Paul Andre, Michael Bernstein and Kurt Luther gives a properly researched overview of perceived values of tweets.

Our tweets might be funny, interesting, confusing, or just plain boring, but with little audience feedback it’s hard to tell; we’re often tweeting into a void. If we understood what content is valued (or not), and why, we may be able to 1) derive design implications for better tools or filters; and 2) develop insight into emerging norms and practice to help users create and consume more valued content.

As well as being an enabler of valuable conversations and interactions, twitter (like life) also has its dark side which has been highlighted recently in the UK with the Caroline Criado-Perez trolling scandal.  Although I’m online quite a lot I have, thank goodness,  only had one really offensive tweet (so far).  I can’t imagine getting 100s of these an hour.  There has been a lot of press coverage but I particularly liked Clare Allen’s take on Internet Trolls  and the overt and covert sexism the debate has raised about acceptable attitudes and behaviours.  

  . . .the journalist Toby Young argues against the introduction of a “Report abuse” button on Twitter. “Let’s not try and domesticate the wild west,” he writes. But it is worth remembering that the wild west was never a place that was particularly friendly to women, and certainly not to women who demanded sexual equality. In fact, perhaps Young has unwittingly drawn an apter parallel than he intended.

Much of my work this year has been around learning analytics and really appreciated Michael Feldstein’s Desire2Learn Analytics Follow Up post  which gives an insightful overview of the problems of the promise of analytics and the reality of current system capability to process data and produce reports within time-frames that users want and need. Echoing what I’ve heard John Campbell say many times before about starting with a simple problem first in analytics, Michael also suggests that D2L maybe need to concentrate on a smaller number of use cases and get them right, instead of the current situation where: 

they check a lot of boxes in terms of features that could be useful, but I’m not sure that they’ve quite hit the bull’s eye for solving any one specific teacher or student problem. 

Maybe IBM are going to help us all take a huge leap forward with data processing with their new era of cognitive computing,  which will provide an architecture that will work more “like our brain” and provide the “fluidity and interactiveness” that our current systems lack. Sounds great, but is it just me or is there always an undertone of command and control/minority report in these developments?


And finally, for something completely different, but equally worthwhile. Lou McGill ( well kent learning technologist, photographer and artist) has launched a website for her gallery Life’s Little Ironies.  Well worth a look to see some of Lou and her partner Tim’s work.  

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