Learning analytics, soft and hard
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Soft and hard technologies in the context of learning analytics. A presentation for the LAK 11 open course

Soft and hard technologies in the context of learning analytics. A presentation for the LAK 11 open course

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  • or, as McLuhan put it, we shape our tools and they shape us. If digital literacies are a phantom, fuzzy, moving target, then how about looking at how technologies themselves are constructed so that we can master them, rather than being mastered by them?
  • I’ve been trying to discover ways that individual actions in a crowd can be used to help individuals in the crowd to learn better since late 1990s. CoFIND captured implicit and explicit traces of activities - clicks, frequencies, tags, pedagogical metadata known as qualities, bookmarks, to reveal exposed and transient user model. Explicitly self-organising through evolutionary and stigmergic mechanisms. Dwellings used dynamics of cities to self-organise - a cross between a MUD and a wiki, inhabitants moved avatars on sidewalks and built dwellings (content) - left footprints, many social navigation signs, evolutionary struggle between streets and dwellings. Moved on to more controllable technologies like Elgg. Now I’m exploring the other parts of a social system to discover the processes that are not programmed - pedagogies, processes, methods, intellectual tools, etc...
  • groups - traditional fare of teaching like classes etc nets - connected people, looser, cannot see whole, only local connections sets - about counting people and their actions, anonymous, sending messages to anyone/everyone, using aggregates, averages (e.g. classroom show of hands)
  • a stick is not a technology - it becomes one when we add processes to utilise its properties for a purpose. Technologies are not just tools and are not necessarily physical. e.g. manufacturing processes, organisational systems, pedagogies, writing, language itself (invented, constantly changing, not just about communication but enabling richer thought in itself)
  • all, or almost all, technologies are assemblies ref W Brian Arthur Technologies are assemblies. As a species we learned to use the things around us to build other things. Language was probably the best invention for that as it let us build ideas upon ideas - conceptual structures that themselves could be used to build bigger, better structures but we see the pattern in all technologies. We use technologies to make technologies and assemble, disassemble and reassemble constantly and continuously. The more we create, the more we are able to create. But sometimes we create technologies that make things easier at the cost of inflexibility. Factories, rigid processes, mass production methods, rules, laws.
  • always an assembly. all parts can be hard or soft but many are nothing to do with an external object or device.
  • ref Terry Anderson. actually a process of coevolution. The soft parts interact with the hard parts, which interact with each other. But it is the soft processes that drive change and evolution
  • Kauffman, in Investigations, talks of complex adaptive systems as increasing the adjacent possible - each change opens up opportunities for new change. Franklin (The Real World of Technology) calls such technologies ‘holistic’, comparing them with prescriptive technologies, which limit us as humans - mainly automation
  • hard technologies, that Franklin calls prescriptive, reduce our ability to be creative. But they increase efficiency, reduce error, make things simpler and can sometimes open up new adjacent possibles themselves - a lunar orbiter, for instance, is a pretty hard technology without which we couldn’t go to the moon
  • Soft as in malleable vs soft as in non mechanized - following Don Norman rather than literature on technologies in business Hard as in inflexible vs hard as in solid.
  • hard technologies reduce our choices, automate, simplify, speed things up, make things cheaper, reduce opportunity for error. But the cost is creativity and flexibility.
  • Softer technologies increase the adjacent possible by enabling and/or making more likely new choices to be made. More choices come at a price - we have to make them. That is one thing that makes them difficult or hard.
  • By thinking of pedagogies as technologies we can ask questions about compatibility and how they interact with other technologies. May more importantly, we can see them as mechanisms that coevolve with other technologies, what terry calls the dance between technology and pedagogy. It is not a dance but a growing together. Different generations of pedagogy and other teahcing machinery have coevolved. Until machines for communication were cheap and ubiquitous, constricitivist approaches were marginal. Connectivism is all about networked people and stuff they create and consume. Behaviourist
  • By thinking of pedagogies as technologies we can ask questions about compatibility and how they interact with other technologies. May more importantly, we can see them as mechanisms that coevolve with other technologies, what terry calls the dance between technology and pedagogy. It is not a dance but a growing together. Different generations of pedagogy and other teahcing machinery have coevolved. Until machines for communication were cheap and ubiquitous, constricitivist approaches were marginal. Connectivism is all about networked people and stuff they create and consume. Behaviourist
  • By thinking of pedagogies as technologies we can ask questions about compatibility and how they interact with other technologies. May more importantly, we can see them as mechanisms that coevolve with other technologies, what terry calls the dance between technology and pedagogy. It is not a dance but a growing together. Different generations of pedagogy and other teahcing machinery have coevolved. Until machines for communication were cheap and ubiquitous, constricitivist approaches were marginal. Connectivism is all about networked people and stuff they create and consume. Behaviourist
  • By thinking of pedagogies as technologies we can ask questions about compatibility and how they interact with other technologies. May more importantly, we can see them as mechanisms that coevolve with other technologies, what terry calls the dance between technology and pedagogy. It is not a dance but a growing together. Different generations of pedagogy and other teahcing machinery have coevolved. Until machines for communication were cheap and ubiquitous, constricitivist approaches were marginal. Connectivism is all about networked people and stuff they create and consume. Behaviourist
  • By thinking of pedagogies as technologies we can ask questions about compatibility and how they interact with other technologies. May more importantly, we can see them as mechanisms that coevolve with other technologies, what terry calls the dance between technology and pedagogy. It is not a dance but a growing together. Different generations of pedagogy and other teahcing machinery have coevolved. Until machines for communication were cheap and ubiquitous, constricitivist approaches were marginal. Connectivism is all about networked people and stuff they create and consume. Behaviourist
  • a move from harder to softer technologies, but there is a twist - it all depends up your point of view
  • A technology that is soft for one person may be a set of chains for another. Computers are the softest machines ever invented, perhaps (language may be a contender), but only for those who use them to create other machines or who use the machines they embody to gain flexibility. For a clerk in a store operating a cash register, the opposite may be true: 'the computer says no' is the punchline of a great series of sketches on British TV but is a ubiquitous feature of life - most of us are victims most days of a machine limiting what someone can do to help us.
  • Softer technologies increase the adjacent possible by enabling and/or making more likely new choices to be made. More choices come at a price - we have to make them. That is one thing that makes them difficult or hard.
  • automation makes it quicker, more efficient, simpler to do things. It does so by reducing choices.
  • So, back to our model, the human element is strong when we use information from analytics to make changes. The more the system itself contributes, the less control is given to humans.
  • Buster Keaton being chased by mob - mob stupidity concern for the engine, not the people heath robinson (like Rube Goldberg) - pointless machines schoolroom mentality - not for the learner If we feed back the wrong thing, our systems will reinforce stupidity. We need to know what we are collecting and how it will affect behaviour. The harder the system, the greater the risks
  • But, sometimes hard is the right thing. We want the best of all worlds.
  • The landing is a tool to extend the adjacent possible. It moves control to the individual and the group. It has many tools that can be combined and recombined in many ways. It is a virtual velcro to pull people and things together. But it is a very soft technology and so makes some things harder. We are seeking ways to harden the soft by seeking feedback and ideas as well as observation. But the big dream is to put the hardening in the hands of the people. Eg context switcher.
  • you can modify but it is better to use larger scale object to build assemblies. Assemblies can both soften and harden. If a system doesn’t do what you want, add a bit - that increases the adjacent possible. But what you add can also incorporate hardness. So - can use soft analytics to assemble the right things, hard analytics as a component to help guide when needed.

Learning analytics, soft and hard Learning analytics, soft and hard Presentation Transcript

    • Analytics: soft and hard
      Jon Dron, TEKRI, Athabasca University LAK11
    • We shape our dwellings and afterwards our dwellings shape our lives
    • Crowd teaching
    • 1990s - collaborative filtering, tag clouds, social adaptation, recommender systems for learning (e.g. CoFIND)
    • 2000s - social navigation, collective intelligence, crowd wisdom, controllable environments (e.g. Dwellings)
    • 2010s - nature of social learning technologies (e.g. The Landing)
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationallibrarynz_commons/3326203787/sizes/o/
    • teacher
      designer
      activity
      group
      set
      net
      learner
      analytics
      collect
      compute
      convey
    • Why learning analytics?
    • to help learning designers make effective changes
    • to help teachers know how learners are doing
    • to help learners know how they are doing
    • to help learners decide what to do next
    • to tell learners what to do next
    • What is a technology?
    • Technologies are assemblies
    • What is a learning technology?
      Pedagogies
      Methods
      Processes
      Techniques
      learning designs
      Organizational structures
      Software
      hardware
      management systems
      assessment systems
      content
    • The dance of technology
    • Softness
      Increasing the adjacent possible
    • Hardness
      Makes things easier By reducing choice
    • Human
      Flexible
      Machine
      Inflexible
      Soft
      Hard
      Two views of soft and hard technology
    • Hard is easy
    • Soft is hard
  • Cognitivist/ behaviourist
      Individual
      controller
      Social constructivist
      Group
      guide
      Connectivist
      Network
      co-traveller
      Wholist
      Set
      What the learner needs
      Four generations of distance learning
      Anderson & Dron, in press
    generation focus teacher role
  • Cognitivist/ behaviourist
      Individual
      controller
      Social constructivist
      Group
      guide
      Connectivist
      Network
      co-traveller
      Wholist
      Set
      What the learner needs
      Four generations of distance learning
      Postal service and telephone
    generation focus teacher role
  • Cognitivist/ behaviourist
      Individual
      controller
      Social constructivist
      Group
      guide
      Connectivist
      Network
      co-traveller
      Wholist
      Set
      What the learner needs
      Four generations of distance learning
      Forums and the LMS
    generation focus teacher role
  • Cognitivist/ behaviourist
      Individual
      controller
      Social constructivist
      Group
      guide
      Connectivist
      Network
      co-traveller
      Wholist
      Set
      What the learner needs
      Four generations of distance learning
      User generated, Web 2.0
    generation focus teacher role
  • Cognitivist/ behaviourist
      Individual
      controller
      Social constructivist
      Group
      guide
      Connectivist
      Network
      co-traveller
      Wholist
      Set
      What the learner needs
      Four generations of distance learning
      Crowd intelligence, personalization, analytics
    generation focus teacher role
  • Cognitivist/ behaviourist
      Individual
      controller
      Social constructivist
      Group
      guide
      Connectivist
      Network
      co-traveller
      Wholist
      Set
      What the learner needs
      Four generations of distance learning
      Soft
      Hard
    generation focus teacher role
    • Soft for whom?
      http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_sGYULzoQCgA/SA6HEWNCB5I/AAAAAAAABeA/FTkqbqDd9do/s1600-h/1964-worlds-fair-schoolmarm.jpg
    • For example...
    • Developers
      Course developers
      Policy makers
      Tutors
      Students
      System Administrators
      Teachers
      Learning Management Systems
      Plugin developers
      Soft
      Hard
    • Developers
      System Administrators
      Course developers
      Policy makers
      Tutors
      Students
      ...and everyone else
      Teachers
      Administrators
      Alumni
      Social networking system
      Plugin developers
      Soft
      Hard
    • social networking tools are cool. BUT...
    • Soft is hard
    • Hard is easy
    • to help learning designers make effective changes
    • to help teachers know how learners are doing
    • to help learners know how they are doing
    • to help learners decide what to do next
    • to tell learners what to do next
      Human - adaptable
      Machine - adaptive
      Soft
      Hard
    • Some risks of analytics
      http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mob_Chase.JPEG
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/osucommons/3226077133/
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/cornelluniversitylibrary/3855473015/in/set-72157622140446726/
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationaalarchief/2948560477/sizes/o/
    • Softening analytics
    • scrutable, not opaque
    • signposts, not fenceposts
    • adaptable, not adaptive
    • aggregation, not integration
      BUT....
    • Being in control
      Choosing when to choose
      Control
      Choices
    • A target: Making the hard soft, making the soft hard (when we need them to be)
      Soft
      Hard
      Soft
      Hard
    • Assemblies
    • Some take-aways
    • Learning technologies are blends of soft and hard technologies
    • Softness increases the adjacent possible. Hardness increases efficiency and reduces error ( if we automated the right things)
    • Soft is hard and hard is easy - we need both
    • We need control over amount of hardness in all our technologies
    • Assemblies can give the best of both worlds
    • thank you
      http://jondron.athabascaU.ca [email_address]