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Learning in the Wild: Coding Reddit for Learning and Practice

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This presentation introduces a ‘learning in the wild’ coding
schema, an approach developed to support learning
analytics researchers interested in understanding the
different types of discourse, exploratory talk, and
conversational dialogue happening on social media. The
research examines how learner-participants (‘Redditors’)
are leveraging subreddit communities to facilitate selfdirected
informal learning practices on the social
networking site.

Published in: Social Media
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Learning in the Wild: Coding Reddit for Learning and Practice

  1. 1. #pLASMA @SMLABTO 1 Learning in the Wild: Coding Reddit for Learning and Practice Priya Kumar, Ryerson University Anatoliy Gruzd, Ryerson University Caroline Haythornthwaite, Syracuse University Sarah Gilbert, University of British Columbia Marc Esteve del Valle, University of Groningen Drew Paulin, University of California Berkeley Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-51) January 3-6, 2018
  2. 2. How do we make sense of the vast amount of data generated by learners, especially in the “wild”? ‘Learning analytics is concerned with collecting data from learners’ actions, developing techniques to analyze these data, and making the results useful to practitioners’ (Long & Siemens, 2011). Learning analytics focuses on making sense of “big data” collected from learning management systems (LMS), MOOCs and social media #pLASMA @SMLABTO 2
  3. 3. We wanted to know 1. How are social media sites used in informal learning? 2. How are people engaging in informal learning processes on Reddit? 3. What are the different types of exploratory dialogue, behaviours and talks that occur with learning processes on Reddit? 4. Does informal learning differ across subreddit communities? #pLASMA @SMLABTO 3
  4. 4. Introducing Reddit • “the front page of the Internet” • Reddit ranks 17th in terms of global traffic and 4th in the U.S • Diversity of niche communities called ‘subreddits’ maintain distinct subcultures, thematic interests and subject focus • Subreddit communities are user-generated and moderated by Reddit members • Content curation (Upvoting/downvoting) #pLASMA @SMLABTO 4 ‘AskHistorians’ Subreddit (May 15, 2017)
  5. 5. Sampled Subreddits Subreddit Mandate Guidelines and Norms Askscience • Forum for answering science questions • Promoting scientific literacy • Help people understand scientific process • No medical advice, speculation, anecdotes • No abusive, offensive comments • Answers should be supported with reputable sources Ask_politics • Promote political knowledge • Disseminate knowledge about law and policy • Be civil and on topic • Reputable and sourced • Free of layman speculation Askhistorians • To provide serious academic-level answers to questions about history • Be civil, polite and courteous (no racist/sexist talk) • No current events, only human past • Sources are highly encouraged Askacademia • Questions and discussions about Academia/Academic life • Directed toward people interested in academia (undergrad, grad, postdocs, profs, laymen) • No off-topic unproductive discussions • No rudeness, ad hominin attacks • Treat strangers as you would in person
  6. 6. Data Collection Subreddit Community Number of Moderators Number of Subscribers Number of Posts from 2016 Coded Sample (1%) Askscience 433 14M 223K 2,235 Ask_politics 8 26K 46K 464 AskHistorians 40 600K 122K 1,227 AskAcademia 3 32K 26.9K 269 #pLASMA @SMLABTO 6
  7. 7. Analytic Framework: Discourse Analysis Exploratory Dialogue Schema from Ferguson et al. (2013) #pLASMA @SMLABTO 7 Cue Phrase Linguistic Dialogue Example Critiques ‘However’, ‘I’m not sure’, ‘maybe’ Discussion of Resource ‘Have you read, ‘more links’ Evaluations ‘Good Example’, ‘good point’ Explanations ‘Means that’, ‘our goals’ Explicit Reasoning ‘Next step’, ‘relates to’, ‘that’s why’ Justifications ‘I mean’, ‘we learned’, ‘we observed’ Others’ Perspectives ‘Agree’, ‘here is another’
  8. 8. Our Proposed Coding Schema Code Definition 1. Explanation with Disagreement Expresses a NEGATIVE take on the content of the previous posts by adding new ideas or facts to discussion thread. 2. Explanation with Agreement Expresses a POSITIVE take on the content of the previous posts by adding new ideas or facts to discussion thread. 3. Explanation with Neutral Presentation Expresses a NEUTRAL explanation/judgment/reasoning/etc. with neither negative nor positive reference to the content of the previous posts, nor necessarily any reference to previous posts. 4. Socializing with Negative Intent Socializing that expresses negative affect through tone, words, insults, expletives intended as abusive. 5. Socializing with Positive Intent Socializing that expresses positive affect tone, praise, humor, irony intended in a positive way. 6. Information Seeking Postings asking questions or soliciting opinions, resources, etc. (‘Does anyone know …?’ ‘How does this work?’). This does not include questions answered rhetorically within the post, e.g., if a question is asked and answered. 7. Providing Resources Postings that include direct reference to a URL, book, article, etc.; postings that call upon a well-known theory or the name of a well-known figure. 8. Subreddit Rules and Norms Postings on topics such as what is the appropriate sub-reddit for a particular discussion, what language is appropriate to use, how to back up claims by using resources, etc.
  9. 9. Example: Code 1 – Explanation with Disagreement From ‘askpolitics’: #pLASMA @SMLABTO 9 Definition Linguistic Dialogue Example Expresses a NEGATIVE take on the content of the previous posts by adding new ideas or facts to discussion thread. ‘But’, ‘I disagree’, ‘not sure’, ‘not exactly’ with explanation/ judgment/ reasoning/ etc.
  10. 10. Code 2 – Explanation with Agreement From ‘askacademia’: Yep. Not every company is the same. In fusion research the three private companies I think of are all headed by nerds and geeks who want to bring commercial fusion to people not necessarily to make themselves bajillionaires. #pLASMA @SMLABTO 10 Definition Linguistic Dialogue Example Expresses a POSITIVE take on the content of the previous posts by adding new ideas or facts to discussion thread. ‘Indeed’, ‘also’, ‘I agree’, with explanation/ judgment/ reasoning/ etc.
  11. 11. Code 3 – Explanation w/ Neutral Presentation From ‘askhistorians’: The division into light and dark elves is from Snorri's Prose Edda. The Poetic Edda barely makes a distinction between gods and elves, and often mentions them together. #pLASMA @SMLABTO 11 Definition Linguistic Dialogue Example Expresses a NEUTRAL explanation/judgment/reasoning/etc. with neither negative nor positive reference to the content of the previous posts, nor necessarily any reference to previous posts. Posts with non-judgmental language. Advice, brainstorming and first hand experiences are framed neutrally. ‘I can understand’, ‘interesting’, ‘depends on…’ or statement responses.
  12. 12. Code 4 – Socializing w/ Negative Intent From ‘askpolitics’: Your lack of understanding of communism is disgusting especially when you feel qualified enough to talk about it. #pLASMA @SMLABTO 12 Definition Linguistic Dialogue Example Socializing that expresses negative affect through tone, words, insults, expletives intended as abusive. ‘no’, ‘you’re an idiot’, ‘this has been explained multiple times’
  13. 13. Code 5 – Socializing w/ Positive Intent From ‘askacademia’: Your response is EXACTLY how I feel thank you. #pLASMA @SMLABTO 13 Definition Linguistic Dialogue Example Socializing that expresses positive affect tone, words, praise, humor, irony intended in a positive way. ‘thanks’, ‘great feedback’, ‘you’re correct’
  14. 14. Code 6 – Information Seeking From ‘askscience’: So then what happens when the aircraft’s velocity vector shifts closer to the nose-up attitude on takeoff Doesn’t the aircraft then lose the angle-of-attack lift increase. #pLASMA @SMLABTO 14 Definition Linguistic Dialogue Example Postings asking questions or soliciting opinions, resources, etc. (‘Does anyone know …?’ ‘How does this work?’). This does not include questions answered rhetorically within the post, e.g., if a question is asked and answered. ‘First you have to think what happens if …?’ and then you can see what happens’, ‘does anyone know’, ‘can anyone explain’
  15. 15. Code 7 – Providing Resources From ‘askhistorians’: I don't know of any that engage in the debate, but the collection *The Medieval City Under Siege* has a good essay by Bert S. Hall which covers the sanitation and supply problems a large army would have faced. *Logistics of Warfare in the Age of the Crusades* covers similar ground. #pLASMA @SMLABTO 15 Definition Linguistic Dialogue Example Postings that include direct reference to a URL, book, article, etc.; postings that call upon a well- known theory or the name of a well-known figure. Link to resource copied to post (book, URL, article, audio/video file). Referencing theory/theorists, scholar or public work (Einstein, Newton, Freud).
  16. 16. Code 8 – Subreddit Rules and Norms From ‘askacademia’: I know this is r AskAcademia and I should clarify this is for an industry position. I didn t know where else on reddit I could ask but this seminar is fairly similar to academic ones I guess and I figured this would be relevant for other folks doing the same . I think what is freaking me out the most is I will giving a talk to folks who have pioneered some of the analyses I use in my dissertation. #pLASMA @SMLABTO 16 Definition Linguistic Dialogue Example Postings on topics such as what is the appropriate sub-reddit for a particular discussion, what language is appropriate to use, how to back up claims by using resources, etc. ‘See/don’t forget subreddit link’, ‘this post doesn’t belong here’, upvote/downvote mentions, acknowledging OP redditors, and bots.
  17. 17. Coding Results 48% 44% 43% 50% 17% 5% 8% 17% 4% 7% 7% 12% 22% 11% 18% 10% 6% 18% 9% 6% 21% 9% 12% 4% 5% 1 2 5% 1 1 ASKHISTORIANS ASK_POLITICS ASKSCIENCE ASKACADEMIA 3.Explanation with Neutral Presentation 5.Socializing with Positive Intent 2.Explanation with Agreement 6.Information Seeking 1.Explanation with Disagreement 7.Providing Resources 4.Socializing with Negative Intent 8.Subreddit Rules and Norms
  18. 18. Summary of Results Different Types of Discourse around Learning in Reddit Differences across Subreddits • ‘Ask_politics’ shows a greater proportion of posts with negative intent • ‘AskAcademia’ has the highest neutral explanation with positive socializing • ‘AskHistorians’ and ‘askscience’ are Q&A learning spaces, with direct references to external resources #pLASMA @SMLABTO 18
  19. 19. Future Work • Apply machine learning techniques to automate the coding process • Extend to other social media datasets • Twitter, Facebook, YouTube • LinkedIn, ResearchGate #pLASMA @SMLABTO 19
  20. 20. #pLASMA @SMLABTO 20 Learning in the Wild: Coding Reddit for Learning and Practice Priya Kumar, Ryerson University Anatoliy Gruzd, Ryerson University Caroline Haythornthwaite, Syracuse University Sarah Gilbert, University of British Columbia Marc Esteve del Valle, University of Groningen Drew Paulin, University of California Berkeley Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-51) January 3-6, 2018

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