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Cartography of Controversies about MOOCs


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Abstract: Massively open online courses (MOOCs) are one of most recent educational technology development that have become a highly debated issue, polarized among proponents, boosters, skeptics, and resistants. To understand the nature of such evolving technology concepts, the typical methods and techniques in current literature result in the production of systematic literature reviews, case studies, and theoretical or conceptual frameworks. This work-in-progress paper explores the controversies about MOOCs by adopting the recently developed method “cartography of controversies” from the science and technology studies (STS) discipline. The method guides the application of actor network theory (ANT). Online digital media and tools (namely, Scopus, ScienceScape, Google trends, OpenHeatMap, NodeXL, Gephi, Facebook, Twitter) are used for data collection and analysis. The study uses both qualitative and quantitative tools and techniques to highlight the statements, literatures, actors, cosmoses or general concepts involved in the controversy. The paper propounds the adoption of the method in the field of education and educational technology and proposes through demonstration in this article that such investigations can be reported as a genre of the scholarly article.

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Cartography of Controversies about MOOCs

  2. 2. Outline • Introduction • Motivation and Scope • Objectives • What Comprises a Controversy • ANT and Cartography of Controversies Method • Digital Techniques: Constraints and Facts • From a Framework of Controversy-website to Framework of Research Paper • Mapping controversies about MOOCs • Conclusion and Future works
  3. 3. Introduction • MOOCs (e.g. Edx, Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, FutureLearn, P2PU, Moodle, MIT’s OCW, etc.) are educational technologies: highly debated issue, polarized among proponents, boosters, skeptics, and opponents. • “Cartography of controversies” is a method that guides the application of actor network theory (ANT) and originated from science and technology studies (STS) discipline. • “Adopted and developed in several universities in Europe and the US, the cartography of controversies is today a full research method, though, unfortunately, not a much documented one” (Venturini, 2010, p. 258). • The method is documented for website production as the medium of communication but not as a research paper (see, fx, Venturini, 2010).
  4. 4. Objectives • To adopt the cartography of controversies method in the fields of education and educational technology. • This paper documents and demonstrates how controversial issues can be documented by using the method cartography of controversies and proposes that such investigations can be reported as a genre of the scholarly article. • It includes observations and explorations of the contents in the online digital media and analyzes of the nature of controversies about MOOCs. • It demonstrates the application of some of the digital tools for the data collection and analyzes.
  5. 5. What Comprises a Controversy • MACOSPOL: Controversy is every aspect of a science and technology concept or product that has not yet stabilized. • Simply put, “controversies are situations where actors disagree (or better, agree on their disagreement)” • “[I]n the widest sense: controversies begin when actors discover that they cannot ignore each other and controversies end when actors manage to work out a solid compromise to live together.” (Venturini, 2010, p. 261).
  6. 6. What Comprises a Controversy (Cont.) • Five features of social controversies (Venturini, 2010): 1. “Controversies involve all kind of actors, human groups/beings and non-human actors” (e.g. technical and scientific artefacts, biological and natural elements and etc.), 2. “Controversies display the social in its most dynamic form” (i.e. an actor can break into a network and a heterogeneous network can coalesce to function as an actor), 3. “Controversies are reduction-resistant” (i.e. context dependent and non-generalizable) and “the difficulty of controversy is not that actors disagree on answers, but that they cannot even agree on questions”, 4. “Controversies are debated” (i.e. taken-for-granted ideas are questioned and discussed), 5. “Controversies are conflicts”, not necessarily involving fights (i.e. actors with different levels of power struggle to reverse or conserve social values and opinions. • A good controversy is not (1) cold, (2), past, (3) boundless, or (4) underground, that is, open to public debate.
  7. 7. ANT and Cartography of Controversies Method • Latour et al. “attempts to create a new research tool, to follow the dynamics of science and technology. ‘Socio- Technical Analysis’ develops new quantitative indicators and graphic representations with which to map the development of a scientific controversy or a technical innovation.”(1992, p. 33) • Venturini (2010), a student of Latour, elaborates • how to explore controversies with actor-network theory • how to represent controversies with digital methods
  8. 8. ANT and Cartography of Controversies Method (Cont.) Venturini’s five layers of controversy and observation lenses: • From statements to literatures • From literatures to actors • From actors to networks • From networks to cosmoses • From cosmoses to cosmopolitics
  9. 9. Digital Techniques: Constraints and Facts • A search engine does not search the whole web; • the content on the web does not include all the content on the Internet; • the content on the Internet only a subset of the content in the digital media; • the digital content is a subset of the data in the World.
  10. 10. From a Framework of Controversy- website to Framework of Research Paper Framework for controversy website comprising 9+1 layers as a pedagogical tool to facilitate university students as a deliverable alternative to project report (Venturini, 2012): 1. The glossary of terms and non-controversial elements. 2. The document repository. 3. The analysis of scientific literature or Scientometrics. 4. The review of media and public opinion 5. The tree of disagreement 6. The scale of controversies 7. The diagram of actor-networks. 8. The chronology of the dispute. 9. The table of cosmoses 10.Perform public debate
  11. 11. Mapping controversies about MOOCs Layer 1. The glossary of terms and non-controversial elements. • xMOOCs: e.g. Udacity, Coursera, edX • cMOOCs: constructivist pedagogical model, learner autonomy, includes – LMSs, wiki and web pages. • quasi-MOOCs: e.g. Khan Academy and MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) Layer 2. The document repository. • Public access: Layer 3. Scientometrics Analysis on 340 documents; Scopus search result from query using ”MOOC AND massive open online course”
  12. 12. Layer 3. Scientometrics Figure 1. MOOC documents in Scopus by subject area Figure 2. MOOC documents in Scopus by type
  13. 13. Layer 3. Scientometrics (Cont.) Figure 3. MOOC papers by authors from developed countries (affiliation inst.) Figure 4. MOOC papers by authors from developing countries (affiliation institution)
  14. 14. Figure 5. Main authors, keywords and sources (actor-networks) in relation to MOOC documents in Scopus Layer 3. Scientometrics (Cont.)
  15. 15. Layer 4. The review of media and public opinion Figure 6 Interest over time on “MOOC” and “MOOCs”, including news headlines linked to alphabets
  16. 16. Layer 4. The review of media and public opinion (Cont.) Figure 7. Regional interest using the term ”MOOCs” Figure 8. Regional interest using the term ”MOOC”
  17. 17. Layer 4. The review of media and public opinion (Cont.) Figure 9. Partial view of the actor-network mapping of Twitter hashtag #MOOC
  18. 18. Layer 5-9: Work-in-progress Example of analysis approach, considering one of the news articles from Google trends graph Layer 5: The tree of disagreement • 1. Can MOOCs fill gaps for high schools students in relation to their needs? 2. Should high schools students gain credits for participation in MOOCs? Layer 7: The diagram of actor networks • Actors: EdX, Coursera, secondary education students, and St. Margaret’s Episcopal School. Layer 9: Actor-ideology representation by the table of cosmoses: • Education sectors, under which there can be higher education and Secondary education. Layer 8: The chronology of the dispute. Layer 10: Perform public debate (excluded)
  19. 19. Conclusion and Future Work • The paper takes the point of departure from the STS discipline applying the theory of ANT by recently devised cartography of controversies method to explore the Internet-accessible media. • We discuss a 10-layer framework published by Venturini, one of the students of Latour, as a way to adapt the framework suitable for academic publication genre, instead of a making a website. • We covered the first four layers of the mapping in sufficient details but could not include some of the network analysis, and summarized the approach being applied to the rest of the work-in-progress layers (i.e. layer 5-9).
  20. 20. Conclusion and Future Work (Cont.) • The controversy of MOOC is considered as a case • Data collected from Scopus, Google Trends, Twitter and the Internet of website (using URL Harvester and Crawler Tools), • Presented the cartographies by using Scientometric analysis tools (i.e. Scopus, ScienceScape and Excel) and network data collection and various visualization tools (NodeXL, Google Trends, Navicrawler, Gephi, OpenHeatMap).
  21. 21. Questions and Comments For access to the paper, references, and to raise questions/provide feedback please visit: on/275023999_Cartography_of_Contr oversies_about_MOOCs Citation: Khalid, Md. Saifuddin, and Elsebeth Korsgaard Sorensen. “Cartography of Controversies about MOOCs.” In Proceedings of Global Learn 2015, 2015:25–35. FernUniversität in Hagen, Regionalzentrum Berlin: April 16-17, 2015: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2015. Access to the Author Version of the Paper, via Researchgate