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+ Social Informatics E-learning as a socio-technical intervention Caroline Haythornthwaite Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor, Institute of Education,

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Presentation on theme: "+ Social Informatics E-learning as a socio-technical intervention Caroline Haythornthwaite Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor, Institute of Education,"— Presentation transcript:

1 + Social Informatics E-learning as a socio-technical intervention Caroline Haythornthwaite Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor, Institute of Education, University of London and Professor, GSLIS University of Illinois 5 th is a series on ‘Learning Networks’

2 + My Background and Interests How do people work, learn and socialize together at a distance and through computer media? Communication, Collaboration, Community Studies : Online Learning Networks Social networks / virtual communities Distributed learners / e-learning Collaborative research teams / distributed knowledge Information sharing and learning / ubiquitous learning Today Sociotechnical considerstaions in E-learning

3 + Leverhulme Trust Series on Learning Networks Dec. 1, 2009Learning in the age of Web 2.0 Feb. 4, 2010Learning and scholarly communication in the age of the Internet Feb. 23, 2010New theories and perspectives on learning in the digital age Mar. 11, 2010Social networks and learning Mar. 30, 2010Social informatics: E-learning as a socio-technical intervention May 10, 2010Ubiquitous learning For Slides, Texts, Reference

4 + What is social informatics? Sociotechnical systems approach Design for efficient, optimal work and organizational practice entails a mutual alignment of social and technical systems (Tavistock group, 1950s) Social Informatics “interdisciplinary study of the design, uses, and consequences of ICTs that takes into account their interaction with institutional and cultural contexts” (Kling, Rosenbaum & Sawyer, 2005, p.6) Educational Informatics “study of the application of digital technologies and techniques to the use and communication of information in learning and education” (Levy, et al, 2003, p. 299) E -learning Informatics e-learning is “a problem at the meeting place of social, technical, administrative, and pedagogical considerations” (Haythornthwaite & Kazmer, 2004)

5 + Other relevant perspectives Social impact of technology Anticipated and unanticipated consequences of technological innovations (cars and suburbia, commuting, pollution)(Rogers; Kling) Diffusion and adoption of innovations (Rogers) Awareness, Persuasion, Adoption, Confirmation/Rejection Ecological perspectives Ecology of Games (Dutton); Ecology or Resources (Luckin); Visible and Invisible work (Star); Activity systems (Engestrom); Actor Networks (Latour) ICT & Cultures ICT use by different cultures, subcultures, societal sectors (national, regional, gender, race, ethnicity)

6 + Why a social informatics of e- learning? E-learning implementations parallel ICT history Thus can show what is likely to happen with small, medium and large scale introduction of ICTs Current ICT trends show next e- learning phase SI design and analysis perspectives apply to e-learning E.g., From task-technology ‘fit’ to co-evolution of social and technical SI draws our attention to larger contexts Beyond ‘how to teach’ to ‘how are we learning, with whom, where, and under what circumstances’ Influences from wider contexts + influences out to these contexts ‘the questions we already have about [e-learning] programs – e.g., how to establish a program, how to teach online – must be supplemented by questions addressing the environment as a whole – e.g., how to create and sustain a community of learners, how to provide technical assistance at a distance’ (Haythornthwaite & Kazmer, 2004)

7 + What technology are we talking about? Learning Management Systems Formal, institution-wide, records- management oriented Tailored to local use Learning Objects Formal, education-wide, lesson or module-oriented Designed to be mobile, transferable Educational Technologies Simulations, virtual environments, games Independent, discipline-based and content-oriented Computer-Mediated Communication Informal, society-wide, communication oriented Virtual Learning Environments Combinations of technology options Adopted as is from LMS or Adapted in combination with other technologies Enacted in social use I suggest that a VLE only makes sense if we use the term to refer to the sociotechnically defined learning environment

8 + Whose view? Images of E-learning Technical Designers, programmers: Creating, implementing systems Institutional Univ. administration, boards: Selecting systems Administrative Faculty, staff, visiting teachers: Managing online enterprise Educational Teachers: Learning how to teach Pedagogical Researchers: Theories Information Librarians, teachers: Delivery of content, materials Communication Participants: How to talk online Financial Administrators, politicians, students: How to pay Student Life Student communities, alumni: Learning how to learn online Work Life Employers: Evaluating graduates Teachers: online work Material Laboratories: internships Libraries: information resources

9 + E-learning Science and E-learning Practice In medicine, a distinction of the kind required is often made by talking about 'medical practice' when a general term is required, and employing the phrase 'medical science' for the more strictly technical aspects of the subject. Sometimes, references to 'medical practice' only denote the organization necessary to use medical knowledge and skill for treating patients. Sometimes, however, and more usefully, the term refers to the whole activity of medicine, including its basis in technical knowledge, its organization, and its cultural aspects. The latter comprise the doctor's sense of vocation, his personal values and satisfactions, and the ethical code of his profession. Thus 'practice' may be a broad and inclusive concept. Once this distinction is established, it is clear that although medical practice differs quite markedly from one country to another, medical science consists of knowledge and techniques which are likely to be useful in many countries. (Arnold Pacey, 1983; emphasis added)

10 + What are we learning with e-learning? How to teach and learn online  New roles and responsibilities Collaborative Learning: teacher as facilitator; learner as participant, learning leader, information source  The practice of teaching and learning How to work together, online, at a distance, via computer media  New communication patterns, group management, community development practices Managing multi-party conversations; managing boundaries on asynchronous, 7 x 24 environments  The practice of distributed knowledge Oh, … and course content!  Remediation (ftf to online); changing mode, not just medium  The science and practice of our discipline or profession Class/Course Level

11 + What are we learning with e-learning? How to staff, support, market and gain legitimacy in online education  New faculty roles, e.g., distant instructors, digital libraries, e-learning librarians  New technology staff, e.g., E-learning support staff as a separate idea from technology support staff  Marketing to remote regions for ‘stay remote’ programs  Legitimation with accreditating committees at subject and university levels  Legitimation with employers of graduates with an e- degree Institutional Level

12 + Why is the picture so muddy? Variety of technologies beyond LMS, and beyond institutions Stage of e-learning innovation adoption differ widely across regions, institutions, individuals State of knowledge about e-learning practice is emerging, not stable E-learning as course management is at odds with e-learning as an emerging pedagogy (more than just how to teach) Collaborative learning as a start E-learning as a fixed practice belies the reality of emergent “e- practice” in society and academia Technology: social networking, twitter, collaboratories Knowledge: e-science, e-research, digital humanities, e-social science

13 + Social informatics of e- learning Learning from IT History Analyzing and Designing for E-learning Future

14 + Observations from early computing and parallels in e-learning Automated collection of transaction data creates an information trail Increased observability and ease of monitoring work processes Information stream creates a need (desire) for computerized analysis Attention is given to what can be captured, counted, analyzed Creates a desire for further automated data collection Conversations, discussions, lectures persist in digital form Available for reviewing, grading, analysis Reorientation of evaluation based on available data Student participation countable by number, size, and timing of postings Instructors activities recorded Computers automate and informate (Zuboff, 1998) E-learning automates and informates

15 + Case: Grading Online SocialTechnical

16 + Invisible work Since 2001, the first author has used a method for grading online discussions with three criteria: (1) frequency of postings, (2) the extent to which students' postings reflect comprehension of the required readings, and (3) students' comments on other students' postings (see Table 1). Over the past 5 years, specific aspects of the grading method had been changed each year as indicated by students' responses to the use of the grading method. These three criteria are used to set the expectations for weekly participation in course work, which constitutes 25% of course grades. Discussion questions based on the required readings are provided for each week…. At the end of each week's discussion, each student is required to send an message to the instructor with his/her self-evaluations, giving three grades, one for each of the three scoring criteria. The faculty member's grades are returned to the students as soon as possible after this, with the instructor's grades being the same, higher, or lower than the students' grades. When the instructor's grades differ from the student's grades, the reasons are explained using the grading criteria as the basis for explanation.... For students whose grades differ from the instructors, however, sometimes it takes 2 to 5 weeks before the two grades are the same; that is, the students accept the standards set by the instructor and meet the standards at the desired level. Margaret lunney & Angela sammarco (2009). Scoring Rubric for Grading Students' Participation in Online Discussions. CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing, January/February 2009, Volume 27 Number 1, Pages 26 – 31.

17 + Observations and parallels Formerly social activities become computer-based activities, isolating workers at computer stations (Zuboff, 1998) Teleworkers are isolated from co- workers and managers Computers are felt to create asocial environments for users (e.g., gamers, computer addicts) E-learning depicted as isolating Anonymous individual working alone at their computer as in a correspondence model of distance education But, the so-called isolated student may just as likely to be carrying on online conversations with many others Computers isolate workersComputers isolate e-learners

18 + Example: Confronting Anonymity in an Online Class Public or private posting Independent contributions or in dialogue with others Discussion is assessed for class credit, and if so on what criteria Group or individual projects Local considerations, e.g., are real-time technologies available for synchronous sessions Local social norms, such as how much of a final grade can be based on participation Disclosure of personal information Personal pages, introduction when first posting, or discussion area for introductions Being there with others Model desired behaviors Use informal language Have students comment or adding to others’ work Use real names, pictures rather than addresses, network ids, icons Instructor ChoicesEnhancing Presence

19 + Observations and parallels Formerly observable behaviors become invisible, e.g., being at one’s desk Managers feel a lack of control over workers; teleworkers are passed over for promotion ‘Reduced cues’ of CMC Invisible work (Star & Strauss) Learning computer skills Buying, maintaining, operating computer equipment and applications Invisibility of attendance, attention and continuity of identity Is the student who is ‘signed-in’ actually there? Who is taking the exam? Student concerns about being recognized, and known online, of ‘being there’ ; effort to ‘be present' Lack of instructor animation, such as gestures, voice tone Invisible work of attention management, home office /learning times and spaces Computer-based work makes people and task invisible Computer-based learning makes people and tasks invisible

20 + Example: Setting boundaries in an invisible world Workplace and work hour conventions are gone online 7 x 24 accessibility many:1 contact Make visible the new conventions Set expectations for response time Direct use of particular media for questions and Use synchronous office hours to bound contact Use public Q&A forums Boundaries for learning Creating study andclass space at home, and home study habits into communal time and spaces New conventions for being at work at home Boundaries from learning Time for the people in their lives (Kazmer, 2000). Instructor BoundariesStudent Boundaries

21 + Observations and parallels Senior managers first gain , but secretaries read and print their ‘Ownership’ and control by IT departments Organizations learn to be IT-enabled companies Distributed companies (Orlikowski) Meaning and symbolic significance of IT Owning the latest gadgets Senior faculty, non-technology faculty late to adopt CMC, e- learning Decision making re CMS by central administration; Control by central computing centers Employers question value of online degree; virtual universities considered to be of inferior quality Bricks and mortar universities learn to be IT-enabled campuses Cultural differences in adoption of ICTs Cultural differences in adoption of e-learning

22 + Example: Work Culture “Metadata may be described as having the potential to transform (‘redeem’) higher education, but such descriptions are problematic. They form part of a wider struggle to legitimate the role of educational metadata, a struggle that pits its potential against educational diversity and complexity. … Metadata has located itself as part of a wider discourse in which higher education is re-conceived as a market economy. As part of this discuourse, it contributes to a politicised process of re-defining the role of academics, marginalising them in the learning and teaching process.” (Oliver, p.84)

23 + Example: Culture and Sharing Assumptions: attention structures for research and teaching In an academic setting, research and collaboration works along lines of specialization, whereas teaching works along departmental lines Teaching is primarily individual – teacher and the class. Re sharing teaching materials: “Many academics treat learning objects as aide memoires and rarely have the time to fully decontextualize their material and make it of general use. Additionally, there is no career incentive to do this, and in particular to make the material fit for use.” (Lee, 2008) How does this affect resource sharing, co-construction of knowledge, co-construction of teaching materials? Research attention and sharing is to colleagues at other institutions Teaching attention is to sharing with colleagues at same department in same institution, but specialties differ, and departments rarely accept team teaching because you can’t easily ‘count’ a faculty member’s teaching unit fulfillment

24 + Case: Resistance and Change Requiring laptops Requiring Internet access Banning laptops in class Banning Internet access in class Requiring digital resources Banning Wikipedia TechnologyInformation Failure of “Global Campus” “While it made economic sense to take course content from top-flight professors and hire outsiders to deliver it for less than half the price, it did not make pedagogical sense in the eyes of the faculty, Burbules said. “Teaching is not a delivery system, and I think most faculty were just not interested in giving up their course content to be ‘delivered’ by adjuncts with whom they might have little to no contact,” he said. “...You can’t divorce the syllabus from the delivery.”” Inside Higher Education, Sept. 3, 2009.

25 + Observations and parallels Global differences in Infrastructure Readiness Attitudes to IT (Vishwanath & Chen, 2008) Cross-cultural teams Cultural differences Individual vs communal orientation Virtual, globally distributed teams Global differences in Infrastructure Readiness Attitudes to e-learning Cross-cultural e-learning teams Cultural, personal, age, lifestage, disciplinary and political differences Purpose of education Individual vs communal orientation Global differences in adoption of computers Global differences in adoption of e- learning

26 + Examples Western views of individual, book learning taken to cultures where learning is more oral and collective, e.g., for indigenous South Africans, Maori (Ess, 2009) “cultural belonging” is a result of “self portrayal.. actively produced and performed situationally, in order to create differences between one group and others or to differentiate oneself” (Ess, p. 23, quoting Koch) On any given day, among those with access, more men, whites, higher income earners, more educated and more experienced users were likely to be online (Howard et al, 2002) UK children (Livingstone & Bober, 2005) boys spend more time online than girls, have been online longer, have more online skills, and higher levels of self-efficacy Women judge their online skills lower than do men, which may affect what they choose to do online (Hargittai & Shafer, (2006) AssumptionsUse and Attitudes to Use

27 + Observations and parallels System design by programmers/companies separate from users Design to fit all cases Systems control through data processing / IT dept Failed developments, implementations not used, lack of fit with practice Design by programmers / companies separate from users Design to fit standard case, based on ‘learning management’ not learning theory Systems control through IT dept, central telecomm. control Large scale failures of e-learning implementations Management information systems implementation Learning management systems implementation

28 + Example: Structures imposed by non-user technology developers “Technically, the clearest example of the closing down of education lies in the commercial learning management system. The underlying model used by these systems causes concern. First, the user is usually defined as falling into one of three roles – (system) administrator, tutor, or student (or similar nomenclature – with the limitations of what one can do in the system defined by this role. These are rigidly observed: Once a student, always a student, and never a tutor be.” (Lee, 2008, p. 48).

29 + Observations and Parallels Prescriptive systems are supplemented with permissive ones (Galegher, Kraut & Egido,1990) Comment and memo fields in data forms carry chat becomes the ‘killer app’ -- and now Twitter? Computers for work are used for socializing Computers for work support learning and computer knowledge and access for those at home (“proxy use”) (US Census; Pew; etc.) , social bulletin boards, whispering in chat become interpersonal connectors for online students Computers at school provide computer knowledge and access for those at home E-learners bring their family online Communities benefit from embedded e-learners Social communication finds a wayChat in oline environments

30 + Community-Embedded Learners Kazmer (2007) Leaky, permeable boundaries to ICT information In a study of e-learners, Kazmer identified 5 major types of transfer Knowledge from the community to the learning world of classmates and online learning in general Knowledge from the course to the learner’s workplace Knowledge from the course to the learner’s home community Community to community connection through e-learning world contacts Institution to institution: institutions of higher learning to distant communities and institutions

31 + More parallels … Distraction and control Managers believe employees chatting online, surfing the web, playing games is distraction from work, institute controls Teachers believe that students chatting, doing , surfing the web, etc. during class, institute controls (e.g., no laptops in class) Interconnection affords data sharing and leads to standards Automated data exchange standards, Learning object standards Routinization of innovations Online registration, between faculty and students, LMS, online resources – all become routine Interconnection; Distraction and Control; Routinizations

32 + From task-technology fit to reagents in a dynamic process Technology determinsts Social determinists Task-technology fit Social construction of technology Technology as instantiaton of knowledge and practice Co-evolution of social and technical processes Technology as a theory to be tested Agile technologies, Mash-ups Social and technical as reagents in a dynamic procsss

33 + What fields are now moving forward in parallel that provide information on e-learning processes and vice-versa? Collaborative knowledge-building: research teams in academia and business Community informatics: participatory action research, indigenous knowledge, GIS Metadata and data exchange standards: , international trade settlements, library catalogues, archives, learning objects Informatics and information sciences: MIS, LIS, CS, CSCW Human-computer interaction: participatory design, rapid prototyping, mash-ups Educational technology, CSCL, situated perspectives Internet research: online communities, virtual worlds, multiplayer online games Social studies of science, and of technology: social construction, study of multi- and inter- disciplinary practices Cultural studies: cross-cultural studies Participatory culture, citizen journalism, new media

34 + Summary: Applying an SI approach Alignment of social practices and technoloy in the service of learning outcomes Awareness of the embedding context, not just the online learning environment, not just pedagogy Attention to emergent, developmental processes attendant with current rapid changes in ICTs Development of e-learning science along with e-learning practice Attention to intersecting and co- evolving domains and participants: Learning practices In and outside HE Institutions Communities Local to HE and remote Technologies In HE and beyond

35 + References Haythornthwaite, C. (Sept. 2006). The social informatics of elearning. Information, Communication and Society 10 th anniversary conference, York, UK. [http://hdl.handle.net/2142/8959] Andrews, R. & Haythornthwaite, C. (2007). Introduction to e-learning research. In R. Andrews & C. Haythornthwaite (Eds.) (pp. 1-52). Handbook of E-Learning Research. London: Sage. Sawyer, S. & Tapia, A.(2007). From findings to theories: Institutionalizing social informatics. The Information Society, 23, 263–275. Kling, R., Rosenbaum, H. & Sawyer, S. (2005). Understanding and Communicating Social Informatics. Medford, NJ: Information Today. Haythornthwaite, C. & Kazmer, M. M. (Eds.) (2004). Learning, Culture and Community in Online Education: Research and Practice. NY: Peter Lang. Dutton, W.H., Cheong, P.H. & Park, N. (2004). An ecology of constraints on e-learning in higher education: The case of a virtual learning environment, Prometheus, 22(2), Goodfellow, R. & Lamy, M-N.(Eds.)(2009). Learning Cultures in Online Education. London: Continuum. Levy, P., Ford, N., Foster, J., Madden, A., Miller, D., Nunes, M. B., McPherson, M. & Webber, S. (2003). Educational informatics: An emerging research agenda. Journal of Information Science, 29 (4), AND/OR Ford (2008). Web-based learning through educational informatics. Hershey, NY: Information Science Publishing Iiyoshi, T. & Kumar, M.S.V. (Eds.). Opening up education. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Land, R. & Bayne, S. (Eds.)(2005). Education in Cyberspace. Milton Park, UK: RoutledgeFalmer


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