Monday, 25 May 2009

H809: Block three update

First off, apologies to H809ers for my absence over the last couple of weeks. I'm afraid that submitting my probation report, going back home for a family wedding and presenting at my research group conference (CALRG; a post on the conference to follow soon) has meant that H809 has had to take a bit of a back seat.

So I haven't been doing the reading for Block 3 but for excellent summaries and commentary on the last few weeks, please have a look at Juliette Culver's blog. In week 11, she raises some wothwhile points about how candid (or not) people are when filling in surveys while also discussing the notions of validity and reliability (where she notes "reliability is about whether you can consistently achieve the same results using methods, validity is about whether your methods tell you what you claim they do"). I think she also raises some interesting issues surrounding the concept of ethnographic research in weeks 13&14, especially in relation to virtual ethnography and the divide between the virtual and the real. I think the blurring of this divide is something we are seeing more of these days, and in terms of my area of research at least, we do need to be aware that this is not necessarily a binary distinction (if you want tto read more about this see Gordon Calleja's paper called the Binary Myth, 2008). There is also research going on within online gaming communities - virtual ethnographies within virtual worlds I guess - where an ethnographic approach has been adopted. For instance, Bonnie Nardi and colleagues has done some work looking at learning conversations in World of Warcraft. Though not really related to ethnographic study, I did consider some of the ethical issues of purposefully blurring these sorts of distinctions in my entry on alternate reality games.

Jansh has also been updating her blog regularly, reflecting on the week 11 podcasts, and has produced a really interesting post on the Browne (2003) "Conversations in cyberspace" reading, where she relates it to her own experience as an AL with the OU. She also discusses her ideas for her final H809 project, looking at how the teacher's wiki she has set up is being used. Her and James have also engaged in a discussion about wiki etiquette and how to encourage collaborative learning. As the reading and activity portion of the course comes to an end and the focus turns to your own research projects, I would just like to say that this doesn't mean that you can't blog about your own ideas. I'd be happy to try and give you my own take on your proposals, though it's probably best to think of me as another student commenting, rather than as a tutor since I won't be marking any of them! So even if you haven't been blogging throughout the course, now might be a good time to get some of those ideas out there for others to see.

Unfortunately, I have to echo some of Sonja's concerns about the lack of communication within the forums on H809, since discussions seems to have become less and less frequent as time has gone on. As such, there isn't a lot to report in terms of what's been happening on the forums, though there have been some interesting discussion about the difference between reviewing vs. consuming (in relation to the notion of peer review), the issue of trust and ethics when using CMC (in relation to the Bos. et al., 2002) and - from the sounds of it - some very legitimate concerns being raised about the research carried out by Davies and Graf (2005) on student grades and participation within an e-learning community. The latter discussions will be especially relevant for those finishing off their final TMA.

Right, I think I would like to end this post by urging students to respond to each others concerns (whether within forums or through blogs) as you are all part of a diverse community that can support each other through the trials and tribulations of online learning. Contributions don't always have to be profound - sometimes it's nice just to know someone else is out there going through what you are - but without any communication the whole experience can be quite frustrating and really wouldn't be taking advantage of all the potentially useful resources that are available. So please do get involved and I promise I'll be around till the end of the course to try and provide another perspective - if you want it!

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