Active Algorithms: Sociomaterial Spaces in the E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC

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Abstract

This paper will explore two examples from the design, structure and implementation of the ‘E-learning and Digital Cultures’ Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the University of Edinburgh in partnership with Coursera. This five week long course (known as the EDCMOOC) was delivered twice in 2013, and is considered an atypical MOOC in its utilisation of both the
Coursera platform and a range of social media and open access materials. The combination of distributed and aggregated structure will be highlighted, examining the arrangement of course material on the Coursera platform and student responses in social media. This paper will suggest that a dominant instrumentalist view of technology limits considerations of these systems to merely enabling or inhibiting educational aims. The subsequent discussion will suggest that sociomaterial theory offers a valuable framework for considering how educational spaces are produced through relational practices between humans and non-humans. An analysis of You Tube and a bespoke blog aggregator will show how the algorithmic properties of these systems perform functions that cannot be reduced to the intentionality of either the teachers using these systems, or the authors who create the software, thus constituting a complex sociomaterial educational enactment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-55
JournalCampus Virtuales
Volume3
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • MOOC, Sociomaterial, Instrumentalism, Essentialism, Determinism, Blog aggregation, You Tube, Space.

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