Code, methods and the production of educational data
Dr Cormack O'Keeffe, Executive Director YES ’N’ YOU, Paris
26 February 2016, 12-2pm
1.26, Paterson’s Land, School of Education, Holyrood Road, The University of Edinburgh
Sign up here open to all: please bring your lunch.
The so-called ‘data revolution’ has been transforming many aspects of our lives. Ranging from the ‘microdata’ used to construct portraits of individuals to the aggregated models of big data, the technologies of data production have been assuming an increasingly important role in educational practices. These have been accompanied by new ways of visualizing, sharing and presenting digital data that have in turn have been influencing how educational attainment is represented, managed and, performed.
Much of this is due to novel digital technologies that, in addition to intensifying older data production techniques, allow for data to be produced and distributed in larger quantities and more quickly than ever before. The pervasive and voracious character of digital data production means that it acts as a constant gardener patiently ‘harvesting' data on the ability, behaviour, identity and habits of people through measurement and classification.
As educational practices are becoming increasingly digital, new ways of tracing and understanding the contingencies, hiatuses, compromises, and controversies that come with the folding of social and technical actants into the everyday courses of action that constitute education are necessary. This presentation outlines possible ways of investigating how data about educational interactions are produced. It describes a methodological approach, trace ethnography, that allows researchers to follow the distributed agency of digital actants such as code. Sites where digital assessment practices are performed are explored as fruitful areas of investigation. These oligopticons provide narrow but extremely detailed views of individuals and collectives that are slowly built up log-file by log-file, data point by data point.
The presentation concludes with suggestions for how researchers, practitioners and other stakeholders can make decisions informed by an understanding of how data are produced by the various epistemic communities that perform the work of data production.
About the speaker: Cormac O’Keeffe earned his Ph.D degree in Education from Lancaster University’s Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning. He is currently an executive director at YES ’N’ YOU in Paris where he develops digital learning and assessment programmes. His research interests are STS, digital methods, learning analytics, and education.