It’s been quite a journey, these past twelve weeks. I’ve been exposed to new ideas, concepts and applications. I entered into Sian’s ‘uncanny’ space.
When applying for this course and reading the blurb, my first question was, “What is lifestreaming?” I hadn’t encountered it before so I came to it with no preconceived ideas, only with the information offered in the course guide. Likening it to ‘commonplacing‘ was very appealing. Basically I’d be keeping an online scrapbook, a record of places I’d visited, text and images I found interesting, giving a taste of my online activity at that moment. A snapshot of my life as an #ededc student.
I was ambivalent when I first began setting up feeds, it was both exciting and daunting. I felt unsure exactly what was required of me and apprehensive that anything I wrote was open to public viewing. Visiting the sites of my colleagues‘ unnerved me. Theirs looked fantastic, showing creativity and experience, in comparison mine looked dull. The practical side of organising feeds was problematic and much time was spent tweaking the feeds; or waiting while images were uploaded; or until Twitter became available; or indeed if Internet access became available. However, the content in my lifestream shows progress has been made. I admit to only feeling comfortable with lifestreaming towards the end of the course.
I did ponder on the purpose of the Lifestream. Would keeping a record of my online activities enable me to become a better learner? And if so, in what way? Edwards (2010) says, “to learn, humans have to gather and experiment.” An initial glance of my Lifestream shows an eclectic collection. Like a Magpie, I would gather and store anything interesting. It may have been related to earlier, present, even future course content so it wasn’t always done in a linear way. The RSS feed set up for the Female Science Professor feed led me to do my ethnography on science bloggers although this wasn‘t part of my thinking at the time. How the collection was used has been a surprising feature of lifestream.
Feedback has been an important part of my learning. Comments from tutors and colleagues have been regular and invaluable in helping my understanding, as have the blogs. The different interpretations given to our visual artefact task was amazing. The lifestream has been helpful in engaging in, and understanding, the course but I agree with Carol’s view that our lifestreams are only to be made sense of in retrospect.
On reflection, if I had to do this over again how would I do it? I would make notes about why I selected each piece and my feelings at the time. An injection of humour to my ‘online presence’. is needed, I don’t recognise much of the ‘real’ me. My entries don’t show how much fun this course has been. Creating ‘presence’ as a distance learner is difficult. Ania mentioned that she’d like to see some pics of my location, and Jeremy commented on “how our ‘virtual’ experiences are always permeated by, and enmeshed with, the ‘real’ world around us.” With this in mind I tried to upload pics of my journey to work. The road I take cuts through the desert, with sand dunes as as high as hills.
Other vehicles are few so it feels like it’s just me, sand dunes, date farms and camels. Remote. Solitary. Isolated. Not unlike my experience of online learning. Access problems just add to my ghostly presence, “the ontological blurring of being and not-being, presence and absence online.” (Bayne)
Whilst writing this I am exhibiting signs of being posthuman. I’m listening to iTunes and uploading images; there’s a couple of tabs open on my browser so I can quickly check things out; I am constantly flicking between this document, my Lifestream, and pdf files; and I’m downloading a video. My Mac has become an appendage, it is part of me. Technology is a big part of my life.
Edwards states the need for learning to challenge us and this experience is definitely challenging; #ededc staff and students have taken the ‘road less travelled’.
Bayne, S. (forthcoming, March 2010). Academetron, automaton, phantom: uncanny digital pedagogies. London Review of Education.
Edwards, R. (2010). The end of lifelong learning: A post-human condition? Studies in the Education of Adults, vol 42, no 1, 5-17.
The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost