#DigPed Narratives in Education

Koseoglu, S., & Bozkurt, A. (in press). #DigPed narratives in education: Critical perspectives on power and pedagogy, Online Learning.

#DigPed Narratives in Education: Critical Perspectives on Power and Pedagogy

Extended Abstract

“What stories, what names, what struggles, do you wish to add to enable a
more democratic education to be built?” asks Apple in his seminal book Official
Knowledge [1]. It is this question that drives this research into collective
educational narratives and acts of resistance on Twitter. By resistance we mean
an attitude that rejects colonial, strictly behaviourist, androcentric, consumerist
and industrialist views in education. Using Tufekci’s [2] Capacities and Signals
framework, we conceptualise Twitter as a politically charged public space,
where educators from all around the world occasionally act against mainstream
models and common practices in education through a complex interplay of
individual performance, spontaneous interactions with others, and organised
structured and semi-structured events.

The context of this mixed methods research is #DigPed activities during three
Digital Pedagogy Lab events: Digital Pedagogy Lab Cairo (March 20-22,
2016), Digital Pedagogy Lab PEI (July 13-15, 2016), and Digital Pedagogy Lab
2017 Summer Institute (August 7-11, 2017). We analyse #DigPed through the
lens of the Capacities and Signals framework to understand (1) how educational
narratives develop and spread on #DigPed, and (2) the nature of their
capacities.

Social Networking Analysis (SNA) is used as a starting point in this research
to map key people in the network, ties in the network, the hashtags used and
moments of intense activity. We then turn our attention to the nature and impact
of some narratives that have spread on the network using thematic analysis. We
approach the study through an interpretive paradigm; that is, we acknowledge
the fact that knowledge is socially constructed through language and interaction
and is always partial. Thus, we seek understanding through self-reflexivity and
iterative cycles of data collection and analysis.

Findings showed that #DigPed falls into a unified-tight crowd network
pattern in which discussions are characterized by highly interconnected people
with multiple connections and few isolated participants. SNA also revealed that
key influencers (i.e., DPL organizers, keynote speakers) held strategic positions
in the network. Three prominent narratives emerged from the thematic analysis:
“love in pedagogical work is an orientation,” “every student can have their own
domain – to share their work, knowledge, memory” and “most stories about
student debts/struggles go untold.” The nature of these narratives led us to
consider a capacity different from the ones proposed by Tufekci: pedagogic
capacity, which we define as the power to initiate a productive and potentially
transformative educational discourse, within one’s self and within communities.

Overall, findings suggest that although a network like #DigPed is open to all,
there are hidden power structures that shape the network activity. Findings also
align with Stewart’s [3] argument that “hierarchies of influence relate to
identity and attention, rather than [institutional] role” (p. 306) on an open
platform like Twitter. These hierarchies of influence are not taught through
formal practices (such as staff induction events or earned ranks) but learned and
earned through ongoing participation in a community, both through professional and personal means. Multiple implications in relation to the pedagogic and
narrative capacities of online networks like #DigPed are drawn from this
research: (1) there is a need to strengthen the pedagogic capacity of educational
narratives; (2) there is a need to acknowledge the power dynamics in open
networks; (3) there is a need to further investigate the complex nuances of
gatekeeping.

References
[1] Apple, M. (2000). Official knowledge: Democratic education in a
conservative age. New York: Routledge.
[2] Tufekci, Z. (2017). Twitter and tear gas: The power and fragility of
networked protest. Yale University Press.
[3] Stewart, B. (2015). Open to influence: What counts as academic influence in
scholarly networked “Twitter” participation. Learning, Media and Technology,
40(3), 287-309.

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