Friday, May 29 • 2:45pm - 4:00pm
Online Learning: Global Perspectives

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A panel of two papers:

Digital Objects, Liminal Moments, and Identity Formation in the International Classroom
Robert Hamilton and Rosalind Turner

This paper reports on a project conducted by the researchers and their students into the role technology and digital cultural artefacts play in mediating the transition of international student academic identity in an Australian university. More than 2.5 million students study outside their home countries. In Australia, at some universities, international students comprise up to twenty percent of the student cohort.

The choice to study overseas in Western countries may present many challenges for the international student including acculturative stress and difficulties with adjustment to the environment of the host country. A considerable number of tertiary pathways and undergraduate students experience difficulties with basic academic skills expected at Australian universities. International students themselves report that they feel under-valued and that their teaching and learning needs are often not well met.

When the distance travelled between cultures is considerable, international students can experience cognitive shock, or cognitive dissonance when moving from one academic culture to another. This can significantly impair the student’s ability to learn when the student has to adapt to a different set of academic traditions, behaviours and expectations. Student engagement, then, is a far-reaching enabler for international students to make a successful transition into their new identity. Engagement is a construct we defined as students’ cognitive investment in, active participation in and emotional commitment to their learning.

This 20 minute paper merges digital visuals and soundscapes, to share teacher and student experiences of a successful approach developed for a first assessment to mitigate the issues of access and equity experienced by international students at the outset of their Foundation Studies program at the University of Technology Sydney.

For five years the subject Society and Culture has been taught to domestic and international students transitioning to university studies in nursing, education, law, architecture, journalism, engineering and design. International students are mostly from China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, UAE, and Afghanistan. The Treasured Object Assignment is a digital image portfolio exercise in which students nominate one image or artefact with memorable significance to their life world. A short descriptive writing brief precedes two other components in which students create a digital visual story and oral presentation. The task invites students to investigate their own ideas about the fluidity of their identity formation, explored through the materiality of culture. Rather than an assignment predicated upon a traditional text-based event, the digital image portfolio engages students with an assignment that promotes the interplay between technology and the social sciences. The results disrupt the conventional Time-Life ethnographies associated with a typically Western standpoint which may present students and their cultures of origin in monolithic ways. Our presentation acknowledges students as existing source of knowledge and cultural wealth and individuals who already possess talents and knowledge to share. In revealing to us their Han Bok, Aboriginal Didgeridoos, Omamorigatana, Training bras, Jade amulets, Passports, Kimmi dolls, Zippo lighters, etc., students share with us their experiences and memories of those liminal moments encountered at the beginnings of their border crossing and emergent identity in a changed educational and social environment.

A data exploratory analysis of online peer-learning: Clusters and communicative practices in P2P University
Cristiane Damasceno and Miguel Maldonado

This investigation explores the communicative practices that participants employ in the community discussion forum of the Peer-to-Peer University, a student-centered and open education online platform. Our final goal is to understand the constraints and affordances of online communities as spaces for peer-learning and to contribute to the debate about knowledge construction and dissemination in the digital era (Buffardi, 2011). This ongoing case study leverages both qualitative and data mining analysis suited for big data to gain a deep and broad understanding of the quality of engagement that participants show in online discussions. Specifically we compare two data exploration analysis: the constant comparison method (Glaser, 1965) and a text mining algorithm that automatically identifies clusters of type of comments as well as topics within the comments without the need of human supervision. The results of both data discovery methods are compared and contrasted to ensure the validity of our findings.

The P2PU provides educational experiences outside the institutional walls of Higher Education settings and responds to exigencies of networked societies, such as flexibility and lifelong learning (Barney, 2004). P2PU activities revolve around a blog written by individuals in charge of the platform, discussion forums open to all participants, online courses created by the users, and partnerships established between the communities and other institutions, such as universities and research institutes. Despite P2PU’s initiative to support research about their project, there are not enough systematic analysis of how participants engage in this open education community and the actual communicative practices taking place there. Andersen and Ponti (2014) explored the types of participation learners employed in an Intro to Javascript course. Liddo & Alevizou (2010) are conducting a study to explore the social, dialogical and conceptual connections participants establish in this community. We expand this ongoing debate by answering three questions: What are the communicative practices employed by participants from the Peer to Peer University on their online discussion forum? What is the evolution of communicative practices over time? What are the sources of information that participants use in their discussions? Our methodology is planned to be a baseline to combine modern data analysis techniques with qualitative methods that best suit P2PU, and also to make recommendations that address the challenges of peer-learning projects in open education online communities.

Andersen, R., & Ponti, M. (2014). Participatory pedagogy in an open educational course: challenges and opportunities. Distance Education, 1-16.
Barney, D. (2004). The network society. Cambridge, UK: Polity.
Buffardi, A. (2011). Open knowledge and e-research in the digital era. Italian Journal of Sociology of Education, 8(2), 215-227.
De Liddo, A., & Alevizou, P. (2010). A method and tool to support the analysis and enhance the understanding of peer-to-peer learning experiences.
Glaser, B. G. (1965). The constant comparative method of qualitative analysis. Social Problems, 12(4), 436-445. doi: 10.1525/sp.1965.12.4.03a00070

avatar for Cristiane S. Damasceno

Cristiane S. Damasceno

PhD Student, North Carolina State University
Cristiane S. Damasceno is a PhD student in the Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media program at North Carolina State University. She is originally from Brazil, majored in journalism from Sao Paulo State University, and moved to the United States to pursue a masters in Communication... Read More →
avatar for Robert Hamilton

Robert Hamilton

Lecturer Humanities, University of Technology Sydney Insearch
Former lecturer in History and Social Science at University of New England, and University of Western Sydney. Current position at University of Technology Sydney Insearch. Publication areas are in Austral-Asian history and more recently in documentary with my first film, The Witchdoctor... Read More →

Miguel Maldonado

R&D Statistician, SAS Institute
Interested in Analytics and anything data related (visualization, data mining, data science).
avatar for Rosalind Turner

Rosalind Turner

Rosalind Turner is a Subject Coordinator for Society and Culture studies at UTS:Insearch. She has been teaching and creating courses for Foundation and Diploma courses UTS Insearch since 1999. Areas  of interest include popular culture, consumer culture and sport, particularly martial... Read More →

Designated Tweeters
avatar for Trent Kays

Trent Kays

Assistant Professor, Hampton University
Writer, rhetorician, & internet researcher. HBCU Prof. Intellectual nomad. Polemicist. Buddhist. Queer. Volunteer. Uncle. I aim to misbehave. Don't panic.

Friday May 29, 2015 2:45pm - 4:00pm EDT
Room 104 Kellogg Center

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