Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Survey and Surveillance...

I sat down to work on the survey...

I had finally found some time to start working out the questions ready for the following week.

Then I stopped to think.

Participants anonymous? Hmmm.

The mechanics of it would be straightforward enough.

The collection of data, analysis of the results, creation of colorful barcharts and piecharts with the stats a few clicks away.

We can all be "scientific" now.

That's terrific...(terrifying?)

Google forms, Google analytics, Survey Monkey...

Survey Monkey? 

Er....who's being made a monkey of?

make a monkey out of
  1. (idiomatic, transitive) To cause a person, group, or action to appear foolish or inferior; to subject someone or something to ridicule.

Something clunked in the process.

Was I working on a survey....

a) on the teachers?
b) for the teachers?
c) with the teachers?
d) about the teachers?

Would they be research subjects now...or friends and colleagues?

What did my "administering" of the survey say about how I saw our relationship?

What would my "administering" of the survey say to the colleagues about how they saw our relationship?

Would this be seen as an unsolicited intrusion into their lives?

The telephone rings...

It takes about ten seconds to establish that this is another unsolicited intrusion.

"Good afternoon. My name is...[complete from a list]" 
"We are the bureau/corporation/office...[bar where inappropriate]."
" Of energy conservation/solar panels, life insurance...[bar where inappropriate]
"We would like to ask you a few questions..."

"Good afternoon, could you tell me where you got this number please?"

Ten seconds later the line goes dead.

The penny drops...

You roll in your penny's worth.

That penny drops.

The moment it leaves the tips of your fingers it is lost and forgotten.

You have lost and forgotten.

The Arcade, is winning.

Survey and surveillance.

I went off and found some people who could aid me in my reflection.

I Google "Survey and Surveillance" [giving Google another data point to play with.]

I start with the etymology.

survey (n.) Look up survey at
late 15c., survei, "oversight, supervision," from survey (v.). The meaning "act of viewing in detail" is from 1540s. Meaning "systematic collection of data on opinions, etc." is attested from 1927.
survey (v.) Look up survey at
c. 1400, "to consider, contemplate," from Anglo-French surveier, Old French sorveoir "look (down) at, look upon, notice; guard, watch," from Medieval Latin supervidere "oversee, inspect," from Latin super "over" (see super-) + videre "to see" (from PIE root *weid- "to see"). Meaning "examine the condition of" is from mid-15c. That of "to take linear measurements of a tract of ground" is recorded from 1540s. Related: Surveyedsurveyingsurveyance(late 14c.).

I come across "Survey and Surveillance" by Gary T Marx (in F. Conrad, and M. Shrober eds "Envisioning the survey of the future", 2008).  

It's old (so am I) but I find some cause for pause and reflection.

"A survey is a form of surveillance. Survey and surveil sound alike and are synonyms. The former, however, does not usually conjure up Orwellian images. Rather the survey in its best light has been seen as a component of democratic society in which citizens can voluntarily inform leaders of their attitudes and needs and help clarify public policy questions and all under presumably neutral, scientific conditions that can be trusted. Survey respondents are encouraged to participate in order to "make your voice heard."

"There is risk of a kind of scientific colonialism in which various publics are expected to offer unlimited access to their personal data, but rather than serving the public interest, this can facilitate manipulation by elites pursuing selfish and/or undemocratic ends."

"A concern of some social researchers, particularly in the later 1960s and early 1970s was with the impact of survey research as part of a broader critique of social science (e.g., Gouldner,1970; Colfax & Roach, 1971; Mills, 2000). Who did the surveys serve? Who sets the research agenda? Are potential users aware of the survey’s sponsors and their reasons for seeking the information? What did the survey offer to those disadvantaged and beyond the mainstream who were disproportionately the subjects of research? What did surveys really tell us about social reality (Blumer, 1948)? Those issues have not gone away, but as this volume makes clear new issues are appearing.

Academic social researchers like other brethren in the discovery business (market researchers, investigative reporters, police, private detectives, national security agents) are surely more spies than spied upon, even if for academics this is usually in benign contexts. We all seek to find things out about others which they may, or may not, wish to reveal and which may hurt, harm, help, or be irrelevant to them –whether as individuals or more indirectly as group members (Marx, 1984)."

I come back and start to annotate the article so as to better think.

I walk with the author a while.....

I compare walking with colleagues to poring over atomised, anonymised data.

Unsolicited intrusions.

I think for an instant about the objective of my research: to discover to what extent language teachers are able or willing to use complexity perspectives to inform their practices.

I wonder about the unsolicited intrusion of researchers.

While no doubt colleagues will be willing to contribute, I wonder about my positioning as regards the group.

I reflect on my desire to enable participative reflective practice in an educational community.

I reason that it may well be necessary to continue to take time to build dialogue, to unearth questions which we might share together.

Participation between learners, learner-teachers and learner-researchers.

Whose game are we playing?

What if nobody wants to participate?

What if everybody only wants to go home and do something else?

What if the problem of education is that it is about sorting of people into categories (boxes)?

What if the problem of education is that it is about preparing people to play roles in an arcade?

What if understanding complexity was a just an avoidance of understanding the real game?

Ticks, clicks, ones and zeros.

Is a survey appropriate for my purposes?

I suppose the answer is that it can be... if the participants themselves are involved in its design and interpretation and buy into its objectives... (I note down what appears an appropriate term - buy.)

I find myself suspicious of those boxes, of those ticks, those clicks, those ones and zeros.

Is a dialogue box really about establishing diaglogue?

I know that such stuff might give me credibility.

Lost in translation.

I come back to a Virtually Connecting session with Steven Thorne. 

Even if the participants to a research study are willing what happens to their participation?

How accessible is the language used once moments of their lives have been disembodied,  "their data" is researched, analysed and interpreted?

I am reminded of "Extraction".

I am reminded of "Submission".

A person becomes a learner or is it the other way round?

A learner doesn't necessarily become a researcher even if he/she searches.

Is language all about being part of a group with more or less power?

Do we use language so that we may be recognised as "being somebody"?

I listen to "researchers" addressing the criteria for research being "good research".

I listen to "keynotes": speakers get warm introductions, and more time.

People listen attentively, laptops open.

People wait for the ritual moment when they will be asked for a question.

Most remain silent.

They close their laptops.

They wander off into the lobby for coffee.

What is it that they do in the lobbies while drinking coffee?

What is it that they are really doing in conferences?

I am reminded of academia being a reputation economy.

I am reminded of "What are you?"

I am reminded that "My lawyer is a dog..."

Whose boxes are we/they trying to fill?

Case studies.

I think back to being in hospital.

I think of parts of my body which suddenly become pathologised, they are dispossessed.

I think of losing control, of being impotent in the face of expert medicalese.

I am a case.

On leaving the hospital, I am asked to complete "a survey of satisfaction" to enable management to "better provide for patients needs."  

"I mean really?"

False friends...

I consult Facebook and I find its intrusion ever more grating.

It's that false friend who is ever ready with soothing words and a sly agenda.

"Want to share an update Simon."

"You haven't shared an update in a while, Simon."

"Good morning Simon."

"It's [insert name]'s birthday. Send her your good thoughts."

"[insert name] likes your post, commented on your video, reacted to your video, etc etc"

"I see you are in the hospital Simon, want to share an update with your friends?"

I turn off the access to my location.

I remember to go and remove access to my camera.

The fucking camera guy.

I Google him and find that I am not alone in hating him (it).

I go back and find that article I shared this morning on platform capitalism.
 I see yet another survey/quiz call it what you will asking me to profile myself.

I avoid it, despite peer pressure.

Aren't we all having fun?

In the search box.

I am in this box, I leave a trace of my passing.

I have still not "reclaimed my domain."

It's still Google's.

In the dialogue box.

I completed a survey on lurking in CLMOOC the other day.

I did it because the researchers are my friends.

I finish writing this.

I don't finish the survey.

I leave myself time to think.

I leave a few data points for others unknown, unknowable to track.

Will I be receiving targeted ads on hospitals,  or viagra this evening?

Will my health insurance be more expensive?

Will I, as a researcher, be an anaesthetist who sends patients to sleep or an activist who, with others, facilitates peoples' awakening?

Friday, August 25, 2017

This stream is not online at present.

This stream is not online at present.

How many hours of preparation go into a conference presentation?

How many hours of transport are necessary to bring people together?

How much money does it cost to present in a foreign country?

How many people are able to see all the presentations?


In 2012 and 2013 I was able to present at Eurocall.

In 2014 we worked for a year on a project, had a paper accepted....

At the last moment, there was no longer the financial means to attend the conference.

Frustration, dismay, disillusion.

Against the odds, it is easy to give up hope.

It seems to me now that we might have benefited from the opportunity to present online.

In 2015, I co-presented via a Google Hangout with my colleague Marcin Kleban in situ in Krakow.

Hybrid conferences...

The ALT conference is one that does a great job facilitating access to its events for remote participants.

The live streamed conferences, available immediately, mean that it is possible to participate not fully, but richly with the conversations around the event.

Virtually Connecting has become more and more important in my learning.

It offers opportunities which are not available to events which are only onsite.

How many people do not have access to learning, to conferences as a result of visa restrictions, financial barriers, family constraints, statutory constraints etc, etc?

This was exemplified by Parisa Mehran who was accepted to present this year, but was uable to attend due to visa rejections.

Frustration, dismay and (very costly) disillusion.

She was able to co-present her session via video conference.

Perhaps from such learning events new opportunities might be developed?

Earlier today, I was fortunate enough to have been able to follow Maritta Riekki and Leena Kuure's presentation thanks to Teresa Mackinnon offering to Periscope it.

I was able to watch Shannon Sauro's keynote (featuring Parisa Mehran's story) thanks to live streaming.

I had already found her slides on SlideShare.

I am looking forward to meeting up with Shannon, Teresa, Kate, Martina, and others on Saturday.

When I look at the program for Eurocall

And the abstracts

I think about all the sessions which will not be streamed or recorded.

I wonder how many live streaming smartphones were available in these sessions...

I wonder how many people wouldn't even try to participate because they believe that it is impossible.

I think of all the missed connections, the missed opportunties for learning, for community building.

Of course technology can never replace the power of people present together bodily but it can enrich, amplify and offer new powerful affordances.

Earlier today, I get notifications that my friend Daniel Bassill over in Chicago is joining in the conversations from Eurocall with Parisa over in Osaka.

 I come back and tweet a photo from Shannon's keynote.

I come back and find a link to some of Daniel Bassill's tutoring/mentoring work in Chicago.

Small actions of sharing learning can lead to big progresses in social justice.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

This event is brought to you by...

A post event reflection.

Structured unpredictably...

A gif of dynamic systems.

"If one has to start anywhere..."

"Will this animation move when published." He wonders.

"Will it just become static on the net?"


I keep trying to figure out where this should start.

Narrative(s) attempt(s) fail unmanageable reality.

It will have to do.

Such universal failings are, after all, what connect us.

"How do I express this with ever-changing feeling?"

"Oh damn it."

This is absurd.

“Writing has nothing to do with meaning. It has to do with landsurveying and cartography, including the mapping of countries yet to come.”  

"Fuck IT."

"Fuck Google."

It's all we have.

A fragile agency... 

"A speckulation?"

"I'd like to thank my mother, my father."

"I'd like to thank (GOD?)... er those who missed attempting to kill my grandfather in the war."

This is brought to you by...

A dog barking?

I hurriedly pulled on a pair of boxer shorts and a tshirt.

Modesty saved.

This is brought to you by...


"Do you have ID?" 

I went back for my passport and signed off the parcel slip.

This is brought to you by...

The cable for my laptop.

At two o'clock in the morning attempting hamfistedly...

 "Why do we say that?"

I type a blog post on a smartphone...

I lose the contents of the post three times.

This is brought to you by...

What was lost.


A laptop with POWER.

This is brought to you by...

A caring community.

This is brought to you by...

A Slack backchannel.

"I am sorry, my laptop has died on me, I won't be able to set up the session for Eurocall tomorrow."

This is brought to you by....

A response from Helen DeWaard over in Ontario.

At virtually no notice, Helen really backs me up for Virtually Connecting at Eurocall.

She will share her? Google's?  our? POWER to allow? to enable?  us to hang out in Southhampton.

"What about Saturday?"

Ken Bauer, over in Mexico silently interrupts a meeting at his daughter's high school to offer help.

On Saturday, he will be up for 5:00 am in the morning.

This is brought to you by....

Friendship, fellowship, faith, love, hope....a belief in something bigger than each one of us.

This is brought to you by....

Teresa Mackinnon  she offered to be an onsite buddy at Eurocall.

This is brought to you by...

Steve Wheeler  who mentored me on his so many others.

This is brought to you by....

Rhizomatic learning...Dave Cormier...

"A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo."

This is brought to you by...

"Will it ever end?"


Martina Emke started it. 

She kept bringing up rhizomes.

We hadn't even gone live yet.

"A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo."

I met Maha Bali, Apostolos Koutropoulos, so that's a sort of start to this story here.

"A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo."


"A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo."

(I tire of fighting with html formating. It's small. It's small. )

"Fuck it."

This is brought to you by....

A common language...

POWER embodied? disembodied? 

POWER to order chaos? to give semblance of order to chaos? to command? to touch?

POWER to include? to exclude? 

This is brought to you by....

A language.

"An Open Educational Resource" offered AK.

This is brought to you by...

A keynote recording.

"Will it be available openly?" I asked.

"Well what's the point of putting it on a website if it is not available openly?" Martina responded.

"Academic publishing etc....?" I countered?

But will it be accessible?

Will the language be accessible?

This is brought to you by....

My interest in language learning.

It led me to reflect.

The more I reflected, the more I was led to experts.

This is brought to you by...

I fell upon a conversation which spoke to me.

This was accessible.

A recognisable conversation between recognisable humans. 

Humans. Speaking English.

This is brought to you by....

An ex-student and reluctant academic.

I remembered being a student at university.

I remembered struggling with what seemed to me to be densely alien gibberish.

"Why can't they just speak bloody English?" I remember complaining intolerantly.

"Why do they need all these barbaric terms?" I remember thinking.

I think of attitudes to scientists.

"Britain has had enough of experts," says Gove.

This is brought to you by...

Reading articles by Steven Thorne and other experts on the complex reality of language learning.

This is brought to you by....

Combining blogging with reflective practice.

Towards complexity-informed language teaching in higher education.

To what extent is it possible to adopt “complexity-informed perspectives” (Mercer, 2013) for language teaching in higher education? Considering the classroom as a complex adaptive system (Larsen-Freeman, 1997; Ellis & Larsen-Freeman, 2009), we use mixed methods adapted from Nexus Analysis (Scollon & Scollon, 2004) to explore evolving ecologies of learning (Van Lier, 2010) in a French university language centre’s English classes for non-specialist undergraduate and postgraduate students. Using qualitative and quantitative survey, pedagogical programs, capture of interactions: photo, video, and learner portfolios, we trace discourses in place and interaction orders. We study teacher and learner reflection, narratives and interview to highlight divergent perceptions of affordances. We observe how network-connected technology offers the potential to modify pedagogical practices and assessment in the classroom, to better respect learner diversity and to “situate learning” (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Gee, 2004) in diverse contexts, to facilitate observation and analysis of learners and learning activities. We attempt to identify “core components of the system - hubs where the effect of change is more likely to spread throughout the system” both of the learner and the institution (Mercer, 2013).  If research may enable us to identify “general principles which language educators can use to guide their actions” (Tudor, 2003), analysis of individual stories illustrates the complex, unpredictable, emergent nature of learning. What strategies might teachers adopt to facilitate dramatic progress in learning? In an institutional context ordered by program outcomes, marking grids, and time constraints, learners may be more concerned with gaming the system for credit rather than actually learning a language. Teachers’ “historical bodies” (Scollon and Scollon, 2004): experiences, beliefs, attitudes, competences,  and time and or financial constraints may enable or limit their desire or means to adapt practices. Going forward, we consider it essential to develop connected, reflective communities of exploratory practice (Allwright, 2003) including learners, teachers and researchers to work towards manageable pedagogical solutions and the recognition of diverse perspectives, competences and roles.

This is brought to you by....

A growing feeling of becoming part of academic communities.

Thanks to people that I can share common VALUES with.

Despite past feelings of disgust for everything academia.

"What are you?" He scowled.

This is brought to you by...

Something greater than the sum of its parts.

"What is it that brings us to work together here in these spaces?" Wonders Apostolos.

Words emerge chaotically.

This is brought to you by...

Virtually connecting, really connecting people who really desire to connect.

This is brought to you by...

An accessibly human American researcher, Steven Thorne packing an hour long keynote into 45 seconds, responding in dynamic whispers so as not to disturb adjacent partner/sponsor event...


speaking volumes about social issues in conversation with Parisa Mehran, an Iranian researcher refused a visa to attend Eurocall.


This is brought to you by....

Questions from Joe Dale and Teresa Mackinnon to Steven Thorne about how to connect theory to pedagogical practice.

Questions of how to be a teacher in a complex age of change.
("Was there ever an age that was not one of change?")

Questions of how to enable the work of researchers to be accessible.

Questions of what constitutes citizenship in a connected world.

Questions of identity, of language, of meaning, of POWER.

Questions of frontiers, of who defines our boundaries, our bodies, our movement....our lives.

"Teachers have never been so necessary." Steven Thorne.

"Accessibly human, caring, experts have never been so necessary." I think to myself.

"Working together across artificial frontiers has never been so necessary." I conclude.

"On est ensemble dans cette merde. On a chacun sa responsabilité." He thinks in French.

"Working outside the box, inside the box...tricky...hmm" I contemplate.


This is brought to you by....


A desire to go back and listen again so as to better act.

Thank you to

Helen, Ken, Maha, Autumm, Vconnecting, Eurocall, Teresa, Kate, Joe, AK, Parisa, Dave, Steve, Steve, Francesca, Uncle Tom Cobley et al. (and er... Google)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

From torpor to tango.

Footnote torsion.

A death. 

A drive.

A shudder.

A stride.

A fleeting meeting...of signs.

A glance.

A stroke.

A step.

A glide

A presence, an absinthe of minds.

A part.

A writ.


Torpor Footnotes

It's that time of the year when I turn off.  

It was this time of the year the phone turned off...

Well drowned actually


Done for.

One damn tweet leads to another.

An app.


A scene from Moulin Rouge.




Two in the morning.