Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 37 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Humans as Tools (old story of social research)

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Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 37 seconds

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Isn’t it amazing how kids use their parents’ bodies as tools to play with? I read about this before i was a mom, and how it’s a great (and creative) way for poor kids to play. When we pray and are prostrate (head, knees, hands on the ground) she jumps all over us, when standing she walks between our legs (she’s still that short, and we’re not). Today i couldn’t take her to a playground after daycare (needed to be online at #aln14) so i let her use my legs as a slide and she called it a playground, so we’re good 🙂

Now the more controversial use of human tools is social research. Not a new story at all. Just touching me a lot today.

If you’re following, I am having my students do a Twitter Scavenger Hunt on Tues Nov 4 then play a #tvsz hack Nov 14-16. Both have obvious purposes and learning outcomes for me in my course. However, I am wary of “forcing” students to do anything (and Terry Elliot sent a link about social vs fauxial learning – the latter a new term to me, meaning fake social, and it is keeping me up at night). Then again, they’re literally “forced” to do anything we grade or do during a class session, so might as well force them to do fun stuff. If someone has huge issues, I’ll think of alternatives. Like maybe observing and blogging about #tvsz instead of doing it. We’ll see. But I also want to research the experience in order to figure out if it is worth doing again, and if it succeeds in helping my students become more creative in their edu game designs later.

I just did the IRB for this yday and am wary of students feeling they are research tools. My real reason is to do Classroom Action Research, use the results to improve teaching in future, figure out if this model and game is useful enough for students in other courses to try.

Then it got me thinking how I am not doing this as participatory research. They’re freshman students. I wonder how I might make it more participatory, other than the use of their own narratives. They,re not social researchers so … But neither are people in any community, usually, where participatory research is done. Not having research expertise should not render our human participants “passive” subjects. Something to think about the next few days.

Then I also thought of some ppl i know who keep engaging with sthg only to criticize it constantly. And i keep wondering: if you don’t like it, why do you come back? We all have enough stuff we’re “forced” to do in real life, why actively seek it online? And i think it’s one of 3 possible reasons:
A. They actually like it but enjoy criticizing it more
B. they don’t like it, but learn from it anyway so go back for that
C. They’re doing covert research about it

And that makes me feel like a human tool. And i don’t like it.

How’s that for someone who’s always doing some kind of research or another?

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