Monday, June 02, 2008

This is it! Resources that cross boundaries

Ok, I think this graph is the coolest kid in the blog!!

What you can see here are the communities of users by mother tongue (nodes) and the edges are the resources that these users have added to their collections.

This is a great visualisation of communities of practice. What you can see here at a glimpse is that the learning resources that these users have added to their collections, are very much community oriented, in this divided by languages.

I sometimes frame my research question as the following:
Does a multi-lingual and multi-cultural learning resources portal rather act as one system divided into different language or country groups, or is it more like one monolingual system with its own sub-groups and communities of practice (think of a system like delicious) that cross the language and cultural borders?
This visualisation seems to point more to the first one (this REALLY needs to be further investigated!!), it seems that users are divided into groups by mother tongue. Why I say so is that you cannot see many resources that are shared among the groups.

To play around with this by yourself, make sure that you click on the arrow head down at the menu bar. This allows you to see in which directions the links go. They often time just go to one direction.

There are some resource that indicate communities of interests between countries. For example, in this image, we can see that there are some resources that are shared by both Estonian and Lithuanians. One of them is highlighted in orange.

These are the interesting resources as they cross between boundaries. The more I think of it, the more I'm convinced that you cannot call these call boundary objects (see my previous post). If I got the boundary object right, they are the objects that help these two groups to talk to one another, because they do not share the same language or jargon. But in this case, I think it's the contrary, these people share so much the same, that they can even share resources in Russian (of course being ex-Soviet countries, Russian is a common knowledge).

Anyway, even if the rather disappointing news were that users on an international portal seem to stick to one another based on their mother tongue rather than common educational interests, the good news is that I believe that through making more social cues and traces available to them, they would actually start exploring the resources in other languages and other areas.

And besides, who says that my data here really actually displays this community correctly!? This is based only on the common resources that users have put to their collections. Actually, LeMill is more of an authoring environment, so maybe a better way to study this community would be through collaborative authoring of learning resources? Or something else, like common search terms or tags that are used.

So, take this exploratory description of this data set with a little bit of skepticism!

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