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The reception of education reforms through the Blogosphere

The reception of education reforms through the Blogosphere
The reception of education reforms through the Blogosphere
Teachers and other Edu-professionals in the United Kingdom are a professional body charged with educating each generation of children from birth to age 18, and beyond to Higher Education (HE). Over the last 10 years or so, they have formed a significant community in the blogosphere.
This paper presents an exploration of the Edu-blogosphere in order to gain a better understanding of the topics discussed, and how reforms instigated by the government are received. This is particularly important as the Secretary of State for Education appointed in 2010, Michael Gove, introduced a number of reforms which were wide-ranging and not always well received by the Edu-community. The blogs of some of them contributed to an eventual change in policy. The challenges of harvesting and analysing the data on such a large scale requires semi-automated approaches; however, it is not sufficient to use such tools and techniques ‘out of the box’. Here, we present a methodology that draws on the specialist domain knowledge of the researchers, as well as a robust approach to evaluating the parameters of the selected algorithms. Attention has also been paid to the cleaning and pre-processing of the data, in particular the generation of a bespoke list of stopwords. A review of the existing literature provided a list of seven categories to classify the blogs, using semi-supervised learning. This was followed by topic modelling using Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA). Both methods present challenges, discussed in this paper. This approach represents the first part of the original contribution of this work: the combination of the analysis of a community – research rooted in the Social Sciences - using tools from Computer Science. Following the application of the methodology on blog posts written by the Edu-community, a discourse focused on professional
practice, sharing resources, and discussing a wide range of topics was revealed. There was also a noticeable spike in the number of blogs focusing on the impact of the Education reforms mentioned above. The richness of the discourse in the Edu-community is presented as the second original contribution of this research. This methodology is promising for the analysis of other blog communities. Challenges and proposals for further work include adding blog post titles, comments and author tags to the data; and combining the data with tweets made by those members of the community that are identifiable on Twitter.
Hewitt, Sarah
67126136-19f1-47a7-8fed-fd25554b9415
Tiropanis, Thanassis
d06654bd-5513-407b-9acd-6f9b9c5009d8
Bokhove, Christian
7fc17e5b-9a94-48f3-a387-2ccf60d2d5d8
Hewitt, Sarah
67126136-19f1-47a7-8fed-fd25554b9415
Tiropanis, Thanassis
d06654bd-5513-407b-9acd-6f9b9c5009d8
Bokhove, Christian
7fc17e5b-9a94-48f3-a387-2ccf60d2d5d8

Hewitt, Sarah, Tiropanis, Thanassis and Bokhove, Christian (2020) The reception of education reforms through the Blogosphere. WebSci'20: 12TH ACM WEB SCIENCE CONFERENCE 2020, University of Southampton, United Kingdom. 06 - 10 Jul 2020. 8 pp . (In Press)

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

Teachers and other Edu-professionals in the United Kingdom are a professional body charged with educating each generation of children from birth to age 18, and beyond to Higher Education (HE). Over the last 10 years or so, they have formed a significant community in the blogosphere.
This paper presents an exploration of the Edu-blogosphere in order to gain a better understanding of the topics discussed, and how reforms instigated by the government are received. This is particularly important as the Secretary of State for Education appointed in 2010, Michael Gove, introduced a number of reforms which were wide-ranging and not always well received by the Edu-community. The blogs of some of them contributed to an eventual change in policy. The challenges of harvesting and analysing the data on such a large scale requires semi-automated approaches; however, it is not sufficient to use such tools and techniques ‘out of the box’. Here, we present a methodology that draws on the specialist domain knowledge of the researchers, as well as a robust approach to evaluating the parameters of the selected algorithms. Attention has also been paid to the cleaning and pre-processing of the data, in particular the generation of a bespoke list of stopwords. A review of the existing literature provided a list of seven categories to classify the blogs, using semi-supervised learning. This was followed by topic modelling using Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA). Both methods present challenges, discussed in this paper. This approach represents the first part of the original contribution of this work: the combination of the analysis of a community – research rooted in the Social Sciences - using tools from Computer Science. Following the application of the methodology on blog posts written by the Edu-community, a discourse focused on professional
practice, sharing resources, and discussing a wide range of topics was revealed. There was also a noticeable spike in the number of blogs focusing on the impact of the Education reforms mentioned above. The richness of the discourse in the Edu-community is presented as the second original contribution of this research. This methodology is promising for the analysis of other blog communities. Challenges and proposals for further work include adding blog post titles, comments and author tags to the data; and combining the data with tweets made by those members of the community that are identifiable on Twitter.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 6 July 2020
Venue - Dates: WebSci'20: 12TH ACM WEB SCIENCE CONFERENCE 2020, University of Southampton, United Kingdom, 2020-07-06 - 2020-07-10

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 441211
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/441211
PURE UUID: c7b4fccc-4678-4daa-a999-6987d149cca8
ORCID for Sarah Hewitt: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1156-1105
ORCID for Thanassis Tiropanis: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6195-2852
ORCID for Christian Bokhove: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4860-8723

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 04 Jun 2020 16:32
Last modified: 05 Jun 2020 00:38

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