|From E-Learning V|
Fig.1 Great North Road, Melton Park. 45/49 to Newcastle
As I reach towards FIVE years on this OU Student Blog platform I have seen a number of tweaks and 'improvements'. This addition of social tabs: Facebook, Google and Twitter will add fuel to rich content that has bubbled away here for a long time. The massive public voice this brings will add a dynamism that is latent. A link to WordPress would save me cutting and pasting over there.
It has to be a case of one careful step after another, though if FutureLearn is anything to go by there are a few more tabs and tools to add in due course to help those in this environment, rather than beyond it, to filter and follow the conversations that have most relevance and resonance to them.
For the last five years I felt that this blog platform at best was like hanging around in a bus stop chatting to a few other travellers, some in passing as they got off or made a run for it, a few of us hanging about like teenagers, others simply arriving at the same spot on a regular basis between classes.
Makes me think of going to school. There was a social side to getting the bus that I lost when I got a moped
How this translates into a connected and collaborative sharing and learning experience should be interesting.
The Open University was made for the Internet; though it is yet to show its deserved dominance globally. Nothing I've seen from potential interlopers get close. It is like comparing other broadcasters to the BBC: none get close. Many universities do different things than The OU, but none yet have the opportunity to dominate global e-learning.
This is the value of a comprehensive blog such as this - for its author at least.
My thoughts went into these posts. By going back through the content I can be reminded of the lessons I was learning or struggling with at the time.
It would help were I more strategic in my approach to learning - but that's not me. I like to dwell and drift. I don't know what matters so like to have it all at my fingertips.
Going through the eight OU modules I have completed is taking between one and three hours clicking through posts here. I can tap into TMAs and EMAs and feedback, much of which I have here too (on the private setting). It is revealing in two respects: how much I have covered and can now say that I know - I can speak 'E-learning' fluently; and how many links and references that I jotted down and have never gone back to - great apps, insightful papers, and moments of clarity.
To cover myself for a decade hence by which time this blog will have been wiped, I am copying, selectively, about 40% of the content of this blog into my external blog My Mind Bursts. (tagged MMB here)
Having the MAODE is one thing. Calling myself and being a 'Master' of the subject needs to be the next step. Martin Weller believes it will take a person ten years to become a 'digital scholar' - I've got another five years to go then.
'I've hit 10,000 hits in my OU blog, which translates as 1000 per month'. I wrote here on 11 December 2010.
I'd been posting for 11 months.
For the last 18 months its been fairly consistent at 1,000 views a day.
With one aberration of 5,000. Did someone, or several people download the entire blog or some such? Or was it the product of the OU re-booting the platform? Often there is a 'machine' answer to these things. 'Pingbacks' produce 'views' but no one at all may have viewed the content as this is a link from content from anywhere in these 2,000+ pages to someone else's blog, here or anywhere on the Internet.
Who knows. I don't. I just write the stuff.
It'll pass the 1,000,000 views mark in mid-March 2015.
Fig. 1. Mozilla Webmaker Digital Literacy Map
Learning online for a degree means that over a number of modules, sooner rather than later, you are likely to master a number of these digital literacy skills; the more the better.
Navigation, search and credibility and vital for any student. Can you find your way around the web and the OU library, the student forum and Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Can you search elsewhere for credible results - remembering to tag and cite these.
You may never need to code, but other 'building' skills are important; the basics of this blogging platform for a start, remixing and re-blogging and accessibility issues.
Connecting might be the most important skill and habit to acquire: sharing, collaboration and community participation are what make the OU learning experience so special. 'Connectivity' is considered to be the learning theory of the 21st century; that by taking part, connecting and commenting you and others benefit from insights gained, mistakes corrected, problems solved, issues understood, theories tested ...
While 'openness' is a state of mind that takes a bit of getting used to; some make feel it is 'exposure' or compromising their privacy. Others simply prefer to get on with a task alone, and therefore with less disturbance. You can see that I am an exponent of openness and connectivity.
You'll never learn a thing if someone else does it all for you.
There are the extremes of course of 'looking at someone else's notes', to reading their essay, to collusion where someone assists you big time. Then there is cheating where someone else writes the paper or sits the exam. What I'm talking about is 'taking the plunge'. No video or e-learning course will teach you to swim; you have to enter the water and take your first strokes.
But somethings we like others to do.
I am rubbish with cars. I have put diesel in a petrol car and added oil to the screen-wash. I can check the oil (now), do the screen-wash and check the tyres. Little else.
When it comes to blogging the beauty of this OU Student Blog is that it is straightforward and has been simplified and clarified in various ways over the last couple of years. 'Out there' you can have yourself an equally simple blog, say on WordPress. Fine, until you venture a tad further and want your own domain name (.com), or to add credit card payments (to sell stuff and to invite donations - we're all poverty stricken students right?). It is too easy to become overwhelmed, to fear clicking on the wrong thing. I have deleted a blog. And I have paid for a fancy theme and some other knobs and whistles that I didn't really want. So you find someone else to teach you, but there is a fine line between being taught and having someone else to do it for you.
Struggling to get ww.mindbursts.com in the right place I booked some time with a guy I'd already done some short courses with. He's great, but in some respects like a concert organists who knows how to pull all the bells and whistles with ease - what makes more sense, for him to spend two hours trying to show you how or to do it for you in 15 minutes?
I called early for 30 mins and he was on another call; three minutes later, following some simple instructions I'd done what I was going to ask him to do I just have to commit, just have to jump in, get my hands dirty, find out, make mistakes (so long as they aren't expensive).
BBC (BBC education, BBC Bitesize, BBC iPlayer)
'Birds of a Feather' (not the TV sitcom, but the research concept of like-minds connected online)
- Blended Learning
I pick out blogging as the most important 'B' in an A to Z of e-learning as I've come to feel that the act of blogging, as a shared learning journal, meets many learning criteria: constructing meaning and connectedness. You share what you do, even if comments are few. This ties into 'bird of a feather' - the title of a paper that shows how people with common interests or beliefs will associate with each other, share and support. Personally this was particularly apparent in the early days of blogging, say 1999-2003 when the numbers online was manageable and less gamified. It'll take me a while to edit, collate and write on blogging from the 400+ posts I have made on blogging over the last decade. I've made a start.
The BBC is a magnificent resource: inspirational programmes and for schools the magic of bitesize for revision.
While Helen Beetham is an academic and author you ought to be reading often.
B is also for:
- Back Channels
- Martin Bean
- John Seely Brown
- Doug Belshaw
- Tony Benn
- The Brain
Birds of a Feather: How personality influences blog writing and reading. (2010) Jami Li and Mark Chignell. Science Direct. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 68 (2010) 589-602.
For an A to Z of E-learning this is the easiest letter to fulfil. I could write a book on blogging alone. Indeed it's about time I stopped accumulating and writing on blogging and instead my bit to push it as a platform for education good.
- As a learning journal or e-portfolio
- To share research
- To build and retain an audience
- For professional credibility
- For a personal and professional to create and keep a social media presence
- To connect with others.
- To find 'like minds'
I did a Mindmap too, some 24 reasons why an academic should blog, and another one for students. Even if you post privately there is value, that grows over the weeks and years, to have so much content logged, tagged and in one place.
If you have some other 'Bs' to add to an 'A to Z of e-learning' please offer them.
- Helen Beetham
- Blook (this is what a publisher thought a book from a blog should be called in 2006)
This numbers game is what drove me obsessively to blog between 1999 and 2003/4. Back then being the first to have blogged every day for a year, then two then three. To be the first to blog 1000 words a day for a month and so on, we all thought, meant something. Most potty of all was the 24 hour blogathon I initiated in 2002 where participants had to post 1000 freshly written words an hour for 24 hours. An interesting exercise.
What makes any diarist do it?
There is, after many years, great personal pleasure in looking back: I kept a diary for some twenty years between the age of 13 1/2 and into my early thirties ... with a significant fizzle out I should add when I got engaged and married, only revising the format when the children were planned and born - that not gives me a record of their first actions and words.
As a learning tool it is great too - putting your first ideas here, then building on them means that you can watch how an essay that got a 53 moves to a 63, 73, 83 and beyond.
I posted my first content to an 'online journal' - no one called them blogs way back then, on the 24th September 1999. I've been at it ever since - every day for at least the first four years then I reviewed my practice, split into a number of parts and specialised. I also took an MA in the next best thing 'Open and Distance Education' (MAODE). So, yes, blogging fascinates me. Twitter as a 'microblog' is not - it is chatting. And many so called blogs are actually something else too - corporate marketing brochures, magazines, radio shows, TV channels, photo dumps and galleries. For me, and those of us writing in 'Diaryland' over a decade ago a blog, like a diary, is something you kept up every day, reflected your daily life and was largely secret: you wrote amongst friends rather than to an audience. This meant that they remained authentic, deep, even 'in confidence'. Has all of that been lost? I wonder.
What we have here is either a 'learning journal' or 'an e-portfolio' - that's if you want to attach it directly to your studies. Because of it's odd nature and history it is also what was once called a 'Bulletin Board', indeed, I had a go of an early one right here - sort of, that as on a Masters in Open and Distance Learning module in 2001. It really was posting to a bulletin board, a sentence or two attached to any others that were going up. More like an early version of a Student Forum.
Having said all of this, as a direct result of just completing H818: The Networked Practitioner (EMA away last night). I plan to review, refine and redirect my blogging behaviour. Here it will be business as usual, though only if my relationship with the Open University is continued in some capacity or other (I got up early to do some application forms). Beyond these 'walls' I will professionalise my blog on e-learning and post continent aimed squarely at practitioners - for educators, on learning. I do think the 'e' is redundant regarding e-learning, indeed the 'm' from mobile learning is redundant too. Currently at 'My Mind Bursts' this will go into the fledgling 'Mind Bursts' which will go live once I've got 100 of my choicest posts in there. Or, 25 ... my 'A to Y' of learning, named so courtesy of the Open University where you will find the Computer Help Desk has no 'Z', so don't think you can look up 'zipping files' as I did while struggling to post an EMA. The response I got back was characteristically obtuse.
The blog I stopped posting to on swimming teaching and coaching (I did for ten years as a direct consequence of taking my kids down to the pool eleven years ago) gets more views per day than any of my other blogs - go figure! It is useful. I answer direct daily questions. The biggest 'seller' is the 45 minute lesson plan for teaching or coaching swimming - I have all strokes, all stages and all problems addressed. That should tell me something. More at the catchily named 'Coaching and Teaching Swimming'.
This by the way is called 'reflection'. I should have Kolb's Learning Cycle spinning through my head right now. I don't. My head is fudge and I need the coffee that is brewing on my desk,
The other blog, 'That's Nothing Compared to Passchendaele', which requires and deserves tidying up started out as the memoir of my late grandfather, a machine gunner in the First World War - the only one who survived it would appear. Actually, in 1992 there was a 75th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Ypres) and there were four of them. One was an ammunition carrier. The other two were machine gunners, you could tell from their thumbs - like the beak of a spoonbill, squished flat from periods of anxiety pressed against the triggers of a Vicker's MKII Machine Gun. Like the swimming thing I need to hone this down to a resource of value - just his story, his words (over three hours of interviews) and photographs with references which would do the historian in me proud.
There will be a lot of 'ditching of babies' - there will be a good deal of painful unknitting of layouts and extraction.
Are these blogs? Actually no. I ought to think of them as books and give them the professional focus that is required before you can go to print.
And finally, a blog on the use of Quick Response codes in education. This as a consequence of H818 and the ten minute presentations we gave a couple of weeks ago.
Is this new?
I've just looked at the statistics and was rather overwhelmed, ok over 600,000 views is going some, but I have been doing this for four years and use this as a blog and e-portfolio by default.
Are there over 4000 posts! I guess from what I've said this is feasible, perhaps 40% are 'hidden' cut and paste jobs or links or references to books or papers I may never read.
And if I'm less engaged directly here this last year it is because those fellow students on the MAODE haven't been using the OU Student Platform at all ... or very little indeed. I'd recommend it.
The temptation is to stick around to take the 'views' up to 1 million. This will require a few more years. The thing is I don't see myself back on an OU module 'til the autumn of 2015 at the very earliest. I wrap up H818 today then concentrate on things elsewhere.
I say it often.
Working in some capacity or researching at the OU would change things.
What's going on in there? How do bloggers react, respond and coalesce?
Anjewierden, A. (2006) Understanding Weblog Communities Through Digital Traces: A Framework, a Tool and an Example.
My own interest was sparked by an article in the Washington Post on Ellen Levy who had spent 1998 keeping a journal and putting it online.
Druckerman, P (1999) Ellen Levy Has Got The Write Project For the Internet Age --- It's a Year of Scribbling Down Almost Everything; Ah, Yes, It Was a Raisin Bagel
This ‘user generated content’ has value to its author and the community that reads it. This is a key outcome of open, collaborative and connected learning, where the blogger is a ‘produser’.
Efimova, Lilia (2008) Bloggers and 'produsers'
Having blogged consistently since this period it is interesting to understand that as it encroached upon student and academic practice, as it was impinging on journalism, that it was considered disruptive.
Fiedler, S. (2004) Introducing disruptive technologies for learning: Personal Webpublishing and Weblogs, Part I
While my passion felt like a niche practice it has been of value to see blogging recognised.
Kaiser, S. (2007) Weblog-technology as a trigger to elicit passion for knowledge
Why MAODE students blog (Kerewella et al, 2009) depends on their perceptions of, and for:
- an audience
- the utility of and need for comments
- presentational style of the blog content
- overarching factors related to the technological context
- the pedagogical context of the course
Kerawalla, L, Minocha, S, Kirkup, G, & Conole, G (2009) An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging in higher education
Knowing the practice to be of value personally as part of a number of specialist groups made research on blogs as wikis, Sauer (2005) or as e-portfolios of interest.
Sauer, Igor M. (2005) “ Blogs” and“ Wikis” Are Valuable Software Tools for Communication Within Research Groups
As Smolkin (2007) points out it is about creating or finding and then sharing your niche - in this case the niche being personal stories of participants, witnesses and combatants in the First World War.
Smolkin, Rachel (2007) Finding a Niche. (cover story)
This is a key outcome of open, collaborative and connected learning, where the blogger is a ‘produser’. Efimova (2008) It has taken over a decade, but blogging is now considered to be a valid, scholarl acitivity. Weller (2012).
Weller, Martin (2012) The virtues of blogging as scholarly activity
Bishop, D. (2013) ‘Blogging as post-publication peer review: reasonable or unfair?’ LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog. 21 March.
impactofsocialsciences/ 2013/ 04/ 15/ blogging-as-post-publication-peer-review-reasonable-or-unfair/
Fig.1. The debate on this book in Amazon comments is turning this into a self-directed, open module on the outbreak of the First World War
Amazon is going way beyond selling and reselling books to aggregate conversations. The sophisticated way that discussions are offered might be a lesson to educators - reviews aren't simply stacked, but are offered in a variety of ways: contrasting arguments, newest first, based on rating for the publication or likes from other readers. While simultaneously, playing upon serendipity multiple alternative reviews are offered in a 'side bar'. You can begin to pick out types of voice, from the academic to the belligerent, to those who have yet to read or complete the book, to those that have read it more than once. Innovations here are seeing Amazon becoming a social platform in its own right with recently launched platforms inviting discussion and group forming. i.e. Amazon gains in stickiness and frequent visits and revisits.
(First posted in OpenStudio as part of H818: The networked practitioner).
I'm delighted to say the the transformation is an enhancement and the improvements are seamless without any loss of what we had before ... a 'bulletin-board-cum-blog-thingey'. My previous post suggested I might have found a bolt-hole without Internet. It hasn't lasted.
I will get Internet access down the road (I had wanted a garden office but this desire became an insummountable barrier at home).
All that it requires from me is something I lack - self-discipline NOT to get distracted by email, which includes updated postings from forums and the likes of Linkedin (let alone a gaggle of family members on Facebook). AOL is the worst as I innocently go to check email and find 20 minutes later I am still clicking through the inviting gobbets of news and sensation that is offered.
I had hoped to behave like the smoker trying to give up - I'll only smoke other people's fags. A very, very, very long time ago ... I can honestly say I have never smoked a cigarette since I turned 20.
Back to the Internet. Like Television.
Or diet. We are living in an age where self-control is vital. Having not had a TV for several months I was eventually pushed to buy one. Courtesy of Which? we now have a TV so Smart that it probably tells my brother in South Africa who is watching what .... we can Skype sofa to sofa. I just wonder if our antics could be recorded and posted on YouTube? Not my doing but any of the teenagers with the wherewithal just hit a record button somewhere.
In all this hi-tech I DO have a tool I'd recommend to anyone.
I've invested in an hour-glass. In runs for 30 minutes. While that sand is running all I may do is read and take notes. This might be an eBook, or a printed book, either way they are on a bookstand. I take notes, fountain pen to lined paper. What could be easier? The left hand may highlight or bookmark and turn a page, while the right writes?
This works as the filtering process of the knowledge that I am reading and want to retain needs to go through several steps in any case. The handwritten notes will be reduced again as I go through, typing up the ideas that have some resonance for me.
My current task has been 'How Europe went to war in 1914' by Christopher Clark.
I doubt my second thorough read will be the last. From notes I will start posting blogs and going into related social platforms to share and develop thoughts and in so doing be corrected while firming up my own views. I need this social interaction, to join the discussion if not the debate.
Meanwhile I will revisit Martin Weller's book on Digital Scholarship.
However swift the age of the Internet may be he suggests it will still take a person ten years to achieve the 'scholar' level ... whereas John Seely Brown recently reckoned this was now down to five years. i.e. through undergraduate and postgraduate levels and popping out the other end with a PhD in five years.
DIdn't an 18 year old who was home schooled just get called to the Bar?
She graduated with a law degree while contemporaries did A' Levels and finished High School and then did a year of pupillage I suppose.
The intellectual 'have's' of the future will, by one means of another, achieve degree status at this age. The Internet permits it.
School is far, far, far, far, far too lax.
It tends to the median if not the mediocre. Long ago it found a way to process kids as a genderless yeargroup instead of treading each student as an individual ... so let them skip a year, let them stay back a year ... allow them to expand and push subjects that appeal to them.
FIG.1. Projected onto the sitting room wall
The migration between kit and now the use of multiple devices tells its own story - that and my enhanced levels of digital literacies. And dependency on my OU blog??? I am too used to starting here then cutting and pasting the HTML results into WordPress. This platform works because it is kept simple. OK, you have to get your head around a few basics (which are good for any blogging platform), but the thing is stable and robust - it hasn't changed much in three years and it is always there.
Either I'll wean myself off it or I'll plugin to another module of course and be here for another decade. You get used to a thing - especially when it works. Calls to other institutions regarding their VLE have left me cold - some still old school box of books and turn up for an all day Saturday face-to-face once a month as your only tutor and peer group contact.
From a clapped out Mac Book that died and a Psion I moved on to a borrowed PC laptop ... and scrounging computer access around the home. Only recently I got a Mac Mini - for the previous 18 months I've been fine on an iPad with moments on my wife's PC to view and print off DOCX.
The Mac Mini gets what ever screen my teenage son leaves me with - he tends to snaffle away any new screen I get, just swaps them over. I may take me days to realise something is afoot.
And then there is the above - projected onto a wall with me working on a wifi keyboard and touchpad. It changes things. Next to this screen there is a large whiteboard. I get up and doodle.
As for the sitting room? Long gone. Cries for a TV to bring the family together fall on deaf ears. Why would any of us gather to watch ONE version of an event when we can each take or leave our news, or films, or anything else as we please on a bigger or smaller screen in various other rooms and cubbyholes around the house?
An iPad mini will replicate when I had a decade ago with a Psion, something handheld, light and discrete that I can tap on whenever I wish and wherever I am.
'The Private Life of the Brain' Susan Greenfield is my current highly recommended read. It is certain to take you off on a tangent from whatever you are studying, but if offers a layperson's view of the inner workings of the brain.
And breathing space.
How I prepare a TMA or EMA is completely unlike anything I did in the early days, even in the first couple of years or more of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MA ODE). It is far more like designing an Airfix model, making the parts, then constructing the thing. At this stage, having thought about and written up all the component parts I did a rough assembly and came up with 3437 words for a 4000 word assignment.
Actually this is too many words - not a problem as I know where the fat lies, ideas expressed in too large a chunk. After that it's a case of getting the prose to flow.
Prioritise and give it time to breathe. I've pretty much given up on social media too - this is study journal and a moment to reflect. 'Blogging' and writing an academic paper are very different things - even journalism doesn't get close. Blogging is playing in the sand, journalism is a papier-mache self-indulgent sculpture, whereas academic writing is gathering together a complete set of artefacts, carefully arranging them in a cabinet and including all the labels.
Here in Lewes we shut the town centre down for a march as often as we can.
It all stems from 5th November. We had only been here a couple of months and we were enrolled in a Bonfire Society. That was 13 years ago.
The town also has a Moving on parade for all primary schools in the district, not just the town, but from outlying villages. The town centre is closed to traffic and kids, dressed up, carrying banners and whatnot on a theme, march through town and end it with a party in the Paddock - a large field, formerly part of the earthworks around the 11th century Lewes Castle.
It helps to make an occasion of something when we move on. We're rather good at it:
I'm down for Brighton or will try to enroll in Versailles for my graduation. I skipped my first nearly three decades ago. I just didn't feel like moving on. I hadn't felt I'd had an education to justify the fuss. My fault, not theirs. I put in the hours and came out with an OK degree but that isn't why I'll remember my undergraduate years.
I should mark moving on, and away from this blog. It logs, day by day, and in the background countless pages of hidden notes. It has carried me through the Masters in Open & Distance Education.
H809, my bonus track, will mark the end.
For this reason I am migrating most of the content and the journey it records to an external blog.
From time to time I'll post a note at the bottom of the page to say this is where it'll be from June.
My moving on.
By May, I'll also know if the next few years have been set up. We'll see. I may even be back at the OU in some capacity. I rather
Fig.1. Why blog?
A) What is the research trying to find out; what questions is it trying to answer?
B) How will the proposed research answer the questions?
C) Why is this research worth doing? Punch (2006:05/60)
My interest and participation in blogging is obvious. I am exploring other subjects to research, but inevitably come back to this. There are fields where blogging works, and others where it does not.
Do you think that students who keep a blog learn more?
Retain more? And so get more from their undergraduate studies?
Are certain subjects more appropriate for this where writing and digital literacies are being developed?
- corporate communications,
- advertising (social media and copywriting)
- creative writing and even postgraduate research?
Blogs also mean generating, collecting and curating images and video
What role do these play in personal and professional writing?What if it is made compulsary, a graded component of all or part of a module you are taking?
What about those in the visual arts such as designers and art directors, who create concept boards for development purposes, or for architects and fashion designers, as well as in the performing arts such as actors and directors?
Might those following vocational subjects such as medicine or law set in train a way to enhance a life of learning?
Could blogs be peer graded successfully?
What benefits do you get from reading or contributing to another persons blog?
Is it less a blog and more of a publication when others contribute and the 'blog' carries advertising and is available to read only through subscription?
What do we learn by thinking of the origins of blogging as keeping a diary, log or journal, such as the private diary, journey log in a yacht, or writers journal?
Is it just electronic paper?
'Tell the reader what QQ the researcher is trying to answer, or what questions will initiate the inquiry in an unfolding study.' Punch (2006: 65)
Another way to gather your thoughts and ideas?
When is a blog an e- portfolio? What does it reveal about the person if the blog is shared?
Are like-minds attracted to each other?
What are the copyright and other legal issues?
How honest or revealing should one be? Are the concerns about exposure and disclosure valid?
It's not what you remember about yourself that is of concern, but what you remember about other people. What they did, who they were with ...
When does truth turn into fiction and does it matter if the reader cannot tell and isn't told?
What about plagiarism?
What is the perspective behind the research?
What is the role of theory?
What is the prestructured versus unfolding research?
What is the relevant literature?
Will the study be quantitative, qualitative or both? Punch (2006:60)
'The proposal should indicate the significance of the proposed study. Synonyms for 'significance' here might be justification, importance, contribution or intended outcomes of the study.' Punch (2006: 68)
Exploring students’ understanding of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education (2007) Kerawalla, Minocha, Conole, Kirkup, Schencks and Sclater.
Based on this research blogging is very clearly NOT of interest to the majority of students, NOR is it likely to be of value to them for collaborative learning. There may be value in blogging for your own sake - aggregating content in one place.
(Research on using blogging with students of Public Relations gives a far more favourable response ... I would suspect that this would apply to courses on journalism and creative writing i.e. use the medium that is appropriate for those on specific courses).
This is a study of OU students. A more promisng, and appropriate study I am looking at concerns PR students who a) need to develop their writing skills b) need to understand what blogging is all about.
The greatest value I have got from this self-inflicted exercise is to deconstruct the research that was undertaken should I wish to undertake research of this ilk myself. Can I fault the research?
What do you think?
|Problem||Does blogging support student in their learning or not?
Are educators perceptions of the positive uses of blogging for learning borne out by the perceptions of and uses of blogging by students?
|Questions||QQ Designed to ascertain their level of experience of blogs and to gather their opinions about how blogs (and other tools) could support their learning.
The research questions we sought to answer were as follows:
1) What degree of blogging experience do students have?
2) Do students want to have blogging as part of their course?
3) In what ways do students think blogging is (not) a useful learning tool?
4) Is there a disparity between what course designers think blogging is useful for, or would like blogging to be used for, and students’ opinions of usefulness?
|Setting||Online students at the OU
Survey of 795 student and course designers
|Authors||‘Enthusiastic’ OU IETT Academics|
|Previous research||O’Reilly 2005, Sade 2007, Weller 2007 - literature search, previous research …|
|Methods||Qualitative - explorative/iterative rather than set
All questions required students to select their response by clicking on a radio button, (e.g. ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or Likert scales such as ‘not at all’, ‘slightly’, ‘in-between/no opinion’, fairly’, or ‘very much’). (Kerawalla et al. p. 6. 2007) + an open question for expanded thoughts.
Interviews with course designers - Interview questions were designed to address the following areas: the rationale for introducing blogs, whether blog content would be assessed, whether blogging was compulsory, uptake levels and whether there were any plans to evaluate the success of blogging activities.
- extract, collate and compare.
Analysis - The survey generated both quantitative and qualitative data.
Manual coding of responses
Coding of responses
i.e. Not everything they’re cracked up to be.
Krause (2004) reports haphazard contributions to blogs by his students, minimal communication between them, and found that posts demonstrated poor quality reflection upon the course materials.
Williams and Jacobs (2004) introduced blogs to MBA students and although he reports overall success, he encountered problems with poor compliance as, for example 33% of the students thought they had nothing valuable to say in their blog.
Homik and Melis (2006) report only minimal compliance to meet assessment requirements and that students stopped blogging at the end of their course. Other issues include:
It appears that the ideals of educators can be difficult to implement in practice. (Kerawalla et al. p. 5. 2007)
|Paradigms||A cultural psychological approach to our research that proposes that learning is a social activity that is situated and mediated by tools that fundamentally shape the nature of that activity (e.g. Cole, 1996, Wertsch, 1991 and Vygotsky, 1979).
|Limitations||Expectations about sharing, enthusiasm for the genre …definition of blog (see e-portfolio and wiki), journalism …. hard to define (Boyd, 2006).
They mean different things to different people. Uses to collate resources (portfolio) (Huann, John and Yuen, 2005) , share materials and opinions .. (Williams and Jacobs, 2004).
|Implications||Guidelines, informs design|
- 53.3% of students had read a blog
- only 8% of students had their own blog
- 17.3% had commented on other people’s blogs
- 23% of students thought that the commenting feature on blogs is ‘slightly’ or ‘not at all’ useful,
- 42% had ‘no opinion’
- 35% thought that commenting is ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ useful.
- only 18% said that they thought blogs would be ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ useful.
- of those who blog only 205 of these thought blogs would be ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ useful.
Students were asked ‘how much would you like to use a blog provided by the OU as part of your studies?’
35% ‘not at all’
13% said ‘slightly’
34% had ‘no opinion’,
12% said ‘fairly’
6% responded ‘very much’
Students were asked ‘how much would you like to use a blog provided by the OU for personal use?’.
52.6% said ‘not at all’
8.7% said ‘slightly’
28.3% had ‘no opinion’
8% said ‘fairly’
2.7% responded ‘very much’.
Examination of the observed and expected frequencies for this data suggests that in both cases, there is a relationship between not seeing a role for blogs and not wanting greater use of conferencing.
Supporting findings that when given a choice between classroom based learning or e-learning those who have a choice are equally satisfied by what they get.
All of the positive responses refer to the students’ own (potential) study blog. (Kerawalla et al. p. 7 2007) Others use their blog as a repository. Few saw the benefits of linking or using a blog to for reflection and developing ideas.
Responses to the question ‘would you like a blog provided by the OU to support your studies?’ reveal that there is a profound lack of enthusiasm (from 82% of the sample) for blogging as part of courses.
Later this year, we plan to explore PhD blogs. This variety and combination of methods will enable us to gather different perspectives and to triangulate our findings. (Kerawalla et al. p. 7 2007)
Cole, M. (1996) Cultural Psychology. Camb. Mass: The Belnap Press of Harvard University Press.
Kerawalla, Lucinda; Minocha, Shailey; Conole, Grainne; Kirkup, Gill; Schencks, Mat and Sclater, Niall (2007). Exploring students’ understanding of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education. In: ALT-C 2007: Beyond Control: Association of Learning Technologies Conference, 4-6 September 2007, Nottingham, UK.
Vygotsky, (1979) Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. M. Cole M, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner and E. Souberman (eds and trans). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Wertsch, J (1991) A sociocultural approach to socially shared cognition. In L.Resnick, J. Levine and S. Teasley (eds), Perspectives on Socially Shared Cognition, Washington: American Psychological Association.
I thought I'd sort these out for the first time in three years.
An afternoon of clicking, and reviewing I have got through 45 links. I've just made the mistake of counting them all. 235 or something. Still if, I can get this down to 60 it'll be more manageable and I'll be more inclined to follow ... which is half the point of blogging. You write, but aslo read and comment on other's stuff.
I still have a copy of Jakob Nielsen's 'Web Usability' from 2000 - it's as good now as it was then and the research his company does is, I believe, recognised for that it tells us.
Only a tiny fraction of people contribute to content creation online, a few more comment while the majority, over 90%, are reader/observers. (I loathe the pejorative term 'lurker' - there is nothing wrong with reading passively, or watching passively or listening passively. Thankfully not everyone feels the desire to write, to direct or to compose music.
1-9-90 is the split for all online content
0.1% - 5% - 94.9% is the split for blogging - those who blog, comment on blogs or simply read them.
And so he gives splits in Wikipedia and in Facebook.
You'd think a community of postgraduate students doing an entirely online course might be closer to 25 - 50 - 25. Why not the other way around? 90-9-1%
What a noisy world it would be if we all felt the urge to stand on a soapbox at the end of the street and prattle on, or busk all day in the Shopping Precinct.
I'm unconvinced of these stats though. Defining a 'blog' is like pointing at a passing cloud and saying 'that one's mine'.
Where are the stats to be found on such things?
And that person who did those cave paintings 35,000 years ago. I bet he was a 1% er. So what does that say for the other 99%? Nothing at all. They may never have even seen them.
Nielsen. J. (2006) Participation Inequality: Encouraging More Users to Contribute. (Accessed 16 February 2013 http://www.nngroup.com/articles/participation-inequality/ )
- low-threshold creation of entries
- a flexible and personally meaningful way to organise and maintain them
- opportunities to retrieve, reuse and analyse blog content
- opportunities to engage with others.
- fitted in while working on something else
- providing a way to keep abreast of others ideas
- capturing ones’ own emergent insights
- clarifying matters for a public
- over time ideas on a topic accumulate and connections between them become clearer.
- feedback from readers turns blogging into a sense-making practice
- eventually an ideas is ‘ripe’ and ready to become part of a specific task.
Efimova (2008. p. 208)
But how many do it? Ask around in your tutor group. I doubt the figure gets above 5% unless it is compulsary and then I doubt that more than 50% post more than three times during the course of module - a minimum requirement.
Efimova, L. (2009) Passion at work: blogging practices of knowledge workers. Novay PhD
Research Series 2009 (www.novay.nl.dissertations)
Fig. 1. Dr Lilia Efimova - her Phd thesis is on blogging to support knowledge management in the workplace.
- Somewhere to “park” emerging insights until the moment they are needed. Efimova (2009. p 75)
- Doesn’t require much effort
- Somewhere to park ideas
- Reading and engaging with others to become aware of issues and themes
- Topics accumulate and connections grew and things become clearer.
- A set of sense-making practices
- “Everyday grounded theory” Efimova (2009. p. 75)
- Connecting multiple fragments
- Getting into the writing flow
- Strengthened by readers’ feedback
- A channel for distribution
- Publication additional motivation to document emergent ideas
- A legitimate place to share thinking in progress
- -ve when the need is to be extremely selective and focused. Efimova (2009. p. 80)
- To collect in one place the fragmented bits relevant to my thinking Efimova (2009. 3.5.4)
- Clusters of conversations
- Conversations unfolding
- A personal space and a community space simultaneously.
- A personal narrative used to articulate and to organise one’s own thinking. (conversation with self. p 90?) around 4.3
- An example of hypertext conversation. Efimova (2009. p. 129)
- Weblogs provide a space that helps both to develop one’s own point of view and discuss it with others.
- Bloggers present their ideas to the world, readers learn from them. Efimova (2009. p. getting things done. staying in touch)
Efimova.L (2009) Passion At Work : Blogging practices of knowledge workers. Novay PhD Research Series, No. 24 (Novay/PRS/024)
'As with writing, blogging is not simply formulating in words an idea already developed in one’s mind. It is also about connecting, developing and redefining half-baked ideas. When writing, I often go through the weblog archives to explore connections with what is already there. Reading and rereading what I wrote before shapes and changes what I’m about to write: I often find something unexpected or see patterns only in retrospect'. Efimova (2009. p 70)
Efimova, L. (2009) Passion at work: blogging practices of knowledge workers. Novay PhD Research Series 2009 (www.novay.nl.dissertations)
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