I use the metaphor of essay writing being like sewing a tapestry but wonder if making a house of cards wouldn't be better? In many respects this is how I now write: notes from copious reading reduced to frames in a presentation, and even notes on Rolledex cards that are in time grouped into a coherent argument and then 'stacked' into shape to form an essay. Looked at in this way an essay is a case of assembling the right parts in a logical order. Looked at this way, on reading through, you can identify a card that is out of place or faulty. It takes great care if the entire edifice is not to fall, or, however reluctantly, you have to dismantle the thing and build it up again from scratch. THIS is where I fail to get the illusive distinction - faced, inevitably with such a house of cards, I am loath to fix that card, wherever it might be, knowing that to reassemble the 'house' will take time and effort and a degree or repeating a task you thought was done.
Fig.1. My ever changing desk
Some weeks into preparing a 4000 word essay I finally, painfully, through copious notes, and assemblages of arguments to support my chosen thesis hit 'Word Count' and to my amazement find this fourth draft far from massively overfilling the cup comes in at 4036 words. It is with an uncharacteristic confession that I should know by now that this kind of considered effort will deliver, while writing as if in a blog will never do. A few marks short of a distinction for my last effort what I need now to do is prioritise the multitude of references that I've attached - some 67 (from a core set of seven or so books and eBooks). Actually I am still missing a dozen references at least. Whilst some of the ideas are mine, most are not, when it comes to the First World War, thousands have been there already (some 23,000 publications on the topic).
There is method to this. All other approaches having failed the above is to be the approach I take for my very last effort to constructing, rather than writing, a novel. It has its moments in the First World War, though it covers a period that a lecturer at the weekend expressed in the phrase, as 'From Super Power to the three day week'. He wanted to know how Britain had gone from Empire to near collapse over 75 years; this just so happens to be the period my main character lives through.
Over the last four years I migrated from pen and paper, to purist working on and from digital platforms only. Today my approach is blended - anything and everything that works. This means hard back reference books as well as eBooks, a pad of paper and an ink pen and the interface an iPad, and laptop or desktop - documents in Google Docs so quite frankly anything that gets me online will work. Often I take photos of a book rather than take notes. With eBooks I highlight, add notes - then assemble choice points onto Rolledex cards. What counts, I have learnt, is the time and quality of engagement with the subject matter. At some stage the fog does clear and it makes sense well enough for you to be able to talk about it willingly and in an informed way if you so choose - recommended, where and if you can find some many willing and able to listen and respond.
The result is my understanding of 'Why Britain went to war in 1914'. It is not the conclusion I would have come to a few weeks ago. It has relevance today as 100 years ago too - it comes down to a handful of political leaders: who they are, what they desire and represent, how they behave and to whom (if anyone) and how, they are accountable.
Somewhere across these posts there are other images of 'my working space' and my 'Personal Learning Environment'. This space is temporary: its the kitchen/dining table for a start. When my teenage daughter gets in from college she takes over with art materials and a sewing machine and I retire to a corner of the bedroom with an iPad.
For all the gadgets I've gathered around me and despite for 18 months doing everything on a screen through a keyboard or touchpad, I know have a whiteboard and put sheets of paper on the wall. I take notes. And when I need to hunker down I pick one of these and commit.
Green - One Minute
Yellow - Three Minutes
Black - Thirty Minutes
Blue - An hour
I practice I find 3 minutes does the job and I may keep going for several hours. My heart is telling me not to panic then the adrenalin rush kicks in.
An hour is just that. It is a pre-arranged slot and I find I am yawning at 55 minutes, as if I am waiting for the class to end.
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.
I have just downloaded Power Structure - a piece of software I first had on a PowerMac 15 year ago. It came on a pack of foppy discs then. It's been nearly four years since I used it - since my Macbook died. I've been begged and borrowed desktops and laptops for most of the MA ODE and have only got the money together in the last few months to get my own computer and gather in some of my favourite software.
Power Structure prompts me to construct a sound treatment once I have an idea in my head that I want to run with - not suprisingly its something that has come out of the last five months of a module on research. Somehow I've leant towards Web 2.0 or what the healthcare industry is calling Pharma 2.0 and a world where we wear and swallow microchips that gather and record data on our health.
Reading through the remarks on the Crook and Dymott paper (H809) in relation to different ways of writing whether pen to paper or fingertips to screen, I noticed a couple of fellow students wondering out loud if there are differences between what and how a student writes today compared to 20 years ago.
In a box in a lock-up garge, filed as they were written 32 years ago I have sets of essays on both British and European History. I have nothing to be proud of - grades range from D to B. And as we never had a word limit some essays go on and on and on and on ... to no avail. There might even be an F in there.
Are these subjects taught anymore?
1450 to 1660 or some such, Henry VII to the Restoration with 'Europe' another country ...
My daughter, an A' Level history student, is studying World War 1 and Chinese History, so that's no good.
Surely the feeding tactics of the teachers will be the same? Short spells around Secondary Schools suggest to me that neither Geography, History nor English teaching has changed at all at A' Level in the last 30 years.
Read stuff, take notes, write essays, sit exams becomes read stuff (sometimes online), take notes (sometimes typed into a computer), write essays (often typed up and emailed), sit exams ... where you have to handwrite on paper.
Sounds to me like a serious mismatch of inputs and testing.
The kit may help or hinder. What matters is the quality of the memories laid down in the brain and the thoughts that can arise from getting enough of the right stuff in there.
My limited understanding of neuroscience would suggest that those parts of the brain used for communication and comprehension haven't changed a jot since Gates and Jobs and Tim Berners-Lee came along. Rather there is the possibility of a good deal more 'noise' - so on the one hand even more garbage 'polluting' the young scholar's mind whilst on the other easy and swift access to the very highest quality content - which in the past your teacher would supply with those slippery chemical smelling copies - what are they called?
The task then is to have a process so that this conent 'binds' - and whatever process or processes or tactics are exploited by teacher and pupil one thing has not changed a jot in 30 or 100 years. Time, effort, guidance, persistence ... recognising when you don't understand and having that fixed ...
Of similar interest might be a box of letters written by teenagers to each other at the time. These could end up in a museum one day - but are these asynchronous missives very different to postings to social media, particular as blogs? Very, I would have thought. The immediacy of the technology favours Twitter over the essay like letter sent by snail mail - slow to compose and equally slow to deliver.
Reread the introduction to Crook and Dymott’s chapter. Then read the rest of the paper. As you are doing so, make notes on the following:
What part do the five aspects of writing (text on the screen; text on the network; text as electronic traffic; text and the website; and the dialogue around text) play in describing the activity of writing? Do they ‘effect’ writing or ‘constitute’ it? How?
Do you think that the learning involved in writing the assignments, or carrying out the other tasks described, is located in the head of the students? Or do you think it is distributed and situated?
Crook and Dymott discuss the fact that there were substantial differences in the ways in which individual students used resources in one of the tasks (p. 103). What does this tell us about the mediated, situated and distributed nature of the activity?
If you were given the opportunity to assess some of the students’ assignments that are described in this chapter, where would you focus your attention: on the end product or on the process of writing, and why?
Which methodologies would you use to carry out your assessment of the students’ assignments, over and above those described in the chapter, and why?
Writing is a function of the communicating clusters in our brain and will produce the same results whether cuneiform on clay, hieroglyphs on stone, handwriting on papyrus, printing on paper, text on a screen or an annotated animation in a video. The way the brain functions is to read it or to compose it remains the same.
Learning is both an artifact and a process - the artifact exists as a potential in the brain and when stimulated can in part, through the complexity, be seen in a fMRI scan. The process of learning takes place as an interaction with the world around us, more people, but also the context and ours.
Quiz 100 students at the OU who study online and you will get a wide variety of answers.
I don't think one approach would correlate with better or worse results either. Students come to understand that it requires some kind of participation with the text beyond simply reading it - so whatsoever the platform you learn to take notes, or highlight, or in my case even screen grab and crop in order to filter, punctuated, and reduced the text - and in the process make it you own.
The end result is far and away the most important consideration, if the result is very good or very poor it might be worth asking what the students did. Chances are nit long ago it would have been exactly the same thing - the higher scorer simply doing more of it, with greater effort and focus.
An in depth hour long interview, with video recording for further later analysis - and a follow up even to this. And stuffing the ethics of it leaving the recorder on beyond the end of the formal interview. This is necessary in order to get some semblance of what was really going on.
A diary or journal kept st the time and discussed can offer insights though some will struggle so a prompt sheet of some 16 or so questions might help them record the facts and detail that matters.
Going to a further extreme, and with any ethical and legal, and privacy/data protection issues covered, to use a SenseCam or some such life-logging device in order to understand what really went on - in particular the context.
I am flat on my back on a bed with an iPad at the moment, but can be at a laptop in the kitchen or in front of some huge screens on my son's desktop. I prefer eBooks and will highlight, note, even comment and Tweet thoughts as I go along.
Wherever my head goes my 'cloud' comes with me.
When I can only have the book then I do as I did as an undergraduate - I take notes as I go along - into the iPad with pages bookmarked with PostIts.
Writers on writing
Kurt Vonnegut created some of the most outrageously memorable novels of our time, such as Cat’s Cradle, Breakfast Of Champions, and Slaughterhouse Five. His work is a mesh of contradictions: both science fiction and literary, dark and funny, classic and counter-culture, warm-blooded and very cool. And it’s all completely unique.
With his customary wisdom and wit, Vonnegut put forth 8 basics of what he calls Creative Writing 101: *
- Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
- Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
- Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
- Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
- Start as close to the end as possible.
- Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
- Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
- Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964). She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.
* From the preface to Vonnegut’s short story collection Bagombo Snuff Box
Writing Tips from the Masters
Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons 1999), 9-10.
1) Find an example of an online learning resource from your own context that has plenty of visual content that might need to be described for a visually impaired student.
Teaching breaststroke : symmetrical whip kick and glide, arms in front of the shoulders during the pull, head still looking no further than in front of your hands.
Coach Marlins - my swim teaching and coaching blog.
A personal resource, reflection on swimming (masters) and coaching for Mid Sussex Marlins Swimming Club. A first step towards creating a mobile resource. Below is an excerpt from a typical morning teaching four groups - three grade groups (4.5.7) typically 7 - 11 year olds) and a disability swimming group of children and adults.
The introduction read here : YouTube
Grade 7 are technically superior and have more stamina and may be a little older. The ones I watch out for are the 7 year olds in with 10 and 11 year olds as they need a different approach, TLC and play.
- 3 x 50m warm up of front crawl and backstroke
Always giving a tip before starting them off (and accommodating the odd swimmer who is invariably late), say 'smooth swimming' or 'long legs'. i.e. reducing splashing and creating a more efficient swimmer.
- Make sure too that there is a 5m between each swimmer.
- 25m of Breaststroke to see what I've got and potentially adjust accordingly.
- Kick on front with a kicker float.
- Taking tips from 'The Swim Drill Book'
- I remember to put as much emphasis on keeping the chin in.
The glide is key - this is where to put the emphasis.
- May start the 'Kick, Pull, Glide' or better 'Kick, Pull, Slide' mantra to get it into their heads.
Standing demo of the arm stroke, from Guzman, forming an equilateral triangle and keeping the fingers pointing away.
- Will 'describe' the triangle poolside then ask what it is and what kind of triangle.
- Anything to get them to think about it a little.
- I show this as a single action.
- Other things I might say include 'heart shaped' *(upside down).
- And making a sound effect 'Bu-dooosh' as I push my arms out.
Repeat the need for a pronounced glide, even asking fo a 2 second count (one Mississippi, two Mississippi)
I support by showing images from 'The Swimming Drill Book' on an iPhone or the Kindle
Leading into the turn we do in sequence (from the shallow end):
- Push and glide for count of 5 seconds
- Same, then add the underwater stroke and See how far you can go.
Legs Only Drill (Advanced)
Arms outstretched above the head. No kicker float
- The whole BR transition counting 3,2,1.
2) Use the resources for this activity to help you to decide which visual content needs describing.
- The objects that need describing might be photos, diagrams, models, animations and so on.
In the resources I was impressed by the clear, logical, analytical description of some of the complex bar charts, flow charts, pie charts and others. This is how all descriptions should be. In 2010 or 2011 the BBC reviewed how weather forecasts were delivered. It was determined that they were far too flowery. A plainer, clearer approach - overview, identified the region, immediate and forecast weather. Move on. Much more like 'The Shipping Forecast' was wanted and worked better. No more 'weather-caster personalities' then. It isn't entertainment, it is information.
3) For those objects that need describing, decide what kind of description would be needed.
'Before beginning to write a description, establish what the image is showing and what the most important aspects are'. UKAAF
'Consider what is important about the photograph in the context of how the image is going to be used, and how much detail is essential'. UKAAF
In swimming, any description of these visuals should emphasise the purpose of the action, the key action in relation to the physics and physiology of the pull, the action in relation to the rules of competitive swimming.
- Keep it simple
- Get to the point
- Choose the right words
4) Choose two visual objects and write a description of each.
Kick without a float. Arm pull practice standing in water or on the side of the pool.
If you can, ask someone who has not seen these visual objects to read your descriptions. Then show them the object and the context. What was their reaction? (If you have online tools to share visual resources, ask another student in your tutor group to do this activity with you.)
5) Which aspects of this task were straightforward?
Knowing that gender is irrelevant. Putting it in context.
6) Which aspects of the task were difficult?
Care not to use terms or metaphors that the swimmer may not be familiar with if they have never seen them.
Reading text on a diagram and wanting to shut my eyes so that I can hear the description without the image. Need to use screen reader or record and play back.
'Remember that blind or partially sighted people cannot skim read, so let them know how long the description is likely to be'. UKAAF
Knowing what to leave out, being confident to leave something out then knowing how to handle it.
'It is important that information provided for sighted people is also made available to blind and partially sighted people, even if the way the information is given is different'. RNIB (2009)
An author should write with a single reader in mind - in this instance while visual impairment is the modus operandi - they are first of all a swimmer or swim teacher/assistant - so the description must be given with this in mind, which in turn defines the writing/editing process of what to put in or what to leave out.
7) What else might have helped you to do it more easily or helped to improve your descriptions?
Physically moving the student athletes arms and legs through the positions. With their consent, allowing a visually impaired swimmer lay the hands on the arms then legs of someone as they go through the movement.
- An artist's manikin or a jointed doll, male or female action figure,
- Braille embossed outline.
'However converting a visual graphic to an appropriate tactile graphic is not simply a matter of taking a visual image and making some kind of "tactile photocopy". The tactile sense is considerably less sensitive than the visual sense, and touch works in a more serial manner than vision. Therefore the visual graphic needs to be re-designed to make sense in a tactile form for blind and partial sighted readers'. RNIB (2009)
In some subjects, interpreting an image or diagram could be a key skill that students are expected to learn.
Descriptions should follow a drill-down organization, e.g., a brief summary followed by extended description and/or specific data. Drill-down organization allows the reader to either continue reading for more information or stop when they have read all they want.
Keeping this logic rather than imaging the sighted eye skipping about the page, so I imagine I am not allowed to lift the stylus from the screen ... it has to be ine continuous, logical flow. Constructing a narrative would add some logic to it as well.
10) Can descriptions be done in such a way that you are not giving students the answers?
This was an interesting and relevant point regarding humorous cartoons 'Cartoons and comic strips need to be described if necessary. Set the scene of the cartoon without giving away the joke Provide a brief overview of the image.'
The same therefore applies to 'giving the answer' - treat it as the punch line but leave it out. and like a quiz book say, 'answers on page x'.
11) What do you think your strategy would be if you can’t find a way to give a description without compromising the learning outcomes?
Script differently - this is after all a different audience - and all students are ultimately an audience of one. Perhaps all resources will become highly personalised in future?
12) How can providing descriptions be included in the workflow process of delivering an online module? (This was touched on in the discussion for Activity 17.3.)
- I liked this quotation:
"When organisations send me information in formats that I can read myself it allows me to be independent, feel informed and appreciated - just like every other customer." End-user UKAAF
From Describing images 2: Charts and graphs
- Definition of print disability
- A print-disabled person is anyone for whom a visual, cognitive, or physical disability hinders the ability to read print. This includes all visual impairments, dyslexia, and any physical disabilities that prevent the handling of a physical copy of a print publication.
RNIB Tactile Images : http://www.rnib.org.uk/professionals/accessibleinformation/accessibleformats/accessibleimages/Pages/accessible_images.aspx
RNIB Image Descriptions : http://www.rnib.org.uk/professionals/accessibleinformation/accessibleformats/accessibleimages/imagedescriptions/Pages/image_descriptions.aspx
Gould, B., O’Connell, T. and Freed, G. (2008) Effective Practices for Description of Science Content within Digital Talking Books [online], National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), http://ncam.wgbh.org/ experience_learn/ educational_media/ stemdx (last accessed 10 November 2012).
UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF) (undated) Formats and Guidance: Accessible Images [online], http://www.ukaaf.org/ formats-and-guidance#accessible (last accessed 10 November 2012).
University of Aberdeen (undated) Keep It Simple [online], http://www.abdn.ac.uk/ eLearning/ accessibility/ checklist/ keep-it-simple/ (last accessed 10 November 2012).
Fig. 1. Benzi, after Gianlorenzo Bernini. 'Damned Soul', 1705-07
It has taken me 33 months, my fifth module and x assignments ... 12-16 ? and for the first time three things have happened:
- The first draft is written with two days to go.
- The word count is only 100 or so over the limit.
- I stuck to the treatment.
- Its a tad journalistic at this stage, but I enjoyed it.
On top of the MA the OU has given me the tools and confidence, and in this case, the knowledge, to write.
Off to London for the day.
RA this afternoon for the 'Bronzes' Exhibition, then a presentation in the evening - me talking, 'Use of video in e-learning' at an IVCA meeting.
'A story to be effective had to convey something from writer to reader and the power of its offering was the measure of its excellence'.
So wrote John Steinbeck in 1962 in a letter to his Stanford Creative writing tutor Edith Ronald Mirrieless.
Through Amazon I have got a copy of 'Story Writing' and will apply it in due course. The necessary pain will be returning to a story and sticking with it through all the rewriting.
With Mariella Fostrup
I liked the comment from Professor Maria Nikolajeva when she quoted Leonard Helsing as saying 'all pedagogical art is bad art, but all good art is pedagogical'. So if you write a children's book from the point of view of creating good literature the learning will come naturally.
Having enjoyed 'Birdsong' by Sebastian Faulks I not only went on to read many other Faulks' novels, I also went on to read much of Pat Barker too (for the First World War setting), and Ernest Hemmingway. Indeed, written at the time, HGWells take you to a similar place.
I find myself reading 'The Girl at the Lion D'Or'.
As is too often the case I realise half way through I have read it before; I should know the characters and recall the events and outcome: I don't. In fact, I am compelled as much to read it for the story as to satisfy this nagging feeling I know something dreadful or beautiful is about to happen. We get a little of each. And some wonderful interludes, as if Faulk's wove in some short stories that weren't going to endure as novels. (There's a nifty idea).
I want to talk about this lovely story, how Anne comes from Paris to work at the Hotel Lion D'Or. Who and what she is touches many lives, she is a catalyst for misbehaviour, action and change.
But I can't help but reflect on how I read, or skim read. I simply do not take it in, or rather, my mind leaves it on the surface, like a conversation overheard on a train. My mind, my kind of mind at least, or how it has formed, through a combination of genetics and experience, treats all readying as frippery. The consequence of this is that when I have academic reading to do it takes a huge effort to get anything at all to stick.
Reading on its own is pointless.
Historically I took notes long hand of everything I read. Historically, at school and university this would become an essay, the essay would be discussed in a small tutor group, filed, then looked at again months later for an exam. This kept that knowledge for the required period. Today I take notes through a QWERTY keyboard and upload. I am toying with adding pen to paper again. Then what? So long as I return to the notes and develop them the topic may become a living thing. Best of all, for me at least, are the vibrant tutor groups, or some online forums where I can find them. I need to wrestle with a topic, to agree and disagree, to read more, to seek out my own heroes and villains from further references. Then, and only over a period of months, if not years, do I make any sense of it, do I feel a sense of conviction about what I have picked up, understood or misunderstood.
I'm coming to apperciate why 'scholarship' takes time.
I don't take notes when reading a novel; perhaps this allows me to enjoy the second or third reading. You discover new things, you pick up the detail, nuances that weren't apparent the first time round. You may even get a better sense of the author's voice and purpose.
Can anyone recommend a good read?
I feel a novel a week inbetween OU reading and employment would be a good tonic for my mental well being. I beleive I work and think better too, but escaping from it all regularly.
You can immerse yourself in a subject and drown.
'Externalisation is a process of articulating tacit knowledge into explicit concepts. It is a quintessential knowledge- creation process in that tacit knowledge becomes explicit, taking the shapes of metaphors, analogies, concepts, hypotheses, or models. When we attempt to conceptualise an image, we express its essence mostly in language - writing is an act of converting tacit knowledge into articulable knowledge'. (Emig, 1983).
Emig, J (1983) The Web of Meaning. Upper Montclair. N.J.
A little learning. Evelyn Waugh (1964)
Not an e-book, but as soon as I wanted to take notes or share sentences I wish it had been.
(His less famous, though more successful popular novelist brother Alec Waugh writes a far more enjoyable satire of school-days at Shrewsbury 'The Loom of Youth'. If I wrote about Sedbergh in the 1970s it wouldn't be satire, it would be an act of war - my only revolution was to leave before Sixth Form at which time the bullied would have had to become the bully).
I bookmark by folding over the corners.
Although the pages were falling out I didn't highlight or annotate the pages, though I could have pulled the pages out.
I make three notes:
- The obliteration of English villages. To investigate.
- Waugh thought there was a problem in the early 1960s
- Ronald Knox 'A Spiritual Aenid' and Evelyn Waugh's 'Life of Ronald Knox.'
Knox was known to open and oppose the same motion. The point he makes though is that 'audiences greed for originality is the extraordinary distaste for the obvious.
NOTE REGARDING MOBILE LEARNING
(All would be downloaded as eBooks where they available. They go to the Kindle so that I can read or listen to the book on one device while taking notes onto the iPad. Is this when reading becomes a learning activity? When you take notes? Or simply when you annotate or highlight the text itself ... if you dare do this to a printed book. Anyone shared highlights or notes they have made while or having read a common book? Like an asynchronous book club of the airwaves I guess).
'You learn, in approaching any subject, to search at once for the point that is new, original, eccentric, not for the plain truth.' (Waugh, 1964: 129)
And a note left by a previous reader (my mother, who sent me this book a couple of weeks ago) that reads 'pity'.
Against Waugh's line 'I abandoned my diary on the day I left school and have no source for the following years except inexact memory.'
I didn't. 36 years later and several million words I wonder what I got myself trapped into.
Some keep saying they want me to stop blogging for a couple of years 'to finish the book'. I have plenty to say on that too, though Steven Pressfield has the definitive response, 'resistance'. I say 'anything but,' I will fill my life with 'anything but' that three-five hours a day of effort in front of a keypad or notepad.
Is memory exact?
My diary is an aide memoire, an impression of the moment that changes all the time.
Waugh, A.E. (1964) A little learning.
I cannot see the value in hereditary he gives to the first chapter, in predetermining the way some turns out, physiologically or psychologically, surely upbringing has more to do with it? He also concentrates on the male professional line. Rather selective? And from our point of view ignorant and sexist?
If Samuel Pepys had he blogged would you have read it?
Pepys is about to be serialised on BBC Radio.
This occurs once a decade. The excuse might be his 350th anniversary.
Were he still alive, in his early thirties. Like the Robert Heinlein character Lazarua Long. What would his set have made of social media?
His blog would have been read as the day's events unfolded.
Would he have been able to keep his secrets for long?
Would leaks of practices in Admirality House appeared in Wikileaks?
Would citizen detective work spotted Pepys as he entered and later left massage parlours?
And whilst we may not witness the Fire of London, or the Great Plague, we have had Aids and Terrorist Attacks, riots too.
The essentials of life tick over as they have always done; we live, we love, we get things right and make mistakes, we carry on, we may survive into old age.
The trailer justifies why a young person might keep a diary.
Had millions been doing so in the 17th century would we be that interested in Pepys?
Possibly, given that those blogs that are published are easily described as nefarious and sordid.
They take lovers, they are unfaithful to other halves, they go to places and do things they would never otherwise have done?
Is this the would-be artist’s struggle?
Is this what defines a frustrated creative? The desire to express and share what they make of life and to have actions in their lives worth sharing.
I cannot read Pepys.
He would not have made an easy blog. He is cyrptic and inconsistent. The juicy moments are rare. It is a writer's journal, an aide-memoir.
It is all over the place mixing work and play.
But he never was looking for readers in his life time.
‘When people ask me how to keep a Diary, I refer them to Ira Progoff's Intensive Journal [method]....One cannot help being amazed by what emerges from this skilled inner journey. All the elements we attribute to the poet, the artist, become available to everyone, to all levels of society.’
- How to start your diary
- In ‘The New Diary’ Tristine recommends that you:
- Begin with a self-portrait
- Begin with a period
- Begin with today
Each time I come back to a blog after an absence of weeks, months or years I approach it in one of these ways: I assess who I am, go over the previous period when I’ve been away from the diary, and count these musings as my first entry.
From Ira Progoff’s A Journal Workshop seven useful techniques for diary writing are offered:
- List or Period Log
- Portrait or Life History Log
- Map of consciousness (Recapitulations and rememberings)
- Stepping Stones/Scenes from our lives
- Twilight Imagery Log
- Altered point of view
- Unsent letter
- Dialogue Dimension
Then read a few inspiring blogs from fellow OU students such as Rosie Rushton-Stone.
My concern, as I'm guilty of it as a blogger, is that it changes how you 'talk.'
My blogging voice is light and journalistic - it is difficult to escape this in an assignment, however many references I put on or re-writes I do.
A different mindset is required, literally wearing a different hat and taking a different approach from the start.
As a professional writer I ought to be able to write for different audiences. I'm not sure I can, indeed my voice has always bee the 'spoken word' for TV and Video with scripts design to visualise rather than say anything at all.
I find and consider Twitter to be an invaluable exercise in being succinct; stylistically this has to be a good thing.
However, as I found myself doing recently, something I wrote, after an edit, looked and read like x16 140 character Tweats strung together.
Surely engagement of any kind, a conversation over coffee, over lunch, Tweating or blogs, helps internalise and sought out issues and confusion in the student's mind. It is an activity even if it is being measured?
I wonder if a 'viva voce' in a video conference (Skype, Elluminate) wouldn't demonstrate the value of social networks in education, that it would be apparent that those who are talking about their topic in cyberspace are more likely to have formed some points of view of their own.
From HLM Flash DemoVideo player: Flash Demo
For someone who does NOT have a formal teaching background this for me is the first time in 13 months that I have something practical that is based in learning, not 'e-learning' that I feel can apply immediately to any learning context: instructing sailing, teaching swimming, advising on digital marketing, supporting a team making a short film ... and especially thinking of ways to occupy children who are now on a three week holiday.
Blogspot from conference presentation of HLM
Institutional e-learning services
I found this exercise extraordinarily useful. In the space of an hour I felt I assembled the makings of a series of activities, a module that might take place over a weekend, or a week or two. Thinking of this as learning first, and e-learning second helped.
I decided on creating a course on 'marketing to the social web.'
I've always fallen back on system, surveys and so on. A set of questions, in this case cards, that you can mix about, sets the process up. A similar end result might be achieved in different ways, but here, falling back on the cards and working with these options helps you to get something down. Indeed, having the cards makes you appreciate at every stage you could approach it differently. It would highlight any repetitive approach, something some online educators are guilty of i.e. a course where every activity is a person talking to camera with a transcript of what they say. And no better than the weekly lecture and reading list which was almost my entire three year undergraduate experience.
The graphics worry me. I do think there is value in engaging the best graphic designer for things like this, to come up with something universal. I wonder how some learners would interpret a class that involved the use of flash cards with coloured in cartoons on them. Given the ability of the www to offer choices I'd give users a choice of a dozen alternative images for each activity.
As I'm looking at various courses on digital marketing I'll see how I can add to this.
Tools (inc. Technologies)
Survey on current awareness of advertising/marketing in social networks
Marketing to the Social Web as key resource.
24 hours of Google Alerts, Twitter and Facebook, Linkedin.
Min six people sharing task to cover entire 24 hour period.
Write in a blog, microblog. As text from the spoken word. Writing within parameters, not just Twitter’s 140 characters, but other word counts.
Writers & Artists Handbook.
Voice Recognition Software
Touch Typing Software
Trying to develop a fluid, immediate, even ‘stream of consciousness’ approach to writing.
Image only in a blog.
Comment on blogs, join in forum discussion .
Blogging for Dummies.
Letters to the editor. Letters.
Within the group and beyond
Add sound to a blog … voice, music, live (Skype) and broadcast (podcast).
Promote (PR, advertising, marketing)
Survey on final awareness of advertising/marketing in/to social networks.
Marketing to the Social Web as key resource.
The Writer's Tool Kit
All these cards had me thinking of a writer's tool kit, 'The Observation Deck' by Naomi Epel. In that period where I wrote fiction all day I often dipped into this, simply to keep me going. In pratise it is far more useful for someone who blogs all the time as it triggers a line of thought.
If you're running a creative writing course this IS your learning design done; each week take a different card from the box and do.
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