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21 good reasons to blog a lot

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 15:42

Anais%2520Nin%2520SNIP.JPG

'It seems to me that I follow only the most accessible thread. Three or four threads may be agitated, like telegraph wires, at the same time, and if I were to tap them all I would reveal such a mixture of innocence and duplicity, generosity and calculation, fear and courage. I cannot tell the whole truth simply because I would have to write four journals at once. I often would have to retrace my steps, because of my vice for embellishment'.

Anais Nin

(Henry & June, Journals, July 1932)


A diary can be  many things:

1) a record of what happens to me and around me each day

2) a notebook for whatever I’m reading

3) a record and analysis of dreams

4) a place to try my hand at exposure

5) a place to describe how it is, or isn’t;

6)a place to practise lies

7) a place to drill, thrill and hone my skill

8) a place to underplay, exaggerate or avoid

9) a place to lose myself in Truth

10) a place to play

11) a place where a blank pages means something as a day missed is a day when I’m too ill, too depressed, too drunk or too bored with it writers keep diaries to record events -a writer’s journal I do this; working up events until they have become more real that reality as I obscure what happened with scene setting detail and by bringing narrative order to the muddle of a daily life.

12)  At times I write as a drill, to practice, at others because I feel an obligation, it is what I do most days, every day.

13) I use these pages to extract a writing style and extricate myself from the bland.

Lately a form has emerged as I tripped and stumbled over a keyboard I’ve been hacking at the undergrowth until I have found my way, happily pursing forest paths and following streams back to their source.

14) I keep a diary as a record of events: what I did, where, with whom.

At times I reduce the diary to bullet points, satisfied that I've not lost the day forever to obscurity.

As a painter I had to draw what I saw, from reality, not straight out of the mind or by copying.

As a writer I hoped at first that I could write candidly about reality and once I had established that I could progress to fiction.

Do I want to put my life under the microscope?

Am I writing postcards to myself?

It all counts. It all mounts This writing is never supposed to be a draft of anything Francois Truffaut said he felt it was necessary to read everything to give the mind food and things to smart against. It is worth reading all kinds of things.

So how many diaries or journals do I need?

15) a dream book

16) a diary for a straight log of what I did during the day

17) a journal as a notebook (as here)

18) a memory jogger

19) something for assessment/analysis of what I am thinking and reading

20) a scrapbook.

How many is that? Would four do the trick?

You should try it for a year

There comes that moment when you can reflect on what you were doing exactly a year ago amd to feel the same every time another entry is composed.

I kept a five year day for eight years in my early teens: the five lines per day are hopeless unrevealing.

I washed my hair, cleaned out the rabbit kind of thing. Some rare moments bring back the day or event. I began to record dreams in my mid-teens, tiring off it when I found I could recall four or more dreams each night taking several hours to write them up the following day.

I kept a scrapbook and dairy in a ring-bind folder when I went on an exchange with a French boy and repeated this around my 17th birthday, filling a folder in one month and so realising I needed a different approach.

Then I settled for a page of A4 per day every day, not less and rarely more.

21) Write as much or as little as you like.

Being able to write as much as I liked I found myself filling a dozen pages plus and so quickly lost the detail that would have otherwise identified the day, month and year. I wanted to buy a scrapbook again for ages.

Then along came the Web.

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H800 tips on blogging - keeping a diary online

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 18:50

Tips on keeping a journal

From a blog first posted by this author 06/10/2003 www.jonathan.diaryland.com (Locked. Accessed 4JAN11)

‘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.’ Anais Nin 1974 (In the introduction to Ira Progoff's book)

Like many young men I came to Anais Nin and Henry Miller through the Philip Kaufman film 'Henry and June.' I was living in Paris and soon found myself buying up hardback copies of Anais Nin's Journals and copies of Henry Miller's opus: Sexus, Plexus, and Nexus, as well as Tropic of Cancer ... All worthy insights on how to blog. Their letters are a good read too.

The key to this kind of writing is to let go, it isn't an exercise book, that's what an e-portfolio does, acts as a more discrete, shareable repository of assessable / gradeable work. Of course, what's the difference between a blog, an e-portfolio and a wiki come to think of it? Very little, indeed if you call them an e-journal, e-portfolio and e-agenda you may recognise that binds them. The are simply compartments within the digital ocean, compartments that allow for some osmis and transfer of e-fluids, which can be e-text, e-video, e-audio, or e-drawings. Can you see why I feel the 'e-' is redundant?

From wikipeadia I learn that:

Ira Progoff (August 2, 1921 – January 1, 1998)

Ira Progoff was an American psychotherapist, best known for his development of the Intensive Journal Method while at Drew University. His main interest was in depth psychology and particularly the humanistic adaptation of Jungian ideas to the lives of ordinary people.

Some ideas on how to start your diary

(For diary read blog. As it is the New Year now is as good a time as any to make a start)

In ‘The New Diary’ by Tristine Rainer.

  • Begin with a self-portrait
  • Begin with a period
  • Begin with today

Each time I come back to this diary 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. (Tristine Rainer)

There’s now a National Diary Archive in the US

Someone thinks they have worth.

Will the handwritten diary, like the handwritten letter outlive the digital era? If someone digs up a sealed chest in five hundred years time and faced with some books, some letters and a memory stick which do you think they wil read first?

From Ira Progoff’s 'A Journal Workshop' seven useful techniques for diary writing are offered:

1. List or Period Log

2. Portrait or Life History Log

3. Map of consciousness (Recapitulations and rememberings)

4. Stepping Stones/Scenes from our lives

5. Twilight Imagery Log

6. Altered point of view

7. Unsent letter

8. Dialogue Dimension

Over these days my desire is to reach some conclusions regarding the modern blog, its use in education and how to describe the benefits to the uninitiated and unimpressed.

How about this; whilst it is possible to paste anything in here, keep it live and real.

You may have notes, so paste them in and add. This is not an eportfolio, nor a repository - it is an open letter, more so in the OU Platform as this is being pinned to a digital noticeboard.

That's it. A letter.

If spoken then in the style of Alistair Cooke's 'Letter from America.

And remember, this isn't a letter that expects a reply (for reply read comment) as it is written to its author. The value, take note OU, is barely in the present, but six months, six years even sixteen years down the line.

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The use of narrative in e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 15 Oct 2012, 10:28

I fully buy into the idea of using narrative in teaching.

Without the pyrotechnics of e-technology some imagination from a well informed agent, perhaps assisted by a scriptwriter, could produce a script that is engaging, a journey from which a learner may deviate if something so intrigues them, a pattern with a beginning, middle and end that everyone can follow.

‘Teachers use narrative to teach children difficult concepts and to bring structure to the curriculum.’ Egan (1988)

REF

Bruner (1996.97) ‘Meaning Making’

  • spontaneous inclination to engage in a dialogue with material
  • to improve some form of organisation upon it
  • to make comparison with it

REF

McCloskey, D.N. (1990) Storytelling in economics

Bruner, J.S. (1996) ‘Frames of thinking: ways of making meaning.’ In Olson, D and Torrance, N (eds) Modes of thought. Explorations in culture and cognition, pp. 93-105.

It has been shown that experts in any field tend to embody knowledge in the form of narrative.

Schon, D (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action.

‘Stories are the method by which people impose order and reason upon the world.’ Fisher. (1987) REF Fisher, W.R. (1987) Human communication as Narration: toward philosophy of reason, value and action.

‘By framing events in a story it permits individuals to interpret their environment, and importantly it provides a framework for making decisions about actions and their likely outcomes.’ Weller. (2009:45)

The framework is the logic of the narrative, the logic of the plot, the role-play of the protagonist (you the learner), the battle you have with antagonists (concepts you can’t grasp) supported by your allies (the community of learners, your tutor and institution) leading to a crisis (the ECA or exam), but resolved with a happy ending (one hopes).

Film-makers, naturally, but also documentary film-makers, bang on about the ‘narrative’ and the ‘story.’

This is how facts, whether naturally linear or not, need to be presented, if an audience, or a larger part of that audience, are to be suitably engaged by a topic.

Some months ago there was a news story concerning how much could be expressed in 40 seconds – BBC Radio 4, Today Programme. Any recollections?

Three experts were called and in turn tried to explain:

1) Bing Bang

2) String Theory

3) The Offside Rule in soccer

Bing Bang was pure narrative, like Genesis in the Bible, with a clear beginning, middle and end.

String Theory had a narrative in they way the theory came about, and just about got there.

The Offside Rule didn't even started well, then got hopelessly lost in ifs and buts and maybes. (I got lost at least. Coming to all three equally ignorant I only came away with full understanding of one, some understanding of the second, and barely a clue with the Offside Rule)

The use of scenarios:

  • as a device for determining functionality
  • as a means for engaging users in the stakeholder’s consultation

Having spent too considerable a part of my working life trying to write original screenplays and TV dramas I am versed in writing themes and strategies, storytelling in three acts, with turning points and a climax, antagonists and protagonists.

I use software like Final Draft and Power Structure.

These tools could as easily be used to compose and craft a piece of e-learning. Perhaps I’ll be given the opportunity to do so.

Narrative … is a useful means of imposing order and causality on an otherwise unstructured and unconnected set of events, but it also means that some detail is omitted in order to fit into the narrative, and other factors are only considered in the limited sense in which they can be accommodated with the narrative.’ Weller (2009:48)

Writing a narrative, for a novel or screenplay, is to some degree formulaic.

Is design of e-learning as straight-forward?

A decade ago it looked complex, five years ago with HTML code package in plug-ins and excellent ‘off-the-shelf’ software coming along the process appeared less out of reach.

Today I wonder if it is more matter-of-fact than some make out?

Addressing problems, devising a plan (a synopsis, then a treatment), threading it together … maybe its having it operate apart from the tutor or lecturer or teacher is what concerns you (teachers, lectures, profs). You are the ones who must learn to ‘let go of your baby,’ to have an actor or presenter deliver your lines. Once, and well. Or write in a team, as writers on a soap opera.

It works to follow the pattern rather than break it.

It strikes me that in e-learning design there may be only a few structures to cover most topics – really, there can only be so many ways to tell/teach/help someone understand a concept … or to do something, and remember the facts, the arguments and concepts … to be able to do it, repeatedly, build on this and even develop an idea independently to the next stage or level.

There is little meat on a popular documentary

There are micro-narratives and their are journeys, some more literal than others, for example, currently there’s a BBC documentary series, ‘The Normans’ and the third or so series of ‘Coast.’

From an educational point of view, what do audiences ‘learn’ from these programmes?

Can they typically recall anything at all, or do we/are we semi-conscious when watching TV, leaning back, not leaning forward, mentally as alert as someone smoking a joint. (Apocryphal or true?)

Try reading the script, try transcribing what is said and look at how far it goes.

Not very far at all.

Such programmes/series can be a catalyst to go to the website or buy the books, but otherwise the information is extremely thin, predictable and ‘safe.’)

If only links could be embedded into the programme so that as you view the programme relevant pages from the Internet wold automatically be called up.

Do you watch TV with a laptop?

Many do. Traders can manage several screens at a time, why not as mere mortals too?It becomes more engaging when you field of vision is nothing but screens, on topic. My preferred way of working is to have two screens, two computers, a mac and a PC, side by side. They do different things, they behave in different ways. I have a team of two, not one.

The medium may introduce a topic or theme, but there is little meat on the bone and we can be swayed by:

  • bias
  • the view of the author/presenter/channel
    • (commissioning editor)
  • negative or positive

(For any longer list of concerns take a course in media studies.)

And if its on a commercial channel there are interruptions for adverts, while even the BBC chase ratings.

Even seen a lecturer take a commercial break

How about the some rich e-learning sponsored by Lucoxade, Andrex or Persil?

This is how schools receive interactive cd-rom and online websites ‘for free.’

REFERENCE

Weller, M. (2007) Virtual Learning Environment. using, choosing and developing your VLE.

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Innovators to Laggards ... I do wonder.

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'What makes people despair is that they try to find a universal meaning to the whole of life, and then end up saying it is absurd, illogical, empty of meaning.’ (Anais Nin, Journals Vol 1)

Whilst Roger’s categories may be his view of people on an historical landscape of invention they are a simplification - wherein lies our first dilemma - to open our minds to the nature & possibilities of e.learning we need to find a way to engage with its complexity.

We could each come up with our own equally valid descriptors and argue our case.

What is more, there is an in-built bias to these terms: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority & laggards. With ‘laggards,’ perhaps like ‘Luddites’ pejoratively considered to be of less worth than the ‘innovators.’

Or not?

Ideas sell. So does innovation. I know from experience. As the inventive one  - the team needed a salesperson. (an early adopter) and a business manager (very much in the late majority verging on being a laggard). A new business, that if successful may prove an innovation works, is like a pop group, made up of an assortment of band members. An innovator alone is like the nutty profession, Mr Brainstorm or from 'Back to the Future', Dr Emit Brown & his ‘flux-capacitor’ that drove his time machine. Does not the innovator sell to the early adopter? What is the point in tryin to sell to the laggard? And what role does the market play for innovations? In advertising we talked of 'preaching to the converted.' In relation to innovative products, you need to be selling to those who are already or are prone to 'buy in' to the new technology, software or service.

Roger’s is surely just one set of stepped criteria, we could as readily differentiate between:

  • various levels of success & failure,
  • between risk takers vs & the risk averse
  • between the foolish & considered
  • between experimental vs experiential
  • between novelty vs tried & tested


And each or any of these could be researched, charted, put on maps and shared as annotated demographic pyramids.

As Mel Brooks put it in relation to writing:

'Every human being has hundreds of separate people living under his skin. The talent of a writer is his ability to give them their separate names, identities, personalities and have them relate to other characters living with him.'

All Rogers has done is to give some characters types separate terms.

Aptly, from the world of writing fiction (novels, screenplays) there are the terms ‘protagonist’ & ‘antagonist.’ I wonder if in a screenplay that incorporated characters from Roger’s terms by implication the ‘protagonist’ is the innovator, while the ‘antagonist’ is the laggard. And do you know what, it is the conflict between the two that generates innovation, the one trying to prove themselves right, the storyline in which the ‘early adopters,’ ‘early majority,’ ‘late majority’ & ‘laggards’ literally buy into the service or produc

... or not?

Where else have we been grouped & bunched?

In ‘Sloane Rangers’ Peter York defined a group form Chelsea, a dress sense and background, a typical mode of behaviour and in newspapers at the time other socio-economic groups were dwelt upon and picked up by what they wore and how they spoke.

Labels are used to bully

Would you like to be called a ‘laggard;’ over an ‘innovator.’ Coming out of advertising I am used to those in what we called ‘planning’ categorising customers in all manner of ways to suit the product, the client & the moment. 

In 2001 I took an Enneagram Test and came out as a FIVE.

“Fives are basically on some level estranged from the rest of the world, consequently, their mind is usually their best friend. They like to analyze things and make sense of them (that is their anchor), this makes them great inventors and philosophers. The immense inner world of fives can cause them to lose touch or interest in reality."

http://similarminds.com

Instead of innovators and laggards these ‘tests’ gave you a number. I am not a number, or a term. I’d like to think of myself as something more complex, wouldn't you? As Anais Nin puts it, we are each a book:

‘There is not one big, cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.‘ (Anais Nin, Journals Vol 1)

It is from this complexity, this individualisation (if you must) and tapping into it, that innovation results, and where e.learning innovation is heading. Which is why I am here.

'What's new about new media? Not much!'

So I wrote a decade ago when briefing a team of communications managers from ABB on the use of the web.

What seems innovative today, may not seem so innovative tomorrow. Indeed, is it still innovative once it has become familiar and every day? And might one way of determining when something is no longer innovative when it is adopted by the ‘laggards.' Crystal sets became the wireless that in turn became the radio. carphone, becomes mobies (cellphones), then smart phones (and iphones).

Nearly a decade ago a group of ‘innovators’ met at Sussex Net Ventures. (Tuesday 19th September 2000) At this event hosted by Wired Sussex, Hugh Griffiths of iTouch said there would be

“No killer application but a killer cocktail.”


hugh.griffiths@itouch.com

This cocktail, to result in innovation, requires a team that includes a cross-section of those ‘labelled’ by Rogers: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority & laggards.

What makes an innovator?


Why do they stand out? Because they are passionate? Persuasive? Determined? Imaginative? Entrepreneurial? Well educated? Moneyed? All of these things, or none of them.

And why are there so few of them? Henry Miller puts in well in ‘Tropic of Cancer.’

“What distinguishes the majority of men from the few is their inability to act according to their beliefs."

Who can deny the self-belief of Bill Gates? Or Tim Berners-Lee?


Innovators believe in what they are doing. Whether they are successful (and how you measure or determine success is another matter).

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The blogger's dilemma

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 17:07

'It seems to me that I follow only the most accessible thread. Three or four threads may be agitated, like telegraph wires, at the same time, and if I were to tap them all I would reveal such a mixture of innocence and duplicity, generosity and calculation, fear and courage.'

(Henry & June, Journals, July 1932 Anais Nin)

For the umpteenth time as several hooks snag I don't know whether to blog in one space or several. The compromise will be to keep this for and about the OU. Therefore 'e.learning & innovation,' even 'innovations in e.learning.'

The problem Anais Nin had related to the 'threads' in her life, her various interests that broadly split between her love life, her efforts to become a published writer of fiction & what the journals gradually become first to her and then to the people (and fans) who read them.

My response has been, having stared a blog, that mimicked a  diary and was simply an 'online journal' to split by purpose, by content (the the degree of exposure I was prepared to make/the adult nature of the material) and even by design. Things quickly got in a muddle & I returned to the single blog model, only to find I could not please all, or many (or even any but a handful)  of the readers. By which time it had ceased to be a  diary, or even an online journal.

I will persevere with WordPress where the old blog will be migrated. This could take some time. 8,000 hours if I go entry by entry. Oops. Maybe not them. I can be more selective than that. The intention will be to use current blogging tools to find & establish threads of ideas, topics, stories, people & events. To what end though?

Then there'll be a blog for teaching & coaching swimming aimed only at fellow teachers & coaches - so not on how to swim, or how to swim faster ... just how to teach or coach people to swim and then to swim faster.

There is relevance to this in relation to 'innovations in e.learning.

What is most likely to produce an innovation? By being prescriptive, or saying 'anything goes?' Or a bit of both. Somehow.

Or am I talking here about inventiveness & creativity?

 

 

 

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