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Blogging a dead horse

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 16:44

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The more I read, the more I research, the more I listen and the more I gush to others about blogging, the more I feel that it is like ...'trying to flog a dead horse to make it pull a load'.

Not the act of blogging, but the actions required to convert people.

People (students) don't see there value; to read a few well written, apposite blogs, fine. A person that in this environment has something to offering pertaining to their course. Or for entertainment. (Stephen Fry's Tweats form a micro-blog after all), micro only in the sense that you are restricted by character count per entry. If these parameters are like a letter-box then Stephen Fry is posting plenty himself and garnering a gargantuan response).

I have infront of me 'Exploring students' understand of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education'. It was a conference item at ALT-C 2007: Beyond Control: Association Technologies Conference, 4-6 September, Nottingham, UK.

One of its Six authors is Grainne Conole, an OU senior academic, a blogging practioner and evangelical online chatter-box and good-egg. She wants us all to blog, and understands the magic of a comment ... she likes to make new friends and understands the reciprocal nature of reading and leaving salient comments. It's T.L.C. online.

I just clicked away and posted this in her blog:

I'm faced with the dilemma of having to split my professional, student and blogging personas; I recently joined the Open University Business School. This three way split has me locking down one diary and 'friends' gathered over a decade and tripping over the other two selves, starting afresh with contacts and what I blog wearing my professional hat. I am certain such possible conflicts of interest occur for anyone working in online media communications - broadcasting on behalf of your employer; indeed, my contacts in senior PR and Media roles of various organisations have the weakest of online profiles, even though two of them are published authors.

On the other hand just as I really got going in Facebook to connect with my brother and his family in South Africa and organise my mother's 80th, I find that living away from home during the week I come online to have some sense of what my own family are up to - just a shame our dog doesn't blog, 'stick chasing across the South Downs' would do it.

Currently reading your 2007 paper 'Exploring students' understanding of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education'. Are Learning Designers (and those who work with them) 'flogging a dead horse?' The analogy I'm about to use in my OU student blog is that I am starting to feel like a Tuba player at a football match - no one is interested, they're watching the game. Maybe if I could network with the other instrument players in the crowd we could have a jam-session. As another paper on blogging discovered 'birds of a feather flock together', we do this and find kindred spirits. The problem in OU student blogging platforms is that we are overly pigoen-holed, not just by course, but by module and tutor group (and sub-groups within these).

I liken the Internet to a digital ocean; currently blogging as an OU student is like blogging in fish tank, in a warehouse full of fish tanks. And every so often someone kindly comes along and divides us up even more, creating barriers, rather than opportunities. Please can we just all be tipped into the same ocean?

I then went off to Facebook, via my external blog My Mind Bursts.

I only sat down to transfer notes from a pad ... and am yet to transcribe a single word of it.

I was going to say, anything short of writing directly into 'the white box' that you are presented with on your chosen blog platform or platforms snacks of something else: a repository, a writer's journal, a student's e-portfolio that they leave open ... keep forgetting in the lecture hall, that they photocopy and leave on benches outside the refrecatory.

Reading 'Everything is miscellaneous' David Weinberger I find a like mind a) the idea of miscellany, that each page, each asset, whether ostensibly part of something (like this) is like an autumn leave scattered on the forest floor. These leaves never compost down and those that are tagged stay on the top of the pile, those that people find or are guided too most often, stay on the top of the pile ... and did it not long ago reach the stage where the leaves on the forest floor are so deep that they have buried the trees?

I put a slightly inept first draft phrase into Yammer the OU Personnel 'Twitter-like' feed about dandelions and pomegranates. I've used the dandelion metaphor many times, the pomegranate too, but had never put them together.

My thinking was this, if the seed is this blog entry, or a Tweat or even a message in Facebook i.e. an idea, thought, asset or message, a seed if you were scattered to the wind to find its own fortune then developing social media for an institution, whilst the asset, these words, are still a seed, they are coming from a pomegranate, not a dandelion. The reason being that understandably if you are expressing the views of others, collectively or individually, you cannot just hold you thoughts up to the wind and blow. The opening of the pomegranate is, as it were, the necessary processes and procedures. This analogy falls apart though if you have an image of Jamie Oliver holding a pomegranate half in one hand while smashing it with a wooden rolling pin with the other ... the OU are not smashing me on the head to extract words like nasla mucus. Rather, at first at least, they will be extracted by me using tweezers.

All this and my 16 pages of notes on blogging handwritten into a Shorthand Pad remain unused.

To overcome my reluctance to write up what I feel I have already expressed I realise I could just photograph my notepad ... in fact, I'll do this and just see how folk manage with my handwriting.

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Design Museum

H808 Activity 1.1. The e-learning professional Professional

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 12:08

The following bullet points list the views of the Senior Tutors regarding professionalism. There were speaking in the introductory podcast to the module ‘The E-learning Professional.’ (H808)

What does it mean to be a Professional (or simply professional)?

Robin Mason

* Has been doing it for a long time or hasn’t.
* PhD vs. Undergraduate.
* Has put in the hours or hasn’t.
* Mature or not.
* Experienced or not yet.

Gill Kirkup

* An established field vs. new field.
* Follows standards. vs. No standards followed.
* Part of a professional association. vs. not.
* Part of the UK Higher Education Academy or not.
* Part of a legitimate community or not.
* Committed or not.
* Respectful of learners or not.
* Licensed or not.

Robin Goodfellow

* Genuine vs. not.
* Recognised vs. unrecognised.
* Experienced vs. Inexperienced.
* Independent or not.
* Has a technical foundation or doesn’t.

Chris Jones

* Takes time or doesn’t.
* Specialist (secretive) vs. Part of the mainstream.
* Enthusiast or not interested enough.
* The professional sports person vs. amateurs.
* Autonomous vs. dependent
* Independent vs. not objective or balanced.
* Part of such a trade association or not.
* Specialist vs. generalist.
* Part of something vs. an outsider.
* Formalised standards vs. none
* Monitored vs. Unmonitored
* Little ‘p’ pr big ‘P.’

To these I would add:

* A Professional had form whereas a non-professional does not.
* Self-taught or received a formal education (HE and beyond)?

I disagree with Gill Kirkup suggestion that only in an established field is something professional. I agree however, with Gill Kirkup’s views regarding ‘respect’.

I disagree with Robin Goodfellow’s view that a professional must be independent. Being Professional doesn’t mean you can’t also be biased or bigoted.

‘Big P, little p’ is an interesting idea.

Depending on how your measure up, by Chris Jones’s definition, you are either Big P or Little p. Is it the case that a practising lawyer is a Professional, while a painter and decorator can be professional? Is a good lawyer a professional Professional, while a good decorator is simple a professional painter?

The term ‘professional’ is an adjective and a noun.

Anyone can be described as ‘professional,’ (adjective) by dint of their behaviour and experience, however to be a ‘professional’, (noun), various criteria should be met.

Might a professional be defined as someone with ‘qualified confidence in their field?’

Professionals put in the time and effort, and follow rather than ignore guidelines for the community in which they operate. It matters that you are paid for something you are good at; being a Professional implies that you are paid.

A final thought

What’s a professional Professional? The opposite of an amateur Amateur.

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