Had I known what I know now ... three years ago, perhaps I would have taken more care about what I read. From three weeks of H809 I've created this 'spider map' to use as I read anything new. It runs from Structure in a clockwise direction through to Implications. I've only just counted the number of 'issues' - 12 is a coincidence. The reality so far is that 8 will do it, 12 if I want to be thorough and probably just a few of these if I am going to look at title, abstract, authors. Should some of these be merged? In time these should become automatic. 'Paradigms' throws me. I'm not hot on 'concepts' or 'frameworks' either. All the more reason to be on H809!
Driving learning through blogging: Students’ perceptions of a reading journal blog assessment task. (2007/2008)
I'm reading these papers for a few reasons:
- part of H809 - getting my head around how research is conducted
- my interest in blogging as more than verbal jamming (my take on it)
- its value or otherwise as a student learning experience
- its value or otherwise in a business context
- this paper as its author came out of 'industry' to work in academia - my hoped for career shift.
- whether there's PhD research in here somewhere.
(I currently think not based on the papers I have read and a PhD thesis on blogging in business - to ill defined, too broad, nothing that orginal to put online what some people may have put in a diary/journal, gets confused with internal communications, PR and journalism. Is NOT an effective means of knowledge transfer. I'd prefer the expert view - in person. Perhaps where the skill of this loose kind of writing is under scrutiny - stream of consciousness as a writing style).
The uses are specific. The greater value is with those for whom writing forms a part of their career plan.
So journalism, creative writing, PR, communications and social media ... advertising too. As a platform to support a foundation course it might be used to develop academic writing skills. Three years ago I pulled out my 1999 copy of 'How to study' from the OU.
My notes on this are interesting for two reasons
- noting how the book is laid out like a web page (it is of course the web page than still is a poor copy of the printed word)
- the pertinence of the advice to someone studying a undergraduate and graduate level
- the style of writing, that feels like it comes from the 1950s.
'After we've read, heard and talked about a topic, our minds are awash with ideas, impressions and chunks of information. But we never really get to grips with this experience until we try to write down our own version of it. Making notes is of some help, of course. But there is nothing like the writing of an essay to make us question our ideas, weigh up our impressions, sort out what information is relevant adn what is not - and, above all, come up with a reasoned viewpoint on the topic that we can feel it our own'. (Rowntree. p. 170 1999)
|Problem/Opportunities||Students who fail to engage with the required course readings will be silent and disengaged. This can have a negative impact across all students.
Students who don’t engage with the technology, such as blogging, will be at a disadvantage as PR in the future will include the use of Web based technologies.
|Structure||Questionnaire taken alongside end of module questionnaires taken by each cohort.|
|Questions||Does this type of assessment task increase student engagement with required course
Does the assessment task have wider application than in public relations courses?
Does this facilitate the development of students’ technical skills in using new media?
|Setting||University of Newcastle, Australia
First and Second year Public Relations undergraduates.
|Author||Dr. Melanie James, PhD (UoN), Grad.Cert. PTT (UoN), MA Journalism (UTS), BA Communication (Hons) (UTS), MPRIA joined the School of Design, Communication and IT at the University of Newcastle in November 2006 after working in senior management roles in strategic communication, government communication, public relations and marketing communication.|
|Research||Research on teaching and assessment. (Rowntree 1971, Boud, 1988)
|Methods||A formal survey was undertaken in Semester Two to evaluate the students’ perceptions of the reading journal blog assessment task and to identify students’ opinions as to the strengths and weaknesses of the two specific aims of the assessment task. (James 2007 p. 2 )
The first aim was measured by asking whether they felt the task contributed to their learning about public relations at an introductory level through engagement with the course readings and the second aim was measured by asking whether they felt the assignment had facilitated their development of technical skills in blogging.
The survey questionnaire included 12 Likert-type items which asked for levels of agreement-disagreement with statements relating to the reading journal blog assessment task.
Partial triangulation as similar/same questionnaire used for the course as a whole?
Multichoice type online survey completed anonymously.
|Findings||Only a minority of students commented on other students’ blogs even though it was clearly indicated on the grading criteria that it had the potential to earn the student more marks. (James. p. 5 2007)
From a lecturer’s perspective, the level of engagement with the assessment task in particular, the coursework projects generally, and the in-class discussion was extremely satisfactory. (James. p. 6. 2007)
The overall standard of the final course group project was high, and although not directly comparable with previous years’ results, average grades for the course were higher. (James. p. 7. 2007)
Nearly three-quarters of respondents (71%) agreed that the blogging assessment task tied in well with the class exercises and other assessment tasks (RQ6). (James. p. 11. 2009)
|Paradigms||A constructivist approach to learning – learners construct contextual meaning rather
than students predominantly being passive receivers of information (Anderson, Krathwohl, Airasian, Cruikshank, Mayer & Pintrich, 2001).
Combining a learning journal with a blog was seen as a way to design an assessment task that responded to both identified challenges and would also foster the active engagement and personal investment factors that Angelo (1995, cited in Connor-Greene, 2000), considers crucial to effective teaching. (James p. 4. 2007)
|Limitations||Academics unclear of the marking criteria.
Students not familiar with blogging so needed more setup time.
Academic integrity of the content.
61% responded to the survey.
|Implications||Ways to better design the course.
Use of sentence leads to start the blog.
Use of sentence leads to comment on other people’s blogs.
PR students will need to be able to set up, maintain and contribute to blogs and make decisions about whether such tactics should be adopted in campaigns (Alexander, 2004; McAllister and Taylor, 2007).
This reads like second guessing the way the world has gone - but sucessful social media PR agencies do little else but blog for their clients, some do reputation management seeing what the social media are saying.
Reading to learn has long been a feature of higher education (Guthrie, 1982, cited in Maclellan, 1997).
For all the highfalutin e-learning interactive stuff how much do postgraduates, let alone undergraduates, spend reading? If you study law how else do you engage with the content?
Enthusiasm for the new from academics. “blogs have the potential, at least, to be a truly transformational technology in that they provide students with a high level of autonomy while simultaneously providing opportunity for greater interaction with peers” (Williams & Jacobs, 2004, p. 232).
It must be human nature to respon in one of two ways to anything new - love it or hate it. Academic research can turn revolution or pending doom into the mundane.
'As expected from the experiences of students in the first iteration of the assessment task, RQ4 and RQ5 clearly indicated that the majority of the respondents were inexperienced with both blogging and posting comments to existing blogs'. (James, p. 10. 2009) So much for Prensky, Oblinger et al and the ‘digital natives’ - far from being eager and skilled online, they are nonplussed.
More than two thirds (67%) of respondents indicated they had not had experience with blogging before the course, and 80% disagreed with the statement “posting comments on other people’s blogs was something I’d done regularly prior to doing this course”. James, p. 11. 2009)
So much for Prensky, Oblinger et al and the ‘digital natives’ nonsense - far from being eager and skilled online, they are nonplussed.
Alexander, D. (2004). Changing the public relations curriculum: A new challenge for educators. PRism 2. Retrieved 24th April, 2007, from http://praxis.massey.ac.nz/fileadmin/Praxis/Files/Journal_Files/Issue2/Alexander.pdf
Anderson, L., Krathwohl, D., Airasian, P., Cruikshank, K., Mayer, R., & Pintrich, P. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives (AbridgedEd.). New York: Longman.
Boud, D. (1988). Developing student autonomy in learning (2nd ed). New York: Kogan Page.
Connor-Greene, P. (2000). Making connections: Evaluating the effectiveness of journal writing in enhancing student learning.Teaching of Psychology, 27, 44-46.
James, M.B. (2008), 'Driving learning through blogging: Students? perceptions of a reading journal blog assessment task', Prism, 5 1-12 (2008) [C1] (accessed 27 Feb 2013 http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/38338 )
McAllister, S. & Taylor, M. (2007). Community college web sites as tools for fostering dialogue. Public Relations Review, 33, 230-232.
Maclellan, E. (1997). Reading to learn. Studies in Higher Education, 22, 277-288
Prensky, M (2001) Digital natives and digital immigrants.
Rowntree, D (1999) How to learn to study.
Williams, J. & Jacobs, J. (2004) Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 20(2), 232-247.
Analogical thinking, from Churchill's 'iron curtain' to the invention of Velcro.
(Indeed neurologists believe there is a gene that causes human beings to think in metaphors and that it is exactly this that allows us to invent, in fact creativity in the face of adversity still rings true today, though we are not facing a Sabre-toothed tiger at the entrance to the cave, or changing climate with the onset of the ice age.)
Analogy - transfer of an idea from one domain to another.
Metaphor - resemblance or flavour. A way of making the strange familiar p.85. Or the hard to comprehend (trees, ecosystems, architecture, traffic lights).
Kinds of metaphor:
Metaphors as labels:
Manager as captain or conductor.
Morgan (1986, 1997)
· Political System
· Psychic prison
· Instrument of domination
1) Pick three metaphors (a, b, c) for organisations, for instance the organisation as machine, organism or political system.
2) List the characteristics you associate with each.
3) Try and relate each characteristic to a feature in an organisation that you know.
4) What features of organisations do these characteristics highlight, and what do they conceal?
A) As an orchestra, ABB, 1999. A corporate cliché I have seen applied to Abbey National and others. Visually it may have resonance, though the cost of featuring musicians, let alone playing a piece where used is prohibitive to all but the largest organisations. The characteristics are of complementary divisions 'playing the same tune' with woodwind, strings and brass, for example representing the different businesses. With a single conductor it may better fit the largely privately owned enterprise, say a Richard Branson and Virgin, or a Russian Oligarch, though no longer News International and the Murdochs. The features perhaps work for News International with newspapers and TV interests, even having a go with MySpace being largely media, whilst Branson is more the empirical Napoleonic conqueror of anything going?
B) As a strawberry plant, i.e. a federal organisation that has grown organically rather than by acquisition, perhaps like a clearing bank? Perhaps like a franchise such as Kall-Kwik. Or a retail chain, appropriately, such as Body Shop. The characteristics I think of are independently managed businesses that sell the same range of products, with common branding and sales materials, though with some localisation. This works well in relation to the plant performing differently on a variety of local soils/climates i.e. the same organism but in different settings/opportunities to flourish or not.
C) As an empire, where a holding company or private equity group has gone on the acquisition trail buying up businesses for the opportunity, rather than as sets of businesses that complement each other, so take over, create economies of scale in management and Head Office functions. The characteristics here feel as if it should be military with no good outcome, ala 'Wall Street', though there are or nave been more benevolent, squid give groups or holdings companies in the past such as the long gone Ferguson Industrial Holdings PLC, or perhaps Unipart Group of Companies (UGC). This suggests a dictator at the top, though the leaders can be benevolent even if a tall pyramid is the business structure.
If the organisation doesn't fit the metaphor, it is too simplistic a metaphor!
The metaphor can intone a favourable or negative bias. For example, if asked in research to describe the organisation you work for as a car do you want it to be a Citroen 2CV, or a VW Golf, a Rolls-Royce or Ford Escort, a 1980s Ford Cortina or a Triumph Stag?
A business that is a machine I the digital age is surely going to get left behind through its rigid bureaucracies and hierarchies, a predilection for quantitative measures (ROI and KPIs) too?
(My concpetion of the School of Communication Arts. Which one am I?)
In the past I used successfully the idea of 'nurturing' to represent first a school (Arts College) and then my own services to graduate recruiters.
In 2011 it seems archaic to think of teachers or tutors in this way, people who are moderators, coaches or facilitators. (The ecological metaphor is used with a cartoon not dissimilar to my own p.88 not shown here for copyright reasons, to represent people as seedlings or potted plants).
From Table 4.1 metaphors of businesses in relation to:
Take expressions of the above for a 'Machine like business, as 0 on a scale and
'Organic' as 10, then decide where:
a) you place your own organisation and b) yourself.
I'll do this one offline.
Other metaphors might include:
Network (Morgan, 1993) business as a spider-plant.
Federal (Handy, 1989) business as shamrock
Chaos and complexity.
Brains and cities.
Supporting 'patterns of transformation that emerge spontaneously in complex adaptive systems'. (Henry 2006:95)
Complex adaptive systems: termites, flock movements, (anecdote of the aeroplane simulator managed by parts of an audience that collectively cancels out the oddball, incompetent, inattentive or would-be plane-crashing individuals) p96 (Berreby, 1998:45 and Clark, 1997:75).
'people do not need to be told what to do: they are intelligent agents continuously learning and modifying their behaviour on the basis if feedback'. Handy (2010:97)
See DVD 2, Video 3
N.B. The metaphors chosen tend to reflect the chooser's values. (Henry 2006:98)
What metaphor would you use to describe your organisation?
Describe the process of management as you experience it.
A metaphor to describe my management style.
Note metaphors to describe daily management styles.
Take a current task, associate with it an appropriate metaphor then give it another that is far removed from the first.
Organisational paradigms p.104
Functionalist paradigm - world as an objective reality.
Kolb (1984) drawing on Pepper (1942)
Four ways of thinking about the world:
And thinking styles:
Table 4.2 Organisational metaphors and paradigms
Activity 4.9 WHAT METAPHOR WOULD YOU OFFER FOR MANAGEMENT IN THE 21st CENTURY?
I've experienced many, including from the table:
I know of:
I like the sound of:
For the 21st Century I like the model of the modern ideas lab in which innovative ideas are trialled, developed then kicked out with a chunk of financing to thrive however turns out best!
This is the sink or swim analogy.
But after suitable teaching/coaching. Or perhaps a metaphor of procreation, raising and nurturing a child then letting them go? So organic or animal (or in particular mammalian or human).
Stacy (1996) and danger of controls, procedures and Pre-specified objectives.
Morgan, G. 'Paradigms, metaphors and puzzle-solving', C9 in Henry (1999a)
FROM MY OU STUDENT BLOG
'Consider this medium as like talking with your fingers - half-way between spoken conversation and written discourse.' (Hawkridge, Morgan and Jeffs, 1997, quoted in Salmon 2005)
Salmon, G (2005) E-moderating. The Key to teaching and learning online.
Berreby, D (1998) 'Complexity theory: fact-free science or business tool?
Strategy and Business, No. 10, pp. 40-50.
Clark, A (1997) Being there. Cambridge, MA. MIT
Henry, J & the MBA Course Team (2006, 2010) B822 'Creativity, Innovation and Change' Book 1 'Creativity, Cognition and Development'. The Open University Business School
Morgan, G. (1986 2nd 1997) Images of Organisation
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