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Driving learning for students of Public Relations through blogging

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 3 Mar 2013, 10:30

Driving learning through blogging: Students’ perceptions of a reading journal blog assessment task. (2007/2008)
Melanie James

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
reading?
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)
Concepts
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.
Frameworks
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.

REFERENCE

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.

 

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Blogging, aggregating and curation ... Huh?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 22 Oct 2012, 21:38

I am trying to get my head around the idea of 'curation' and how this overlaps with concepts I understand - blogging and aggregating.

This is a blog - you post stuff that can be kept privately (like an e-portfolio then), can be published to the OU community (like an intranet, bulletin board or posting to a social network group or circle - as with Linkedin and Google+ respectively) or published to the world (a very crowded busy world where some 30,000 blogs posts go up every minute, or is that every second?).

To aggregate content is to draw in links either manually by cutting and lasting or by using a number of buttons or tools, from an RSS Feed to Delicio.us. I think of aggregating as portfolio or filing work, private research - however increasingly in a Web 2.0 context we want to share our lists. Some consider Goolge Docs to be an aggregating service, it is a depository, but so is Picasa for images and Drop Box too - so when does a gallery or collection take on different properties?

I use the expression 'aggregation' to describe what happens as comments attach to a blog post.

You write, others comment. Even to 'like' or 'rate' to my mind is a form of aggregating as your point of view is then attached to that item or asset and bring value as an alert to the browser spiders.

Google is pushing me to use a tool to socialise (and for them to exploit) a gallery I keep of some 8,000 grabs and photos.

Why should I want to? If I release or promote the 450 or so images relating to e-learning then I become a curator - I have opened the museum doors. (I also risk copyright infringements as some of this stuff is just me filling content by grabbing screens, whether text or images).

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H800 Reflection on e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 21 May 2011, 14:29

A rare moment to stop and take stock.

Does learning something new enter a phase of such frenzy that the formal aspect of the process is irrelevant.

To say I live, breathe and eat e-learning would be an exaggeration, but the mix of social media (my professional responsibility) and e-learning (my passion as an educator) on top of a foundation of 32 years of 'educational inclinations' means that I find myself in a self-constructed maelstrom of activity.

32 years ago, a 17 year old, we lived 'above the shop,' as it were, a training centre for a PLC in Cumbria. I listened eagerly to the Training Director and I was allowed to use first 1 inch reel to reel black and white Sony kit used for interview training ... and then a hefty VHS camera. I created my first 'training film' - ironically titled 'How to give a slide presentation.

A desire to taken in, and then share, what I think and understand, with others has informed my career.

Meanwhile, whilst reliving and reinventing and/or returning to my video production roots, my current interest is mobile learning - not that it is should be called 'm-learning,' just that it is 'stuff' with a learning twist, that you can have with you, connect with and use, wherever, whenever and whatever you are.

With a bit of skiing, sailing and swimming

Each in various ways as an educator, and participant: guided skiing, but never the BASI qualification, Offshore Sailing RYA qualification while instructing at RYA Level II and swimming a few weeks of effort of the most senior ASA Certification that is current (Senior Club Coach).

Everything can be taught

My turn around moment on this was a presentation I was linked to when Max Clifford, self-taught PR guru, spoke lucidly and with enthusiasm for students studying PR.

Why?

If nothing else, it showed they were passionate about the subject to study it for three years.

(Note to Max, the passionate ones might be 20% of the cohort).

And cooking?

Greek Fish Soup.

I'm yet to reach the position that I can call myself a professional academic, but is it the case the some academics (or is it just mathematicians and philosophers) are also very good cooks?.

My theory is, that they use the period of cooking, to be engaged with one activity ... while thinking of something else entirely???

 

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Paint never dries

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 30 Mar 2011, 03:09

'Paint never dries' is how one theatre-goer described the sequel to Phantom of the Opera 'Love never dies'.

Catch a feeling and put it well and it goes viral. The wise digital marketeer responds, but how?

'There is an inverse relationship between credibility and control,' according to Martin Sorrell (2008). 'The more control you keep over the message, the less credible it is. And Vice Versa.'

It is known that negative ideas have more impact than the positive; the professional though will share negative feedback wrapped in the positive.  How I'd respond to the above if it is what I felt I don't know. These shows are locked and they not? Does dropping a scene or two or a song improve matters.

As Larry Weber (2009:58) puts it, 'ignoring nagative comments is the equivalent of 'No Comment,' which is the biggest communications mistake executives make.

Max Clifford in a lecture to students says that his PR work is almost entirely damage management - people publishing lies.

I wonder how he'd deal with the above?

Might it be a question for a student of digital marketing?

Ethan (in Webber 2009:218) offers the answer. 'When you have actively engaged an audience, your biggest supporters will actually become very vocal and will step up to your defence.'

'Old news keeps like fish', they say. When it comes to a negative comment online is it just a fart in the wind? It passes. or is it hot gossip that grows?

REFERENCE

Webber, L. (2009) Marketing to the Social Web (2nd Ed) Wiley & Son

Sorrel, M. (2008) Public Relations: The Story Behind a Remarkable Renaissance. Institute of Public Relations Annual Distinguished Lecture, New York, November 5, 2008 in Argenti P,A and Barnes C, M.Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications. (2009) McGraw Hill.

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Blogging - cover to cover

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 08:26

It'll not come from one book, or two or many. Having blogged for 11 years and six months I should know some things. I share some ideas here alongside some thoughts from Argenti and Barnes's 2009 book 'Digital Strategies for Powerfurl Corporate Communications' that I have read cover to cover these last few days courtesy of Kindle.

Digital%20Stratagies%20GRAB.JPG

Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications

Blogs and social communities have sparked ‘a complete overhaul of the business environment, especially in the context of communication.’ Agenti and Barnes (2009:K168)

K = Kindle ... they don't give a page number. How could you in a e-Book?

Education is changing too, blurring the lines between school and the workplace, and encouraging workplace learning with distance learning specialists and online courses from members of the Association of Business Schools surely set to grow

The difference between web 1.0 and web 2.0 – observation versus participation, status versus dynamic, monologue versus conversation. Agenti and Barnes (2009)

What is most relevant to corporate communications managers is as relevant to other institutions, whether government, education or charity.

Twitter%2028JAN11.JPG

You need to be using:

• Blogs (such as WordPress. Edublogs, Diaryland)

• Microblogs (Twitter)

• Social Networks (such as Facebook, MySpace)

• Video-sharing platforms (YouTube, Vimeo)

• Search engine marketing and optimization

• Corporate web sites/ online newsrooms

• Wikis • Mash-ups • Viral/word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing.

The trick is to find ‘a middle ground between a completely centralised and a wholly decentralised structure is the best way to maintain an effective communications strategy in today’s environment.’ K593

My take on this is that to succeed organisations need to be:

• Informed

• Engaged

• Responsive

• Frequent

• Authentic

• Relevant

• Appropriate

• Pithy

• Real (neither journalistic, corporate or academic in style)

• Understanding

• Passionate but not obsessive

• Media Savvy

• Connected

• Tooled up

• With a give, take, try anything and receive mentality.

• Tag it all

• Optimise out of habit

• Have fun, be playful with surveys, questionnaires and polls.

The view Sir Martin Sorrell takes is ‘The more control you keep over the message, the less credible it is. And Vice Versa.’ Martin Sorrell (2008: K1520)

There are three skills sets required to take advantage of this:

1. Identifying influential bloggers 2. Building relationships with them 3. Engaging with them with the intent of receiving positive coverage

Points 1 and 2 was the experience I had in Diaryland.

Here from 1999 bloggers teamed up with designers, where the two functions were recognised as different, like the copywriter and art director in advertising. Here you could form groups and join groups, link to friends for a myriad of reasons, but best of, in the list limited to 70 friends you were/are updated constantly on the status – it helps to know that you’re in a group where people update regularly. It is largely from the community of those who write, that you find people who also read and comment, they are various consumers and emitters of content.

So much that I experienced here has migrated to other blogsites.

Things that work, as well as buddies and buddy updates, are the surveys and groups, creating engaging or fund questionnaires to share with others and forming groups too, where for example I set up lists for those to be the first to make 500, then 1000 and then 2000 entries … Fun too are the banner ads you can make and use to promote interest within the Diaryland community. Perhaps Andrew’s (its creator’s0refusal to allow advertising is what is causing a Diaryland demise.

‘Metaphorically speaking, RSS is the gateway drug of experiential online monitoring’. Agenti and Barnes (2009:K1183)

My view is GoogleAlerts does this better, it spread the net for you, whereas with RSS you need to have found the feed first. What is more GoogleAlerts feeds you snacks of information that are easy to consume, note, reference, keep, pass on or over.

In emails the authors interviewed Courtney Barnes and Shabbir Imber Safdar.

‘You need to understand that it’s not a cut-and-paste job. You need to participate in the conversation and adapt the content for the environment. ‘ Thus said (Agenti and Barnes (2009:K1159)

Look, listen and learn ... engage

To do this engagement is the first things, so blogs and Twitter, social networking and video, photographs … even some family history and reuniting with school and college friends. Then you tools like Technorati and Goole Alerts.

 

Technorati%20uses%20GRAB.JPG

 

Technorati

Google Alerts

Search out appropriate keywords

Joined Linked In too.

Having been engaged with four/five groups I made the mistake of joining and dozen and will have to drop most of these. Some post several times and hour 24/7 and I have ceased to see the worth of reading that much from one group, especially if the same question is being answered a thousand times. Managing this maelstrom is a task in itself, being alert to the new, dropping the redundant, buying into and out of the right people and places as their influence and quality of comment waxes and wanes.

Forrester Research on 90 blogs of Fortune 500 companies. June 2008.

Most company blogs are ‘dull, drab and don’t stimulate discussion’. • 66% rarely get comments • 70% only contain comment on business topics • 56% republish press releases or summarise news that is already public.

REFERENCE

Argenti P.A. and Barnes M.C. 2009 ‘Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications’ McGrawHill.

Sorrell. M (2008) ‘Public Relations: The Story behind a Remarkable Renaissance,@ Institute for Public Relations Annual Distinguished Lecture, New York, November 5, 2008.

 

Meanwhile I've got these two to read.

Kindle%20GRAB%20Social%20Networking%20and%20Social%20Web.JPG

 

And why books cover to cover?

I'm sick of snacking from a smorgasbord. I want a consistent voice, something up to date, that leaves an impression. A book does this for me, an article never does.

A year later

‘You need to understand that it’s not a cut-and-paste job. You need to participate in the conversation and adapt the content for the environment.' This said in Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications' Agenti and Barnes (2009:Kindle page 1159).

As I go through 33 months of postgraduate blog posts (the Masters in Open and Distance Education with the Open University), I stumble upon a great deal that some might call aggregation, but a year or so ago was linking and tagging.

In the module 'Innovations in e-learning' we were give a list of aggregating tools to try. Personally, the curator - and potentially their team, as in the real world of museums and galleries must surely add value above and beyond the mere pulling of content using a set of terms in an off-the-shelf bundle of software?

Over the last week or so since the meet up I have returned to various tools and tried new ones. I've gathered screen grabs and given it some thought - and largely concluded that as a result of this exercise I will be dropping them all in favour of reading a few choice blogs and receiving feeds from them - blogs where an opinion is expressed, you can leave a comment and expect feedback. At the heart of this is socially constructed learning.

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Making up e-words

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 31 Aug 2011, 04:11

Why is it so easy for English speakers to create words if one doesn’t exist.

‘Web-based learning’ or ‘e-learning’ ?

Which do you prefer?

Does it matter so long as we have a good idea of what it means and entails.  ‘e-tyres’, which I saw ten minutes ago on a van, confounds the logic of 'e-mail' or 'e-forum', it is easy to understand its meaning - ‘buy tyres here online’ (rather than ‘electronically enhanced tyres.’) But when was English ever logical?

The ‘Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language’ talks about word-building or ‘compounding’. This is possible we are told because of the way the Old English vocabulary builds up through the process of affixation and compounding.

A prefix I wasn’t aware was one is ‘to’ as on the English prefix we see in ‘today, towards and together.’

One from my home town, so clearly embedded in its Danish roots is ‘gan’ as in ‘go’ which is used on Tyneside as in the Geordie for go home ‘gan yem’.

The readiness to build up words from a number of parts is a feature that has stayed with English ever since.

In English we tend to concertina words, to simply them. If it can be understood in one syllable, then this works best of all.

Most English vocabulary arises by making new words out of old ones – either by adding an affix to previously existing forms, altering their word class, or combining them to produce compounds. Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language. (1995:128)

Common affixes are:

un-
de-
hyper-

I think there has to be something poetic, something logical, simple, immediately understood and that rolls naturally off the tongue. Web-based learning, web-based training, web-based virtual asynchronous communication ‘Web/VAC’ have had their day (a decade even, 1995-2005). We will ‘google’ forever – no need here for e-search (was that ever used?) and 'to yahoo; would not do. Or e-encyclopaedia when we had Britannica Online and now have Wikipedia.

Never hyper-learning, though if we create the holy grail of game-like learning for the current generation of net-savvy, game-savvy, texting, blogging, social-networking kids then ‘hyper-tivity’ could be exactly what would describe their engagement. I watch and listen in to my son’s antics on the X-box, using Skype, online to the world, organising games, while clicking through web-pages for the latest ‘cheat’ and viewing YouTube ‘how to ...’ Training or Learning?

Terms can be made to change their word class without the addition of an affix – a process known as conversion nouns from verbs – verbs from nouns.

‘e’ isn’t a prefix, it’s a compound of ‘electronic and/or enhanced’, that has been abbreviated to ‘e-‘.

Does it matter?

If it is in common usage and it is understood then whether it follows a rule or a former pattern or not means nada. The great thing with English is that anything goes. What counts is whether people adopt a word and if it sticks. and gets into everyday usage.

‘A compound is a unit of vocabulary which consists of more than one lexical stem. The parts are functioning as a single item which has its own meaning and grammar.' (Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language. (1995:120)


REFERENCE

Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language. 1995

 

 

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