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Blogging here for four years

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 6 Feb 2014, 08:26

A year ago OU Computer Services undid my hard work and the tagging of some 2000 posts here was lost - all attempts to get an explanation, or apology or a fix have failed. This is what I find the OU can do - silence when it suits them. No one will answer because to apologise would be to admit fault. Having invested so much time in what is a record, learning journal and eportfolio it is galling. At least I was well down the line of cutting and pasting it all into an external blog, but this still does not change the fact that I was using the blog to aggregate themes and ideas which they destroyed. A blog that we are encouraged to use and we have access to for three further years beyond graduation. I am a student first, but also a customer who had no forked out £x,000 to be here. If I press hard enough I will get some legalease that will point out that the OU can do as they please.

So much for the power of the digital - I should have hand written it all into notebooks.

Four years ago I decided to complete a learning journey I started in 2001 - redundancy and the loss of a parent tripped me up that time. Over the last four years I have lost a second parent, a mother in law and changed jobs twice, though I am yet to fulfil the promise that I thought eLearning offered. There is no doubt that graduating in 2003 rather than 2013 would have made me stand out whereas now I am just one of many. Then to have the MAODE still requires a subject specialism ...

There is a risk that my being here could continue as MSc and PhD look attractive as does Higher Education rather than L&D. I will blog, on my terms, in WordPress and keep a presence here as long as I am doing an OU module - which currently stretches to my seventh.

Something I never contemplated and will challenge me for another five months is to find myself a masters student of three universities - Open, Birmingham and Brookes. You could say that I have caught this learning bug, or am reverting to type - an insatiable curiosity that no book or TV programme alone can satisfy. There is an urge to do a further MA in Environmental Change when an MA in First World War studies ends in 2015. To what end? The intention has always been to apply my learning rather than to wallow in it, for the experience to be a catalyst for output.

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Too busy to blog?

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Too busy to reflect or to remember? Your brain is like Gouda - a blog can fill in some of the holes. 

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Four Years Blogging here

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014, 13:02

It just dawned on me that I am two weeks short of blogging here for four years. Recently, and for this module in particular, my blogging has greatly diminished. This is a shame as it is an invaluable resource for me: it is an open eportfolio where notes and activities from the modules, usually with adequate referencing, allows me to search for and quickly make fully cited points in assignment. 

Two parents have died over this time: my mother and my mother-in-law. My step-father was within hours of passing away but somehow survived pneumonia and is out of intensive care and feelingsorry for himself that he is still around sad

Teens are passing through A' Levels and GCSEs.

Interviews to undertake PhD research just fell short last year. The applications start going in again this week though in truth and out of necessity, as had always been the plan, the corporate world of learning and development (L&D) beckons me back.

My step brother found my grandfather's ashes in the bottom of an old cupboard in the barn. I have him with me. The temptation is to chat with him about all that I am coming to understand about the First World War in which in served first as a machine gunner, then in RFC/RAF as a flight cadet and fighter pilot. Having left school at 14 to work his education never had the chance to develop as he would have liked. I'll fill him in. He'd be fascinated to know why the things that happened happened that way: the Somme and Paschendaele in particular. He'd have an iPod too. The technological advances would have thrilled him - this from a boy who remebered the first car and going to an exhibition of flying to see an aeroplane.

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Blogging as an acdemic and scholarly acitivty

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014, 13:00

What's going on in there? How do bloggers react, respond and coalesce?

Anjewierden, A. (2006) Understanding Weblog Communities Through Digital Traces: A Framework, a Tool and an Example.

My own interest was sparked by an article in the Washington Post on Ellen Levy who had spent 1998 keeping a journal and putting it online.

Druckerman, P (1999) Ellen Levy Has Got The Write Project For the Internet Age --- It's a Year of Scribbling Down Almost Everything; Ah, Yes, It Was a Raisin Bagel

This ‘user generated content’ has value to its author and the community that reads it. This is a key outcome of open, collaborative and connected learning, where the blogger is a ‘produser’.

Efimova, Lilia (2008) Bloggers and 'produsers'

Having blogged consistently since this period it is interesting to understand that as it encroached upon student and academic practice, as it was impinging on journalism, that it was considered disruptive.

Fiedler, S. (2004) Introducing disruptive technologies for learning: Personal Webpublishing and Weblogs, Part I

While my passion felt like a niche practice it has been of value to see blogging recognised.

Kaiser, S. (2007) Weblog-technology as a trigger to elicit passion for knowledge 

Why MAODE students blog (Kerewella et al, 2009) depends on their perceptions of, and for:

  • an audience
  • community
  • the utility of and need for comments
  • presentational style of the blog content
  • overarching factors related to the technological context
  • the pedagogical context of the course 

Kerawalla, L, Minocha, S, Kirkup, G, & Conole, G  (2009) An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging in higher education

Knowing the practice to be of value personally as part of a number of specialist groups made research on blogs as wikis, Sauer (2005) or as e-portfolios of interest.

Sauer, Igor M. (2005) “ Blogs” and“ Wikis” Are Valuable Software Tools for Communication Within Research Groups

As Smolkin (2007) points out it is about creating or finding and then sharing your niche - in this case the niche being personal stories of participants, witnesses and combatants in the First World War.

Smolkin, Rachel (2007) Finding a Niche. (cover story)

This is a key outcome of open, collaborative and connected learning, where the blogger is a ‘produser’. Efimova (2008) It has taken over a decade, but blogging is now considered to be a valid, scholarl acitivity. Weller (2012).

Weller, Martin (2012) The virtues of blogging as scholarly activity

 Bishop, D. (2013) ‘Blogging as post-publication peer review: reasonable or unfair?’ LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog. 21 March.

Available at:http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/

impactofsocialsciences/ 2013/ 04/ 15/ blogging-as-post-publication-peer-review-reasonable-or-unfair/

 

 

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H818 Activity 1.1 Reflection on how collaboration works and fails

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 4 Dec 2014, 07:47

Collaboration amongst strangers is a tricky one. I've seen it work and I've seen it fail.

either

1) It requires scaffolding in the form of rules, or guidelines, mentor or leaders, and incintives in the form of punishments and rewards i.e. the risk of failure as well as recognition and some kind of reward (which might be a qualification, a monetary award, or part of a completed artefact, or pleasure of participation).

2) It requires people with an obsessive common interest; I don't believe having a common interest is enough. There needs to be an obsession, which means that the level of expertise can be mixed, indeed, thinking of the John Seely Brown concept of 'learning from the periphery' this might be best as invariably the natural human response IS to support those on the edge. The classic example is the young and eager student or junior employee keen to learn from his or her elders.

My concern with the role of collaboration in a module on e-learning is that the above don't fully apply. We are not GCSE or A'Level students. Most are MA ODE students who need this towards their MA, but I'll stick my head out and say the pass mark is, in my opinion, too low. I believe that it matters to be paying for it out of your own pocket or to have a commercil sponor expecting results. I know that some working for the OU do these modules almost on a whim because they are free and they do the minimum to pass - I've seen this on various courses,  seen it myself and have had it corroberated by other students. Anyone who is along for the ride in a module that relieson collaboration is a weak link - of course plenty of OU people do take seriously, but some don't and no line manger is looking over thre shoulder. At Carnegi Melon they ran an MA course where students gave each other, on a rolling basis, a mark for collaboration - those with the lowest mark risked failing that module. In fairness some people are not born collaborators, whereas others go out of their way to be a participant, potenially at the expensive of other parts of their studies.

To my tutor group I've posted too long a piece on a collaborative exercise I have been doing on and off for the best part of twenty years - I'm researching and writing my grandfather's memoir from the First World War. The Internet has exposed me (in a good way) to several sleuths.

I can however give an example of the learning design MOOC earlier this year that whilst having a good deal of scaffolding and human support relied on strangers each coming up with project ideas then joining forces to complete one. In a rush of activity, with some big name e-learning folk and too much formal theorizing, reading and activities to groups formed. I had no takers and joined a group of three that became five, but very quickythis became two of us ... we gamefully pressed on but at some stage felt we were missing out on the real action so eventualy pulled out as active participants.

Then there is a two week exercise in a subgroup of an MA ODE module where circumstances brought a magic bunch of strangers together - this has proved to be the exception rather than the rule.

Amateur dramatics, even volunteer cricket, to take a couple of examples, work because the show is the collective reward. We have bonfire societies here in Lewes that rely on volunteers too - though the complaint will be that it is always the same handful of people who do everything. In a work or academic setting should everyone be rewarded and recognised in the same way? It depends very much on a group dynamic or bond, a common sentiment that comes from working together in the flesh.

I believe that the First World War, now that I am an active member of a society and studying it on a formal course, is largelly of the type 2 participant. We are 'trainsporters' in that nerdy, glazed eye way - with specialists who know everything about uniforms, or tunnelling, or submarines, or dental decay on the Western Front, or a particular general, or like me - a grandfather, or greatgrandfather who was a combatant.

My worry about e-learning as a collaborative arena is that it is the process, so we are a cookery or gardening club. However, there is significant variation in each of these - vegetarian cooks, cupcake bake off specialists and Heston Blomenfal wannabes - amongst the gardens their are PhD research students growing dwark barley and weekenders who've keep an allotment. Whilst we have interst and the module to sustain us, only in a conort of 1000 or more would for some, there be enough likeminds to form a team.

I'm off to the School of Communication Arts in London. It operates from a workshop like open studio. Students are put into pairs to work. There is collaboration here between an art director (visualiser) and copywriter (words). Whether students are forever looking each other's shoulders when they are working on a competitive brief is another matter. I've noticed how one creative brief given to the whole studio has now become three. What is more, the 'collaboration' as such, comes from a couple ofcfull time tutors, principal and then a 'mentors' who go in as a sounding board cum catalyst cum different voice or perspective. What these people are doing is 'creative problem solving'.

Why, historically, does one band stay together while another falls apart? Collaboration is a tricky business - and maybe only in a business setting between employer and employee, or between contractor and client can it be sustained?

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Why blog?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 17:02

 Fig. 1. This is the cover page of Lawrence Lessig's book 'Remix: making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy' (2008)

I cannot currently show it as the HTLM functionality of this blog platform cannot be used from an iPad any more. 

'The value of blogs is not that I'm likely to find a comment that surpasses the very best of the New York Times. I'm not. But that's not the point. Blogs are valuable becuase they give millions the opportunity to express their ideas in writing. And with a practice of writing comes a certain important integrity. A culture filled with bloggers thinks differently about politics or public affairs, if only because more have been forced through the discipline of showing in writing why A leads to B'. Lawrence Lessig (2008:92-93)

There are multiple reasons to blog, and several of these don't require you to post 'to the world'. Posting for yourself as a record is good, and posting to a tight group OF YOUR OWN MAKING works too - i.e. those to whom you feel a natural affinity rather than the forced, coraled group of students in a tutor group. 

I'll revisit the mindmap on blogging that I produced a while ago and refresh it. 

I, naturally, recommend it. Though keeping your reflections in a notebook might be less distracting and less liable to cause offence of embarrassment.

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Has much changed here?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 19 Sep 2013, 12:57

I'm delighted to say the the transformation is an enhancement and the improvements are seamless without any loss of what we had before ... a 'bulletin-board-cum-blog-thingey'. My previous post suggested I might have found a bolt-hole without Internet. It hasn't lasted.

I will get Internet access down the road (I had wanted a garden office but this desire became an insummountable barrier at home).

All that it requires from me is something I lack - self-discipline NOT to get distracted by email, which includes updated postings from forums and the likes of Linkedin (let alone a gaggle of family members on Facebook). AOL is the worst as I innocently go to check email and find 20 minutes later I am still clicking through the inviting gobbets of news and sensation that is offered. 

I had hoped to behave like the smoker trying to give up - I'll only smoke other people's fags. A very, very, very long time ago ... I can honestly say I have never smoked a cigarette since I turned 20.

Back to the Internet. Like Television.

Or diet. We are living in an age where self-control is vital. Having not had a TV for several months I was eventually pushed to buy one. Courtesy of Which? we now have a TV so Smart that it probably tells my brother in South Africa who is watching what .... we can Skype sofa to sofa. I just wonder if our antics could be recorded and posted on YouTube? Not my doing but any of the teenagers with the wherewithal just hit a record button somewhere.

In all this hi-tech I DO have a tool I'd recommend to anyone.

I've invested in an hour-glass. In runs for 30 minutes. While that sand is running all I may do is read and take notes. This might be an eBook, or a printed book, either way they are on a bookstand. I take notes, fountain pen to lined paper. What could be easier? The left hand may highlight or bookmark and turn a page, while the right writes?

This works as the filtering process of the knowledge that I am reading and want to retain needs to go through several steps in any case. The handwritten notes will be reduced again as I go through, typing up the ideas that have some resonance for me.

My current task has been 'How Europe went to war in 1914' by Christopher Clark.

I doubt my second thorough read will be the last. From notes I will start posting blogs and going into related social platforms to share and develop thoughts and in so doing be corrected while firming up my own views. I need this social interaction, to join the discussion if not the debate.

Meanwhile I will revisit Martin Weller's book on Digital Scholarship.

However swift the age of the Internet may be he suggests it will still take a person ten years to achieve the 'scholar' level ... whereas John Seely Brown recently reckoned this was now down to five years. i.e. through undergraduate and postgraduate levels and popping out the other end with a PhD in five years.

DIdn't an 18 year old who was home schooled just get called to the Bar?

She graduated with a law degree while contemporaries did A' Levels and finished High School and then did a year of pupillage I suppose.

The intellectual 'have's' of the future will, by one means of another, achieve degree status at this age. The Internet permits it.

School is far, far, far, far, far too lax.

It tends to the median if not the mediocre. Long ago it found a way to process kids as a genderless yeargroup instead of treading each student as an individual ... so let them skip a year, let them stay back a year ... allow them to expand and push subjects that appeal to them.

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The Final Act - the Old OU Blog Party Game

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Will you be the last one to post here before the OU student blog cum bulletin board is transmogrified into a blog cum social networking cum e-portfolio thingey-me-jig?
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All change!!!!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 6 Sep 2013, 12:15

"The personal blog system is going to be migrated from the old learning system on Monday 9 September. In order to migrate the personal blogs with their content, the system will be made read-only on the 9 September. The blog contents will then be transferred to the new system, which benefits from improved blog functionality. This is a large task and we expect the new personal blogs to be available from Thursday 12 September. As part of the migration, there will be redirects from the old blogs to the new ones and the personal blog link on StudentHome will be updated".

I BELIEVE the OU are using the WordPress Open Platform.

I wish all the team during the migration the best and will support it every inch of the way - if students (I am one, still) can use and share with ease a blog platform their capacity for 'social learning' will be hugely improved. By this I simply mean having the opportunity to share your ideas with fellow idiots until you figure out what is really going on and best of all the input and support of online friends and some brilliant minds who put your problem in such a way that it suddenly makes sense.

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Personal Learning Environment - 2013

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Aug 2013, 08:05

photo%2520%25282%2529.JPG

FIG.1. Projected onto the sitting room wall

The migration between kit and now the use of multiple devices tells its own story - that and my enhanced levels of digital literacies. And dependency on my OU blog??? I am too used to starting here then cutting and pasting the HTML results into WordPress. This platform works because it is kept simple. OK, you have to get your head around a few basics (which are good for any blogging platform), but the thing is stable and robust - it hasn't changed much in three years and it is always there.

Either I'll wean myself off it or I'll plugin to another module of course and be here for another decade. You get used to a thing - especially when it works. Calls to other institutions regarding their VLE have left me cold - some still old school box of books and turn up for an all day Saturday face-to-face once a month as your only tutor and peer group contact.

From a clapped out Mac Book that died and a Psion I moved on to a borrowed PC laptop ... and scrounging computer access around the home. Only recently I got a Mac Mini - for the previous 18 months I've been fine on an iPad with moments on my wife's PC to view and print off DOCX.

The Mac Mini gets what ever screen my teenage son leaves me with - he tends to snaffle away any new screen I get, just swaps them over. I may take me days to realise something is afoot.

And then there is the above - projected onto a wall with me working on a wifi keyboard and touchpad. It changes things. Next to this screen there is a large whiteboard. I get up and doodle.

As for the sitting room? Long gone. Cries for a TV to bring the family together fall on deaf ears. Why would any of us gather to watch ONE version of an event when we can each take or leave our news, or films, or anything else as we please on a bigger or smaller screen in various other rooms and cubbyholes around the house?

An iPad mini will replicate when I had a decade ago with a Psion, something handheld, light and discrete that I can tap on whenever I wish and wherever I am.

'The Private Life of the Brain' Susan Greenfield is my current highly recommended read. It is certain to take you off on a tangent from whatever you are studying, but if offers a layperson's view of the inner workings of the brain.

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H809 TMA03 Away

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 5 Jun 2014, 05:29

How often have I written that?

This is almost certainly the last. At least for the time-being. The MA ODE is in the bag and this module, the bonus track of my investigation into e-learning. Just the EMA to go - not just a research proposal, but a PhD research proposal which will be the basis of my seeking to undertake doctoral research in 2014.

If I care to I have some 25 entries for this blog too - rather than using the blog as an e-portfolio though I am finding I am loading everything into and working from Google Docs while drawing from a gallery of albums containing thousands of e-learning related images and screen grabs ... around 1600 in fact.

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H809 Activity 6.2: Effects of audience on research (1 hour)

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Activity 6.2: Effects of audience on research (1 hour)

In the light of Activity 6.1, look again at the research question you chose for TMA01.

  • What kinds of audience were you assuming for the research findings?
  • How might this research question, and/or the methods you chose, be different for different audiences?

Post your thoughts in your tutor group discussion forum.

REPLY

The suggestion is that I am writing to a community of fellow researchers working towards the 'cutting edge' of e-learning in health care, in this instance to support patients and improve patient outcomes, through drawing on literature where various interventions have been successful with doctors.

If written for potential funders then, like the elevator pitch' for a movie script then my inclination would be to spice it up, certainly to push what is unique harder, but also to flag up those few papers that suggest that research of this nature is now required as the next step. i.e. to sell the logical progression of building on what has gone before, using my own experience and skills to say to funders 'you would be backing a safe pair of hands'.

The audience none of the papers talk about are the participants themselves. This is where an inevitable shift is occurring as patients chose to be better informed and in one piece of research I was reading the interviews were compromised as earlier interviewees had posted the questions and their responses online. Currently, from what I have read, the general public are reached via the press. In future, not just through books, radio and TV appearances, but also in blogs and other social media, academics will find they have an audience that includes students (not just their own), and other interested parties.

Just as a conference paper can lead to writing an article for a journal in future there are likely to be other audiences to be written for.

Rather than tailoring niche research for different audiences, as a hypothetical exercise I have presumed the funding would permit a broad approach that would generate material that would, edited and written and expressed in an appropriate way, suit a variety of audiences. Under Creative Commons some content might be offered to a community on the Internet to mash-up, share, curate on other platforms and so on - if the Social Media purpose is to 'spread the word' let those who are best at doing it do it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Moving on ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013, 11:18

DSC02608.JPG

Here in Lewes we shut the town centre down for a march as often as we can.

It all stems from 5th November. We had only been here a couple of months and we were enrolled in a Bonfire Society. That was 13 years ago.

The town also has a Moving on parade for all primary schools in the district, not just the town, but from outlying villages. The town centre is closed to traffic and kids, dressed up, carrying banners and whatnot on a theme, march through town and end it with a party in the Paddock - a large field, formerly part of the earthworks around the 11th century Lewes Castle.

DSC06296.JPG

It helps to make an occasion of something when we move on. We're rather good at it:

  • Christenings
  • Marriage
  • Death
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Graduation

I'm down for Brighton or will try to enroll in Versailles for my graduation. I skipped my first nearly three decades ago. I just didn't feel like moving on. I hadn't felt I'd had an education to justify the fuss. My fault, not theirs. I put in the hours and came out with an OK degree but that isn't why I'll remember my undergraduate years.

I should mark moving on, and away from this blog. It logs, day by day, and in the background countless pages of hidden notes. It has carried me through the Masters in Open & Distance Education.

H809, my bonus track, will mark the end.

For this reason I am migrating most of the content and the journey it records to an external blog.

My Mind Bursts

From time to time I'll post a note at the bottom of the page to say this is where it'll be from June.

My moving on.

By May, I'll also know if the next few years have been set up. We'll see. I may even be back at the OU in some capacity. I rather

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H809: A question of blogging

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 20 Oct 2014, 12:20

Fig.1. Why blog?

A) What is the research trying to find out; what questions is it trying to answer?

B) How will the proposed research answer the questions?

C) Why is this research worth doing? Punch (2006:05/60)

My interest and participation in blogging is obvious. I am exploring other subjects to research, but inevitably come back to this. There are fields where blogging works, and others where it does not.

Do you think that students who keep a blog learn more?

Retain more? And so get more from their undergraduate studies?

Are certain subjects more appropriate for this where writing and digital literacies are being developed?

Such as:

  • journalism,
  • corporate communications,
  • advertising (social media and copywriting)
  • creative writing and even postgraduate research?

Blogs also mean generating, collecting and curating images and video

What role do these play in personal and professional writing?
What if it is made compulsary, a graded component of all or part of a module you are taking?

What about those in the visual arts such as designers and art directors, who create concept boards for development purposes, or for architects and fashion designers, as well as  in the performing arts such as actors and directors?

Might those following vocational subjects such as medicine or law set in train a way to enhance a life of learning?

Could blogs be peer graded successfully?

What benefits do you get from reading or contributing to another persons blog?

Is it less a blog and more of a publication when others contribute and the 'blog' carries advertising and is available to read only through subscription?

What do we learn by thinking of the origins of blogging as keeping a diary, log or journal, such as the private diary, journey log in a yacht, or writers journal?

Is it just electronic paper?

'Tell the reader what QQ the researcher is trying to answer, or what questions will initiate the inquiry in an unfolding study.' Punch (2006: 65)

Another way to gather your thoughts and ideas?

When is a blog an e- portfolio? What does it reveal about the person if the blog is shared?

Are like-minds attracted to each other?

What are the copyright and other legal issues? 

How honest or revealing should one be? Are the concerns about exposure and disclosure valid?

It's not what you remember about yourself that is of concern, but what you remember about other people. What they did, who they were with ...

When does truth turn into fiction and does it matter if the reader cannot tell and isn't told?

What about plagiarism?

What is the perspective behind the research?

What is the role of theory?

What is the prestructured versus unfolding research?

What is the relevant literature?

Will the study be quantitative, qualitative or both? Punch (2006:60)

'The proposal should indicate the significance of the proposed study. Synonyms for 'significance' here might be justification, importance, contribution or intended outcomes of the study.' Punch (2006: 68)

REFERENCE

Blogging

From Wikipeadia

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How to blog if you'e never done it before

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Set an easy goal - post every day for a week. Two sentences will do. For every post go and read and comment on someone else's blog. Try and stick to the same time every day, say as the kettle boils first thing in the morning. Where you can stick up a picture first - see David Ogilvy on advertising, you've barely got one chance to get people's attention. Use Jakob Nielsen for suggestions on web usability.
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Links to the blog

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I thought I'd sort these out for the first time in three years.

An afternoon of clicking, and reviewing I have got through 45 links. I've just made the mistake of counting them all. 235 or something. Still if, I can get this down to 60 it'll be more manageable and I'll be more inclined to follow ... which is half the point of blogging. You write, but aslo read and comment on other's stuff.

 

 

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H809 : Can blogging be worthy of academic study?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 2 Apr 2013, 12:07

I did a search in my own blog knowing that somewhere I cited an academic who described blogging as 'whatever you can do on electronic paper'.

Chatting about this at dinner my 14 year old son trumped my conversation with his mother as I tried to define a blog and what can go into one with one word 'anything'.

For me there has been a slow shift from text (the weblog-cum-dairy journal thingey), to adding pictures (which have become photo / image galleries, photostreams of Flickr and concept boards of Pinterest), to adding video ... to adding 'anything' - apps, interactivity, grabs, mashups, music ...

My starting place is here.

This 'eportofolio, writers journal, aggregating, dumping ground, place for reflection and course work'.

You see, is it a blog at all? This platform, I'm glad, has its design roots in a Bulletin board.

The limitations of our OU Student Blog platform works in its favour.

I can only put in two search terms. In Google I might write a sentence and get a million links, in my wordpress blog it might offer have the contents.

Less is more.

Here I search 'blog paper' and get 112 posts that contain both words.

I'll spin through these an add a unique tag. My starting place.

But to study blogging would be like researching the flotsam and jetsam that floats across our oceans - after a tsunami.

RESEARCH

Starting with a book published in 2006 'Use of Blogs' I want to read a paper 'Bloggers vs. Journalists' published in 2005. A search finds richer, more up to date content. Do I even bother with this first paper? (ironic that we even call them papers).

I can't read everything so how do I select?

  • Toggle through the abstract, check out the authors, see where else such and such a paper has been cited.
  • Prioritise.
  • Use RefWorks rather than my habit to date of downloading papers that MIGHT be of interest.

Whilst storage space is so inexpensive it is virtually free there is no need to clutter my harddrive, dropbox or Google Docs space.

Which makes me think of one of my other favourite metaphors - kicking autumn leaves into the breeze. That or drowning in info overload, or as the Robert de Nero character in Brazil, Archibald 'Harry' Tuttle, who vanishes in a pile of discared paper ... my mind wanders. We do. It does.

I stumble in the OU Library as I find I am offered everything under the sun. I am used to being offered academic papers only. So far all I'm getting are scanned images of articles in newsapers on blogging. All feels very inside out.

Where's the 'turn off the printed stuff' button?

I fear that just as I have never desired to be a journalist, prefering the free form of your own diary, letters, and of course blogging and forums online, I will struggle to write within the parameters of an academic paper. I'm managing assignment here, so I guess I'm learning to split the two. A useful lesson to have learnt.

Serendipity

Is this a research methodology?

I am looking at a book on bloggin, 'Use of Blogs' (Bruns & Jacobs, 2006). I have it open on p.31 Notes (i.e. references) for the chapter Journalists and News Bloggers.

As I pick through these articles, papers and reviews written between 2002 and 2005 I find several of the authors, a decade on, are big names in the Journalism/Blogger debate. It's as if I am looking at a tray of seedlings.

It strikes me as easier to start in 2006 with 27 starting points when the field of debate was narrow, rather than coming in from 2013 and finding myself parachuting into a mature Amazonian jungle of mixed up printed and digital, journalism and blog content.

Courtesy of the OU Library and RefWorks I have nailed this article after a decade of searching:

Druckerman, P (1999) Ellen Levy Has Got The Write Project For the Internet Age --- It's a Year of Scribbling Down Almost Everything; Ah, Yes, It Was a Raisin Bagel, New York, N.Y., United States, New York, N.Y.

Reading this around 23rd /24th September 1999 prompted me to start blogging

Then I'd been reading blogs for a few months but had a mental block with uploading HTML files and then along came the first 'ready made' DIY blogging platforms.

The last 12 years makes amusing reading - particularly the battle between journalists and bloggers. And who has won? Is there a difference anymore? Journalists blog and bloggers are journalists and entire newspapers are more blog-like from The Huffington Post to the FT ... which within three years will close all its print operations.

To be used in learning and to be a genre to study blogging needs to be part of formative assessment

A blog therefore becomes 'an active demonstration of learning' with cumulative feedback. I've only received ONE Tutor comment in my OU blog and that was to say why was I blogging and not getting on with my TMA. This person had their head so stuffed inside primary school education of the 1960s it made me feel like tossing my cap in the air.

Why MAODE students blog (Kerewella et al, 2009) depends on their perceptions of, and for:

  1. an audience
  2. community
  3. the utility of and need for comments
  4. presentational style of the blog content
  5. overarching factors related to the technological context
  6. the pedagogical context of the course

Cited x30

REFERENCES

'Bloggers vs. journalist: The next 100 year War?' 2011, Public Relations Tactics, 18, 4, p. 17, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 February 2013.

Bruns, A. Jacobs, J. (2006) Use of Blogs.

Kerawalla, L, Minocha, S, Kirkup, G, & Conole, G (2009) 'An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging in higher education', Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 25, 1, pp. 31-42, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 February 2013.

Rosen, J. (2007) 'Web Users Open the Gates', Washington Post, The, n.d., UK & Ireland Reference Centre, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 February 2013.

 

 

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It’s easy to blog, so more should do it.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Nov 2013, 11:20
  • low-threshold creation of entries
  • a flexible and personally meaningful way to organise and maintain them
  • opportunities to retrieve, reuse and analyse blog content
  • opportunities to engage with others.
  • fitted in while working on something else
  • providing a way to keep abreast of others ideas
  • capturing ones’ own emergent insights
  • clarifying matters for a public
  • over time ideas on a topic accumulate and connections between them become clearer.
  • feedback from readers turns blogging into a sense-making practice
  • eventually an ideas is ‘ripe’ and ready to become part of a specific task.

Efimova (2008. p. 208)

But how many do it? Ask around in your tutor group. I doubt the figure gets above 5% unless it is compulsary and then I doubt that more than 50% post more than three times during the course of module - a minimum requirement.

REFERENCE

Efimova, L. (2009) Passion at work: blogging practices of knowledge workers. Novay PhD
Research Series 2009 (www.novay.nl.dissertations)

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Three years blogging here

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 6 Feb 2013, 22:09

Day%25252520One%25252520Post%25252520One%252525206%25252520FEB%252525202010.JPG

That's every day. Invaluable.

Day one ... of 1097.

So there ought to be 1097 posts ... it looks like it, but is there some way of knowing?

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Lonely Little Cloudworks

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014, 11:29

Lonely Little Clouds

There are all kinds of ways to share your learning online.

Have you tried Cloudworks?

The group I've been wokring in have dubbed them 'lonely little clouds'.

They are.

I takes me a while to spot my own, let alone find anyone else or specific group activity. Navigation is a nightmare. Instead of being tethered to the ground like a kit, every time you enter Cloudworks it is like trying to get a helium filled party baloon to go in a specific direction by blowing on it.

Serendipty built in.

There's no sign in page. To login in I click through pages until something I want to do requires a sign in.

Bonkers

Blog posts can be the same.

Finding the place, space, time and group where there will be some co-ordinated as well as vicarious engagement is not so easy. Getting it to work is a science not an art.

I had experience of listServ in 2001 on the original Masters in Open and Distance Learning.

I rather think it was a bit like this platform. It worked because you could respond in turn.

I also find the right forums in Linkedin work where there are enough people contributing to the degree that an asynchronous conversation becomes quasi synchronous.

There are ways and habits and even an acquired culture of behaviours with all of these.

The most valuable insights I have gained comes from being part of this Open University Student Blogging Platform.

You have a basic blog, but every post from all students is posted in a strict chronology just like the old, threaded ListServ. One hand on top of the other.

Like cards being dealt from a pack.

Your voice gets its chance. Never mind if it isn't picked up. It has its life in your blog too.

It's as if it is getting two chances of being spotted. A third would be to 'stack' an entry in a subject specifc platform too. i.e. common categories creating another distinct list.

This means that anyone who is active has a chance of being read.

There's no obligation. But it impies when you post publically that you are part of a collective enterprise rather than a diarist writing on your space, strictly on your terms.

And it doesn't offer bells and whistles.

Nor should it. This platform offers a way in for the novice. In fact, I recall how I struggled three years ago when I first joined in. Why couldn't it be like WordPress or Blogger or LiveJournal? I'm glad that it isn't, glad that there is a sense of continuity with bulletin boards and the ListServe.

It works.

Both from my own modules and especially the eclectic mix of everyone else here, I have been introduced to a wonderful myriad of possibilities, ideas and perspectives.

There's a very tricky balance that decides if one means of communicating catches on, or even works with a particular group.

I am going to throw myself at the OLDs MOOC afain this afternoon and see if I can see where my head should be.

 

 

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What's the point of a portfolio? Whether online or at home in your desk?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 7 Feb 2013, 06:44

Balancing%2520two%2520faces%2520of%2520eportfolios.JPG

Fig. 1. The two faces of e-portfolios. Barrett (2010).

Think of an e-portfolio in terms of:

  • Workspace
  • Showcase
  • Specific academic fields
  • A Learning journey

Evidence (content):

  • Writing
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Research projects
  • Observations by mentors and peers
  • Reflective thinking

(Butler 2006, p. 2) My view is that these tasks, or affordances, are better and well managed by a blog. During 2010 while in my first year of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) not only were we encouraged to use the OU Student Blog platform, but we were also encourages to use the OU eportfolio MyStuff.

Rubbish%2520Shute.JPG

Fig. 2 Müllschlucker

I dutifully 'dumped' and labelled content, even sorted it in an effort to write assignment using this system. I would liken it to a Müllschlucker - a rubbish shoot in a tall appartment block (Isn't the German for it such a great word?)  - it made grabbing and dumping stuff easy. What was far harder was to sift through this content and create meaning from it  a a later date. It didn't have enough of me about it most of the time to trigger recollections. We got a warning that MyStuff would be killed off - I made a stab at sorting through what I'd put there, but like boxes of papers in a lock-up garage I was more relieved when it was over. I also tried a couple of external e-portfolio services: Peppblepad and Mahara for example. I tripped up quickly as the learning curve was too steep for me - and why duplicate what I was enjoying with WordPress?

I'm about to cook a lasagna, so why give me a pick-axe? Or, I want to make a toasted sandwich so why give me a MagiMix? All tools need to be carefully promoted, demonstrated then used in a sandpit with careful instruction and support. Basic scaffolding in other words.

"The overarching purpose of portfolios is to create a sense of personal ownership over one's accomplishments, because ownership engenders feelings of pride, responsibility, and dedication." (Paris and Ayres, 1994,p.10).

"The e-portfolio is the central _and common point for the student experience. It is a reflection of the student as a person undergoing continuous personal development, _not just a store of evidence." (Rebbeck, 2008) Process (a series of activities) Product (the end result of the process) Blogging and keeping an e-portfolio are synonymous

A web-log, or blog, is an online journal that encourages communication of ideas, and individual entries are usually displayed in reverse-chronological order. Barrett  (2010, p6)

Blogs provide an ideal tool to construct learning journals, as discussed by Crichton and Kopp (2008) from the University of Calgary, ‘... that eJournals help to make ePortfolios more authentic and relevant to the students’ lives.’

Workspace or Working Portfolio. Washington Stage University.

  • Or (digital) shoebox.
  • Presentation Portfolios, showcase or ‘showtime.’

John Dewey (1933) discusses both retrospective (for analysis of data) and prospective modes of reflection (for planning). Beck and Bear (2009) studied reflection in the teaching cycle, comparing how pre-service teachers rated the development of their reflection skills in both formative and summative e-folios. E-portfolio%2520based%2520learning%2520KOLB.JPG Fig. 3. JISC (2008) Effective Practice with E-portfolios. Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) on behalf of JISC. (Page 11)

Reflection is the "heart and soul" of a portfolio, and is essential to brain-based learning (Kolb, 1984; Zull, 2002). Once we have looked back over our body of work, then we have an opportunity to look forward, setting a direction for future learning through goals... reflection in the future tense. Barrett  (2010, p3)

Blogs are organized in reverse chronological order; most showcase portfolios are organized thematically, around a set of learning goals, outcomes or standards. Both levels of reflection and organization are important, and require different strategies for supporting different levels of reflection.

REFERENCE

Barrett, H. (2010). Balancing the Two Faces of ePortfolios. Educação, Formação & Tecnologias, 3(1), 6-14. [Online], Available online: http://eft.educom.pt (Accessed 29 SEPT 2010) http://electronicportfolios.org/balance/ (Accessed 4 NOV 2012) Updated version http://electronicportfolios.org/balance/Balancing2.htm (Accessed 4 NOV 2012)

Beck, R. & Bear, S. (2009) "Teacher's Self-Assessment of Reflection Skills as an Outcome of E-Folios" in Adamy & Milman (2009) Evaluating Electronic Portfolios in Teacher Education. Charlotte: Information Age Publishers.

Beetham, H. (2005) e-Portfolios in post-16 learning in the UK: Developments, issues and opportunities www.jisc.ac.uk/media/ documents/themes/elearning/eportfolioped.pdf Bruce, L (1994) Self-Assessment (Last accessed 4Nov2012) http://ozpk.tripod.com/000000selfassess

Butler, P (2006)  Review of the Literature on Portfolios and Eportfolios.  eCDF ePortfolio Project. Massey University College of Education. Palmerston North, New Zealand Crichton, S. and Kopp, G. (2008) "The Value of eJournals to Support ePortfolio Development for Assessment in Teacher Education." Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York City, March 24–28, 2008.  An updated version of this paper was published by the British Columbia Ministry of Education, Innovations in Education, 2nd Edition, April 2011. Available online (PDF of book); Printable version of revised article: balancingarticle2.pdf

Dewey,J. (1933) How we think. How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. (1971 ed.). Chicago:Regnery

JISC (2008) Effective Practice with E-portfolios. Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) on behalf of JISC.

Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Paris, S., & Ayres, L. (1994). Becoming reflective students and teachers. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association. Rebbeck, G (2008) e-Learning Coordinator, Thanet College, quoted in JISC, 2008). Zull, J. (2002). The Art of Changing the Brain. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing

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They've been at it again

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 26 Aug 2012, 08:44

The virtual swing-doors on my final OU module opened today.

Some time next year I will graduate with a Masters in Open and Distance Education - and unlike my undergraduate degree of many years ago I will feel that I have worked for it, earned it and want the thing - I'll even dress up for my first graduation ceremony.

I have been outside the course system for all of four months so it was with delight though suprise to find thst our virtual learning environment (VLE) has changed yet again. I will have screen grabs somewhere of what it looked like in 2010 and 2011 - I believe I even have seen a screen grab of when I was doing this in 2001.

On the one hand we are getting some 3D shading to lift the 'Learning Schedule' off the page, but we also have a plethora of minute and meaningless icons. I can't figure out what some of them are supposed to represent. Instead of going with recognisable images The OU appear to have tried to go one better but gone one worse - there is no point in replacing or even complementing a title or sub-heading with something that is incomprehensible nor recognised.

A load of stuff has migrated over to the left hand side of the screen - I know that research has long shown that this is where the eye first looks and expects this content to be.

The rest of it I'll discover and re-discover in due course. I prefer the minimalist approach - if it isn't vital don't show it, rather offer options to vall up extras instead of having them on the page regardless. Too many of these links I will NEVER use, except as an exercise in the first week. It's too like entering a grand house knowing that it has far more rooms than you will ever enter and where you risk getting lost.

Less is more.

I am however starting to think that I'll be able to do this almost entirely on an iPad (I don't have my own laptop or desktop and this is cheaper).

An APP for writing on this platform would help - like I have writing in Wordpress.

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This is the tea party of blog platforms, the Wild West is long gone.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 08:38

Going for 250,000 views before graduation. At 1000 views a week and my final module coming up why not. But why? It is'nt a qualitative thing. And I'm never about to post completed assignments. I am, as we alll become online, very aware of the context. This is no different to what we do anywhere, we behave accordingly. 12 years ago online was the Wild West.

 

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Why academics should blog. Matin Weller (from his blog)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Jun 2012, 15:06

The%2520Digital%2520Scholar%2520Mind%2520Map.png

Professor Martin Weller's BLOG

'In terms of intellectual fulfilment, creativity, networking, impact, productivity, and overall benefit to my scholarly life, blogging wins hands down. I have written books, produced online courses, led research efforts, and directed a number of university projects. While these have all been fulfilling, blogging tops the list because of its room for experimentation and potential to connect to timely intelligent debate. That keeps blogging at the top of the heap'.

Martin Weller (2011)

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On keeping a dairy, a record, a blog, a journal.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 13 Jun 2012, 17:54

DSC04813.JPG

Three decades on I can have a laugh online reminding friends and family what we were up to in our early teens.

I stopped keeping a diary when I started to blog in 1999; when you aren't recording events in private you become a reporter. I keep blogs with a focus: e-learning, swimming or the First World War. The diary is now at best 'Blip Photo', a picture a day.

Probably the visual record will be a far better way to recall people and events, people in particular.

Had I a camera strung around my neck in the 1970s and 1980s and could afford the film and printing costs what kind of record might I have?

In conversation with people I new in the 1970s it is staggering what we are starting to recall, the detail of people, food, smells, activities and feelings. As an educator I wonder what we can recall from the classroom, playing fields or swimming pool?

Or is education through secondary, even tertiary levels, 'learning to learn'?

Personally, I find a 'Learning Journal' an indispensable support to my scatter-brain. Nothing sticks unless I 'engage' through writing, sharing, discussing. I will read a book and not have a clue what it was about unless

I also listed the books I read, and the albums I purchased.

Even the posters I put up on the wall.

Do I want to think back to lesson on Silas Marner?

On the Tolpuddle Martyrs. 'Abba's Greatest Hits?'

Why not?

Bowie posters on the wall.

Shakespeare for sure.

School and the RSC Tour to the Newcastle Theatre Royal created in me a love for Shakespeare.

A few taps on my cerebellum and I can recite Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet.

There are lessons worth remembering though.

And as you focus, particularly on sciences or law and medicine at tertiary level, let alone everything you are "required" to learn in the workplace this is stuff you need to engage with.

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