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Where is a blog is a blog, an e-portfolio, a wiki and forum? Right here!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:58

The Open University provide an OU Student Blog platform, which you are required to use for some modules to build up reflective practice, they also provide a portfolio called MyStuff in which to dump stuff.

As portfolios either system can be used to aggregate content that can be shared, offered with restricted access or kept private.

I have been on the Masters in Open & Distance Education for two years, we have to give blogs, potfolios, wikis and other tools a go.

My conclusion, shared amongst fellow students, is that the 'modern' blog platform, such as Wordpress offers all of this, as in a wonderfully simple, bulletin board kind of way the OU's own blog offering.

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What academics and authoritative authors have to say about blogging

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Birds of a Feather: How personality influences blog writing and reading. (2010) Jami Li and Mark Chignell. Science Direct. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 68 (2010) 589-602

Top 10 Most Influential eLearning Bloggers

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Why blog? A lecturer's perspective

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 5 Jun 2014, 05:28

Why blog? The lecturer's story

Dr Matthew Ashton's blog

Six months updating it roughly once a day.  Around the 500 word mark range from topical pieces to reviews and commentary.

WHY?

A rewarding experience

New ways of teaching learning student engagement

A wide range of political topics every week.  Students don’t fully engage with the wider subject area. An excellent knowledge of contemporary politics but less aware of events from before 1989.

Friday called “Great political mistakes” drip feeding them knowledge.

Saturday on “Political advertising”  helps raise awareness amongst students of political advertising techniques and campaigns and how they’ve changed over time. A way of engaging with student learning. 

By writing reviews of political films and books I can point students towards interesting ideas and resources. 

Encouraging writing and research

500 words acts as a warm  up exercise  A way of stockpiling material. Prepared

New ways of sharing ideas and research findings

VS. The traditional dissemination of research through books and journals can take years.

It can act as an unofficial means of peer review.

Engaging with people outside the academic

Share ideas and dialogue with people from a range of countries and backgrounds.

For instance I’ve had some  illuminating conversations with an American about Native American rights in the media and how they relate to the US Constitution. 

In the same way people have pointed me towards books and documentaries that I wasn’t aware of that I’ve subsequently shared with my students.

Raising your academic profile

It is a source of material for the media. I’ve written several blog posts that have subsequently been used by the press as newspaper articles or led to me being interviewed on the radio. This is useful in terms of both raising my own profile and promoting the work done by the university. 

On one recent occasion the press office contacted me to let me know that a blog article I’d written on Mubarak’s options in Egypt had appeared in a newspaper in Tanzania. 

On a more local level I wrote an article based on my recent research on the coverage of female sports that was featured in the Nottingham Post newspaper.

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How to use your blog for Tutor Marked Assignments

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 May 2014, 06:58

This is my approach, it works for me.

Everything goes in here: notes from what I read or come across, sometimes so I didn't lose track of them, course related comments I post on people's blogs too.

A good deal of this remains hidden (private), however I will sometimes 'expose' notes and cryptic thoughts in case someone can make sense of it for me, or chivvy me along to construct some rounded thoughts and sentences with the stuff.

There's some random stuff too.

Tagging matters immensely.

'Search' leaves it to chance, which might help you serendipitously to come across a thought or note you had, but is scrappy and can be time wasting, rather be tag happy and have a system.

Everything gets the module reference, if there is an activity reference this is added as a single word such as 'h807activity3.4' or some such so that it can be searched for and found with ease.

Come TMA time I revisit all the content from that block and start adding the tag, for example, 'h807tma2', or as I'm currently doing 'b822tma3'.

Gathered in one search list I then go through each relevant post refining my thinking.

At some stage I may add further tags to identify arguments or to give it a chronology if that isn't apparent. I then cut and paste to a word document.

I MAY assemble in PowerPoint simply to help shuffle ideas around.

A system?

Hardly. Each to their own. I panic like anyone else over an assignment but know the stuff is here and having done the reading and activities and having shared my thinking and had this coloured and shaped by others that I ought to be able to assemble a cogent case.


Tags are strategic, Search is more random.

I switch between the two when revisiting note

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Tips on blogging

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 04:28

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1) Keep it niche

You come to trust a person to have something to say about 'x' rather than the entire alphabet.

2) Keep it fresh

Depending on your ambitions update twice a day Yes, you have to have a point of view, no you don't have to make the posting public but you need to build a 'body of work'. 250 words will do, a picture and comment and from time to time a link and snip from something you have stumbled upon.

3) Keep it authentic

There's a light, conversational style that i think of as 'BJ' (Blog Jocky).

4) Read and comment on blogs you like

Reciprocity is vital, there is a virtuous circle of being read and contributing to other people's blogs. Vary the pace and approach. It works to include photos and video, though you risk setting yourself too great a task if you imagine you can generate or load a video clip every time.

5) Watch the stats

You can understand what makes your blog tick, what keeps it vibrant. It is motivating to know you are being read.

6) Promote

Put your content in front of those who are most likely to find it of interest or value by sharing it with specific Linkedin groups and by getting it out on Twitter as part of pertinent conversations.

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Enter@random

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It's the button I want here. One for my blog, another for everyone else. I believe in serendipity over Google.
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Blog Analytics

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 26 Dec 2020, 10:06

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Average page views by month. Why not by week? Why not the daily figure. And how does viewing change during the day? (It's fairly obvious to get a fraction overnight compared to late afternoon and evenings when OU folk are online). As my tutor says repeatedly when it comes to marking a TMA he does not wanting to be asking himself 'so what?'

In WordPress you have a myriad of ways of understanding what is being read, how often and by whom. You know where people have come from, the search terms used and even what takes them away from your pages. And people leave comments, or subscribe or like.

Here you get a current no. of page views. Nothing else. No indication of which pages are being read.

 

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This makes fascinating viewing.

The rhythm in a Tutor Group session on the MAODE. I doubt other courses get a fraction of this kind of activity. I also know tutor groups in H800 that are moribund by comparison, while others still get double the activity. It's down to the tutor, as well as the mix and ambition of the participants. It helps that many are 'digital residents' too, folk like me who are online for several hours a day in any case.

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Electronic paper

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The blog's the thing, what some refer to as 'electronic paper' as it is so versatiile. a blog can be wiki - like, e-portfolio like even a collaborative, aggregated channel of videos. The reference's in here, there is a 2010 paper.
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Dead Persons Talking

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 04:43

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In a moment of possible abject folly a conversation that spiralled into something else earlier this week prompted me to set up a discussion group 'Dead Persons Talking' (on Linkedin) and a website www.deadpersontalking.com.

A year ago I set up a Book of Condolences website which drew over 100 responses.

What struck me, on a personal level, is my love for a long gone grandfather and the desire to continue conversations with my late father too.

What if they were still around and could join discussions?

I feel I knew both well, indeed I interviewed my late grandfather at length, transcribed this and put it in the blog www.getjackback.wordpress.com

Let's see.

The idea is to open the blog www.deadpersontalking.com to many authors who may wish to come in.

On verra.

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The Economist posted this in their Linkedin group a while back. What do you think?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:52

The membership of this group continues to grow at a rapid speed and we get a healthy stream of postings of discussions and news.

1. The discussions board is primarily intended to start discussions therefore please take some effort to phrase your idea, thought or observation in such a way that responses are encouraged.

2. Don’t make multiple posts of the same item.

3. Don’t blatantly promote your company, product, weblog or yourself.

4. Please do not promote other groups (unless of course they are one of ours!) or simply provide links to external reports (though of course we all have some of these to share from time to time). Rather, if there is something worthwhile to be found elsewhere, please post the premise so it can be discussed here.

5. Posts that are off-topic will be removed.

6. Multiple off topic/solicitation postings will result in removal from the group. Indeed, if any members flag a discussion three times it is automatically removed.

I champion this OU Student Blog platform thingey because it is aking to the Bulletin Boards of a decade ago. You post your stuff and others may spot it vicariously or tune in. I love the stuff I am introduced to that would never otherwise pass before my eyes. I want to sudy Art History, I can't get enough of the MAODE of coourse ... I even quite enjoy the enthusiasm some people have for poetry and maths.

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2012 New Year's Resolutions anyone?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 18 Apr 2012, 07:22

I always think of these ahead of the festive season so I'm prepared come January 1st. The other thing, is you can give it a bit of a go now without any feeling of obligation to make a true run of it.

Swimming and swim teaching & coaching

I will swim, not 3 times a week, but once at least. I will also return to coaching after a 9 month break: I flourished in the role and the swimmers I taught and coached did well too.

Complete B822, my fifth of six modules towards the Masters in Open & Distance Education.

I'd like to graduate in 2012 but the timing of my final 30 credit module may take me into 2013: doing two in parallel for 4 months looks foolish.

As ever, blog.

Even a picture and 30 words, but something every day. This now occurs here, at www.mymindbursts.com and in blip.foto under mindbursts.

Is 250,000 page views attainable in 2012!?

and to what end other than meeting the challenge of posting something of worth and being a 'blogger's friend'.

Four months later (End of April 2012):

  • I can report that I am coaching for between 2 and 4 hours a week and signed up to the club as a Masters so swimming with them Saturday mornings and typically twice during the week).
  • The last TMA for B822 went in, the mark wasn't great, 54, but I'm through to the exam which is next week.
  • This blog hit 180,000 views yesterday and had 1000 views in one day earlier last week. Another 70,000 views in 11 Months? Pushing it, especially as from May to August I won't be on a module.

 

 

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Can blogging be taught?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 04:48

Can you teach someone to swim if they won't get in the water?

You can take a horse to the trough, but you can't make it drink?

What therefore will motivate, drive, persuade, cajole, convince or oblige a.n.other to blog?

I'm seeking advice and help here as I am on a mission to initiate and nurture 12 new bloggers over the next four months. It feels like cheating to go on a quest for those who blog already and call them mine but surely this is the crux of the matter. I can preach to the converted, until then my words will fall on deaf ears.

Invite people to enjoy a variety of successful bloggers to help them find their way? How many do I have listed here? 100+ but where's the attraction in a list, you need guidance.

Define a blog?

Academics I quote and review here say you can't. They are beyond simple definition, but 'electronic paper' where people spill words, images, video (though not coffee), where they aggregate other people's content, majestic lists, dumb notes, a writer's journal, an academic's draft papers, a student's e-portfolio.

Is there a role for a blog buddy or blog secretary?

I believe Richard Branson has a blog and Twitter double,i.e. He doesn't write a word of it himself. That would be cheating. I can't write 12 blogs for other people (even if I write/produce or create some 16+ of my own).

Stuffing in things you've already written is fine with me.

I call up content from a diary I started in my early teens as well as from 2,000 odd blog entries posted from 1999 to 2004 and the 1000 odd posted since early 2010.

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Steve Jobs and doing what you love

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I love doing this. At best I am like someone doing street art on the pavement on the South Bank. It is jazz. I could be on my own and I'd do it regardless. I have so many blogs I frequently lose track of them. They tend to be on a theme. One is a treatment for a screenplay with photos of locations, another is a novel, yet another three year's worth of swimming lesson plans and another every ski run in Val d'Isere / Tignes. I hate to let a moment pass without writing about it.
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Too busy to blog (again)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 17 Apr 2012, 07:31

 

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Fig. 1. Display of the Olympic Village, ExCel, Custom House, London Docklands. Part of a display for the 3,500 Gamesmakers who are being recruited over the next months to support the Olympics next summer.

Not blogging is for me a loss as I have always used a diary (1974-1999) and then a blog (1999-to present day) to provide a record or archive of what is hitting my head every day.

This provides, during times of reflection, the opportunity to think over events. (With a diary I might not look back at a page for a decade, but at least it was there).

I have little doubt that this is because I am between modules. Creativity, Innovation and Change (B822) kicks off in November.

Many colleagues keep a 'daily log or notebook'. I used to, but found I'd fill them too quickly. I favour IT to assist, sort, store. I will 'forget about' something in the knowledge that I can draw it from my electronic 'brain'; this of course assume that the content has made it that far. So a blog is a repository. The problem is which blog? These have a habit of splitting into multiple folders.

Nor is this blog the place for Social Media and Online Communications (my role at the Open University Business and Law School). Though at times there is considerable overlap with all that I have learnt in the Masters in Open and Distance Education. (Modules H800, H809 and H807 completed).

Nor is it the place for my potential adventures with the London Olympics 2012, which had me (like a number of OU Colleagues) attending a 'Gamesmaker' presentation and interview yesterday. I have been lined up for the Press Office, potentially to contribute to the Knowledge & Information desk which will draw in educational value from the events to share with future Olympics, otherwise either in the Olympic Village editing/writing a regular newsletter, or at one of the venues 'door-stepping' athletes and getting their words to the media centre.

My summer 'vacation' 2012

A part solution to the failure to post a blog is:

1) I took notes (directly into an iPad for the most part, so no need to transfer/transcribe)

2) I took pictures (sometimes with the iPad, now with an iPhone, such grabs of presentation slides that I immediately upload to Picasa Web. These in turn would be best placed in a photo friendly blog in WordPress, FlickR or Tumblr, though currently they are saved into locked galleries online).

3) I keep a daily log/notes of my day, aggregating content of interest from RSS Feeds (LinkedIn groups and Blogs) as well as Google Alerts. This has always remained offline. I need to get it into FileMaker Pro so that is it more searchable.

The above to provide a catalyst for developing further any one of these topics at a later date (if at all), but usually easy enough to discover if blogged (private view), or put into a relational database software package such as FileMaker Pro.

I therefore have a record of events, meetings, presentations and so on, which include:

MONDAY PR and the words of students and alumni from discussions and requests to our growing groups in LinkedIn.

TUESDAY Interviews with Alumni (three of the 1996 graduation group reflecting on their experiences of the MBA and what they have done since). Brief a TV production company.

TUESDAY Creation of a blog for Open University Business Network. Kathryn Tickell at the Stables (or was that last week ?!)

WEDNESDAY Using Camtasia, Audacity, a MAC and the Institute of Educational Technology 'Podcasting Suit' to produce a video-version (animation/movie) of a presentation I gave on Social Media in Higher Education which I wish to induct academics (or their teams) to use to compress 45 minutes lectures into scripted pieces that are more 'Web Friendly'.

WEDNESDAY Tweet inaugrual lecture of Professor Cherie Booth and the acceptance speech of Leslee Griffiths BA.

THURSDAY Personas and Mental Mapping (an OU technique to understanding and predicting visitor behaviours when using online materials)

THURSDAY Communications, Leadership and Influence (a presentation by the new Director of Communications). I took from this the need to make the time and effort to empathise with colleagues with whom I work.

THURSDAY Open University Businesss Network (a series of quarterly breaksfast briefings for local business people that started on Thursday)

THURSDAY Edit of interview visiting fellow from Ghana

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Private diary entries not meant for public consumption

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 04:50

This is a quote in Ian Kershaw's 'The End' (2011) of all things regarding one of many diaries he read researching the downfall of Germany in the final year of The Second World War.

It expresses for me what was or came to be an early perception of the 'online journal' (as they were called before web-log, then 'blog' came along).

I  started to put my diary online in 1999.

I even copied out passages in notebooks that went back a further 20 years. It was an online diary to begin with, even a form of publishing. It morphed into other things as readers and other regular writers emerged.

The reality of 2011 is that this blank space is whatever you want it to be and whatever others make of it: a soap box, a survey, a statement, a chapter of a book, song lyrics, snaps, charts, gobble-de-gook.

The enigma of the private diary uncovered was the sense that this was the truth, how someone thought and behaved.

Today some of us, though not in this space, chose to reveal everything we can regarding what it means to be human. There was an element of 'exposure' but this, what I read in 2000, 2001, 2002, became the appeal and attraction, particularly to many isolated, even depressed people who discovered they weren't alone.

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This isn't a blog, it is electronic paper.

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OK you can't do origami with it but platforms such as Blogger, LiveJournal, Wordpress, and even one of the originals, Diaryland, let you do so much. They can be a secret diary, just click private, or they can be a forum, self-publishing, an ePortfolio, a gallery for photos (or video), even a shared 'wiki-like' collaboration.
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Academic paper on blogging

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Birds of a Feather: How personality influences blog writing and reading. (2010) Jami Li and Mark Chignell. Science Direct. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 68 (2010) 589-602  
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Why do you blog? What will keep you going?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 04:57

There are good reasons to encourage more people to do this, to share thoughts and ideas online, to reflect on their work, to aggregate ideas (like a portfolio), to generate and share content.

What do you think?

Why have YOU embarked on this journey?

What will motivate you to keep doing?

How about every day for a year?(the goal of us early bloggers in 1999).

 

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6 Extraordinary Stories from the OU Business School

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I interviewed SIX student award winners at a Business School event today. I look forward to sharing more on these here and giving a link to the interviews which will appear on the OUBS website. We all have reasons for being here and for many of us it is transformative. I have developed even changed in the last 18 months.
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Reasons to blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 17 Sep 2011, 21:50
'Amateurs' often create content which addresses subjects that academics may not and also in a manner which differs from traditional teaching', Weller (2011)
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No time to blog, so here's a note ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 18 Sep 2011, 05:26

The most a busy blogger can do when unable to blog is to jot down some notes in the hope that in a quiet moment you can return.

After a protracted absence from work I have that to catch up on, as well as an End-of-module Assignment (EMA) to deliver in 10 days times (far earlier I hope).

I need to return to:

  • Presenting to Buckingham Marketers on Social Media Marketing.

I drew all I needed to share from this mind-map (to upload indue course). Most telling for me is being just as interested to engage face-to-face so I need to do this regularly. Social Media is complementary, not replacement technology.

  • The following day I was a guinea-pig in the Institute of Educational Technology Labs on the next offering of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

I found the process as well as the likely outcome to be fascinating. For all you H810ers, the Chair of this module was the observer in the TV Gallery follwing my behaviours and actions. More to come.

  • And then today, the first in a four part presentation that will eventually run to eight hours, on how the concept of 'personas' is used to inform web design and functionality for different user types.

What the outsider cannot appreciate is the extraordinary depth and quality of thinking that goes into what the OU does.

  • And finally (the day after) a presentation from the Head of Legal at JISC on Creative Commons and OER.

Another vital lesson that in a two hour form (they could edit the video from its six hour length) ought to be part of an induction package for anyone coming into Higher Education in a content creation role. More to follow once I have H800 out of the way (end of September).

Having failed to register for the next module I'll have good time to reflect on the content of this blog and migrate most, if not all of it, over to my external blog My Mind Bursts or to a new blog focused exclusively on e-learning.

 

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24 Reasons to Blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 05:03

'Many if the characteristics which would be frowned upon in scholarly articles, such as subjectivity, humour, and personal opinion, are vital elements in developing a dialogue in blogs'. Weller (2011)

I had another stab at this (did one yesterday on the fly). This one I've given a bit more thought as I am keen to promote the idea of blogging to colleagues; the more the merrier to me. It goes under the title 'User Generate Content'.

I do wonder though if it isn't a mindset, that I'd have the same issues getting people to take up drawing or singing.

You either do or don't?

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I realise that to get this right in the learning context you must define who the learner is and put it in context.

QUESTIONS

  • Why do you blog?
  • If you've just started will you keep going?
  • What's the incentive?
  • Do you have an external blog too?
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Reflecting on illness

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 9 Sep 2011, 19:12
I appreciate that some reading this will have gone through months of being unwell or their condition is long term. I am simply using ideas taught to me during H808 a year ago to reflect on what I have been through: 15 days of a ghastliness that has included a day in hospital and three clinic visits. In hospital I counted the seconds and did so for nearly five hours. At home I crave fresh air but repeatedly ended up back in bed. As the last week or so shows I would read, comment and write - though until today my head has felt decidedly befuddled. So I did some digital housekeeping, all my mind could manage, mostly shuffling pictures, screen grabs and such around in Picasa Web, even referencing them properly. And I slept a great deal. I read Martin Weller's new book but know, and will see this from notes, that a second reading will have me picking out different things and adding different notes. We humans are unstable at the best of times, gender, age and background doesn't start to define who we are and how our state of mind, openness to learning, levels of self-esteem, can influence how we will 'perform' one week to the next. Consistency, for me at least, is a futile, even a stultifying quest.
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27 Reasons to blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 05:14

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I've forgotten a few, not least the ones that got me started here:

  • As an ice-breaker (introducing ourselves by way of holiday snaps and pets ... not to be recommended for setting the appropriate tone).
  • Reflection (and learning how to do this correctly).
  • Stream of consciousness
  • A Writer's Journal
  • As an e-portfolio

So I've missed out some important ones sad Visiting Channel Flip I was treated to a screening of Lee Hardcastle's new stop animation horror short. Is this blogging, or having your own TV channel?

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More journalists and writers will be approached to join academia

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As many academics favour closetted research over teaching or social engagement institutions need in the short term to attract broadcasters, writers, even journalists and bloggers into their ranks in order to share their innards and workings with a content hungry world wide web 2.0; they need to turn themselves inside out.
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