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Social Media – Listen for long enough then join in and draw your own conclusions

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 18:06

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The historian E.H.Carr said,’Read bout a period until you can hear its people speak.’

It’s what took me to Oxford to read Modern History and what for some periods in history inspired me to attempt screenplays on the events in the year 1066 … and 850 years later on the Western Front. It’s the quote that impressed Bill Clinton enough to quote it in his autobiography. It suggests, short of being their, you must immerse yourself in a subject in order to understand it, in order to be able to speak its language.

‘Research a subject until the research reveals the narrative’.

Sounds like an excuse for there being no assessment, but perhaps reflects how we pick things up through ‘doing’.

I caught this on Radio 4, Saturday 9.00am, 9 days ago? I’d reference it if I could.


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From diary to blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 28 May 2012, 16:58

I am one of those people who began a diary age 13 and kept it up pretty much for 16 years ... Picking up blogging in 1999 was a natural step used as much to paste in the more memorable events of those 16 years.

 

The format changed, from five year diary, to hardbook notebooks, to letters to my fiance and mercifully the diary came to an abrupt halt with marriage (going to be bed was no longer a time to take out the pen).

 

I'm glad I decided to catch-up with the habit when the children were born, so was ready in 1996 and 1998 to blog. And so I blog for another decade.

 

But was this a reflective diary?

 

At times it was simply filling the page (first a few lines in one of those Five Year Diary with a lock), then a minimum per day of a page of A4 in a hardback notebook ... though for a while as much as I cared to write (e.g. September 1977 or 78 fills an entire arch-lever file).

 

But was it reflective?


Looking back at these entries (very rare), it is depressing to read about issues and problems that I never resolved, or ambitions that I couldn't or didn't fulfil. Perhaps by reading back regularly these diaries would have had reflective, life-adjusting qualities? Rather than the prayers of a godless teenager who was sent to boarding school age 7, escaped for 2 years for A'levels to a day school, then returning to the boarding environment of univeristy.

 

Was my diary a companion who could only listen?


This is all brought up as a result of reading about the Reflective Diary as a tool for students to consider what they are trying to learn and if they are succeeding. I could say that from a purist's point of view this sullies the term 'diary'; I can imagine how dull it would have been for Alan Clarke, Anne Frank or Pepys to have written in such a way (let alone Henry Miller or Anais Nin). But this misses the point, a reflective diary is a tool, a task, like the weekly (or fortnightly) essay.

 

This from Burgess (2009)


Reflective diaries

 

There are many ways of keeping these.

 

* Make a note of something you found interesting in the lecture/seminar.

* Why was it interesting?

* How does it connect with your own life/practice experience?

* How might this inform your practice as a social worker

* How might users benefit from your learning?

* How might your learning add to your understanding of 'good' practice

 

I should look through decades of diaries, some 1.6 million words of it online, and see if I am guilty of an reflection of this nature. I say 'guilty' as I would have felt that writing in such a way in my diary (it would have had to be in a separate book) would have sullied the format, a bit like using play acting for education, rather than just for entertainment or writing a lyric for a song that taught safe sex. I would resist the idea of 'education' impinging on this side of my existence.

 

Are we not living in a world though where the barriers between work and home, school and home, colleagues and friends is breaking down?

 

Where in the same breath in a social networking site you can flip between friends, families, colleagues or fellow students?

 

Is such an environment like the population of your ideal village?

 

By Burgess with material adapted from the SAPHE Project (Self Assessment in Professional and Higher Education Project) Burgess, H (n.d.)

 

Self and Peer Assessment (online), The Higher Education Academy: Social Work and Social Policy (SWAP).

from: http://sorubank.ege.edu.tr/~bouo/DLUE/Chapter-08/Chapter-8-makaleler/Assessment%202_%20Self%20and%20peer%20assessment.htm (accessed 6 August 2010). Tags: assessment learning blog self-assessment burgess reflective diary

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Blogging works – you too should keep a diary. You can always go private.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 16:10

Blogging works – you too should keep a diary.

Don't think its anything new, this one dates to the 16th century. Lady Anne Clifford would know how to build a website and keep a blog. She did.

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You can always go private.

Edit, then publish later. Or password protect so only a few get to read.

To give you confidence.

To become emboldened.

Start small. 50 years before Twitter there was the Five Year Diary. This is mine. I think the entries here are around 140 character.

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‘Maketh up a quote at ye beginning of thy book; it will make people think thou art clever.’

Christopher Marlowe ‘The Obscure Tragedie’ Act II, Scene ii.

The following comes from a seminal book on diary keeping by Tristine Rainer.

Here are some key thoughts:

Some of this thinking can be brought up to date in the context of keeping a diary online; the essential principals remain the same.

A dairy is many things:

‘Everything and anything goes. You cannot do it wrong. There are no mistakes. At any time you can change your point of view, your style, your book, the pen you write with, the direction you write on the pages, the language in which you write, the subjects you include, or the audience you write to. You can misspell, write ungrammatically, enter incorrect dates, exaggerate, curse, pray, write poetically, eloquently, angrily, lovingly. You can past in photographs, newspaper clippings, cancelled checks, letters, quotes, drawings, doodles, dried flowers, business cards, or labels. You can write on lined paper or blank paper, violet paper or yellow, expensive bond or newsprint.’

Tristine Rainer, ‘The New Diary’ 1976.

Is this so different to blogging 25 years on?

Not at all. I go with the view of Reconstruction 6.4 that a blog is like paper, as versatile, but online.

Think about. I have and academic 'papers' have been written on the theme.

‘Flow, spontaneity and intuition are the key words. You don’t have to plan what you are going to do. You discover what you have done once you have set it down.’Tristine Rainer.

Keep it all in one place

‘When the dreams like next to the fantasies, and political thoughts next to personal complaints, they all seem to learn from each other.’

  • This works for blogging:
  • Write Spontaneously
  • Write quickly
  • This is so that you don’t know what will come next.
  • How the unexpected can happen.
  • Surprise yourself.
  • Write Honestly

Be open about what you really feel.

Few diaries actually lie to themselves in a dairy, but many out of shyness with themselves avoid writing about the most intimate aspects of a situation.

Write Deeply

Anais Nin, disappointed with her childhood diaries, developed the practice of sitting quietly for a few minutes before beginning to write. She would close her eyes and allow the most important incident or feeling of the day or of the period of time since she last wrote to surface in her mind.

That incident or feeling became her first sentence.

Write Correctly

  • Expressive language is not a science.
  • There are no rules.
  • You are writing for yourself, so self-expression is the key.
  • Test the range of your natural voice – it will develop.
  • Errors are part of the form of the diary, as they are part of life.

Blogging for Dummies claims this thinking for itself, treating the ideas of others like a tumble-dryer of ideas from which you can pick willy-nilly.

Choose your audience Your best audience is your future self.

In ten years time you won’t remember the situation unless you capture all its sensual vitality now.

My frustration is with the new comers jumping on the blogging bandwagon professing to know all about social media (including blogging). They don't unless they have done it; I have. I do.

Value contradictions

In time they will develop towards a larger truth; leave them in.

‘Some diarists find when they go several weeks without writing they begin to feel off balance and take it as a signal that they are avoiding the inner self.’

Those of us who keep a diary regularly are stuck with it; whether it appears online, and which bits of appear online is another matter.

‘We taught the diary as an exercise in creative will; as an exercise in synthesis; as a means to create a world according to our wishes, not those of others; as a means of creating the self, of giving birth to ourselves.’

Anais Nin, December 1976.

There’s more to follow from Tristine Rainer on basic diary devices and special techniques.

The Marlowe quote is John O’Farrel’s invention and appears in ‘I blame the scapegoats.’ A diary cannot be ghost written, I’m sure some blogs.

A corporate blog isn'nt a blog it's a online brochure.

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On keeping a diary online

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 16:17

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‘When people ask me how to keep a Diary, I refer them to Ira Progoff's Intensive Journal [method]....One cannot help being amazed by what emerges from this skilled inner journey. All the elements we attribute to the poet, the artist, become available to everyone, to all levels of society.’

Anais Nin

  • How to start your diary
  • In ‘The New Diary’ Tristine recommends that you:
  • Begin with a self-portrait
  • Begin with a period
  • Begin with today

Each time I come back to a blog after an absence of weeks, months or years I approach it in one of these ways: I assess who I am, go over the previous period when I’ve been away from the diary, and count these musings as my first entry.

From Ira Progoff’s A Journal Workshop seven useful techniques for diary writing are offered:

  1. List or Period Log
  2. Portrait or Life History Log
  3. Map of consciousness (Recapitulations and rememberings)
  4. Stepping Stones/Scenes from our lives
  5. Twilight Imagery Log
  6. Altered point of view
  7. Unsent letter
  8. Dialogue Dimension


Then read a few inspiring blogs from fellow OU students such as Rosie Rushton-Stone.

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H800 WK16 Blogging by numbers

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 3 Jun 2011, 05:30

It takes time ... a few lines every day. If building readers is what motivates you is: read many other blogs to get a feel for what you like and loathe; comment in other people's blogs and then start to write your own blog splitting your time equally between reading, commenting and blogging.

There are millions of blogs out there, getting noticed and then having something remarkable to say every day (no one can achieve that) is the goal.

I can offer tips galore, but mostly it is self-discovery and patience. It has taken over a year for my www.mindbursts.com blog to get from 2 visits a day to the heady heights of 25! And I am working hard at it.

For someone who gets 1,000,000 views a day look at Andrew Sullivan's 'The Daily Dish.'

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MBA Blogger for the Open University Business School?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 Sep 2011, 12:46
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Sean Brady

Management Tip of the Day

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MBAdventures ... A blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 2 Jun 2011, 10:19

MBAdventures

I' m interested in all blogs, especially those kept by MBA students. Here's one from Harvard Business School. She seems to spend her life globetrotting; nothing like te flexible approach to work!

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New blog post

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 16 May 2014, 05:55

Rhona Sharpe's Blog

Started in 2011. No longer available. Go figure?

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Recommended Blogs

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 30 May 2011, 07:24

Benedelman

With thanks to Neil.

(64065)

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Practice-based learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 25 Nov 2011, 14:16

Learners’ experiences of blended learning environments in a practice-based context (PB-LXP)

see http://kn.open.ac.uk/public/workspace.cfm?wpid=7174 ,

and

Student attitudes towards and use of ICT in course study, work and social activity: a technology acceptance model approach

http://oro.open.ac.uk/26467/

For anyone this you can ask subject specific question to your OU community on 'OU Platform'

For MAODERs sign up through the 'Your Subject' link and then Education - OU Community Online

Picking up on the 2007 presentation by Grainne Conole of research carried out by the Institute of Educational Technology (OU) I was keen to learn of outcomes from the follow up research they promised on practice-based learning.

Like anyone with an insatiable curiosity the desire to chase several references or to pursue a topic to the Nth degree doing so online can be overwhelming; it is too easy to find references, even more so when they have a URL.

Time was as an undergraduate such searches meant a walk or bike road across town, the nature of Geography (in the first year at least) touching on both human and physical topics, ranging from zoology, politics and history on the one hand to geology and climatology on the other keep me on my feet and toes.

Studying online the only part of your body that is exercised are your fingers and you’re always a click away from a maelstrom of information.

Increasingly I find I want to stick to a brand I know and a name I know.

The brand might be an institution or publisher (often the same thing): Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Open University presses … and the authors whose writing I can trust, both for the quality of the content and how it is expressed:

Gráinne Conole – uber e-learning

Martin Weller - e-learning professor

Gilly Salmon - all things 'e'

Denise Kirkpatrick - OU Pro-Vice Chancellor

Chris Pegler - In open resources

Agnes Kukulska-Hulme - Master of the M-Learning Universe

For example …

Do add MAODE names I ought to add here (this is just a starting list from the top of my head).

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New blog post

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 21 May 2011, 08:14

Out There

 

A fascinating OU Blog

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Interested in blogging but don't know how? Try these OU Bloggers:

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 16:19
  1. Doing it the Open Way 'Voices and Texts'.

  2. Floating Along Gina Collia-Suzuki Art History Murder Mystery

  3. Freelance Unbound Making a living out of the crazy world of the business press

  4. From GCSE Maths, to Rocket Scientist...

  5. History of the OU Where students, staff and alumni share their OU experiences

  6. Isabella Black A215 Creative Writing having recently finished the A174 Start Writing Fiction.

  7. Lucienne Boyce's blog In 2006 I completed an MA in English Literature with the Open University, specialising in eighteenth century fiction.

  8. My Open University Life My Plan to get a Honors Degree Natural Sciences (Astronomy)

  9. My Open Experience My name is Hayley and I am a young student studying towards a Humanities Degree with a Philosophy and Religious Studies specialism

  10. Mathematics => A Blog Mathematics diary

  11. Meg Barker's Blog A lecturer in psychology teaching mainly on counselling courses: Counselling - Exploring Fear and Sadness. A counsellor adn writer on issues around relationships and sexuality.

  12. My Mind Bursts Reflections on e-learning as a MAODE student then Social Media Manager for the Open University Business School

 

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Exposure or participation?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 16:30

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The idea of and value of 'exposure' has been debated since the early days of blogging.

I could call up entries from my blog in 2001/2002.

The feeling, amongst those of us who felt like blogging pioneers, was that by opening up we shared our common humanity and in many respects become less lonely souls as a result (not that I didn't need additional companionship being happily married to my soul mate with two small children at the time!). The press picked this up as scandalous and novel.

This kind of blog is a genre in its own right amongst the thousands of genres on 120 million + blogs.

I question any need for us learners to 'open up' in this respect. Indeed for most of the last module I 'hid'behind an image of an MRI scan (something I might return to). I see no need to reveal who I am, my face, age or gender. In this environment what counts (or can be discounted) are these words.

In terms of our relationship with the tutor, I would expect in a Summer School, or if attending the Oxbridge style one-to-one Tutorial, that a relationship could/might form.

Indeed, attending by father-in-law's 70th and then 80th and even his 85th I've been impressed by the 100s of former students who turn up. Some guy.

I don't think (their names already escape me) want me as a friend, or a friend for life ... though as a colleague for sure.

 

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Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Dish

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 31 May 2011, 17:11

Andrew Sullivan, I learnt as an undergraduate, would make copies of the letters he sent to people. An Oxford Union Debating Society President, Modern History First, and actor ... It struck me as extraordinarily vain. This is 1981-1984. Letters were handwritten in fountain pen, perhaps typed.

Was I jealous? Of his mind? The roles he got? His self-confidence? A speaker who followed on the heals of William Hague (Foreign Minister) and was followed by Hilali Nordeen (Harley Street surgeon).

I recall them as I guiltily do something similar - I lift a comment I have left in someone else's blog and put it here. The catalyst of the first reading is left high and dry as I bounce away from them, back into my own mind, then spill it all out here.

THe mind is a wonderful thing, if only your fingers can keep up with this. No wonder this is described as 'talking with your fingertips',

Fascinating! And so glad I scrolled all the way through your blog to find such riches. I could spend an hour here commenting on each entry. Perhaps I will. It is extraordinarily cathartic to be out of your own head (as it were) for a while ... to be inside someone elses.

I was saying to a fellow MAODE student that I was pleased that they had  struggled with applying Jakob Nielsen to some online text they had read. I've been singing his praises for too long. I got his 2001 book on Usability when I was working in a web agency as a editor and swore buy it - kind of. Though we created the kind of websites that had few words, loads of visuals are were more like an interactive pop video!

I have never come across or found that writers pre-empty their rhetoric. I'm not saying it can't be learnt, but I think we presume too much to take a text, as if were were A' Level English students, and chop it up to decipher the mind of the author. However, I recall being shown some notes Churchill used to write his speeches, a brilliant orator of course, he had a very blocky, stepped approached to linking persuasive ideas.

However, it isn't for an academic to persuade of their thesis is it? Or is it? Surely the facts, however dry, must speak for themselves.

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The Now Revolution - let battle commence

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 4 May 2011, 18:52

My blogging skills were noticed. The task now it to focus them for a good cause - that cause if the Open University.

My reading and training list includes Facebook, Twitter and Linked in. Various books cover all the ground. As I child I had 'My very own learning to cook book.' The equivalent is the 'Dummies' series. I read them all 'Blogging for Dummies', 'Facebook for Dummies', even 'Twitter for Dummies'. They are written by the people who helped build these platforms and the mix of humour and practicle advise is invaluable.

This does it for Social Media

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This, introduced in a Hubspot Webinar last week is a worthwhile read.

You could read a chapter a night and put what you read into practice the next day. Sounds like an OU MBA course - practised based learning. From my point of view I am seeking out that relationship where I can be pupil to a Master (Barrister), or shadow a Partner (Solicitor) ... even apprentice to a skilled craftsperson.

The skills of social media marketing and just a side step away from 'e-moderating' from what I see. My role is to act as a catalyst, to listen, comment and engage in equal measure.

The first time I visited the OU Campus I was gobsmacked by its scale. Today I was once again impressed by the quality of in-house training (on the Open Source Software used here called Drupal).

I took notes ... because it gave me some insight into the arguments for using Open Source. (Not so much from in the lion's den, but my head in its mouth).

I've read somewhere that students should look at the kind of organisation they are learning with. I have found already that 'flexibility' and support' don't just apply to students ... but applies to employees too.

New comers into distance learning will find this a difficult reputation to match.

p.s. I heard a great line from an OU academic the other day, 'it's as if the Open University was waiting for the Internet to happen'.

Now that its upon us can you think of anywhere on the globe better placed to flourish?

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Love your memories in a blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 16:35

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“I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is." Nabakov

I thought 500 page views was a landmark, then 1000. There has been steady growth to 10,000. It went crazy for a week in April with 1,000 views a day then settled back to 150-250  day. Whose counting? Basic analytics are a form of recognition, even reward for the blogger. 50,000 is a biggy that has taken 14 months to achieve. 100,000 is unlikely within the Masters in Open & Distance Education, though a MRes, another module in the MAODE (because it interests me so much) or a MBA are all of interest for later in the year and all would be blogged upon right here.

Are you saying something worthwhile to this audience?

Even if I feel the PC Screen is a mirror and I'm writing this for my benefit first as a reference I can return to later: what did I think? Where is that quote? Where was I in the learning process? Aren't I glad I've moved on! Editing old entries, bringing them up-to-date develops this. As Nabokov wrote,

Read Backwards

e-Reading 'A New Culture of Learning' backwards in a large font isolating interesting gems I may have missed. Also reading it by search word; 'play' works and is appropriate with over 160 mentions.

I liken this to panning for gold.

Once I've done this a few times typing out notes may be irrelevant; I'll know it. 'Play as the new form of learning?'

One final thought. Two decades ago I liken learning to a nurturing process, of an educator/teacher or course designer/principal sprinkling water on the heads of students buried like heads of lettuce emerging from the ground.

This no longer works for me.

What I now see are kids in a large paddling pool having fun and making up games with toys offered to them by supporting parents and older siblings.

The mantra for e-learning is 'activity, activity, activity', perhaps it ought to be 'play, play, play'; that's what you'll come away with if you read John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas 'A New Culture of Learning; cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change.'

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Have we yet reached the moment when there is as much 'life' online as off?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 26 Feb 2012, 06:13

Too busy to blog? I can't be, it's my job.

I should be emptying the contents of my OU Student mind into this ... and here (www.mymindbursts.com) while doing a DR Who-like Confidential at the OU Business School.

On my second read of A New Culture of Learning. At this rate I'll have highlighted in chapter by chapter. It is WORTH the quick read.

The day has been spent gathering intelligence (content), then understanding how best to spread the good word via platforms I felt I was reasonably familiar with: Linked In, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr for example. There's a new side to it when you are here to converse and join in 24/7.

Coming to it from the Masters in Open and Distance Education I feel as if I am stepping over a stream, not chasm ... there is no great divide. Indeed, I can see that for some, and perhaps in time the edges that distinguish them will blur into Social Media Education - that these platforms are part of the mix, like the words written here, that form each of our experiences with the learning process.

Coming out of a webinar an hour ago (from Boston), I won't forget this message:

You need to be spending 1/3 of your time reading blogs, 1/3 of your time leaving comments on other people's blogs and 1/3 of your time writing your own blog if you want to develop an 'audience.'

Does anyone who thinks they blog seriously do that here?

I'm always struck by how our expectations are at first that as soon as we post something there will be thousands out of the hundreds of millions of people out there to read our staff; they will, but you have to play the game.

The above doesn't give much time for tagging. Maybe I'd adjust the above therefore to 30-30-30-10 with 10% of your time given over to thoughtful tagging.

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Writing for the blogosphere

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

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'From the outside the 'blogosphere' looks like a self-indulgent pool of slush that wouldn't get past the usual filters'. David Weinberger.

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I see it like this (so does he).

Dandelion seeds that you allow to blow away in the wind.

The pictures of these seeds in the grass need some work .. and possibly a different lens.

All I need now is a picture of a pomegranate turned inside out. That's the way I see the creation of content for the social network. Though flicking the seeds out into cyberspace or bashing the fruit with a kitchen roller might be as apt.

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Intellectually and spiritually content? Getting there

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:09

Delighted to have found somewhere to stay in Milton Keynes.

It is extraordinary that people live such lovely lives, the privilege of the commute being a short walk over a field, from village to Central Business District in minutes. This isn't the Britain I have ever known - a 79 mile commute being one of the worst, cattle-trucks in from South London even worse. But I've done the 'weekly border' having once been in Penrith, Cumbria while my fiance was in Paris, France for six months. Sleeping away from home is part of me of course, having had boarding school from the age of 8 I perhaps find it easy to get used to?

 

Of course the OU Campus is a strange beast, each Faculty a bright sparkly building set in its own grounds each building a short walk apart from the other. If it weren't for the speed bumps to slow the traffic down (people come in by car in their thousands) I'd imagine golf-carts to be the required way to move around.

 

But do you much? Your faculty is your home.

My home once again has connections with the university, mother and daughter work there. This does not need to be a point of conversation at home, I  have the Masters in Open and Distance Education to complete for a start and instead of talking about the OU I am delightfully engaged in conversations on the medical effect of what we eat. I find myself creeping back towards soya milk and muesli and away from coffee and biscuits.

For someone who typically blogs a thousand words a day I've been unusual quiet.

The pressure on my mind is considerable. If I find myself near a keyboard over the bank holiday I may catch up, though my inclination is to head for the sea.

This isn’t to say I’m not writing a thousand words an hour; that would be an exaggeration, but I find that 60 emails a day (sent), half this number received, contributions to Yammer an OU Twitter like feed and the various minutes and reports that I’m writing quite easily makes up the number.

As I will often tell people, the best contribution to my career was a touch-typing course at Oxford College of Education.

I'll become a poor-weather blogger.

Meanwhile what I have to say has gone into note pads. I’ve filled a 80 pad shorthand notepad, both sides. This contains a good deal of ‘Everything is Miscellaneous’ and all that I wanted from ‘Use of Blogs.’ How I would have preferred both on my Kindle, all this note taking reduced to highlighting, my ideas saved or shared immediately, and the entire thing now at the edit stage. Instead I’ll have to write it all out. I find my concentration wavers if I transcribe stuff, or more likely I feel inclined to add yet further notes and thoughts.

Meanwhile, perhaps sensibly going for paper rather than technology, I have ‘The Social Life of Information’ (2002) John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid to enjoy, ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’ (2007) Rick Levine et al and ‘E-moderating’ (2005) Gilly Salmon.

My perfect Bank Holiday would be to take these to sea – sail across the English Channel, a few days in French Ports.

As crew, this way I can read, all that fresh air, with occasional moments of physical agitation.

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Want to blog? Sources of inspiration and getting it down.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 15 Feb 2013, 12:06

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ON BLOGGING

Sources of inspiration and getting it down.

Get this for a start: Use of Blogs (2006) Axel Bruns and Joanna Jacobs.

It persuades you why to blog. Each chapter is written like an academic paper - an essay at least. Chapter 5 I found I was copying out verbatim (which I can't do here). Go see 'Can Blogging Unspin PR' Trevor Cook.

Your starting off point can be anything at all, once you start (for me at least) it is like opening a vein.

Who cares if it is a note to yourself. If it’s work or course work remember that you can compose then recraft as often as you like; what is more, you can turn access on or off as you please too – even allow comments as you please – with other blog platforms the list of linking choices is as broad as the destination board at Heathrow – you can ‘blog’ to a person, a group, people in different groups and so on (though this is a level of complication may turn the novice off).

If you are at all stuck for content ideas then my suggestions are:

1) Write about the deep past (everything you write is of course in the past) – what this might means is thinking of your earliest experiences of whatever your blog may be about – if it is about education then try these:

2) Your best friend at nursery school

3) Your first day at school

4) The funniest thing that your witnessed or did at school

5) The first thing you learnt and how

6) Add a caption to an old photograph then expand these thoughts into the era.

7) A birthday party

8) A Christmas

9) A first book

All of these are possible jumping off points; once you’re in flight you’ll be surprised how easy it is to steer back to where you had planned to be - who cares about the journey you took to get there – you can leave it in or edit out the first paragraph / chapter.

If you kept a diary at any time in your life – milk it! Put it up, selectively, verbatim and / or relived – you can even retrofit the date.

Getting it down

There is a beauty and simplicity to pen/pencil onto paper. Personally I find typing it up afterwards tedious and will find myself inevitably expanding beyond the way the thing was initially written. The mistake here is that you can/do with ease turn a natural, conversational flow of thoughts into something else – verbose at best, disjoined at worst. You then get into editing and saving sections/chunks for future entries.

Ideally, whether you have notes, an essay plan or mind map to guide you, I’d recommend typing directly into the Blank Box. The QWERTY keyboard is a piano keyboard and you’re playing a ditty or having a jam.

Most blog platforms have ample editing tools, the only warning is to save regularly in some if you are prone to distraction.

Even back up onto a clipboard or Word, though personally I’m not a fan of overworking a piece in Word first.

Have a notepad, record a thought on paper or into a digital recorder, have a device that you can readily use on the go – my most fruitful blogging years were when I had a Psion – I could type this spec-case sized device and draw it into my Mac to upload.

I’ll discover in due course an iPad can offer this facility – I believe it will (and some).

A final thought for now – if you can touch-type and write stream of consciousness then how many words can you get down in so many minutes?

Let’s say you think at FIVE words a second, talk at THREE words a second and type at 40-60 words a minute. In theory in five minutes you can blog between 200 and 300 words. Perfect length. Have a plan, three or so points to make and fire away.

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Wit, authority and a love for the subject

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 06:14

The analytics on your OU blog are none existent.

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This is my page views since Feb 2010.

That's all I get. Even 12 years ago I could learn every time I logged in the latest 'views' and the views for EVERY page in my diary ... with them ranked, and selected as favourites.

These are VITAL fuel to the blogger, especially the novice blogger who is desperate for signals that having offered their soul to the world that they are getting a response.

I think in my original 1999 blog I went through the 1,00,000 views three years ago (home page), the 170,000 on the favourites (a link into a category of pages) came next with some 18,000 or so on the most read individual page.

This is one indication of interest, the next is those pages picked out as favourites by other bloggers ... simple acts, no need to comment, just tick a box to indicate you're interest in what you've just said or expressed.

I have to say, my inclination to get in the Tardis and pick up on that 1999 blog is strong. It, they were better.

Back then it was a blank page. You needed some basic coding skills and a partner, a designer, always a total unknown, like a copywriter and art director working together.

I feel the loop has gone out far enough and us bloggers will welcome the return journey.

'Wit, auhtority and a love for the subject.'

This is all you need from a blogger you want to read, exactly what you'd like from a journalist. This is a description of the journalism of Sylvia Ryder.

I am first of all a diarist, then a blogger, also a writer and copywriter. I have decade of directing work (some on TV) to call myself a director. I have acted professionally. I even get up and play guitar and sing. I write for an audience. I would call myself an animateur, even a performer.

In this random, miscellaneous, uncatergorised world I am just the words I last put out. I am defined by then, Where they go, how I tag them ... I actually wish I could leave this to others. To wrap up here and say to my team ... you tage, you post, your spread my words where we've discussed is appropriate.

If I compose a song I want to perform it.

Listening to Sylivia Ryder being interviewed this morning (Radio 4, this Saturday) and mixing this up with 'Everything is Miscellaneous' David Weinberger I came up with my own conclusion.

We will no longer make do with the cherry on the top of the cake, placed there because those who know best have made this selection for us; we want all the cheries off the tree (let us decide) and all the cherries rotting on the ground too (it is for us to decide what to discard, not you).

We do and will discard the trash.

Therefore, we must offer at least a pummet of cheries.

This is easy to do.

Sony Flip, video and sound.

Cut in iMovie.

Turn an interview around with cut-aways in a morning.

Cost ?

Time of personnel ?

£100?

 

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Bedsit for mature students - a meeting of unlike minds

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 26 Nov 2011, 16:39

I've had five nights in a guest house with FIVE OU students/academics: 3 PhD students and one 2 years post doctoral, while I come in a long way behind as I'm yet to complete my MA (though in theory it is my second MA, and I have done TWO post-graduate courses the equivalent of MAs that were not accredited). So I am another natural for life-long learning.

Conversations - who we are, defined by what we do, what we know, what we don't know and what we think.

Key components missing from online experience are: rapport, facial expressions as we listen or talk, the reciprocal nature of dialogue there is, or should be a natural see-saw of give and receive, of request and response which asynchronous threads struggle to provide.

I have had thought that as someone who kept a diary before blogging came along that this makes me a natural blogger - it helps.

There is another habit or trait that is equally important and may help others get started - the tradition in school of 'taking notes' and even 'call reports' or 'minutes' of meetings. These are starting points for a blog, the trick is to type it all up in real time, as you go along, then edit/censor before you post. Even post into a private page to exploit the affordances of the blog, the date, the place, the tags and categories and how much easier it is to find tagged information than it is to file it, whether on a desktop harddrive or printed out and put into a filing cabinet.

At its simplest level these notes are an aide memoire - they could be an audio record (Tony Benn) and Captain T Kirk - or they coule be a video log (surely you have seen Avatar - 'this is science' he says, dismissive of the importance of reflection, and right to be so given what trouble his personal record made public causes). It may even be the case that someone else takes down your every thought (Churchill's secretaries).

A writer's journal - excerpts and ntoes, can only be of practical value to their author - and if they become a successful author, authority or powerful/influential person - then to academics once archived (we love to study the creative process).

A 'Secret' Dairy is just that (or in the case of H.G.Wells locked down for 50 years, or Mark Twain 100 years). I hope the genre hasn't died just because of the compulsion to blog it, and the volume of traffic and interest that such candor, exposure or disclosure can bring. Is that it, bloggers just crave an audience? THey are in fact wannabe lead singers or actors? They'll say anything if they get an audience, the problem being with a blog to know if that audience is there.

Which is why good stats are vital. Forget comments asa guide to 'readers,' and a universal 'page views' means little. We need stats on the pages viewed, to know which are or become the hot topics. We need personalised lay-outs and we need to DROP the idea of reverse chronology which by dating an entry also ages it, and by stages gives it a sell by date.

Just because a blog puts you on a soapbox and lets you artificially put up the volume. People get around this in simple ways, they keep their blog locked, or off-line, write under a psuedonym and disguise the main character/location (but risk exposure/scandal) or they buy a hard back notebook/diary and do it that way.

________________________________________________

Note to self:

5:3:1 used to be the north American ratio of promotion, maintaining and creating a website.

1:3:5 was the mistake we said us Brits always made, putting everything into development/creation and little into getting an audience (and therefore customers).

I wonder if the desirable ratio for web 2.0 is more like 3:5:1, whereby the effort to maintain, to be active online, to be engaged in social media networking/social influence marketing is both a form of advertising AND part of the creation process?

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Blogging a dead horse

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

Dead%2520Horse.JPG

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

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

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

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

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

I just clicked away and posted this in her blog:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Use of Blogs - an enthusiast's notes

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 16 Feb 2013, 16:18

NOTES FROM USE OF BLOGS (2006 Bruns and Jacobs)

An expression I like and will use ... though it might have come from 'Everything is Miscellanoues' David Weinberger (another must read).

Random acts of journalism

Micro-new level

‘Traditional journalists treat participants as deviants rather than as citizens. Participatory news requires a reversal of these practices and should rest on the assumption that citizens are as relevant and important as public officials.’ Gans (2003) in Uses of Blogs (2007:12)

People forget when that start saying that the role/jobs of lecturers are threatened by technology ... others, if not all of us, have to adapt to the change, or be like the Amish and reject it all.

‘When big news breaks, it’s tough to beat a weblog.’ (2007, Bruns)

I recall how when the Tsuanmi struck Japan I went to the TV news channels. I started off with BBC 24, then went to CNN and stuck for the week on NHK from Japan as it was closer to action, as it were, and the other two were taking the feeds from NHK mostly anyway.  I thought my 12 year old son should have been taking an interest, in fact he was one step ahead watching photage (Freudian slip or how we ought to spell)

‘Such unedited, firsthand accounts have also come to have significance beyond reporting the news and contrasting friends and family.’ Uses of Blogs (2007:13)

Is being ‘Unedited’ the key to authenticity I ask? And the first draft tone of a conversation? Well written, but from the heart, a stream of consciouness expressed as it is formed.

What a person has to say matters more than spelling, grammar or even style. In this respect I wonder if getting people to blog is about building up people's confidence when it comes to doing this ... writing. That they could be crippled by a school experience that crushed their every effort.

I learn that a huge rush to blog was prompted by 9/11 and these become know as 'Warblogs'.

The point that matters is the event the got people going. Better to start keeping a dairy on January 1st, than any other day of the year. Better to start a blog when you, your family, team are marking the start of an era. Might a requirement to keep a blog on the company intranet be written into a person's contract!

‘Most of what they bring to the table is opinion and analysis – punditry.’ Raine (2005) in Uses of Blogs (2007:12)

I like this. And I prefer the stance that bloggers take. Many are frank in their views. They may be opinionated, but they are up for a verbal struggle. Many have insights that no journalists could ever have.

‘Redefining the journalist’s role as an annotional or orientational one, a shift from watchdog to the ‘guidedog’. Bowman et al (2005)

Just as we want or expect tutors to be more coach-like in their behaviour, not teachers, but guides, facilitators or 'animateurs'. Or, if they still want to teach at their students, challenge them to treat their students as clients, that their remuneration is based on how many they retain for the duration of a module ... and that in the web 2.0 world everything (it has taken thirty years or wishful thinking in industry) is bottom up, responding to what customers/students want not they need to be shoehorned into.

Before Google surfing the net, indiscriminate browsing, or deliberate searching was looking for a needle in a haystack, today you look for a needle in a stack of needles. You are spoilt for choice. You go for anything in the top search.

GateKeeping to GateWatching

Commentators

‘New bloggers form a distributed community of commentators who will engage with one another’s views on the news as much as with those expressed in other news sources.’ (2007:16)

The exact same applies to learning ... certainly at postgraduate level, possibly even at undergraduate level. If we can find a way to share what we are doing we can learn together from the experience.

Publish, then filter vs filter, then publish.

Before and after, even web 1.0 to web 2.0. As we progress what we do online will lose its ties with old broadcasting/publishing mechanisms and behaviours.

There is no intermediary. There should be no one to get in your way. You have something to show and tell, show it and tell it - write about it, sing about it, paint it or photograph it.

‘Writer submits their stories in advance, to be edited or rejected before the public ever sees them. Participants in a community, by contrast, say what they have to say and the good is sorted from the mediocre after the fact.’ Shirky (2004)

The words someone writes and publishes here should never be edited, nor the grammar or writing style commented upon (unless it is praise). Positive feedback, any feedback should be to encourage, to give more of the same, to find a voice, and to develop and learn through trial and error.

‘Multiperspectival news is the bottom-up corrective for the mostly top-down perspectives of the news media.’ Gans (2003:103)

It isn't even the case of things being turned on their head, rather it is the case that the gatekeepers should join the throng.

‘A new media ecosystem … where online communities also produce participator journalism, grassroots reporting, annotative reporting, commentary and fact-checking, which the mainstream media feed upon, developing them as a pool of tips, sources and story ideas.’ Bowman and Willis (2005:13)

‘Deconstruction of content, demystification of technology and finally do-it-yourself or participatory authorship are the three steps through which a programmed populace returns to autonomous thinking, action and self-determination.’ Rushkoff (2003:24)

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Chance meetings and face-to-face explanations - to blog, of network? Aren't they the same thing?

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Because I am living with FIVE OU students it is inevitable that we talk about what we do.

I find myself explaining the difference between blogs and social networking. I used the idea of a fish tank full of water and dripping different coloured inks into this, each colour representing a blog, social networking site, twitter (microblog) .. or e-portfolio or, what we used to have, a webpage.

I find myself recommending a blog site and suggesting its value.

If I have succeeded in getting two people started who had reservations was it because of the personal rapport, that we know each other a bit after a few days, that we've have previous conversations?

How would I achieve this online?

The exchange I've just had captured on video for a start. The narrative, as it plays out of the first 100 entries of these two.

Much more of the same?

In the workplace people can be encourage to blog on and for the Intranet. Someone with contributions that appear to deserve a wider audience could, with that person's permission of course, be released.

Outside the workplace it might still require a.n.other to take the initiative. I've not tried it, but I know it can be done, and that might be to use Edublogs, pay a sub to group 50 blogs, give them all a temporary name (the person's first name probably). And perhaps have 12 titles for blogs they might write.

A workshop? A presentation?bl

 

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