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Mind, metaphor and mirror neurons - and the impact on blogging

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Nov 2014, 06:56

1. Are we hard-wired to how we conceptualise ideas?

2. Does this help or hinder the way we use eLearning tools?

3. Will children, say, 50 years from now, look at paper and pen in the same way as a person does now when they take a first look at computer?

4. Are we at some 'transition' point, and if we are, what does this mean?

My tutor in H808 asked me this on 12th September.

I feel far better able to reply now after four months of H808 and some fortuitous reading, though I did respond at the time. My forum thread exchange then and reflection on it today will form part of my ECA.

It surprises me that I have subscribed to a magazine at all, but I find the New Scientist offers plenty on our e-world upon which to reflect and insights to all kinds of other things that tickle my brain.

It matters that you read broadly.

The French Film Director Francois Truffaut was a firm believer of reading everything and anything that caught your attention. He’d have loved the web. It matters that you follow what the web offers, then browse the shelves for magazines at the newsagent on the forecourt of your station.

My favourite button that has been crucial to the longevity of my blog (elsewhere) for the last seven years is ‘Enter@Random.’

We don’t think in chronological order.

thinking is a mess, it selects ideas and makes things up sing different sides and corners and crooks and crannies of our brains. I unplugged the calendar on my diary in year one and replaced it with 12 themes that have now grown to 37. For a period there were 37 blogs, but try managing that, to say you end up with a split personality is an understatement.

My tutor put it to me (and us) the H808 Tutor Group:

1. Are we hard-wired to how we conceptualise ideas?

Dr Vilayanur S Ramachandran thinks so. We have a unique capacity to think in metaphors. This matters. It is this ability that makes us creative, allows us to be inventive, it is what makes us human beings.

Read all about in the New Scientist.

Quoted here within the 200 word count permission for a student quote.

Added as for student reading in a non-commercial academic context having read the copyright permissions.

Ramachandran is particularly interested in metaphor because it ties in neatly with his previous work on synaesthesia - a kind of sensory hijack, where, for example, people see numbers as colours or taste words. "Metaphor is our ability to link seemingly unrelated ideas, just like synaesthesia links the senses," he says.

After spending years working with people who have synaesthesia, he believes "pruning genes" are responsible. In the fetal brain, all parts of the brain are interconnected, but as we age, the connections are pruned. If the pruning genes get it wrong, the connections are off. "If you think of ideas as being enshrined in neural populations in the brain, if you get greater cross-connectivity you're going to create a propensity towards metaphorical thinking," he says.

I don't have synaesthesia, neither does Ramachandran, but he points out to me the strangeness of asking why, say, the cheddar cheese in your sandwich is "sharp". It's true, cheese isn't sharp, it's soft, so why do I use a tactile adjective to describe a gustatory sensation? "It means our brains are already replete with synaesthetic metaphors," he says. "Your loud shirt isn't making any noise, it's because the same genes that can predispose you to synaesthesia also predispose you to make links between seemingly unrelated ideas, which is the basis of creativity."

www.NewScientist.com.

Thomson (2010)

Of the 12 photographs in this issue as many as 8, I think, are from the Getty Image bank. I wonder if one day, especially if I’m reading this on an iPad the images will move, rather as the paints are alive in the background of a Harry Potter movie. It wouldn’t take much for a photography to video as well as, or instead of taking a photograph. Indeed, the BBC now permit directors to generate HD TV footage using digital SLR cameras … the lenses are better, the creative choices wider.

Interesting.

2. Does this help or hinder the way we use eLearning tools?

How we use the web, let alone e-learning tools is in its infancy. We are still putting old ways online, still making web-pages into slide shows and calling them immersive learning. Gaming may change this, with the budget. Better, faster tools will enabled more. Collaboration on world wide wikis with like minds, and great minds, contributing will speed up the rate of change.

We’ll think in the same metaphors though, share and reinforce new metaphors and then some Leonardo da Vinci of the 21st century will come along and break it apart. Though we may not appreciate their insights at all.

Mobile learning, smart-phone learning on the move, or whatever you want to call it should shake things up. At first this will be, and is, the same old stuff sent to your phone, basic card to card Q&A even if it includes a bit if video or an animated graph.

I want learning projected onto the back of my scull, I want it in my head, not online or in a device. I want interactions with specific parts of my brain. I want my brain duplicated so that I can take more lessons at the same time, to learn multiple languages and to take several degrees simultaneously.

3. Will children, say, 50 years from now, look at paper and pen in the same way as a person does now when they take a first look at computer?

It is extraordinary the relationship between our minds and out limbs, or arms and finger tips. With training we can sight read a score and play complex musical pieces, we can scroll, cut, edit, fly and colourise images into a piece of drama that has us crying, or heads in our hands and we can type, like the clappers.

We can draw too, and sculpt, and swim and dance and do gymnastics.

Our relationship with the nerves in our body is a complex one. As for handwriting, our relationship with fountain pens, marker pens and pencils? It ought to be a skill still taught at school, there need to be handwriting competitions as there once were … even if they are tied into art classes and design.

How different is a stylus on a tablet to a piece of chalk on a slate?

I implore my children to write and draw. An illegible Christmas list is no list at all. They’d type, they do type. Yet how backwards is a QWERTY keyboard?

4. Are we at some 'transition' point, and if we are, what does this mean?

Yes. And I mean to be part of it.

We have reached the Tipping Point.

A book a read if I recall in 2001 when we thought we were approaching a tipping point, actually we were reaching the point at which the first e-bubble would burst. First and last? These things go in cycles, whatever the politicians do to stymie human nature. Greed and regret, progress, reflection, reinvention … then we do it all over.

We’re not even less violent than we were at the times of the Viking raids.

Meandering? A stream of consciousness? Reflection? Regurgitation?

All of this, and it all matters. You don’t have to read it, and you probably haven’t. This is here for me to find when I need it in seven months or seven years time.

It is remarkable how your views change; so it matters to have what you originally thought in front of you. There are memories I have that haven’t just been reworked over the decades, but have become different events. This isn’t simply age, though that has much to do with it, I view what I did as a child or teenager as I observe my own children today, the difference is, I can’t influence the behaviour and actions of my younger self, though I can, I hope listen to and guide my own children to actions and decisions they will feel comfortable with in the years to come

REFERENCE

Thomson, H (2010) V. S. Ramachandran: Mind, metaphor and mirror neurons 10 January 2011 by Helen Thomson Magazine issue 2794.

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This is the e-century, the 21st century things are different, very different indeed.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Jul 2012, 08:06

This is the e-century, the 21st century things are different, very different indeed.It has taken me a decade to get round to thinking this.

In 1999 one of my very first blogs was also the basis of a workshop I gave to ABB Communications Managers on 'How to write for the web.'

My title was, 'There's nothing's New about New Media.'

In one respect I was right, writing comes in many forms and writing online needs to tailor itself less to the online experience than to the space, time, audience, purpose, just as you would write each of the following in a different way:

• Letter to your mum.

• Christmas Shopping list.

• Footnote to a speech a colleague is giving.

• To camera presenter.

• Voice over presenter.

• Technical 'how to'.

• Writer's journal.

• Stream of consciousness on the state of your relationship.

• Dream analysis.

• Geography essay.

• Aggitated response to the local planning department who are knocking down the houses opposite to widen the road into a dual-carriageway.

• Threaded discussion on a popstars dress-sense.

• Notes to a lawyer regarding your step-mother's cliam on your late father's estate.

  • Notes from a report you've read.
  • The first draft of an essay your are writing.
  • The transcript of a council meeting.
  • A short story.
  • An obituary.
  • A commercial selling yoghurt drinks
  • A campaign message from a politician

Keep adding.

Parameters help.

is a writer's trick. Twitter shouldn't be the only place to deny the freedom to pontificate in this way without any intention of editing.

Though I've slipped up occasionally my rule in OU Land has been 250 words for a threaded discussion, 500 words in the blog and anything more either break the blog up into seperate entries, offer it as an attachment or link away to a different site.

1000 words min per entry was a rule some of use early bloggers agreed to in 2002 to cut out those who would put in a line, twenty times a day, to get their page numbers up.

My longest single entry ran to over 10,000 words, written as I travelled 800 miles by train and ferry across Southern England, the English Channel and France sad

Guaranteed to stop any reader on the second paragraph.

Though it works broken into 30 pages with illustrations.

So in this respect it worked, all I posted was an early draft. Had I been a co-author I would not have needed to do anything else. And my notes would have been better off in a wiki.

Put everything that has been written, and everything that is going to be written, or expressed in the spoken or written word and put it in the e-blender. This is the web for the first decade. Now add photos and music. This is the last decade. Now add everything else, all moving images, video, every film, every corporate training film, anything and everything anyone ever records, or films, or has transferred or will transfer from film, or tape to a digital format.

Put it in this blender and leave the lid off. If you've ever blended the partially cooked ingredients for leek and potatoe soup you know what is going to happen.

Now look around your kitchen.

This is the web for the insider's point of view. There'll be some tastey bits - stuck to the ceiling, if you can reach them.

Now do the same with a vast blender in the middle of the Albert Hall.

Splat

Or should I be kinder, and imagine the 21st web to be like visiting the Planetarium armed with my own laser so that I can interact.

The mind boggles; mine does, relentlessly.

 

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For 26 years this is all I could write about ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 28 May 2012, 16:50

Then you settle into married life and children and, as I now do, I celebrate my 18th Wedding anniversary, my younger sister's 25th and the 50th anniversary of my in-laws.

I read about people who plan to digitise their life. The ephemera I have includes the diaries and a trunk of handwritten letters; rememeber them? And letters this boy sent to his Mum from about the age of 8.

Wherein lies the value of it? A useful habit, as it turns out, but do we expect our want a new generation to store every text, every message, every Facebook entry. Are these not stored whether they like it or not ... and potentially shared. Whose business should it be, when and if to 'disclose' or 'expose' a life. It can be of value, but it can also be harmful.

On the reverse side of this card is a note to my fiance, written on the 17th February 1992. We'd been engaged for 8 months, were living apart and would be together that summer and remain together now.

The value of reflection here, is a reminder of these sentiments. The value of any record, any stirred memory, can be to reinforce it, to be cherished, forgotten or dealt with. But if you haven't taken notes, you rely on the vagaries of your mind. So perhaps a massively scaled down version of digitising everything you do may have value, like a broach you press on occassion 'for the record.

All of this STILL coming from a single Opinion piece in the New Scientist (23 December to 1 Jan) about someone digitising every moment of their existence.

P1110008.JPG
From 11-01-2011

This is how the 'professional' student or corporate blog should look ... not social networking, no flirting, no personal stuff, just the business - something to chew on.

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Here's an idea

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Jul 2012, 08:14

Rather than feeling that I am entering the blog domain to write this I ought to be able to cyndicate/allocate or aggregate this as or after I have wrote it by clicking on one of three buttons:

Traffic Light painted on ArtPad

Eportfolio

Wiki

Blog

At my behest I am therefore deciding that this is a moment to be shared (but not tampered with), evidence or information that I wish to store/collate (ideally by themes of my choosing), and/or a chunk of information (or offering) as wiki content (initiated or an edit insert).

Simplified and disengenious, but a starting point.

And on reflection, perhaps, how good learning works: it starts with simple ideas that can be grasped and works outwards. E-learning doesn't simply work outwards though, it spreads in directions of the learner's choosing (ideally), like fractals, like a mind-map, as a result of, enabled and speeded up through myelination.

Were I writing a video script on eportfolios, wiki and blogs this might be how I begin, either animating this or going out and filming various traffic lights. I may paint this with water-paints onto laminate card and drop it into an aquarium and film it. My enduring analogy being that whatever we do online are but zeros and ones in a digital ocean, all programming does is remove the chaos and worthlessness of trillions of unconnected binary numbers.

Perhaps I've just convinced myself too of the value of Open Source.

And this is only the first idea of the morning. Something must have been breing in my sleep.

Though yet to do justice here to the Opinion piece in the New Scientist something struck me about  the Cover Story on epigentic changes and their relevance to evolution.

DEFINITION

Q. What is Myelin?

A. Myelin is a phospholipid layer that surrounds only the axons of many neurons. The main role of a myelin layer (or sheath) is an increase in the speed at which impulses pass along the myelinated fiber. Demyelination is the act of demyelinating, or the loss of the myelin sheath insulating the nerves, and is the cause of some neurodegenerative autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, transverse myelitis, Alexander's disease, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, Guillain-Barré Syndrome and central pontine myelinosis. Here is a link to a website that tells more about it:
http://www.myelin.org/

 

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E-diary, e-reader, e-by god what next?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 9 Jan 2011, 08:58

I'll have had 3,000 words out of the New Scientist article, 'Dear, E-Diary' before I'm finished. (New Scientist 23 December / 1 January).


I can think of little else, how pointless it would be to record all that you do and see and hear all day. And then, taking a swimming group this morning, armed with a digital recorder and headset I wondered if recording my instructions and tips to the swimmers over 2 hours +, if done every week for a few months, at least following through all the strokes, progressions and skills, if this could become the basis of a podcast series reduced to 4-6 mins each? The kids would initially say something about the headset and mouthpiece ... and probably offer some commentary, most of which I could now lift out having mastered WavePad.

On verra.

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Dear,dear, e-diary ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Nov 2011, 18:03

There's a piece in the New Scientist this last fortnight about the merits of not only keeping a diary, but digitising every moment of your waking life. The piece opens with the suggestion that at this time of year everyone is buying a diary; they're not. Most of us buy a diary in August as an academic diary if you have anything to do with educaiton (student, teacher, academic or parent) is a much more logical thing to have to carry you through the shool year. In any case, who cares where you start your diary if its digital or even a Filofax insert.

There's criticism of the Five Year Diary format, those diaries with a few lines to cover the day's events - where did Twitter get their idea from. A few lines every day is far easier to achieve than a page or more per day. I should know, I've been at it long enough.

Parameters, as any writer will know, matter.

They contain what might otherwise be a stream of never ending unconsciousness

Deadlines and word counts are helpful.

I wish I could do the research against the clock too. I have to give X hours to each topic, I would happily give x weeks and a some stage in that week I'd see I could press on for a month. I get this way when my curiosity is taking me off on a mental ramble.

The idea of keeping an objective, digitally record of everything you do does intrigue, not because of the data it captures, though I've had a few years that would be fun to re-live, but what it misses out. This is the idea of a researcher at Micrsoft who is recording his every action (and motion). However, the process misses out how you feel, and what you think.

And would have to be deactivated going through airports, going to the bank or Post Office, swimming with the kids in a public pool ... there's quite a list.

'It's a matter of love,' wrote Nabakov, 'the more you love a memory the stronger than memory becomes.'

How is such strength afforded a memory that remains on the surface of the mind, as there is no need to make the mental effort to embedded it, or to recall it, other than watching it over like a movie. A very bad, very dull, badly lit and performed movie.

'By having everything in e-memory you don't have to remember anymore.'

On the contrary by short-circuiting the implicit, instinctive natural memories making myelination process of the brain you are replacing something fluid and static, albeit it a multitude of snapshots.

 

 

 

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90% of users are lurkers

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 18:06

The 90-9-1 Rule


90% of users are "lurkers" (i.e. they read or browse but don't contribute)

9% of users contribute from time to time, but other priorities dominate their time

1% of users participate very often and account for most of the contributions

From Jakob Nielson


So don't feel bad about. Enjoy lurking. We all lurk, we all contribute from time to time ... and I dare say there are places where we all contribute very often.Just not here.

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Long live the diary, blog, journal-thingey.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 26 Oct 2011, 21:55

On dedicated diarists

In the Guardian Review in March 2003 William Boyd discussed the journal. I know this because it caught my eye on 9/03/2003 and I gave it a thorough blogging.

There are many sorts of journal (wrote Boyd):

  • journals written with both eyes fixed firmly on posterity
  • journals designed never to be read by anyone but the writer.
  • journals content to tabulate the banal and humdrum details of ordinary lives
  • journals meant expressly to function as a witness to momentous events of history.
  • journals that act as erotic stimulants or a psychoanalytic crutch
  • journals designed simply to function as an aide-memoire, perhaps as a rough draft for a later, more polished account of life.

But buried within these varying ambitions and motivations is a common factor that unites all these endeavours - the aspiration to be honest, to tell the truth.

The implication being that in the privacy of this personal record, things will be said and observations made that couldn't or wouldn't be uttered in a more public forum. Said Boyd.

(Wherein lies the blogs fundamental flaw. Do you tell the truth? Or skip the truth and become inventive with it?) Say I.

Hence the adjective "intimate" so often appended to the noun "journal". Said Boyd.

The idea of secret diaries, of intimate journals, somehow goes to the core of this literary form: there is a default-setting of intimacy - of confession - in the private record of a life that not only encourages the writing of journals but also explains their fascination to the reader.'

Said Boyd.

Wherein lies the lack of interest in the blog as academic record and reflection; it is your reflection and your record. If on paper it would be in an exercise book or an arch-lever file. Without some truth, some revelation, some disclosure, even exposure, it is but a carapace.

Seven years ago I invited people to comment, formed a group and promised to read the journals given below.

Few fellow bloggers came forward, it's a Long Run, a life-long marathon, not a thing you do as a relay team or with someone on you back.

Seven years on I may read some more of the journals listed below and see what insights it offers this blogger. I suspect I've read everything there is on Evelyn Waugh and Virginia Woolf - and everything they wrote (though I'm yet to jump into the River Ouse with my Gant raincoat pockets full of rocks. A passing thought as I walk the dog most days where the lady drowned herself).


William Boyd's to Ten Journal Keepers

James Boswell

Keith Vaughan

Paul Klee

Evelyn Waugh

Gilbert White

Cyril Connolly

Virginia Woolf

Edmund Wilson

Valery Larbaud

Katherine Mansfield

'It mimics and reflects our own wayward passage through time like no other writing form.' Boyd says.

'You have to be dead to escape the various charges of vanity, of special-pleading, of creeping amour-propre.'

The blog I kept for a decade and a bit more Sept 1999 to early 2000 spiralled a non-chronological 'dump' on 37 themes.

Occasionally I take a visit; it's like digging around in my in-law's attic (they give the appearance og having kept everything they ever read. They are voracious readers and are in their eighties)

A blog for me is:

  • A record
  • A journal
  • An aide-memoir
  • My deleterious exploits
  • The past (every memory gathered in, every book read, every film seen).
  • Dreams analysed
  • Fiction
  • Ill-health
  • My mental state
  • Every stage and phase of growing up dissected.

Its purpose?

Who knows.

This OU Blog does have an educational remit. For me it's an attempt to be bustled onto the tracks from which I became derailed. Perhaps. Or a compulsion to empty the contents of my Brian down any drain that'lll take it.

That, and I don't know what I mean until I've said it.

All this and I'm yet to get my head around the Opinion Piece in the New Scientist. 'Dear e-diary, who am I really?' and the potty idea of slinging a digital camera around your neck to record your every living moment.

Two things it vitally fails to pick up: what you think and how you feel.

Long live the diary, blog, journal-thingey.

12 months ago I was preparing to apply to West Dean College to study an M.A. in Fine Art, perhaps, now that I begin to look at the diaries of Paul Keel and Keith Vaughan this is where I should be.


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Pepys teaches the 21st century blogger everything.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 5 Jan 2011, 11:45

On how Pepys kept his diary

(From the author's diary 2/1/1993

With comments in relation to blogging in OU land.

Pepys composed his diary in five stages:

First, the accumulation of bills, minutes, official papers, news books and rough notes on a day's proceedings.

Second, the gathering of these into a form which combined accounts with diary style notes.

Third, the entering of the account and business matters into the appropriate manuscript/books, and the first revision of the general entries which were intended for the final manuscript.

Fourth, entry of these notes into the diary-book (with care and over time), adapted to the space.

Fifth, reading over the entries that had been made shortly before, making small corrections and stylistic improvements and inserting some further details at the ends of paragraphs and entries.'

From W. Matthews, 'Introduction to Pepys Diaries II, ppcii

How many steps do you take when writing your blog entry? One or none? That an workm but it can also be a flop. Are you saying what you meant? Should you be saying it at all? Who are you writing it for in any case? If it's meant for your Tutor do they pop by? Never. If it's meant for your Tutor group should they comment? I wish they would, just a note 'yep, been here' would do for me sometimes.


William Matthews goes on to say what makes a good diary and what makes a bad one.

'Almost all diaries that give genuine and protracted pleasure to an ordinary reader do so because the diarists possessed, instinctively or by training, some of the verbal, intellectual and emotional talents that characterise the novelist. Diaries are not novels; they are bound to reality, with its deplorable habit of providing excellent story situations and so artistically satisfactory ends.'

(What amuses me is the mixture of French, Spanish and Latin Pepys uses to hide what he was getting up to with various girls; not something the modern diariast would do, the detail of any encounter always producing the most hits. But diarist as novelist? Perhaps. Below you'll find an Oxford tutor making the case for journalism in essay writing style.)

But also the man, Pepys, because of his variety of amateur interests had a passion for life which sustains a diary which requires a rich weave of activity if it is to remain interesting.

'Pepys was a typical 17th century virtuoso, a man who justified himself by the diversity of his interests.'

W.M. Pepys VI, 'Diary as literature, ppCx
ii

'His literary instinct led Pepys to relate a story excitingly whenever the materials gave him the chance ... diaries bring a reader closer to human actuality than any other form of writing. As life-records they present a natural disorder and emphasis which is artfully rearranged in biography, and so somewhat corrupted. As self-delineations they deal directly with people and events which in the novel are subjected to the stresses and conventions of art and design. And in many ways they are the most natural and instinctive product of the art of writing.' (W.M. Pepys Vol 1, ppCXii)

REFERENCE

Matthews, W et al (2000) Pepys' Diary (Highbridge Classics) (2000) Robert Latham, Samuel Pepys, Michael Maloney (edit contributors)

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H800 tips on blogging - keeping a diary online

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 18:50

Tips on keeping a journal

From a blog first posted by this author 06/10/2003 www.jonathan.diaryland.com (Locked. Accessed 4JAN11)

‘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 1974 (In the introduction to Ira Progoff's book)

Like many young men I came to Anais Nin and Henry Miller through the Philip Kaufman film 'Henry and June.' I was living in Paris and soon found myself buying up hardback copies of Anais Nin's Journals and copies of Henry Miller's opus: Sexus, Plexus, and Nexus, as well as Tropic of Cancer ... All worthy insights on how to blog. Their letters are a good read too.

The key to this kind of writing is to let go, it isn't an exercise book, that's what an e-portfolio does, acts as a more discrete, shareable repository of assessable / gradeable work. Of course, what's the difference between a blog, an e-portfolio and a wiki come to think of it? Very little, indeed if you call them an e-journal, e-portfolio and e-agenda you may recognise that binds them. The are simply compartments within the digital ocean, compartments that allow for some osmis and transfer of e-fluids, which can be e-text, e-video, e-audio, or e-drawings. Can you see why I feel the 'e-' is redundant?

From wikipeadia I learn that:

Ira Progoff (August 2, 1921 – January 1, 1998)

Ira Progoff was an American psychotherapist, best known for his development of the Intensive Journal Method while at Drew University. His main interest was in depth psychology and particularly the humanistic adaptation of Jungian ideas to the lives of ordinary people.

Some ideas on how to start your diary

(For diary read blog. As it is the New Year now is as good a time as any to make a start)

In ‘The New Diary’ by Tristine Rainer.

  • Begin with a self-portrait
  • Begin with a period
  • Begin with today

Each time I come back to this diary 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. (Tristine Rainer)

There’s now a National Diary Archive in the US

Someone thinks they have worth.

Will the handwritten diary, like the handwritten letter outlive the digital era? If someone digs up a sealed chest in five hundred years time and faced with some books, some letters and a memory stick which do you think they wil read first?

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

Over these days my desire is to reach some conclusions regarding the modern blog, its use in education and how to describe the benefits to the uninitiated and unimpressed.

How about this; whilst it is possible to paste anything in here, keep it live and real.

You may have notes, so paste them in and add. This is not an eportfolio, nor a repository - it is an open letter, more so in the OU Platform as this is being pinned to a digital noticeboard.

That's it. A letter.

If spoken then in the style of Alistair Cooke's 'Letter from America.

And remember, this isn't a letter that expects a reply (for reply read comment) as it is written to its author. The value, take note OU, is barely in the present, but six months, six years even sixteen years down the line.

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On going from keeping a regular diary to writing a blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Nov 2014, 07:01

I have in front of me the Five Year Diary I was given age 13 years 5 months. Each entry runs to about the length of a Twitter. I kept this up for 7 years, supplementing these entries with an A4 hard back journal from 1979. In one bonkers month, September 1979, the month went into an arch-lever file. I could write as much as I wanted. Nuts. Not only that I kept receipts from shows, bus tickets to school and best of all, a note I had to take to a school uniform outfitters from my Mum that reads, 'Please will you give my son Jonathan an RGS blazer and a Westfield School skirt and charge to my account.' Thankfully, I wasn't asked to try them both on.

I may Twitter my Five Year Diary entries across the Net in a suitably retro 1970s format, though 'got up, had a bath, watched TV, fed the rabbit' isn't too engaging. It gets better. I can't share what I was doing in 1979.

I also have my late Grandfather's logbook from his period training as a fighter pilot in 1918. He'd just transferred from the Machine Gun Corps where he'd served through the Somme and Paschendale. His handwriting is extraordiary. I'll put up a photo.

And my late Father's logbook from his sailing days, first there was Canny Lass, then there was Serendipity. His car had the number plate STOIC sad But we don't chose our parents do we?

Why all this interest in diaries and logbooks?

In 1999 I noted that there were 6000 diaries (sic) in diaries.net and 2000 in Diaryland few months after its launch.

Having transcribed and uploaded 16000 entries I can now browse through a portion of thirty years or so as if I'd been blogging. I can call up several 'essays' on Net Journals and web-logs too. Having done so I can drill even further than I did at the time into the author's cited. Courtesy of Google I can complete my research and indulge myself. There are some great diaries, great diariest and some useful books on the genre too; bloggers take note.

I'm starting to look very closely through this content for the patterns that others would find too if they kept a simple diary, a basic, regular blog.

There value comes with the passing years. I can find enough in what I have written to know who I was with and what I was doing on the 4th January between 1976 and 2011. I'm suprised how often there was snow in the 70s (this is Tyneside). On 4th January 1979 I crashed a car on ice heading for my girlfriend's house in Wylam on the other side of the Penines. The road from Brough to Bowes on the A66 was blocked with snow so I had to double-back via Carlisle and Hexham.

In a world where a life of learning is expected and the technology makes it possible, keeping a blog, some private, some open, some themed must begin to pay dividends for the author who is actively engaged with the content, rather than simply letting the events of the past go by unaddressed.

Blogs are such simple things, but surely, in their myriad of forms (you could say that Facebook entries and Twitter reports are as journal-like as any longer entry in a blog, or online magazine or other website) more could find educational and personal value in them?

So how to persuade students to keep a educational blog? To form the habit?

Promotion, example, and the devious inclusion on any course of a professional 'catalyst' who blogs and comments discretely and often to get then keep the blog ball rolling.

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The reflective blog (or diary)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 26 Nov 2011, 16:24

The current Radio 4 series on the genre, celbrities reading from their childhood diaries, shows that keeping a diary is rather more common practice than I had thought. I am one of those people who began a diary age 13 and has never stopped. 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). Available from: http://sorubank.ege.edu.tr/~bouo/DLUE/Chapter-08/Chapter-8-makaleler/Assessment%202_%20Self%20and%20peer%20assessment.htm (accessed 6 August 2010).


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Course overlap H807, H808, H800 ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Jul 2012, 13:29

I had thought as I did H807 that it would be good to do again, that it was all happening too fast, not just relearning how to study, but knowing how best to function in this online environment.

Frank Coterell-Boyce reflected on what an advantage he gopt doing year 6 over in primary school because he was too young for Secondary School. It is extraordinary how empowering it is to feel on top of a subject.

As it turns out there is overlap between H807 and H808; for the most part I am grateful. On the other hand I wonder if I couldn't have done this MA in a year and done 20-30 hours a week instead.

Still, this is a chance for me to make choices regarding the plethora of tools and platforms available. This is the problem, having hundreds of software packages and apps that may or may not make a contribution to a piece of work I may, or may not, at some stage prepare (probably not) and deliver.

I'm surprised how on a second or third go with Skype, Google Docs and Skype that you can feel at home with them and share what they do with others. I translated a swimming coach's CV on sports credentials from Catalan to English using Google Docs this morning. Extraordinary.

I already upload to Flickr and Facebook, and YouTube. I blog anything between 1,000 and 10,000 words a day. I walk around with the means to photograph anything, video anything or record notes on anything all of which can be easily uploaded to a myriad of mostly free platforms.

And if people want me on a mobile device that easy for them to set up.

But what is the contents of my mind worth?

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Retrofitting prose with references, name dropping and blog stats

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 May 2014, 08:24

I consider it to be an expression of the progress that I am making that the first part of the TMA I have just written I completed in a straight three hour run with nothing more than a treatment in the form of a Venn Diagram doodled on a sheet of A3 to draw upon and the assignment title and defining outline pasted onto the top of the page on which I have been typing.

There are notes and figures and grabs all over the place.

I immersed myself in the topic last night when I keyed in 'learning' to MyStuff and found I had 463 assets to ponder. Though nearly discombobulated by the sluggishness of MyStuff I just about had enough in the titles and tags of the saved pieces to know if something was or was not worth reviewing. It was an interesting journey, not least that for me H808 is very much the second module, with H807 feeling like a foundation course before the real thing. And yet for some people I appreciate H808 is their first or even their last module towards the MA.

Talking of which, I registered for H800 in February 2011.

I feel I'm on a roll and don't want to take a break.

Between getting the kids into school and making a fresh pot of coffee the thought I had wanted to share here was the problem I potentially face with the essay I've just written. Previously I have used a list of referenced ideas and strung them together like fairy-lights to produce an essay that may not flow, or wrap well around itself well, but does the business. I fear if I now try to retrofit references and quotes that I may spoil it. On the other hand, this is the difference between writing a letter home and an academic paper.

My belief is that I know to whom I am referring when I use their ideas and dropping in their names and correcting any misquotes and incorrect expressions of their ideas will do the job.

On verra.

Another figure that I spied ... I've hit 10000 hits in my OU blog, which translates as 1000 per month. As we have no way to read the stats that underly these figures I can only make a conservative guess that 50-75% of all of this action is me. On the other hand, I do notice that I've been getting 25, then 50 and possibly 100 'hits' a day even when I've not blogged at all. Vanity or curiosity, or both.

Do emerge from the electronic woodwork please.

A comment is part of the collaborative process that is the essence of the full e-learning experience.

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Ivan and the dogs

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 22 Oct 2010, 08:00

Ivan and the Dogs

Occasionally I am engaged by a radio play, this one had me parked up for the final 15 minutes. Yes, I can get it on iPlayer, but I enjoyed it on its first outing (I think).

Dickensian, gripping, magic, visual and dramatic.

If I had the means to buy the film rights I'd get them in the bag tonight. This is one for Warner Brothers (does that diminish it). I hope not.

Hatti Naylor's play directed by Paul Dodgson. A Peer Production for BBC. 14h30 Thursday 21st October 2010.

From the BBC iPlayer podcast blurb:

Based on the extraordinary true story of a boy adopted by a pack of wild dogs on the streets of Moscow.

Ivan Mishukov walked out of his drunken, arguing parents flat aged 4 and went to live on the streets of Moscow. There he was adopted by a pack of wild dogs and with them he spent two winters on the streets. When the play begins Ivan is now 11 and has never told anyone of his time with the dogs until one night his foster mother promises another dog if he will tell his story.

The story takes us though the backstreets of Moscow at a time when the idea of life itself was being devalued and where we meet glue-sniffing children who fight for their territory in underground sewers and drunks who will freeze to death in the winter. Amidst this human catastrophe Ivan learns that only his dogs can really be trusted and embarks on an extraordinary relationship of mutual need.

Credits: Ivan: Tom Glenister Cellist: Sarah Moody

Go listen while you can.

Simple, engaging, moving, relevant ...

and if you have children (an 11 year old boy at some stage helps) and have or have had aa dog, you'll love it.

Which probably explains why it caught my attention ... narrowcasting like a rifle at the man with a 12 year old son and a 2 year old nonsense of a fluffy white dog.

(If you are going to write, know your audience, for radio, this is a single person. Is this not the case with all stories? )

Is this not valid for any kind of communication?

 

 

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Using a bog(s)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 20 Oct 2010, 04:54

For the last hour I've been drilling deeper into the layers of Compendium in order to collate and compose and collect evidence for H808 TMA01 which requires reflection on the first FOUR units of 'The E-learning professional.'

I noticed this typo and a rye smile forms. The temptation is to leave it. For some this is the attitude to blogs and bloggers, that it all might as well be flushed away.

As we know, this writer thinks differently.

I think there is value in the flotsam and jetsam of one's mind being backed-up in some way, whether privately in a diary-like blog that is private for you only to read, or a mind-opening memoire, a personal internal-debate or simply a record of what you do and who you meet and what is said ... that you expose and disclose to others, selectively or otherwise, to make friends, or not, to find like-minds ... on a blogging platform that suites you or in/or your own website.

This here isn't for the purposes of social networking.

This is just one thing that sets the OU Blog patform apart from others. I like this scroll or honour, the vicarious way in which entries you would otherwise never read are placed before yor eyes.

Having blogged for 11 years and 3 weeks it is the relationship with only one or two people that comes to matter. You get into each other's heads, or at least that part you are willing to share. Their voice becomes familiar, their views respected and valued.

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H808 Core activity 4.1: Multimedia as evidence

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 12:34

How can you create and store evidence of your engagement with different media in the following types of activity on H808?

Contributions to online discussion

  • Select and export to MyStuff
  • Screen Grab. Date and name.
  • Export to word, cut and paste. Store on hard drive.
  • Note any references, when accessed and URL
  • Cut and paste into PebblePad
  • Title and tag for easy search at a later date


Personal blog postings or comments on others’ blogs

  • As above
  • Or leave them where they are with links to the page(s) concerned.


Contributions to the course wiki

  • Link to course wiki where current content, history and edit history can be viewed.
  • Screen-grab of edit page
  • If not self-evident highlighter tool of contributions made (though this is hardly the point, its a collaborative effort, what your left with on the screen may be minimal if your contribution was to edit) i.e. the history of participation is more important than words you may 'claim' as your own (which you can’t and shouldn't - you wouldn't have written them if you hadn't been prompted by others ... and ohters might have written it if you hadn't) by the end of the thing,


Notes and informal reflections written by hand

  • Scan, label, store and back-up (as above)
  • Turn hand-drawn mind maps into bubbl-us or Compendium documents.

But why on earth keep all of this stuff?! At what point deos the storing and collating of assets become a neurosis or obsession? What matters is the end result (though not apparently in learning). Once was a time you teacher or tutor knew you were doing the work a) you turned up b) you wrote the essays c) you could talk intelligently on the topic in class and tutorials d) you passed exams e) you submitted a thesis. Do we know need a webcam grab to prove we are sitting at the coputer? An image of us in a library taking out a book?

Examples of formal writing (TMAs, reports, etc.)

  • Copy and paste into MyStuff
  • Upload into MyStuff as a file
  • Put in a file on hard drive.
  • Back up specific folder and/or hard drive

Extracts from PowerPoint presentations

  • Screen grab, date and label.
  • Note any references.
  • Cut and paste selected slides, content and notes.
  • Download the entire PowerPoint presentation and flag the slides/notes that are of interest
  • Store as above. (hard drive, zip, url link, as animation/movie in YouTube)

Extracts from audio presentations

  • download as MP3 files
  • transcribe and store as text
  • store online or offline as a podcast
  • Store or link in podcast host such as Podbean

Extracts or screen dumps from websites or video presentations

  • download to desktop
  • store in any of a variety of video playback tools

Link to YouTube favourites

  • link or add to Flickr
  • Cut and paste URL with dashboard into your blog or elsewhere online.

Comments from peers and tutors

  • Attached to the saved document where the comment(s) occur as a file or cut and paste into MyStuff
  • Downloaded onto hard-drive and saved/backed-up to zip drive.
  • Save/export selection into MyStuff, label, include access date and tag.


Extracts from published sources (images, newspaper/magazine stories etc.).

  • Linked or flagged in proprietary webpage
  • downloaded as text or saved as HTML
  • Scan and load as JPEG in any photo gallery (Kodak Easy Share, Picasa, Flickr, Tumblr etcsmile




 

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An embedded e-portfolio

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 12:00

A decade ago creating a commercial website generally required you to buy in the services of a specialist agency; this was certainly the case 15 years ago. Gradually however businesses found they could do it themselves, indeed the development of internal and external communications was so integral to a company's activities that it had to be in some cases. An internationally successful TV production company used outside suppliers initially to build its website. However, as the creative drive for this site needed to be part of the business and as the site become a TV channel of sorts, it was necessary to bring control in-house.

1999-2002 was an interesting period as some organisations let their IT department go, not considering it one of their 'core activities,' while others brought the process in-house, sometimes buying up their web-agency for the purpose.

Creating a website, developing software, communications and business function merged. Specialist functions developed internally may have found a market elsewhere and products could be bought in 'off the shelf.'

If the functionality of the software and web-pages are integral to an institution's competitiveness and development it is understandable if some things they develop in-house, while others they buy in.

ITC is highly fluid, progressive, aggressive and organic. You want control of the beast. Do you have the personnel and department as part of your institution, or do you hire in the specialists? Or do you split your loyalties and commitments across several suppliers, buying products off the shelf? How do you achieve your goals? How do you control costs? How do you differentiate yourself from others if you're all shopping from the same place? And in education, where there is a political, ethical and moral inclination to want to do it all for free - how is it paid for?

In relation to recommending an e-portfolio set-up or package or system to an institution there are a myriad of deciding factors which could result in the valid choice being any one of:

  • develop our own using our thinking and skills
  • buy in the services of an agency to create a platform for us
  • purchase a ready-made product off the shelf
  • use Open Source and tailor it to our purposes
  • none of these - students, staff and any other potential e-portoflios bring their own, on their laptops or in their own space in the 'cloud.'

The latter happens whatever you provide.

As a result of using the OU's MyStuff and trying PebblePad, as well as reviewing the reviews of several other packages, whilst it is possible to recommend what a particular client's e-portfolio should be able to do - it is less easy without understanding the institution's financial position, commercial requirements, staff and student development, professional and academic needs and ambitions.

To what degree are people storing and collating material in a loose collection of files and platforms, some online, some off, some linked in to several folios, each with a different outlook.

Once we lived in a more linear world and we would logically take in then draw from the academic institutions where we studied and the places where we worked. To a significant degree, even if we possessed portfolios as physical entities containing art work or assignments, our achievements and potential were locked in our being ... our experiences, accreditations, behaviours and potential were entirely contained in our heads and enabled by our bodies. Increasingly it is the case that the sum total of our achievements, our record, our actions, can be collated, shared and given an existence beyond us. If we think of the ultimate eportfolio as 'the contents of our brains' in a cloud, like a geostationary satellite, forever 'out there' do we not begin to mutate and duplicate, especially if some, or many parts or all of this is shared?

Will we not, in a cyber-world of hundreds of millions, not only find like minds, but aggregate to think alike in some instances? Where then is the copyright and plagiarism? And here's a dilemma for the inventive or creative mind. Do you pool you thinking for others to exploit, share the process by which you draw your conclusions which may fast track another to a similar, different or better result?

I appreciate that I am drifting into la-la-land and the realms of science-fiction, that I am feeling my way, that I am letting my own stream of consciousness take me wherever it will. If this finds resonance with others, if others comment and build on this ... or reflect it, then it is as if those collection of neurones and synapses that are creating this are connecting beyond my being.

If there is commercial worth in 'the contents of my brain,' an e-portfolio that might contain everything I have ever done, who benefits if they use this to create something original?

In conclusion

1) The e-literate will already, whether they know it or not, have the makings of an eportfolio through content they have generated about themselves, their ambitions and friends, the work they would like to do and the work they have done. A link to discrete parts of this can quickly generate a number of e-portfolios, just as it could generate a number of bespoke CVs. The less e-literate by dint of their presence at the doors of an institution, enrolement or employment, or if freelance, their contract or engagement, will have wittingly shared components of a potential eportfolio it only paper through letters, CVs and evidence.

2) Institutions, academic or business, may offer portfolios that are wedded to that organisation's culture. If designed, to look and function within this context it will be easier to compile, share, access and assess while there. No longer, if ever it were necessary, to print off, duplicate or photocopy reams of paper to have back-ups, let alone to apply simultaneously to more than one place. However, is not these ease of sharing problematic? Could not a multitude of people claim something to be their’s ? Or is that the point. We become a name on one of those credit lists that runs and runs after a CGI-rich film plays out.

3) There is no definitive answer, no panacea, when it comes to an eportfolio: create your own, buy off the shelf or let staff and students bring along what they have or don’t have. As a consultant e-professional (sounds far grander than it is), it is the requirements of the organisation you are working for that dictates the answer. Is the problem financial? Is it retention? Is it attracting students in the first place? Or holding on to staff? Is it assessement? Is it learning? Is it departmental? Is it a cohort or a group? Is is driven by your trustees? Government? Or a current fashion in pedagogy? Is it political? Does it put the student first, at the centre of things? If they have 20 years to pay off their student loan, do they carry the same e-portfolio with them for the duration, Sage accounting an add-on to whatever other functions their e-portfolio offers?

Do you want the way my mind works, or the conclusion? Is there one? If one thing defines e-technology it is that it is always in a state of flux, indeed like Macbeth clutching at that dagger before his eyes, you can never quite get your hands on it. An IT specialise shared her thinking with me in Linked In. A thought I have come across before. Whilst her role is to ‘speed things up’ for businesses, she can never say what it is that will speed up ... or that what is achieved was predictable. The important thing is to move on, progress, don’t stagnate, don’t over think a thing ... nor over-commit.

My recommendation to an institution questioning its use of eportfolios would be to be in all camps simultaneously, to have an inhouse eportfolio, to engage with external suppliers and permit individuals to have their own. What matters is the required functionality and outcomes. My recommendation to an individual is to have in their control anything they are placing elsewhere.

Is not the choice, when it comes down to it, one of selecting this handbag over that one? This satchel over that one? However it functions, whatever it looks like, only the contents matter. If you drop your one and only portfolio of photographs or drawings on the way to an interview, you can pick up the pieces and make do with cardboard and a roll of duct-tape. If your one and only eportfolio fails you lose the lot. Or do you? These assets, this ‘stuff’ what is it anyway? Text, images, programming (which is text) ... If you are digitally-savvy and have an online presence how easy is it to reassemble such a portfolio? Very, I’d suggest.

So, yes, as I suggest, you have a version for work, a version where you are studying, a version embedded in your website or Facebook page, a version on the hard-drive or you computer, and one on a zip or flash driver.

Ho hum.

I shall go and sleep on it. Always the right approach after this middle-of-the-night brainstorm.

What kind of e-portfolio would you recommend to the following?

  • Use in a prison by inmates serving at least three years.
  • Use for advertising and marketing creatives at a ‘school of communication arts.’
  • Use by trainee gymnastics coach who is a volunteer with a local club working with young children.
  • Use by a trainee solicitor.
  • Use by an actor hoping to get into RADA
  • Use by someone returning to work after a six year career break.
  • Use by Leonardo da Vinci, Douglas Adams or Stephen Hawking
  • Use by a politician

Why not come up with your own. The trickier the better.

  • Use by someone who is losing their eyesight
  • Use by someone who has terminal cancer
  • Use by a child at primary school
  • Use by someone in a retirement home
  • Use by someone with depression
  • Use by someone with ambitions to be a professional footballer, or designer for Apple, or ... TV producer, or ... happy.

Is an e-portfolio the next web page?

You've got to have one, even if you don't know why? At least you don't have to by a domain name.

And what brought this on?

Other than the requirements of H808 ...

The launch of a platform for swimming teachers and coaches across competitive swimming, water polo, diving and synchro.

The new Institute of Swimming (www.theiosonline.com) website not only streamlines the course booking process and offers some courses online, but embedded in the new platform in a way that is even more integrated the the OU's add-on MyStuff, is an eportfolio.

You complete your details and find in so doing that you have begun your profile in something called My IoS.

It will contain a CV, evidence of qualifications, assets that can specifically include video ... and the word 'e-portfolio' is not mentioned anywhere. Yet this is what is. And as for interoperability and transfer ... all of that is just a cut and paste, or link away is it not, as ever? And being a 'portfolio worker' in any case, the last thing I want to do is to merge one of my two (or is is three) other lives with this or any of the others.

It simply is.

 

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H808 activity 2.3 reflection and blogging

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 18:10

I read the instructions and tips from our tutor on Core Activity 2.3 H808 - on Reflection and blogging and it had might as well have been an address from the form teacher to a class.

This boy is at the back of the room doing an observational sketch; every so often I jot down the teacher's words. On getting home I look at my home work. There is one word 'reflect.' I look in the mirror. I look at the guy staring back, figure out that this isn't a piece of art home-work so write something.

Thirty years on and initially I only saw the word 'reflection.'

I skim read, a block of text in one eyeful. I come away with impressions. I make assumptions. I am not good with clear instructions. I probably expect to have the school or university Sergeant Major forever on my back - indeed when I had an agent or a sales director exploiting what I could do this was the only way to extract something from my head that could be sold. I'm fine with clients too: succinct brief; tight schedule ... payment.

On reflection, therefore, I function better as a team of two or three.

Slowing down, writing it out, breaking it into its component parts I see that the request is multi-layered, that the end result will need to be composed within certain parameters: Moon and Creme, reflection in the specific academic context of H808 and the 'e-learning professional.' I have the 1990s OU Book 'How to study.' All of this is explained. I could take me an hour to dissect Trevor's instructions. Perhaps I have to until I can train my brain to do it this way.

Keying in 'creme', 'moon', 'reflection' and 'blog' in my My Stuff I come away with in turn 7, 14, 71 and 116 entries.

I have the articles downloaded somewhere (note to self to put online so that I can draw on them from whichever computer I'm at).

Keying in 'creme', 'moon', 'reflection' and 'blog' into my OU Blog I come away with in turn 6, 12, 46 and 68 entries.

These entries have been compiled since February. If I can tag all searches with H808 -  then some of these search findings would be reduced. I don't believe that either the Blog or My Stuff operate with an advanced search such as this. All the more reason for me to put everything into Fillemaker Pro (a task I began in week one of H807 in February, but dropped when I learnt I needed to spend £200 or more to replace my version of Filemaker that was now too old to upgrade sad

I cannot read and review 340 Blog and MyStuff entries.

Without spending much time with any, I must get the gist of what they contain, bearing in mind the criteria for this task.

The problem is one of how I tag this data. As it goes in I need to -self-review. to rate it with a star system, somehow, to add several filters. But how?

In any case, would this not all be better off in my head where my brain will do a more successful job of drawing to the surface the answers I need?

Filemaker Pro. A relational database I love. I could search by multiple tags, include a number-based scoring system, by date, or weight, or reference ... by word count. The list goes on. The trick is to do this early on. With Filemaker it is easy to take a template such as this one and re-arrange it to create a multiplicity of templates that all draw down the same information. This is where I need to be. It's software I can make 'sing'; I find the OU Blog and MyStuff plodding by comparison.

Beyond these walls there are nearly 2,000 blog entries containing 1.6 million words. On paper there are I estimate there are 3.5 million.

Habit? Obsession? More akin to a bodily function than either writing or reflection?

Is reflection useful? What about blogging?

Most of H808 is about getting students to do it. I might be a case of doing it less. Or putting on a totally different head when I do it here. Context is everything. But I don't want several blogs, one is fine. I don't want to twist this 'Voice' into words to get marks. Why don't others come round to my way of thinking, my way of doing things? This to me is learner-centred.

This amount of content might be exceptional, but are we saying that people should keep learning journals for life?

In their forties they are going to have several hundred thousand words. 500 words a day for twenty years? It doesn't take much.

Perhaps if I were compiling a book of 50,000 words. Otherwise I know that to write 500 words it will require a locked door, a blank sheet of paper, an ink pen and a clock. Thirty minutes max, twenty minutes may work better. This is how exams work, they bring it to the surface, they excite your body and mind and if you've been guided correctly the right ideas will emerge, first as a treatment, then as the 'essay.'

This or I need a) to get everything into Filemaker Pro and b) look for some kind of Artificial Intelligence add-on. But is that me? Letting the software make my choices? Or does it learn to make the choices I would by following my previous decisions (Another conversation, for another place)

Two hours of this and all I've done is think about answering the question ... I have read two items from My Stuff and one from my the Blog. And on these alone I have generated 300 words (not including these).

I got up in the middle of the night in order to do the task, not think about doing the task thoughtful

Maybe I'm not cut out for this. Or this is an example of where reflection and blogging can be counter-productive (or over productive?) Same problem, job not done.

I jam at a QWERTY keyboard where something more regimented is required.

And then I sleep, no doubt to dream. So there's no escape from it.

As I've suggested before, if I could provide evidence of a dream that showed I was thinking about reflection and bloggind in H808 would this count as evidence? If I could shove a web cam in my ear.

Now that's silly.

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What is this? Post or article? Or entry?

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Post or entry? Or to post an entry, or post an article, report, assignment or thought?

The sales of appropriateness. Social, journalism or report? Personal, professional or Professional?

REFERENCE

Blogging for Dummies (2006) Brad Hill p205 Posts or articles?

‘Calling an entry an article is a curious usage reminiscent of Usenet newsgroups (the native bulletin board system of the Internet), in which posts are historically called articles and where these posts were mostly academic articles'.

Ought we to be posting ‘articles.’ Might this raise the tone?

Do we ‘post’ anything at all any more if we write directly into or onto the platform where the ‘post’ will appear? As well as posting we do of course also link, if the ‘article’ is in a different blog or upload if it is coming off or desktop. Surely all we do now is ‘write stuff.’

Stuff

I like the way some savvy folk who work online refer to anything created for the web as ‘stuff,’ not e-articles, e-video, e-graphics, e-quizzes or e-games, but a catch all for online ‘assets,’ objects or whatever terminology makes sense to you.

REFERENCE

Hill, B, (2006) Blogging for Dummies

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Blogging. A private journal, journalistic or academic?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Jul 2012, 13:05

Three Degrees of Blogging

If it plays to how it is defined, a ‘weblog’ then it should be nothing more than a captain’s log, in the style of Star Trek, that logs position and events as they occur.

Web pages, cobbled together into a journal like experience defy what the web affords.

The person who keeps a diary in a hardback notebook, or one of those Five Year Diaries with a flimsy padlock, have to keep notes on specific dates in the calendar, online the daily webpage is a falsehood, it is a devise that obliges something that is wholly unnecessary.

Personally, long ago, I ditched all pretence at writing a daily entry (even if I did so), by archiving entries by category.

Weblog as webstorage or repository.

More like the modern e-portfolio I suppose. The idea concept is easily controverted. Writing pages of fiction, with comments turned on make sharing and critique immediately possible. Allow any number of readers to contribute directly to the pages and the weblog becomes both a blog and a wiki.

Can we ‘wikify’ a website?

And do I coin such a word as soon as I tell my dictionary to accept the term? Which makes me wonder – is there a way for multiple users to share the contents of their dictionaries?

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How talking to yourself makes you smarter. What about writing such a stream of consciouness into a blog though?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Nov 2012, 19:01

Anais%2520Nin%2520SNIP.JPG

Your inner voice.

How talking to yourself makes you smarter.

 

The Voice of Reason. Robson. (2010)

 

I was initially attracted to this edition of the New Scientist as the cover story offered to shed light on the value (or otherwise) of  what some term ‘stream of consciousness’ others ‘this voice in our heads.’ Of what value is it?  And if I can type as fast as I can think it is this a true reflection of what I am thinking, at the pace at which I am thinking it – or does the process lose something in translation? Using how we think and what we verbalise is given value here, which ought to bolster the views of H.E. institutions that ‘reflection’ has a purpose. The article also explains why we need to give things terms, though I’m also always curious to know why certain words last while others do not. If I’ve understood the ideas correctly then there is a suggestion that loose terminology, words for concepts that are not clear or still debated, are counter-productive, we need to be clear that our interpretation of a word, even something as simple as the colour yellow compared to orange, or hues of the colour blue, match the understanding that others have.

 

‘On average, 70 per cent of our total verbal experience is in our head.’ Boroditsky (2010)

 

Language helps us to think and perceive the world.

 

Naming objects helps us categorise and memorise them. Lupyan (2010)

 

i.e. things (concepts and objects) are more easily thought about if ‘verbalised’ through having a name.

 

However, labelling can also bury the detail. Lupyan (2010)

 

i.e. we humans work best at the macro rather than the micro level of terminology?

 

‘Labelling objects helps our minds build a prototype of the typical object in the group at the expense of individual features.’

 

Language shapes perception, argues Gabriella Vigliocca of University College London. Vigliocca. (2010)

 

The pumpkin test. 80% got the object from seeing it alone. 85 % of those who saw it and were told its name got it. While those who had what they could see in one eye ‘scrambled’ only achieved 75% suggesting that a visual with a verbal clue helps to anchor the object in the mind.

 

‘It seems that words prime the visual systems of our brain, conjuring up a mental image when it is seen’. Vigliocca (2010:32)

 

Boroditsky (2010b) recently found that Russian speakers, who have two words for different shades of blue, really are faster at discriminating between the different shades than English speakers. (The once discredited Whorfian hypothesis). The effect disappeared when they repeated a long number to themselves, as this interfered with their linguistic capacities.

 

Fundamentally, knowing the name for something helps identify it. Lupyan (2010)

 

‘It seems that our inner voice changes the way we experience the world. Language is like augmented reality – an overlay that changes how we think, reason and see’. Clark (2010:33)

 

With the above in mind I started the following list with a view to developing reasons for not using the word ‘stakeholder.’ With no end of this list in sight I may need to change my opinion, I may not like the word, but it works. But does it? Whilst ‘stockbroker’ I can see embodies a specific group of people, ‘stakeholder’ for shifts constantly, like a cloud forming under a summer sun.

  • employee
  • shop floor worker
  • management
  • owner
  • director
  • boss
  • line manager
  • people
  • brother
  • colleagues
  • stakeholders
  • staff
  • McWorkers
  • office staff
  • blue collar
  • white collar
  • sisters
  • champions
  • participants
  • slave labour
  • sweat-ship workers

‘Up to 80% of our mental experiences appear to be verbal rather than visual or emotional.’ Hurburt (2010) from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

‘It’s like a guidebook that has been developed by thousands of people before you, who have figured out what is important for to survive and adapt to our environment.’ Clark (2010)

 

Do you work with the radio on or off?

With the TV on or off? Or in an Open Plan office? Do you prefer a library or study? Can you work as you commute? Or on holiday?

 

Based on what we have learnt above what impact might this have on what you are thinking?

 

Does it depend on how easily distracted you are, how focussed? Work (study) in an environment that is relevant to the task and this enhances it whereas work (study) where verbal noise is a constant distraction and you cannot (or could not) work so well?

 

REFERENCE

Clark, A (2010) Language and Cognition, University of Edinburgh. Interview for New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010)

 

Boroditsky, L (2010a) Interview for New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010)

 

Boroditsky, L (2010b) Quoted in the New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010) from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 104, p7780

 

Hurburt, R (2010) Quoted in the New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010) from Psychological Medicine, vol 24 p385.

 

Lupyan, G (2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010) from Psychological Science, Vol 18, p1077.

 

Lupyan, G (2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010) from Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, vol 137, p348.

 

Robson, D. The Voice of Reason. pp30-33 Cover Story. New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept 2010).

 

Vigliocca, G (2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010) from Psychological Science, vol 18, p1007.

 

 

 

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E-words. E-terms. E-lexemes.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:22

Inspired by The Secret life of words. How English became English. Henry Hitchings (2008)

‘Communications is essential to our lives, but how often do we stop to think about where the words we use have come from?’
Hitchings (2008)

Whilst ‘where words came from’ is the premise for ‘The Secret Life of Words’ it is much more: it is a history of the people who spoke English. It is a refreshing take on a chronology of events. We learn history through words for warrior, through the Anglo-Saxon, French and Latin word for the same thing ... and through the words the English language has so easily accommodated from across the globe. It is a fascinating journey, one made pertinent to someone studying on the cascading wave-edge of the digital ocean that is ‘e-learning’ with the frequent coining of new terms.

For a description of the way the English language functions (or mis-functions) I love this:

English is ‘Deficient in regularity.’

From James Harris (c1720) in Hitchings (2008:1)

It is exactly the kind of thing a teacher might write in red pen at the bottom of a school-boy’s essay.

This is another way of putting it. English, ‘this hybrid tongue’, as Hitchings calls it. Hitchings (2008:2)

A tongue that re-invents itself, twists and transmogrifies at every turn.

A couple of decades ago I recall there being suggestions that the English language would splinter into so many dialects, creoles and forms that a speaker of one would not understand the user of another. The opposite appears to be the case, that ‘core English’ has been stabilised by its myriad of versions. Users can choose to understand each other or not, to tolerate even celebrate their differences or to use difference to create a barrier: think of the class divide, the posh voice versus the plebeian, one regional accent set against another, or an accent from one former British Dominion compared to another.

‘Words bind us together, and can drive us apart.’ Hitchings (2008:3)

How is the Internet changing the English Language?

What impact has Instant Messaging, blogging and asynchronous communication had? Can we be confident that others take from our words the meanings we intend? As we are so inclined to use sarcasm, irony, flippancy and wit when we speak, how does this transcribe when turned into words? How can you know a person’s meaning or intentions without seeing their face or interpreting their body language? Must we be bland to compensate for this?

I love mistakes, such as this one from Hitchings:

Crayfish ... ‘its fishy quality is the result of a creative mishearing.’ Hitchings (2008:4)

Age ten or eleven I started to keep a book of my ‘creative mishearings’ which included words such as ‘ragabond,’ instead of ‘vagabond.’ I love the idea of the ‘creative mishearing,’ isn’t this the same as ‘butterfly’, shouldn’t it be ‘flutterby’? And recalling a BBC Radio 4 Broadcast on Creativity with Grayson Perry, ‘creativity is mistakes.’

Mistakes and misunderstandings put barbs on the wire strings of words we hook from point to point, between arguments and chapters. We are fortunate that the English language is so flawed; it affords scratches and debate, conflict and the taking of sides.

An American travelled 19,000 miles back and forth across the US with a buddy correcting spellings, grammar and punctuation on billboards, notices and road signs. His engaging story split the reviewers into diametrically opposed camps of ‘love him’ or ‘hate him.’ (Courtesy of the Today Programme, the day before yesterday c20th August 2010)

‘Our language creates communities and solidarities, as well as division and disagreements.’ Hitchings (2008:4)

My test for the longevity and acceptability of a new word coined to cover a term in e-learning will be twofold:

Can, what is invariably a noun, be turned with ease into a verb or adjective?

Might we have an Anglo-Saxon, French and Latin word for the same thing. We like to have many words for the same thing ... variations on a theme.

And a final thought

Do technical words lend themselves to such reverse engineering? Or, like a number, are they immutable?

If they are made of stone I will find myself a mason's chisel.

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On Reading, Taking Notes, Thinking and reflecting. OU style 1990

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 15:21

On reading, taking notes and managing your feelings i.e how to study

There are notes, nothing more, which makes me wonder why I share them with the world. In this instance I am sharing notes on 'hot to study.' (I liked the typo so left it in.'

This 1990 OU's guide came into my possession by the most circuitous of routes. My father-in-law, a long retired Oxford Don, sent it to his 12 year old grand-daughter on seeing her end of term report sad

Problem is, not that she has read the book at all, if it appealed in any way then she might shun what her immediate future offers: GCSEs then A' Levels which requires a lot of learning, but not a great deal of thinking. (Or does it?)

Here are some notes for Chapter Two 'Reading and Note Taking'

In relation to 900 words or so we were asked to read as an activity:

This takes, we are advised to:

  • Skim read - 9 minutes
  • Read - 15 minutes
  • Read with care (and taking notes) - 27 minutes.

I read it in 3 mins.

Did I speed read? Did I take anything in?

I managed to make notes afterwards, indeed having been asked to answer some questions even more information came to mind. Perhaps this is how I should do it ... perhaps the important stuff is more likely to come to mind if I give it some thought rather than note taking at the same time. I may not have a photographic memory ... do I skate over things? Would it help if I slowed it down? I'd have to read more strategically though, to trust the choices made for me.

An OU IDEA 'Concept Cards'

To jot down concepts and ideas that you DON’T understand so that you can look them up at later, i.e. don’t only makes notes on the things that make sense.

Historically (last decade) I've used FileMaker Pro.

Whatever its short coming I am using the OU e-portfolio, expecting to be able to transfer/migrate the 500 pages of contents over to an off-the-shelf e-portfolio or anything new the OU comes up with in due course.

Taking the hint that ntoes shold be taken of ideas of interest, and value, rahter than taking notes on everything I picked out this:

Creating interest where there is none – when your enthusiasm for a topic wanes think how others think who have found something if interest.

That's useful.

Like a child, too often if a topic or activities doesn't appeal I make excuses and do something else, rather than finding a way to engage.

Questions make reading interesting.

You need to read with a couple of questions in the back of your mind so that you engage with the information.

My questions on the OU 1990 Study Guide?

  • What’s changed in 20 years?
  • How much is just the same?
  • How can I apply this in relation to e-learning in 2010?
  • What advice would others find useful that may be second nature to me? (That I take for granted).

I liken my approach to studying to the way I wandered across the South Downs for five hours yesterday.

I hadn’t even been sure if I’d walk a stretch of the South Downs Way from Newhaven when I dropped the car off for a service, but I had walking boots on and waterproofs in a rucksack. I had no map, but have walked half the route out of Newhaven towards Lewes, and half the route out of Lewes South. Having followede the River Ouse to Southease I then followed signs for the South Downs Way which took me way off any direct track to Lewes in a couple of huge loops. The mile along the road from Southease to Rodmell would have saved a three mile deviation up onto the Downs. But did I want to risk either the dog or me being run over?

I have a tendency to follow my nose (like the dog, her nose took her into a fresh cow pat). She rolled in it.

My reading takes me through a series of cascades as I pick first one reference to chase, then another in this article or essay and so on. Its as if, despite being given the road map through a Maize Maze I insist on looking down every avenue myself, so that I can find out for myself.

If I study in exactly the same way as my fellow students, reading strategically, only reading the course references as there isn’t apparently time to do much more … won’t we all come out the same? A goal for my studying is to have my own perspective eventually, not to project the opinions of another.

Elaborately Cautious Language

’In every day life we cheerfully use language as a blunt instrument for cudgelling our way through the cut and thrust of events around us. However, in academic writing language is meant to be used more like a scalpel, cutting precisely between closely related arguments, so that they can be prised apart and analysed in detail.’ Northridge (1990:29)

An academic text is not a narrative – it is an argument.

An academic text aims to be unemotional, detached and logical.

Whilst I can understand applying this to a TMA or ECA, this is surely not the required or desired approach in what is called a Blog? And for writing in a forum, should we reference everything? It doesn't half interrupt the flow of ideas. If talking over coffee or a glass of wine would we cite references we knowingly made? The lines distinguishing the spoken word to text or TXT or blogging and messaging are blurred if not broken.

Manage Feelings 2.6 Northridge (1990:31)

Find ways of:

  • building upon your enthusiasms
  • avoiding sinking into despair
  • making the topic interesting
  • accepting specialist language
  • accepting academic text styles
  • constructing valid criticisms

My preferred approach to reaching:

  • cafe
  • walk
  • pool
  • while travelling (trains, planes, ferries and yachts)

Though surely not

  • in bed
  • on the kitchen table in the middle of the night
  • in the pub
  • on holiday

(though this can be exactly what I do/have done)

IDEALLY

  • a room of my own

(married life, children and a modest home have left me with a cluttered shed or lock-up garage packed with the contents of our last house - we moved three years ago).


Reading Approaches

Skim paragraph ahead, then read more slowly using the ‘mile stones’ to guide you.

Skimming – about the text
Reading – follow the argument

Lighting skim – very fast.

I typically 'light skim' the last chapters of a Stephen King novel, as the plot becomes ludicrous yet I feel an obligation to have glanced across the page in case at some stage sanity returns (it never does). Though the story will reach a resolution.

Intensive Study – very slow

Something new, something I don’t understand. Something I need to understand or want to understand. But never the small print of a bank overdraft facility. Probably the diaries of Anais Nin and the novels of Henry Miller. Probably the history of WWI, as I need to glean info from it for my own writing. And of course the books and papers I read for H807 (Innovations in E-Learning) and will read for H808 (The eLearning Professional).

Is it making me think?

Am I getting a better grasp of the subject?

‘The underlying purpose of reading is to develop your thoughts; to weave new ideas and information into the understanding you already have and to give new angles to your thinking.’
Northridge, (1990:34)

My reading speed, 300 wpm? i.e. far to quick, but is a page a minute that fast? it does depend of course on the writing style and my familiarity or otherwise with the concepts.

The purpose of reading = 'rethinking' Northridge, (1990:34)

I like that 're-thinking.' So building on what you now already, whether or not you think you know much at all ... or know a great deal.

Rethinking:

  • To develop your thoughts
  • To weave new ideas and information into the understanding you already have
  • To give new angles to your thinking

The point of reading:


‘The point of reading is to be able to understand what you read and to be able to get back the ideas at some future point when you need them again.’
Northridge, (1990:38)

The point of taking notes:

‘Taking notes forces you to think; to ‘grapple’ with the ideas in the text as you read them, because you have to decide what to write down and how to say it.’ Northridge, (1990:44)

I don't grapple at the note taking stage, I find it more mundane than that, I do desire a tussle at some stage, which is why I can find the manner in which we engage asynchronously (its nature) somewhat tame. I don't recommend debating online either, or getting into an argument (or even a heavy discussion) ... when in Elluminate, messaging or anything else.

This is why the face-to-face tutorial at least, fellow students over a beer in the MCR or in a formal debating chamber ideas gain a voice, that becomes your Word, and your Voice.

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Is this a blog?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 15:16

I think not.

You can keep it private, or share it with the OU community or the wider world, but you can't personalise it.

Nor do you get to keep it afterwards.

Perhaps the OU should offer a blogging platform along the lines of EduBlog or WordPress and treat it as a worthwhile piece of PR, marketing and goodwill.

Afterall, why encourage people to blog for the first time and quickly lose them to another platform?

So what is this?

I don't mean for this to sound derogatory, but dwelling on this through the night, as you do (it is 02.53), I liken this to writing on a piece of loo roll. OK, it lasts a little longer (two years) and can be re-ussed.

Well, I won't stretch that analogy any further.

Scroll is the world I am looking for.

Like a papyrus scroll from Egypt 4000 years ago. Slung up over a line for all to see (or not).

Not a blog though.

Few, if anyone, posts an entry every day, as you would in a journal. Even if you go down the private route, it doesn't feel private, somewhere to disclose private thoughts, health, financial, family and political problems and views.

A learning journal? Part of the e-portfolio package? For reflection.

Yet again, if I am holding up a mirror to consider my experiences this public arena is surely NOT the place to do it?

Somewhere to paste stuff that is over 500 words long ... somewhere to link extended musings when you approach the 500 word mark in a Forum?

Some think 200 words in a Forum is about right.

So how many words for a blog entry?

Blogging mates from a decade ago struck on 1,000 words per entry. We also ran with the idea that is must all spew forth in one go. So in some respects perhaps my lavatorial analogy was the correct one.

I know exactly how you academics and intellectuals and non-obsessive journalers view this kind of thing.

How many characters in Twitter? I forget.

Perhaps the OU should set some parameters in forums and Blogs, as it does for assignments and limit us to 300 words in a forum entry and 600 here?

Or not.

Parameters serve a useful purpose. Give a sculptor a mountain and look what they do. Give me a e-scroll and look what I do.

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