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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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Eleven years ago I had a dream ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 29 May 2010, 06:15

Wednesday 1st December 1999

Had a ridiculous dream in which I found I was making observations about people in a queue, several of whom were doing an Ellen Levey, they were taking notes on palm top computers and had digital cameras slung around their necks.

Came across this browsing a blog I started in September 1999.

Now people have smartphones, heads stuck in their hand held gadets rather than interacting with the world around them. Ellen Levey had just featured in the Washington Post as she had spent a year keeping a photo journal and blog.

Eleven years ago this was a novelty.

if you want to get noticed in 2010 I suggest publishing a book, hardback.

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Dusty Rhodes

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 1 May 2010, 17:37

Our Geography teacher had most of us (all ?) achieve A Grades at A Level. When it came to writing essays his advice was simple and he drew a flower on the board with six petals.

The stem was both the introduction and conclusion, the centre of flower was the essay title. Six petals, perhaps eight would do it. Each would be a point, well made, with quotes/references.

Often he'd summarise his thoughts on a boy's essay by drawing a dishevelled weed ... or more simply a three petalled plant with one huge, deformed petal ... and so on.

I was never one for the perfect plant. Often I'd be the one with twelve petals, some tiny some so massive they took on the entire board. One essay I remember submitting filled an entire exercise book (I still have it, sad, I know. It was Geography, meteorology, he taught as to undergraduate level). I regress (and digress).

After two years we sat exams. By then by editing down and picking out what I felt mattered I went into the exam well prepared, armed to the teeth. I could easily give up ten minutes of the 45 mins to write on a topic to planning, the six or so main points, the pulling from my head a mnemonic that would deliver a dozen or twenty or more facts. And then I wrote. This worked.

Course work would have suffocated me. I lack that consistency and self-discipline, or more likely, I drain so much energy intermittently that I just have to 'chill' from time to time. I'm not one for drawing early conclusions, nor am I one for regurgitating what is wanted from me because of what specifically I have been asked to read - I will always look beyond the references.

In particular, I would prefer to sit down to write naked ... jsut me and the keyboard, no notes. For the information to have gathered in the rigth spot in my head I need to have worked with the material, to have discussed and debated it, to got it wrong and been corrected, to have asked questions, and to have figured it out. I have to believe it.

Working in a Web Agency when first doing an OU course on distance learning the topics were of interest every day to colleagues so it was like being on a campus, or certainly in a faculty. And as we believed or thought that the aim of a university degree or studying was to get a job there was a degree of arrogance - we had jobs. We were in it, doing it. We had to know best, or certainly quite well, otherwise why would companies & government pays us to do our thing?

I ramble. Or reflect. Whether I can reflect my way into some higher level of sublime understanding though is quite another matter. A decade ago blogging obsessively there were a group of us who read and responded to everything we wrote. Doing this I feel I am writing with a fountain pen on the ceiling of a catacomb.

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Self-discipline & professionalism ...

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Whilst I can still get away with typing off the top of my head into a blog, this will not do when responding to messages or in a forum.

Sitting back, taking on board what is being discussed, doing my research then reflecting long & hard on a response will be a more productive way froward. I've taken some hints from the OU.

Personal entries in my decade old blog must also be forever locked.

Or removed. Having trawled through this 1.5 million word nonsense removing or changing names, there are still those who occasionally pop up in my life with an amused remark about the detail of their antics ten or twenty years ago. Much of this blog are transcripts & extended reviews & reminiscences of the 70s & 80s.

'Exposure' became my creed in 2001.

'Discretion' will be my approach from now on ... as it is so easy to google a person's name and find out all kinds of things that they may not want to know, that are blag & bluff in any case and could be detrimental to their career hopes (let alone their personal relationships).

Meanwhile, in a time consuming effort that needs to be addressed my sixth draft of the TMA01 is rocking back and forth between 1500 & 2350 words. I may just sit it like an exam and see if I can contain my ideas that way, addressing each in turn a set of points, six at most, that I feel need to be made

Oh to feel like a teen sitting exams again smile

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Value judgments, CBT, BPD & blogging

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As a child my late father labelled me as making too many 'value judgments.' It may have stuck. He was equally emphatic about the spelling of judgment, and the correct use of apostrophes.

This tendency to have an emotional response over the objective could compromise how I judge the work of others.

Being aware of this ought to help me to form opinions based on facts.

having some understanding of child psychology I also know that labels stick.

'Money burns a hole in your pocket' I was told and so I became this person ... or I had confirmation of who I was.

All this I am trying to change.

Tangentially to all of this, eight months of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that was first mooted in 2005, is gradually adjusting my thinking and responses. My habit is to speak first, then think later. The same applies to what I write, particularly in a blog, an environment in which I have written, as I please, when I please and how I please for a decade. CBT ought to be turning off the negative, making me less prone to lash out; so far, so good. Where I am conscious I still fail is the willingness to agree with everyone & say 'yes' to everything in order to please. Later I begin to regret the view I had taken or the decision I had taken. Too phrases I need to use often are, 'let me give that some thought ...' or 'that's interesting, let me get back to you ...'

I know that there are many kinds and forms of blog.

As 'entities' I wonder even if a 'blog' is a suitable term where this space has many different uses & expectations imposed on it. Online Journal, E.Text book, e.notes ... or the term I used, even registering the domain name in 2000 'The Contents of my Brain' or 'TCMB.' i.e. in goes everything, a decade ago with no readily available function to 'expose' all or to 'share' with a define audience or readership.

Where in lies the next issue. If a blog, like a log or a journal or a diary is written for and by one author then by its nature it is likely to be more honest if kept locked and private. As I know, a blog, like a diary, becomes a very different thing once it is published or in the case of the Internet, 'out there.' Think of Anais Nin and her Journals.

Blogs are not what they used to be.

In 1998 those who blogged might have been shipwrecked travellers on a small island - it didn't take long to suss each other out. Some wrote for the sake of it, others had something to say ... one or two were innovators, & creatives, HTML wizards who constantly played with the possible and what was then impossible.

Mummy has come along and made us put our toys away


Many would so this depth of 'reflection' is counter-productive. Others argued that a degree of 'exposure' is required in order to establish connectivity with like minds & the curious.

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The Learning Curve vs the Learning Slide

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The learning curve is shown as a series of steps during which time a student initially struggles with concepts and new knowledge, gets to grips with it then plateaus out. After a period the learning curve is met again ... and so on.

In my experience, this returning to academic study in an entirely online experience is less like climbing a steep curve, than jumping into a slide or water flume. The ride has thus far been fast & exhilarating. I have hit a necessary plateau. Or to continue the analogy I have come in with a 'splash.' (At least there is water in this imaginary swimming pool).

Only now am I taking stock, only now am I looking at the rucksack of course materials I have left at the top of the steps. So having shot along in a fast gear I am now going back to the beginning and will revist everything at a somewhat slower pace. I want to play with some of the OU tools & spaces. I want to print off the resources, even buy a book (Rogers' Diffusion in Innovations.). But will this stop me writing off the top of my head? I doubt it, at least not in a blog.

For me a blog has always been about doing exactly this. Where I place it and how I give it 'access' is another matter. To lock, or unlock. To leave ajar with the OU Code on a Post-it note under the door-mat. And how to tag it? My potentially naive experiment with tagging is to 'tag' everything on the basis that I won't know if it is reference-able or drivel until I look over it again i the weeks to come.

There are I believe tools that work better at doing this? Not jsut notes on scraps of paper, but ... a more cohesive & meaningful way to gather your thoughts?

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The blogger's dilemma

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 17:07

'It seems to me that I follow only the most accessible thread. Three or four threads may be agitated, like telegraph wires, at the same time, and if I were to tap them all I would reveal such a mixture of innocence and duplicity, generosity and calculation, fear and courage.'

(Henry & June, Journals, July 1932 Anais Nin)

For the umpteenth time as several hooks snag I don't know whether to blog in one space or several. The compromise will be to keep this for and about the OU. Therefore 'e.learning & innovation,' even 'innovations in e.learning.'

The problem Anais Nin had related to the 'threads' in her life, her various interests that broadly split between her love life, her efforts to become a published writer of fiction & what the journals gradually become first to her and then to the people (and fans) who read them.

My response has been, having stared a blog, that mimicked a  diary and was simply an 'online journal' to split by purpose, by content (the the degree of exposure I was prepared to make/the adult nature of the material) and even by design. Things quickly got in a muddle & I returned to the single blog model, only to find I could not please all, or many (or even any but a handful)  of the readers. By which time it had ceased to be a  diary, or even an online journal.

I will persevere with WordPress where the old blog will be migrated. This could take some time. 8,000 hours if I go entry by entry. Oops. Maybe not them. I can be more selective than that. The intention will be to use current blogging tools to find & establish threads of ideas, topics, stories, people & events. To what end though?

Then there'll be a blog for teaching & coaching swimming aimed only at fellow teachers & coaches - so not on how to swim, or how to swim faster ... just how to teach or coach people to swim and then to swim faster.

There is relevance to this in relation to 'innovations in e.learning.

What is most likely to produce an innovation? By being prescriptive, or saying 'anything goes?' Or a bit of both. Somehow.

Or am I talking here about inventiveness & creativity?

 

 

 

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