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On Blogging

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 15:47

With thanks to a fellow OU student who asked 'why?'

I’ve blogged since Sept 1999.

More importantly I’ve kept a diary since March 1976 (I was 14 1/2)  ... with substantial two or three year breaks I should add in the 80s, 90s and 00s ... and only on a few occasions ‘every day of every year.’

The diary was never read by others and never of interest to them. Except on one occasion I was aware my girlfriend was looking at it so I wrote some especially nice things about her and she did likewise. A comment, you could say. That was a one off. (She also read that on our first date I thought she had bad breath. Lesson learnt. If you are going to express your mind, keep it private or lie, or jsut leave things out ... and keep it under lock and key).

The appeal in the early days of blogging was to have an electronic form of the ‘journal’ I kept, however this gradually changed into something quite different with the then new additions of ‘friends’ and ‘favourites’ and all the other ‘sticky things’ (technical web term) that are common-place. 

Two things start to happen

1) you make a couple of ‘friends’ you relate to really well and find you’re only truly interested in them and you can develop ideas, support each other and so on i.e. collaboration. (We formed a successful writers group).

2) you go crazy for the statistics and start to wonder why certain pages are read and which get the most hits ... and what you have to do or say to get more hits.

This OU Blog-a-long-a-thon scroll is better for the lack of the many tools, quirks and quasi-personalisation tools that commercial blogsites now offer. 

At this stage the realisation is that you are no longer keeping a journal, nor is it private. Indeed you very quickly find there is a considerable amount of fiction, flaming and writing gibberish simply to fill a page and have your profile picked up in some blog rank-a-thingy somewhere.

I call this turning into an 'e-j'.

It's value is ephemeral. It is not a journal anymore. There's no value in privacy, indeed 'disclosure' and 'exposure' become the way to deliver a high ranking blog. My tactic was to circumvent the entire blog premise by removing any sense of it being a 'log,' writing entries that are tagged or stored by theme, rather than the day they are written on.

I try not to do it in what I call ‘OU Land’ where I am increasingly trying to be more professional and circumspect.

The temptation to write to provoke, or to intrigue is still there which will cause me trouble when it gets to submitting anything for ‘reflection’ because there may not be anything there ... which is why I am starting to post the ‘bland, objective, reflective kind of thing required’ but keeping it private.

There’s a piece on the addictive nature of games and the Internet in the New Scientist. (See below. I wrote about it last week).

I would say between 2002 and 2006 I probably spent far, far too long blogging. When you post 10,000 words on one day and have 1.6 million words online (largely unpublishable farting into cyberspace) I think you could say there was a problem.

Most of this serves no good purpose at all, other than tinkering at the QWERTY keyboard, the piano equivalent of playing chop-sticks. i.e. you quicklky find you are getting the same, repetitive tune.

I never, or rarely read over my old, hand written diaries (a decade is the right kind of timespan to afford them any worth), yet reading a page in a blog is a click away, a search word away. It's as if very day and any day is given equal value. But is it of value to learn that I tend to wash my hair on a Thursday?

Feedback is like gold, it is recognition, and in a tiny way rewarding and flattering.

Once again, there can be an obsessive hankering for comment, to the degree that your views and what you write is geared to nothing else, whilst in OU Land, a type of blogging experience, within the context of academic study, 'hits' count for nothing, whereas there is the potential to gain marks through objective reflection.

And finally ...

Blogging transmogrified through comments, friends and favourites away from being an online journal, to being a form of social networking. The blogging landscape is now so varied and vast that it often ceases to be blogging at all.

Facebook is the equivalent of blogging onto a Post it note that you then stick to the side of a bus.

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Reflection or projection? An insight through Vygotsky

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 21 Dec 2012, 06:27

On Reflection

I can appreciate that a psychologist or therapist can guide someone through patterns of thinking and behaviour in order to resolve issues. However, reflection without guidance, without parameters, might simply re-enforce the underlying patterns of behaviour and thinking.

Does it help to dwell on the past?

Might it be no better than what Vygotsky calls ‘ideal woolgathering’? (1998:23)

Might it not be better to worry more about what you do next, your mood, behaviour and attitude in the future – this you can effect, the past you cannot. If reflection is used in any way as a form of assessment then it is inviting the student to expose themselves, to provide a biased insight into how they go about things.

If psychologists are to be understood, as well as the views of some very successful woman, whilst men will overplay their skills and abilities, women will underestimate them. If used as a tool to form a view of a student’s successful acquisition of subject knowledge will such reflection therefore tend to favour men over women?

Would we not achieve more if we treated this reflection as an audit, an objective statement of what took place in the past?

Then, instead of reflection we ‘project,’ we envisage, predict or plan, simple set-out what we’ll do next, do in the future? i.e. we put more thought, if not most of our energy, into thinking what we are going to do, rather than what we did.

I come to this conclusion after three decades of keeping a diary, often reflective.

Far from reassuring me about the value of reflection to change behaviour I detect patterns of behaviour that are so repetitive it becomes boring – too much navel gazing. Some successful people I know don’t give the past a moment’s thought, indeed, I do wonder if it is this that allows them to be successful. Instead of travelling with their head constantly turning to look back, their thoughts and actions are fixed firmly on the future.

Or is reflection of the moment? It is neither of the past or the future. Is it simply a mulling over of things? How prescribed can it be? Is it an objective or subjective exercise? Could someone else do it for you, or of you? Would the views of someone else not in fact be of greater value? Instead therefore of ‘looking at yourself in a mirror,’ you look into the eyes of someone else and ask them what they see.

Most importantly, by reflecting on the past, you plan your future actions, trying to build on experience and to avoid making the same mistakes.

REFERENCE

Vygotsky, L.S. (1998). Child psychology. The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky: Vol. 5. Problems of the theory and history of psychology. New York: Plenum.

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The e-learning professional. (v. long)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 31 Jan 2013, 06:23

The podcast H808 e-learning SMEs.

(Makes them sound like a prog rock band of the 1960s. Perhaps they were?)

[V. Long version here. 4,000 words +. 1,000 or under in H808 Tutor Forum.

Edited versions in the next 24 hours/couple of days in EduBlogs at www.mindbursts.edublogs.org]

Week One

I may be a professional swimming coach (amongst several things), but my head coach told me ‘I think too much.’ Think less and get the athletes to do more. Keep it simple. If there is any context however where thinking is the currency, literally if we are talking professionalism, then the more I think the more professional I become.

(Or not).

Many would say that a 3,000 word blog entry is 'unprofessional.'

I call it shared reflection, the 'uncut version.' It is the outcome of over five hours thinking on the topic. Hours banked. Ideas turned into cash. By definition when I have made two years worth of regular deposits I may call myself and even be defined as an 'e-learning professional' with the MA to suggest I have joined that club, and a job that for the remuneration I receive makes me a professional rather than a wishful thinking wannabe.

It is unprofessional as a post-graduate student to be flippant and/or verbose.

A professional would keep this down to 500 words, yet I am stretching it to 3,000. The uncut version. Reflection in action. My mind at work. Not the athlete sharing a few ‘mots justes’ after a successful race, but the race itself and all the training before hand. The choice words, bullet point form only with an abridged commentary goes into my Tutor Group Forum. Under 250 words there, is my targert. Under 1,000 words per OU blog had been my thinking too. Blown that then.

Watching the TV I fall asleep.

Listening to the radio (i.e. any audio) I do something else - I’d be distracted anyway, I have to.

In an effort to get into my head the points being made by OUr E-learning Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) I first read the transcripts provided and then listened to the podcast while reading the text.

What shocked me was how much I had missed.

I do less than skim read it appears, all I must do is to look at patterns and shapes. No wonder I learn so little when I do nothing more than read.

Lesson learnt?

This isn’t an 'airport thriller' I can read at break-neck speed chaisng the protagonist as he is in turn chased; this requires a different kind of reading.

It requires effort.

I must work with the text, make notes. Just highlighting choices words and sentences isn’t enough either. Effort I can do. It is consistent effort unless I am working under exam conditions where I struggle. There is always something more interesting to read.

Historically, when successful academically, it has been a huge effort and very time consuming for me. I have to take notes (long hand). Then I have to take notes on the notes. I have to make lists, take quotes and re-order the material. I may still not make sense of it. I need to chase up a few references. I need to find my own patterns. I need to discuss it. Argue about it, agree and disagree. And then, gathering up a wad of papers and scraps of paper the whole lot needs to compost for a few months. Then, and only then, might I start to ‘get it,’ and have something constructive and original to say.

Do any of us have this kind of time anymore? Did we ever?

(My late father, my daughter and a friend, a partner in one of the world's leading law firms, all have/had photographic memories. They would have read the transcript and been able to pick out its salient points after the first swift reading. Not so me, not so us?)

The process you see playing out here is an attempt to mulch the content, slow cook it and hope that I can achieve something in five hours that would normall require five months.

Keep cooking.

The second time round with the SME podcast I first worked with the text, highlighting points and generally trying to get my head around it. If you’ve come across Jakob Nielsen’s ‘Writing for the Web,’ this is what I did – isolating sentences and ideas, creating headings, sub-headings and bullet points, in a word ‘chunking. In fact, I begin to get close to doing what Richard Northridge recommends in the ‘OU Guide to Studying’ (1990) note taking, creating concept cards and then even looking for links and patterns in the text itself.

Lesson learnt?

This takes time and requires effort. I’m not great on effort. My modus operandi is (or has been) to take in volumes of material, but if this is only at a surface level no wonder I am often more frustrated than informed.

Lesson learnt?

Less is more. Rather than chasing a reference, another report or book, I need, at first, to ensure that the text I have in front of me has been dissected, not consumed, not afforded nothing more than a passing glance, but pulled apart, then reconstructed.

Lesson learnt?

Effort

Not the expected outcome of this simple task – my faltering approach to learning laid bare, but a valuable lesson at the start of the module.

At last I’m listening to the podcast.

I made myself think, made myself listen, I 'sat forward' (the technical term for interacting, for engagement.) I made myself read and take notes, made me list the contrasting ideas, the arguments for and against, the justifications ... and to cluster these ideas and adjust my own thoughts accordingly based on my experience.

I had something to think about as I listened.

Do I have anything in common with these e-learning professionals in relation to assumptions and aims?

  • Do I have different understandings of what it means to be an ‘elearning professional’?
  • Is there a distinct elearning profession, or is elearning simply an aspect of other professions?
  • The profession of teacher?
  • The profession of a university lecturer or academic?
  • The profession of a trainer or staff developer or a human resources developer in private corporate bodies?
  • Is there an elearning professional?
  • And should I be describing my job as that of an elearning professional?

My short reply, given my background in sports coaching, is simple.

  • If you are paid you are a professional.
  • If you are the athlete and not paid you are an amateur.
  • If you’re the coach and not paid you are a volunteer.

Therefore, if someone is good enough and experienced enough (or simply good at selling themselves and their ideas) – and they are remunerated for their efforts, then they are a professional.

Rebecca Addlington is a professional athlete. Bill Furness, her coach, is a professional too.

At my swimming club all the swimmers are amateur, though some through bursaries to pay for County and Regional development training are by definition quasi-professional as they are receiving benefits if not in cash, then in kind. Some of the coaches and I do not define myself as a swimming coach; it’s a hobby that’s got out of hand.

I have ‘put in the hours.’

(Which I can qualify by saying I have put in the appropriate hours. i.e. time will not make you a professional, the enduring focus of your efforts will)

One of the key themes of the podcast made by each of the speakers is that a professional has put in the time.

They have put in the effort, gained experience that is directly or indirectly relevant to their e-learning expertise – and by dint of this expertise (and being paid by the OU, for books and reports, lectures and workshops too perhaps) they are all professionals.

At the swimming club many of us (its the biggest club in the South of England) have earned our places through years of experience, gaining qualifications and attending regular courses (CPD) to retain a licence to teach or coach aquatics. Many of us, paid or not, can call ourselves 'professionals.'

Just as I’ve reduced my core thought to that of the contract between a professional and an amateur, by picking out the ideas of each speaker and doing something similar a number of interesting points regarding what it means to be an ‘e-learning professional’ emerge.

In this see-saw of ideas the protagonists have a habit of changing places.

By defining professional we should also think what it means to be unprofessional.

I’ve allowed this dance to play out as it leaves me with an image of a professional being circled by the professional wannabe, the unprofessional (as yet), the layperson, the naive, virgin student. A mass of non-professionals clamoring around the few.

The points and arguments frequently fall into another diametrically opposed set: the qualitative vs. quantitative, an objective point vs. the subjective, a value judgment vs. the facts. Everything overlaps - a Venn Diagram of the points would show sets within sets.

Adrian Kirkup

· Amateur vs. Professional (there are many highly ‘professional’ amateurs)

· Ineffective vs. effective.

Robin Mason

· Hasn’t done it for long vs. been doing it for a long time

· Undergraduate vs. PhD (A sub-set of the above)

· Hasn’t put in the hours vs. has put in the hours (more of the same)

· Immature vs. Mature (a variation of the same. Though professionalism is not a consequence of maturity)

· Inexperienced vs. Experienced.(Experience that takes time to acquire, and a certain manner to be effective)

Gill Kirkup

· A new field vs. an established field. (Disagree. Though a new field of subset of a professional activity would be definably professional).

· New vs. Established. (as above)

· No established standards vs. abides by general and specific received standards.

· Acting alone or part of a professional association.

· Part of the UK Higher Education Academy or not. (a subset of the above)

· Part of a legitimate community or not. (as above)

· Committed vs. Uncommitted.

· Respectful vs. Disrespectful.

· Respect for the individual learner, incorporating research and scholarship, the development of learning communities online is a hugely strong component in professional elearning practice. (successfully combines the subjective and unquantifiable with the quantifiable and objective)

· Juvenile and professional vs. professional only if matured. (as Robin Mason)

· Unlicensed vs. Licensed.

Robin Goodfellow

· Genuine vs. not genuine.

· Unrecognised vs. Recognised.

· Inexperienced vs. Experienced.

· Independent vs. tied (to government or a business).(disagree)

· Technical foundation vs. no technical foundation

· No need for a label, e-learning professional vs. professional enhancer. (strongly agree)

Chris Jones

· Takes time vs. no time.(as Robin Mason and Robin Goodfellow. You have to put in the time to become a professional. Which I guess applies as much to the professional criminal, as the Professional lawyer. Little p, Big P- see below)

· Part of the mainstream vs. Specialist. (disagree)

· ‘Lone Ranger’ and early stages of innovation ... vs. early majority and established (themes of Rogers)

· Enthusiasts vs. the not interested. (strongly agree)

· Society and the professionalisation of modern life (quotable)

· Sport in the 20th century and professional vs. amateurs in sport

· Traditional and modern professionals

· Autonomous vs. dependent

· Trustworthy vs. (spin/PR/Branding/Agenda)

· Not part of a trade association or governing body vs. part of such an association

· Generalist vs. specialist

· An outside vs. part of something

· Formalised standards vs. none

· Unmonitored vs. monitored

· Is there a distinct elearning profession, or is elearning simply an aspect of other professions?

· Little ‘p’ pr big ‘P.’

Jonathan Vernon (moi)

· Doesn’t look the part vs. looks the part.

· Lacks form vs. has form.

· Self-taught vs. ‘done a course.’

· Qualified (with the piece of paper to prove it) vs. Unqualified (however expert they may be).

Some thoughts on the points identified above

It is worth reflecting on Robin Mason’s point about ‘putting in the hours.’

The suggestion that genius and expertise requires 10,000 hours of effort is no urban myth. A study carried out at the Berlin Music Conservatoire identified three groups of graduates. Asked to estimate how many hours of practice and playing each student had put in since picking up an instrument they were then divided into three distinct categories: up to 4,000 hours, up to 8,000 hours and up to 10,000 hours. The first became teachers, the second category got places in orchestras whilst the tiny number who had put in 10,000 hours (takes around 10 years to do this) were most likely to be the solo artists, the concert pianists, the mavericks, the Vanessa Maes and Mozarts. Whilst all these categories are professionals, they are paid for their skills, the use of the word ‘professional’ to distinguish those who are expert, who have attained a certain standard, would in my view apply to the musicians who have made it into a top orchestra – with the soloists in a category beyond the ‘professional.’ Our ‘OU H808 E-learning SME professionals', given the decades of thought they have put into what we now define as ‘e-learning’, have been part of this ‘orchestra’ of professionals for some time, and who knows, we may have a Mozart amongst them. Personally, I've not read enough from any of them yet to know any better. I look forward to hearing what they have to say and how they say it.

Interestingly, Robin Mason returns repeatedly to a theme of time passing, of gaining, requiring or acquiring maturity of thought. Though I feel as if I am clutching at ideas in an amorphous cloud here, my sense is that whether it is professional with a big P or a little p, that the word ‘maturity'; might say it all.

What does maturity imply?

Growing up, lessons learnt, age, growth, adult hood, a way of behaving, able to fit in and contribute to a community and so on.

I disagree with Gill Kirkup

If I have understood her correctly regarding her suggesting that only in an established field is something professional whilst in a new field this is not possible. We can all think of (or at least imagine) an unprofessional ‘professional.’ The corrupt lawyer, the doctor struck off the medical register, the TV food expert who is not a doctor at all (and so a sham professional).

In 2000 I would have defined myself, as some of the panel here would have done, as what is now termed an ‘e-learning’ professional. After fifteen years in corporate communications, training and learning, creating linear, then non-linear and ultimately web-based materials the companies and government department for whom I worked through various production companies had to see me as ‘professional.’ I hadn’t done the post-graduate studying, but I’d learnt through observation and experience (first carrying video kit into the changing rooms of a nuclear power plant age 17 assisting with a training film for BNFL at Sellafield).

Interestingly, I don’t currently consider myself to be an e-learning or a learning professional and even with the MA I hope to gain in 2011 I will by my own definition not be a professional until I am being paid for my expertise.

To use a horse-racing term I lack 'form.'

I'm literally out of the race (for now).

Being studious here and building my confidence is part of the plan to regain the 'professional' tag.

Does a barrister on retirement cease to be a professional lawyer?

Socio-econonmically he/she would still be defined as a 'professional' would they not?

I agree however, very much, with Gill Kirkup’s views regarding ‘respect’ and her definition of an e-learning professional within the academic community.

Respect for the individual learner, incorporating research and scholarship, the development of learning communities online is a hugely strong component in professional elearning practice.’

(This, for me, successfully combines the subjective and unquantifiable with the quantifiable and objective. i.e. you can be a professional Professional).

I disagree with Robin Goodfellow’s view that a professional must be independent vs. tied (to government or a business). If we look beyond e-learning professionals and academia it would be quite wrong to say that someone is not professional simply because they represent the interests of an organisation or government department, let alone are being paid to take a certain stance or have a strongly held view (left or right wing politically, religious or atheist and so on).

If nothing else, I believe I have shown above that there is a natural dichotomy, if not a debate even an implicit conflict, between views on whether a person, or institution, or field of study, can be defined as professional or not, worthy of study or not.

It is engagement in such a debate where a professional proves their credentials.

A professional is a match for anyone, whilst the unprofessional would not play by the rules, make excuses, bow out...

Dare I imply that all the above are differentiating between the educated and uneducated?

Is it so black and white? Students at school, scholars as Edwardian’s would have defined them, and undergraduates, graduates too, in terms of education can never be defined as ‘professional.’

Or can they?

The government pays students to go to college, to stay on in secondary school after the age of 16 – does not this make them pros, like a boy of a similar age getting paid to play football in an academy, they literally ‘turn pro.’

I agree with Robin Goodfellow that there is ‘need for a label’, that what is currently the e-learning professional may be the ‘professional enhancer ‘of the future if the UK HE Academy has their way (though I doubt the term will stick). Just as Robin was (we were) once web-based learning professionals, or learning professionals, or professionals in education...

Big P, little p (Chris Jones) is the most memorable expression of an idea in relation to the professional Professional that I take from this and a worthy talking point. And 2,500 words in I could sum it up with a Twitter count.

Professional is an adjective and a noun.

Anyone can be described as ‘professional,’ (adjective) by dint of their behaviour and experience, however to be a ‘professional’, (noun), various criteria should be met. Depending on how your measure up, by Chris Jones’s definition, you are either Big or Little P.

(I can think of other categories where a similar way of looking at things could be applied, for example, ‘engineer’. The person who fixes my washing machine may call himself an ‘engineer,’ but Isambard Kingdom Brunel was an ‘Engineer’. A sports psychologist is no longer allowed to call themselves such, they are sports scientists. So Psychologist, if not professional, not has a legally binding form of expression and use).

I disagree however with Chris Jone’s view that Professionals (big P you notice) have to be specialists whilst implicitly, if they are professional at all (little p) they are not, or unlikely to be so if they are part of the mainstream.

Or do I?

(I'm changing my mind as I write this, reflecting on a matter tends to do this. You twist yourself in so many knots and then find you are looking in the opposite direction - and happy to do so)

Onwards

Is there an implicit elitism here that makes me uncomfortable, an obvious them and us?

As a Professional I am not ‘part of the mainstream’ ?

Yes, that’s it.

You see the ‘mainstream’ is the population, everyone, in the universe that we are discussing. Professionals are of the mainstream, of society, even if they are a subset community within the broader community.

The likes of Richard Dawkin and Stephen Hawkings are 'professional Professionals' by their engagement with the world, not because of an elitist, hide-themselves away hermit like attitude to knowledge acquisition. Do Simon Schama and Neil Ferguson fall into the same category of professionalism?

Be published and damned, broadcast and be damned even more?

But you don't have to be famous to be Professional (though I dare say you'd cease to be professional if you became infamous).

Or have I been making a mistake through-out this internal debate ... this reflection – that we have always only been discussing Big P professionalism ONLY as part of ‘the whole thing,’ i.e. the specific category of the ‘e-learning Professional’ and just as this time round I haven’t given a moment’s thought to ‘e-learning’ as a term, I have nonetheless unnecessarily dissected the term ‘professional.’

I’m yet to click through the OED online.

I daren’t. It may be my undoing.

Back to my idea of a Venn Diagram.

If ‘professionals’ is the universe then we have two subsets, Professionals (Big P) and professionals (little p) (the noun only). Far smaller, and intersecting both these sets, we have ‘e-learning.’ There are in e-learning little P and Big P professionals.

Still with me?

But there are also non-professionals, and even  the unprofessional to consider. Can they also be defined as Non-professionals (Big N) and Unprofessionals (Big U).

Final thoughts

Might a professional be defined as someone with 'qualified confidence in their field?'

Not finished yet

I've got a Venn Diagram to draw, some visualising to do.

Can a loner be a professional?

I enjoyed Chris Jones's point about the ‘Lone Ranger’ that in early stages of innovation there are maverick, loners having a go at something new way ahead of anyone else - think Dr Emmett Brown in 'Back to the Future' tinkering away at the construction of a time-travelling automobile. Are such people professionals or even professional? Does this 'odd-ball' behaviour disenfranchise you from the professional community, even if you have the mind the size of a planet?

A consultant escapes the hospital ward for a couple of years to undertake research. Just because they are beavering away on their own, being a 'Lone Ranger' doesn't disqualify them from the category of 'Professional,' (Big P), or even 'professional Professional' (little p, Big P).

Dare I suggest that our panel of e-learning experts are 'professional e-Professionals' ?

I don't even begin to delve into the thinking behind innovation diffusion. This is an entire module in its own right. It is called 'Innovations in E-learning', or H807 for short.

For more read 'Diffusion of Innovations' E.M.Rogers. (2005) 5th edition.

Nor am I going to teach the definition 'e-learning.'

Is there a professional 'look.'

Forgive me if I make a comparison here between the need for barristers to put on the appropriate garb in court and so look Professional with a big p, compared to those wishing to be called professional and seen as Professional who don't look the part. Poolside as coaches it is expected that all teachers are appropriately dressed in the club colours and well groomed - this looks professional. There was once a time when teachers wore a jacket and tie, so looked professional like fellow professionals such as lawyers and doctors. Don't academic look the part, 'look professional' in their gowns and mortar-boards?

And having addressed 'looks' can someone sound 'professional?

Think how a director chooses actors to play a role. Look at Michael Cane in 'Educating Rita,' is this the stereotypical professional Professor?

Another discussion, but coming from corporate communications we have been through exercises of using authentic presenters (people who work at the place) compared to buying in 'professional' presenters. To do justice to the message in the TV medium the professional broadcasters were far better at putting over the points the client wanted to make.

As I said, another discussion, a different thread.

P.S. It would be unprofessional to post such a long entry into a tutor forum, where a 500 word, even a 250 word version will be posted (the bullet points, or just my thoughts on the key bullet points ... or just where I strongly agree or disagree).

Lesson Learnt ?

Professionals put in the time and effort, and follow rather than ignore guidelines for the community in which they operate.

It strikes me that academics, like creatives, are more interested in reputation and recognition than money.

Is it not striking that not one of our panel mention it?

Can you be a professional without it?

And what about spelling and grammar?

The ability to communicate. Have I mentioned that. Can the professional spell?

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Up and running. H808

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An hour in the middle of the night has been spent reading through the first task and all the various forum entries in H808 'The E-Learning Professional.'

This and applying for a job. Stymied by the need for three references. I've been such a hermit these last few years I worry that beyond family and friends the only reference I could get would be from my hairdresser and she might say something like 'he may be on time but I know he's seeing the barber down the road as well.'

Three dreams over the last ten days are bugging me - my lengthy reflection on these will go into the WordPress Blog (unless they prove to have something to do with the OU). I use a 27 point survey that usually reduces the dream to some mundane conclusion, though occasionally offers something more profound.

Ever on the look out for 'e-' words I spotted 'e-nose' in last week's New Scientist.

The e-nose refers to an 'electronic nose' rather than an 'electronically enhanced and largely online nose' that is the 'e-' of e-learning. The e-nose can identify certain scents electronically, it transpires ... (though not across, the Internet) ... yet. It wouldn't surprise me if a Google-e-nose were developed that could be used to search for and then offer recipes for food from your fridge that has escaped its packaging. Hold it up to your webcam and Google will advise.

The following was written out long hand with an ink pen.

I wonder if there is a stylistic difference, greater fluidity? (My son had squirreled the lap-top away and being the dead of night I didn't want to disturb him).

Is there software that can spot the stylistic difference of something written directly into a word-processor, like this ... or written out long hand, like this:

Reflection

Whilst reflection is meant to help tackle complex problems, what if the issues are so chaotic, long term and intractable that far from helping to resolve a problem the act and habit of reflection simply re-enforces the mess?!

E-Learning

How much of it is online?

And how much of it is even electronic and/or enhanced?

This happens to be a reflective note being written long-hand onto a recyled A4 ruled pad of paper. It is anything but electronic, or digital. Nor, as yet, is it shared or offers any chance of interaction, let alone collaboration with a group of friends, community of fellow students or the wider world.

The most important part of this experience is taking place in my head and is either one step behind, or one step ahead of this writing process. It is stream of consciousness. It is a singular, lonely and individual occurrence from which little will be gained by sharing it.

This is it: learning in which the 'e' is highly tangential.

Indeed, I'd go as far as to say that the 'e' component of my online learning, or web-based learning, or iLearning experience with the OU thus far is one in which the online quality of the process can be as discretely packaged as you would a book, a lecture or a face-to-face chat with a fellow traveller - it is one part, even a distinct part, an entity with barriers, parameters and a physical presence.

It is a part, not even a large part. But a catylst. A resource. A tool. A track. (a word-processed addition here)

An audit of how this learner spends his time studying shows that half is off-line doing that all too traditional act of reading and taking notes; that of the remaining half another 50% is spent at a computer keyboard sometimes not fully aware or bothered about whether I am working online or off, using software on my hard-drive or the OU server.

(a hand-written omission here replaced with the following while typing online)

And if I continue this fractal-like halving of time spent studying, at what point do I reach 'e-'

And does it matter?

The 'e-' is the fleck of saffron in a risotto.

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Elena Kondyli, Sunday, 5 Sep 2010, 00:11)
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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.

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Mon Lang, Sunday, 1 Aug 2010, 09:23)
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ECA Deadline 16 hours away

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 10:04

Parts 1 & 2 v.good. I like the writing style. vs Reflection seems a bit of a rant (My wife, 2010, this afternoon)

Me rant! Whenever?

OK.

This is the most tender exchange my wife and I have had in two years. She lives in another room in the house, rarely to leave, where at great expense to the pharmaceutical community she turns interviews with medical experts (in French and English) into multipage, overly quoted, qualitative reports which make an OU ECA look like a kindergarten doodle.

(A decade into this she is a better pharmacist and GP than our local ... pharmacist or GP. She has vetted and reviewed everything well ahead of it being issued. Which may explain why I have yet to die from asthma. I'm always pumped up with the latest best thing(s)

In an hour I'm poolside coaching Britian's future Olympian swimmers for the next few hours (think Rio in 2016 and beyond, some of them have only just turned 9).

I have a mindmap - hideous term, hateful concept, but when I've done one for a TMA and stuck to it the (bleep, bleep, bleep) things seem to provide structure for my unstructured way of thinking.

800 words of reflection.

Could I say it four ?

'Been there, done that?'

or a few more ...

'Been there, done that, enjoyed the learning journey, up for more.'

Not really worth 20% of the marks.

Meanwhile an eventful day in other ways, prioritise as you see fit:

A statue of Tom Paine was revealed in Lewes (where we live). It is July 4th. He had something to do with the 'Rights of Man.' (Or the rights of one man, him ...) as he was pissing off everyone in Sussex when he jumped ship to the Americas.

I found four baby guinea-pigs in the hutch that has been my responsibility to clean out for the last decade. Daughter just 14 couldn't give a monkeys, though 'til two years ago she adored them. I have called them: 'E,' 'C,' & 'A,' and 'H807.' As the children are finally beyond naming them. Though my son, now 12, did call them 'bite-sized.' Our dog, who has come to replace the G-Ps in our affections, is tender ... she was introduced to guinea-pigs as puppy and just about understands that they are neither small tennis balls or food. We have had some wonderful adventures with out pigs these last ... 12 years.

We haven't had rain for 17 years (or is that days, or weeks) so I felt I had to water the garden. This is having had rain from October 13th 2009 to March 11th without a break).

The papers are declaring it the worst lack of rain in the the first six months of a year since ... well, since the last time this happened in 1992, 1998 and 1976. I have been attempting to syphon water out of the bath into the garden as I did in 1976 age 13 ... and face the same problem. Gagging as the stuff reaches my mouth and finding the lip over the windowsill is impossible to overcome. Do I buy a pump?

What next?

My brain is yours for £ and $.

Oh, and a nine year old headache from my late father's estate that suggests I may be taken to court in France. The joke is the letter was sent by recorded delivery that requires a signature is unintelligible to our Postie so he just put it through our letter box. My wife suggests we could (and should) ignore it. Why when I write to France I do so in French ... while the French when they write to English speaking countries do so ... in French?

Anything else?

Not for now

800 words is probably harder to write than 2,000.

And what is reflection anyhow?

Not a rant, not 'stream of consciouness.'

An essay?

A grovel for marks.

Your choice.

But no one reads these things anyway.

Lurkers please say 'Hi'.

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Paula Roberts, Sunday, 4 Jul 2010, 17:24)
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I've learnt something!

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You'd hope after 19 weeks!

TMA01 the first draft of this 3000 word report was somewhere around 12000 words, too over 20 draft to cut down and looked dreadful in what might have been the final version.

Then I started again, off the top of my head, as if writing under exam conditions.

Success after much pain.

TMA02 the first draft was around 8000 words. Adopting the same process of putting everything in, then precising, prioritising, was still the approach. i.e. why use one quote when six will do sad

Before submitting I felt there was a misalignment between the question and what I had written. Trying to weave a tapestry to someone else's design isn't my style. Six re-writes to the final version. Happy.

TMA03 got me to the stage where I thought I was writing like an academic - I had nailed an 80% score on a thoroughly researched, well researched and justified piece. It needed a day or two to subtle, and someone else's eyes to point out that I had forked away from the question in the second part. Unspotted, the TMA went in. Disaster. From my perspective. And major disillusionment. In the 'real world' this doesn't happen because you are working with colleagues and collectively you are far more likely to stay on brief.

ECA. Still to complete, but the huge suprise was when I broke it into three parts having assembled it over the last month or so ... I came in several hundred words UNDER the required word count. i.e. I am now building something, rather than taking away.

Perhaps I should adopt the Graham Greene approach to writing. 500 carefully chosen words a day, rather than my preferred approach of the last decade, which is, as here, to write a stream of consciousness, at a jog, never looking back, except to spellcheck.

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