Tags: h818, conference, blogging, youtube
Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Jenny Duckworth, Thursday, 20 Feb 2020, 17:41)
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Huuuuuge Imposter Syndrome

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So the presentation is tomorrow at 9.10. Slight hiccup in that my teenage children, who would usually be at school, won't be as their school was damaged by Storm Ciara. Suddenly the 9.10 feels like a blessing as they will most likely be in bed and not on the internet!

Suddenly my entire endeavour - the poster, abstract, project, presentation, script - feels like it was thrown together by an earnest and slightly geeky ten year old. Everyone else has much more impressive sounding project titles and (I fear) much more academically slanted projects to present in a much more academic style.

I am terrified. And I am first.

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Anna Greathead, Friday, 14 Feb 2020, 09:36)
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Presenting the "Paper"

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My paper about the OU blog tool specifically, and the use of blogs in education and learning more generally is far from written. In fact - I have a whole heap of data and a lot of ideas but only the faintest of conclusions and nothing like a logical narrative in my internal thinking about it all. This does not bode well for presenting the 'paper' which has not only remained unwritten but is still, as I write, unplanned.

I have decided to make my presentation mostly narrative in style. I cannot be alone in finding academic and statistical presentations somewhat difficult to concentrate on and enjoy! I want to use the words people said to me (actually wrote to me) above to demonstrate some of the statistics I have gleaned from my post analysis.  

That said - I have hit a bit of a wall. I have created a presentation which is okay but I am not convinced it is as good as I can make it. I have to submit it on Tuesday so I don't have a lot of time to play with but I'm going to have a go at sketching out my paper in my detail so I can make sure I can do as I have been asked - present my paper. As things stand I am more likely to find myself writing a paper to expand my presentation! Less than ideal!

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Who, Why, What and How....

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My project title was developed after, oooh, about three seconds of careless consideration!

However - my throwaway but catchy words have actually helped me form a mental structure of the eventual project output which has eased my general panic over the last couple of weeks (possible a bit too much!).

Who blogs?

Who used the OU blog tool? In short - not many people. I have been unable to get official figures but there are around 168,000 OU students and about 50,000 public blog posts each year. Given that a small number of blog users are quite prolific and a lot of individual student blogs consist of a single post (or three at the maximum) it's not unreasonable to assume that usage is low. Of course there may be private blogs in the system too but even assuming a generous 'three times as many' it still means that each OU student uses the blog tool less than twice each year. The blog is only open to current students and staff.

Why is there a blog tool?

The blog tool is part of a suite available to OU students. Different courses may feature different extra options but the blog tool is part of StudentHome. The potential for the blog is a part of the body of research and theory surrounding technology enhanced education - practitioners can see how it could function as a reflective learning journal, an online collaborative space or a 'can't be lost' repository for ongoing work and activity. There is lots of sound pedagogical research surrounding the activities which blogging is thought to be a technological enhancement of but somewhat less about how much it has (so far) fulfilled the theoretical promise.

What do people blog about?

The blog post analysis revealed a few indisputable patterns.

1. Some people who blog a lot often simple use their blog as a journal. There may be some reflection within it but essentially it's a diary.

2. Other people blog a lot and their posts are short, thought provoking, amusing.

3. Some people only blog when their tutor requires it.

Defining the 'right' way to blog is counter to the aims of reflective or collaborative practice but it doesn't look like this tool is principally being used for either of those things.

How can good blog use be encouraged?

I have got a lot of comment here from OU students (past and present) and some tutors, VLE designers and other experts. I hope to add narrative from different perspectives here. There are many stories of good blog use.

Permalink 8 comments (latest comment by Helen Darlaston, Wednesday, 5 Feb 2020, 12:33)
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Attention! Reflect and Collaborate!

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Now the TMA is done and the conference presentation scheduled it's time to do the actual project and write the actual paper!

I have a whole heap of 'data' now - most of it is essentially qualitative. To be honest I prefer quantitative data - I'm not a scientist but I find numbers easier to draw a conclusion from than words. This is especially true in this case where my quotes are often quite definite and strong and entirely contradictory to each other! The fact is I have not been able to get any firm numerical data from the OU. (I will keep trying - there are a few weeks to go) and my numerical data is based on a google search about the number of OU students and the number of blog posts which are visible.

My initial assessment is that the OU blog tool does not work well for collaboration. Unlike external blogs it is not really easy to subscribe or keep track of who commented on what. OU students have other tools within the VLE, and outside of it, where they can collaborate much more easily. This observation is supported by an analysis of a sample of OU blogs - comments are rare and long comment thread even rarer.

However - the OU blog tool can (and does) work well for reflection. Reflection need not have an audience (indeed many express a preference for their work to be private) but it seems not only possible to gain insight and understanding from other learner's reflections but it seems almost commonplace.

I'm hoping to collate key quotes from all of my research to date to, if not draw a firm conclusion then, offer insight into barriers which discourage effective blogging and keys which encourage it based on the testimony of OU blog users.and OU non-blog users.



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Poster and Abstract - The Who, Why, What and How of the OU blog

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Tuesday, 14 Jan 2020, 20:18

The OU H818 'The Networked Practitioner' Online Conference 2020 - Thursday 13th February, 9.10 - 9.25



The value of reflection and collaboration is broadly accepted within learning and education. Reflective journaling and collaborative work have long been part of ordinary and common learning and studying practice. As with so many aspects of pedagogy the advent of the internet has offered new technological enhancements to augment traditional activities – extending their reach, convenience of use, functionality and a network of examples of good practice. 

In this presentation the way in which OU students use the provided blog tool to reflect and collaborate will be described and insight into how further such activity can be encouraged will be given. 

The blog is potentially, and reportedly, a valuable tool for both reflection and collaboration – the main two aspects considered within this paper (Mohamed 2013, Byington 2011).  The blog can provide a learning journal which cannot be lost, within which there is a search function and which can, if the writer desires, provide support and encouragement to numerous other learners.  The blog could enhance and extend the capacity for collaboration to be less bound by geographical and synchronicity constraints.

Including a blog function within a VLE is a way which institutions can offer access to these benefits to their learners at little expense or effort. However – provision of a tool is not, on its own, enough to guarantee effective use, or indeed any use. A blog tool is not an example of a feature where ‘build it and they will come’ seems have much validity! (Shana, 2015)

There are many reasons learners may not perceive the value of blogging: they may perceive it as an additional and unwelcome chore; they may lack confidence with the technology; or they may simply feel that they have little to contribute. Unless students use the tool neither party gains any benefit.

Yet blogging cannot become a ‘requirement’ and remain useful. Collaboration and reflection cannot be truly effective unless undertaken voluntarily and formulaic reflection or mechanical collaboration will not confer any benefit and may be counterproductive (Chang 2019, Fernsten 2005, Musanti 2010). Institutions can encourage learners to reflect and collaborate (using a blog) in the hope that benefits become obvious and habits form, and for some learners this will be enough to begin their blogging journey with all the associated benefits. For others it won’t be - and those learners may benefit from other tools to facilitate reflection and collaboration.

In this paper there is

This presentation may be of interest to VLE developers, online learning designers, students and tutors.

Key Words: Blogs, Reflection, Collaboration, Learning Design, Virtual Learning Environment

 

Byington, T. A. (2011) ‘Communities of practice: Using blogs to increase collaboration’, Intervention in School and Clinic, 46(5), pp. 280–291. doi: 10.1177/1053451210395384.

Chang, B. (2019) ‘Reflection in learning’, Online Learning Journal, 23(1), pp. 95–110. doi: 10.24059/olj.v23i1.1447.

Fernsten, L. and Fernsten, J. (2005) ‘Portfolio assessment and reflection: enhancing learning through effective practice’, Reflective Practice, 6(2), pp. 303–309. doi: 10.1080/14623940500106542.

Mohamad, S. K. et al. (2013) ‘Pattern of reflection in learning Authoring System through blogging’, Computers and Education. Elsevier Ltd, 69, pp. 356–368. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.07.031.

Musanti, S. I. and Pence, L. P. (2010) ‘and Navigating Identities Collaboration and Teacher Development ’:, Teacher Education Quarterly, 37(1), pp. 73–90. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ872650&site=ehost-live.

Shana, Z. A. and Abulibdehb, E. S. (2015) “Engaging students through blogs: Using blogs to boost a course experience”, International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, 10(’, International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, 10(1), pp. 30–38. doi: 10.3991/ijet.v10i1.4240.


Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Anna Greathead, Wednesday, 26 Feb 2020, 23:27)
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Word counts... again!

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I had no idea where to begin with the 2000 word part of my current TMA so I began a narrative describing the process I've been through in producing the first two parts of my TMA and the project I am working on.

Got to 1800 words.

Of just nicely written but unreferenced narration!

Argh!

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Abstract... noun and adjective!

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Part 2 of my current TMA is to produce an abstract about my eventual conference presentation (for which the poster is also a part).

I must have read hundreds of abstracts but somehow I have not got a firm idea on how to produce one myself - especially as it is about a piece on ongoing work and not something which is completed.

We have been given 500 words which seems really long. Most abstracts I have read are a longish paragraph of a maximum of 200 words - more often about 150 I would say. They are, for me, an indication of whether the paper is what I am looking for or if I have stumbled here by using vague search terms or attracted by an intriguing paper title.

The advice we have is, in the OU style, nice and vague! Whilst this has frustrated me a lot in my OU journey I am starting to realise that deliberately vague instructions may be designed to give us plenty of room to manoeuvre rather than as a trip wire!

Anyway - I intend to have a good bash at this abstract tonight. Wish me luck!

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Networking?

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Tuesday, 31 Dec 2019, 18:24

I have been listening to a Tutorial I missed in chunks. I perceived that the first bit was about the poster so I listened to that twice while I was tweaking the poster. I have, once I decided on a format, made steady progress on the poster and it's been the nuts and bolts of actually making it rather than indecisiveness or prevarication about content which has taken the time.

The next step is an accessibility statement to show I have appreciated and made allowances for the needs of people with various disabilities in the creation of the poster. This means I included an audio track, clear graphics and text. The need to think about, and write, this also acted as a catalyst to upload the presentation as a YouTube video (something I have never done before) as I could tell that my iPhone wouldn't play a PowerPoint presentation and assumed that other people's mobile devices may not either. A series of slide images was not what I created and not what I wanted any viewers to see.

Then came the abstract (in progress.... very early progress) and then I listened on the the tutorial. Simon emphasized the importance of networking and how we had to demonstrate that this skill was one we had significantly developed during H818. I panicked a little! Had I done any networking?

So here is my list of 'networking' activities which I think (hope) may count!

Now what else could I do?
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Charting New Waters

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Wednesday, 15 Jan 2020, 13:12

TMA 2 of H818 is proving to be a challenge! So much so that I pursued my time-honoured transition of pretending it wasn't happening for a slightly too long. I suddenly found that I should have done more and that I really hadn't got any clear idea of what I was supposed to do, let alone what I was expected to achieve!

I knew I was doing my overall project - essentially the whole of H818 - on the use of the blog tool with OU students. I knew that the main two benefits of blogging reported in most of the literature was reflection and collaboration so my initial poster simply reflected that:

A large word BLOG with the mirror image reflected in water. Lots of smaller words 'BLOG' interconnected with arrows above.

I liked this poster but, upon seeing the lengths my colleagues were going to, became sure it was too simple. I couldn't see how I could add additional media such as audio or animation as the point of the poster was its simplicity and the room it allowed the viewer to make their own interpretation.

I remembered the TED talk by Amanda Palmer which we viewed a few weeks ago. The point we were supposed to get was about open access models but what most struck me was the power of story telling. The reason I find blogging helpful and one of the reasons I believe blogging is so popular is because of the power of stories. It therefore made sense to give my poster an element of story telling too.

With this in mind I created a narrative path of two people - one of whom blogged for reflection and the other who blogged for collaboration. I wanted to underline that both paths were both theoretical and actual uses and benefits of blogging, and that both augmented and enhanced learning.

Using PowerPoint I have added an audio track which are also on the slide and viewable to anyone not able to hear the audio.

This has been very 'out of the comfort zone' for me... but I guess that's the point! I also having to write an accessibility statement, an abstract and an essay detailing the progress of my project! Argh!

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We plan to make your module result available on Monday 9 December 2019

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Please be more specific!

My refresh button thumb is getting sore!

I don't imagine I have actually failed H817 but I am itching to change my Facebook name to Anna Greathead PG Dip (ODE) (Open).



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Storytelling

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Wednesday, 15 Jan 2020, 13:11

My H818 project is to do with blogging. Blogging seems to have become a separate category but it's significant to remember than it's a technologically enabled version of the traditional diary or journal.

The TED Talk by Amanda Palmer was supposed to get me thinking about open source and open access but it actually go me thinking about how powerful stories are. Amanda could have simply told us that she had chosen to change the financing method for her music but instead she told us a compelling and satisfying story. I daresay I will remember a story long after I have forgotten a lecture.

Diaries are deliciously private which is why (maybe!) we love to read them. The Diary of Anne Frank is a world changing book. Other books have been deliberately styled as diaries (think Adrian Mole, Bridget Jones) because, as a species, it seems that we are interested in the mundane lives of other people. The blog simply takes this model online. And opens it up to a much bigger potential audience. Some stories capture the imagination more than others, but each is valid. Some people are more willing to share their stories than others but every story told is a moment in time captured.

I have started to consider how I can present my Blog Project findings in a story format. It could be quite possible to make the point and give the information within this model whilst keeping the readers / audience engaged and entertained.

As for open access and different methods of monetizing creativity - I have to battle again with the ingrained pragmatic assumptions my 46 years have left me with. Another way should be possible - I just find it hard to envision.

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Post TMA Slump

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Friday, 17 Jan 2020, 11:32

Does anyone else find it almost impossible to login to their OU account in the days immediately after they've submitted a TMA? I have just submitted my ninth OU TMA and must accept that this is my pattern. There seems no avoiding it!

I means I have a busy few days as I try to catch up but, if I am honest, I mostly sketch over the activities in the week immediately after a submission.

Anyway - I'm now five days post submission so I'm back here. Writing a procrastinatory blog post to delay any actual work by a further few minutes!


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Nerd!

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TMA01 had specific word limits - part 1 was to be no longer than 1500 words and part 2 was to be no longer than 1000 words.

I've taken quite a lot of pride in writing essays of exactly the right length in previous modules - sometimes adding a single adjective or contracting two words to arrive at the satisfyingly even figure!

So - it was 44 hours before submission deadline and I had a part 1 which was 1494 words and a part 2 which was 998 words.... would those crucial eights words be significant? Could they form the sentence which may push the assignment through a grade boundary? Would my tutor roll his eyes at my having handed in an incomplete piece of work?

I ruminated (on social media) and my 22 year old son posted 'Submit it you nerd' - which was nice! You see - he's one of the more relaxed in the human race. He did the last 6,000 words of his dissertation (that is to say all of it) in the last few days before it was due. He didn't set any records but he did pass!

I am sure that somewhere, on the continuum between me and him, is a sensible approach!

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