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Saturday Live, September 27th 2014

From 2BlogI

Fig. 1 Saturday Live, Sept 27th BBC Radio 4

A three hour car journey is sustained by pieces of Radio 4: this jad me wanting to pull over and take notes, instead I’ve been into iPlayer. There were pieces about memory and happiness that tickled my interest. I still need to listen a third time to find the point that to paraphrase had something to do with why or how memories are formed by key moments, not the endless ephemera that surrounds them: this is the key error made by all of these Apps and gadgets that aim to ‘keep memories’ for you by photographing and recording your day. Many of my most memorable moments in a 24 hour period are either dreams or thoughts – there’s no photographin them.

Paul Dolan is dubbed the Professor of Happiness. I downloaded his book half an hour ago. A smart and academic-lite response rather than a ‘how to book’

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Bart’s Bash in Seaford Bay, Sunday 21st August

Bart’s Bash : Photos from one of the security boats

From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14

Dreams

From 2BlogI

I rarely write about these, though feel obliged when they are so telling. I had another double bill of movie like dreams. I won’t bore you with the detail but I challenge any of these new ‘memory’ apps to account for them. What is my head up to? It’s very probably because I am, after six or seven years of not having done so, thinking about storytelling: character, plot and narrative arcs. Where’s that in a mini series such as ‘The Borgias’. Some of these series, however often there is a murder or sex act after a while become as interesting as standing at a bus stop and starting to recognise the same faces every day.

Nabakov said something about ‘loving a memory to make it real’.

Can an App love something as abstract as a memory? It strikes me that memories can never be digitised, that as the construct, at that moment, of a chemical process, that they will be forever analogue. Can you digitise a chemical process?

Memory is not a photograph, or recording, not even something you have written down, rather a memory is what your brain at that moment chooses to construct for you drawing upon sources in various, and differing corners and recesses of your brain. It takes very little to alter this mix. Nothing you recall can ever be the way you remember it before, far from being frozen in time, as a digital form would do, it erupts like gas from a swamp.

In my early teens I had one of those ‘Five Year Diaries’ that offer four or five lines per day. After five years you have what you did on that day for five years. It took a long while for me to move on from these. What I did was try to write something about that day that would provide recall of some kind. I don’t need the video of the day. Or an assortment of photographs. All it takes is a phrase, a place, person or event. Something you ate or saw on TV. Oh dear. I just saw that I thought my new girlfriend’s breath was bad. She read this by chance a few years later. Together for five years we finally left each other in tatters a decade later. I can see where we were standing. Her Dad had come to pick her up. Neither of us could drive. She was 16, I was nearly 18. Do I need a gadget to replace my mind’s eye?

A response to any challenge: it takes time, experience, risk and a sense of what you are capable of

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Fig.1 The only time I ever got down this precipitous drop in one go, falling the fall line, was as a fit and by then experienced skier. Plagne-Bellecote, France.

It took eight years, a badly smashed leg, both thumbs and a rib. It is thirty years since I have been in the flat we used then – this is the view from the window. I have no intentions of getting any closer than this. Instead I will join the Ski Club of Great Britain Guide and in so doing learn from others and remain in one, unbroken piece.

My H818: The Networked Practitioner

Though I completed the Master of Arts: Open and Distance Education (MAODE) last year I didn’t feel like a ‘master’ – further modules as continual professional development have realised this: H809 for research and H818 for applying and sharing in an open and ‘directed’ way. My background is a producer in corporate L&D so the aim has been to support the shift from linear to interactive, to connected and open learning founded on applied knowledge of a number of learning theories.

H818 pulled together or touched on a number of personal interests:

  • Can creativity be taught or managed online?
  • What are the parameters, pitfalls and potential of open learning?
  • Recognition not just of an interface between online and ‘offline’ learning, but the blended mix where lessons from either world can inform the other.

There’s a difference between open (small ‘o’) and Open (large O): the latter, as I have done over 14 years posting content, is akin to ‘exposure’ – putting it all out there; whereas the Open movement to be effective, ironically, requires parameters and goals. From H818 the need to, reasons to and how to ‘ask’ became apparent.

The outcome of H818 is the Quick Response code in a Poppy to support open and connected learning about the First World War. As a creative exercise despite being unable to single out a ‘partner’ the working process has been akin to that in advertising where the creative team is a copywriter and a visualiser, with one if these or both likely to have programming skills – or the creative team becomes three. Openstudio online is like the studio I worked in at the School of Communications Arts where I was a student and now mentor.

The ask component has two parts to it:

I post then share blog posts on the QR Code idea via WordPress and a number of platforms: LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Stumbleupon. This at best makes serendipity a possibility but is small ‘o’ – though the connections directly from this include BBC TV, BBC Radio 4, the national trust, King’s College London and a couple of people with direct, personal connection to the content I have posted – they recognise a face from a 1918 postcard.

The second part is, still early days, putting the idea to individuals and groups directly and asking questions that I take care to recognise where they are forthcoming. Using the above social platforms the request is directed at an individual, or to a specific specialist group. The ‘use of QR codes’ in education has uncovered far greater use and interest than the current papers suggest. Direct questions have gone to niche interest groups such that ‘talks’ on the use of QR codes in this way will be given to schools and to regional history associations. Not all that I approach have responded – this kind of ‘ask’ is a kind of selling or PR. It isn’t simply connectedness, it is networking too that expects a professional offering and response. ‘Consultancy’ is one thing, but the production side of it – seeing content successfully briefed in, financed, designed, scripted and delivered is my aim and so with tentative steps ‘Mindbursts’ is coming to fruition and will build on some 15 years of creating learning content in the corporate sector.

The second outcome of H818 is to try and continue and build on the relationships that were developed. In LinkedIn two groups have been set up: ‘The online masters’ and ‘MAODE’ – early days, but experience from the Open University Business School shows how from tiny beginnings great things can grew. The challenge in the early days will be to keep the kindle alight so that there is just enough ‘vibrancy’ to make it a worthwhile place for current and future members. Similarly, a blog where all members have ‘editor’ rights has been set up.

Returning to the idea of big ‘O’ and little ‘o’ it strikes me that my little ‘o’ behaviour is akin to being loudly in a crowd while big ‘O’ requires directed engagement and responsiveness. Which has me wondering that a journalist writing for a paper with its parameters and audience is more open than hiding behind the obfuscation of the blog. Which in turn, as has occurred throughout H818 has seen me completing a huge loop into an online world of the possible to the offline world of the actual and realising that quicker than I imagined learning is increasingly blended whether you put an ‘e’ or an ‘o’ or an ‘m’ in front of it.

Of what value is a diary?

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It’s a good job we don’t all keep lifelong diaries, although Tony Benn’s from age 33 to 83 covering a life on politics must be of greater value and interest to most. My diary age 13 to 33 in contrast covers some tender and messy years – the process had been anything other than transforming. Why am I as I am rather than  how do I change.

These days we are all life logging if we have a life on line – there are a thousand touchpoints, especially photographic that give you that chance to look back and reflect.

Dear, dear diary, let me tell you a secret …

I posted my first content to an ‘online journal’ – no one called them blogs way back then, on the 24th September 1999. I’ve been at it ever since – every day for at least the first four years then I reviewed my practice, split into a number of parts and specialised. I also took an MA in the next best thing ‘Open and Distance Education’ (MAODE). So, yes, blogging fascinates me. Twitter as a ‘microblog’ is not – it is chatting. And many so called blogs are actually something else too – corporate marketing brochures, magazines, radio shows, TV channels, photo dumps and galleries. For me, and those of us writing in ‘Diaryland’ over a decade ago a blog, like a diary, is something you kept up every day, reflected your daily life and was largely secret: you wrote amongst friends rather than to an audience. This meant that they remained authentic, deep, even ‘in confidence’. Has all of that been lost? I wonder.

As a direct result of just completing H818: The Networked Practitioner  (EMA away last night). I plan to review, refine and redirect my blogging behaviour.  Currently, here at ‘My Mind Bursts’ will go into the fledgling ‘Mind Bursts’ which will go live once I’ve got 100 of my choicest posts in there. 

The blog I stopped posting to on swimming teaching and coaching (I did for ten years as a direct consequence of taking my kids down to the pool eleven years ago) gets more views per day than any of my other blogs – go figure! It is useful. I answer direct daily questions. The biggest ‘seller’ is the 45 minute lesson plan for teaching or coaching swimming – I have all strokes, all stages and all problems addressed. That should tell me something. More at the catchily named ‘Coaching and Teaching Swimming’.

The other blog, ‘That’s Nothing Compared to Passchendaele’, which requires and deserves tidying up started out as the memoir of my late grandfather, a machine gunner in the First World War – the only one who survived it would appear. Actually, in 1992 there was a 75th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Ypres) and there were four of them: one was an ammunition carrier. The other two were machine gunners, you could tell from their thumbs – like the beak of a spoonbill, squished flat from periods of anxiety pressed against the triggers of a Vicker’s MKII Machine Gun. Like the swimming thing I need to hone this down to a resource of value – just his story, his words (over three hours of interviews) and photographs with references which would do the historian in me proud.

There will be a lot of ‘ditching of babies’ – there will be a good deal of painful unknitting of layouts and extraction.

Are these blogs? Actually no. I ought to think of them as books and give them the professional focus that is required before you can go to print.

And finally, a blog on the use of Quick Response codes in education. This as a consequence of H818 Online Conference we I gave a ten minute presentations on the use of Quick Response codes to galvanise interest in people featured on war memorial rolls of honour.

What do stats reveal about the Open University Student Blog Platform?

Is this new?

I’ve just looked at the statistics and was rather overwhelmed, ok over 600,000 views is going some, but I have been doing this for four years and use this as a blog and e-portfolio by default.

Are there over 4000 posts! I guess from what I’ve said this is feasible, perhaps 40% are ‘hidden’ cut and paste jobs or links or references to books or papers I may never read.

And if I’m less engaged directly here this last year it is because those fellow students on the MAODE haven’t been using the OU Student Platform at all … or very little indeed. I’d recommend it.

The temptation is to stick around to take the ‘views’ up to 1 million. This will require a few more years. The thing is I don’t see myself back on an OU module ’til the autumn of 2015 at the very earliest. I wrap up H818 today then concentrate on things elsewhere.

I say it often.

On verra

‘We’ll see’

Working in some capacity or researching at the OU would change things.

12 Reasons why academics should blog

 

  1. To disseminate research. Towards journalism. Towards a book. Even a thesis or paper.
  2. Thought leadership. Reputational. A career move for others to know what you have to say, for media and academia. To express a personal opinion rather than that of your subject expertise or institution.
  3. Social media marketing – to promote your work, as a lecturer, educator and professional academic writer. To support students: a place for lecture notes and reflection on lectures and tutorials. For followers and fans.
  4. PR for the faculty – though corporate blogging is directed, needs to be on brief, and is ideally undertaken through the communications department.
  5. Recruitment to the faculty, course and module.
  6. As part of a learning community. As a like mind. To take part, to be a player and participant. Tenure.
  7. To develop digital literacy skills. Find and connect to likeminds.
  8. In different formats: not just text and images, but video and audio too of lectures and seminars, or simply talking to camera.
  9. To develop and try out writing styles and ideas.
  10. Engage. Recipricosity.
  11. To create and develop creative and productionskills.
  12. For the pleasure of it.

 

Towards an assessment of my teaching

I often share a post I am writing as I do so. In this case having identified the story to tell : running a workshop to solve a ‘messy’ business problem I am pulling together or creating supporting images, in the above case a grab and mashup from Martin Weller’s book ‘The Digital Scholar’ – my goal is to be recognised as one. In a forum post as an Open University ‘Master of arts in Open and Distance Education’ (I graduated in early 2013) I suggested this could be achieved in four years – John Seely Brown thinks that eLearning speeds things up, while Weller reckons on ten years.

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