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For a decade I’ve settled into a blog post every morning.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve at least been forming a new habit. Whether 3.30am or 5.40am I get up and work on fiction ’til breakfast. That out of the way I can get on with the rest of the day. This leads to early nights. But am I missing much? ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here?’ No thanks.
A first from The OU – a TMA that was an audio file that came back with written comments and an audio file.
A very different beast learning a language. Both in the text and the spoken word there is lots to pick up on.
|From E-Learning V|
I clicked on this to find an image of a brain for my last post. Many of the images in Pixabay are from commercial operations such as Shuttershock ; their images have a great big digital watermark across them and a request to pay a large subscription fee. On the other hand, I did find the image of neurons below that does the job and has the Creative Commons Non-Attribution Distribution rights – i.e. use as you please without the need to link to or attribute the image. No fus, no future problem, just help yourself – I like that.
The easiest way to find the perfect image though is simply to search in Google for an item adding the word ‘images’ in the search and then click through ’til you find what gets your attention; click on the image and decide if the conditions are onerous. Depending on what you are looking for most are free with a share-alike creative commons, all you are supposed then to do is to link back to the source.
Pixabay must be an open platform: anyone can contribute images. Perhaps Pixabox are making money by having commercial stock libraries use it too? Flickr is pretty good, but the Google search would include Flickr images anyway.
I have some 2,000 images in five galleries in Google Pics, E-learning I (1000 images, H807, H800), E-learning II (385 images H808, B822), E-learning III (521 images, H810), E-learning IV (349 images, H809, H818) and E-learning V (Ouverture, once I get started). As well as module specific, even EMA specific galleries, such as H818: The Networked Practitioner. and H818: EMA (29 images, L120). Grabbed from everywhere, many CCS (share-alike) just about all related to illustrating various MAODE modules over the last four years. However, I’ve not been meticulous about identifying where the copyright always lies. It’s true, that it is irksome, just adding that extra link or creating the correct Creative Contributions copyright tag as an icon – though we ought to do that. There is a bonus for doing so as the links to and from your post and the image host generates traffic but I’d only do that for a commercial blog, which this isn’t.
The other thing to do is to draw your own images, saying using the Apps ‘Paint’ or ‘Brushes” or to take or have your own gallery of photographs to use (smart phone snaps, photos) then you will never have a copyright issue as they are yours. The other one is to screengrab images you like and then manipulate them in a App such as ‘Studio’. All of this takes time and a blog is a blog, not an article for a magazine don’t you think?
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.
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.
Working in some capacity or researching at the OU would change things.
Fig. 1. A moment to reflect
This by the by was the title of a TV screenplay I submitted to the BBC – rejected otherwise you might have seen it on the box by now and I wouldn’t be sitting here.
As the round up to my final, final MA ODE module H818: The Networked Practitioner it is suggested that we prepare a timeline drawing on possible blog entries, as well as ‘appearances’ in the OpenStudio platform we’ve been using.
I’ve posted some 80 times since H818 began. I’ve posted some, I don’t know, 1000 times here since February 2010?
The surprise is to find a dozen references to H818 from 2012 and when contemplating how I got to the ideas that I delivered for H818 where these may have emerged from. This in turn takes me as far back as a visit to the Science Museum in 2010. Then all manner of things, from the launch of Martin Weller’s book ‘The Digital Scholar’ and attending seminars in Bristol on ‘curation’ and earliest indicators that I may take an MA in First World War studies having tried to write on the subject for … well, 22 years ago another failed TV play optioned by Tyne Tees Television called ‘That’s Nothing Compared to Passchendaele’ – which is what my late grandfather said to me while we watched the local news featuring a private in the Durham Light Infantry out in Saudi Arabia. He was 96 in 1992 and had joined the DLI in his teens in late 1915.
And all of this for my very, very, very last EMA ever.
And what did I just jot down
‘Word counts in an EMA are anathema to the culture of open education’
My first draft, I haven’t ever dared look, will run to anything between 6,000 and 12,000 words.
Talking of writing … never one to say never, I have committed to a week long ‘retreat’ with a dear friend and writing tutor. My goal is to work on … ‘The Angel of the North’ a story set in the era of the First World War about a woman who flies over the Western Front.
(Actually, I’ve just thought of that. She does fly with an RFC pilot/instructor … and in the final pages is about to set off to attempt to fly the Atlantic for the first time in the wrong direction. She does, as a couple of women did, impersonate a soldier to get herself into the Front Line …)
Oh boy. And I thought I was done with writing. Thought that getting 5,000 words finished was a challenge. It is, but the OU provides the parameters and schedules, the kick up the arse and the carrot that no other kind of writing has yet provided. Except for once.
Meanwhile I must get the kids to school, must walk the dog and must prepare for an online conference I madly volunteered to do a few weeks ago as if I didn’t have enough on … which will include sitting with a veteran of the Second World War this weekend, he was in the Polish Resistance during the Warsaw Uprising. I have a Sony Flip camera and digital sound recorder in my pocket determined to interview him as I did my grandfather …
Onwards to … more of the same I should think
p.s. yes, it is my ‘brian’ – the idea of the brain is so ridiculous.
- To disseminate research. Towards journalism. Towards a book. Even a thesis or paper.
- 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.
- 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.
- PR for the faculty – though corporate blogging is directed, needs to be on brief, and is ideally undertaken through the communications department.
- Recruitment to the faculty, course and module.
- As part of a learning community. As a like mind. To take part, to be a player and participant. Tenure.
- To develop digital literacy skills. Find and connect to likeminds.
- In different formats: not just text and images, but video and audio too of lectures and seminars, or simply talking to camera.
- To develop and try out writing styles and ideas.
- Engage. Recipricosity.
- To create and develop creative and productionskills.
- For the pleasure of it.
What’s going on in there? How do bloggers react, respond and coalesce?
Anjewierden, A. (2006) Understanding Weblog Communities Through Digital Traces: A Framework, a Tool and an Example.
My own interest was sparked by an article in the Washington Post on Ellen Levy who had spent 1998 keeping a journal and putting it online.
Druckerman, P (1999) Ellen Levy Has Got The Write Project For the Internet Age — It’s a Year of Scribbling Down Almost Everything; Ah, Yes, It Was a Raisin Bagel
This ‘user generated content’ has value to its author and the community that reads it. This is a key outcome of open, collaborative and connected learning, where the blogger is a ‘produser’.
Efimova, Lilia (2008) Bloggers and ‘produsers’
Having blogged consistently since this period it is interesting to understand that as it encroached upon student and academic practice, as it was impinging on journalism, that it was considered disruptive.
Fiedler, S. (2004) Introducing disruptive technologies for learning: Personal Webpublishing and Weblogs, Part I
While my passion felt like a niche practice it has been of value to see blogging recognised.
Kaiser, S. (2007) Weblog-technology as a trigger to elicit passion for knowledge
Why MAODE students blog (Kerewella et al, 2009) depends on their perceptions of, and for:
- an audience
- the utility of and need for comments
- presentational style of the blog content
- overarching factors related to the technological context
- the pedagogical context of the course
Kerawalla, L, Minocha, S, Kirkup, G, & Conole, G (2009) An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging in higher education
Knowing the practice to be of value personally as part of a number of specialist groups made research on blogs as wikis, Sauer (2005) or as e-portfolios of interest.
Sauer, Igor M. (2005) “ Blogs” and“ Wikis” Are Valuable Software Tools for Communication Within Research Groups
As Smolkin (2007) points out it is about creating or finding and then sharing your niche – in this case the niche being personal stories of participants, witnesses and combatants in the First World War.
Smolkin, Rachel (2007) Finding a Niche. (cover story)
This is a key outcome of open, collaborative and connected learning, where the blogger is a ‘produser’. Efimova (2008) It has taken over a decade, but blogging is now considered to be a valid, scholarly activity. Weller (2012).
Weller, Martin (2012) The virtues of blogging as scholarly activity
Bishop, D. (2013) ‘Blogging as post-publication peer review: reasonable or unfair?’ LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog. 21 March.
impactofsocialsciences/ 2013/ 04/ 15/ blogging-as-post-publication-peer-review-reasonable-or-unfair/
Fig.1. The debate on this book in Amazon comments is turning this into a self-directed, open module on the outbreak of the First World War
Amazon is going way beyond selling and reselling books to aggregate conversations. The sophisticated way that discussions are offered might be a lesson to educators – reviews aren’t simply stacked, but are offered in a variety of ways: contrasting arguments, newest first, based on rating for the publication or likes from other readers. While simultaneously, playing upon serendipity multiple alternative reviews are offered in a ‘side bar’. You can begin to pick out types of voice, from the academic to the belligerent, to those who have yet to read or complete the book, to those that have read it more than once. Innovations here are seeing Amazon becoming a social platform in its own right with recently launched platforms inviting discussion and group forming. i.e. Amazon gains in stickiness and frequent visits and revisits.
(First posted in OpenStudio as part of H818: The networked practitioner).
Fig. 1. This is the cover page of Lawrence Lessig’s book ‘Remix: making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy’ (2008)
I cannot currently show it as the HTLM functionality of this blog platform cannot be used from an iPad any more.
‘The value of blogs is not that I’m likely to find a comment that surpasses the very best of the New York Times. I’m not. But that’s not the point. Blogs are valuable becuase they give millions the opportunity to express their ideas in writing. And with a practice of writing comes a certain important integrity. A culture filled with bloggers thinks differently about politics or public affairs, if only because more have been forced through the discipline of showing in writing why A leads to B’. Lawrence Lessig (2008:92-93)
There are multiple reasons to blog, and several of these don’t require you to post ‘to the world’. Posting for yourself as a record is good, and posting to a tight group OF YOUR OWN MAKING works too – i.e. those to whom you feel a natural affinity rather than the forced, coralled group of students in a tutor group.
I’ll revist the mindmap on blogging that I produced a while ago and refresh it.
I, naturally, recommend it. Though keeping your reflections in a notebook might be less distracting and less liable to cause offense of embarrassment.
The value of blogs is not that I’m likely to find a comment that surpasses the very best of the New York Times. I’m not. But that’s not the point. Blogs are valuable becuase they give millions the opportunity to express their ideas in writing. And with a practice of writing comes a certain important integrity. A culture filled with bloggers thinks differently about politics or public affairs, if only because more have been forced through the discipline of showing in writing why A leads to B’. LL (2008:92-93)