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|From E-Learning V|
Fig.1. March 1975 ….
I kept a diary for twenty years: age 13 1/2 to my forties … with a few months off from decade to decade. It is self-indulgent navel gazing to look back at its contents which I do extremely rarely. An indulgent scrapbook thing covering a teen exchange to France is fun; did a Mars Bar really once cost 3p !! And a photo journal of a five month gap year job working my arse off in a hotel in France too. And have a vibrant record of children from birth to walking and talking too.
|From E-Learning V|
Fig.2. A reading list from 1978
It always amazes me should I stumble upon an old school text book or any of the above as my mind is instantly taken back and I am flooded with boyish ideas.
This blog is something else.
This is a Learning Journal and Portfolio and I’ve kept it since February 2010. Just about all a module’s activities go in here (40% hidden). I know where to find stuff because I’ve tagged it all. Needing to assess how far I have come, and what themes I can see, what I know and can apply from the seven MAODE modules I have completed – five completed the MAODE, the following two could go towards a M.Ed or MSc.
It is fulfilling in itself as an aide memoire to be reminded of how much I have covered, what therefore I should know, how I learn this and in the context of the changing technology how rapidly things are moving. Learning is evolving fast and in due course we’ll look back at what has happened and compare it to how we no buy books online, how we book holidays online, and how we communicate with each other.
|From E-Learning V|
At the minute e-learning is like a firework that has just exploded; we are watching it in awe. At some moment a thousand fireballs will light up the clouds and we’ll take in the whole picture and conclude that things have changed forever.
I am apolitical. My in-laws used to laugh, saying they cancelled each other out: Tory, Labour and Liberal. (That’s, mother, father and grandmother). I never asked and could never figure who voted which way; they kept their politics to themselves. I have voted in all directions from green through blue to yellow and red – I cancel myself out. I often vote different ways in local and national elections only voting for the person, not their party. In fact I wish political parties could be banned, so, I guess like Tony Benn, you can be your own person rather than being forever held to and subjugated by the party thinking.
That’s me on politics – an agnostic in religion, indifferent in politics.
Here though to pick up on a phrase used on the BBC obituary yesterday regarding his fifty years of keeping a diary (written, then audio). His view, probably expressed to a journalist to keep things short, was that ‘something happens, you write it down, you re-read it, then realise that you were wrong’.
In the aggregation of events, and musings, self-analysis is surely just as capable of creating such an aggregating of similar events and thoughts that you become entrenched, rather than transformed? Surely a bit of both is the reality. Or does it make any difference at all.
I’ve kept a diary and blog and relate to several others who do the same – the diary/blogging thing is part of who you are or have become, you do it out of habit, like saying your prayers at night. I cannot see across any of these people, especially those published diarists, that suggests that in any way the act of keeping the diary changed them. I rather think the opposite, that those who keep a diary are very set in their ways.
There’s barely been a module across the Master of Arts Open and Distance Education (MAODE) that hasn’t expected students to blog. I wonder if this though isn’t for purposes of reflection, but is a learning journal or portfolio of work, a accumulation and aggregation of course work and themes upon which you build you knowledge. In these instances reading over does adjust your thinking, you become fluent in the language of your subject and wise to the ideas rather than ignorant of them. That should be self-evident in the diary I have kept here for four years.
Fig.1 Posing for a scamp at the School of Communication Arts, 1987
H818 Activity 2.1
I will only publish in open access journals.
I’m not a professional academic. Should I publish then I imagine the calibre of the journal will count for something. As a professional writer (copy, scripts, speeches), with exception of blogging I am used to being paid for my words.
I will share all learning material that I create and own openly online.
From the moment I started to blog I have been part of self-help groups ‘publishing’ openly on everything from blogging to creative writing, swimming teaching and coaching, social media, the First World War and e-learning. My goal over the next year or so is to produce under a Creative Commons module a series of 30 to 1500+ micro- OERs, one minute pieces with Q&A attached, as what Chris Pegler terms ‘Lego Techno Bricks’.
I maintain an online social media identity as a core part of my professional identity.
It lacks professionalism as I don’t edit it or write to a definable audience but I have a substantial e-learning blog that largely, though not exclusively, draws on my MA ODE experiences (in fact I started on the MA ODL in 2001 and blogged on that too). I use Google+, Linkedin and Twitter haphazardly by pushing blog content to actual and potential commentators, participants and followers.
I take a pragmatic approach and release some resources openly if it’s not too much extra work.
I come from corporate communications where created content is closed to employees.
I have concerns about intellectual property and releasing my content openly.
Actual words of fiction I write is my copyright, Factual I care less about. Whilst a blog is largely like a recorded conversation, a formal paper would need to be recognised in the appropriate way.
I will share all material that I create and own openly online, as soon as I create it.
No. I cannot hope to earn a living or sustain my interests if I cannot both charge for my time and my output.
Fig.1. I like spirals. Thirty years ago this was just a photo. For me it is an expression of what learning looks like. (I think this is St.John’s College, Boat House – or is it Balliol?)
At the base are the undergraduates, the first years, as you climb the steps you find the second and third years, then the middle common room the MA and D.Phil students while at the top are the lecturers, senior lecturers and professors.
And when you die they raise a flag.
In 1983 (or was in 1982?) this was the epitome of ‘closed learning’ – the Oxford College boat house.
Not so much ‘dreaming spires’ as ‘dreaming spirals’.
- It was a privilege, but like many of these I’ve been either in denial or trying to shake them off for the best part of 25 years.
- ‘Je suis comme je suis, je suis faite comme ca’ (Jacques Prevert)
- And there’s no going back.
I was up at 4.03am. Back to bed at 6.15am. Then up again 20 minutes ago.
- My body was tired, my head continued to buzz.
Regarding ‘Open Learn’ what’s all this fretting about process for?
Have we all forgotten the purpose of research????
Not ‘how?’ but ‘why?’
Why? Why? Why?
We are seeking answers, not trying to construct a bridge across the English Channel with chopsticks and bendy-straws.
Not to get the process right, but to get answers to problems, to find better ways, to understand and share what is going on so that we can act, or not act on it?
Sometimes I read an academic paper and it is all about the process.
Too often I write an assignment and it has to be written to be marked – not to generate ideas. In fact, my finest few hours, a total End of Module Assignment rewrite was a disaster for a set of marks but is my theory and philosophy of what learning is. It was the culmination of months of work, years even. Expressed somewhere like the School of Communication Arts I would have had the attention of eyes and ears.
Fig.2. Submitted as the hypothesis for an End of Module Assignment the grade was catastrophic – it is of the module, but the examiners didn’t have a grid filled with the appropriate crumbs that would permit them to ‘tick the boxes’. (I did submit more than the image, 6ft high and drawn on a sheet of backing wallpaper).
Creativity doesn’t fair well in a process driven system, either in research or in marking assignments.
This isn’t an excuse regarding a grade or the need and value of process drive, guideline controlled, parameter set research, but rather a cry for some ‘free thinking’ the ‘parcours’ of mental agility and expression.
Fig.3 The cliffs below Roche de Mio, La Plagne
There is value in going off piste.
It isn’t even the democratisation of education and knowledge either, it is the Tim Berners-Lee rather than the Google approach to knowledge – i.e. give it away for free.
It is ‘communismization’ – which is a word, however horrible it sounds, I just looked it up.
This moves me onto dwelling on Creative Commons.
If the idea of openness is to give it away for free what is the reward for the author? Recognition as the author. However, I get the feeling that unless it is published some readers think they can help themselves to the ideas and words of others and claim them as their own.
There will always be theft, but as children aren’t we told that for someone to copy your ideas is a compliment?
We need to behave like the children we still are.
But does even that matter in an open society – theft of intellectual property I mean?
If the spreading of the word is all important should any of us give a fig?
If we have a roof over our heads, food and water, electricity to charge the iPad, the BBC … a health service like the NHS what more can we want?
- Better schools.
- Better roads.
- Better weather.
‘Peace on earth and good will to humankind’.
A better word needs to be found for what is meant by ‘communismization’.
Is is just ‘communization’?
- Is it simply ‘open’?!
- ‘Open’ might do.
As the air we breathe …
P.S. I worked the season in Val d’Isere in my gap year and returned a decade later and stayed in La Plagne from December to May researching a book and a couple of documentaries for Oxford Scientific Films. None saw the light of day, though after several weeks thinking about it I came down that cliff face. I made a big mistake by slowing down at the edge and nearly didn’t have enough distance to clear the rocks. I no longer have a death wish. And it wasn’t even fun. It focused the mind though. In fact, the best way to stop yourself thinking about other stuff is to take such risks. Racing Fireballs in the English Channel has its appeal – I have a tendency to end up in the spinnaker or under the hull though.
- Web Inventor Tim Berners Lee Shares £1m Prize (news.sky.com)
- Fostering Creativity – The Use of Open Educational Resources (classroom-aid.com)
- Tim Berners-Lee: The Web needs to stay open, and Gopher’s still not cool. (boingboing.net)
- Tim Berners-Lee: ‘You can do anything with a computer that you can imagine’ (venturebeat.com)
- Inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee says web neutrality crucial (radionz.co.nz)
- What I wish Tim Berners-Lee understood about DRM (guardian.co.uk)
The Open University provide an OU Student Blog platform, which you are required to use for some modules to build up reflective practice, they also provide a portfolio called MyStuff in which to dump stuff.
As portfolios either system can be used to aggregate content that can be shared, offered with restricted access or kept private.
I have been on the Masters in Open & Distance Education for two years, we have to give blogs, portfolios, wikis and other tools a go.
My conclusion, shared amongst fellow students, is that the ‘modern’ blog platform, such as WordPress offers all of this, as in a wonderfully simple, bulletin board kind of way the OU’s own blog offering.
12 th June 2011
I am one of those people who began a diary age 13 and kept it up pretty much for 16 years … Picking up blogging in 1999 was a natural step used as much to paste in the more memorable events of those 16 years.
The format changed, from five year diary, to hardbook notebooks, to letters to my fiance and mercifully the diary came to an abrupt halt with marriage (going to be bed was no longer a time to take out the pen).
I’m glad I decided to catch-up with the habit when the children were born, so was ready in 1996 and 1998 to blog. And so I blog for another decade.
But was this a reflective diary?
At times it was simply filling the page (first a few lines in one of those Five Year Diary with a lock), then a minimum per day of a page of A4 in a hardback notebook … though for a while as much as I cared to write (e.g. September 1977 or 78 fills an entire arch-lever file).
But was it reflective?
Looking back at these entries (very rare), it is depressing to read about issues and problems that I never resolved, or ambitions that I couldn’t or didn’t fulfil. Perhaps by reading back regularly these diaries would have had reflective, life-adjusting qualities? Rather than the prayers of a godless teenager who was sent to boarding school age 7, escaped for 2 years for A’levels to a day school, then returning to the boarding environment of univeristy.
Was my diary a companion who could only listen?
This is all brought up as a result of reading about the Reflective Diary as a tool for students to consider what they are trying to learn and if they are succeeding. I could say that from a purist’s point of view this sullies the term ‘diary’; I can imagine how dull it would have been for Alan Clarke, Anne Frank or Pepys to have written in such a way (let alone Henry Miller or Anais Nin). But this misses the point, a reflective diary is a tool, a task, like the weekly (or fortnightly) essay.
This from Burgess (2009)
There are many ways of keeping these.
* Make a note of something you found interesting in the lecture/seminar.
* Why was it interesting?
* How does it connect with your own life/practice experience?
* How might this inform your practice as a social worker
* How might users benefit from your learning?
* How might your learning add to your understanding of ‘good’ practice
I should look through decades of diaries, some 1.6 million words of it online, and see if I am guilty of an reflection of this nature. I say ‘guilty’ as I would have felt that writing in such a way in my diary (it would have had to be in a separate book) would have sullied the format, a bit like using play acting for education, rather than just for entertainment or writing a lyric for a song that taught safe sex. I would resist the idea of ‘education’ impinging on this side of my existence.
Are we not living in a world though where the barriers between work and home, school and home, colleagues and friends is breaking down?
Where in the same breath in a social networking site you can flip between friends, families, colleagues or fellow students?
Is such an environment like the population of your ideal village?
By Burgess with material adapted from the SAPHE Project (Self Assessment in Professional and Higher Education Project) Burgess, H (n.d.)
Self and Peer Assessment (online), The Higher Education Academy: Social Work and Social Policy (SWAP).
from: http://sorubank.ege.edu.tr/~bouo/DLUE/Chapter-08/Chapter-8-makaleler/Assessment%202_%20Self%20and%20peer%20assessment.htm (accessed 6 August 2010). Tags: assessment learning blog self-assessment burgess reflective diary
12th January 2012
Then you settle into married life and children and, as I now do, I celebrate my 18th Wedding anniversary, my younger sister’s 25th and the 50th anniversary of my in-laws.
I read about people who plan to digitise their life. The ephemera I have includes the diaries and a trunk of handwritten letters; rememeber them? And letters this boy sent to his Mum from about the age of 8.
Wherein lies the value of it? A useful habit, as it turns out, but do we expect our want a new generation to store every text, every message, every Facebook entry. Are these not stored whether they like it or not … and potentially shared. Whose business should it be, when and if to ‘disclose’ or ‘expose’ a life. It can be of value, but it can also be harmful.
On the reverse side of this card is a note to my fiance, written on the 17th February 1992. We’d been engaged for 8 months, were living apart and would be together that summer and remain together now.
The value of reflection here, is a reminder of these sentiments. The value of any record, any stirred memory, can be to reinforce it, to be cherished, forgotten or dealt with. But if you haven’t taken notes, you rely on the vagaries of your mind. So perhaps a massively scaled down version of digitising everything you do may have value, like a broach you press on occassion ‘for the record.
All of this STILL coming from a single Opinion piece in the New Scientist (23 December to 1 Jan) about someone digitising every moment of their existence.
This is how the ‘professional’ student or corporate blog should look … not social networking, no flirting, no personal stuff, just the business – something to chew on.
On how Pepys kept his diary
Pepys wrote his diary from notes – whether on the day, or weeks later.
What can the blogger learn from this?
I post notes and first drafts then leave them unpublished (usually). Sometimes I post notes with no intention of doing more.
Would four blogs do it?
Or one offline? Keep a notebook or voice record onto a smartphone? I find myself photographing everything.
Whilst diaries have a value in their historical immediacy they are generally far from giving the sense of the living moment. In Pepy’s ‘what is seemingly the most spontaneous and living series of entries in the diary, the long account of the Great Fire, was, as Pepy’s himself states, entered into the diary-book three months or more after the event. He has had a time to consider and reflect, to ‘contextualize’ what took place.
Our impressions change.
I was at a murder trial recently where witness statements written seven years previously were used; they had to be, the defendant had run off back to Africa and only recently extradited. Yet the defendant a huge exception to this, the facts were recalled.
What do I make of this?
Pepy’s prepared loose-leaf notes and wrote his diary upon the day or later, often leaving space to fill.
Anais Nin wrote continually, but typed up copies from the manuscript and had a hand in editing the volumes before they were published.
Henry Miller drew on his experiences in the Mid 20s to mid 30’s in New York and Paris to write his autobiographical fiction. My own diary, like some I have read, like ‘belles lettres’ or essays are (is) often a dry logbook-like record of events as they take place. They are a satisfactory record but do nothing to have ‘no sense of the moment.’
And how should I react?
Should I make, take and keep notes then write it all up at the weekend?
Pepys composed his diary in five stages:
- Accumulation of bills, minutes, official papers, news books and rough notes on a day’s proceedings.
- Gathering of these into a form which combined accounts with diary-style notes.
- Entering of the account and business matters into the appropriate manuscript/books, and the first revision of the general entries which were intended for the final manuscript.
- Entry of these notes into the diary-book (with care and over time), adapted to the space.
- Reading over the entries that had been made shortly before, making small corrections and stylistic improvements and inserting some further details at the ends of paragraphs and entries.’
Where does this leave me?
And the blogger?
With a system?
Four books (four books as Anais Nin imagined ideal), more chosen titles being diary, dream book, notebook and scrapbook.
The diary, the ‘ivre d’or’, would be assembled on a sometimes daily, sometimes weekly (even monthly) basis
The dream book from early morning jottings put through a question and answer session on a Word Processor (an Amstrad in 1986)
A notebook (such as this), a journal of notes, extracts comment and ideas – not on the day’s events but for academic (or self-intellectual reason); and scrapbook to preserve relevant cuttings kept from the day (week or month) or world events, goings on, points and pictures of interest – possibly with the option to include my own scribblings.
Online (a decade later) I have too many platforms:
Flickr, Tumblr, YouTube, Blip.foto, Blogger, Diaryland … Several blogs on WordPress of course and my OU Student Blog on their platform.
If these four books couldn’t preserve an accurate record of my age what could?
A camcorder strapped permanently to my shoulder?
William Matthews goes on to say what makes a good diary and what makes a bad one.
‘Almost all diaries that give genuine and protracted pleasure to an ordinary reader do so because the diarists possessed, instinctively or by training, some of the verbal, intellectual and emotional talents that characterise the novelist. Diaries are not novels; they are bound to reality, with its deplorable habit of providing excellent story situations and so artistically satisfactory ends.’
But also the man, Pepys, because of his variety of amateur interests had a passion for life which sustains a diary which requires a rich weave of activity if it is to remain interesting.
‘Pepys was a typical 17th century virtuoso, a man who justified himself by the diversity of his interests.’
W.M. Pepys VI, ‘Diary as literature, ppCxii
‘His literary instinct led Pepys to relate a story excitingly whenever the materials gave him the chance … diaries bring a reader closer to human actuality than any other form of writing. As life-records they present a natural disorder and emphasis which is artfully rearranged in biography, and so somewhat corrupted. As self-delineations they deal directly with people and events which in the novel are subjected to the stresses and conventions of art and design. And in many ways they are the most natural and instinctive product of the art of writing.’ (W.M. Pepys Vol 1, ppCXii)
Can you teach someone to swim if they won’t get in the water?
What therefore will motivate, drive, persuade, cajole, convince or oblige a.n.other to blog?
I’m seeking advice and help here as I am on a mission to initiate and nurture 12 new bloggers over the next four months. It feels like cheating to go on a quest for those who blog already and call them mine but surely this is the crux of the matter. I can preach to the converted, until then my words will fall on deaf ears.
Invite people to enjoy a variety of successful bloggers to help them find their way? How many do I have listed here? 100+ but where’s the attraction in a list, you need guidance.
Define a blog?
Academics I quote and review here say you can’t. They are beyond simple definition, but ‘electronic paper’ where people spill words, images, video (though not coffee), where they aggregate other people’s content, majestic lists, dumb notes, a writer’s journal, an academic’s draft papers, a student’s e-portfolio.
Is there a role for a blog buddy or blog secretary? I believe Richard Branson has a blog and Twitter double,i.e. He doesn’t write a word of it himself. That would be cheating. I can’t write 12 blogs for other people (even if I write/produce or create some 16+ of my own).
Stuffing in things you’ve already written is fine with me. I call up content from a diary I started in my early teens as well as from 2,000 odd blog entries posted from 1999 to 2004 and the 1000 odd posted since early 2010.