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Metaphors in learning

Anna Sfard – Two Metaphors

Acquisition metaphor vs participation metaphor
All our concepts and beliefs have their roots in a limited number of fundamental ideas that cross disciplinary boundaries and carried from one domain to another by the language that we use.

Conclusions
Essential live with both – each has something to offer the other can’t provide.

My thoughts
•    How Sfard defines the acquisition and participation metaphors

Acquisition metaphor (AM)

•    ‘the act of gaining knowledge – Collins English dictionary – human learning is seen as an acquisition of something.
•    Since Piaget and Vygotski – growth of knowledge in process of learning has been analyzed in terms of concept development.
•    Concepts – basic understanding of knowledge that can be accumulated gradually refined and combined to form even richer cognitive structures.
•    Can talk about learner as a person who constructs meaning.
•    Knowledge acquisition and concept development – human mind – container to be filled with certain materials – learner becomes owner of these materials.
•    Gaining ownership over some kind of self – sustained entity.
•    There are many types of entities that may be acquired in the process of learning – key words generated by acquisition metaphor , knowledge and concept.
•    Making entities your own – reception and acquisition
•    The idea of learning as gaining possession over some commodity has persisted in a wide spectrum of frameworks.
•    Differing methods concept development
o    Passive reception of knowledge
o    Actively constructed by the learner
o    Development of concepts – acquisition metaphor

Participation Metaphor

•    The terms that imply the existence of some permanent entities have been replaced by the noun ‘knowing’, which indicates ‘action’ – the talk about ‘states’ has been replaced by attention to activities.
•    Permanence of having gives way to constant flux of ‘doing’.
•    While the concept of acquisition implies that there is a clear end point to the process of learning the new terminology leaves no room for halting signals.
•    To put it differently – learning a subject is how conceived of as a process of becoming a member of a certain community.
•    Ability to communicate in language of that community, and act according to its particular norms.

•    How she distinguishes between them

o    PM – learning as part of a greater whole
o    PM – bonds between individual and others
o    AM – individual mind
o    AM – inward movement of the object known as knowledge

•    The significance of Table 1 and the difference between questions of what learning is versus how learning happens.

It depends upon the type of learning, the table shows that to learn form the PM point of view there needs to be some external contact – with participation, and discussion, with the AM view there is the idea that learning something individually and just taking knowledge in allows for acquisition of that learning.

Note that Sfard sees social theories of learning drawing on both acquisitive as well as participatory models of learning

•    When you’ve read through the extract, use the AM and PM metaphors to reflect on the way you use (or have used in the past) technologies for learning in a formal context in comparison with an informal one. Select two contrasting examples from these learning experiences and simply note down what you learned and how you learned it.

•    Formal learning – mandatory e-learning – I have used an online learning environment to access an elearning course, I am participating in this to achieve cpd and so have followed the course to gain the certificate.
•    Informal – learning a new authoring tool, e.g. storyline – I am learning to use storyline, I have been to the learning technologies exhibition and see it demonstrated and then have looked at  book on the tool and now I am having a go and so learning to use the tool by doing.

•    Now look at the words you used in your responses. Notice whether you’ve talked about:
o    knowing more – didn’t mention knowing more just learning more
o    gaining something – I talked about gaining a certificate
o    being able to do something – yes I talked about learning to use storyline by doing
o    participating in new activities or a new group – talked about participating in the elearning
o    having new ideas or new possibilities for yourself – feeling differently about something. – didn’t talk about this as yet, perhaps this will come once I am more proficient at the tool.

Doubtless you used several of these phrasings, so your learning might have been quite varied or rich in significance.

•    Do all these instances refer to learning in terms of either acquisition or participation or a combination of both?
I think they were a mixture of both as even working on my own I am acquiring knowledge and participating.

•    Did you find instances that do not seem to fit exactly with either acquisition or participation?
No I think they fit in with either.

•    Is your learning process more oriented to you as an individual or to you within a social context?
At present more as an individual, with the examples I used, though this course will change that as I am participating in the learning on line and individually.

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Vicarious Learning and metaphor

Fig. 1. How my mind sometimes looks and feels

There have been choices to make through-out the Open University post-graduate module H808:The E-Learning Practitioner

For the frist TMA  (Tutor Marked Assignment) we are to comment, 500 words each, on THREE activities (with a couple of exclusions which are required for the FOURTH part of the TMA).

However, I thought this reading might be part of the ‘compulsory’ component on ‘metaphor’ in learning.

In fact, I find it a separate line of thinking entirely, more pragmatic, and not complementary to the idea of metaphor, though vital to the thoughts we are developing on ‘acquisition’ and ‘participation’ for the simple reason that this discussion wraps them up in one activity called ‘Vicarious Learning’.

I found this diversion highly informative, indeed so much so , that I feel without it I could not have come to my current level of appreciation of acquisition and participation, that instead of separate staged entities, they are bound in a single experience.

This idea of ‘vicarious learning’ has been popular with educational researchers as a topic since 1993 and originally formed part of Albert Bandura’s work. (1977 – before and since)

It is of course what happens all around us: we learn by default, by observing others being taught, and either struggling or succeeding at a task or with a concept. Has human kind not done this always? You learn from your parents, siblings and peers, from uncles and aunts, elders and others in your immediate community and from any group or community your are sent to or put into in order to learn.

The suggestions is that ‘observed behaviours are reinforced’ … with a bias in favour of positive reinforcement of ‘good behaviour or outcomes’ rather than poor behaviour or negative outcomes. I wish I believed this to be the case and will need to see the research. There are always exceptions to the rule, people who pick up the bad habits and the way NOT to do a thing, or through their contrary nature deliberately go against the grain (though by doing so their formal learning would soon be ended). Variety, the exception to the rule, the maverick, the psychotic even, let alone the ‘creative’, expressive or problem solving leader, expert or shaman.

Is observation ‘participation’ ? Surely it is?

Yes I learn as ‘one removed as it were’ from the interaction they are watching. Indeed, it is ‘acquisition’ too.

Reading this puts a wry smile on my face because of the way the language of e-learning has settled down, we come to accommodate phrases and ways of putting things that make sense to all in a less cumbersome fashion than this – it is the nature of language. ‘web-based generic shell designed to accept data from any discipline that has cases’.

The Patient Assessment Training System (PATSy) looked at/looks at:

  • Developmental reading disorder
  • Neuropsychology
  • Neurology/medical rehabilitation
  • Speech and language pathologies

It is a:

  • A multimedia database/resource.
  • + virtual patients
  • Clinical reasoning and diagnosis

‘Results showed that online interactions with PATSy were positively correlated with end-of-term learning outcome measures.’

It is helpful where students struggle to articulate their misunderstanding.

TDD (task-directed discussion)

Useful for reflection.

Especially to reveal what a student DOESN’T know, not what they DO know.

It provides:

  • A multi-media database
  • Discussion tools
  • Reading resources

It operates:

  • At a distance (does it say)
  • On campus but working alone (clinical)
  • As observers of learners and as learners themselves.

REFERENCE

Cox, R. (2006) Vicarious Learning and Case-based Teaching of Clinical Reasoning Skills (2004–2006) [online], http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ esrcinfocentre/ viewawardpage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-139-25-0127 [(last accessed 10 March 2011).

Bandura, A (1977)  Social Learning : An exploration of contemporary advances in social learning theory with special emphasis on the important roles played by cognitive, vicarious, and self-regulatory processes. A reviewer, Ellen Chisa, writers in Good Reads: People are both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated. It’s important to pull people rather than push them. His works include Social Learning Theory, Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory, and Self-efficacy : the exercise of control.

FURTHER LINKS

Observational Learning

“Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.”

Albert Bandura, Social Learning Theory, 1977

Bandura identified three basic models of observational learning:

A live model, which involves an actual individual demonstrating or acting out a behavior.
A verbal instructional model, which involves descriptions and explanations of a behavior.
A symbolic model, which involves real or fictional characters displaying behaviors in books, films, television programs, or online media.

 

62 matters relating to Social Media Learning

A call from a colleague with a major corporate and we talk social media learning for nearly three hours.

During this time I repeatedly search this blog, using the e-portfolio that it has become, sending charts and grabs from Picasa and from the iPad, creating a mind-map in Bubbl.us and balancing how the MA in Open and Distance Learning compares to the OU MBA he completed last year and the MRes he is doing now.

Just a phone call. We could have gone to Skype, Elluminate or even Google+. The phone freed up the laptop. Several photos picked up from workshops, as well as screen grabs, were emailed from the iPad which was also running. 

INSERT IMAGE

Fig.1. Social Media Learning Mind Map

Timely as I am procrastinating over the ECA which will be on the use of Forums and Mobile devices in e-learning.

A reminder of how a synchronous conversation can achieve so much, especially when there were items set before our eyes to discuss.

We also discussed (I hadn’t the energy to take many notes. In retrospect I wish I’d recorded it):

  • Belbin Team Roles
  • Activity Theory
  • Management Mindsets
  • Silos
  • Web 2.0
  • Learning on the periphery
  • Vicarious Learning
  • Medical Market Research
  • TV Production
  • The role of an Alumni Board
  • Narrative
  • Research
  • Assessment
  • Blogs as ‘electronic paper’

It was invaluable to have the external point of view, someone from a global comany of thousands talking about social media learning. Looking at the devices we now have, such as smartphones and tablets, it was particularly interesting to be reminded of human nature, how devices may be used for things and in ways that they were not designed.

Whilst the iPad permits mobility, we often use it when static: in our favourite chair, recumbant on the sofa, even in bed or in the bath. Is this mobile learning? It’s hardly getting out of the house, drawing down data on the run using augmented technology to enhance the environment your in. And simply having content on an iPad so that you can using the touch screen to open and close the text, enlarging text, flipping the screen size between portrait and landscape all the time – the joy of its tactile nature. Unable to sleep I use the light from the iPad as a torch to sneak away from the marital bed and passed the children’s bedrooms and to find my way downstairs withouth having to put the landing light on.

It also was clear how both devices and approaches to learning cannot be isolated, we got our joint heads around Engestrom’s ‘Activity Systems’. The technology is complementary, the move to personalise everything through device and software choices.

I’d played Devil’s Adocat a couple of times suggesting that ‘nothing had changed’ only to come away agreeing that many of my behaviours were/are different as a direct result of Web 2.0. I have gone from learning in private, hunched over my books never showing it to anyone to a situations where, more like someone tending a public garden, or at least one seen from the street, people can see my thinking. Ironically, it is the end result that often fails to appear because I’m not about to post TMAs and ECAs online.

Some authors I quoted/cited during the conversation:

  • Vygotsky
  • Engestrom
  • Richardson
  • Moon
  • Cox
  • John Seely Brown
  • Jonathan Swift

To which I subsequently add as a result of browsing the blog and so re-engaging with my own experience within the chronology of the module; it is this, after all, that is to be examined, rather than my knowledge from this and the preceding modules. A learning design fault?

  • H807 You diddle about with every instrument in the orchestra and several that have just been invented.
  • H808 You learn to conduct, or at least why a conductor is important (even if you can’t play an instrument or read music).
  • H800 You learn to play an electronic keyboard

I quoted Swift as saying (paraphrasing) ‘I don’t know what I mean until I hear myself speak’. If anyone has any idea how to cite this please do offer your thoughts.

More authors to consider in this context (mobile learning, forums, e-learning, web 2.0):

  • Haythornthwaite
  • O’Reilly
  • Weller
  • Traxler
  • Gregory
  • Mason
  • Sharpe
  • Beetham
  • Belshaw
  • Hinchcliffe
  • Bacon and Dillon
  • Siemens
  • Boyer
  • Wenger
  • Bruner

Other topics that we should have discussed:

  • User Generated Content
  • Collective Intelligence
  • Apprenticeships
  • Problem based learning
  • Participation
  • Demand Pull

REFERENCE

Cox, R. (2006) Vicarious Learning and Case-based Teaching of Clinical Reasoning Skills (2004–2006) [online], http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ esrcinfocentre/ viewawardpage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-139-25-0127 [(last accessed 10 March 2011).

Wenger vs. Goodyear in the creation of innovative e-learning

For this exercise I fond myself dipping into other tutor groups.

On reflection, after a highly disruptive week all I needed to have done was pick through the course reading, in chronological order, made notes, expressed my thoughts, then answer the questions. Using the notes of others is not a fix; you must still engage with the content and make it your own.

  1. What are the four dimensions of design for learning that Wenger identifies?
  2. How does Wenger’s account differ from the account given by Goodyear as the indirect nature of design and summarised in Figure 1?
  3. How do you think that a designer can support ‘the work of engagement, imagination and alignment’?

The challenge of designing for learning.

QQ1

  1. Participation and reification
  2. The design and the emergent
  3. The local and the global
  4. Identification and negotiability

QQ2 How does Wenger’s account differ from the account given by Goodyear as the indirect nature of design and summarised in Figure 1?

Goodyear is saying that design can only accommodate so much as a learner will always bring with them their own interpretations to the design therefore learning and design are separate entities.Wenger is saying that learning design embrace far more, that it less prescriptive and more engaging than imagined. (From Joanne Pratt)

Space and Place – can be linked to – Designed and Emergent Organisation and Community – can be linked to – Identification and Negotiability Tasks and Activity – can be linked to – Participation and Reification Local and Global seem to sit outside of Goodyear. (From Daniella)

How do you think that a designer can support ‘the work of engagement, imagination and alignment’?

A designer can only do so much with the software they are given. However knowing that software inside out; its limitations, its benefits will help with how a designer enables the above. (From Joanne Pratt)

By paying attention to the Figure 10.3. (From Daniella)

From Jonathan

Q1 As above

Q2 Each of these dimensions involves distinct – but interrelated – trade – offs and challenges: they present their own opportunities and obstacles and their own resources and constraints. A given design entails choices, inventions, and solutions along each dimension’. (Wenger 1998:236)

Q3 In Wenger’s words:

It is a tool that can guide a design by outlining:

1) the general questions, choices, and trade-offs to address – these define the dimensions of a design “space”

2) the general shape of what needs to be achieved – the basic components and facilities to provide

i.e. there is ample scope for variety and imagination, as with the architectural design analogy he uses. Which applies equally as an analogy for how people (students) behave once inside the designed ‘building’.

‘The benefit of such a multiplicity of related but distinct dimensions is that it opens up the space of design by decoupling the issues involved’. (Wenger, 1998:236)

The challenge of design, then, is to support the work of engagement, imagination, and
alignment’. (Wenger, 1998:236)

FURTHER NOTES

Etienne Wenger is probably most recognised for his work promoting the idea of communities of practice. The idea of a community of practice has been applied to groups who interact to achieve a common purpose or enterprise and share a common repertoire. (From course notes)

User generated content and a culture of participation

Notes from Chapter 2 of ‘Stepping over the edge’ (2011)

Grainne Conole

There are positive and negative stances regarding Technologies. It helps to get some perspective.

Web 2.0 requires new strategies and policies.

With Web 2 .0 dialogue and sharing flourishes.

Greater use should be made of metaphor for meaning making.

Look to ‘participatory cultures’ for clues.

Benefits including peer to peer learning (comms)

A changed attitude to IP

Diversification of cultural expression

Development of skills valued in the modern workplace

A more empowered sense of citizenship

See Table 1 Changing toolsets against functionality

Web 2.0 =

* User Generated Content

* Collective Knowledge Building

*Wisdom of Crowds

Fragmentation of Voice

There are benefits:

Collaboration
Co-construction
Sharing

There are issues regarding:

Quality
Privacy
Copyright

Learn through experiential interaction rather than guided step by step instruction.

The information flow through the system is radically different in a digital world, and hence there is a need for reconceptualisation of the best processes to support this.   Conole. 2011:404

The fallacy is to think that social networks are just made up of people.They’re not:Social networks consist of people who are connected by a shared object. Engestrom (2005)

How do we cope with this inexhaustible choice?

It isn’t for lack of overwhelming, immersive and engaging content online, especially ‘how to’ movies and ‘clips’ in YouTube, its how you as an individual cope with this inexhaustible choice.

Armed with an 3G tablet and sim card will we find we are learning more on the fly, taking it with us, much of it free, some of it guided and paid for?

Taking advantage of participation (John Seely-Brown), learning on the periphery (John Seely-Brown), vicarious learning (Cox) and if you can get your tongue around it ‘serendipitous learning.’ (me I think).

I’m finding that 18 months in, and having really started this gig in 1998 when from the agency end we were migrating interactive DVD based learning to the Web, that I of necessity must balance the tools I can play (musical instrument metaphor), compared to those I play with (sandpit, training pool metaphor) … and I suppose those ones I am obliged to master whether I like it or not (prescriptive tools for work and study – in at the deep end metaphor?!).

Conole (2011) invites us to use ‘metaphors for meaning making’.

I always have, often visualising these metaphors. Just search this diary on ‘Metaphor’ to see what comes up. Also try words or phrases such as ‘traffic light’, ‘nurture’, ‘gardening’, ‘swimming’, ‘spheres of influence’, ‘hub’, ‘serendipity’ as well as ‘water’ and ‘water-cycle’.

I therefore offer the following:

Linkedin (For Forums, like this, in groups and networks)

WordPress (for blogging, sharing, wiki like affordances, training, updates)

iPad (or Tablet) (Whilst PCs and Laptops have considerable power and versatility

Twitter (only for niche/target live discussions or quasi-synchronous conversations.

The rest of it is ‘Twitter Twaddle’

Spam of the worst kind being pumped out by pre-assigned links as CoTweets or random disconnected thoughts. This is killing some forums where RSS feeds of this stuff overwhelms any chance of a conversation).

I’ve seen two Forums killed, temporarily I hope, by this stuff, the largest victim being the Oxford University Alumni group.

I believe it is simply the case of a new moderator niavely permitting Twitter feeds in on a discussion, ie. having the conversations between 30 disrupted by the disconnected chattering of 300.

Want to blog? Sources of inspiration and getting it down.

ON BLOGGING

Sources of inspiration and getting it down.

Get this for a start: Use of Blogs (2006) Axel Bruns and Joanna Jacobs.

It persuades you why to blog. Each chapter is written like an academic paper – an essay at least. Chapter 5 I found I was copying out verbatim (which I can’t do here). Go see ‘Can Blogging Unspin PR’ Trevor Cook.

Your starting off point can be anything at all, once you start (for me at least) it is like opening a vein.

Who cares if it is a note to yourself. If it’s work or course work remember that you can compose then recraft as often as you like; what is more, you can turn access on or off as you please too – even allow comments as you please – with other blog platforms the list of linking choices is as broad as the destination board at Heathrow – you can ‘blog’ to a person, a group, people in different groups and so on (though this is a level of complication may turn the novice off).

If you are at all stuck for content ideas then my suggestions are:

1)Write about the deep past (everything you write is of course in the past) – what this might means is thinking of your earliest experiences of whatever your blog may be about – if it is about education then try these:

2)Your best friend at nursery school

3)Your first day at school

4)The funniest thing that your witnessed or did at school

5)The first thing you learnt and how

6)Add a caption to an old photograph then expand these thoughts into the era.

7)A birthday party

8)A Christmas

9)A first book

All of these are possible jumping off points; once you’re in flight you’ll be surprised how easy it is to steer back to where you had planned to be – who cares about the journey you took to get there – you can leave it in or edit out the first paragraph / chapter.

If you kept a diary at any time in your life – milk it! Put it up, selectively, verbatim and / or relived – you can even retrofit the date.

Getting it down

There is a beauty and simplicity to pen/pencil onto paper. Personally I find typing it up afterwards tedious and will find myself inevitably expanding beyond the way the thing was initially written. The mistake here is that you can/do with ease turn a natural, conversational flow of thoughts into something else – verbose at best, disjoined at worst. You then get into editing and saving sections/chunks for future entries.

Ideally, whether you have notes, an essay plan or mind map to guide you, I’d recommend typing directly into the Blank Box. The QWERTY keyboard is a piano keyboard and you’re playing a ditty or having a jam.

Most blog platforms have ample editing tools, the only warning is to save regularly in some if you are prone to distraction.

Even back up onto a clipboard or Word, though personally I’m not a fan of overworking a piece in Word first.

Have a notepad, record a thought on paper or into a digital recorder, have a device that you can readily use on the go – my most fruitful blogging years were when I had a Psion – I could type this spec-case sized device and draw it into my Mac to upload.

I’ll discover in due course an iPad can offer this facility – I believe it will (and some).

A final thought for now – if you can touch-type and write stream of consciousness then how many words can you get down in so many minutes?

Let’s say you think at FIVE words a second, talk at THREE words a second and type at 40-60 words a minute. In theory in five minutes you can blog between 200 and 300 words. Perfect length. Have a plan, three or so points to make and fire away.

 

Can blogs and blogging support students in distance learning?

The more I read, the more I research, the more I listen and the more I gush to others about blogging, the more I feel that it is like …‘trying to flog a dead horse to make it pull a load’.

Not the act of blogging, but the actions required to convert people.

People (students) don’t see there value; to read a few well written, apposite blogs, fine. A person that in this environment has something to offering pertaining to their course. Or for entertainment. (Stephen Fry’s Tweats form a micro-blog after all), micro only in the sense that you are restricted by character count per entry. If these parameters are like a letter-box then Stephen Fry is posting plenty himself and garnering a gargantuan response).

I have infront of me ‘Exploring students’ understand of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education’. It was a conference item at ALT-C 2007: Beyond Control: Association Technologies Conference, 4-6 September, Nottingham, UK.

One of its Six authors is Grainne Conole, an OU senior academic, a blogging practioner and evangelical online chatter-box and good-egg. She wants us all to blog, and understands the magic of a comment … she likes to make new friends and understands the reciprocal nature of reading and leaving salient comments. It’s T.L.C. online.

I just clicked away and posted this in her blog:

I’m faced with the dilemma of having to split my professional, student and personal approaches to blogging. This three way split has me locking down one diary and ‘friends’ gathered over a decade and tripping over the other two selves, starting afresh with contacts and what I blog wearing my professional hat. I am certain such possible conflicts of interest occur for anyone working in online media communications – broadcasting on behalf of your employer; indeed, my contacts in senior PR and Media roles of various organisations have the weakest of online profiles, even though two of them are published authors.

On the other hand just as I really got going in Facebook to connect with my brother and his family in South Africa and organise my mother’s 80th, I find that living away from home during the week I come online to have some sense of what my own family are up to – just a shame our dog doesn’t blog, ‘stick chasing across the South Downs’ would do it.

Currently reading your 2007 paper ‘Exploring students’ understanding of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education’. Are Learning Designers (and those who work with them) ‘flogging a dead horse?’ The analogy I’m about to use in my OU student blog is that I am starting to feel like a Tuba player at a football match – no one is interested, they’re watching the game. Maybe if I could network with the other instrument players in the crowd we could have a jam-session. As another paper on blogging discovered ‘birds of a feather flock together’, we do this and find kindred spirits. The problem in OU student blogging platforms is that we are overly pigoen-holed, not just by course, but by module and tutor group (and sub-groups within these).

I liken the Internet to a digital ocean; currently blogging as an OU student is like blogging in fish tank, in a warehouse full of fish tanks. And every so often someone kindly comes along and divides us up even more, creating barriers, rather than opportunities. Please can we just all be tipped into the same ocean?

I then went off to Facebook, via my external blog My Mind Bursts.

I only sat down to transfer notes from a pad … and am yet to transcribe a single word of it.

I was going to say, anything short of writing directly into ‘the white box’ that you are presented with on your chosen blog platform or platforms snacks of something else: a repository, a writer’s journal, a student’s e-portfolio that they leave open … keep forgetting in the lecture hall, that they photocopy and leave on benches outside the refrecatory.

Reading ‘Everything is miscellaneous’ David Weinberger I find a like mind a) the idea of miscellany, that each page, each asset, whether ostensibly part of something (like this) is like an autumn leave scattered on the forest floor. These leaves never compost down and those that are tagged stay on the top of the pile, those that people find or are guided too most often, stay on the top of the pile … and did it not long ago reach the stage where the leaves on the forest floor are so deep that they have buried the trees?

I put a slightly inept first draft phrase into Yammer the OU Personnel ‘Twitter-like’ feed about dandelions and pomegranates. I’ve used the dandelion metaphor many times, the pomegranate too, but had never put them together.

My thinking was this, if the seed is this blog entry, or a Tweat or even a message in Facebook i.e. an idea, thought, asset or message, a seed if you were scattered to the wind to find its own fortune then developing social media for an institution, whilst the asset, these words, are still a seed, they are coming from a pomegranate, not a dandelion. The reason being that understandably if you are expressing the views of others, collectively or individually, you cannot just hold you thoughts up to the wind and blow. The opening of the pomegranate is, as it were, the necessary processes and procedures. This analogy falls apart though if you have an image of Jamie Oliver holding a pomegranate half in one hand while smashing it with a wooden rolling pin with the other … the OU are not smashing me on the head to extract words like nasla mucus. Rather, at first at least, they will be extracted by me using tweezers.

All this and my 16 pages of notes on blogging handwritten into a Shorthand Pad remain unused.

To overcome my reluctance to write up what I feel I have already expressed I realise I could just photograph my notepad … in fact, I’ll do this and just see how folk manage with my handwriting.

Notes from ‘Use of Blogs’ (2006 Bruns and Jacobs)

Blog of the day once again

Blog of the day once again (Photo credit: the Italian voice)

An expression I like and will use … though it might have come from ‘Everything is miscellaneous’ David Weinberger (another must read).

Random acts of journalism

Micro-new level

‘Traditional journalists treat participants as deviants rather than as citizens. Participatory news requires a reversal of these practices and should rest on the assumption that citizens are as relevant and important as public officials.’ Gans (2003) in Uses of Blogs (2007:12)

People forget when that start saying that the role/jobs of lecturers are threatened by technology … others, if not all of us, have to adapt to the change, or be like the Amish and reject it all.

‘When big news breaks, it’s tough to beat a weblog.’ (2007, Bruns)

I recall how when the Tsunami struck Japan I went to the TV news channels. I started off with BBC 24, then went to CNN and stuck for the week on NHK from Japan as it was closer to action, as it were, and the other two were taking the feeds from NHK mostly anyway.  I thought my 12 year old son should have been taking an interest, in fact he was one step ahead watching photage (Freudian slip or how we ought to spell)

‘Such unedited, firsthand accounts have also come to have significance beyond reporting the news and contrasting friends and family.’ Uses of Blogs (2007:13)

Is being ‘Unedited’ the key to authenticity I ask? And the first draft tone of a conversation? Well written, but from the heart, a stream of consciousness expressed as it is formed.

What a person has to say matters more than spelling, grammar or even style. In this respect I wonder if getting people to blog is about building up people’s confidence when it comes to doing this … writing. That they could be crippled by a school experience that crushed their every effort.

I learn that a huge rush to blog was prompted by 9/11 and these become know as ‘Warblogs’.

The point that matters is the event the got people going. Better to start keeping a diary on January 1st, than any other day of the year. Better to start a blog when you, your family, team are marking the start of an era. Might a requirement to keep a blog on the company intranet be written into a person’s contract!

‘Most of what they bring to the table is opinion and analysis – punditry.’ Raine (2005) in Uses of Blogs (2007:12)

I like this. And I prefer the stance that bloggers take. Many are frank in their views. They may be opinionated, but they are up for a verbal struggle. Many have insights that no journalists could ever have.

‘Redefining the journalist’s role as an annotional or orientational one, a shift from watchdog to the ‘guidedog’. Bowman et al (2005)

Just as we want or expect tutors to be more coach-like in their behaviour, not teachers, but guides, facilitators or ‘animateurs’. Or, if they still want to teach at their students, challenge them to treat their students as clients, that their remuneration is based on how many they retain for the duration of a module … and that in the web 2.0 world everything (it has taken thirty years or wishful thinking in industry) is bottom up, responding to what customers/students want not they need to be shoehorned into.

Before Google surfing the net, indiscriminate browsing, or deliberate searching was looking for a needle in a haystack, today you look for a needle in a stack of needles. You are spoilt for choice. You go for anything in the top search.

GateKeeping to GateWatching

Commentators

‘New bloggers form a distributed community of commentators who will engage with one another’s views on the news as much as with those expressed in other news sources.’ (2007:16)

The exact same applies to learning … certainly at postgraduate level, possibly even at undergraduate level. If we can find a way to share what we are doing we can learn together from the experience.

Publish, then filter vs filter, then publish.

Before and after, even web 1.0 to web 2.0. As we progress what we do online will lose its ties with old broadcasting/publishing mechanisms and behaviours.

There is no intermediary. There should be no one to get in your way. You have something to show and tell, show it and tell it – write about it, sing about it, paint it or photograph it.

‘Writer submits their stories in advance, to be edited or rejected before the public ever sees them. Participants in a community, by contrast, say what they have to say and the good is sorted from the mediocre after the fact.’ Shirky (2004)

The words someone writes and publishes here should never be edited, nor the grammar or writing style commented upon (unless it is praise). Positive feedback, any feedback should be to encourage, to give more of the same, to find a voice, and to develop and learn through trial and error.

‘Multiperspectival news is the bottom-up corrective for the mostly top-down perspectives of the news media.’ Gans (2003:103)

It isn’t even the case of things being turned on their head, rather it is the case that the gatekeepers should join the throng.

‘A new media ecosystem … where online communities also produce participator journalism, grassroots reporting, annotative reporting, commentary and fact-checking, which the mainstream media feed upon, developing them as a pool of tips, sources and story ideas.’ Bowman and Willis (2005:13)

‘Deconstruction of content, demystification of technology and finally do-it-yourself or participatory authorship are the three steps through which a programmed populace returns to autonomous thinking, action and self-determination.’ Rushkoff (2003:24)

 

People before technology every time – manage these relationships first

People.

Innovations are who and what we are as human kind. We will advance and trip over each other with each apparent theme or phase.

Web 2.0 or Web 3.0?

It makes no difference if you are unable to carry an audience, your public, your students. Whether they pay for it, or it is free. It comes down to the ability and enthusiasm of a group of people, sometimes the charisma of an individual.

I see learning environments rise and fall on the ability and availability of a single person, some systems flourish and expand – others wither.

Can one person duplicate and transmogrify into a dozen or more parts? Can others pick up on their enthusiasm and replicate it?

Often not.

The technology is not a panacea.

It makes of us a village, a community … then we must behave as if we are in a village or community, which in turn requires that we know how, when and where to contact people and who we are dealing with.

 

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