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Blogging as an acdemic and scholarly acitivty

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
  • community
  • 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.

Available at:http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/

impactofsocialsciences/ 2013/ 04/ 15/ blogging-as-post-publication-peer-review-reasonable-or-unfair/

 

Martin Weller: ten digital scholarship lessons in ten videos

Martin Weller: ten digital scholarship lessons in ten videos

The greatest quality of a Martin Weller lecture is that leaves so much unsaid and unexplained. This isn’t a fault of the lecturer, rather it is either his personality to take an answer so far, to ask questions and then to leave question marks of various shapes and sizes hanging there. Your mission, if you care to take it, is to go and find answers. 

In this talk, or presentation … or seminar (responding to questions afterwards lasts as long as the talk itself) Weller considers what it means to be a digital scholar, and in relation to H818 addresses the benefits and pitfalls of being open.

He begins with his book ‘The Digital Scholar’. 

You can buy it – it’s a book and an eBook. You can also download it for free. Its creative commons copyright also permits you to distribute it, attributed, even to mash it up i.e. to play around with it. I do – often. I Tweet it line by line, grab pages and annotate with text and graphics. I try to bring the pages to life, to re-animate the dead. Which is the problem all books have – certainly compared to anyone used to the attraction of interactivity and multimedia and multi-sensory ‘sit forward’ content.

Privacy and online presence

Do what works for you in different situations – there are many degrees of openness. The pay-off of presence is engagement, is to gravitate towards and to be a magnet for like-minds. Weller doesn’t say it, but the best thing you can do online is to ask for advice and to know where to do this – in the right forum you will find an expert with the right voice, tone and techniques of explanation just for you. I have been taken by the openness of Amanda Palmer and her philosophy of knowing what she wants and asking for it.

Scholarly practice in the digital domain means:

  • Sharing

  • Engaging with networks online

  • Using resources

And it is, according to Weller, the intersect between openness, digital and networking were transformation occurs. I’d go further than this and put this Venn diagram in an unexpected context – not ‘out there’, not ‘here’ but rather between regions of your brain. It changes you. Those parts of your that you share, that you are open with, through the quasi-omnipresence of your digital being as it is networked, as connections form – as they do at home, around you with your friends and colleagues, so it creates new and otherwise unlikely tingles of response and activity in your brain. It is neurological.

Scholars have been there defining what scholarship is. However much I look at these guidelines and lists, as though they are prerequisites to get into grammar school and take a degree,  I think rather of 1901 and possibly still 1911 Census Returns where anyone attending school is defined as a ‘scholar’. The act of being engaged in learning makes you more scholar than anything else – the potential was there even if it was stymied when kids left school armed with the basics at age 14.

Wherein lies the problem. Weller says ten years, his peer group gives it longer, for the ‘digital scholar’ to emerge. I have argued that the digital scholar is imminent. I would now say that in time, retrospectively, we will identify people who already are the digital scholars – the 18 year old how schooled law graduated recently called to the bar, the 14 or 15 year old who has drilled through academic research to come up with his own viable solution to a medical issue … the academic community won’t accept it for the very reason that they ONLY see scholarship as it is defined and won through traditional, conservative, tightly controlled levels. The digital scholar will transcend these … people will simply appear, professor-like in all but name, as a result of the root they have taken into a subject that circumvents the ‘required’ pathway.

Gobbledygook it may be … but there are what we would understand to be quite normal conversations that plenty around us may have little understanding of. Those brought up in a digital world have always been familiar with its architecture – it just IS, like houses and trees. Whereas we – most of us anyhow, knew what the landscape looked like before. We have seen the bits and pieces, sometimes do disassembled as to make little sense and we have witness the folly and false starts too and the many white elephants.

My niggle with any presentation that quotes somebody is not having the reference. Several hours of searching and I have found only some of the authors quoted and in the case of Waldrop above I can find him, but have no idea where he said it. This matters more to me than ever now, not simply because the level of engagement with the subject that I have reached, but because I expect there to be links and I expect the answer to be a click, and therefore a momentary glance away.

I cannot find Le Muir anywhere. This despite having read more than most on blogging over the last decade. To blog is interesting because the reality is that only a fraction of us take to it … the teenager who kept a diary will make the best blogger, it’s part of you. Now the academic community is beginning to expect the 21st century scholar to blog – to have a digital presence, to wear their research on their sleeve, to become like a special edition iPad or iMac, with a see-through skin. We don’t care what you are like, but let us see all the same.

Weller compares before and after slides in relation to the blank with an OU logo and these colourful visualizations. He shows up a failing though. Someone who is good with words may not be able to visualise their thoughts – simply repeating a word in many fonts or creating a Wordle does not in any way complement or enhance the message. Advertisers discovered the answer in the 1960s – you put an art director and copywriter together. How can we get more of that in education? When I see and listen to academics I almost always see a group of strangers who happen to be in the same room. Even or especially in a jointly written paper I don’t see how or where the collaboration has occurred. It’s not as if they are team behind a TV series, each person with a role so clearly defined that it has a title. That’ll be the day. It would require the ‘digital scholar’ to become the equivalent of the producer or director with others taking part having clearly defined roles. As happens, for example, in a product trial.

I would also question screen grabs as a way to illustrate anything. I’d far prefer that anyone picks up a pen and does a doodle that expresses what they see in their heads – this after all is closer to the meaning the author is trying to put over.

I will return to this moment repeatedly – I admire Weller and those academics who with determination stay on the platform and observe the world as it passes by rather than pandering to the futurologist and revolutionaries who think that we have to sweep away what went before rather than build on it and work alongside it. The first newspapers was printed on the 6th November 1605 – they’ve survived this far. Their savour might be augmented reality.

I particularly like the above. I gave a few weeks of my life to writing a scaving book review of Nicholas Carr and ‘The Shallows’ and then supporting my perspective in a thread that emerged in the Amazon reviews. Perhaps I need to go a few rounds with Lanier and Turkle too then accept that a Master’s education means that I will never stand, virgin-like, in front of authors such as these and offer them my body and soul. They are journalists, popularist, scaremongering, plausible and always wrong. 

This grab from an animation by David Shriver might be a life-changer – taking me back to a way I did things a couple of decades ago. I just got on with it. Something that is going to work big one day, has to work small first then multiply. I keep itching to start a lecture tour – I have the projector and lecturn. I know what I want to talk about. I need to book a venue and get on with it. 

 I agree with the above with an important caveat:

What has become self-apparent to me during the course of the last few years studying online education, and ‘education’ is that human beings are extraordinarily diverse. However much we see ourselves as part of a race or community or cohort or class, we are ultimately very alone in our uniqueness. What ever impression you get, say of tens of thousands in North Korea doing drills together in a stadium, they are, each of them, their own person. One of the most wonderous human traits is the contrarian – even against inclination they will do the opposite so as not to be the same. I particularly like the idea that ‘not learning’ should be see as an educational theory. It’s true – keeping your sheet blank while everyone around you takes notes is an approach. Not learning means that you stand still, or go somewhere else while the conveyor belt of the class moves everyone else forward (though in different steps).

See the 20th March 2012 Lectures at LSE here.

Notes attached as a PDF.

I’m keen to expand on these notes. To fill in the gaps. To find the precise place where Weller refers to what someone has written.

Next step is cutting and pasting this into my external blog. Then spitting it out in bits as and when required. And nailing the references. A couple of clicks and I not only found the reference to John Naughton, but I’d bought his book. 90p on Kindle.

What is digital ‘academic’ scholarship? Should 19th and 20th century definitions even apply?

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Martin Weller published ‘The Digital Scholar’ in 2011 on a Creative Commons Licence. You can download it for free, or purchase the book or eBook, and then do as you will with it. When I read it I share short excerpts on Twitter. I’ve blogged it from end to end and am now having fun with a simple tool for ‘mashing up’ designs called ‘Studio’. It’s a photo editing tool that allows you to add multiple layers of stuff. I rather see it as a revision tool – it makes you spend more time with the excerpts you pick out.

You cannot be so open that you become an empty vessel … you have to create stuff, get your thoughts out there in one way or another so that others can knock ’em down and make more of them. Ideas need legs. In all this ‘play’ though have I burried my head in its contents and with effort read it deeply? Do we invoke shallow learning and distraction with openness? If we each read the book and met for a tutorial is that not, educationally, a more focused and constructive form of ‘oppenness’?

In relation to scholarship shoulf the old rules, the ‘measures’ of academic prowess count? In the connected world of the 21st century ‘scholarship’ is able to emerge in unconventional ways, freed of the school-to-university conveyor belt.

REFERENCE

Weller, M (2011) The Digital scholar

Reflection on a decade of e-learning

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Having not taken stock for a while it was refreshing and re-assuring to consider the Open University postgraduate modules that I have taken, though it has taken this long to understand the meaning of a module that is approaching its final ‘presentation’. In some cases a better word for this might be ‘sell by date’ especially with a subject such as ‘e-learning’ as at least three of those listed below were on their final or penultimate presentation and it mattererd – ‘H817:Innovations in e-learning’ wasn’t particularly innovative for someone who had worked in the creation of interactive and online learning. I’m used to and value the amount of background theory, but I still feel that in these ‘H’ modules that form the Master of Arts in Open and Distance Education (MA ODE) is considerably biased towards learning in formal secondary and tertiary education, rather than applied L&D in business which interested me most – indeed I know of two people across these courses who quit early on because they were working in a learning creation position in business and felt the modules were not suitably applied. B822: Creativity, Innovation and Change was the exception as however dated some of the content (video content shot in the mid 1990s that included companies that had long since gone out of business and innovations such as laptops the size of a small trunk with a carrier bag of cables) the activities and theory in relation to innovation were timeless – it was also an MBA module. Any of us who have taken part in or hosted learning in an organisation involving games of some kind would have found B822 familiar – much of it also touched on the kind of creativity used in advertising, marketing, PR, events and communications.

H804: Implementing Online, Open and Distance Learning (2001)
H807: Innovations in Elearning (2010)
H808: The Elearning professional (2010)
H800: Technology enhanced learning: practices and debates (2011)
B822: Creativity, Innovations and Change (2011)
H810: Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students (2012)
H809: Practice-based research in educational technology (2013)

I’m continuing with these modules to demonstrate that the standard I am now able to achieve is sustainable so that working in academia, even studying for a PhD is viable. ‘H819:The Networked Practitioner’ is a new module. Reading through the course notes and first units (it came online today and goes live next week) I can see the care, clarity and thought that has gone into it, as well as the substantial use of a variety of online learning  tools for ‘connected’ or ‘networked’ learning … what some might call ‘social learning’ but here has more structure to it that that (parameters, goals, set tools etc:). It is tailored, every step of the way, to the production of a conference piece – there is considerable latitude here, but what is meant that you have a presentation that may be given in a variety of formats featuring a choice of core themes develop through the module but set in your ‘world’ or field of interest or expertise.

A teacher is taught to teach something in class, not simply to teach.

I  feel that I have learnt over the last three years how to teach online, but I haven’t developed a subject specialism, prefering to date to behave as if I were in an e-learning agency serving the needs of many, disperate clients. For this module, and potentially for one or two beyond, I hope to develop and demonstrate how the history of the First World War can be taught using e-learning – apt as we approach its centenary. In parallel I will be taking a Masters in British First World War studies with the University of Birmingham. This is also a part-time course, and ostensibly ‘distance learning’ – though in this instance the distance component is handled by my driving to Edgbaston once a month for a day of intensive face to face seminars and tutorials. This in itself will make for a fascinating constrast with the 100% online experience of the Open University.

In the back of my mind, whatever the subject, my interest is in how to address the global problem of there being 123 million people who want to study at university, but only 5 million places. Even if every university modelled itself on the Open University there would still be a massive shortfall – the answer must be in Open Learning that is supported, possibly by a huge cohort of volunteer alumni, as well as qualifying participants as they accumulate credits. Somewhere in here there may be a question for me to address with doctoral research.

It’s disengenious of me to say that I’ve been studying online for a decade.

I did a module in 2001 but did no further online learning in the subsequent decade – though I did qualify as a swimming teacher and coach! The reason for thinking about a decade as a period of time in which to study is that some would say it takes this long to become an expert. This comes from a piece of research carried out at the Berlin Conservatoire in relation to muscians and the years of training and practice they need to put in to get them to the concert hall as a soloist. Actually it wasn’t years so much as tens of thousands of hours required – 40,000 I think it was with kids introdcued to the instrument early and pushed by parents and institutions getting the furthest youngest. Martin Weller, Professor of e-learning, suggests that a decade is still the time scale in which someone might be deemed a ‘digital scholar’. John Seely Brown, who has applied learning and e-learning to business in the US, notably at Xerox’s famous research institute, suggested earlier this year that scholarship or expertise of the kind we are talking about may be achieved in five years because online learning can speed things up. People do take two degrees in tandem if they study online. Is there a fast track to a PhD? My perspective as a parent with teenagers is that they could begin a part-time online degree in their A’ Level year and graduate at the same time as getting their A’ level results or the year after.

 

Digital Scholarships Considered: How New Technologies Could Transform Academic Work.

From, Pearce, Weller, Scanlon, Kinsley

Boyer’s dimensions of scholarship:

Discovery – research The creations of new knowledge in a specific area or discipline. Breakthroughs and innovations. Research Excellence Framework (REF)
Integration – synthesis Creating knowledge across disciplines. Wider context Research Excellence Framework (REF)
Application -practice Use in the wider world based on the scholar’s disciplinary knowledge and background (Pearce et al )
Teaching
Where the biggest impact of digital technologies and open approaches.

(Boyer, 1990, p. xi)

The internet lies at the core of an advanced scholarly information infrastructure to facilitate distributed, data and information-intensive collaborative research. (Borgman, 2007, xvii)

There have been extravagant claims about transformational potential of computers for almost as long as there have been computers. Pearce et al (2006). (CF. Shields, 1995)

Openness and transparency are significant drivers of change in education.

Getting the word out:

  • Journals
  • Conferences
  • Monographs

Problems with journals:

  • long lag times
  • increasing subscription costs
  • resentment by the volunteers
  • limitations of paper publishing replicated in digital formats (word limits, dynamic content, links)

Digital scholarship is more than just using information and communications technologies to research, teach and collaborate, but it is embracing the open values, ideology and potential of technologies born of peer-to-peer networking and wiki ways of working in order to benefit both the academy and society. Pearce et al (2006)

REFERENCE

Borgman, C.L. (2007) Scholarship in the digital age: Information, infrastructure, and the Internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Boyer, E.L. (1990) Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Princeton. N.J. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Conole, G. (2004). E-learning: the hype and the reality. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 12

Pearce,N., Weller,M.,  Scanlon,E., and Kinsley,s (2006) Digital Scholarships Considered: How New Technologies Could Transform Academic Work. In Education. Issue 16 (1)

Shields, M.A. (ed) (1995) Work and Technology in Higher Education: The social construction of academic computing.

Siemens, G. (2009). Open isn’t so open anymore. Connectivism. Retrieved from http://www.connectivism.ca/?p=198

 

The Girl at the Lion d’Or

Having enjoyed ‘Birdsong’ by Sebastian Faulks I not only went on to read many other Faulks’ novels, I also went on to read much of Pat Barker too (for the First World War setting), and Ernest Hemmingway. Indeed, written at the time, HGWells take you to a similar place.

I find myself reading ‘The Girl at the Lion D’Or’.

As is too often the case I realise half way through I have read it before; I should know the characters and recall the events and outcome: I don’t. In fact, I am compelled as much to read it for the story as to satisfy this nagging feeling I know something dreadful or beautiful is about to happen. We get a little of each. And some wonderful interludes, as if Faulk’s wove in some short stories that weren’t going to endure as novels. (There’s a nifty idea).

I want to talk about this lovely story, how Anne comes from Paris to work at the Hotel Lion D’Or. Who and what she is touches many lives, she is a catalyst for misbehaviour, action and change.

But I can’t help but reflect on how I read, or skim read. I simply do not take it in, or rather, my mind leaves it on the surface, like a conversation overheard on a train. My mind, my kind of mind at least, or how it has formed, through a combination of genetics and experience, treats all readying as frippery. The consequence of this is that when I have academic reading to do it takes a huge effort to get anything at all to stick.

Reading on its own is pointless.

Historically I took notes long hand of everything I read. Historically, at school and university this would become an essay, the essay would be discussed in a small tutor group, filed, then looked at again months later for an exam. This kept that knowledge for the required period. Today I take notes through a QWERTY keyboard and upload. I am toying with adding pen to paper again. Then what? So long as I return to the notes and develop them the topic may become a living thing. Best of all, for me at least, are the vibrant tutor groups, or some online forums where I can find them. I need to wrestle with a topic, to agree and disagree, to read more, to seek out my own heroes and villains from further references. Then, and only over a period of months, if not years, do I make any sense of it, do I feel a sense of conviction about what I have picked up, understood or misunderstood.

I’m coming to apperciate why ‘scholarship’ takes time.

I don’t take notes when reading a novel; perhaps this allows me to enjoy the second or third reading. You discover new things, you pick up the detail, nuances that weren’t apparent the first time round. You may even get a better sense of the author’s voice and purpose.

Can anyone recommend a good read?

I feel a novel a week inbetween OU reading and employment would be a good tonic for my mental well being. I beleive I work and think better too, but escaping from it all regularly.

You can immerse yourself in a subject and drown.

4 Ways to becoming a Digital Scholar – or should that be 8?

If Boyer’s four main scholarly functions were research, application, integration and teaching, then I would propose that those of the digital scholar are engagement, experimentation, reflection and sharing’. Weller (2011 in Chapter 4, 20% of the way through, Kindle Location 1005. Is there a page number related to a print version? Amazon say not in a polite, informative and lengthy e-mail. What therefore is the answer to this referencing conundrum?)

Does Weller’s suggestion make anyone who keeps a student blog and shares it openly like this a scholar?

Making us all digital scholars? (I love the term as a hundred years ago in Census Returns it was used to describe anyone attending an academic institution, whether school or university).

Ref

Weller, M., (2011) The Digital Scholar

Eight ways to scholarship – Boyer and Weller

If Boyer’s four main scholarly functions were research, application, integration and teaching, then I would propose that those of the digital scholar are engagement, experimentation, reflection and sharing’.

BOYER

  • Research
  • Application
  • Integration
  • Teaching

WELLER

  • Engagement
  • Experimentation
  • Reflection
  • Sharing

Weller (2011 in Chapter 4, 20% of the way through, Kindle Location 1005. Is there a page number related to a print version? Amazon say not in a polite, informative and lengthy e-mail. What therefore is the answer to this referencing conundrum?)

Does Weller’s suggestion make anyone who keeps a student blog and shares it openly like this a scholar?

Making us all digital scholars?

(I love the term as a hundred years ago in Census Returns it was used to describe anyone attending an academic institution, whether school or university).

Goals of the Scholarly Activity

  • Provide students with an opportunity to employ their unique skills and talents to pursue a project of their choosing under the mentorship of an expert in the field.
  • Provide mentorship and guidance for students interested in careers that integrate research, teaching, and clinical service (academic medicine).
  • Foster development of analytical thinking skills, rational decision making, and attention to the scientific method.
  • Enhance communication skills.
  • Enhance self-directed learning.

Reference

Boyer, E.L. 1990. Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Princeton, NJ.

Weller, M., (2011) The Digital Scholar

4 things to make you a digital scholar

Boyer’s four main scholarly functions were:

  1. Discovery
  2. Integration
  3. Application
  4. Teaching

Martin Weller proposes that those of the digital scholar are:

  • Engagement
  • Experimentation
  • Reflection
  • Sharing

Weller (2011).

Reference

Weller, M (2011) The Digital Scholar. How technology is transforming scholarly practice. Bloomsbury

Public Journalism 2.0: The Promise and Reality of a Citizen-Engaged Press

The best writers are published. They appear in print and electronic form. Some blog. Do you read them above others?

Do you blog?

You enter a hall and find everyone clammering for attention, talking at once; what is the point in that?

A recent debate amongst academics at The OU asked whether these platforms would deliver ‘scholarly works’. Surely this for many is part of the process? A test bed for themes that is readily shared, as if the notes on your desk can be seen by everyone, no one, or a select few?

Public Journalism 2.0: The Promise and Reality of a Citizen-Engaged Press.

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