Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Articles on blogging

Got a package of course info for MSc in e-learning today (quite exciting being a student again).

Thought I'd do a bit of reading on the blogging side of things (even though I think I'm fairly up to speed on this).

Here's some of the preliminary reading:

McClellan, J. (2004) 'Inside the ivory tower'. The Guardian. September 23, 2004. Retrieved, August 29 2007, from:,,1311177,00.html

The article starts small: a postgrad using a blog to record ongoing research, reflections, resources etc. before moving out to a bigger picture of blog uses in HE: individual and group blogs for sharing ideas with a wider community, or as a course noticeboard.

A couple of particular strengths stick out:
  1. the blog as a form that encourages peer review and obliges authors to refine ideas (Esther MacCallum-Stewart calls the blog a "mind gym")

  2. the blog as a form that breaks down the boundaries of HE to engage with a greatly expanded readership.
The article ends on a warning note that HEIs are increasingly locking down content behind password-protected systems. My view is that this may be so but nothing prevents academics setting up their own externally hosted blogs on third-party sites.

Siemens, G. (2002) The Art of Blogging - Part 1: Overview, Definitions, Uses, and Implications.
Retrieved, August 29 2007, from:
A very early article, predating the Web 2.0 hype. A useful collection of definitions of blogging from the pioneers. The Andrew Sullivan line that blogging is somewhere "between writing a column and talk radio" captures nicely the blog's dual structure of primary and secondary content. The focus isn't really on HE and the game has moved on a little since 2002.

One link doesn't work (

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

What is Web 2.0 workshop

My PowerPoint presentation for the What is Web 2.0 and what can it do for me? workshop uploaded to SlideShare, and converted to a Flash file and embedded in this blog post for demo purposes:

Monday, 13 August 2007

Pedagogic PowerPoint 2

I've been looking at some of the recommended reading for an MSC I've just enrolled on.

One of the books, Brabazon, T. (2002) Digital hemlock: internet education and the poisoning of teaching, looks like a provocative read (i.e. something to disagree with).

I found another article by the author on the ipodification of space (iPod consistently written as i-Pod!) with a truly toe-curling opening paragraph which doesn't bode well:
Our popular cultural clocks stop at the point of our greatest immersion, passion and excess. For me, 1987 was the musical zenith. I never quite recovered from acid house, chalk-stiff styling mousse, black eyeliner and pixie boots. I remember Rick Astley with fondness ...
Enough already!

I've reluctantly ordered a copy but a review I came across would seem to indicate that the book articulates some familiar (remember David Noble's Digital Diploma Mills?) criticisms of technology. PowerPoint is one tool that comes in for a particular bashing.

However, it looks like another case of an author citing the poorest possible uses of technology in order to discredit its use (it's Edward Tufte again) just like some awful old right-winger citing Stalin in order to dismiss communism.

I wouldn't defend for a second a tedious lecture supported by PowerPoint, but "mental absenteeism" in the lecture theatre (see pic below) and students bunking off lectures existed well before that Microsoft product so many love to hate.

I'm with Kinchin on PowerPoint:
…what PowerPoint is actually doing is to make explicit the taken-for-granted assumptions and implicit epistemological leanings of lecturers who are using it. The stereotypic teacher-centred, noninteractive mode of lecturing … is simply clarified and amplified by the use of PowerPoint. (Kinchin, 2006 p.647 - see my PP presentation for full reference)