Imagined audiences

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In the short time since my previous post, I have reflected upon my understanding of blogging as something more than a platform for reflective practice. Despite conflicting definitions surrounding blogging from journaling to journalism, whereby blogging is considered both a genre and a medium, there is no doubt that it is a phenomenon that can no longer be classed as a fad, or purely as a stage in the progression of communicative practice. With blog sites numbering in the millions and growing exponentially by the day, blogging is both pervasive and popular worldwide. Whilst those who blog cannot be designated as a single demographic, and engage in this practice for a variety of reasons, there is one commonality of purpose in that we do so as a means of self expression and to fulfil the desire of connecting to others. This raises questions regarding the nature of connectivity: is more importance attached to how connected we are, rather than who we are connected to; and given the fact that our audience is largely unknown as it is not specifically targeted, how does this affect our perception of the self in relation to being ‘seen’ by an imagined audience?

Further, by positioning blogging in an academic context these considerations take on particular significance especially in terms of reciprocity and democratisation of learning potential. For this reason, I am undertaking a small ethnographic project focusing on blogging as the cultural practice of producing spaces for learning and public pedagogy, as a means of answering the question of connectivity.

Would anyone who engages in blogging like to answer the following questions as part of a small ethnographic project? I have amended the questions for clarity.

Questions for educators:

1) what impact does your unseen/imagined audience have upon your own perception of being ‘seen’.(Do you mind who reads your blog? Do you perceive yourself as having to have a specific persona/identity in order to write for specific audiences?);

2) what degree of reciprocity do you feel you receive (in terms of shared information/research/links/ or promotion of your work);

3)to what extent do you feel ‘exposed’ in terms of vulnerability of scholarship? ( How do you feel about the process of ‘thinking aloud’ and sharing the process of that thinking?)

All responses will be welcomed, and acknowledged in the project (with the permission of individual respondents).

Many thanks,

Heather

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Post 2 -Reflections

heart-1288420__180Blog-[we]b + log

noun – a journal or diary written for public viewing on a website and consisting typically of personal reflections, commentary on current events, etc. arranged chronologically

verb -to blog is defined as to write on a website that comments on current events of a specific topic

The words log and journal are used interchangeably, although traditionally we consider journals to be records of personal events, thoughts, aspirations and disappointments. As a vehicle for expressing innermost secrets without the expectation of exposure, a journal is private, whereas a log has the connotation of a more public record of events. An interesting fact regarding the etymology of the word log  (in the nautical sense) is that it originally referred to a literal piece of hollowed out wood which was thrown over the side of a ship in order to measure the speed, and hence progress. In time, a ship’s log recorded details of all daily events in what was essentially an enclosed environment.

This got me thinking about the nature of blogs. Whilst they are indeed by definition a public platform: nothing on the web is private; surely writing about personal reflections is an oxymoron, or at least gives the sense of being such. Yet, increasingly we require students to post on blogs (usually on VLEs) as evidence of their individual learner journey. In my experience, learners/students have a tendency to initially balk at the idea. Could this be because of the act of making public (even if it is within the ‘closed environment’ of the college/uni) what might otherwise be considered to be a very personal, and therefore private venture? Reflective practice, particularly important in the field of education, takes time to hone and for us to get out of the mindset of focusing only on personal negatives or weaknesses. At first, we may feel like the hollowed out log trailing behind the ship, reflecting only as a means of measuring speed. As our learning develops however, we realise that progress is rarely about how long the journey took us but where it took us. Likewise, rather than the process resulting in feeling as if our insides have been hollowed out, true reflective practice provides strength and a sense of completeness.

So, is this process helped or hindered by blogging? I would like to think so. What do you think?

Thank you for taking the time to read my post. Comments are very welcome.

 

 

Post 1 – making lasting digital footprints

common-footprintsWelcome to my first personal blog post!

Having posted before on other blogs, I decided it was time that my own digital footprints should make more of an impression: they should have direction and purpose. Although I had been procrastinating for over a year, mainly because I was not convinced I would have the time or perhaps more importantly something worthwhile to say, my decision was made when responding to @RusulAlrubail‘s tweet about how the footprints we make in this world matter. I replied by saying that most of the time we tread on ‘tippy’ toes – unsure of putting our feet firmly on the ground. That is certainly the case with me.

If we think about the footprints we make on a beach, they remain only until the tide eventually washes them away. Although our digital footprints have a permanency that only modern technology enables, the sea of mankind and the tide of change can still wash over them removing them from sight. So the question is, how visible do we want our footprints to be? If one person truly can make a difference, and I believe they can, then their footprints need to make a lasting visible impression.

I feel that as I am working in the field of education, I should be making a difference. Not in any self promoting way – I am definitely a ‘guide on the side’ rather than a ‘sage on the stage’, but educators should be walking with their students. I want others to make a difference to my learning/understanding of the world. That’s why the emerging theory of connectivism appeals to me, as it is an approach that encourages collaboration and networking as a means of knowing and learning. By connecting to ‘small worlds'(densely connected experts in a field)  through weak links (knowing someone in that field/blogs) we are exposed to knowing and learning opportunities that we would not otherwise had. Not only that, we are generating knowledge. Our footprints should no longer be headed in only one direction but multiple, as we join the many other footprints making imprints on our learning.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I welcome comments to engage in critical debate.