I happened upon Martin Weller’s blipfoto account a few weeks ago.

I really enjoy his insights on all matters edtechie … and sport.

blipfoto struck a chord with me thanks to Martin. I signed up for a free account and have upgraded it to full membership.

I am a late adopter of a great resource. (There is an excellent Wikipedia page about blipfoto and Joe Tree and a detailed blog post.)

So far I have managed 22 entries and have met a remarkable community of sharers.

I hope the combination of ThingLink and blipfoto gives me a great way to explore thick visual description.

I think blipfoto will become an important part of my personal learning and sharing environment … one day at a time.



This is a short, follow-up post to my Authentic Insights post.

I am keen to pursue the possibilities for openings in how we share narratives about performance.

I read with great interest a Guardian article (written by Decca Aitkenhead) about Peter Higgs. In it Peter is quoted as saying he became “an embarrassment to the department when they did research assessment exercises”. His response to the request for a list of recent publications was “None”. The article adds:

By the time he retired in 1996, he was uncomfortable with the new academic culture. “After I retired it was quite a long time before I went back to my department. I thought I was well out of it. It wasn’t my way of doing things any more. Today I wouldn’t get an academic job. It’s as simple as that. I don’t think I would be regarded as productive enough.”

My Authentic Insights post was an attempt to explore what productivity might look like if we added other narrative forms to journal papers and conference presentations as indicators of scholarly standing.

I read Decca’s article just after finding a Maptia blog post, The Age of Outrospection. The post starts with this paragraph:

Imagine for a moment that you are reading or listening to a story so intensely that you forget yourself and step into the shoes of the storyteller. You see what they saw, hear what they heard, and feel what they felt. These moments are rare, yet when they happen it is as if we have been transported into their world and we are able to see through their eyes. It is a powerful, almost magical feeling. One that is a privilege.

I am attracted to Mapia’s approach that places are made of a thousand stories. For over two decades I have been fascinated by discussions about the crafting of polysemic texts.


I think we have a great deal to learn from the ways platforms like Mapia, Medium and Cowbird present and share stories. I have written about the New York Times too and the possibilities of interactive stories. I see enormous opportunities being offered by enhanced e-books.

Thanks to an alert from Audrey Watters, I was delighted to find Martin Weller’s recent editorial about openness in higher education. I noted his observation that:

there are fundamental shifts in practices, which can be grouped together as open scholarship (Veletsianos & Kimmons 2012) – academics are creating and releasing their own content using tools such as Slideshare and YouTube, researchers are releasing results earlier and using open, crowdsourcing approaches, every day millions of learners make use of free, open online tools and resources.

I admire Martin’s work immensely and find his insights re-assuring and invitational. In passing, I found it interesting to note the variety of sources Martin used in his references as I did with George and Royce’s paper cited by Martin.

Martin cited a Google Doc reference from Dave Cormier:

Cormier, D. (2013) ED366 Educational Technology and the Adult Learner: Syllabus and Contract. [accessed November 2013]

This raises for me exciting ideas about co-production of texts through open sharing and ongoing refinement.

In my Authentic Insights post I was keen to make clear that the use of alternative forms of sharing research stories did not negate the rigour of scholarly enquiry. My hope is that rigour helps focus on scholarly astigmatism and contributes to debates about paradigmatic certainty.

I conclude this post with a link to another blog post. Earlier this year, Jenny Davis wrote about The legitimacy and usefulness of academic blogging will shape how intellectualism develops. Jenny introduces her post thus:

In this post I attempt to tackle a complex but increasingly important question: Should writers cite blog posts in formal academic writing (i.e. journal articles and books)? To begin with full disclosure: I cite blog posts in my own formal academic writing. But not just any blog posts. I am highly discriminate in what I cite, but my discriminations are not of the cleanly methodical type which can be written, shared, and handed out as even a suggested guide.

I think Jenny provides some very helpful pointers to the citing of blog posts. I was interested to learn that:

Okay, now here comes the real hypocrisy. Although I cite blogs within academic writing, I explicitly forbid my undergraduate students from doing so. Their papers must include only peer-reviewed work unless I specifically approve of a non-peer-reviewed source.

My experience has been that if we encourage students to become produsers, their choice of references becomes a discussion rather than an imposition. Their discoveries help me go beyond my taken-for-grantedness and enable me to explore their sense of value. It is an exercise of outrospection rather than outrage.


Photo Credits

The Art of Social Media (mkhmarketing, CC BY 2.0)

Screen grab, We Live in the Future (Ev Williams)

Discussing Links (Keith Lyons, CC BY 3.0 AU)



Connecting 131024


Kristen Swanson wrote a brief post two days ago about Adam Grant’s book, Give and Take.

She shares three profiles from the book:

  • People who help others without hesitation (Givers).
  • People who help others but expect reciprocation in return (Matchers).
  • People who mostly take from others (Takers).

These profiles took me back to James Redfield’s Celestine Prophecy (1993) and his discussion of energy givers and takers and reminded me too of Malcolm Gladwell’s connectors.

Kristen went on to reflect on her personal learning network (PLN) and observed:

my PLN is full of givers. When I engage my PLN on Twitter around a topic, question, or resource, I’m always amazed by how freely they give. In turn, I honestly enjoy giving back whenever I can. This exchange (which is organic and far from “an eye for an eye”) has improved me as a person and as an educator.

Stephen Downes plays an important role in my personal learning. I noticed this week that Stephen had written about e-portfolios. Stephen suggests that “students will be responsible for managing their own online learning records and creative products”. I am hopeful that this leads to a growing altruism of open sharing.


Last month’s announcement of the Wales Open Education Declaration of Intent makes this open sharing an important characteristic of higher education. Universities in Wales have agreed “to ensure that any designated teaching and learning material released under open licence can be adapted and redistributed without cost or restriction”. (I am grateful to a  Martin Weller tweet for a link to this declaration.)

I think that this will be an environment where the cMOOCs, described by Jenny Mackness this week, will flourish. It is interesting to note the verbs Jenny used to characterise cMOOC activity: distribute, network, immerse, disrupt, self-organise, remix, repurpose and co-create.

A delightful email to me from Hugh Nguyen this morning brought all these ideas into focus. With Hugh’s permission, I am sharing the insights he shared with me:

we use dropbox to share the media amongst the coaches, we decided to open up all the materials we used to the junior coaches in ACT. They might get some ideas, share with us some ideas, or just find a different level of enjoyment watching the games knowing more about the background.

Hugh uses MailChimp as his newsletter platform. The idea for his project came from reading Take Your Eye Off the Ball. Hugh is able to follow up on the use coaches make of his open sharing in order to refine how he shares information.

Hugh’s email encouraged me to think about how coach education and development programs might start to use this cooperative approach. For many years now, I have been hopeful that all the millions of person hours spent analysing opponents could become a commonwealth of knowledge to support the flourishing of sports. There are so many resources to give and share. Perhaps in Kristen and Adam’s terms, we could all start by reciprocating sharing (matching).

After reading Jennifer Roberts’ post on Patience, I have a better insight into the pedagogical support needed to encourage giving. I liked her suggestion that she acts as an engineer in the pace and tempo of learning experiences to stimulate immersive attention:

Every external pressure, social and technological, is pushing students in the other direction, toward immediacy, rapidity, and spontaneity—and against this other kind of opportunity. I want to give them the permission and the structures to slow down.

I think open sharing and connecting makes this slowing down more possible.

Three young female kids, girls sharing one stand-up paddle board


Photo Credits

Common land (Joss Winn, CC BY NC-SA 2.0)

Shareholder value in the state forest (Markus Spring, CC BY NC-SA 2.0)

Three young female kids, girls sharing one stand-up paddle board (Mike Baird, CC BY 2.0)