Wonderful Play

Each day I receive recommendations from Medium of articles to read.

It is an excellent service that leads me to some great writing. Each post has a reading time indication.

Today, I followed up on Amanda Ripley’s discussion with Elizabeth Green (10 minutes) about The Smartest Teachers in the World.

Elizabeth shared this short video (1m 05s) from Japan in the post.

I thought it was a great example of wonderful play.

As I watched it I contemplated what Iona and Peter Opie would make of the play taking place.

Elizabeth observed of her experience:

The idea of walking on stilts or struggling with a difficult problem is such a good example because that Japanese recess was like an entrée to Japanese lessons. In both cases, it seemed like the teacher was invisible. But really what was happening is the teacher was making assumptions about the tasks that kids were capable of and structuring an experience for them that would be really engaging.

I have just spent three days at an ECB Conference in England. The theme was Leading to Performance. One of the major conversations there was about player-led leadership. Elizabeth’s video would have been a great trigger for conversation about leadership at an early age.

… now where is my unicycle?


Web Logs as Scholarly Products

In the last week or so, I have found a number of prompts to encourage me to think more about web logs (blogs) as scholarly products.

Darrell Cobner’s use of Medium to share his thoughts about educational technology is my starting point. I think he has chosen a great platform to stimulate discussion.


Medium “is designed for many people to share their opinions, thoughts, and ideas”. In his discussion of the thinking behind Medium, Ev Williams writes:

It’s clear we’ve only scratched the surface of how we can use the tools available to us to connect hearts and minds. It’s also clear that the way media is changing isn’t entirely positive when it comes to creating a more informed citizenry. Now that we’ve made sharing information virtually effortless, how do we increase depth of understanding, while also creating a level playing field that encourages ideas that come from anywhere?

I like the idea that Medium helps support the opportunities to share ideas, particularly in a collaborative way.

On Medium, you’re not alone. You write beside and with other people. This means your posts link to each other, your ideas bump into each other, and instead of living on an island somewhere out on the web, you’re part of a dynamic whole, where each part makes the others better.

Darrel has started this process for performance analysts.

Elsewhere Andy Miah has explored the idea of sharing original research on Twitter. Andy reported that:

This latest debate stemmed from @janremm tweeting newly published guidelines from the Modern Language Association on how to cite a tweet. This organisation wasn’t the first to define its Twitter citation standards and there is not yet one universally accepted method, but the fact that academics are citing tweets at all says something about publishing and the public sphere.

Andy argues that:

it makes sense to create a Twitter-only journal, which would publish original, peer-reviewed research, direct to the reader. And that is what I have done: introducing the world’s first Twitter journal of academic research, aka @TwournalOf. Part philosophical provocation, part genuine intervention, I want to explore the willingness of researchers to share their original findings in a new format.

This makes a very attractive companion to Medium which enables comments through a Twitter account. As I was thinking about @TwournalOf I was reminded of Lol My Thesis.


A post by Tom Whitby about #Educhat encouraged me to think about the role of facilitators in online communication. Tom proposes that:

These twitter chats and even blog posts are not the deep discussions needed for us to make all the right decisions in education, or even our personal lives. They are however starting points. They are flags, signposts, billboards, and bulletin boards to concerns that educators have. They are forerunners and precursors to the needed deeper discussions.

I see them as opportunities to explore and develop voice. I do think we can have scholarly discussions through them. They are products for me in the context of my epistemology and ontology.

I was interested to learn that such activity may pose a threat to the International Studies Association. Carl Straumsheim writes “The political science blogosphere has erupted in protest after the International Studies Association unveiled a proposal to bar members affiliated with its scholarly journal from doing just that — blogging”.

I share John Sides’ view that “I don’t think that the discourse that occurs on blogs is necessarily any more problematic or more unprofessional that the discourses that editors are going to have in other contexts in their own scholarship”.

I liked Stephen Downes’s comment on Carl’s post … “These days, many of the blogs I read are more scholarly than many of the journal articles I read”.

A post by Randy Schekman in December last year lauded open access publishing. He observed:

the new breed of open-access journals that are free for anybody to read, and have no expensive subscriptions to promote. Born on the web, they can accept all papers that meet quality standards, with no artificial caps. Many are edited by working scientists, who can assess the worth of papers without regard for citations. As I know from my editorship of eLife, an open access journal funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Max Planck Society, they are publishing world-class science every week.
This got me thinking about how we might regard the impact of writing … and how we might harvest the benefits of ds106 communication. Howard Rheingold explores this in detail. Howard notes:
The shared purpose of ds106 is what many consider to be an important, perhaps the most important, shared purpose of all who contribute to the web – to share things we find interesting or create things that other people find interesting. The heart of ds106 is to create, share, and comment on interesting media objects.
He adds:
In ds106 and in the courses I’ve convened online, the glue that holds together the students, the texts, and the discussions is the enthusiastic sharing of individual learning – instead of absorbing and sequestering the knowledge one gains from participation, each participant becomes a kind of instructor to others, including the instructors.

I do think web logs are a primary vehicle for this activity.

I am using ‘web log’ to underscore that our participation is recorded and can be accessed openly. As Darrell has indicated in his Medium post, it is a log of our collaborative engagement too.

I see this a considered scholarly undertaking with a self-conscious appreciation of what is to count as evidence and what is to count as argument.

Photo Credits

Frame grab Medium



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. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-Jqr08jT_iehRY0piUYDaZGGW29uuGehdFVF08EpDO4/edit [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)