learning, teaching and research (archive)

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New student led e-journal – Roundhouse: A Journal of Critical Theory and Practice

October 26th, 2009 · Wordpress

Today sees the launch of a new politics e-journal – Roundhouse: A Journal of Critical Theory and Practice –  at Leeds University. A team of 3rd year undergraduate students have led the editorial process and the first edition showcases nine articles from recent graduates examining the ‘applied turn’ in Critical Theory along with an editorial statement of principles. The journal has been discursively edited, peer reviewed and developed by Critical Theory students from the Politics and International Studies Department at the University of Leeds. According to their launch announcement:

“Roundhouse’s main directives are student inherited research and horizontal learning. It aims to spread communicative practices in higher education, create a more flexible style of learning and directly challenge the image of undergraduate students as ‘passive consumers'”.

If you visit the e-journal (and we hope you will!) you will see that the publishing platform we have used is a WordPress installation used as a web content management system. The underlying functionality is pretty standard but we have created our own Leeds University institutional theme. The articles are available as either pdf downloads or viewable on line as web pages. There is a facility for public (moderated) commenting at the bottom of each article so please feel free to make observations and ask questions. The authors will be very happy to engage in discussion about and around their work and Critical Theory generally.

I have been involved with the development of this journal over the last 6 months or so in an advisory capacity and helping set up the WordPress installation for its publication but the editorial process was undertaken by a small group of very enthusiastic students. If anyone is interested in the process, the issues, difficulties etc. then please feel free to contact me, here as a comment or email.

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Google Waves – first impressions

October 20th, 2009 · Uncategorized

Like most early comments on Twitter re: Google Waves (henceforth gwave), I have not been finding gwaves particularly intuitive and was not at all clear quite what it might be used for. However, as I am using it more I am getting to like it. My two first waves developed into a mixture introductions and trying things out. I think between us we began to get the hang of it.  The next step was to start a wave for a real collaborative project to see how useful (rather than just mystifying , amusing, frustrating)  it could be. The topic chosen was to develop some ideas on digital identity and digital identity ‘managment’ under the leadership of Pat Parslow and Shirley Williams. More on this later perhaps but suffice to say at the moment it has gone very well and some of my initial scepticism has already slipped away. One reason I think it is proving successful so far is a) it has a more-or-less agreed focus, b) we have all playedwith gwave for a while now and are reasonably comfortable with the logistics, and c) there are only a few of us so the structure is not becoming too complicated, so far at least. On the whole we are sticking to the topic and our interventions are on topic. There are a few gwave ‘process’ comments but this is perfectly natural and OK since we are working out how to use the tool and its functions as we go along. This post is about the practicalities of how the wage is developing rather than its content. There are clearly some limits to what we can do as gwave is still pretty clunky and it seems quite a lot of functionality is missing. In some cases it is there but has not been activated. For instance, it looks as if you can enter text in a draft mode but this is a tease and the option is greyed out. Likewise the option that appears to allow you to remove contacts from a wave is ghosted.

The structure of a wave (waves, wavelets and blips)

A wave is the whole document in its entirety. It comes into being by entering the first piece of text in a blank wave. This first paragraph of text  is automatically made bold and becomes the wave’s title. For this reason it is best to make the first paragraph just one short sentence. This initial text, including the title sentence, can be edited by anyone who has access to the wave (different acess rights will hopefull be possible in the full product). Other users can either edit the text, reply to the text or insert comments within the text. Replies are referred to as wavelets and comments within the text are called blips. Blips can be inserted in blips so nested blips are possible. Blips can be collapsed (hidden) or expanded (exposed) by any reader so the text of the wave and its wavelets can be read in a clearly structured form if required. A blip with reply blips is a bit like a little message board inserted into the text where needed for discussing a particular point, asking a question, making a suggestion or a reference, etc.

So replies appended to a wave are wavelets. Replies to replies are also wavelets. The structure of replies and replies to replies is rather complicated but seems to work well in practice. The following image gives an idea of how things work.


If you can make any sense of this you’re a better man than I! What seems to happen is that the first reply follows the replied to text immediately after with no indentation. But subsequent replies to that piece of are inserted above the first reply and indented. All other replies to the text (the 3rd, 4th and so on) are inserted in chronological order at the same level of indent as the second reply. (I think). In other words, if you constantly reply to the last reply everything is listed chronologically with out indentation. Once something is replied to more than once an indented thread is started from that reply onwards. See? Simple.

Despite the apparent confusion above, in practice our wave is working OK. Pat started by adding a number of pieces of text, each one a reply to the previous piece. Others have added replies to these which (as 2nd and subsequent replies) have indented nicely, and all is reasonably clear. In addition to this we are using blips to annotate specific sentences or locations within the text. This is achieved by clicking once on the text box to get the focus on it (puts a green box round the text) and then double clicking within the text where you want to make a comment (i.e. a blip). Double clicking brings up a 2 option menu – reply or edit. If you select reply you can type in a comment. Clicking on Done will insert your comment in a box within the text at the point you selected. However, it will be accompanied with a little graphic of a minus sign which will hide the blip if clicked at which point it becomes a plus sign which can be clicked on to make the blip visible again. This is illustrated below:


If the little plus sign graphics are clicked the blip (or blip thread) will be displayed, as illustrated:


Replies can be made to blips and become part of a blip set or thread that collectively is hidden or exposed. And blips can be inserted in blips and can be exposed or hidden independently although you can only read blips inserted in blips if they are exposed first.

I hope this makes some sort of sense! I would say it is well worth persevering with Google Wave if you have the time and patience. At the very least I will be using it in place of Google Docs for some of my collaborative projects as it has functions for adding discussion to a document that are very clumsy to try and replicate in docs.

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Open education

October 5th, 2009 · web 2.0

I have begun to develop a wiki devoted to the discussion and development of ideas about open education (http://terrywassall.org/wiki). As a practical contribution I wish to get involved in open education initiatives exploiting my substantive areas of sociological expertise, including the sociology of the environment and sociological theory and research methods. I think I already have some characteristics of an open scholar, according to Terry Anderson’s definition anyway (which I outlined in a previous post The Open Scholar), but I hope to develop this role while I am still employed by the University of Leeds and continue it as an independent scholar after ‘retirement’.

For the moment  I am trying to work out the practicalities of being a learner and scholar within an open education environment. Most discussions on open education I have found seem to be about open education resources and materials. Although the resources and materials are of obvious importance, the discussion of what it is to be an open learner and the practicalities involved is rather dispersed across a multitude of discussions about personal learning environments, social learning, communities of interest and practice, connectivism, life long learning, digital divides, information literacy, and so on. What has not been addressed, it seems to me,  in an explicit and systematic way, is what does it mean to be an open learner in terms of the practicalities of defining learning needs and objectives, finding and evaluating open learning resources, finding and connecting and working with other open learners and sources of expertise and advice; in short, creating an appropriate and effective personalised learning environment and network based on open platforms and applications, open educational resources and open networks of learners and scholars.  In the wiki I hope to develop a series of scenarios of different sorts of open learning projects and activities to translate the more general and abstract discussions into practical real-world open education applications.

The wiki so far sets out the general open education issues, in draft,  on the main page. Other pages started are on open learning, open scholarship and open educational resources. I would be grateful for any ideas, opinions, or references to documents or similar sites and projects. This would include any blog posts you could recommend that address any aspect of  open education and learning. I would be very happy to turn this into a shared collaborative project or to be involved with any other similar project already underway.

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The Open Scholar

September 21st, 2009 · web 2.0

One of the most interesting presentations at this year’s ALT-C 2009 in Manchester was the 3rd keynote [slides] given be Terry Anderson. A major theme in his talk was to develop and promote the idea of ‘the Open Scholar’ to complement the accelerating development of both open education content and open learning platforms that potentially add a social and learning network layer to the available content. For me this chimed in very well with Graham Attwell’s impassioned statement of how Web 2.0 platforms and applications could be used to extend education much more broadly outside the confines and silos of formal education institutions during the opening discussion of the FALT09 prgramme. 

I have been thinking for sometime about what sort of useful role I could develop when I retire in a couple of years time that could capitalise on my experience as a teacher and researcher in sociology and who has for a number of years been trying to develop ideas about personal learning environments and networks for students that go beyond the confines of my HE institution and the short length of time they are with us. Both Graham and Terry have provided me with a focus and framework around which to develop my ideas and thoughts. As an experimental way to progress this I have started a Cloud called The Open Scholar where I will collect resources and notes and, hopefully, other colleagues in the open education and edtech community will share any ideas and resources they have or discover. I haven’t yet got my head round how Cloudworks is best used yet but so far it seems to be a sort of social resource aggregation platform with a commenting facility. It can operate as a hub to a network of relevant blog posts and resources where the discussion is dispersed across the listed posts and comments with additional comments on the cloud home page.

To start organising my initial ideas on what is the role of the open scholar I have tried to build on some of the characteristics of a putative open scholar that Terry itemised in his presentations. These are:

  1. Open Scholars Create
  2. Open Scholars Use and Contribute Open Educational Resources
  3. Open Scholars Self Archive
  4. Open Scholars Apply their research
  5. Open Scholars do Open Research
  6. Open Scholars Filter and Share With Others
  7. Open Scholars support emerging Open Learning alternatives
  8. Open Scholars Publish in Open Access Journals
  9. Open Scholars Create Open Access Books
  10. Open Scholars comment openly on the works of others
  11. Open Scholars Build Networks
  12. Open Scholars Lobby for Copyright Reform
  13. Open Scholars Assign Open Textbooks
  14. Open Scholars Induce Open Students
  15. Open Scholars support Open Students
  16. Open Scholars Teach Open Courses
  17. Open Scholars Research Openness
  18. Open Scholars are Change Agents
  19. Open Scholars Battle with Time
  20. Open Scholars are Involved in the Future

My teaching has been sociology at UG and PG level mostly though I have taught the old GCE ‘O’ level as well as ‘A’ level sociology and on various ‘access’ courses for mature students to gain entry to HE without the normal GCE requirements. In addition I have taught level 1, 2 and 3 courses for the OU. So for me the question is what can I offer as an open scholar who can provide support for learners who are interested in sociological ways of understanding the world they live in? In doing this is would undoubtedly be creating knowledge (1) in collaboration with other users of freely available content and resources (2). This process may well help develop new open educational resources of an informal nature (2). Given the tools I would be using – blogs, wikis, Ning, etc. – and the types of content sharing applications – Flickr, Slideshare, Cloudworks, etc. – I would be self archiving (3). Although it will be unlikely that I will have the resources, facilities or backup to do research I would be available as a resource for other researchers through my subject specific scholarship and experience (5). This experience coupled to reading others’ research may be applied to my own practice as an open scholar (4). As a ‘node’ within overlapping networks of open learners I will find, evaluate and recommend resources including other open scholars and learners (6). The communal filtering of resources and people will help develop the authenticity of materials and the informally accredited reputation of individuals. The support of open learning initiatives, tools and content would be achieved by the use and dissemination as well as their evaluation in practice (7). An open learning community, working in the spirit of mutual respect and support, would comment on each other’s work and ideas and encourage one another although to what extent and how this is done with open learners would have to be handled sympathetically and may require privacy at times (10). Open scholars would actively seek and nourish learning networks in order to develop the reach and relevance of their contribution, and their own continuing learning and development (11). To this extent open scholars need to make themselves visible, findable and approachable via profiles, metadata, and active engagement with potential and actual open learning networks. Extra-institutional open scholars will not have opportunities to use copyrighted materials ‘flexibly’ within the relative invisibility of the silos so will have to use freely available materials and will have a vested interest in promoting the liberalisation of educational and other relevant materials most of which are produced by publicly funded academics and researchers anyway and so should be available freely to the public (12). As with all support of learners, a key objective is to help develop the confidence and skills to become independent learners (14, 15). The skills of open learners are to a great extent those of the open scholar and the role of the learner and scholar become increasingly indistinguishable as the mutual benefits of collaborative learning develop. This suggests an important mentoring role for the open scholar and a ‘master/apprentice’ model, perhaps, that succeeds by making itself obsolete. The practice of the open scholar can promote a cultural change in that the dominant conception of education is challenged through example and effectiveness. This is achieved largely through the changes that open education can produce in the conceptions, values and attitudes of those that become engaged in it as open scholars and students (18).  Inevitably open scholars and learners are involved in the future as they are the harbingers and scouting parties for a sustainable and relevant education system that is becoming increasingly necessary (20).

This is a rapid response to Terry Anderson’s thought provoking outline role spec. for an open scholar. Much more could and no doubt will be said and written by others. The role will be developed in practice in tandem with the changing technologies, educational needs and diversifying student and learner constituencies. It seems clear to me that many edtech practitioners and associated academic staff are already engaged in these activities and already meet many open scholar criteria. There is no ‘Open Scholar’ manual or guidelines and it is up to the creative, imaginative and, to some extent, brave and bolshie, to just get on with it and, once again, reinvent themselves.

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Is twitter killing the blog? No.

September 12th, 2009 · web 2.0

There is a lively discussion at the moment about the relationship between twitter and blogging in a ‘cloud’ of the same name, is twitter killing the blog?, at Cloud Works. I’m not quite sure where the discussion started but it was the topic of a debate between Josie Fraser and Graham Attwell at a F-ALT09 (ALT-C 2009 fringe conference) session at the Contact Theatre, Manchester on Tuesday 8thSeptember. The answer to the question, for me at least, is no. The evidence suggests that regular and frequent tweeting seems to be associated with a reduction in the frequency of blogging. Although this seems to be the case for me, I was already blogging less often before I became involved with Twitter and tweeting. In fact I am not a regular tweeter and tend to do so in little pulses of activity around conferences and other events, for instance the ALT 2009 conference that took place last week. On the other-hand, my lurking in Twitter is rather more constant. Speaking for myself, I feel that my use of Twitter may well revitalise my blogging, perhaps not so much by increasing the frequency of posts but, hopefully, by stimulating rather more considered and reflective posts. Generally in the past I have posted in order to record and clarify ideas and produce notes and resources for my future reference. This has been done largely for my own benefit but with the notion that it might be of interest and use to others and perhaps even solicit some response by way of comment. If so, this was a bonus rather than the prime motivation. Ideas about developing a ‘digital’ identity and a personal research network came later when I began to ‘listen in’ on conversations round these issues in the edublogosphere.  However, because my posts are beginning to be inspired by conversations in Twitter, they may become of greater interest and relevance to others than before.

Here is the gist of my argument. Twitter produces ideas, thoughts and topics as part of a fairly loose distributed discussion amongst those I follow and engage with on Twitter. As a matter of interest, I enjoy the social banter and seeming trivia as well as finding useful ideas, references, information and relevant focused discussions. All the ‘useful’ content is coming to me filtered by a network of people who in some sense I know, relate to, empathise with, value and trust as more rounded and real (rather than virtual) friends and colleagues, all to some extent sharing a similar(ish) world view and hopes and aspirations. This comes over far more strongly in Twitter than through the more formally written, structured and focused blog posts. This is a big plus for Twitter. So the general picture emerging is as follows. Discussion, banter, information exchange etc. in Twitter leads to the gradual emergence of an idea for a blog post. Some topic and a set of ideas and thoughts coalesces. In this respect discussion and comment precedes and shapes the blog post. The post summarises and clarifies (in the eyes of the author at least) thinking on the tweeted topic and, hopefully, feeds back into the ongoing discussion in Twitter. If this is the case, the relationship between Twitter and blogging is one of mutual enhancement with the bonus that your co-tweeters and bloggers are already contributors to the blog post and are more rounded and human to you as a result of the broader social contact made within Twitter. Blog posts become sites for summary and reflection within the stream of tweets and as such, and to some some extent, may contribute to, create eddies, even divert, the stream itself.

Another quick thought. Some one at ALTC2009 said (was it Alan Cann?) that their use of RSS has diminished somewhat since using Twitter. I think this is true for me. My feed reader only tells me what has been posted. My twitter network tells me what is worth reading – the wisdom of a crowd I have selected and am very happy and priviledged to be some part of. And technology, used in ways that its originators did not intend or foresee, has made this possible.

If anyone doubts the value of Twitter and the people it connects, surely the use of Twitter for the #altc2009 conference has given them pause for thought? What a pity the ALT powers that be did not see fit  to project the #altc2009 Twitter stream in the keynote presentations. A lost opportunity. Perhaps next time.

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Postdigital – second thoughts

September 11th, 2009 · web 2.0

Lining up the arguments at the start of the falt09 postdigital session

The first meeting of the F-ALT09 group was on what might be meant by ‘postdigital’ led by Dave White. I posted First thoughts on ‘postdigital’  here before the conference. It was a very interesting and lively session and David has posted about it since – Post-digital – an update? I left a couple of comments on the post earlier today but I thought I would post them to my own blog so I can expand on there here more easily in future (and correct the spelling errors).

Graham Attwell in full persuasive flow at the falt09 postdigital session

Pat Parslow has also reponded to David’s post – A technical post on the post-technical.

Noting that on-line platforms do not come with manuals and this doesn’t seem to be an issue for users, David says:

This is not necessarily because they are especially simple to use, but because they are massively multi-user and simply by watching the behaviour of fellow users it is possible to ‘pick up’ not only how to use the platform but also why you might want to use it. This should come as no surprise as we are particularly good at learning by observing fellow members of our own species. (There will be a fancy pedagogic/sociological term for this. If you know it then please insert it here as you read.)

I think this is a useful description of an important aspect of informal learning whatever fancy a name sociologists might give it – mimesis perhaps.

David goes on to consider if the term ‘post-technical’ might be closer to what he is getting at. Personally I don’t think we will ever be post-technical society as technology always evolves and there is always something new – these days often quite awesome. However, post-digital might be possible in the same sense that we are post-literate. That is not to say that we are beyond literacy or it has been abolished. It is just that, in our society, literacy is a given, an unstated assumption of practically all we do. Much of what we do is based on literacy and would be impossible without it. But this is now unremarkable and unremarked. As David says, “For many the term (post-digital) seems to imply a discarding of digital technologies as if they were no longer important” and this isn’t helpful. What may be happening is the emergence of a society where digital technologies and affordances become ubiquitous and will condition all our activities and experience in a way that is as unremarkable and taken for granted as post-Gutenberg literacy is today. We are witnessing the cultural shift that conditions and is conditioned by digital technologies and, like the colonial anthropologists of old, we need to explore and understand it now while it is in transition, visible and still remarkable; before we take it for granted. The best political thinking and sociology is often done when society is changing rapidly and previous ways of thinking and understanding seem to fall short, as in the birth of modern political thought and sociology in the transition from the medieval to the modern industrial world. As Graham Attwell says in his thought provoking impressions of  the ALT-C conference – Thoughts on Alt-C – “The perspectives we are currently using, to come to an understanding of the cultural/educational influence of digital technologies and the opportunities therein, need to be reconsidered”. He made it pretty clear at the post-digital discussion, and with some justification, that social sciences and particularly sociology have not offered us much by way of understanding of the current changes in technology and culture. It pains me to agree with this as sociology is my business mainly. However, my feeling is that there are important sociological theories and concepts around that offer ways into dealing with and understanding current changes more concretely and I hope to expand on these here in due course.

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Reflections and ramblings on #altc2009

September 10th, 2009 · Teaching & learning

Home tired after the ALT-C 2009 conference In dreams begins responsibility at Manchester. Thought I’d do a quick post of impressions now with a couple of promises of more detailed posts soon(ish) particularly on the VLE is Dead and the WordPress and BuddyPress sessions. Random thoughts:

Great to see so many people I have exchanged ideas, information, bad jokes and trivia with on Twitter and spend time with them, especially at the F-ALT09 sessions. Definitely a highlight. I just love pubs where you stick to everything if I’m with the right people.

Never got the hang of the wash/bog/shower cupboardette  which tripped me up everytime I went in and every time I came out.

Take loo paper next time. Manchester Uni accomodation has the cheapest this side of the civilised world.

Never use red to ‘highlight’ text on a black background in Powerpoint slides.

Never admit that you wouldn’t use a blog in a million years if you are giving a paper on how hard it is to get students to blog.

Do not give the impression that you align with the neocons when giving a keynote. Still very impressed with Martin Bean’s keynote. Giz us a job.

I need an iTouch badly. Please ask if you would like my birthday date.

I’d love a dump of James Clay’s brain, suitably filtered of course.

Must try not to be part of the ‘death or retirement’ strategy for overcoming institutional inertia but may have no choice.

That’s it for now. Thanks to all my real and virtual edtech and enlightened teacher chums for making everyday interesting and often inspirational and fun.

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First thoughts on 'postdigital'

August 30th, 2009 · Teaching & learning

The Monday evening opening session of the F-ALT09 programme (http://f-alt.wetpaint.com/) is a discussion of what the notion of ‘postdigital’ means. Within the humanities and social sciences there has developed a rather sceptical view on many claimed post-phenomenon, for instance post-modernity, post-structuralism and so on. The general feeling is that ‘post’ is usually an overstatement of the case.  One useful way to think about what postdigital might be getting at is that we are approaching a time when the novelty of the digital age will pass and an emerging generation will take what we find new completely for granted and unremarkable. Rather like the notion of a post-literate society, we have not gone beyond literacy or superseded it in any way: we just take it for granted that most of the world, our world at least, can read and write. The next generation no doubt will be brought up in a world of personal mobile communications, texting, email, googling, social networking, downloading and streaming audio and video and all the things we see as novel and remarkable. We are already seeing the merging of ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ communities and the distinction will probably fall into disuse eventually. So we will not become postdigital, rather it will become a ubiquitous and taken for granted aspect of life. However, I think we may be at an advantage living in this transitional period. The next generation of students and colleagues will not have experienced a time, or an education, that did not include all things digital. Thinking about the experience of students today and even more so over the next 10 to 15 years, made me reflect upon the incredible difference between their experience and my own experience of school as a child between 1951 and 1962 and university as a mature student between 1978 and 1981. I could enumerate in some detail what the differences are, as no doubt many of my colleagues could. Working today with students at university my feeling is that in some ways I have been better prepared for operating in and making sense of our new information saturated digital age than they have. The real digital divide is about the heavy premium put on the  information and digital literacy skills required today and it may be the case that students of earlier generations where better equipped by their educational experience to develop these than students who have been brought up entirely in the digital age.

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ALT-C 2009 "In dreams begins responsibility"

August 28th, 2009 · Uncategorized

Having missed ALT-C 2008 despite it being held at my own University in Leeds, I am particularly looking forward to this year’s conference in Manchester, 8th to 10th September. Following the #altc2009 and #falt09 tags in Twitter, the Friendfeed groups (http://friendfeed.com/altc2009 and http://friendfeed.com/f-alt) and the conference Crowdvine has only sharpened my anticipation.

Looking through the abstracts for papers and presentations there are so many things I would like to go to but can’t because of time clashes. However, some of the delegates will be using Twitter and the Friendfeed group to comment on sessions they are going to and every session has a discussion area set up in the conference Crowdvine. One way of another I hope to pick up on the sessions I will miss via these discussions and reflections. I’ll probably use a combination of all 3 depending on where the on-line action seems to be for each session.  The Crowdvine set up lets you know who has expressed an interest in each session and you can see their individual programmes if they have used the calendar tool to create one. In this way, and via any session based on-line activity, I hope to identify people who may be happy to continue a discussion or who are likely to blog on their sessions. I will try to discipline myself to write a series of posts here on the sessions I go to. And since I have added this blog as a service to Friendfeed any new posts here will be pushed to my Twitter and Friendfeed profiles. Oh what a tangled web we weave!

Update 29th August. My Schedule so far http://altc2009.alt.ac.uk/profiles/52918/talks. Also although posts from this blog are pulled into Friendfeed they don’t seem to then get pushed on to Twitter.

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On-line identities

July 22nd, 2009 · Teaching & learning

Josie Fraser has outlined three different forms of identity individuals can have on-line in a recent post Personal – Professional – Organisational: three basic online identities. Josie acknowledges that these categories are somewhat provisional and the comments on the blog usefully develop aspects of the idea. It would be interesting, in the light of this distinction, to reflect on what sort of identity LeedsBloggers have. It would obviously differ from person to person. I think my blog here has elements of each of these identities. I sometimes post on things that directly relate to my work at Leeds but these often reflect, I hope, a broader professional interest too, in my views on education generally for instance and my engagement with the wider world of conferences and colleagues in other institutions. Then again, my posts on sailing with my brothers-in-law reveal some aspects of my personal life too. As it happens I do have a blog that is devoted entirely to sociological commentary but this, of course, can be discovered and aggregated with all my other publicly available activity and output. No blog is an island in this searchable and connected age. And where does Twitter fit into all this? I would say that most of the individuals I follow let me into aspects of all three of their on-line identities. I see aspects of their organisational (perhaps ‘institutional’ might be better here as it is rather more general), professional and personal lives – what they are doing at work, conferences and events they go to with observations, opinions on broad political and cultural topics and issues, what they are reading and listening to, and so on. Now and then there are references to family and friends, holidays and illnesses. Why do people do this? Well in my case I want to share and find relevant information for my work at Leeds and my wider professional interests. Dare I confess there is an aspect of professional self-promotion in this? And I am happy to connect with people as rounded humans and as a rounded human. Also I find my interactions with the Twitterverse fun. As Josie implies, there is much in most of our daily lives that sucks the fun out of things.

Of course, there are many other important aspects to investigating our various on-line identities implied here – privacy, security, reputation, citizenship for instance. Should we be ‘teaching’ this stuff?

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