Nearly there. This week I spoke to my supervisor and my Graduate School and I have sent off my “intention to submit” by March 31st 2021. It’s almost done- I just need to finish the final chapters and give it a thorough edit.
It’s been a long journey – as I scrawled down on a scrap of paper this week, my thesis has gone through changes from looking at collaborative learning, through to thinking about peer interactions and ending with a rich picture of participatory learning.
I’ll leave the thanks for the acknowledgements, but for now I will give a shout out for my loyal little research assistant, who keeps me going through it all.
I was asked this week how I write. Quickly, I said – in odd moments snatched whenever I can find them. I try not to think too much about what I’m writing – I scribble words on scraps of paper, I doodle on the scribbles and scribble some more.
I try not to worry about choosing perfect words and phrases – I often use square brackets to remind myself that parts need polishing – that the words I have scribbled there are placeholders. But, when I finally sit myself in front of a word processor and force myself to type up all the scribbles, I often find that those temporary words are fine.
Of course I do revise what I write – over time, as I edit, I will refine what I say – add to it, delete parts -but often the parts that I wrote as placeholders turn out to be good enough.
Being “good enough” is very much the ethos of the remix culture of DS106 and CLMOOC. We don’t mind about things being perfect -though we appreciate and value skill, expertise etc. they are not the only sorts of things we value. As I write up my PhD thesis I think about this, and wonder how to link what I am discovering about my affinity networks and maker spaces into something that I can use in HE.
I took the photo in the middle of this image yesterday and used it as inspiration for my daily doodle. Such beautiful flowers, fading so fast as we are home all day with the heating on at the moment. Today I used it for the daily create. Here’s what I did:
Cropped it slightly, then uploaded it to Lunapic and added a filter (beauty).
Downloaded the result to my PC
Opened Powerpoint and inserted the original image, resizing it to fit
Inserted the new image and resized
Copied the new image 7 more times to tile it
Selected all and grouped the image
Saved as picture to my PC
Opened in Paint and resized to 25% to reduce the file size
I pose this question partly because I've returned to blogging, after spending 20 months only tweeting. The other part is an awareness of the quality of writing that is posted online and offline by students, academics and colleagues.
Where do I start? Julie Andrew's would suggest at the very beginning.
When I started blogging I strongly believed (and still do) that you need an audience. See my first posting: I think you're crazy just like me. But what should the audience care about when reading a posting? Should they be judging the author by the quality of their writing or the standard of written English. As the author should I worry about what readers think of me as they read my rantings? Well if I want to raise my profile and esteem then I have to worry about finding, keeping and influencing my audience. And to that end I need to self-edit my work. I definitely need to spellcheck it. And I seriously need to proof-read it.
So why doesn't everyone take care with their online writing. I appreciate it when reading student essays and assignments when they have bothered to take time with their writing. As I often say, "Nobody teaches you to read bad writing; so learning to read and assess poorly written essays takes some time to master." When I struggle to make sense of a 10 line sentence or translate the phonetic spelling I'm wondering who this student is and what they were thinking when they wrote the essay. I wonder if it was in the early hours of the morning or if they have done any reading. And I wonder why I have to read this bad writing.
But let me stop picking on my students they are learners after all and are on a journey to improve their writing. Let me turn my attention to my colleges: those who one might assume know better. The academics have been through University and have submitted numerous essays. They have written articles and reports and authored books. They have developed their skills in written communications. But these skills have been crafted in the analogue world: pre-digital. These colleagues are now being let loose on the web.
Because digital is easy to edit and amend they seem to have reduced their care in the work they post to the wide world. They give little thought to what the audience will think because if anyone comments on an error it can be removed in a moment from the offending page on the web. But it only matters if there's an audience.
This audience has two options: prejudice or protest. With prejudice you can judge the author as poor and assume future work as being unworthy. We do this with music, film, television and books. Obviously this will tarnish the author's esteem and ultimately their reputation. With protest you can spend time engaging with the author to alert them to the error of their ways. But why should we care about the quality of the work when the author hasn't; why should we be the editor?
So to my colleagues I say: "take care of what you write and learn the rules (guidelines) for writing online." Then I won't think less of you than I already do ;)