Another up, down, open, closed, roundabout year

Dear Reader, I have to confess as we edge closer to the end of 2021 my relatively regular habit of blogging has lapsed. It’s been over a month since I last posted something here. Looking back over the year, I think my posts have been less frequent this year too. In 2020, and during the first lockdown I was pretty good at almost getting out posts weekly. Partly that was down to me wanting to share, to connect and I guess to ensure that I was doing all I could to maintain my online presence, and ensure that I was still getting work.

This year has been a bit different. It’s not that I don’t want to share , connect, to maintain my online presence. It’s more that some of the work I have been involved in hasn’t lent itself to sharing. That’s one of the sides to being a freelancer. So, although I still classify myself as an open educator, quite a bit of my work this year has been closed. That’s not to say I haven’t tried to support/instill/cunningly suggest open educational practices – it’s just that I can’t really talk about them at the time, or in some cases anytime.

My social media interactions continue to evolve. I am on Twitter less often. I feel the benefit of that. If I miss something, it’s fine. I’ve probably missed a lot this year. That said, it is still my “go to place” for connecting with my PLN, and I still find serendipitous connections and really useful stuff there. However, I have noticed that the tweets that I get most “engagement” from are the more shall we say, light-hearted, ones. That’s fine, I really enjoyed the international discussion about the best solutions to midgey bites in the summer! Some pretty heavy weight edtech people got very engaged with that. And of course, maybe my more “professional” tweets are a bit boring. To be fair, they probably are.

I think tho’, it might indicate something else. I know I look to Twitter for distraction and if I’m lucky inspiration. As we’re pretty much all still mainly working from home, I think Twitter this year has been more than ever that water cooler place. Somewhere you can escape the relentlessness of trying to get “back to normal” for a bit and reply to a random tweet about insect bites.

In contrast I have really noticed a change in my engagement with LinkedIn this year. Time for another confession, dear reader. To be honest, I always had a bit of a cavalier attitude to LinkedIn. I joined mainly because “everyone else was doing it”. I connected with people that I knew, but was never quite sure how to “use” it. The ability to share blog posts on my profile direct from WordPress was about as active as I ever got. As I moved to being a freelancer, that has changed. It is a professional space, and I have got work through people who have found me on it. But I have noticed over the last year in particular the LinkedIn App has got much better in terms of UI – I still find the web version quite frustrating.

I have noticed that I am getting (according to the stats it now shows me) a lot more engagement and views of my blog posts than I get on my actual blog site. So I have started to respond a bit more, and share more “stuff” there – yes those analytics have got me again! Maybe that’s the way it should be, and I’m glad that I can see the value of it now. But I have been struck by number of views on certain posts. Of course, I don’t know who accurate they are, and I haven’t tried to dig around to find out more. I wonder if you have noticed the same? Do we want to have “serious” conversations in “serious, professional” online channels? Ones that don’t involve midgey bites?

Also as my art practice grows, I am engaging with different networks in other channels such as Slack, and Instagram. I know that I am less engaged in some edtech/education communities than previously. The social media online presence for that is completely different and takes up time in a very different way. Open practice is different in that context too.

Professionally this has been a much better year than I expected. So thank you to everyone who has employed me. It’s been a joy to have been able work with former colleagues and friends like Helen Beetham, Phil Barker and Jean Mutton. It’s also been great to work with such a range of clients from UNESCO to UK universities to the IUA to smaller design companies. I’ve had some really fantastic opportunities this year and hopefully that will continue into 2022.

I will continue to share “stuff” here, but I am realising that my blogging is now evolving from my “professional memory”- before I became freelance, if anything important (to me) happened, I wrote a blog post about it – to something else. I’ll still share important to me “stuff’ but not everything that I am doing. It is an evolving practice to slightly misquote the very wise and wonderful Catherine Cronin’s description of open educational practice. Just what it is evolving into, I am still figuring out.

Thank you, dear reader, for your continued support over the year. I hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas and a good, healthy and safe New Year and let’s see where 2022 brings us. I am making no predictions about that. I’ll end with some pointless distractions – some of the best bits from one of my favourite Christmas movies. Enjoy!