Revisiting my own past with the blog time machine

(image CC0, Pixabay

I’m pretty much up for most challenges, and I’m always looking for ideas for blog posts,  so when I saw this post from Martin Weller last week, I thought I’d give it a try.  The instructions were as follows:

“Here’s a fun thing to try if you’ve been blogging for a while (Warning: may not actually be fun). Get a random date from when you started blogging until present (eg using this random date generator), find the post nearest that date and revisit it.”

Martin then set out the following 4 questions

  1. What, if anything, is still relevant?
  2. What has changed?
  3. Does this reveal anything more generally about my discipline?
  4. What is my personal reaction to it?

The first date I got was 18 November 2011, I didn’t have anything for that exact date but I did have this post from the 25 November 2011 which is close enough. Here are my answers to the 4 questions.

1 – What, if anything, is still relevant?

Both open educational practice and digital literacy are still highly relevant. The disconnect between practice and research still remains.

“the disconnect between practitioners knowledge and understanding of both OER and Open Practice was “openly” recognised and discussed. Both terms have meaning in the research world, and in funded projects (such as UKOER, OPAL etc) but for the average teacher in FE/HE they’re pretty meaningless. So, how do we move into mainstream practice?” 

I think there have been great inroads made in this area in terms of OER and open educational practice (OEP), but there is still a way to go.  I still work with many who have don’t see the relevance of open educational resources or practice. That said I do work with many who do, and I think that number continues to grow steadily. Digital literacy is still very relevant. Both areas still take up a large part of my working life.

Effective sharing practice and content is still something we all still struggle with – and I think we always will.

2 -What has changed?
  • Well I now work in “the mainstream” and not in some niche, blue skies thinking post;
  • JISC has changed to Jisc;
  • adoption of OER policies is becoming more commonplace ( it may have taken a while but I am very proud that GCU was the first University in Scotland to have an OER policy );
  • research, understanding, celebration of open educational practice is gaining in momentum; funding in the UK for research around OER/OEP is afaik pretty non existent;
  • the OER community is alive and well and growing;
  • I am thinking and talking more about digital capabilities than digital literacy per se ( mostly thanks to Helen Beetham and her great work in developing the Jisc Digital Capabilities framework)
  • Learning objects – not talked about much any more;
  • Sharing “stuff” is so much easier now;
  • Getting people to share “stuff ” is still a challenge.

3 -Does this reveal anything more generally about my discipline?
Tricky, as I said in the post ” I am an unashamed generalist, and not an academic specialist.” I think that is still true though I do have more of specialist role in terms of academic development. I still think that the key them of the post around the gulf between research about learning and teaching and actual practice still exists. Learning analytics is a current example of that. I still find myself fascinated by presentations of research around regression analysis of discussion forums (cue the swirly-twirly network diagrams) whilst at the same time thinking how on earth could I actually use this in my day job?

4 – What is my personal reaction to it?

I think the post actually revealed quite about me and my philosophy on educational practice. Looking back from the future I am relieved that the core of my line  thinking around these two areas hasn’t significantly changed.   I could have easily written this sentence today:

“When I’ve been involved in staff development it has always been centred around sharing and (hopefully) improving practice and enabling teachers to use technology more effectively. And I hope that through my blogging and twittering I am continuing to develop my open practice.”

I’m also glad that I have keep blogging. It would have been easy to let is slip. I’m glad blogging is a professional habit. I’m grateful to have this growing record of my professional development.

I did get quite a few comments to the original post, that’s changed a bit, I don’t get so many comments nowadays . . . but again the original post was on my Cetis blog (I transferred the archive over this blog when it was mothballed) and it had a much larger distribution network.

So thanks Martin, it was actually quite fun and I might do it again next year.

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