Blog Flux LinkLog: Outgoing Link Logging and Click Tracking for Em duas línguas

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Various notes

On the 28th of each month João Vasconcelos Costa and I choose a post from the others' blog and translate it and put it on our own blog. When I'm so busy I wonder where I'll have the time to do it, but it feels like something important to keep up ... This month I chose the post "Notas várias or Various notes. His first note reminds me of a post I wrote back in October.

"1. Failure. In the Público, 6th June: “The Minister of Science and of Higher Education opened a contest for universities and polytechnics to study the reason for students' bad results. They are also invited to come up with some activities that will promote success.” This piece of news has a particulalry instructive table to go with it. Average failure rate in higher education: 35.1%. In ublic Higher Education, 36.9%; in private (except the Universidade Católica), 31.4%. Breaking that down in sub-systems, public university: 33.6%, private university: 35.9% . Then, big surprise, the polytechnic: 41.2% in the public, 22.3% (!) in the private. Are there perverse factors influencing these rates? The reader can try and imagine. There I go, about to receive an avalanche of offensive messages …

"2. BCG. This isn’t something about vaccines, but about the Boston Consulting Group matirx. Everyone knows it, the distribution of evaluation by four quadrants defined by two axes, horizontal and vertical. The D Day, of the Público, always has one of those delightful examples, like the matrix of “pathetic-brilliant” and of “irrelevant-relevant”. A few days ago, a blog – I’m sorry that I lost the link – also used a funny BCG for the evaluation of Ministers. I would like to see this method applied to HE institutions. What would be fun is choosing the parameters of the axes. I leave that challenge to the imagination of you readers.

"3. Plagarism. These days, this (plagarism) is within the “competences” of our students’ work, thanks to the net. It’s worth reading this article in the Guardian. But also there is a plagarism detector for lecturers. Visit Turnitin.

"4. E pur si muove. An advertisement a couple of days ago, by an unidentified public university in the Lisbon area for the recruitment of its director: first degree candidates with or without connection to public office may apply. OK - fine.

"5. In the name of rose. I read an article by a Mr. Dr. X who signed himself as “university lecturer”. When I see this, I know what it means, but I wanted to take a look. Confirmed, Mr. Dr. X is a university assistant. By the looks of things he seems to be ashamed to be one.

"6. Worrying. According to the Guardian, "The elaborate research assessment exercise (RAE), in which the work of every active researcher in British universities is assessed by 67 different subject panels ranging from astrophysics to art history, will be carried out for the last time in 2008. After that, the quality of research - and hence the amount of funding universities receive from the government - will be judged largely on the basis of statistics such as grant income and contracts. (...) Bahram Bekhradnia, director of Hepi, fears the increased competition for research grants that will result could lead to more compliant behaviour by academics and the suppression of unpopular research." I hope that this fashion doesn’t get here, where we have an uncritical acceptance of bibliometrics."

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Monday, June 26, 2006

A sticky mind and a great voice

The regular feedback form I have to give to students (3rd year business undergraduates) usually brings very similar types of comments. But this semester I got a new one (ponto fraco):

"Very sticky to her mind."

I'd love to know what it meant to that person, but the feedback's anonymous. The same person made another comment I haven't had before (ponto forte):

"Great voice."

I'm not sure how helpful they are in terms of feedback, but as post-it notes for my identity I aprreciate them all the same!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Honouring the emergent: desenrascanço

I'm grateful to Nancy White who has been blogging the CTC2006 conference in Boston and my ears pricked up with her blogging of John Seely Brown's presentation. He's talking in the context of companies and his question is: How do you tap the creativity of the Global Mind?

This paragraph stands out for me:

Deep collaboration goes way beyond coupling business processes. If you look at any kind of organization, it has a formal, authorized part, formal biz process and the emergent part, the social fabric where work gets done, new ideas and groups form. The power is the interaction between the authorized and the emergent. How to weave them together to create a whole new view of how the organisation works. Ironic that IT has been designed to support the authorized, not the emergent. It may be the emergent where all the ideas come from, the business processes structure the work.

That dance between the authorized and the emergent is one that fascinates me in design - both in designing my own learning and in designing for others. I often reflect on it in relation to Portugal where you have to be good at both the authorised (and the accompanying interminable bureaucracy) and the emergent (desenrascanço) to be successful.

I'm sure that the potential in this tension between the authorised and emergent is not one that is being sufficiently tapped in Portugal. Desenranscanço is all about honouring the emergent. There are also other buzz-words of Web2.0 - like mashups - that seem second nature if you live and work here. But the problem is that the weight of the authorised and of the hierarchy kills this wonderful potential of the emergent.

I bet productivity and innovation would increase if there was a way of of honouring the emergent. Or rather, recognising desenrascanço as a strategy and supporting the creativity and synergies that it offers, rather than just letting it slip by as a reaction to inefficiency, or killing it off at school or University in the struggle to adopt the practices of other countries in Europe.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Some wiki links

Wikis jumped into focus the last couple of days in different ways:

1. From the e_Learning Centre Library about Wikis that "provides links to resources that take a look at the use of wikis for e-learning". The e-Learning Centre is a really helpful resource from Jane Knight.

2. Another link was about Wetpaint for "free click-and-type websites you can share with like-minded people". It's really easy to use and looks good visually (I like the way the ads are slightly more discrete than, for example, Wikispaces). But I couldn't see any way of integrating feeds into the Wiki - nor or generating a feed that I could subscribe to ... so it's kind of like what's the point?

3. The third is a "booki" about "Wikis: Tools for Information Work and Collaboration" by Jane Klobas (a friend). The book is available in Amazon, but the wiki that goes with the site is also a helpful resource. I think there is one short example in the book about how I used a Wiki with my students last year.

4. And finally, a link from Techsoup ("The technology place for nonprofits") about Exploring the World of Wikis that I got because I subscribe to Nancy White's tag for the Techreport.


Blogoforum and tagging

Wow ...that's the way to go with discussion forums. There are no forums or sub-forums or theads in Blogoforum - you post your message and tag it. So you don't follow a discussion thread in the traditional linear form, you follow a tag - which may or may not lead to the linear steps of message with reply with reply etc.

Any one message has several tags, so you could get to the message through different routes.

I've long felt limited with your normal discussion forums which don't enable you to tag message. But what they are doing in Blogoforum goes further in that your post begins by you setting it up with a tag. To try it out I set up my own testing tag bevtrayner. It felt a bit sort of exposed in such a public forum, but the same principles inside a more personal community online environment would be just great.

I also liked the tag cloud for what "we are talking about" on the front page of Blogoforum which directs you to the tags with most posts. And "our people" directs you to the people who are posting the most. It currently doesn't have RSS feeds, which would make it even doubly potent. Imagine, you subscribe to the feeds for the tags that interest you. You would be informed as soon as someone posted something in a discussion and used that tag - you wouldn't have to either go look for the forum or subscribe to particular threads. Another feature is that, like in Flickr, you can also add tags to someone else's post.

There's such amazing potential in this kind of folksonomy and I can see some great uses you could put it to with multilingual discussion forums. But I think it's going to be a while before it catches on - it is such a whole different (subversive) mindset.

In one of my future lives (post-doc) I would like to see how tagging affected the types (and depth) of dialogues. And also I want to experiment in putting it to use with posts in different languages.

Fascinating stuff.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Blogistas e caracóis em Setúbal

Hoooray - another bloggers jantar (dinner) on Friday 3oth June ... another opportunity to push forward a secret agenda of making Setúbal a cool and networked place to be. So don't believe the stories you hear about Setúbal - just believe what you read on my blog.

Confidências, the restaurant, is not your normal Setúbal grilled fish restuarant - it's more like somewhere in the Bairro Alto. It's a place for lovers and illicit affairs (so some of us have to use our imagination...) The food has erotic names and the atomosphere is romantic.
(Price 15 Euros/pessoa).

Later we'll go to the new Galaria Art Kafé - not another Luisa Todi Bar. All welcome! There are 18 signed up to come including:

Centopeia and /Var/Log/ .
Songo's Place
Vitriolica turned Lucy.
Para inglês ver
São em Timor
Raquel Martins
Riot the world or else
Em duas línguas

If you want to join us, write in my comments or send me an email.

P.S. Caracóis (snails) doesn't refer to what's on the menu, it refers to friends without blogs who are coming.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Me and Anthony

I know it might look like I was enjoying living by the sea today. But the truth is I was curled up with "Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age" (Anthony Giddens).

Giddens, who I got to through structuration theory, and who some describe as Britain's best social scientist, had me hooked on what he had to tell me about my life and my blog.

Not that he mentions my (or any) blog - and he doesn't mention my name, of course. But of all the quotes, this is one that sums it up:
"...self-identity today is a reflexive achievement. The narrative of self-identity has to be shaped, altered and reflexively sustained in relation to rapidly changing circumstances of social life, on a local and global scale. The individual must integrate information deriving from a diversity of mediated experiences with local involvements in such a way as to connect future projects with past experiences in a reasonably coherent fashion."
This quote is one that just has to go in our paper...

What kind of life do I lead that the only way to get an uninterrupted reading of seminal writers is to go on a ferry ride to Troia-Comporta and spend a couple of hours on the beach!

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Memory and forgetting - H. Masud Taj

In relation to memory and forgetting Taj jogs my memory with another of his wonderful poems that send me into a labyrinth of squiggley thoughts like this one: "no bigness/ is big enough/ when you have/ fogotten/ how to forget."


Blob of ink;
Nose and tail out of scale,
Ears that would be wings.
White tusks precede
The body’s darkness
Scanning eyes
Record the world.
Mind does not erase,
Does not overwrite;
Celebrates the excess
Of memory
With the memory
Of excess:

No bigness
Is big enough
When you have
How to forget.

- H. Masud Taj

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Reflexive project of the self

My paper with Patricia and John has, at last, found its way. There is a critical moment in a writing a paper when things start to flow. This one took us a long time as we spent many months reading, talking and writing bits of largely unconnected text. It got desparate as the deadline passed and we asked for a month's extension.

In our work we are purposefully stretching and crossing academic genre conventions by, among other things, presenting a paper in conjunction with a Wiki. The Wiki will be an ongoing text about remembering and forgetting in communities and supported by collaborative web2.0 technologies. It's a text that walks the talk as we remember and forget in our own community, supported by collaborative web2.0 technologies. The Wiki is an invitation for readers and reviewers to become collaborators of the text.

Inspired by the work of Carolyn Ellis we are using autoethnography as our research method. In the meantime I'm interested to trace my interest in autothnography which began last year when Lilia Efimova recommended a book by Ellis and where I went through the steps of being: curious, inspired, stimulated and resolved. Read Ellis and it's difficult to go back to being the same author you once were.

As I'm writing I am also cruising (again) through Anthony Giddens "Modernity and Self Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age" His words resonate with our conversations about our process of writing the text:

"In the post-traditional order of modernity, and against the backdrop of new forms of mediated experience, self-identity becomes a reflexively organised endeavour. The reflexive project of the self, which consists in the sustaining of coherent, yet continuously revised, biographical narratives, takes place in the context of multiple choices as filtered through abstract systems." (p.5)

And my body tingles as I get one of those rare rushes where everything in life all falls into place!

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Relationships, visualization, contactivity

Recently I've lost a couple of blogposts. I don't know how, but they just disappeared because I'm doing too many things and trying to do them when I'm tired. It's very disheartening. Here's my second go at Ton's reflections on the Reboot 8 conference in Copenhagen. (A big thanks Ton for sharing your experience of Reboot - I really appreciate it). The three themes he identified were ones that resonate with my own practice

Relationships above Information/Technology
Ton talks about knowledge in organisations and the need to build stronger relationships around it, but it's a similar observation I have about learning in online communities. Participants and sponsorers of courses or learning events have high expectations of the information and the technology. It's not so easy to convince them that designing for interactions and relationships will bring better results than merely focusing on information and technology. I am still looking for a language to be able to talk about this dynamic between relationships and information and technology.

isualization is a way of seeing patterns. "Pattern watching is much more important that the individual pieces of information when you are trying to make sense of the world around you". Pattern watching is an integral part of my teaching repertoire but I haven't got good enough yet creating visuals. Next on my own list of personal and professional development is to do do a course on drawing and visuals. If anyone knows of one, please tell me.

Technology helping you to be a social animal while on the move. Staying connected to your existing relationships and being able to spot the opportunities for new ones." This is such an important part of the mindshift with new technologies. I see in my practice how people view technology as an improved way of shifting more information. People talk of new technologies as a way of "exchanging" and "sharing" more information. But using technologies for shifting information is quite a different issue from using technologies for social connectivity. And social connectivity is where the learning is. Back to the need for developing the language for that.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Waiting for the creative power

I can't believe I took (almost) a whole weekend off. It's the first time in years - with no exaggeration. I just did a normal thing and went to Porto. No touristic rides up the Douro ... just self-indulgent, hedonistic pleasure exploring Porto nightlife ... the clock went back 20 years. And nope, I didn't feel guilty either for not working nor for not doing anything that would make me more cultured. It's the longest I've been without a computer - and that's what it took.

Now I'm waiting for for the creative power to hit me. In Presentation Zen Garr Reynolds is writing some posts about cultivating your creative side. Quoting from Brenda Ueland's little book he says:

"...the creative power is in all of you if you give it a little time, if you do not always keep it out by hurrying and feeling guilty in times when you should be lazy and happy."

He could be talking about my own obsession when he says : "Idling or 'doing nothingness' is important. Most of us, myself included, are obsessed with 'getting things done.' We're afraid to be 'unproductive.' And yet, the big ideas often come to us during our periods of 'laziness,' during those episodes of 'wasting time.'"

Hey ho, that's my sickness. I cannot stand to waste time. Even lying on the beach has to be because I have to catch up on a sleep. And when I've caught up, then it's time to go home!

But what I want to know is ... how do I do nothing and also get all those things done? Oh dear ... I'm clearly not over it ... I need more training in unbusying myself.


Friday, June 02, 2006

Online Research Toolkit

A neat Online Research Toolkit from Rebecca Hedreen, the Distance Education Librarian at Southern Connecticut State University. The toolkit is free Web2.0 tools and resources grouped in: Online Searching, Note Taking, Collaboration, Citation, and Presentation.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Reflection - what's that?

My curious realisation of the year has to be that lots of people in my face-to-face habitus - Higher Education, Portugal - don't know how to reflect. I only started to see that after one more person said to me - "But what do you mean 'reflect'. Tell us what to do."

It got me thinking (again) how the entire education system is geared up to teaching people formal or propositional knowledge (i.e. the state rather than the process). All the way through school, university and into professional practice your knowing is the result of what is theorised for you rather than by you.

I notice how my son thinks that being a good student means to estudar a máteria. When I challenge him on that, he says ... "Hey, if you want me to get a good nota (mark), then I have to be able to decorar a máteria (parrot the material)."

At the end of each of module in my own discipline (3rd year business sutdents) I spend 30 minutes with them reviewing what we did. Then they do a self-evaluation and share suggestions for improving their performance. It's rare, without prompting from me, to get them to offer suggestions other than study the máteria better, or assistir as aulas (attend the classes).

In contrast when I ask my daughter, who is at University in England how she'll get the First she wants, she says things like ... "We (our group) have to learn to focus more", or "I have to organise my notes and time better." Of course, their evaluation is quite different and much more varied. It includes group productions, take-home exams, open-book exams and a learning log.

This dedication in Portugal to reproducing the right answer, to looking for correction when things are "wrong", helps explain why I see more reflection-on-action, rather than reflection-in-action. Reflecting-in-action is part of the (learning) process of rethinking and even abandoning your theories and knowledge when things go "wrong". But in a positivist paradigm being "wrong" is about being wrong. And learning is about knowing what you do wrong so that you can correct it.

Now, with Bolonha, we see lots of seminars and workshop that use this same techno-rational discourse that views improving our professional practice as a step in solving the "problem" of deficência . Becoming better lecturers means selecting the "correct" (more advanced) technical means to achieve those certain ends - of correct teaching. For example, here is some information that I received today:

O curso destina-se a Docentes do Ensino Superior Universitário e Politécnico e pretende agir sobre as suas práticas, com sugestões concretas e de fácil aplicação para melhorar a qualidade e gestão da Docência.

("The course is aimed at lecturers in Universities and Polytechnics and aims to act on their practices, with concrete suggestions and easy application to improve the quality and management of Teaching.")

This focus on techniques that will be passed on by experts to improve our professional performance is a far cry from Schon's reflective practice in which, interactively, we name the things to which we will attend and frame the context in which we will attend to them" (p. 40) Reflection is stimulated by surprise, it's an invitation to name and re-frame our practice.

Reflection is an opportunity to breach our own paradigms.

A reflective practitioner generates her own theory which speaks back to and revises her action. She is a skilled and informed designer of techniques - not an applicator of them.

But the Behaviourists have left their mark here. Learning is as much to do with correcting wrong behaviour or successfully studying the material. And applying the correct techniques will get you closer to the correct result. And that's what we want, isn't it?

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