Cultivating my digital garden

Jacaranda, Bundeena, photo by me.                     CC licensed

I am an evangelist for online connectivity, personal learning networks, and digital citizenship – ie the ability to ethically and productively manage your online identity and relationships. It seems to me that the reluctance of many university academics/teachers to engage as a professional in the world of social media is a big barrier to them effectively engaging their students in online learning and digital skills. So I do my best to ‘walk the talk’, and model ‘connected’ practice.

In fact, I am an accomplished ‘lurker’, having multiple online accounts in multiple online forums, tools and social media, but having found just a few so far that seem to enrich the way I work, and even then it’s hard to say that they make me more productive – in fact can be a terrible time-suck. I use Facebook minimally, have a couple of WordPress blogs for managing my online portfolio and talking about my research, save useful links to Diigo but forget to share them, and managed a grand total of 5 tweets in Twitter over 3 years. Clearly it’s not enough to dabble in the shallows – it takes time, effort and confidence to dive in and publicly interact to develop not just a presence but a network.

So – I am spending my holiday getting my digital persona in order  – blogs, twitter, diigo … tragic 😉

One of the first tasks is to visit some of the bloggers whose work I have found inspiring and useful in the areas of higher education research, PhD study and learning technologies and follow them more proactively. Some of these I’ve been dipping into for a few years (EduPunk anyone?), others are new and I wonder how I didn’t find them before. You’ll see the list I’ve gleaned in the Blogroll on the right (of the homepage) – and BTW it’s quite annoying that I can’t reorder this list. Here are just a few of the bloggers who inspire me:

For PhD study

For edtech

something new to try out:
Keep Learning – an education technology blogging project by Instructure –

of course some old favourites:
The Conversation
Brain Pickings
Stephen Downes
Abject – Brian Lamb
bavatuesdays – Jim Groom
and whatever happened to: Mike Bogle

The sun is shining outside – and the weeds are growing – back to the real world 😉


The guru of praxis …

Sounds like a good name for an arthouse movie or an avant-garde band … but is in fact referring to Professor Stephen Kemmis, whose AARE workshop on Professional Practice Theory I attended last weekend at the University of Queensland. Stephen is a guru in my eyes, perhaps best known for co-authoring one of the bibles of critical practice, Becoming Critical (Carr & Kemmis, 1986).

Praxis is all about critically reflecting and acting on practice, with the intention of changing practice for social good. So we would be practicing this in the workshop? Not exactly …

Stephen began the workshop with a confession of his tendency to monologue, and pleaded with us to alleviate this through asking questions, contributing to discussion, and initiating group conversations. Then he began to speak … about the history of schooling and of universities … of the design of classrooms and the design of the book (did you know that books were designed to be chained to tables and shelves so that they could not be stolen?)… of the bureaucratisation of teaching … of the redesign of the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences … where was this leading?

… to ‘Practice architectures’, a construct which accounts for contextual aspects of practice, proposing that it is “profoundly located”.  Rather than try to spell out all the dimensions of this, here is a version of Stephen’s model for researching educational praxis as related to its architectures, drawing on ideas about practice from Habermas, Bloom, Marx, Foucault and Bourdieu:

“an expanded view of the relationships between the individual and cultural–material–social purposes of education”

Related to this is the concept of ecologies of practice – the interconnected system of social practices that support and inform each other (also see Lemke’s ideas around ecosocial systems). And so the workshop went along, in the style of an inspiring and occasionally interrupted monologue, brimming with ideas from the beaming and benevolent guru, ranging from Aristotle to Foucault, Bourdieu and Schatzki.

And after the workshop, Stephen kindly autographed my copy of Becoming Critical 🙂