Having had a bit of hiatus in blogging, (it’s almost a year since I last posted!) it’s time to get blogging again and particularly so as I’ve finally made the move to get my own domain on Reclaim Hosting.
I first started blogging here on e-LiME in 2008 and I’ve been struck in the past year by how often I refer back to some of my old posts, both the published ones and those that have remained as eternal drafts! I was never a prolific blogger but I found blogging was a good way to support reflective practice and think out loud. Some of my old posts are full of questions and were an attempt to gain the views of others and often they generated helpful learning conversations on Twitter, others through comments posted on individual posts.
When I moved to a more central University role two and a half years ago I found it quite a challenge to blog. My previous post was an academic one and I think I felt freer to blog and share some of my thinking, Moving to a professional service puts you in a slightly different position and I guess there’s perhaps been a sense of feeling more wary of blogging. The other challenge has been time, I’ve written lots of blog posts in my mind but they’ve never made it to being spelled out on my keyboard. Recently though I’ve realised that I’ve missed blogging, there’s almost something cathartic about it, but I think importantly for me blogging was a way to reflect and support my own personal learning. So I’m back blogging about higher education, open education, the role of technology in learning and teaching and good old medical education. If you want to keep up with posts on my new digital home you’ll find me blogging over on Still Learning on my own domain.
The latest edition of Medical Education includes an editorial from Kevin Eva ‘Dialogue in Medical Education: enabling the academic voyeur that lurks inside us all’. Alan Cann posted this quote from the piece on Google+ and posed the question, ‘Good idea?’.
In this issue of Medical Education, we publish the first article in a new series entitled ‘Dialogue’. In this series we will identify pairs of people who do not regularly publish together and ask them to engage in e-mail correspondence over the course of a month. They will be encouraged not to type lengthy opuses, but, rather, to engage in a pithy dialogue in which the pair share their current perspectives on a timely topic of mutual interest.
My response to Alan’s question was wouldn’t it be better if one of them blogged on a topic and it was open and anyone could pitch in! Duncan Greenhill added
Agreed. Why have a conversation of two when there are so many others who could contribute – including the non-experts who may very well ask the one question that either cuts to the heart of the matter or destroys it completely 🙂
Medical Education does have a blog and I wonder whether they considered introducing the dialogue feature there. It would seem like a good place to post these dialogue features particularly given the blog runs under the name of ‘Conversations in medical education’ and it’s open access, unlike the journal. I’ve not really engaged with the blog, but I don’t seem to be alone as there’s not much of a conversation going on. There are a few comments around the posts put up during the ASME annual scientific meeting last month but there was a much richer dialogue and conversation happening on Twitter around the conference hashtag #asme2012. That conversation has continued post conference and it’s been great to see a few more individuals involved in medical education starting to blog such as Clare Morris over on Medical Education Matters. What about some of the medical education journal editors or former editors doing the same and starting to blog out in the open like like Richard Smith, former editor of the BMJ. Or how about these journals look at what others are doing like the Annals of Botany with their blog and Google+ page. I hear from Alan Cann that this is approach is attracting a growing online audience.
So back to Alan’s original question is this dialogue feature in Medical Education a good idea, or should it be out in the open? What do you think?
A final thought to close. When I read the Medical Education editorial I was reminded of a conversation between Jim Groom and Gardner Campbel about Edupunk, two parts were recorded and part 1 is below. I like this approach because I get to see them discussing it and hear their voices, I hear the conversation, I’m eavesdropping, but I can embed it in my blog, post it to Google+, Tumblr etc and have my own conversation with others around it … out in the open.
Image Credit: From Flickr by Ann Arbor District Library CC BY-NC 2.0
Last month Posterous ran a marketing campaign targeting users of Tumblr, Flickr and WordPress, amongst others, trying to tempt them over to Posterous. Posterous has claimed that platforms like WordPress are dying and that users should make the most of their new import tools and transfer their blogs over to them. The tone of Posterous’ campaign come in for some criticism and there was a piece on ReadWriteWeb questioning whether calling out dying platforms was good for Posterous? Another blog onecoolsitebloggingtips posed the question, Preposterous or Posterous?, highlighting that many have not been impressed with ‘the direction the Posterous advertising has gone’.
So will I be moving my blog to Posterous? No I don’t think I will. I have WordPress, Tumblr and Posterous sites but I use them for different things. I don’t blog here as often as I would want to, but I like that here on WordPress (WP) I can save drafts of pieces that I’m writing and come back to them. Maybe I’m missing something on Posterous, but I can’t see an option to save a post as a draft, I seem to have to publish a post as private and then come back to it and then when it’s finished change it to public view. Posterous is adding new functionality at quite a pace so this may come on stream before too long.
I initially started using Posterous as a bit of an online scrapbook and then started my football blog there and recently I’ve been thinking about whether to move this over to WP. Perhaps I’m just a creature of habit, but I do prefer using WP and maybe it’s because as I see this as the place to think out loud and places like Posterous as somewhere to aggregate things that I find of interest. Martin Weller outlined over a year ago on The Ed Techie how he was using Tumblr as a place to dump interesting things he comes across, whilst his blog was the place he thinks things through. I’ve been using Tumblr in a similar way, it’s the place I post things on the web that I find interesting. I prefer the Tumblr toolbar bookmarklet to the Posterous one because it gives me more options including the option to save to draft. I don’t post much by email, but if I wanted to I can do that with Tumblr too and there’s also a neat little app for the iPhone. Posterous have made much about the fact that Tumblr doesn’t have comments as standard, but it’s easy to add this by integrating your Disqus account.
Over the past month I’ve been thinking a bit more about how I want to use Tumblr and also taking another look at Friendfeed. I’ve been following Alan Cann’s pieces about Friendfeed over on his Science of the Invisible Blog with interest and decided it was time to give it another go. I signed up ages ago but never really got it. My Friendfeed feed just seemed to be full of people’s tweets, so recently I took Alan’s advice and culled a lot of the people I followed, I unsubscribed everyone that was just publishing their twitter stream as I already see these tweets on Twitter. The thing now is to find people to follow. Part of the problem for me seems to be the lack of individuals working in medical education who are active on sites like Friendfeed, Twitter etc. Whilst I’ve not really started to follow anyone new on Friendfeed I have started to follow some people on Tumblr. It’s not that easy to find people to follow on Tumblr but I’ve found a few and it’s been interesting to discover information and content that I wasn’t coming across via Twitter or other channels I use. The one drawback of Tumblr is that you can’t easily comment or enter into dailogue with other Tumblr users because of the lack of commenting as standard, which is a bit frustrating. You can only comment if people have installed a Disqus account and not many people have done this.
I’ll continue to use Tumblr as my online scrap book and perhaps with time more people might add Disqus so that there can be a bit more discussion which will add further value. I will also keep checking Friendfeed but I’m still not sure if it’s for me. More recently I’ve come across Amplify, which seems a bit like Friendfeed and I’d be interested to hear what others think of it and what value they get from using it. As for Posterous I’ll continue to use it but I don’t think it’s going to kill off WordPress and Flickr. If the Posterous bookmarklet web posting was more like the Tumblr one and you could save to draft maybe it will give Tumblr a run for its money and I might end up using it more.
I’ve been in my new post for almost 10 months and it’s been an interesting time. I’ve been working with several clinicians who have been developing virtual patient cases around some of the core clinical problems which form a key part of our undergraduate curriculum. We’ve also been looking at other areas where the application of technology can help to enhance teaching and learning and developing new online teaching resources to support the face to face teaching.
Another development has been the interest in using blogs to support teaching. My colleagues in respiratory medicine were the first to show interest and over the summer set up DundeeChest
. Over the summer the principal lead on this has been posting useful links and summaries of interesting bits of research from respiratory related journals etc. We’ve started to show Dundee Chest to others in the Medical School and it seems to have sparked off quite a bit of interest and we now have others wanting to start their own blogs to support their system or theme running through the curriculum. Colleagues in psychiatry were the first to follow the pioneering Chest team, followed by our GPs and cardiovascular physicians. I’m not sharing the links to these sites yet as they aren’t yet up and running but will hopefully remember to come back and update this post with links to DundeePsych, DundeeGP and DundeeHeart. Also in the offing is DundeeBones together with The Plexus which will look at hot topics in medical ethics and will have students involved contributing posts. I’ve also set up Dundee e-MedEd
to share ideas and news about online learning and Web 2.0 with my colleagues. As I mentioned in my last post
there are doctors who are interested in Web 2.0 and how technology can generally support teaching and learning but they have identified that they need support and staff development in these areas. This new blog will hopefully begin to address some of their questions and share what else is going on in e-learning.
The next step will be to see what the students think of these blogs. My DundeeChest colleagues will be using their blog to follow-up questions which come up in lectures and from Adobe Connect drop-in sessions which they are hoping to run. It will be interesting to see if the students find these new blogs a better way to support the teaching than the discussion boards in the VLE.