May 16, 2005

Lillian Lijn

What a brilliant exhibition! (Mead gallery)

Lillian Lijn was inspired by the techology of the 1960s to produce works that are still totally beguiling 40 years later.

If you love the Koan, and who wouldn't, you will be blown away by her other works. For a lunchtime meditation sit and watch her softly lit spheres gently prerambulating around their acrylic discs …. magic!


May 13, 2005

London Hub Event

I have been asked to contribute to a seminar organised by the London Hub of UKGRAD - the topic being how to support part-time research students.

I guess other speakers will be looking at the particular needs of this group, and, to be honest, we have not previously fully thought through how mainstream provision is/is not helpful for this group. Current provision, which is partly Roberts funded, has been focussed more on the Research Councils funded students who are full time. International students (another client group) also tend to be full-time students

So, the event will be really hepful for me in thinking about next years' programme for the Graduate School, and also how PDP/CPD can be made more relevant for part-time students.
The aspect of the Warwick provision that I can focus on is the E-Portolio and Blog facilities, I do think that part-timers could really benefit from the formal and informal (respectively) networking and communication opportuities that these e-resources provide…


October 27, 2004

Extreme film festival – formerly known as Film Festival in a Day

Good news..

The Warwick Extreme Film Festival (see previous blog) is ON.

The best thing for me has been the response of people in the University to the idea of it: almost everybody is really up for it – eyes light up, ideas start pouring out and we're off….

In some ways University life has become quite hard for lots of people – with pressure of work, time, money, space and so on; yet even the tired out and over-worked seem to like the idea of getting involved in something creative, challenging, interesting (and FUN!). Conclusion: Warwick does attract, nuture and encourage new ideas and the people who have them.

Now down to earth…
If this is going to work well – and offer a genuine showcase for the talented and nearly famous writers, video makers, actors, directors who work and study here – then we need to find talented organisers too, people with marketing, publicity and PR skills and at least one person who can manage a spread sheet and keep accounts.

I can do a bit of all these things – but I think this project needs and deserves better than my 'cottage industry' approach. Talented organisers out there – we need you!

I'll have a role anyway, as Warwick Skills Programmes will be involved in setting up, and accrediting, some training workshops in video making, script writing and (coarse?) acting for the nearly-talented who want to take part.

I'll return to this blog topic as the project develops and I lose some of the childish glee that I can be part of something so exciting and I have to get down to the realities of making it happen… Watch this space.


October 06, 2004

the lapsed blogger….

Since the last blog entry (surely not six weeks ago?) I have seem to have lost the newly acquired habit of blogging….

On the assumption that I'm not the only person who starts off as a blogger, becomes enthusiastic about the possibilities, gets positive andi interesting feedback and yet still stops blogging. What is going on here?

I think it might be about establishing a habit – after all, everyday I check my emails before getting stuck into the day's work; most members of staff (and students?) do so too. This would not have been part of my routine 10 years ago, which was to start the day with a coffee and conversation with others in the team (probaly a more productive use of time actually).

So this is what I'll do from now on – I'll make my blogg a default home page and check it out and add to it after lunch everyday – watch this space….


August 25, 2004

responses to predictable process etc…

Follow-up to predictable process of personal blogging? from Kay's stuff

These responses are really interesting and insightful – and actually demonstrate the use of discourse blogging (with a touch of the personal).
I think that Steve may be right – that two systems may be running concurrently: the public and the private. That seems entirely reasonable, in fact most of us don't reveal that much about our thoughts and feelings to people outside a quite restricted circle (in some cases a circle of one).
Mike Rawlins – Chalybeate Training – draws a distinction between an intellectual route to learning from experience and the parallel emotional route. Whereas the intellectual route goes from 'situation' to resolution via 'awareness to acceptance to application of new insight' the emotional route may include some or all of frustration, disappointment, anger, hurt pride, fear, exposure. The reward for working through these is a much deeper learning that includes the ‘reward’ of renewed confidence, self awareness and another step towards self-realisation.

Is it possible that the public blog will show the intellectual reflection on progress and the private blog the emotional? In which case blogging may be uniquely suited to fearless (?) self-development and learning from life. But if the emotional route (which I guess most of us recognise) is important, then should we make our private blog accessible to somebody? some people? everybody? since feedback and shared recognition of life’s dilemmas are part of the learning process too.

Or is this all a bit much for a new e-learning tool to carry…..


predictable process of personal blogging?

Follow-up to does blogging change the way you think? from Kay's stuff

Alison and I have been talking about the way that a new blog changes in style over time… and how this can replicate the development of a conversation with somebody new. I think I recognise the following stages in blog postings:
First blog: a slightly self-conscious ‘hello, this is me – don’t know how this will work out’
Then ‘about me’ blogs, followed about ‘what I've been doing lately’ blogs, often with photos
Then a more discursive style evolves – the blogger contributes to, and initiates topics, in style that invites responses, at this stage the more reflective thinking kicks in – and a new discourse may develop.
Finally, and not inevitably, the blogs become more personal, issues are described in terms of personal dilemmas and concerns rather than abstract ideas. This is where a log can become more of a personal journal. Different temperaments will be more or less self-aware and/or self-revealing so this stage may never appear in the blogs of the naturally introspective.
Does this sequence make sense?

does blogging change the way you think?

Following from yesterday's thoughts on PDP and blogging – what impact (if any) does blogging have on our habitual thought processes? Does the blog-writer develop new ways of thinking reflectively – or this just a new way of getting ideas 'out there' ... or wasting time! ...?

In short – has blogging changed your mind/your life??

(by the way – ?time to start a new blog thread about eccentric punctuation – including the misuse of dots and dashes instead of commas and stops…..?)


August 23, 2004

PDP and blogs – review and rethink….

For the last few weeks I have been going around the university pointing out that PDP (according to the QAA approved definition) can include the use of blogs to record informal learning (or learning from experience); similarly, blogs can (and now do) include a specialist section to encourage PDP activity. Imagine a Venn diagram of PDP and Blogs overlapping by about 1/5th…. In other words – 'PDP is not a blog' and 'a blog is not PDP’. But looking through the postings of staff and students I'm beginning to think that the second statement (a blog is not PDP) is over-stating the case.

If PDP is seen as a natural reflective practice, just a new name for the considered 'learning from experience' thinking of all mature adults, (and should we even include the unconscious process by which everybody makes sense of their lives – whether reflected upon or not?), then many – even most – of the blog entries so far are examples of PDP in practice.

I'm thinking of back-tracking on my message to academics and others new to blogs and to PDP. The new message is:
'Students encouraged to keep a personal blog will usually grow towards a reflective style which is the necessary – if not sufficient – foundation for PDP'

Not quite so snappy – but more accurate – than 'A blog is not a PDP'


archaeology, wallpaper and DIY

Task to patch and decorate the back wall of my 1902 terraced cottage.
1. Start: digging through the 1" of multilayers of wallpaper and paint; through (among others) the dark floral papers, the 1950's mini-prints, the green paint, the brown and orange wallpaper, cream paint and 1980's laura ashley. Who were these people that put up this stuff? All, I guess, thrilled with their own efforts to transform what was there before.
2. Then – hitting the bedrock – the old (and crumbly) plaster underneath the century of decorative additions. Thinks – the last time a person saw this bit of wall was before the first world war – wonder who that was, what happened to him…..
3.Then – patch, repair, plaster, paste up textured paper to cover ‘imperfections’ – easy? Don’t ask! Sufficient to say that the venerable wall is now in the process of shedding the wall covering applied (with considerable unladylike language) on Saturday. It is beginning to balloon away from the wall, the edges curling back and the whole thing, frankly, a complete botch….
4. What would all those competent wallpaperers of years past think of the sad state of the wall they loved (or at least cared enough about to decorate)
Sorry guys! (guys, in this case, includes any non-blokes who may have had a hand in the evolution of this wall of 20th century taste…).
Back to the concept stage I think….

August 11, 2004

these I have taught

To mark 40 years of doing teaching of one sort or another – have been going though a little mental list of people who have been on the receiving end:

Secondary girls between aged 11 to 15: Biology and Drama,
Chinese boys, 14 to 19: English grammar;
Mixed Chinese secondary pupils, in classes of 50+: English including 'Pride and Prejudice' (I had the only copy…);
Adult learners of English for University of Hong Kong – evening classes;
Hong Kong Police officers for the Government Training Division: a crammer for English tests;
New arrivals from China (during Cultural Revolution): how to use a sewing machine;
Mixed class of Italian and Iranian pilots: English for special purposes;
Housewives in Witham: 'O' Level Sociology;
Mixed adults, Open University: Social Studies Foundation course;
Male inmates in Norfolk prisons: Sociology;
American airmen and women, for the University of Maryland in UK: Social Divisions and Sociology of Education;
Undergraduates at University of Essex, Gender and Employment;
European Social Funded projects: Assertiveness for women;
Community workers and employees of Employment Services: Adult Guidance skills:
UEA mixed undergraduates: work-based skills….

I'm exhausted just trying to remember all this stuff, but, luckily, I’m nearly up to the point where I came to Warwick and everything became much more sensible….......

It’s made me think though – has teaching actually been my career? Even though I never wanted to be a teacher, have never described myself as a teacher and have done many other kinds of work?


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