All entries for Monday 23 October 2006

October 23, 2006

minor irritation

OK – another thing that annoys me – people who assume that socks should match. They can never offer any explanation as to why, they just seem to think it’s a given. It seems to be because they’re bought as pairs, and the pairs when you buy them match, so they should always be worn that way. But that makes no sense. No other item of clothing is always worn accompanying another. It’s like there’s some sort of unspoken assumption that they should, but that’s just culturally determined. And yet if you think about the amount of time that’s wasted on such a pointless exercise as matching them up, we could lead so much more fruitful lives if we freed ourselves from the tyranny of sock-matching. I’m sure I save about five minutes every morning by just picking two at random.

Maybe if shops just sold them as packs of non-matching socks then we could escape this rigid mindset. Hhhmmm maybe there’s a market there.

getting myself organisised

I’m now getting into the literature review for the PhD. I’ve only done two days so far (one last weekend and one the weekend before that) but it seems that nothing I’ve read really takes any notice of anything else. I’m looking at the definititions of presence, and sub-categories of presence, and it seems that people are using the same phrases to mean different things, and different phrases to mean the same things. I’m having to go through defining my terms as I go, because there’s no shared understanding of what those terms mean.

I guess partly it’s because “presence” as a a concept is trans-disciplinary – and the people looking at presence in the sense of telepresence (in videoconferencing and using teleoperators) haven’t thought about it in teaching terms, and those who’ve thought of it in teaching applications seem to think of online learning only in terms of text-based asynchronous learning platforms. One writer even said something along the lines of an added problem being that in online teaching the professor can’t challenge misunderstandings when they arise. What? That’s true but only in some situations. And the third group of people whose work I’ve looked at – those analysing gaming – have a lot of insight into aspects that really fall into the category of presence, but don’t seem to really use the term.

The weirdest aspect is that there seems to be no clarity between the different aspects of the idea, like the authors have merged it all into one, or drift from one aspect to another without defining their terms. Is this general for education research, or have I just started with some of the sloppier thinkers? Is anyone else finding this?

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