Visiting and residing in online learning

I have just watched a number of really interesting videos presented by David White at the University of Oxford on a framework that helps understand the way in which people engage with the internet called the Visitors and Residents framework.

This blog isn’t to explain that framework as David White does that brilliantly in the videos (do watch them – there are links below) but to try to record some thoughts and tangents that they inspired based on the distinctions introduced in the video. Continue reading

Enabling multiple trajectories in a landscape of practice

People have a variety of different experiences that lead them to take up the formal study of systems thinking in practice.  They also have different imagined trajectories moving forward.  This is one of the aspects of diversity that makes it so interesting to teach and learn systems thinking in practice.  But it can also be a bit of a challenge, not just for those with formal teaching responsibilities and for all of us who are learning with, and from, others in a community of systems practitioners.  How do we all act and interact in a way that accommodates and facilitates different ‘inward’ and potential ‘onward’ trajectories? Continue reading

On the practice of literature review

In the last few days, I have been in an email exchange with some other PhD students about literature review.  The conversation made me realise how much my understandings of what this is have changed over the course of my PhD journey as I have drawn on both my tradition of systems thinking and literature about literature review.

Continue reading

Food shopping in an uncertain world

Like many people, I have been shocked at the problems created by panic buying of food supplies.  But I’ll also confess I have perhaps followed it more than others because my brother (Prof Richard Wilding) is a supply chain specialist and is being interviewed and quoted on the problems.

Whilst there are the really extreme cases that we see of people buying up (sometimes with a view to sell on) huge volumes of in-demand products, I suspect that everyone is putting a little bit more in their shopping baskets.  All these small changes do add up – they add up to empty shelves and less supplies for those who can only shop weekly due to finances and/or ability to carry or store large volumes of food.

So what should I do?  Should I adapt my food shopping for an uncertain world, and if so what is reasonable and ethical?

I’ve realised that I can’t adapt unless I examine what I do now – how do I go about managing the larder (including fridge and freezer)? Or, what do I do when I do what I do? Continue reading

Evidence in support of a claim

Toulmin (cited in Hart,1998; Wright, 2012) developed a model of an argument that I find really helpful in thinking about what is important when I am trying to argue a point or convince someone about something.  (if this is new to you I’d highly recommend the youtube video in the reference list – Wright, 2012).

Whilst there are lots of different elements in the model, the key idea is that if you are to make a claim, then you should provide appropriate evidence to support that claim.  The other day, I was in a conversation which made me realise that ‘appropriate evidence’ can be quite a contested term – it means different things to different practice communities. Continue reading

My blog and me

I have had an email from wordpress which means I have to re-vamp my theme in order to keep a mobile version.  It’s made me think about my relationship with my blog and how I want to relate to it in the future.  It’s probably a good point to think about this.  It’s nearly 10 years since I set it up and whilst I used it loads between 2010 and 2012 to help me understand my learning on MSc Systems thinking in practice, I haven’t posted as much since then.  In fact, I haven’t posted for over a year now.

Continue reading

Praxis

It surprised me when I looked back that I have not written a blog on praxis before.  I was first introduced to it when I studied TU812 – the module that also led me to start blogging – so it is interesting that I haven’t ever used the blog to articulate my understanding of it.

I’ve arrived at that point now because I am currently doing a lot of reading on practice – or more precisely theories of practice.  You don’t go very far in that literature without starting to come across the word praxis.  Sometimes practice and praxis are used a little interchangeably, sometimes they are referred to as ‘practice/praxis’, but there are places where praxis and its distinctive meaning are explored in more detail.

Continue reading

The truth about…TV experiments

I have started to get concerned about shows such as ‘The truth about…’ and  ‘Twinstitute’.  I do enjoy watching the shows but I worry that viewers take away an oversimplified ‘health’ message based on a single experiment that is designed for ‘good viewing’ rather than necessarily good overall scientific practice.

In particular, I am thinking about experiments conducted on Truth about…fitness (shown a year ago but re-released recently on iplayer) and Twinstitute (first season showing now) which both compare the benefits of two different forms of exercise. Continue reading

What do I do when I do what I do (now)?

When I studied TU812 in 2010 and first attempted an answer to this question, my domain of practice was very different to what it is now.  Then I worked in local government and was engaged in policy development and partnership coordination.  Now, I spend the equivalent of my ‘working week’ engaged in the practices of ‘researching’ (doing my PhD) and ‘educating’ (as an Open University associate lecturer).

On and off for the last 6 months or so, I have been trying to construct a ‘claim’ for associate fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (via a scheme operated by the OU itself).  In essence this is a way of getting recognition for my teaching competences.  One of the main elements of the claim is a ‘reflective statement’ that needs to demonstrate the ‘why?’, ‘what?’, ‘how?’ of my practice in supporting adults to learn at a distance and any ‘so what?’ that arises from that reflection.  When I set out I thought that this would suit me down to the ground given how much I have written about my experiences and practices in the past.  But, I have experienced it as really constraining and at times annoying. I think I can understand why. Firstly, there are certain ‘buttons’ that I have to press in terms of the range of tasks I am involved in, the types of knowledge I use as I am doing so, and, how certain values guide me.  Secondly, there is word ‘guidance’ in essence a hint of how much material the assessment panel will want to read.  These constraints are making me focus so much on achieving an acceptable output that I am not enjoying it or getting any value (i.e. learning) from the experience. Continue reading

Zooming in on experience

When I think about it, the word ‘experience’ can be interpreted in different ways.  Google tells me that it is “practical contact with and observation of facts or events” (noun) but it is also a verb “to experience” meaning “encounter” or “feel”.  These definitions convey a sense of closeness – an experience is something that we see, touch, hear, feel – we use our senses and emotions when we ‘experience’.  We relate to an experience – it’s not something happening over there somewhere. Continue reading