Monday, 22 February 2010

Blogging for the dissertation

I've finally got started with gathering research pointers for my MA dissertation, and figured I needed a place to put them together. This blogspot was looking old, tired and disused, so with a lick of paint and a bunch of links, it becomes useful. I hope.

I'm a secondary English teacher in Newbury, Berkshire, studying for the MA in English and Language in Education at Reading University - four modules done (Mentorship, Poetry Teaching, Children's Books in Education, Media in Education), and just the dissertation to go. It'll be about the potential value of social networking technologies in education, specifically to do with the development of creative writing. So it really has to have a blog to go with it.

Anyway, the first area of research I'm looking at is to do with collaboration and writing - I'm interested in the history of creative writing in English teaching over the past forty years; secondly, I'm trying to get a handle on the work that's been done on looking at social networking in education; and thirdly, I'm looking at creative writing communities on the web, and using them to develop the one I've set up for my creative writing troupe at school.

Yes, it could get a bit overwhelming... So any pointers, comments, votes of solidarity, whatever, will be heartily welcomed and appreciated.


Kerry Murdock said...

One thing that's always interested me is the concept of devising or collaboration... And how do we ensure that the piece still has the strong voice.

There is a growing emphasis of "we don't need a WRITER for our theatre piece (play)" and often I feel these things fail because they don't have one strong voice... like a scrap book but without any glue. Lots of nice things on the floor at your feet.

G.R.Evans said...

Collaboration is a really interesting idea to play with. Last year, my group experimented with writing a collaborative piece of fiction - ten authors telling the narrative from ten different points of view. We got really excited by it and had a great time planning out a novella in about nine chapters, each broken down into individually narrated bits. We managed to write the first chapter, and to create something rather special - but then came the exams, and that was that. The logistics and the context brought that idea down - but the process we went through was rewarding in itself.

Theatrically, the only time I've been involved in a devised piece was the show we took to NSDF in '91. It was based on zen short stories, and it was very arty - but it didn't really come together for us as a group of performers until the very end of the process, when we kind of got rid of the director and took full ownership of it ourselves. No one else understood it, mind.

So does that all suggest that collaboration and devising are great for the experience of the process for the writers or performers, but not so good for an end product for an audience or reader?

Ray Tolley said...

Hi, Glyn,

I would seriously recommend that in terms of both collaboration and mentoring you consider the place of a good simple e-Portfolio.

As opposed to a normal blog or the vulnerability of some cloud-based e-Portfolio systems I would like to explore with you some of the e-safe activities that an e-Portfolio such as my product can provide.

In answer to Kerry, it is my opinion that the collaborative process should not be seen as producing only one artefact. I believe that after the 'group bash' there should then be the opportunity for students to lay claim to their own version of the collaborative exercise, refine as they wish and comment upon the contributions of others. (I could go on....)

In terms of mentoring, I have seen profound examples of mentoring in the US. see Para 10 in

My eFolio tool allows feedback, polls, simple questionnaires, or response via 1-10 (Rickhardt?) scales.

Best Wishes,
Ray T

G.R.Evans said...

Hi Ray - I like the idea of the e-portfolio a lot, particularly the sense that the student can define the space.

One of the biggest psychological gaps between school VLEs and social networking sites, I think, is the sense of ownership, the possibility to create one's own space in a larger environment. The VLE is someone else's space, which the child visits to collect homework, rather than a place to drop in and see who's around. Apparently our school's VLE has the capability for students to set up profile pages, but it's not activated.

I also like the idea that students take the e-portfolio site through their career - I seem to remember giving some lovely burgundy folders to my Year 11 tutor group, a few years ago, that were meant to serve this function. I don't think they did. A digital version has more hope.

I have no sort of purchasing responsibility - my interest in this can be nothing more than academic - but how would the logistics work? Who purchases the e-portfolio? Individual schools? LEAs? Individual students? What happens when a student moves to an establishment that doesn't support e-portfolio?