• Books,  monthly roundup,  Music

    June 24 roundup

    I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but I left the Open University this month. I had a lovely leaving party with colleagues (funded by ourselves I hasten to add). Maren and I marked the end of that era with a holiday in Sardinia. Since I’ve returned I’ve blogged some thoughts about the OU, and am now busy setting other activities in motion. I have joined the board of Trustees for the National Extension College and have my first board meeting next week. It’s largely been a period of establishing a new working environment. I handed back my university Macbook and bought myself a nice shiny iMac. I’ve been setting…

  • Asides,  Books,  politics

    The Misery of narrative

    I’ve been re-reading Stephen King’s Misery recently. For those of you who don’t know the story, it features a writer, Paul Sheldon, who after a car accident finds himself in the isolated house of his “number 1 fan” Annie Wilkes. Wilkes is psychotic, and becomes enraged when she reads the latest of his Misery historical romance books, in which he has killed off the main character. She tortures him and forces him to write a new Misery novel, just for her. It is foremost a great horror novel, but it also acts as an obvious allegory for the relationship between writer and their audience and their own work. From a…

  • OU,  post-OU

    The OU – a love letter

    Now that I have finally, finally left the Open University (I know, it’s been like the end of Lord of the Rings, with about 20 times you think “This is the endpoint, right?”), I thought I’d say some nice things about it as an institution. Beyond a couple of people and a handful of dogs, the Open University has been the great love of my life. Now, don’t misunderstand me – it has its fair share (maybe even more than most) of obstructive bureaucracy, frustrating processes and toxic staff, which I’ve experienced more than I would wish, so this is not a piece of blind propaganda. But I want to…

  • Asides,  post-OU

    A lucky man

    Now that I’m coming to the end of a a substantial phase of my career, which while not exactly earth-shaking, has been successful on the terms I would wish it to be, I thought it would be instructive to reflect on the role of luck in this. This is not an exercise in false modesty, where I’m hoping you’ll respond “no it’s because you’re amazing Martin” (let’s agree that I’m amazing), but in any success however moderate, there is an element of chance. “Luck” is probably the wrong term, it’s more something like “a beneficial confluence of personality, time and context”, but “luck” is a convenient shorthand. I think there…

  • Books,  monthly roundup,  Music

    May 24 roundup

    (I’ve been going through some old photos – I’m the little blond one in the above, where it appears that I grew up in the 1930s) I’ve been having a “Month of Lasts” as my OU clock ticks down: Last Open Programme meeting, last JIME meeting, last Applaud Steering committee, last research theme meeting. Shedding all those roles and activities one accumulates like burrs on a poodle running through a field of burdock feels liberating. I’m not quite sure what will replace the interaction, structure and activity that meetings provide though. We do of course like to portray the meeting as the irritating guest at our work wedding, but across…

  • JIME

    Adios JIME!

    As I mentioned in my last post, it’s my months of lasts, so you may want to mute the blog for a few weeks. This week I chaired my last meeting as co-editor of JIME. The editorial board pulled together some nice data of my time at the helm: I became co-editor with Ann Jones, in 2013. In that time the journal has published 197 papers with 604 papers being submitted in that time. As well as editing general issues, I have been the editor of 8 Special Collections, and I’ve encouraged guest editors to curate another 9 Special Collections over the last decade. I think the most significant thing…

  • open degree

    Final Open programme role

    This is going to be a month of ‘Lasts” for me, so I beg your forbearance for the extended farewells. Last week I chaired the last Board of Studies meeting for the Open Programme. This was a role I took on five years ago. The Board of Studies is the tri-annual meeting where we bring together issues relating to a particular qualification area. The Open Programme covered the Open Degree, the combined STEM degree and Open Masters. I’ve blogged previously about these, and in particular the power of allowing students choice and flexibility in their pathway. A point I’ve made often, but as Jack White would say, it bears repeating,…

  • digital scholarship,  higher ed,  PLE,  twitter

    Say hello to PEE – your Personal Engagement Environment

    I’ve blogged about the Twitter Diaspora, arguing that Twitter was a default place for many in higher education. Alan suggests that the Town Hall was something of a myth, and while there’s probably some truth in that, I would content that, during the 2010s, if you were in higher ed, and active in social media, then you had a Twitter account. You would likely have other platforms also, and maybe some you preferred over Twitter, but Twitter could act as a default engagement platform. That assumption no longer holds true. In a very timely special issue of JIME on social media, Apostolos Koutropoulos and 8 co-authors consider this fragmentation of…

  • a sunset over a bay in west wales
    Books,  monthly roundup,  Music

    April 24 round up

    I was looking forward to April, I had booked study leave and had a number of small, fun projects I wanted to get started. Well, it transpired that April had other plans. For no particular reason I had a mental health wobble in the first week, and was just getting over that when an elderly parent emergency arose, which necessitated several trips and stays in Bedfordshire. This included missing the much anticipated hockey playoff weekend in Nottingham with my daughter, and abandoning a holiday in West Wales. Add in an emergency dental appointment, and yes, April can do one. I looked back at my google doc for plans for this…

  • A range of vinyl record covers in a shop
    AI,  analogue,  higher ed

    The price of process

    (Photo by Natalie Cardona on Unsplash) Like Maren, I read David Sax’s The Revenge of Analog last month, and some points in it chimed with some other thoughts I’d been having around AI. The book makes the case around how analogue industries and formats have revived despite their apparent inevitable demise in face of digital alternatives. It is sometimes too keen to reinforce its won hypothesis and ignores counter points (the education chapter had me wincing in places for over-simplification), but overall it marks an interesting reaction to technology. It can be viewed in some respects as an argument against technological determinism, that despite all of these predictions of doom,…

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