Blog review 2020

Bryan Mathers captured the feeling of many of us

At the end of last year I wondered if I was losing my blogging mojo. I had a plan to try and kick start it in 2020 with a 25 Years of OU series, reflecting on my 25th Year of working at the Open University. I completed this just in time for the end of the year. It was ludicrously self-indulgent and of little interest to anyone else, but now that’s it complete I am fond of it as a record of my own career at one institution.

But, like everything else, my blogging plans were interrupted by Covid. When the implications of the pandemic became apparent for higher education, the role of online learning became central. I blogged my first post on the online pivot on March 9th, and over the hectic few months that followed, I wrote a further 22 posts on the pivot. These started out mainly offering support (through some drop-in sessions), resources and advice. As the year progressed, all the old complaints about online learning that you thought had faded away around the time of Brit pop were dusted off and presented as hot takes by people who had just realised it was a thing. So I spent some time railing against these.

Overall though, 2020 once again illustrated to me the value in having your own space and identity. When the pandemic hit, lots of colleagues in IET were inundated with requests for help. The OU itself would put in place a number of formal responses, but these things inevitably take a bit of time to get coordinated. In the interim having my own platform meant that I could (with the kind help of a number of colleagues who joined the drop-in sessions, or coordinated OpenLearn content) undertake some quick and dirty informal support. Online learning (and what was effectively distance education) is after all the Open University’s area of expertise.

This meant that I blogged more this year than I have in a long time, with 71 posts. There were 75,628 visitors and 604,427 visits. The most popular post was that initial one on the pivot.

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