Academic Digital

Floods? Snow? Swine Flu? Terrorist Threats? “Keep Calm and Carry On”

The following abstract has been submitted to the Plymouth E-Learning Conference. The panel has been in development for some while – we’ll see if it makes it!

Floods? Snow? Swine Flu? Terrorist Threats?  “Keep Calm and Carry On”

During the Second World War, the British government sought to use appropriate communications tools to convey policy to the populace, whether via posters, newspapers, radio, or legislation. Resource restrictions meant that there was not always a free choice in which to use.

Sound familiar? It should.

As James Clay indicated in a blog post on January 10th snow, floods and swine flu all have the potential bring our physical campus to a halt, for valid health and safety reasons.  Institutions announce via local radio and the web that they are closed to students and staff. In most institutions such crises effectively bring the entire workforce to a halt. Despite the digital options available, the word ‘closed’ implies that no (formal) activity will take place, and sends the message to staff and students that they do not need to go to work, or even do any work, even if they could.[1]

Culturally, most institutions do not incorporate online or virtual learning into everyday working cultures, at any level: management, staff or students. Those who do not routinely use digital options can’t see that closing the physical institution need not have a significant impact on the business of the institution, if that business can be carried out at home or online. The issue is not to focus upon contingency planning, but to focus on changing the way people work when there isn’t snow and changing the way people think when there is.

Although this debate will centre largely upon Web 2.0 methods, it will take an outcomes-focused approach, rather than a tools focused approach, in line with William Morris’s quote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. We consider what is necessary, not just in times of crisis, but in implementing everyday e-practice to meet learning and teaching needs.

No tool offers “one size fits all”, so each panellist will focus upon a specific relationship, for example communication between institution/staff, tutor/student, student/student, institution/external, and identify some of the most appropriate tools, and the pedagogical purpose that they serve. Which tool is most appropriate for the outcome required? What does that the approach provide that previous methods haven’t? What drawbacks are acknowledged in the use of each with regards to the outcomes required? What institutional cultural factors will need to be addressed?


The exact panel is to be confirmed, but will include: James Clay (ILT & Learning Resources Manager at Gloucestershire College), Dr Carolin Esser (Lecturer, English, University of Winchester) Dr Bex Lewis (Lecturer History/Media Studies, Blended Learning Fellow, University of Winchester). The panel will be allocated less than 10 minutes each, before strongly encouraged debate from the floor, building upon discussions which will have started beforehand online.


Academic Digital Event

Good CoP, Bad Cop? Twitter for Communities of Practice

Below is an abstract that has been submitted by Dr Bex Lewis and Dr David Rush for the Fifth International Learning Conference 2010, University of Hertfordshire. We won’t know until 22nd February whether we’ve been accepted or not, but I find even the process of thinking where we’re going fascinating.

“In developing both inter- and intra- communities of practice there is a range of recently developed social media tools that are candidates to be used as the means of facilitating communication. One of these is Twitter, one of the largest social media platforms. Despite an average user age of 25-54, it has a growing number of younger users and, with rising Smartphone ownership, increasing functionality.

Twitter has provided new means of communication with students for purposes such as polling, question setting and passing administrative information.  But as yet these have been peripheral activities in course delivery. Difficulties encountered include not all students wanting to use Twitter or seeing Twitter as an adjunct to their social life, rather than a part of formal education, and an association with a culture of celebrity.

Blended Learning enthusiasts face two related tasks in developing communities of practice.  Internally they must support and encourage academics from across the institution, in many disciplines, requiring multiple approaches to e-learning.  Externally they need to connect with blended learning enthusiasts in other institutions.

One of Twitter’s key capabilities is relationship building, and we have started our use of Twitter concentrating on building external links.  The presentation will report on how this can be done and give ways of estimating the effectiveness of Twitter in the HE context.  Topics to be addressed include building an academic identity, developing a research network, the nature of tweets and use of crowdsourcing.

Results from a later development to introduce Twitter to enhance an existing internal community of practice  will also be discussed.  This experience shows what Twitter has to offer alongside other social media.  It also facilitates the identification of additional capabilities of communication tools such as Twitter that might be added to increase their utility in HE.”

6 Keywords: Twitter, Communities of Practice, Informal Learning, Social Media, Communication, Interdisciplinary

Conference Theme

The importance of developing a community to support learning is a well established idea. The virtual and physical learning spaces we build, as well as the ways in which we engage our students, are increasingly being influenced by our desire to create and support a learning community. The Fifth International Blended Learning Conference aims to explore the notion of community in its variety of forms. You are invited to submit proposals / abstracts relating to community. Suggested themes include:

  • Developing blended learning communities to support and enhance different aspects of the curriculum, e.g. employability, internationalisation, lifelong learning, learning that lasts, research informed teaching, student support and pastoral care, study skills and personal development, the student experience and the student voice
  • Developing a community of blended learning practitioners
  • Extending the blended learning community Within and across disciplinary groups For pre-university entrants With Alumni
  • Theoretical perspectives on blended learning communities
Academic History

Journal: The Poster

“The poster-maker, the pamphleteer and the tagger aim to sway the popular heart and mind through visual public interventions. As new technologies rise, turning the public sphere into a transparent, ubiquitous communications medium and a global marketplace, is the privileged status of the poster doomed or are we seeing it transformed as part of a new wave of visual rhetoric? When the environment starts to become responsive to our very presence and aware of our individual nature what is the role of the ‘traditional poster’ delivering a classical rhetorical message? This peer-reviewed journal aims to lead the debate.

The Poster stands as a vehicle for the ideas of media theorists; scholars of Cultural Studies and Cultural Materialism; for social psychologists of visual communication, for architects and designers of wayfinding schemes; for philosophers of Aesthetics and Politics, Society and Linguistics; for social scientists, anthropologists and ethnographers; for political campaigners and artist activists; for communications researchers and visual communications practitioners.”

I’ve just been asked to be Associate Editor/Peer Reviewer on this journal – apparently they contacted me before, but I never received the email! Visit the journal site.


Freedom is in Peril T-Shirt

Freedom is in Peril T-ShirtThe Last Night of the Proms in Hyde Park in London seemed a good place to wear a bit of a statement t-shirt, and thanks to Freedom is in Peril for sending me this t-shirt!

Unfortunately, it does make people stare at your chest, but great slogans on t-shirts can get some great conversations going! This post was picking up pretty quickly by the Proms in the Park tweeters and re-tweeted!

A Little History
Well, I am a history lecturer!

Alongside ‘Your Courage…’, ‘Freedom is in Peril, Defend it with All Your Might’ was published, distributed and displayed almost immediately as war was declared. Even during the planning stages criticisms were raised that ‘Freedom’ is rather an abstract concept and was “likely to be too academic and too alien to the British habit of thought”. Mass-Observation reported that people felt that they could not defend ‘freedom’ because they cannot feel that they are being attacked, and this remained a problem throughout the ‘phoney war‘. The ‘Your Courage…’ poster probably attracted more anger than ‘Freedom is in Peril’ as there were twice as many produced as ‘Freedom is in Peril’, and the distinction between ‘You’ and ‘Us’ clearly struck a particular nerve. Keep Calm and Carry On of course never attracted any press coverage as it was never displayed.

Responsibility for the failure of campaigns was placed squarely with the government as it meant that, either the people had not been made to feel the urgency of the message, or that “the leaders have not spoken in a language which the people can understand and respond to.” The fact that “three-quarters of the population left school before they were fifteen” appeared to have been ignored. Minister of Supply, Herbert Morrison’s simple slogan ‘GO TO IT!’, echoed in posters, appears to have been far more positively received than “instructions in stiff and incomprehensible language”, although there was concern that this campaign would not mean anything once taken out of context of the speech in which it was made, a fear that appears to have been justified since ‘What is ‘it’?’ was scrawled upon posters.

Extracted from undergraduate dissertation and PhD thesis. Check out the production numbers here.


Loire Valley, Here I Come

Chateau_de_Chambord_Castle,_Loire_Valley,_France Dear all

I hope that you have a great couple of weeks. I have set up a number of artist biographies to auto-appear over the next 2 weeks, as I’m back on 12th August, and thanks to my landlady who will be keeping calm and carrying on back in the UK (now the term is over!).

I will be wearing my “Keep Calm and Carry On T-Shirt”, and “Keep Calm and Carry On Apron” whilst I cook for 82 people on a campsite in the Loire Valley with Oak Hall, and as I then bike-sit, and drive down to Provence on the wrong side of the road, before coming back to get back on track with my projects.

I have realised that I haven’t double-checked those links, as I seem to be moving information across from my artists information on my website, so I should do that at some point on my return, when I also have a number of Google Alerts for KCCO to add! Always lots to do, and I have been appointed on a 0.4 fractional contract as a Lecturer in History at the University of Winchester from August, so will be teaching a lot of new material!