I initiated this blog at the beginning of 2016, as I began my doctoral research journey. It feels like I have only blinked, and now I am writing the first post of 2019, having spent my allotted three years researching, reading and writing. I now find myself waiting for the return of my PhD thesis, which is currently under examination, so that I can finalise my study and begin a new adventure, this time as Dr Kay Oddone.
Part of this new adventure has already begun. On 7 January, I took up a 12 month contract with Queensland University of Technology, as lecturer and study area co-ordinator for the Teacher Librarianship area of the Master of Education. I realise how rare it is to step from the role of doctoral student straight into an academic position, and I am thrilled, excited and (just a little!) nervous for what the year will hold.
One thing that I do know is that it will be a very busy time! As well as working, I am determined to continue my ‘extracurricular’ activities, including working with the amazing educators involved with the Open Networked Learning course (iteration 191 begins on 18 February, and I am excited to be once again leading Topic 2, Open learning: sharing and openness with the wonderful Alastair Creelman), reviewing picture books and young adult titles for Reading Time, the Children’s Book Council of Australia‘s review site, and maintaining an active online presence, which of course includes regular posts to this blog, and interacting and learning with my PLN.
I do not wish for this blog to become a neglected space, which sits for months untended while I am busy working on other projects – however I have been very concerned with how I was going to juggle the huge learning curve of my new job, as well as finalising my PhD and staying in touch with all of my other projects (not to mention having a life outside of the digital as well!!). My concerns have been somewhat allayed by my discovery of the work of Dr Jeremy Knox, co-director of the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. Dr Knox teaches a subject called Education and Digital Cultures (among a myriad of other interesting projects), and I first met him when I completed the E-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC in 2013.
Within Education and Digital Cultures, Dr Knox asks students to create a digital lifestream blog as part of their assessment. It was the concept of a digital lifestream which caught my attention, and which inspired me to begin thinking about a new way of maintaining this blog moving into 2019. Lifestreaming may be defined as
“an act of documenting and sharing aspects of one’s daily social experiences online, via a lifestream website that collects the things person chooses to publish (e.g. photos, tweets, videos) and presents them in reverse-chronological order.” Mullen, Jessica E. (May 2010). Lifestreaming as a Life Design Methodology (PDF) (Master of Fine Arts thesis).
I had heard of the term before, but had honestly never given it much thought until I read about how Dr Knox was using the concept of lifestream blogs to help students “bring together all the digital fragments of knowledge generated by your studies” (Course Guide: Education and Digital Cultures). My scant previous considerations of lifestreaming were associated with echoes of Dave Eggers’ The Circle, where video technology evolves so that individuals are encouraged to wear devices which publish real-time video of the wearer’s every living moment. Although I enjoy having a very active online presence, I highly value my privacy, and so I gave little more thought to the concept.
However, as the assessment piece in Education and Digital Cultures reveals, a lifestream does not have to reflect ones’ entire life – and strategically curating and collating a lifestream blog to reflect a particular aspect of life (in the students’ case, their learning during the subject), may provide insights which otherwise may not occur when the data is distributed widely across different platforms and online spaces. In some ways, a lifestream is reflective of what social media companies like Facebook do with our personal data in order to generate profiles of users for advertising and other (nefarious? questionable?) purposes. However, I would argue that the personal act of creating a lifestream blog is slightly different. When businesses gather data scattered both consciously and unconsciously by our trevails online (and offline?), it is problematic because although we technically have given permission (buried deep within those unreadable terms and conditions), we do not often realise what we are allowing these companies to access. The creation of a personal lifestream blog is a strategic and purposeful decision. Yes, I am creating a body of information drawn from widely distributed data, but it is my data, which I am choosing to include within a space that is under my control, curated to reflect and communicate what I choose, in methods of my choosing.
So – having wrestled with these concerns, I have decided to initiate a lifestream blog approach for 2019; or for as long as I perceive that it ‘works’. How I intend to do this is by using the application IfThisThenThat (IFTTT) – which is the tool of choice suggested by Dr Knox for his students, and which allows me to create ‘applets’ (previously called recipes) to automate much of the processes needed to send information from various digital and social media spaces to this blog. How I go about setting up these applets will be the subject of a future post.
The ‘lifestream’ that I intend to share will be my life as an early career academic. My aim is to create a depiction of my interests and the processes of learning about these through my PLN as I transition from full time student to full time academic (yet remaining a full time learner!). Whether this happens, is yet to be seen, but by openly sharing my learning I hope to ‘practice what I preach’ as well as to demonstrate new ways of making transparent how a PLN and the networked learning that happens through it changes over time.
So….welcome to 2019 on the LinkingLearning blog. Just as I said three years ago, it’s a new dawn, a new day, a new life for me (and the blog!)…and I’m feeling good!