Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely our own and not necessarily those of our employer or any other occupational therapist.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008


image: salford museum and art gallery


Whilst conducting the task for Day 20 of the challenge (what of Days 16-19? I hear you ask - more of these in later posts!) which was a task called 3 links out (following blog links from other's blogs and stopping at 3 clicks and seeing where you land!) I came across this blog which was talking about the use of wikipedia and gave links to an article by William Bladke. This article really spells out the debate that has been going on for some time re the use of wikipedia in academic writing - with many academics refusing to see it as a resource of any respectability and/or reliability. He describes the situation as reaching an impasse and suggests that academia is being elitist in believing they have the monopoly on information provision. He goes on to offer a potential point of solution to move forward from this and that it to embrace the "world of wikipedia" by a number of activities. The specific issue that caught my attention I reproduce here:

3. The most daring solution would be for academia to enter the world of Wikipedia directly. Rather than throwing rocks at it, the academy has a unique opportunity to engage Wikipedia in a way that marries the digital generation with the academic enterprise. How about these options:

• A professor writes or rewrites Wikipedia articles, learning the system and improving the product.

• A professor takes his or her class through a key Wikipedia article on a topic related to the course, pointing out its strengths and weaknesses, editing it to be a better reflection of reality.

• A professor or information literacy instructor assigns groups of students to evaluate and edit Wikipedia articles, using research from other sources as an evaluative tool.

• A course takes on specific Wikipedia topics as heritage articles. The first group of students creates the articles and successive groups update and expand on them. In this way, collections of key “professor approved” articles can be produced in many subject areas, making Wikipedia better and better as time goes on

Here at Salford we have set up a learning technologies special interest group within the directorate of OT with members drawn from both the staff and the student groups. One of the tasks we have set is to look more closely at wikipedia - it is clear that this could be a very useful challenge to set ourselves. If you have any hints or tips on how you've used wikipedia in the academic setting then we'd love to hear from you - please post a comment and let us know. We'll keep you posted on how we get on!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Day 15 of the Challenge

This blog has had numerous commenters over the last few months - all of which deserve a huge thankyou for making our blog grow and develop. However my award for the best commenter goes to:.....

Merrolee - thanks for your interest in our blog and your consistent, helpful and insightful comments. Your support has been invaluable.

Days 13 and 14 of the challenge

For this I return to a previous post made by a colleague of mine that has been receiving a number of comments recently (which as an aside seems to be an indication of how engaging in this challenge is encouraging more people to visit and comment on our blog - thanks). This post was about the use of web 2.0 in education and the opportunities that it brings. Commentors have considered the post on a number of levels - from supportive in terms of encouragement in how long things can take before they begin to demonstrate benefits, through a discussion on whether the term "appropriate" can be applied with a preferance for "helpful" (with some very humorous images created of how an "appropriate OT" might look) and finally the discussion turns to issues of accountability.
There are more and more blogs available (a good example here) that offer guidance, advice and information for health professionals - and of course being in the public domain these are available to anyone who may be patients/clients of services - or maybe future clients
"I think any mechanism that allows me to put forward information to the public (OK a selective public) is useful in that we are reaching people who might not otherwise ever hear about/see or interact with health professionals of any persuasion"

Through the comments there has been a clear discussion as to how we are accountable for the information we produce. A point well worth making I think. Take a look at the discussions and maybe add your own thoughts to the comments. If you have any tips or advice to offer they too would be welcome. Thanks

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Days 11 & 12 of the Challenge

Hello again

These were tasks that were quite concrete in nature - I had to write comments policy for the blog and to check that the site was "comment friendly". Throughout the challenge, as I have been visiting more blogs, I have been inspired by other's layouts and/or language and/or widgets that all go to make the visitor feel more at home and welcome. I have tried to bring some of those ideas to this site too. I have added instructions on how to use the blog, how to leave comments and some very basic ground rules. I have also tried to make it easier for visitors to leave a trace of themselves, either through commenting on posts (by trying to make the posts more discussional and "approachable") and by entering themselves on our map and/or identifying how they found the site. I have also found a really great widget that non-english speaking visitors can click to receive relevant translation (I would be keen to know if this really worked?).
I guess the proof is in the pudding (to coin a well known phrase) and I would like to hear what you think - is it easy to comment on our posts? Is the blog welcoming? What do you do to make it easy and comfortable for visitors to your blog (if you have one). Actually, another thought springs to mind - if you enjoy visiting others blogs yet don't have one of your own I would be interested to know what you gain from the experience and whether you would want a blog of your own?

Days 8, 9 & 10 of the Challenge

Image: a spring evening in Lancashire

These days were all about comments. Should we allow comments etc and asked us to read a really interesting article about why some people may disable the comment facility. It seems that some people prefer to use a blog very much as a published diary type site, where they open up their thoughts and creativity to be viewed by all - and yet do not want to engage in conversations about it. I can understand this to some extent as I am also running a personal blog alongside this blog that I have deliberately not identified myself to readers and only give the url to close friends - so it becomes more of a "show and tell" than a discussion (although it is suggested in the article that this is not a blog if it only contains thoughts etc of an individual). I have deliberately not linked you through to this in order to maintain my anonymity - but I wonder how many of you would be interested in knowing more about a blogger's personal thoughts and ideas as opposed to professional ones?

Another point raised by the article is that one can only bear so many "0 comments" at the end of their posts - I understand how that feels - but then again maybe it's to do with the way in which the post faciltitates and encourages comment or not - which is in fact the lessons of these few days and beyond I guess. If you've had the opportunity to read other posts on our blogs - do we encourage comment and discussion do you think? What would make you want to comment on something or indeed create/ join an ongoing discussion? How well are we doing?

Are comments necessary to keep discussion going? It was suggested that if people are using their own blogs to respond to posts on other blogs then this is a conversation already. I guess that only work if a) all people involved have a blog and b) all people involved regularly visit said blogs or have signed up to a feeder that alerts them to new posts.
I think on balance I quite like to option to comment and will therefore leave ours on! Please use them and help us to generate more discussions.....

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Day 5,6 & 7 of the Challenge

image: Salford Floods 1946

I decided to combine the activities of these days as they seemed to fit together well. Day 5 was to disagree with a blog post and day 6 was to engage a blog commenter in a conversation. Day 7 is then to reflect on what I have learned so far.
I found it hard in the beginning to find something I disagreed with, so I went to blogs outside of my area to see what I could find. I found this even harder as I really felt I had very little (if anything) to contribute. (I note that this is an activity for Day 8 so will wait until then to face my fears!!).
So, I returned to my comfort zone and noted that one of my comments on Sarah's blog had been responded to- the one I talk about in Day 4 of the challenge to do with anoymous posting.
The response read (I felt) as rather curt and off hand - maybe a result of having to write it/no face to face contact. I copy below for your info:
Anonymous Anonymous said...

probably - but anon is quicker and easier - using a first name means going through a process of signing in - and I can't be bothered. The name you are using (Angela) means nothing to me - I have no idea who you are from that - so really does no more to identify the contributer than anon so whats the difference?

My immediate reaction was to be defensive. I felt quite shocked that someone had taken the trouble to be so rude given they obviously felt time pressured. Why bother responding if you're not going to be constructive? My intended response was to point out their shortcomings.
And then I took a step back - and thought about what I had been learning:

a) netiquette is to be learned and is not inherent necessarily at the begining of a blogging career

b) disagreement adds to a discussion whereas - whilst affirming and valuable - agreement tends to end discussion

c) I may have misread the tone and the intention
d) don't take things personally

So, I kept my reply as constructive as I was able - I let you judge for yourself (did I manage it do you think?):

Blogger Angela said...

I understand the point about speed - but by identifying yourself you open up a potential for a more informed discussion should you choose to. I guess the difference is that once signed in then the name can be clicked to give a brief overview of that person's profile - whether they have a similar or very different background (I'm speaking of a professional background here)that may inform their opinion/comment etc. and in this way generate a more thoughtful and considered discussion. It also means that you could contact that person directly to further a thread of discussion. Thanks for the debate.

In this way I have met day 5 and 6 of the challenge.

I need to gain more experience in engaging bloggers in constructive discussion and debate. I think this is what I find hard at the moment. So far I have not had a bad experience - but I'm sure that the more I gain an on-line presence, the more I open myself up to disagreement. I need to develop a mantra - maybe "it's not personal" - what do you think? Oh yes, and I need to comment more on other's blogs.

Here's to the next seven days.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Day 4 of the Challenge

image: University of Salford and Peel Park

Today I had to ask a question on a blog comment. I found it difficult to think of what I wanted to do at first and read a number of blog posts before returning to a post I had previously commented on and had a response from the blog author Sarah who is also taking the challenge. The post was a reflection on Day 2's task and I had written that I was enjoying her blog as a fellow health care professional (Sarah is a midwife in New Zealand). Further comments were added by others that spoke of the need to be more discussional and emotive in the response to blogs in order to generate real debate and stop the "love fest". My comment left for today's task agreed with the need to become more critical - but my question focused on why - if it was imperative that we engage in clear and honest discussion - that those same commenters felt the need to post anonymously - and raised the question of issues of netiquette when commenting on blog posts! I wait to see what - if any- response is generated.
This has a similar flavour to a post by one of our team (another Sarah) last year which looked at boundaries of sharing personal information. You may be interested to have another look at this?
What do you think? Do you think we should clearly own what we are writing on blogs - or does a level of anonymity allow for more frank and open debate. I would be interested to know what you think.

About this blog

This blog aims to share and discuss issues surrounding education and development for occupational therapists.

Leaving comments on our blog

  • We have been "blogging" for almost a year now. As you enter the blog the most recent post will be on the page. On the right hand side of the page you will see a section titled "blog archive". In here you will find all our posts. Feel free to click on these - we have tried to make the titles reflect the content to make it easier to navigate through the posts.
  • There is also a section on the right entitled "Hot Topics on the blog" these are posts that are currently generating discussions that you may want to read and maybe engage with.
  • Feedback or comments are really important to us so feel free to say anything from a short 'I agree' or longer 'I totally disagree" etc'. and to add your own experiences and reflections
  • Look at the end of a post and click onto the small 'comment' label. A new window will open where you can read other comments as well as leave your own comment. Write what you want to say in the box. Be anonymous if you wish.
  • You do not have to have a 'blogger' account to be able to comment on this blog.
  • Once you are happy with what you have written, click onto 'publish'.
  • If you want your comment to be private, please email us.
  • We respond to all comments and emails.
  • You can keep a track of your comments on blogs using coComment
  • Finally, any comments people leave should be reasonably civil and productive. We reserve the right to moderate or remove comments if there's a problem, although we're pleased to say that there's never been an issue. .
with thanks to Michelle for her blog post on comments policy
Click here to return to most recent post

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Day 3 of the challenge

image:the imperial war museum - salford
Well, today's task is to sign up to a tracker that will help me keep a handle on where I have left comments and the posts where I may be involved in discussion. The recommended sign up is to coComment - which I found straight forward to install and sign up to. This means that as long as I put comment08 in the "tag" box at the end of where I write my comment on a blog post I can go to my page in coComment and see where I have been and what discussions I have engaged in. Great - day 3's activity completed! I have already had comments on my first two days postings and have had responses from comments written on other's blogs - it's working!!

Friday, 2 May 2008

Day 2 of the challenge

image:healthcare building at frederick road campus

OK, those eagle eyed amongst you will realise that this took place on the same day as Day 1 of the challenge - but I only signed up today so had to catch up!
The task for "today" was to post a comment on a blog I had not visited before. After searching through numerous blogs, getting frequently sidetracked, occasionally lost and slightly disheartened as I read other's posts that were very informative and stimulating. I came across this post that I found extremely helpful in begining to develop my blogging style and gave tips on how to make things more of a conversation etc. So I posted a comment - and thus completed my task for day 2. It then inspired me to post a few more too - now just have to remember where I've been so I can see if they generate further discussion.
Please feel free to comment on this post or what I'm doing - or even to ask a question about why we blog and what we gain from it. Just click the "comment" button below and type in the box that comes up then press "publish comment". Would really be keen to hear from you.

Day 1-31 Day Challenge

image: Salford Quays
I have decided to take the 31 Day Challenge to become a better blog citizen given my recent post. This challenge has been designed to encourage people to think about how they comment on blogs and how they create a space for people to comment on their own blogs and entails a number of actitivites through the 31 days of May 2008. The challenge has been set by a number of bloggers - specifically Michelle Martin and Sue Waters.
Day 1 of the Challenge involves running an audit of my comment behavior - what are my comment skills and strategies? To help in the audit, I have been asked to review an article about blog comments written by Gina Trapanui.

How often do you comment on other blogs during a typical week?
I guess there is no such thing as a typical week. I try to have a look at a few blogs each evening but I will admit that I don't always leave a comment - either through lack of confidence, lack of inspiration and/or lack of stimulation

Do you track your blog comments? How? What do you do with your tracking?
No, I ahve never really considered that this would be either possible or useful. But I can now see that to have a way of tracking whether my comments had created further discussion would be useful - particularly if I am to push myself to write more comments on more blogs.

Do you tend to comment at the same blogs or do you try to comment on at least one new blog per week?
I have my favourite blogs that I visit and track for new posts - usually people's blogs that I have met through blogging or have been directed towards from blogrolls of sites that I have found interesting or useful.

But I also make a point of trying to leave comments on others blogs - particularly those blogs within the occupational therapy profession in an effort to expand my network and also to try to attract people back to my blog. Not sure if this works or not as a strategy though as my post will testify.

Gina Trapanui's advice on leaving comments
On the whole I agree with everything Gina says about things like being courteous, keeping to topic and adding to the thread. On the whole, I am pretty good at sticking to the guidelines that Gina suggests although I fear I may occasionally add a comment that is more of a supportive statement than an addition to a debate or discussion. But then again - I actually think that some bloggers would want just some recognition that their posts are bein read- even if they don't all spark major debate.