My Heresy: The More Productive Digital Peer to Peer Writing Conference

The Used Books in Class blog reflects on peer-peer writing conferences, assignments and having to peer-write on demand. They mention that this does not work in face-face work context and outline strategies such as using blogs, wikis, Google docs

Digital platforms: wikis, blogs, and Google docs, allow me the means to provide peer to peer writing conferences by removing those awkward face to face conferences that I have found so unproductive in my high school classrooms. These digital platforms also let me organize students across class periods, and if I found a teacher in a cooperating school who wanted to peer conference, the digital platforms would allow my students to conference outside the classroom

In full

How I learnt what education is

Ajit Balakrishnan of the National Cadet Corps describes how he and his wife have set up an award scheme which rewards teachers who are being innovative at primary, middle and high school. He recounts a story from one of the award winners who had been inspired to write short stories after an incident that they had in high school.

“One day, as I was doing my homework on our bungalow verandah, an old woman holding an envelope in her hand groped her way up our verandah steps.

“She put the envelope on the table, sat on the floor and told me her story. She had, over the years, worked as a domestic servant to pay for her son’s education.

The rest of the story

29 reasons why every child should blog

On February 29th

Stripped down blogging to its simplest form to record one special day in time across the globe. As soon as the first time zone entered this blog was open to posts. By simply filling in a form, visitors were able to post onto this blog and record their words on this extra special day. As February 29th has passed by all the time zones, this blog has now closed for posting. Over the next few days, additional features will be added enabling visitors to search tag, posts and keywords. I’d like to thank the 20,000+ unique visitors that descended on this project blog. I think I can say that it was a HUGE success. Thank you!

Including an inviting 29 reasons from the class about why every child should blog

In full

How not to write a PhD thesis

In this article Tara Brabazon explains how she is guilding three students nearing their submission deadlines. She discusses the weird and wonderful of examiner comments.

It is a joy to nurture, support and help the academy’s next generation, but it is a dreadful moment when an examiner realises that a script is so below international standards of scholarship that there are three options: straight fail, award an MPhil or hope that the student shows enough spark in the viva voce so that it may be possible to skid through to major corrections and a full re-examination in 18 months.

When confronted by these choices, I am filled with sadness for students and supervisors, but this is matched by anger and even embarrassment. What were the supervisors thinking? Who or what convinced the student that this script was acceptable?

Therefore, to offer insights to postgraduates who may be in the final stages of submission, cursing their supervisors who want another draft and further references, here are my ten tips for failing a PhD. If you want failure, this is your road map to getting there:


Comparing two publication channels – academic journals and blogs

by Frances Bell, CC3.0 Unported

Henry Jenkins by Tamaleaver CC by 2.0

Journals on shelves

Journals on Shelves by Bezanson CC by 2.0


I am going to throw out a few initial ideas about comparing academic journals and blogs as publication channels, as a kick off to a writing project I’ll be doing with Cristina Costa.

Let me start by saying that it is very difficult to generalise about either academic journals or blogs as channels since they are each in a state of flux, changing and interpreted differently  by different users and audiences. This post has been provoked by recent discussion on peer review and journals within my (albeit limited) network.  The issues that interest me are:

  • development of research and writing
  • the role of peer review and editing
  • dissemination of research

Obviously, I will be collaborating with Cristina and we will both improving our review of the literature to find what is already known on the subject.

development of research and writing

Blogs can play a role in the development of academic writing.  An author can try out ideas and get feedback.  I have tried this myself  (but can’t point to the posts as they are sadly lost) on a paper I wrote for Networked Learning 2010.  Also I recall a learning developer who posted successive drafts of an essay on their blog in response to readers’ feedback (would love the link to this if anyone has it). I think the intention of this was to reveal the sometimes messy journey of writing rather than to recommend this as a method of writing.

I see writing as a process with a product that emerges from privacy to publication with more eyes seeing and commenting along the way. A tweet may take only a minute to write but increasingly this text is wraparound/trigger to click a link to another text /multimedia artifact such as a blog post or video created over a much longer period.

There are different styles of blogging and plenty of tips on how to do it and writing for different audiences is very useful for an author’s toolkit.

Writing an article for a scholarly journal is likely to be a much more lengthy process with commenting and revisions emerging from the exchanges between authors, reviewers and editor(s) not all which are ‘public’ in the sense the article itself is.  The process for rejected articles is private with no publication endpoint. Journals with a commitment to the development of their authors will try to ensure that peer review is as much about development as about selection/ rejection.  I am interested in the role that blogging and other social media can play in writing development.

the role of peer review and editing

Journal peer review can be double blind (where neither reviewer nor authors are known to each other – though it is sometimes possible for them to guess each others’ identities); single blind where the reviewers know the authors’ identities but they remain anonymous to authors.  Usually peer review remains a relatively private exchange with comments and responses sent by email.  Different levels and types of openness are possible.  JIME, Journal of Interactive Media Education conducted very interesting dialogic review  and I am interested to research into evaluations of that and similar approaches.  I do know that reviewing can help writers develop, and that editing has had an impact on my reviewing and my writing.

I was also interested in Alan Cann’s experiment with open review but  think that much more work needs to be done to tease out more and less effective methods of using feedback to develop writing. I am not at all convinced by Doug Belshaw’s linkage of transparency to better in relation to peer review (see last sentence).