On Weaving Ideas – Exemplar for Practice
This is part of the series of posts analyzing expert academic blogging styles of top edubloggers. The series is intended to introduce student bloggers to a variety of connective writing styles used in the academic blogosphere.
The post is an exemplar as it provides a template for student bloggers engaging in tentative meaning-making activities. This type of blogging examplifies process-capture, drawing ideas from others’ texts and re-working them from one’s own perspective. The techniques offer clues to the readers. However, more importantly, I think, the clues offer context cues for easier retrieval to facilitate the blogger’s re-using the blog post as a future resource to build upon.
Dave Cormier’s blog post Does the PLE make sense in the connectivist sense?, at http://davecormier.com/edblog/tag/ple/, uses a more informal writing style, mixing the techniques commonly found in more formal prose with a more casual informal style. Dave is very much aware of his audiences, and blogs as a performer, frequently switching between the roles of the narrator and the trickster, the voice that reveals and adds detail to the audience as (whispers to the side stage or to the audience). Dave has a very theatrical style, breaking character to add various actors’insights to the production.
Blogging as Performance to Multiple Audiences:
Dave outlines a number of techniques student bloggers should draw upon as part of their own blogging.
His introduction is a follow-up to a tweet that got some reaction from colleagues. He describes the background for writing the tweet, and sets some context for his audience. (as much for himself as for others).
Dave frequently switches his voice to add humourous asides, and addresses different audiences by using a combination of bracketed phrases in several cases for different purposes:
1. Switches tone or perspective, ie. I guess that’s not necessarily a bad thing (to someone like me).
2. Define terms, ie. VLE (virtual learning environment)
3. Add humourous asides ie. I’m more than willing to have someone explain to me what i’m missing… (I’ll accept whole hearted agreement as well).
Another common blogging technique used is the single quotes for tentative phrases, indicating attempts to ‘try on’ the phrases. This word-crafting is a crucial part of working through ideas, and an interesting technique studnets might find useful while engaging in their draft posts.
Examples of tentative phrasing:
‘where we are two years later’
Dave embeds two formal quotes in his writing as part of his performance:
“Lets start with a couple of quotes from George’s 2005 paper. These are both ‘first sentence’ quotes from summary sections of the paper.”
Dave’s choice of phrases are specifically aimed at providing his readers a deeper insight into what he is thinking about the ideas he is working through, capturing the essence that formal language cannot accomplish so effectively:
My problem with…
…but most people I’ve met…
We often hear of people talking about…
Leaving aside the …
He breaks his review of Siemens’ two quotes with a sentence in bold text before starting his new narrative that analyzes a coupple tweets from the twittersphere.
What is intriguing about Dave’s post is how he continues the narrative to include further replies from other tweets received afterwards. The post continues Dave’s workign through of ideas, and accounts for multiple perspectives.
Dave also organizes his post into sections using headings.
In the section titled Things I understand I’ve glossed over, Dave explains the grey, blurry areas of his own thinking, and identifies gaps that he will want to re-work in future.
In the section titled So what am I saying? Dave introduces the idea of “Snapshot of my personal thinking platform” (SOMPTP).
In formal essay writing, the conclusion is not a place for introducing new ideas. Whereas in blogs, ideas are less structured, lacking a coherence (start, middle, and ending). In this blog post, Dave is working through ideas, sharing his musings, and inviting his audiences to interact with him further. In that Dave leaves himself room for change, he in fact addresses himself (as the futures reader among the audience of others) as he would be in the future.