I rarely get asked to write an article for a research magazine or another blog so imagine how surprised I was when I received an email asking me to write for the university published York Talk magazine. As you can imagine the initial article I wrote was too long – what did you expect from a waffler! – so they agreed to let me publish the complete article here. So, without further a-do here is my article titled – “Technology, the bane of my life!”
Is there a difference between writing a blog post and an article for a magazine? As I am typing this I am wondering whether there is and whether I should change my style of writing in order to make this more ‘appropriate’? This is actually my fifth attempt at starting so I have come to realise that I can only write in two distinct styles – waffling blog style and academic writing style. Since I do not really want this to end up appearing to be part of my PhD proposal I am going to relax into my blog writing style and, for this, I apologise for anyone who was expecting something more formal.
Have you ever regretted something? I know you are probably thinking philosophically to yourself now along the lines of “you should never regret anything!”, but realistically – have you? Maybe it is not so much that I regret something, maybe more that I wish I had thought of a different alliteration. If you know who I am, and there is not reason why you should, you won’t be aware that I have a website called Wilson Waffling. I waffle every week about teaching, technology and twaddle – another alliteration which I should have thought about – and have appeared to acquired the nickname of Mr Waffle! If I had known the connotations of this title then I might have spent a little more time choosing something shall we say – more academic? I’ve only worked within higher education for the past four years and I often think, especially when thinking of alliterations, that my brain is still firmly rooted in my primary school teaching experience, an experience of which I have fond memories of. With quite limited experience within higher education I was surprised when the email came through to write for this magazine.Naturally, I wanted to know what I needed to write about and I was surprised when I was told I could write about anything which interested me and, after dismissing composing an article about soya lattes and/or chocolate, it became obvious to me that the things I was passionate about was technology and that this would form the basis of the article.
Some people can claim that they have grown up with farming or with a family business. I have the grown up with technology, from the humble first computer which was the ZX81 (with its impressive 1K or memory which you could upgrade to 16K) through the introduction of the internet and wifi to the now frequently used smart phones and mobile technology. Technology, for me, has always been part of my life and although I did have a paper and pen stage, I was always ready to move with the evolution (or maybe revolution) to engage with and embrace the new advancements. The rate by which technology is advancing appears to be increasing rapidly and, although it might be easier for me to sit now and let the progression wave crash over me and leave me in its wake, I still continue to persevere to read and engage with new technologies in order to maintain a position high up on the crest of the progression wave. This is why I sometimes consider technology to be the bane of my life – not because I dislike it, but because I like it so much that I need to keep up with its progression and maintain its impact and support on my practice.
As the technology has changed and evolved, I too have adapted how I not only interact with the world but also how I have used this change to support my teaching and learning. Although I do not consider myself creative, new technologies have allowed me to introduced new ways to engage and motivate learners. Creating and using online videos which I interact with in real time in whole cohort lectures has allowed me to hear positive feedback about engagement from the students and the use of real time polling, voting systems and Twitter back channels has allowed for new ways of participation and feedback. Although I have a real fear of flying and a lesser fear of travelling, I have engaged with a range of virtual conferences through the use of Twitter and Google Hangouts, listening, interacting, learning and extending my personal learning network all through the use of technology. The challenge to develop a dynamic and almost living community through the use of discussion forums and live broadcasts is something which I set as a personal challenge, not in order to achieve Youtube fame, but more because I consider it has value to enhance my own teaching and learning. The management of Wilson Waffling requires time and energy but it is something which I do not really consider work – more something which I enjoy doing, as much as some people prefer to enjoy a walk in the park or an hour in the garden.
Technology, like anything new, is hard work but it is something which I want to engage with and continue to use to support my development in higher education. This article is not, and was never meant to be, a soap box for the technology revolution. I wanted to write about something which I ‘love’ and value and try to share and incapsulate this for anyone who wanted to continue to read. Technology is a essential part of my pedagogy toolkit and keeping up with not only the new technologies, but also how these can be used effectively within my practice can sometimes be ‘baneful’ to me, and maybe to others who I work with. I recently wrote a blog post which reflected on the range of different teaching style people have and how we should celebrate this and continue with the uniqueness of our individual styles. This still reflects my views and please do not feel that I am asking you to join me on this wave which is my journey with technology. I am more than happy to glance across to see you on your equivalent wave which is your teaching style but, if you feel like joining me, then grab your surfboard and start paddling out and we can ride the technology wave together.