Here is my completed log for the week
My week was atypical in the sense that it is not every week that I get the chance to participate in a conference and interact with people who shared the same sorts of interests and values as I have. But the rest of the week was typical of my current life. So what have I learnt from the process of recording and thinking about my experiences?
Out of a possible 168 hours (7x24h) I was active for about 112h (averaging about 16h per day). These were broken down into the following categories of activity
WORK About 50 hours includes work for my company Chalk Mountain and Lifewide Education. This week it including attending a conference. This week I spent considerably more time on LWE work. Also includes 6h for this recording and reflecting exercise. Quite a lot of my time was spent either preparing for the conference or trying to fix a problem with a website.
FAMILY About 24h this includes family at home (my wife and daughter), family elsewhere (children at university and children/grandchildren living locally), and family overseas (mother and father in Australia and sisters in Australia).
DOWNTIME about 18h includes reading, listening to music, watching TV/ youtube for pleasure and education like Time Team and playing my drums
TRAVELLING about 14h mainly time in the car being a taxi service or travelling to friends and family. This week included travelling to and from Leeds to participate in a conference
CHORES about 6h includes - cleaning, shopping, preparing meals, ironing, doing odd jobs in house/garden
I am clearly a creature of habit and my life is quite routinised. I get up and go to bed at more or less the same time. I have breakfast, lunch and dinner at more or less the same time, and the pattern of what I do each day when I am at home is more or less the same. I start working at around 8am and work until 12ish.. I eat lunch and watch time team, I work pm until late afternoon or evening. I have dinner at more or less the same time with my family and we use this opportunity of being together to learn about each other's lives, discuss family and make plans. Evenings after dinner are generally devoted to relaxing and I seem to do the same sort of things most evenings.. This routine might be seen in a negative way but they do not feel boring or constraining because I generally value what I am doing and derive meaning and enjoyment from the things I am doing most of the time. Indeed, negative emotions generally emerge when things get in the way of the things I am trying to do - like having to complete my tax returns.
My main social interaction day to day is with my family wife and children, and thanks to my sister's call - my family in Australia. Some of these interactions are face to face and some via email/skype/telephone. Conversations and activities encourage the sharing of daily events or news in each others lives the disclosure of feelings and practical and emotional support.
Another sort of social interaction is related to work and this is mainly focused on trying to make progress. Communication is mainly through email and I am grateful for the help and support given to me by other people involved in LWE.
Life is punctuated by less regular events like participating in conferences and this provides opportunity for face to face social interaction.
PLANNED & UNPLANNED ACTIVITY
While there is a consistency regarding the pattern of my activity the detail is only roughly planned from day to day. At the start of the week I know roughly what I want to try and achieve. But the details of each day only unfold within the day. There are also unanticipated events that emerge and create problems and new opportunities. This week I had two emergent situations. The first involved having to resolve a problem with the LWE website created by the person who hosts it making changes to the front page that I didn't like. The second event involved me responding to an email from Rob Ward offering me the chance to design and facilitate a workshop at the CRA conference on Friday. This is how it happened..
From: Rob Ward
Sent: 19 November 2012 10:10
To: Norman Jasckson
Subject: Forthcoming Residential
I'm needing to do some last minute tweaking of the Residential programme as the final short session on 'Creativity and PDP' (plenary workshop,
14.20-15.00 on Friday) can't now go ahead as planned. Would you bewilling/able to offer a short contribution on this theme here?
Apologies for the short notice! BW Rob
Once I had thought about it I did see it as a real opportunity to try something new and develop myself in the process.
From: Norman Jasckson
Sent: Mon 11/19/2012 2:14 PM
To: Rob Ward
Subject: RE: Forthcoming Residential
Okay how about trying to model creative use of technology? This process would need the room to be connected to internet and two CRA
staff to support - 1 connected to twitter, 1 connected to weebly.com a website building tool
THEME 'Using technology to stimulate students' creativity in recording ideas, experiences, learning and achievement'
Participants to assume that there are no constraints on the way technology might be used in their own PDP environments ie a blank sheet of paper.
DESIGN - process
1) Self-organise into groups of about 4 people. Groups must include someone with a smart phone.
2) 10mins - pool ideas in the group drawn from personal or imagined experiences
3) 10mins - choose 1 idea and create a poster on a sheet of flip chart paper to explain the idea also prepare a 1 min pitch
4) 5mins - find a quiet corner and person with smart phone a) takes a photo of poster b) records 1 min explanatory pitch on phone
5) 5 mins group composes 140 character tweet to capture the essence of theiridea for twitter and tweet, photo of poster and 1 min video clip emailed to
6) 10 mins CRA colleagues a) post tweets & images on twitter & B) upload video clips to weebly website..
The tweets would be displayed on the projector screen and if we had two screens we could also display the video clips.. People can go away and look
at the results.
Between this email and the workshop I did the preparatory work necessary to make it work, I got support from JW who provided illustrative poster and recording and I liaised with DB from CRA to make sure we could do it. The workshop worked very well and I know I can add this sort of technologically enabled workshop to my repertoire of facilitation techniques. I had no idea that this would happen at the start of the week.
LEARNING & DEVELOPMENT
Unusually for me this week some of my learning was formal in the sense that I put myself into situations (presentations and workshops) with the intention of learning something. But, more typically, most of my learning was informal usually goal/achievement driven... a) completing my book project or b) trying to advance LWE. I did try several things I hadn't done before including a workshop design that seemed to engage participants and get some great results. Much of my learning was simply about gaining some new knowledge and much of it was through conversation mainly with people I already knew but who I had lost touch with. Most of my follow-up actions will be linked to this relational knowledge. I would say that quite a lot of activity I engaged in did not lead to any significant or recognisable learning. In terms of personal development - what I can do now that I couldn't do before the week started I would identify the workshop I facilitated and the techniques I developed to engage people and record their creations. That experiential knowledge, the capability I developed and used and the confidence I gained can be used again.
Most of my learning was driven by my needs. I needed to modify a logo so I learnt how to use photoshop top do it. I uploaded a slide show to weebly for the first time. I learned how to design and facilitate a workshop I took on. Some of my learning was simply a biproduct of enjoying myself.. like searching for music on Youtube, spotting a new band I liked on Later with Jools Holland. There is also learning of a more strategic in nature which is linked to my work namely reading articles and books that enable me to add to my understanding. This week I read a transcript and watched a video clip of John Seeley Brown's talk on the entrepreneurial learner which I think LWE can use. I had picked this up from a link in a blog by Jane Hart that I was examining with a view to commissioning a chapter for LWE e-book. Much of my learning comes from this sort of intelligent and sometimes haphazard searching.
I also continued to develop my understandings of the ways of thinking promoted by Clayton Christiensen by reading his book and trying to apply his ideas to what I was doing which I know will have significance for LWE.
Some of my learning has come from using tools like stat counter to monitor how my websites are being used. This is a new form of learning over the time the knowledge will be valuable to know what interventions draw people to our resources.
In a more typical week I would do a lot more writing. For me writing is a very important way of developing and organising my thinking, creating meaning and recording my understandings. This log and the reflective piece served as my main writing task this week.
MEANINGIn my family context meaning is created through the day to interactions and conversations we have and the things we do to help and encourage each other and give each other emotional and practical support.
In the work context meaning is created through my book and in developing and promoting LWE. I feel I made quite a lot of progress with the later this week both in the redesign of the website and in my involvement with the conference. Meaning is also created through interaction with my family and feeling that I am in some way helping them. Reflecting on my experience of participating at the CRA conference I felt that I had, at least momentarily, regained a lost identity and renewed a set of friendships/relationships with people and higher education that had been eroded because it was no longer part of my everyday experience. This meant a lot to me and it has taught me the value of trying to find or create these opportunities for my own wellbeing. I devoted a lot of time this week to intentionally learn about my own learning and meaning making. I probably spent 4 or 5 hours this week recording and analysing my activities and what I have learnt from them. The value in the process is that it has enabled me to examine more systematically what I'm doing and how I draw meaning and learning from my activities.
VALUES & IDENTITIES
One of the purposes of this exercise was to examine the ways in which activities and behaviours, and what motivates them, reflect values and identities. Through the week I was mainly working with two sorts of identity.
The first identity I embodied was my working identity - my work is essentially academic (eg being a writer/scholar - the book commission I worked on), educational (applying my knowledge of how people learn to the concept of lifewide learning) and educational developer (trying to influence other educators). The central values here are those of being professional in these fields and trying, through hard work, thinking and creativity to progress each of my work enterprises. An important part of my identity as a teacher is my ability to communicate ideas and engage people in using them. Because of the conference I was able to do both of these in presenting my ideas on lifewide development and facilitating a couple of workshops which enabled people to try out some tools I had developed, or enabled small groups to share ideas and create some original educational designs. It is very important for me to maintain this part of my identity but which is quite hard to do now that I am no longer working in an institution. As a result of reflecting on this I strengthened the way I market this aspect of my professional work on my website.
The second identity I embodied relates to me as a member of a large family and a complex set of relationships that make up my family ... as a father/step father, husband, grandfather, brother and son.... the central value here is the love for my family and my desire to care for and help family members and the value of staying in touch with each other. This week, thanks to technology I was able to have interactions and good conversations with my wife and daughter at home.. with my daughter and son at university - telephone/skype, with my wife when I was a away and she was away by telephone and skype, with my mum and dad in Australia (telephone), my two sisters in Australia (skype) and my daughter and my three grandsons. This record shows the value of the technologies we have for enabling us to communicate across the world.
I also experienced two other sorts of identity during the week..
The first was a sense of regaining, at least for a short time, an identity I held a few years ago as a respected thought leader in higher education. By being with a group or people I had worked with, including people from two agencies I had worked for, and being reminded of the roles I played in enabling change to happen in the HE system, I felt part of that society or community again. Here the values were around championing an educational cause (PDP, and providing concrete practical support to enabling it to be implemented. The fact that my commitment has carried on beyond employment gives me credibility in this respect.
Another identity I nurtured was my identity as a drummer in a band. We normally practice every week so this identity gets validated when we come together. When I'm listening to music in the car I sometimes play our own music or I imagine playing the drums to whatever is being played. This week we didn't have a practice but I had an hours work out on Sunday. Here my values relate to my love of music and of making music particularly with others and trying to improve myself as a drummer.
COMPARISON OF HOW I USED MY RESOURCES WITH MY PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
This is the first time I have ever taken a week of my life and tried to record how I have used it. In his book on Measuring Your Life Clayton Christensen (p62) talks about strategy - Real strategy .. in our daily lives is created through hundreds of everyday decisions about how we spend our resources (our time). As you're living your life from day to day, how do you make sure you are holding in the right direction? Watch where your resources flow. If they are not supporting the strategy you have decided upon, then you're not implementing that strategy at all. The personal development plan I made in September identified my most important goals as:
1 To lead and contribute to the further development and promotion of the Lifewide Education enterprise
2 To grow the Chalk Mountain business and deliver a good service to clients
3 To support my (large) family - do whatever is necessary to help them
4 To build a recording studio and develop the technical skills to record my band
5 To create a woodland garden
6 To be open and responsive to new possibilities and adapt to or take advantage of the unplanned and unexpected
I think my life this week has supported achievement of the first three goals and I had a good example of responding to goal six in accepting at short notice, the challenge to facilitate a workshop at the CRA conference. Goals 4&5 are much lower in my list of priorities than the first three goals. So it would appear that, this week at least, is quite closely aligned to my personal strategy.
CONTEXTS & PROBLEM SOLVING
I often use John Stephenson's contexts and challenges tool to help me reflect on the things I am doing. I would say that this week. Most of my activities have been in the familiar context and familiar problems domain but the conference and the activities I undertook did put me outside my comfort zone (unfamiliar context) and tackle an unfamiliar challenge ( the workshop on creative use of technology).
VALUE OF THE EXERCISE
I estimate that the whole exercise of recording and analysing my log took me about 7 hours which I have allocated to LWE work. So was it worth it? I think it's helped me appreciate the value of this sort of tool and reflective process to helping people appreciate their learning and development in their everyday lives. I now think that the process and outcomes could be usefully integrated into the Lifewide Development Award.
The exercise has:
1) enabled me to see my life as an integrated whole (during this period of time) and see how different parts of my life interact
2) revealed the patterns of daily activity in my life highlighting routines and more unusual activity and the motives for engaging in such activity
3) forced me to think about the learning that is associated with different sorts of activity and the potential ways in which I have developed/changed through only a week of living - indeed this reflective exercise has made a significant contribution to my learning this week added to my understanding of how to promote reflection on our own LWE
4) encouraged me to see the meaning I attribute to different activity in my life
5) enabled me to check how I am allocating my resources to the things I value and confirmed that I am spending my time in ways that are consistent with the goals I set out in my personal development plan
6) enabled me to recognise that the identities I embody and enact which are closely related to the things I value
7) enabled me to apply some of the wisdom I have recently discovered in Clayton Christensen's book to reflect on my own activity and behaviour. This has helped me see how some of the ideas in this book might be incorporated into the guidance and support we give to lifewide learners.