The anatomy of an educator’s blog

 Anne's Blog
I was rather disappointed when Frank Coffield and Kathryn Ecclestone established that there was no empirical basis for learning styles. Disappointed because I had assumed my learning style was visual. This was not based on an interpretation of any of the questionnaires completed or an analysis of anything that might count as data. It’s based on my liking of images, colours, patterns and shapes. Sometimes this is quite serious – I have recently started mooching around and purchasing original artwork from a local gallery; my home is filled with African masks, wood carvings, ceramics and paintings. At other times – my hankering for the visual – is trivial. This ‘wordle’ of a blog I am currently analysing is a good example of how the trivial appeals to me.
The wordle: part analysis and part procrastination. I have just sent a paper for review and accept that enough time has been spent toying with how to analyse a blog.  So these are my first, tentative steps. My literature review has provided a few working concepts and I have identified a paper that made sense in terms of the depth and detail of analysis.
 
I am now poised to begin my empirical analysis:  *clears her throat*. 
Both blogs analysed appear within the first few pages of a blog search engine. Both blogs although written by an individual, are affiliated to an organisation: one loosely and the other quite closely. One blog is based in the UK, associated with an organisation that is of great interest to me. The other is in Canada associated with adult literacy – my curricular and intellectual home. This allows me to position my work within the global research imagination. I hope, as the writing and analysis progresses to find distinct moments of policy or perspective overlap or collision with moments of radical departure. My abiding conceptual theme is how individuals with one set of commitments – to education as a social purpose – manage to work successfully within a policy frame that marginalises their professional identity. This is a space I have explore previously – the space between policy embodiment and professional aspiration.
I am treating them as a single data set with different elements including
  • blog posts
  • hyperlinks
  • feedback (the various ways in which a ‘like’ is indicated)
  • comments (usually in the form of an exchange between the blog and a reader)
There were far too many blog posts to analyse with any depth in a single paper. So, for my first attempt at insight, I have counted comments and likes and selected the 20 most popular posts. The data analysis tools I am working with include Nvivo 10, Microsoft excel and Voyeur. I will elaborate on using Nvivo in a later post. Voyeur works with large bodies of text to help you ‘see through your data’. My intention is to work with qualitative approaches but to do so using the big magic numbers that will at least silence the usual  criticism levelled at discourse analysts and other interpretive researchers.
I have here loaded the words from AW’s blog and based on her most frequently used words in the most popular blogs will take this as my lead for exploring what this blog is about – the coding will be based on these key words, the themes they suggest and the conceptual framework I have already developed. That is I have a series of questions based on my conceptual framework and now explore the empirical basis for that framework and develop this initial exploration. This establishes that the utilization of quotes has been based on something more than my whimsical preferences.
The approach is not just picking out the most frequently used worlds. Some worlds have already been excluded for their obvious frequency. Some worlds are only to be expected (they are implied by the genre and context): their exploration or otherwise is based on the extent to which they fit or do not fit the themes I am exploring. In some instances lines of thought implied by frequency are followed up as strands of thought in themselves.
educators * family * community * fame * women * change * equality * life * social * new * links * tweets * hall * http: * comments * people * ESOL * recent * share * age
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