If life is what happens to our plans, then dance is what happens to our steps.
ideas sometimes when you wait they come to you.

Preparation for starting with BAPP

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Comments / Questions!

Hopefully all is ticking along in week five. In this weeks blog I thought I would look at a ‘question’, as in Module 2. I think this is useful to everyone regardless what module you are on. In a sense this is an exemplar.

Problem: I find people do not comment much on my blogs especially compared to other students blogs. I always end with ‘what do you think?’ but people don’t tell me! Students leave comments on other students blogs like “thank you for writing this” or “good idea” these comments appear to be to let the person know their blog was read. The sort of comments I get are more if people have a problem and many of my post don’t get any comments. I have started to check the numbers of hits I get in order to see if what I am writing is useful or looked for by students. But what I hope for is a conversation in the comments and links to other people’s posts and comments so we create more of a network.  So my question is “Why don’t people leave comments on my blogs”

Then I look at ethical implications (Tasks 5 ) What ethical implications are there.
Ethically First: Am I following the kind of protocols of blogging. Does my writing make it easy for people to comment. What are the other rules of blogging; maybe I am not constructing my blogs in a manor that implies I want comment or on-going conversation? I need to look into this.

Ethically Second: I must be aware that my relationship with students is different from their relationship with each other. I have a different power relationship and their for I am perceived differently.  It is expected that I write blogs because I am an advisor on the course.  In some ways people have become friends through the course but it is ethically unclear if I can be friends with people or not. Writing ‘thanks’ or ‘good idea’ do not seem appropriate because 1) It’s my job to do it and 2) I am not perceived to be an equal (or a friend) so saying ‘good idea’ might seem weird. Also commenting on from what I write might seem as if a person is doubting me or challenging the ideas which goes against the power relationship.

Ethically Third: it is perceived to be possible that interactions I have with students could affect their grades. Because I am a part of the University (as it were) I appear differently. I might be more difficult to interact with and even perceived as dangerous because I could have a negative affect on a grade or something. It could seem unclear how the blogs work (many people still feel that the blogs are being marked as a task rather than evidence of learning). Maybe people would feel that I would be looking at spelling and grammar in the comments. Maybe people feel what I am writing is the ‘answer’ so all you can think is ‘yes’!!

Ethically Lastly, is it reasonable of me to expect to have conversations when people are busy and really what they want to do is find out what boxes they need to check to pass. Whereas I have a job doing this and maybe more time to ‘shoot the breeze’. Or maybe students don’t have much internet time and need to move quickly across blogs (although that doesn’t explain why they comment on other peoples blogs more than mine).

These ethical considerations change how I think about my initial question. ‘Why’ people don’t leave comments could be a number of reasons. The question now seems really big. It ranges across power dynamics, perceptions of the ‘teacher’ / student relationship, personal identity and how people see their own voice being heard, time constraints, confidence in spelling, social expectations and that’s only why Middlesex people don’t comment. I have tried to include other people (friends, past students, future students general inter-net users too. Why don’t they comment). The question is clearly too big to research in a couple of months.

It is this point that I must realise that the question can no longer be about the incident that made me think about it (my personal problem) because in order to really find out something useful to me I must look at the question for itself or otherwise I will limit the question to being a comment on my problem rather than a way to find out more about something. In other words, I might think “well I don’t need past students to comment anyway. That wasn’t really a part of the problem to start with.’ But if I ask the question ‘why don’t people comment ion my blog’ I need to look at ‘people’. I might find that the reasons past students don’t comment informs why students now don’t, and if I had not considered this I might have missed a big point in terms of the question (although it appeared unimportant in terms of my ‘problem’. That’s why it has to be the question you address not the my ‘problems’). The biggest problem might turn out to be that my blog is hard to find or something like that. So I can’t limit the question to only construct what I expect to find out as an answer. I must look at the question for what it is asking.

Doing this I see that the question is too big because I would not be able to reach out to enough different types of people in a couple of months. So maybe it should be ‘why don’t current BAPP students comment on my blog?’
Again the ethical points I looked at make me see this is also a big question because there are clearly a number of possible reasons and they are all very different. Maybe the implication of my question needs to be changed.  I could change the word ‘why’ to ‘what are the reason students give….’ There is a big dynamic change of power in terms of where I see ‘truth’ laying here.

When my question starts with ‘why’ there is an implication I need to study something and then use the evidence to prove something ‘why’ it happens as if ‘why’ is answered outside of the situation itself. If I ask ‘what are the reasons given’ then I assume that the students themselves know ‘why’ the answer or ‘truth’ of the situation is not outside it and needs to be interpreted but is in the people themselves. As a social scientist, narrative inquirer and Pragmatist I feel the second construction of the question evens the ground out more for the inquiry. I feel the ‘why’ assumptions follow more along the line of the specialist in the white coat telling you what you think!!!! If I change the question to start with ‘What are the reasons…’ I can still look at what these reasons mean to me and what I feel they imply about my blog.

So now my question is “what are the reasons current BAPP students give for not leaving comments on my blog”. It still seems a little like I am court up in my own up-set and not genuinely interested in comment leaving. In other words not allowing the question to stand alone but using it to make a point about people leaving comments on my blog when I feel I have tried to encourage them. This limits me. Firstly, because the very people who the question addresses don’t leave comments so I am not communicating with them well in the first place so how do I expect to not just replicate the same problems I have noticed in the blog, in the data collection. Whatever is making them feel uncomfortable or seeing it as unnecessary may also affect the data I collect. (I would think) then all I would be doing is proving my point that they don’t communicate with me well rather than actually finding out why. 

Secondly, because there are the people who do comment and it might be as useful and important to find out why they do as why others don’t.
I need to open out my question and not focus on the ‘problem’ that instigated it. It could be “what are the reasons BAPP students give for why the do or don’t leave comments on other BAPP blogs’. Now my question addresses my problem but is open enough for me not to be a mission to prove I’m hard done by the non-commenters, and could be useful to other people who write BAPP blogs. I am not looking for an answer ‘why = because’…. Because I realise the question is too big to answer in a couple of months but I will find out more about it and draw some conclusions that might help me with my blog writing.

I hope this is useful for Module 3ers too because I hope it reminds you what your data collecting and analysing is for.

Tasks 6 etc… so how do I find out? I could try a couple of ways to see which way works in terms of me connecting with people and getting the kind of answers I can find useful. I could try making a survey, maybe I could try interviewing a couple of my advisees. I try out a couple of types of data gathering tools so that when I do the project next term I already know what I am doing. BUT more importantly I realise what kind of answers will help me understand the question in the terms I want to understand it. This is a lot deeper than I am writing about here because I have already gone on for ages. It is also for you to think about.  It is about what you consider valuable information in terms of the question you have. In terms of my question here it would be important to really understand the tools I need  and how I want to interact with people because that is what my question area is about. To show I understand my question would be to show I understand the implications it raises about how I can collect data. Like the student / teacher perceived power relations, the fact I am looking for information from people would have not communicated with me before etc…

Well what do you think?
Please do my pilot survey:



  1. I cannot complete the survey, as Q.9 gets a '!Please add text here' notification when I fill the box.Shall I just post my answers to the survey questions here?

  2. I've fixed question (9)! Sorry it wanted a number for some reason!! Please feel free to fill it out now, that would be great. Thanks

  3. Hey there Adesola!
    Thank you for this interesting post...I´m only in module 1, but have frequently been asking myself, why people don´t really write much on my posts, why am I finding it soo heard to interact with people on my course or how I can make it more interesting for them to read and comment on my blog...Thank you...reading your post is making me rethink my style of writing and how I can organise my bloging a bit better as far as time is concerned too...!!

  4. I managed to complete the survey!
    Until recent,I was trying to only leave 'a comment that is helpful/meaningful to the blogger'. But actually, it is up to them to decide whether my comment is helpful or not. So for the last few weeks, I tried to just selfishly comment what I thought after reading their post, without worrying what use it has. I just hope I haven't made fellow bloggers uncomfortable or unhappy by saying things I shouldn't have said...
    Your change of question phrasing was a helpful example for my inquiry process; it generates a difference to the width of the inquiry. I wish to expand my inquiry, so asking 'what are the reasons...' instead of 'why' will direct me to investigate my data collection and analysis in a constructive way.

  5. Done the survey Adesola!

    I thought it might be helpful/interesting to offer some thoughts as to why I think you don't get more comments. I do read your posts and do sometimes comment, but admittedly not always....I hope you don't mind me being honest!

    1. I think you are definitely correct when you touched upon students feeling a certain pressure due to your position of power. It is ok to disagree or even praise a 'teacher'?
    2. You are a deep thinker; a lot of your thoughts are based on personal reflection and have a philosophical element about them. I think this is great and really inspiring, but these discussions take time to reflect on. They are ideas you need to go away and think about, it's not always easy to just digest them and quickly write a comment.
    3. Because you are trying to write blogs relevant to all module groups, I believe students may scan a post and assume it's not really for their group, or doesn't immediately seem appropriate for their place within the course.
    4. There is pressure to comment on blogs and stay active - which can be difficult to balance with full time work. If students are pushed fot time and have to make a choice, I would suggest they comment on other students blogs because we all naturally want to seek approval from our peers. Perhaps students also feel like they have 'more to gain' - you are unlikely to make comments on everyone's blogs all the time, as you have too many students for that to be possible, but if someone if active within their peer group they may be rewarded by lots of return comments.

    Hope these ideas of are some use - please don't stop writing your posts as I really do get a lot out of them. I personally will try to make more effort to formulate and articulate responses (and remember that everyone appreciates feedback no matter what their position!)

  6. Interesting comments guys, Thank You. Please don't feel pressured to comment this blog is as much an example of looking at a question as it is about the question itself.
    That being said there are some interesting themes coming through (this is what module 3ers are looking for at the moment, themes in their responses - in their data, this is in order to analyse)
    1) One is looking at comment as a kind of currency - interesting giving a comment, is worth something in time, in exchange in the peer group...interesting.
    2) The power dynamics of teacher / pupil 'v' the said 'democracy' of the internet. The social structures of the physical world are not dissolved in the inter-net world ... can this be addressed... interesting again because do we default back to something that is outside the web, what impact does web 2:0 have (if any) here.
    3) Something about communication: Here this reflects on a quote I love from Dewey (not quoted here!). But what I get out of it is communication for expression (to correct an impression say) and communication to share in a partnership of co-operation. I would see comments as part of a shared partnership of exploration of ideas but they seem to also be seen as communication of a particular idea where their value is only worthwhile when they express a particular (fixed or correct) thought.... interesting.

    Well, don't be distracted by the content of all of this too much I know you are all busy. But hopefully my process here is helping as an example, in terms of how you are looking at your own process in whatever module you are doing.

  7. Hi Adesola,

    I agree with Stephanie, especially her first and second points. If ever I read a post of yours and don't comment, it is usually because of feelings relating to those points.

    I found the whole process of you altering the question fascinating though. I have never thought about how important the relatively subtle wording of a question can have such a massive impact on the data you collect!

  8. Hi Adesola,

    I am again another guilty party of reading, digesting the information and not commenting! After reading through yours and others response I began to look at my own commenting ways. Blogging, or so I thought, provides me with an outlet and others with an inlet. So your point about communication being a shared partnership leads me to think is my blog also an outlet for others? And am I communicating enough with interesting and thought provoking ideas to be entrusted with that outlet? When posting I wasn't thinking of selling my writing for a wider audience but I will be thinking about that from now on!

    Stephanie's point about pressure raised a question in who is putting that pressure on us? you? Me? Others on the course? Other advisers? As long as we are learning and digesting all the information that is out there that we can should there be any pressure to comment unless we strongly agree or disagree? I guess that would relate to Web 2.0 in it's truest form of the more we contribute and communicate, the more we grow and evolve personally, professionally and globally.

  9. This is a very intense interesting post. as i have been having problem on my blog people not wanting to post comments and i fear that is it due to the fact that htye dont have interest in what i do? or does it mean i dont fit into the dance categories? am in a circle whereby am begininig to feel isolated nd trying to fix or point out what i can do to fix this problem.

    I feel as a person that even though i make comments on ther bloggers do they spend the same amount of time to make comments on my blog?

    i shall now take the questionnaire

  10. This is interesting in terms of Module 1 (network tasks) How are we part of a network? What commitments do we make to ourselves and to each other by the very fact we notice each other?
    Everyone is writing really interesting comments, making me think.

  11. Hi Adesola,
    I did your survey, as I am also a culprit of not commenting enough on your Blog. I think above all, we are all ( I know I definately am) just a little bit in awe of you. You have had such a great career, both dancing and choreographing and have now succeeded to such a high level in academics. Instead of giving my opinions or doubting your expertise, I think I act as a 'sponge' around your Blog- I take in and absorb your information but rarely give my own views.
    But as I have been reflecting recently alot more, due to Task 2, i realised how much I learn myself by criticising other peoples views and opinions so I will actively engage in this more often.
    Questioning each other, whether we feel they are more or less knowledgeable than ourselves is a great tool for learning. You are a perfect example, we can never stop learning!

  12. Adesola
    I have completed your questionnaire and have communicated with you once before. I constantly move my goal posts after reading your blogs, I admit reading only the blogs I feel are relevant to me. Your blogs are definitely captivating and intriguing as they should be. Your's is the blog style to emulate. As Stephanie says, it takes time to reflect what you've written. During Alan Durrant's last Campus Session he made a point of saying that he likes it if students wrote disagreeing about the subject. Could this be for more ammunition to challenge yourselves and us too of course? Although however, I'm feeling more withdrawn to comment these days? I would be interested in knowing the results of the survey.