five days five quotes challenge – #3

The way to describe a first and last sentence in a piece of writing is just.too much!!
Again, in awe to Patt Thomson and her magnificent advise. I am getting there!


So far so good with the quotations then. This one may seem bitdifferent at first – but then maybe you are starting to see a bit of a theme in my choices...

First sentences are promissory notes. Whether they foreshadowplot, sketch in character, establish mood, or jump-start arguments, the road ahead of them stretches invitingly and all things are, at least for the moment, possible. Last sentences are more contained in their possibilities. They can sum up, refuse to sum up, change the subject, leave you satisfied, leave you wanting more, put everything into perspective, or explode perspectives. They do have one advantage: they become the heirs of the interest that isgenerated by everything that precedes them; they don’t have to start the engine, all they have to do is shut it down. This means they often come across as elegiac: the reader is leaving something he or she…

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five days five quotes challenge – #2

For me more difficult than doing the planning per se is sticking to each day! Hard work for me! Routine and routine! Hoe important it is for writing! Thanks Patt for this!


This week I’m posting a favourite writing related quotation each day. Today’s quotation is about the importance of planning. 

I plan. I’m a planner. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it really is quite important – planning makes life easier and makes something as ridiculously large as a novel possible. We could just swim off into one without planning, of course we could – we could just stick our arms into wood-chippers, or paint ourselves with molten lead – there’s no end to the ludicrous and self-harming things we, as human beings, could get up to. But, honestly, really truly, novels provide all the ludicrous self-harm anyone could reasonably need. (In addition to all of the good bits.) Set out on a novel without adequate planning and I will bet you considerable sums, perhaps even of money, that you will then fall into a massive chasm, heaving with all…

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Write + flourish by Tara Gray


Excellent advice to start writing🙂 The tittle is revealing and I think it is so true. We do flourish writing!

‘Big data’ in action: Linking 180 million tweets with 600,000 police records

New trends in social science research

ESRC blog

Professor Matthew Williams and Dr Pete Burnap are directors of the ESRC-funded Social Data Science Lab that continues the successful COSMOS programme of work. The Lab forms part of the Data Innovation Research Institute, which will be housed within the new Social Science Research Park at Cardiff University.

Together with colleagues (Dr Luke Sloan and Professor Omer Rana) they recently presented their intriguing findings about the power of pulling large sets of data from social media in front of 150 policymakers, academics and industry experts at the Data Science and Government ConferenceThe event, organised by the Behavioural Insights Team, looked at how emerging techniques in data science can best be used to support policy agendas in a range of areas.

Professor Matthew Williams and Dr Pete Burnap Professor Matthew Williams and Dr Pete Burnap

Many would say there has been a lot of hype about the promise of Big Data and…

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M-25 LTG meeting-comments and feedback

If you have any comments, please leave them in the section below.

The Storify of our afternoon meeting at University of Westminster



The Politics of the Global Challenges Research Fund


Pop Theory

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 16.14.24In UniversityLand in the UK, alongside various worries about the TEF, OfS, and UKRI (try to keep up) generated by the government’s Higher Education white paper, there is also a sudden flurry of notice being taken of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). This was formally announced before Christmas in George Osborne’s Spending Review. It is now officially launched as “a new Resource funding stream” (see the RCUK’s brief  on the GCRF).  That’s how it is being presented at University level, by research and funding councils, and in cross-University partnerships. The GCRF is part of the UK science and research budget, so it belongs to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), according to whom “It provides an additional £1.5bn of Resource spend over the next five years to ensure that UK research takes a leading role in addressing the problems faced by developing countries. This fund will harness the…

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#AcWriSummer: Week 2 – Abstract Writing & Selecting a Journal

TechKNOW Tools

Last week, I shared how we were setting up an #AcWriSummer accountability group. Well, it happened. Thanks to Patrice, Catherine, & Caroline who are joining me on this 8-week #AcWri adventure as we go through the workbook created by Wendy Laura Belcher: Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks. Also, much thanks to Wendy, who shared her syllabi, as we work through our “short course” this summer. Here’s what our #AcWriSummer 2016 Plan looks like for the next few weeks:

  • 6th June WEEK 1: Chapter 1: Designing your plan for writing => Ideas for article; barriers; planning this short course
  • 13th June WEEK 2: Chapter 2 & 4: Abstract writing & Selecting a Journal
  • 20th June WEEK 3: Chapter 5: Reviewing the literature => (Reflections on) Lit review
  • 27th June WEEK 4: Chapter 3 & 6: Advancing argument &…

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Writing! Writing! Only doing it I can improve

I will start tomorrow a summer challenge #AcWriSummer, aimed at improving my writing skills and to practice, coached by others, to stick to a writing schedule. Although I am a hard worker it is difficult for me to stick to a schedule. I tend to be driven by deadlines although I start to produce ideas and collect material at the beginning of any writing or research challenge, the engine starts producing very near of the deadline leaving little room and time for editing and revising, a fundamental part of writing.

We are going to use the book How to write an article in 12 weeks written by Wendy Belcher. I started to do some research about the book and I found a podcast with @WendyLBelcher on writing productivity.

Planning. Paragraphs. Post-it notes: A Dyslexic, part-time PhD student shares his writing tips and tricks

“I go through spells where I don’t do anything. I just sort of have lunch—all day.” Writing is not my natural forte, I like the Nora Ephron quote above about her writing process, so similar to mine…

Source: Planning. Paragraphs. Post-it notes: A Dyslexic, part-time PhD student shares his writing tips and tricks


Cyclops and the wild Poseidon in my Journey to Ithaca

This post I write inspired and humbled by a message I received yesterday from my Director of Studies after our supervisory team meeting with a new member in it.

I think one of the things that characterises a good supervision is mutual respect and both sides learning. I came away from Thursday with an increased respect for your attitude towards learning and growth.

Indeed, we had a hard and heated discussion about my report for the progression assessment panel. They made me many hard and harsh questions. Some of them I could answer but others I found myself caught in being the evangelist of my idea. This feeling I felt quite embarrassing and life changing in a way. It generated intellectual wounds that will make me grow. That void and sometimes black space where we have to enter if we want to make profound changes.

In the discussion, Mary questioned my assumptions and my beliefs and showed me in a cruel and brilliant way how much I am promoting my idea. How I am an advocate for the PLE instead of a researcher that is trying to find out about it.

And yes, it is true! I BELIEVE in the approach and I believe in the positive effects of working with such an approach. That is what the existing literature stands for, isn’t it? You read the empirical evidence of others, and you start to think of the approach as a useful means of achieving the goals that are guiding and driving your teaching. But this has a place in the research, I guess not at the beginning. In any case, what I do understand is that being an evangelist will not be of any help as Neil Selwyn suggests in his book. We need to be dispassionate and skeptic if we aim at contributing to any change in the status quo of educational technology.  I took the suggestion seriously, and my reflection process is unfolding painfully as transformation always is for me. But I feel so much better!

I want to answer to Darren’s message, which has given me strength and courage to keep me enthusiastic on this research journey with the key ideas that are in Cavafy’s poem: Ithaca (my mantra in life).

Five years ago, when I left my home country, Venezuela, I set out for Ithaca, this  was my vision. Ithaca being the journey of self-exploration and growth (also professional growth). That journey has been as Cavafy describes it, my mantra in life: Adventure and discovery!

I quote as it explains brilliantly what I think happens when I go to a supervisory meeting

Laistrygonians and Cyclops, angry Poseidon-don’t be afraid of them: you will never find things like that on your way as long as you keep your thoughts raised high, and long as a rare excitement stirs your spirit and your body. Laistrygonians and Cyclops, wild Poseidon-you won’t encounter them unless you bring them along inside your soul, unless your soul sets them up in front of you

Mary, my new supervisor, could have taken the shape of an angry Poseidon and Darren that of a Cyclop or/and a Laistrygonian when they were challenging my ideas asking me so difficult questions. I even felt scary. For a moment, I felt that my beliefs and ideas were not true and even worse, were somehow interfering in my journey to become a researcher, which is why I set out for Ithaca in the first place.

But this is not what happened in the session, Mary and Darren instead are the scholars I met in the Egyptian cities, from which I have been gathering stores of knowledge and wisdom to advance in this Journey to Ithaca. They are the harbors Cavafy names in his poem, the Phoenician trading stations where I have been stopping and finding in their advice mother pearls and coral, amber and ebony, gems of wisdom and experience to shape my raw and still naive ideas about educational technology and research.

There are still more storms to come as I move further in this journey. New scholars with which I will meet and new oceans and different directions that I will have to navigate. But I am confident and serene although sometimes the waves are big and swirls will surely come in my way. Because as Cavafy says, as long as a rare excitement stirs my body and my spirit I won’t encounter neither a wild Poseidon nor an intimidating Cyclop, instead I find two wise and loving supervisors that challenge me while holding my hand so I do not fall into a swirl but be aware of their presence so I can find an alternative route through which I can navigate safely to Ithaca.  Thank you for being there in my journey and teach me with so much care.

My journey so far has been amazing. Full of surprises, new discoveries, challenges, sad moments, grief and sometimes huge anxiety of being on the wrong track not being able to accomplish this part of the journey to Ithaca. But in all the difficult moments, although I am away from home, from the safe-space, that which I know well, I have always kept Ithaca in my mind and my thoughts are always, as Cavafy says, raised high, very high! Arriving there is what I am destined for. But I am not in a hurry. I have still so much to discover, to learn, to think about, to explore, to find out.

What I do hope is that when I arrive, full of experience and hopefully some wisdom, I can share my joy with some of these sensational people I met on that journey.