Thursday, 4 December 2008

All in the mind

I was listening to a fascinating edition of Radio Four's All in the Mind driving home yesterday: there were two topics that caught my "ear"

The first was about the use of Blogs by people with mental health issues, and how these were being used for support, developing self awareness and informing the public at large about the reality of mental illness - dispelling stereotypes and fears.

The second was about techniques to persuade people to do what you want them to do. There were some useful "tips" here which have given me food for thought about this module next year - indeed about the programme as a whole. Getting students to engage with the on line Discussion Board is a constant struggle for tutors, and much thought has been given to the use of incentives like awarding marks, assessing postings etc. One of the thoughts I had from listening to this short article was that it needs to be sold much more as "the place to be", to generate a sense that everyone is using it so I will miss out if I don't.....

The second point though was about email and how it is a really terrible medium for persuasion because it is so cold and impersonal. The speakers main tip here was to make the email as personal as possible: using names, informal signatures or logos/colour etc.

Combining the two issues: it is noticeable how much better used the wiki forum was than Blackboard, initially, on this module. My guess is that although it was unfamiliar and difficult to access at times, it did have a much more informal look about it and there was a more personal touch in things like the profile pages which helped us get to know one another a little.

I know that some students have gone on to develop informal group sites or wikis for their teams as means of keeping in touch in a less formal way than email and work-based intranets allow. It will be interesting to see how these are taken up over time....

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