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Facts in an essays are like pepper in soup

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:23
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Facts in an essays are like pepper in soup

How do you compare and mark a variety of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)?

We need to treat them like one of those challenges they do on Top Gear, where Jeremy Clarkson - ‎Richard Hammond - ‎James May set off to Lapland in a Reliant Robin or some such and then get marks across six or so criteria. Hardly scientific, but it splits the pack.

So, let's say we take THREE MOOCs, what criteria should there be? 

  • Commitment. What percentage of participants signing up complete the course?
  • Comments. I use the word 'vibrancy' to judge the amount and nature of activity in the MOOC, so this is crudely reduced to the number of comments left. 
  • Likes. Another form of vibrancy where comments left by the team and by participants are 'liked'. It has to be a measure of participation, engagement and even enjoyment
  • Correct answers. Assuming, without any means to verify this, that participants don't cheat, when tested are they getting the answers right. This is tricky as there ought to be a before and after test. Tricky to as how one is tested should relate directly to how one is taught. However, few MOOCs if any are designed as rote learning. 

You could still end up, potentially, comparing a leaflet with an Encyclopaedia. Or as the Senior Tutor on something I have been on, a rhinoceros with a giraffe.

It helps to know your audience and play to a niche.

It helps to concentrate on the quality of content too, rather than more obviously pushing your faculty and university. Enthusiasm, desire to impart and share knowledge, wit, intelligence ... And followers with many points of view, ideally from around the globe I've found as this will 'keep the kettle bowling'. There is never a quiet moment, is there?

I did badly on a quiz in a FutureLearn Free Online Course (FOC). World War 1. Paris 1919. A new world order ... 

I think I got half right. I chose not to cheat, not to go back or to do a Google search; what's the point in that. I haven't taken notes. I wanted to get a handle on how much is going in ... or not. Actually, in this context, the quiz isn't surely a test of what has been learnt, but a bit of fun. Learning facts and dates is, or used to be, what you did in formal education at 15 or 16. This course is about issues and ideas. A 'test' therefore, would be to respond to an essay title. And the only way to grade that, which I've seen successfully achieved in MOOCs, is for us lot to mark each others' work. Just thinking out loud. In this instance the course team, understandably could not, nor did they try, to respond to some 7,000 comments. They could never read, assess, grade and give feedback to a thousand 4,000 word essays. Unless, as I have experienced, you pay a fee. I did a MOOC with Oxford Brookes and paid a fee, achieved a distinction and have a certificate on 'First Steps in Teaching in Higher Education'.

As facts are like pins that secure larger chunks of knowledge I ought to study such a FutureLearn FOC with a notepad; just a few notes on salient facts would help so that's what I'll do next week and see how I get on. Not slavishly. I'll use a pack of old envelopes or some such smile For facts to stick, rather than ideas to develop, the platform would have needed to have had a lot of repetition built into it. Facts in an essays are like pepper in soup.

Armed with an entire module on research techniques for studying e-learning - H809: Practice-based research in educational technology - I ought to be able to go about this in a more academic, and less flippant fashion. 

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H818 Activity 3.1. Task: Selecting a topic and title

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 16:10

Fig.1. Listening to a memorable and evocative 'visitor audio tour' on Alcatraz. Away from the bussle of people, by a nature reserve for nesting ganets. 

1) Theme and Format. Presentation of a multimedia model, QStream, for use before, during and after a trip that might be to a museum, historic property or battlefield.

2) With the centenary of the First World War upon us I would like to find ways to enhance the visitor experience, perhaps for those with a GCSE or A’Level, or an undergraduate interest rather than for the general public. Ideally there would be options to select a level of interest and previous understanding.

3) For this audience Secondary or Tertiary audiences will be of most interest. Perhaps even promoting an MA course for graduate Historians?

4) I have had an interest in QStream for a couple of years and developed a proposal for its use with patients with chronic illness. This is an alternative, though equally valid use for the platform. My only variation on this would be to include an audio component, and/or to track visitors so that content might be tailor to and for them.

5) How an App that spaces learning over a period of weeks and months can support the experience of visiting a museum, historic property or battlefield.

How an App is able to create a personalised experience for a visitor to a museum, historic property or battlefield that enhances the learning experience without ditracting from the artefacts or the place itself, in other words, in compliments and augments the experience created by the visitor on their trip.

6) Already familiar with QStream (aka Spaced-Ed) I checked on latest papers and developments. I searched ‘museum’, ‘augmented’ and ‘elearning’ and from a selection of around 12 papers have thus far read, in depth, two of these as well as a couple of commercial conference presentations of a museum platform.  Based on this the idea is shifting towards headphones tracked in a space feeding a bespoke sound landscape and commentary based on where a person is and their observed and apparent behaviour. One platform avoided the need for any input by the user, though for my purposes GCSE (Key Stage X), A’leve (Key Stage Y) or Undergraduate, even Graduate is considered necessary so that you compliment the person’s necessary learning experience.

7) My literature research approach can always be refined, having completed H809 Research-based practices in online learning I feel compotent to conduct a thorough search.

8) One gltich was to in error delete a folder in RefWorks rather than create a bibliography. There was no back button to undo. I make look at purchasing a commercial referencing tool such as EndNote. Having always felt that online learning was a process I felt the need to have a subject specialism too, for this reason I am taking a Masters degree in British First World War studies with the University of Birmingham. This is a very different experience. A monthly day of lectures/tutorial, a reading list with books to find from a regional university library, and an online platform that makes the OU VLE look like Whisley to Bham’s assorted allotments under the railway bridge! But you do get to meet fellow students and librarians.

9) Audio, without visuals, felse like harcking back to audioguides of the 1980s and 1990s, yet today, with GPS and other sophisticated tracking devices a visitor experience can be situated, to the spot, personalised to the individual, and still be evocative through ‘paininting pictures’ in the mind without ditracting from artefacts museum curators have so carefully chosen. A recent experience visiting Alcatraz, for all its Disneyfication and complimentary wildlife sanctuary cum Native American protest camp, included what I would describe as a BBC Radio 4 docudrama that was intelligent, moving an engaging - a blend of officer, prisoner and officer family oral memoir and soundscape. However, it did rely on the visitor being in the right spot when the audio was played so that very quickly, taking my own route around the island, I found the content in my head at odds, in an interesting way, with what I was looking at: ganets nesting on an old basketball yard (making it akin to a visit to the Farnes Islands or the Bass Rock, also an old prison) while in the distance mulitmillion dollar multi-hull yachts raced the America’s cup.

On Reflection

The experience of Alcatraz would be extended if I had this audio-tour still to listen to repeatedly, to read as a transcript and then to find links for my own research. Having circumvented the regular tour I nearly found myself embarking with the headphones still plugged in ... I'm like the characters in 'Jurassic Park', I soon tire of someone else's plot and create my own journey.  It gave new meaning to the 'birdman' of Alcatraz, for example. And I can see why Clint Eastwood would never have made it to land ... you'd be washed out into the Pacific.

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Design Science Research

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Fig.1 Hevner (2009) on the whiteboard. From Laurilard (2012)

From time to time an idea stops me in my tracks - taking notes won't do, I have to get it out of my head in bigger ways. I'll mull over this for days as it succinctly states where or how any e-learning intervention might occur and in what ways research can then be undertaken. I guess this is of relevance to most of the MA ODE modules, though H809 Researched-based practices in e-learning appears particularly appropriate. 

The temptation is to BluTack sheets of backing wall-paper to the wall and continue my doodles there. 

One to develop. I'll go and get the Hevner paper from the OU Online library.

REFERENCE

Hevner A. R. (2009) Interview with Alan R. Hevner on 'Design Science' Business & Information Systems Engineering, 1, 126-129.

Laurilard, D (2012) Teaching as design science. Building pedagogical patterns of learning and technology.

 

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It's over ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Jun 2013, 09:12

And a tear comes to my eyes ... what a hell of a journey! 1239 days. 1 point decides whether I finally get a distinction 84 vs. 85. But do I care? Staying with this learning for the next decade counts for more. Bon voyaye. I'm out of here!!

504,950 views too. Feck! I guess it'll take an OU PhD to push this to 1,000,000 ...

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Preparation, preparation, preparation ...

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And breathing space.

How I prepare a TMA or EMA is completely unlike anything I did in the early days, even in the first couple of years or more of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MA ODE). It is far more like designing an Airfix model, making the parts, then constructing the thing. At this stage, having thought about and written up all the component parts I did a rough assembly and came up with 3437 words for a 4000 word assignment.

Actually this is too many words - not a problem as I know where the fat lies, ideas expressed in too large a chunk. After that it's a case of getting the prose to flow.

Prioritise and give it time to breathe. I've pretty much given up on social media too - this is study journal and a moment to reflect. 'Blogging' and writing an academic paper are very different things - even journalism doesn't get close. Blogging is playing in the sand, journalism is a papier-mache self-indulgent sculpture, whereas academic writing is gathering together a complete set of artefacts, carefully arranging them in a cabinet and including all the labels.

 

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Time to write

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Aug 2013, 20:55

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Fig.1 H809 EMA Mindmap (for fellow H809 / MA ODErs I've added a PDF version in the TMA Forum) Created using Simpleminds.

  • H809 - Practice-based research in e-learning
  • MA ODE - Masters in Open and Distance Education
  • TMA - Tutor Marked Assignment
  • PDF - PDF

Yonks ago I realised for me the best time to study was v.early in the morning. 4.00 am to breakfast isn't unusual, 5.00 am is more typical. All it costs is an early night. This is easy too - no television. Its move from the shed to the dump is imminent.

A week ahead of schedule I find I have an EMA to complete - this'll give me a three hour, exam like run of it. Even the dog knows not to bother me.

For those on the same path the mindmap of my H809 EMA is above.

Ask if you're interested in a legible PDF version.

This gorse bush off density has patterns within it that I can decipher. The net result ought to come out somewhere around the 4,000 word mark too. This approach could not be more different to my earliest TMAs and EMAs three years ago - they were too often the product of what I call 'jazz writing' (this kind of thing), just tapping away to see where it takes you. This process used to start on scrolls of backing wallpaper taped to my bedroom wall. Now it goes onto a whiteboard first.

As always this blog is an e-portfolio: most notes, moments in student forums and references are in here.

I recommend using a blog platform in this way. You can default to 'private', or share with the OU community ... or 'anyone in the world'. One simple addition to this would be a 'share with your module cohort'.

By now I have clicked through some 165 posts taggeed H809 and can refer to H809ema for those picked out for it.

One split occured - I very much wanted to explore the use of augmented reality in museum visits, but found instead a combination of necessity and logic taking me back to the H809 TMA 01 and a substantial reversioning of it. Quite coincidentally this proposed research on adherence to preventer drugs amongst moderate to severe asthmatics had me taking a very close interest on a rare visit to a hospital outpatient's. Nasal endoscopy must look like a circus trick to the casual observer as the consultant carefully 'lances' my skull through the nose with a slender and flexible rod on which there is a tiny camera and light. 'Yes, I can see the damage from surgery' he declares (this was 33 years ago), 'but no signs of cancer'.

There's a relief.

An unexplained nose bleed lasting the best part of 10 weeks was put down to my good-boy adherence to a steroid nasal spray that had damaged the soft tissue. And the medical profession wonder why drug adherence can be so low? 20% to 60% 33 years on and courtesy of the OU Library I found a wholly convincing diagnosis - allergic rhinitis. The 'paper' runs to over 80 pages excluding references and has some 20 contributors (Bousquet, 2008). I'll so miss access to the online library as most papers appear to cost around the £9 to download. This desire to remain attached by a digital umbilical chord to such a resource is one reason I wish to pursue yet more postgraduate studying and potentially even an academic career. I get extraordinary satisfaction browsing 'stuff' to feed my curiosity.

When I stop diddling around here I'll pick off this mindmap in a strick clockwise direction from around 1 O'Clock.

Simpleminds is great as a free App. It's taken me a couple of years to get round to paying £6 for a version that can be exported into a word file though I rather enjoy the slower, more considered 'cut and paste' which adds another opportunity to reflect, expand or ditch an idea.

REFERENCE

Bousquet, J, Khaltaev, N, Cruz, A, Denburg, J, Fokkens, W, Togias, A, Zuberbier, T, Baena-Cagnani, C, Canonica, G, Van Weel, C, Agache, I, Aït-Khaled, N, Bachert, C, Blaiss, M, Bonini, S, Boulet, L, Bousquet, P, Camargos, P, Carlsen, K, & Chen, Y (2008) 'Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA) 2008 Update (in collaboration with the World Health Organization, GA2LEN', Allergy, 63, pp. 8-160, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 19 June 2013.

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Storytelling

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I have just downloaded Power Structure - a piece of software I first had on a PowerMac 15 year ago. It came on a pack of foppy discs then. It's been nearly four years since I used it - since my Macbook died. I've been begged and borrowed desktops and laptops for most of the MA ODE and have only got the money together in the last few months to get my own computer and gather in some of my favourite software.

Power Structure prompts me to construct a sound treatment once I have an idea in my head that I want to run with - not suprisingly its something that has come out of the last five months of a module on research. Somehow I've leant towards Web 2.0 or what the healthcare industry is calling Pharma 2.0 and a world where we wear and swallow microchips that gather and record data on our health.

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Who are the digital scholars ... and what does it take?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 17 Jun 2013, 05:36

 

The development of digital resources has changed scholarly practice by fundamentally changing the process of scholarly research and communication (Lynch, 2006).

REFERENCE

Lynch, C. (2006), Research Libraries Engage the Digital World: a US-UK Comparative Examination of recent History and Future Prospects’, Arriande Issue 46, http://www.ariande.ac.uk/issue46/lynch/intro.html

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The importance of stories ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 16 Jun 2013, 11:34

Telling stories to others is the means by which unconscious stories become conscious, with language reflecting the person’s mental state (Bucholtz and Hall, 2005).

One way identities are given form is through (auto-)biographical narrative where speakers identify with characters and plots, ethical and moral stances, and the discourses of multiple activity systems (Roth, 2007, Ivanič, 2006).

McConnell (2002), discussing e-learning communities in higher education, argues that students’ identities are negotiated along four dimensions: their purpose as learners, their relationship with tutors, their place in the academic world, and the boundaries between their professional practice and their group work.

REFERENCE

Bucholtz, M. and Hall, K. (2005) 'Identity and interaction: a sociocultural linguistic approach', Discourse Studies, vol., 7, no. 4-5, pp. 585-614.

Ivanic, R. (2006) Language, learning and identification . In R. Kiely, P. Rea-Dickens, H. Woodfield and G. Clibbon (eds.) Language, Culture and Identity in Applied Linguistics . Equinox pp. 7-29 Available from http://www.lancs.ac.uk/lflfe/publications/pubsdocs/Language,%20learning%20and%20identific ation.doc (accessed 2 June 2008)

 

McConnell, D. (2002) 'Negotiation, identity and knowledge in e-learning communities', In Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Networked Learning, Sheffield, U.K., pp. 248-257.

Roth, W-M. (2007) 'The ethico-moral nature of identity: Prolegomena to the development of third-generation Cultural-Historical Activity Theory', International Journal of Educational Research, vol. 46, no. 1-2, pp. 83-93

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The Red Nile

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 15 Jun 2013, 18:27

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At times you laugh out loud, always informative, great stories, full of well-known facts with a twist, as well as a myriad of gems. The kind of book I would have bought and sent to people for the pleasure of it ... not sure how that works with an eBook. If Michael Palin had got stuck in Egypt for six years, without the film crew, he might have made a stab at it. I described Robert Twigger to my wife as Michael Palin's mischievous younger brother. (I know Robert, though I've not seen him for twenty years). He's exceedingly bright but very modest, even humble. A boffin you might find going through second hand books in a pile at a charity shop.

There's a intimacy, cleverness and a flash of British funniness throughout. Encyclopedic whilst as readable as an unputdownable novel.

For me this is the very best travel writing. I've bounced into it via an need to take an interest in ethnography in H809 Practice-based research in e-learning. I found myself watching 'Seven Years in Tibet' then reading the book by Heinrich Harer. 'The Red Nile' is written in a similar vein, though Robert's relationship is with the river rather than the Dalai Lama. The book touches on a good deal of anthropological study of the peoples of the Niles (blue and white). It's value is how easy it is to read after all the academic papers, and how quotable and informed it is too.

'It seems peculiar to me that specialisation should involve developing a point of view that obscures the very subject you wish to study'.

This is I will take as a warning as I venture towards doctoral study. My interest is in learning, and e-learning in particular. Learning can apply to many, many fields. We all do it whether we want to or not.

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The future of medicine - wearable and ingested microchips

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 16 Jun 2013, 18:36

Whilst my asthma or condition isn't severe enough to justify it, imagine though taking a pill in which a microchip, 1mm is embedded. A sufficient electric charge is produced when the microchip gets wet and for a short period it transmits data to a computer (could be a wearable device such as a wristband or watch).

Armed with this data, analysed automatically, and read by you or a healthcare professional, your drug regimen and response to it is closely monitored.

In exchange for the 'big data' you 'transmit' and the knowledge on improving drugs and personalising treatment you may assist with research into the condition you have.

Your GP in this scenario may be sidelined as the specifics of your condition that warrants such an intervention goes directly to a consultant or a biochemist ... even a technician of any part of the device falters.

Papers on the above have been published in the last two/three years. This isn't science-fiction, it is science-fact.

The opportunity to dream up stories, let along to consider serious research, are endless. The scariest thing for me remains the prospect of being kept alive 'well beyond my sell by date' - literally rotting away and being conscious of this long, long after I should have been allowed to die or 'turned off'.

I heard recently of an 80 year old who committed suicide 'before it got too late'.

If you control the scenario described above, instead of the devices and drugs trying to keep you in perfect health at whatever cost, could you, if controlling them, elect to 'turn down the volume' - to achieve what we all perhaps aspire to with death, and that is to die peacefully in our sleep rather than in a strange bed, surrounded by strange people determined, not matter what level of torture is involved, to keep you alive until you last breath and heart beat?

Rather a few friends are talking about how a parent just died - I'm yet to hear a happy ending.

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Making Connections

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 13 Jun 2013, 08:42

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  • Stuff found behind the sofa
  • Mindstorms - Seymor Papert
  • Seven Years in Tibet - Heinrich Harra
  • The Future of Pharma - Brian Smith
  • H809 EMA
  • EPHMRA Conference 2013
  • P.hD Research

The stuff that came out of the sofa means nothing to me. These got shoved down the back and sides of the thing nearly a decade ago and whilst I can relate these bits to a child and our dog I cannot see the moment where the stuffing took place ... or even how it could have occurred. Lego bits got constructed on the floor. The dog should have been on the floor. We never used 'soothers' with our children so I guess a parent visited, removed one from a baby and it was lost. In learning terms I liken these artifacts to the niche ideas of an author whose context I don't comprehend - given my recent multiple visits to various museums it is also like going to a museum and walking past exhibits for which you have no context.

Mindstorms is often quoted and I can see why. It draws a lot from Piaget and even mentions Claude Levi-Strauss. I need to investigate both further. It ties into the work of Montessori too and the lessons we gain from understanding how children, or infants in particular, learn.

Seven Years in Tibet and other books by Heinrich Harrer might be better books that a film. I enjoyed the film with Brad Pitt as a lesson, not just as entertainment. My wife couldn't handle his Austrian accent. I was intrigued by the Dalai Llama and the breaking of rules which allowed his tutor to get closer than court etiquette would have permitted. It says a lot about formal vs. informal learning. As well as the drive of the pupil to comprehend.

The pharmaceutical industry inevitably touches on any research into use of prescription drugs. This academic, business school authored book, without becoming popularist, provides a serious of invaluable insights that put adherence to drugs in the wider context of funding, government, longer life and big business.

I am pulling together the EMA for H809. This segues into first interviews with potential supervisors for P.hD research in e-learning in healthcare.

My wife baulked at the £2000 fee to attend a Pharma Conference - EPHMRA. She isn't attending and will skip these things unless she joins Big Pharma or agency. Her contacts on the phone will provide some insights. Already though I squirm at 'papers' presented for an by corporate players as I cannot help but find holes - critiques being the modus operandi of H809.

 

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Potty or just excited?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 12 Jun 2013, 02:22

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Excited and nervous about getting my head around an EMA and turning this into a P.hD proposal I wacked off an email to a contact on the US East Coast not expecting a reply for 24 hours. They're potty too ... either in the office at 9.00pm last night (their time) or taking 'office' emails.

My excuse is the dog decided to dig up her bed an hour ago. (1.00pm)

I have a lot of reading to do. I've made a start on 'The Future of Pharma' which is by an OU Visiting Professor. When I crawl off back to bed (like now) this can had an odd effect on my dreams - trials, drugs, 'Big Pharma' can meld into a horror story. Not helped by a dose of Netflix 'Resident Evil' earlier on either.

'The Worlds Most Important Industry' writes the author - not how too many people see it, but then when did they or a loved one last take any kind of medication that has improved their quality of life? Personally I would have been dead in the first six months ... and at some stage in the last 30 would have succumbed to an asthma attack, flu or bronchitis ... or all three simultaneously. My brother would have died age four.

On the other hand my grandfather made it to 96 and had little to do with doctors. While my mother might have succumbed to a couple of strokes instead of being kept alive in the most pitiful state for an additional three months ...

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The Final Countdown

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The EMA is 12 days away. I ought to get a draft written in the next few days. Meanwhile I am taking a break from the literature review to go through this blog.

I have 165 entries tagged h809. I need to skim through these and add a further tag H809ema. From these I ought to feel reasonably sure that I've not missed anything out from the last 15 weeks. A couple of things I skipped over but I know what these are should I feel the need to look at them.

During this review I will create a mindmap on a whiteboard. At some stage this may be worked up in SimpleMinds and used as the essay plan, or as a table. It'll certainly be crossmatched with the word count for specific parts of the assignment.

At some stage I will edit with an examiner's hat on - does it show that I have been attentive to the 'lessons' of the module? It is showing off, it is a tick box exercise. This is not the place to go off on a tangent or to argue that a different approach is required.

When and if I have time I will migrate some of these entries over to my external blog so that I have them in future years. I think I have a couple of years to do this, but I don't imagine coming back here often once I have completed my studies.

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Information Overload or Cognitive Overload which is the problem?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 07:59

Fig.1 Exhibit A. Vital to any museum. A place to crash, reflect, nod off ... then pick yourself up to do some more.

This is going to read like an excuse to visit yet more museums.

As I reach the end of my Open University learning journey my final task is to write an EMA in which I propose a piece of research on e-learning. My inclination, with 12 days to go, is to look at the use of mobile devices in museums and how the visit experience can be enhanced by personalising the physical journey. It appears the the two problems to deal with are information overload and cognitive overload. There is too much of everything. Whilst I will always applaud serendipity there needs to be a balance between the stuff that you want to stick and the stuff that can be ignored or discarded.

Too many museum visits earlier this week has me wishing I had electric wheels and a pair of Google Glass that could take it in and edit.

  • Museum of Contemporary Art - Barcelona
  • Picasso Museum - Barcelona
  • National Museum of Catalonia - Barcelona
  • Joan Miro Foundation - Barcelona

As I prepare this assignment I plant to queue to get into the Bowie at V&A and try Google WebLab at the Science Museum and possibly the RA and Design Museums too. At least I'm within an hour of London.

My interest is, as I take teenagers to these things, to wish I could get them to that artefact or story about the artifacts creations, or the artist/creative that it will so intrigue them that they are inspired to put some heart into their art or DT.

Two years ago my late mother took her granddaughters around the RA when the Van Gogh exhibition was on. My daughter was treated to my mother, gentle and informed, guiding her then 14 year old granddaughter from quite specific letters, paintings and sketches - pointing things out, talking about technique and the thinking behind it. This was as personalised and as intimate as it gets.

I can understand how Picasso, showing interest and talent, must have been guided by his father who taught art at undergraduate level.

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H809 TMA03 Away

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 5 Jun 2014, 05:29

How often have I written that?

This is almost certainly the last. At least for the time-being. The MA ODE is in the bag and this module, the bonus track of my investigation into e-learning. Just the EMA to go - not just a research proposal, but a PhD research proposal which will be the basis of my seeking to undertake doctoral research in 2014.

If I care to I have some 25 entries for this blog too - rather than using the blog as an e-portfolio though I am finding I am loading everything into and working from Google Docs while drawing from a gallery of albums containing thousands of e-learning related images and screen grabs ... around 1600 in fact.

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Word Count for a TMA

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It is taken me nearly four hours to reduce 1780 words to 1070 words for one part of a 2000 word TMA.

  • It is worth reflecting on this exercise.
  • This is where lasting learning occurs.
  • The intellectual demands and effort means that some of this will stick.
  • I had to prioritise ruthlessly.
  • And then edit like I was writing a Tweet.
  • And as my confidence grew in what I had to say my tone became more precise and decissive.

Now the problem is the other half of the 2000 word TMA.

It now looks, by comparison, somewhat moth-eaten. If I edit with the same approach the word count will come down to 700 or less - so understandably a different kind of effort will be required to identify what I have missed out.

Onwards.

I need it out of the way so that I can get on with my very last EMA.

Which makes this my last TMA.

All the more reason to make it a good one then.

Never understimate how much time should be devoted to 'getting it right' even when you think you've got there with an earlier draft.

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Identifying student groupings for legitimate study

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 1 Jun 2013, 05:33

In my quest to understand, who, why and what we are I am fed by the OU Online Library, Google Scholar and Amazon. The paper I am currently writing (Lindroth and Berqusit, Reading 17 in H809) needs me to identify, qualify or reject, as strong or weak, boundaries that define a group of people.

Whilst I can understand the justification for a study of, say the Saami People, also of Hells Angels, and Gamers - those who role play in virtual worlds ... I am struggling with the authors who in this case felt that a decade ago certain students in H.E. could be identified as 'laptopers'. From my point of view if there was any weak culturally identity with a computer those who used Macs might have thought they stood out - or was that 'Think Different' independent mindset just a clever advertising ruse?

TMA03 is proving an enlightening journey that takes me back to an undergraduate module I did on anthropology - then still largelly an historic, geographically definable adventurer into unknown societies. More so than with any other module in the MA ODE family I have taken several steps beyond the confined of the resources. Courtesy of the Web it is with relative ease, and a little damage to my wallet, that I am able not only to pull out papers, but a number of eBooks and second hand paperbacks have also made it to my desk.

Making Knowledge: Explorations of the Indissoluble Relation between Mind, Body and Environment (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute Special Issue Book Series) [Kindle Edition] By: Trevor H. J. Marchand

Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography (School of American Research Advanced Seminar Series) James Clifford and George Marcus

Tales of the Field: On Writing Ethnography, Second Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and) John Van Maanen



 

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The House and Garden have done for my OU Student Blog ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 22 May 2013, 06:42

Pulling the house and garden apart has produce a victim ... OU work has to be carried out in a more strategic fashion, typically very early in the morning before the mayhem around me begins.

The EMA could be an interesting challenge - I'm having a cataract operation. Apparently a combination of skiing and sailing has damaged my eyes  (UV damage) ... I'm yet to be convinced of the need for an operation for 'lens replacement' for another decade or two though ... (I have twice worked a season in the French Alps ... 31 and 29 years ago though!) That an having a 'sun lamp' at home when we were growing up ... and my father even got a sunbed. We always wore dark google wit the sunlamp but would lie on the sunbed without any protection reading a book sad

Despite the above I have devoured two additional books for H809 not on the 'reading list' and ordered a third.

  1. David Garson (2011) Validity and Reliability.
  2. John Van Maanen (2011) 2nd Ed. Tales of the Field. On writing ethnography.
  3. James Clifford and George Marcus (1986) Writing culture. The poetics and politics of ethnography.

This is something I miss, that 'standard text', H810 being the exception. Getting to know one or two authors well has a lot to be said for it, rather than constantly dipping between the multiple voices of the Course Team and papers.

Cataract Surgery

(The above is also an excellent example of a succinct, professional explanatory animation).

How to be put off a cataract operation!

Perhaps this is better

Tips (what I'll be telling my teenagers):

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Do not burn.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Usa a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours, or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
  • See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.

Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses have been popular with people for years, both for comfort and as a fashion accessory. However as studies and research continue to demonstrate a relationship between UV-A/UV-B exposure and ocular disease, the protection of the long-term health of your eyes is yet another reason to wear sunglasses. In order for sunglasses to provide adequate protection for your eyes, they should:

  • Block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation;
  • Screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light;
  • Have lenses perfectly matched in color and free of distortion and imperfection;
  • Have lenses that are gray, green or brown.

What to look for in sunglasses.

(I wonder if I ever wore sunglasses when windsurfing in the 1980s?)

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It took me a year ... no longer, 18 months. Even longer than that, two years, to recognise what it took to get consistently high marks.

I couldn't fathom what people were doing.

Is it a formula? Or just application? Is there a method? Whatever it takes until you feel confident you know what is going on ... so read, read again, ask questions. Then going and read something else. Disagree, agree ... sleep on it. Then, ever so slowly it starts to dawn on you. This is what they are on about. I am prone to read well beyond the listed resources though, picking through papers until I find the one that speaks to me - the voice that expresses it in a way that has ressonance. And I am prone, within reason, to get the book that is cited in a paper I like ... so a collection of second handbooks under the table and a larger collection of eBooks. eBooks I read faster, highlight and take notes as I go along, then migrate notes and quotes into a Google Doc. I kid myself when I have a lot to read that it is different on the Kindle, the iPad or on the TV size screen that is ... well the TV (but my computer too).

A couple of weeks ago I took the TV and put it in the shed. One of those things the size of a pedal car.

No one misses it.

Everyone is on a screen elsewhere in the house. We stream movies. We use BBC iPlayer.

I don't miss clicking between channels looking for something to watch, finding nothing much but glued to the thing for a few things all the same.

Movies?

Ironclad

That's the way to do Medieval!

A week away in April and I still haven't recovered my old rhythmn. Nor will I. Instead of bloggin I have every conceivable thing to sort out with the house and garden. Somehow both were abandoned for three years - I wonder why that was?

The lawn was so bad I needed an industrial strimmer. The lawnmower I bought in 2007 is still in its original packaging in the shed.

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H809: Activity 13.2 - Reflections and notes

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 24 May 2013, 11:03

Participation in ...

Observation of ...

What is the Chicago School?

In sociology and later criminology, the Chicago School (sometimes described as the Ecological School) was the first major body of works emerging during the 1920s and 1930s specialising in urban sociology, and the research into the urban environment by combining theory and ethnographic fieldwork in Chicago, now applied elsewhere. While involving scholars at several Chicago area universities, the term is often used interchangeably to refer to the University of Chicago's sociology department—one of the oldest and one of the most prestigious. (Wikipedia)

Requires a chapter, even a book on it. Possibly a block, even a module in its own right.

Does the ethnography depend upon the physical presence of the enthnographer in the midst of the people being studied? (Hammersley, 2006 :08)

Not any more. An ethnographer in a virtual world amongst virtual people is present. Is, however, an ethnographer present where they to observe footage from Big Brother, either in real time, or post-production (literally). Are we ‘kitchen ethnogrpahers’ when we watch a TV series about a group ‘under observation’?

‘With the availability of mobile phones and portable computers, electronic virtuality is now embedded within actuality in a more dispersed and active way than ever before’. (Hammersley, 2006:08)

Is interviewing ethnographic? (Hammersley, 2006:09) How else do you ‘give voice’ to the participants and capture their perspectives?

Witness accounts are flawed.

A witness might lie, but will certainly have a stance, however nuanced, they may even have a false memory. Indeed, over time, the nature of this memory will change other ideas, true or false recollections aggregate to it. And is impacted by the context. (Hammersley, 2006:09)

Rather to record conversations … but who is to set the guidelines? (Hammersley, 2006:10)It can be argued that everything we do or perceive is real. Whether in a virtual world, or dreaming ... or 'the real thing'.

The experience has a form in that an electro-biological process has taken place in all these cases - it's in your head! Science Fiction writers and filmmakers play around with this all the time. My understanding from neuroscience is that typically any memory, or rethinking of a memory or experience, connects with some 15 areas around the brain ... which change (enhance, diminish). The scale and scope amongst our 98 billion neurons is ... well, vast. So much of what we do or experience can and will have only a tiny impact on who we are (genetically decided construction of the brain during foetal development) and what we experience (whether this experience is internal or external). Does the brain even differentiate between conscious and unconsciousness, beyond tagging them one or the other so that, however vivid it was, you know that was a dream where you turned into a flying fish ... or that running around like Conan the Barbarian with the head of a wolf in World of War Craft is not the same as sitting in a Geography class. Neuroscience is trying to see and map fractions of activity in the brain, but this is a long way from offering such human-coloured maps as evidence, say of specific learning having occurred, so short of an objective result we can only rely on the subjective i.e. to ask a lot of probing questions and draw conclusions.

In relation to a face-to-face as virtual, surely there is more in common with a Skype interview 'face to face' and a similar interview over a table ... but there are degrees of virtual and 'real' as an interview when in role play or improvising say as a character in World of Warcraft would surely be more akin to the an exercise that actors do. Or what about role playing real people in order to prepare for a debriefing, or tough interview ... as in media training for managers?

Fascinating ... my curiosity has been re-engaged even if professionally strictly quantitative plays so well into funding mechanisms. You design learning that can be quantified, using  appropriately accommodating learning theories, so that investors can monitor their return.

People in virtual worlds are themselves - but more so.

i.e. in various forms people might either be themselves big time, almost hyping up who they are while others would take a part of themselves and enhance that ... so they roleplay the minor god (in the Greek sense), or swap gender, or role play being a teenager again ... or for that matter being older than they are. i.e. the original person is still at the core of it all.

 

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H809: Activity 13.1

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 24 May 2013, 11:22

Read pp. 3–8 of Hammersley’s paper, up to the heading ‘Context as virtual’. Identify the ways in which Hammersley talks about context and, in particular, what he identifies as ethnographic understandings of context.

 

In Week 8 context was identified as an issue in research methods generally. How do you think Hammersley addresses the issues concerning context raised in Week 8?

The point made introducing Activity 8.3 is that ‘ Crook and Dymott (2005) adopt a different theoretical approach to learning and context. Hence their research adopts different methodologies compared to the studies discussed by Tolmie.

From Tolmie (2001). Surroundings mean different things to different people. It is naive and deterministic to think that people are so easily governed by their context. The individual over the surroundings. Unless we think students are like a uniform tribal grouping.

‘They are necessarily employed within pre-existing contexts of educational and social activity’. Tolmie (2001) But such ‘contexts’ are or have been radically overhauled, take ESSA in Manchester by way of example. Both how and where the students and teachers interact matters. Rather like product design - form and function. The two are complimentary.

Crook and Dymott (2005) seem focused on the interaction between the various media of life, in particular written texts, lectures and social interactions affect the manner in which we think and express that thinking. Writing to me is a function of the communicating clusters in our brain and will produce the similar ‘comprehension’ results whether cunieform on clay, hieroglyphys on stone, handwriting on papyrus, printing on paper, text on a screen or an annotated animation in a video. The way the brain interlinks with other parts of the brain, and does so in different ways every time a fact is remembered will differ. An item listed on clay will be associated with the act of tapping a hammer into the clay, or an idea expressed via a QWERTY keyboards and printed off might recall the smell of the printer ink .. but does the kernel of the thought differ? To what degree is context the wrapping and associations rather than the information itself?

Learning is both an artefact and a process - the artefact exists as a potential in the brain and when stimulated can in part, through the complexity, be seen in a fMRI scan. The process of learning takes place as an interaction with the world around us, more people, but also the context and ours.

From the recorded memoirs of my late grandfather Jack Wilson, (Vernon, 2008) I wonder how, as an office boy age 14-18 he responded or changed to going from a ‘copy writer’ using 'copying ink' and using carbon paper to using the Blickenfurentstater typewriter that was brought round to the office one morning … and handed to him to master. It intrigues me that even a hundred years ago one generation might hand ‘new technology’ to the youngest member of the team or group … as if we expect the youthful mind and attitude to be more plastic? He lived through a period of extraordinary change - first motorcars, typewriters, telephones, aeroplanes … ‘total war’ … part and parcel (his expression) of these technological innovations were changes in society, not least caused by the First World War. Yet in all of this I can’t see how the context can be isolated from the far more significant influence of the person as an individual or in their community … that historically calamitous events and physical change to the environment fail to have a profound effect, collectively, on who or what we are as humans. Was it Prof. Robert Winston who said that Homo Sapiens doing Cave Paintings has more, not less, in common with a concert pianist in the 20th century? I do rather think that the capacity and scope of the human brain rather outweighs context.

Is context a red herring? Would it not be more interesting to understand what is going on in the brain of the person? That internal ‘context’ is surely where the ‘action’ i.e. the learning and memory formation, is taking place?

REFERENCE

Crook, C. and Dymott, R. (2005) ‘ICT and the literacy practices of student writing’ in Monteith, M. (ed.) Teaching Secondary School Literacies with ICT, Maidenhead, Open University Press.

Tolmie, A. (2001), Examining learning in relation to the contexts of use of ICT. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 17: 235–241. doi: 10.1046/j.0266-4909.2001.00178.

Vernon, J.F (2008) That’s Nothing Compared to Passchendaele (accaessed 9th May 2013. http://machineguncorps.com/)

 

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Connectivism - a first bibliography

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 24 May 2013, 11:23

Academic

Title

Dave Cormier

Connectivism: Its place in theory-informed research and innovation in technology-enabled learning

de Waard, I. (2011). Explore a new learning frontier: MOOCs. Retrieved from Learning Solutions Magazine website: http://bit. ly/mSi4q


McAuley, A., Stewart, B., Siemens, G., & Cormier, D. (2010). The MOOC model for digital practice.


de Waard, I. (2011). Explore a New Learning Frontier–MOOCs (Jul 11).


Dave Cormier’s blog

http://davecormier.com/edblog/


Stephen Downes

Downes, S. (2010). New technology supporting informal learning. Journal of Emerging Technologies in Web Intelligence, 2(1), 27-33.


Mackness, J., Mak, S., & Williams, R. (2010). The ideals and reality of participating in a MOOC. In Networked Learing Conference (pp. 266-275). University of Lancaster.


Calvani, A. (2009). Connectivism: new paradigm or fascinating pot-pourri?. Journal of E-learning and Knowledge Society, 4(1).


Kop, R., & Hill, A. (2008). Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past?. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning,9(3).

Jim Groom

Stevens, V. What’s with the MOOCs?*** On the Internet*** March 2013–Volume 16, Number 4.


Mahraj, K. (2012). Using information expertise to enhance massive open online courses. Public Services Quarterly, 8(4), 359-368.


McGuire, Mark. "Open Strategies in Higher Education: Opportunities and Challenges."


Casanova, Diogo. "Punking up Education! New perspectives for teaching and learning." Indagatio Didactica 2.1 (2010): 84-93.



George Siemens

Siemens, G. (2006). Connectivism: Learning theory or pastime of the self-amused.Retrieved February, 2, 2008.


Siemens, G. (2010). Teaching in social and technological networks. Connectivism: networked and social learning.




 

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H809: Activity 11.7

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 4 May 2013, 05:16

Reading 11: Richardson (2012)

Face to face versus online tuition: Preference, performance and pass rates in white and ethnic minority students

 

Make notes as before. You can keep your notes on paper, in Word on your computer, or in your blog.

We suggest that you use the questions from Activity 1.4 (or elaborations of these questions) to guide your note taking.

In addition, we want you to try to classify the studies using Tables 11.1 and 11.2.

We also want you to note any difficulties you have with this task:

  • Are there words or concepts you don’t understand?

  • Are there statistical terms or methods that are new to you?

Finally, how convinced were you by the research?

There are plenty of approaches that I am not familiar - what worries me or interests me is I cannot comprehend why or how the research question was ever considered one that would produce a valid result of any kind. It strikes me as working with a woefully small sample. It strike me that the words 'ethnic and black' are, like 'climate change' in there to garner funding. It also takes a ludicrously parocial and simplistic view of the human condition and what defines us as people. To be truly detereminisitic why not define people by the ward where they werebrn, or the LEA region where they were educated? The idea that this study could ever distinguish between online and face-to-face seems obvious - why do it if the study is akin to taking a magnifying glass to one corner of a Persian carpet ... then repeating the exercise somewhere else on the same carpet. These are pre-Web 2.0 techniques imposed onto a 'connecting' world in a period of transition.

 

Race a discredited term – rather use 'ethnitcity'

 

Many minorities within white.

 

(Why not have students offer an identity of their own construction? How would you define yourself? My choice would be Oxbridge Educated Atheist English ...

 

Not, do you fit into any of these categories, and if you do, are there any correlations ... but rather drawn from the students themselves are their preferable, better and more representative ways of doing it?

 

The contrast, in the examples chosen, between online and face–to–face is simply not great enough. Neither, either taking an holisitic view could surely be expected to impinge on who the individual is (genetic, DNA, neurobiological) or their background, upbringing or present individual circumstances (where/how they live, family, finances ....)

 

I prefer face–to–face – does this show a conservatism in that group? An unwillingness to try something untried?

 

Is the author asking the right questions?

 

How exclusively online is online where a student may be able to discuss at length the contents of their course with family, friends and colleagues – even people who have already done the course?

 

The quality of online tuition I have received during the MA ODE has almost always been hugely below expectations. Fsce to face the tutor hasti engage for the full time that you and other students are present, while the impression I have, too often, with online tutors is that they are watching the clock and give individual enquiries and questions inadequate consideration.

 

Carefull about making inferences due to causal factors as students chose the kind of tuition they would receive.

 

Sample, far, far too small.

 

REFERENCE

 

Richardson, J. T. E. (2012) ‘Face-to-face versus online tuition: Preference, performance and pass rates in white and ethnic minority students’, British Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 17-27; also avilable online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/ doi/ 10.1111/ j.1467-8535.2010.01147.x/ pdf (Last accessed 04 April 2013).

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H809 Activity 11.1 Paper and pencil surveys vs. online surveys ... and the ghost of Douglas Adams

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 20 Oct 2014, 11:25

Douglas Adams would have enjoyed the conundrums and shifts and highlighted the potential for farce and inaccuracy, while throwing up some universal truths about us human beings – we are chaotic, unstable and include contrarians amongst us. In particular I wonder about the sense that we have multiple and shifting personalities and behaviours which are in constant flux and either stabilised or destabilised by who we are and circumstances.
 
In 2001 a diary platform I used introduced surveys and they become an entertainment form both in how questions were posed and what they revealed about the person. As they were public and discussed it was clear that for some these were a performance of sorts and a long, long way from being valid, but often great stories and insightful the way good fiction can be. Adam Joinson talks of people easing off the surveys   – indeed, they are far too easy to create and more often than not these days are for 'data mining' rather than research. You know the genuine survey because of the volume of legalese and the 'boring' (though accurate) format of the survey itself. And they take time to fill in, rather than survey 'quickies' which are likely to be the first stage in a sales pitch.
 
Completing Job specs online are a kind of survey – it was and is so much easier simply to attach a CV, but few institutions now permit this. How therefore do we, the respondees, maintain control over what we are saying and how this data may be shared, revealed or used. Even the OU's OLDS MOOC, only now long after it is over, have I read the last couple of paragraphs saying that the MOOC will be used for research purposes and that they cannot even guarantee that identities might be revealed. This therefore leads to bias in the way people self–select – those who do the surveys having an agenda, or wanting to have a voice, while a significant percentage of others won't go near them (or even have a social presence online). Just because someone isn't on Facebook or Linkedin doesn't mean they don't exist.
 
As for context, courtesy of the iPad, if I complete a survey and it is 'fun' to do then I am likely to be in the bath or on the loo. Or half asleep and in bed with a few minutes to kill before my wife emerges from her study and we both give up for the day. Mood impacts results. People could just as well fit these in while commuting into work – all this has to impact on mood and attitude and therefore the kind and quality of responses. This from someone who will vote red, blue, green or yellow depending on my 'feelings' that week.
Do the problems get 'ironed out' with sample size? 10,000 online responses compared to '100' off the street for example?
 
My experience with medical market research is that different interviewers – crabby, old, blunt and plain compared to jolly, eager journalistic and young has a knock on effect all the way down the line - the nature and quality if the interview to start with - but this translates, literally, into the person who analyses these interviews - say 30/40 each an hour long. The scope for bias and inaccuracy increases - and is then reduced to a summary as no one has time to read the full report. (And even where commercial sponsorship of surveys is announced audiences of professional ar conferences, it has been shown, tune this information out - like warnings on cigarette packets).
 
On time , or late. Location. Kind of recording device. 'Payment'. Rather the same avatar, rather like a SatNav?
 
Questionable when feedback or desire to communicate is presented as a survey – so moments after posting I find I have the response, 'oh, that's an  interesting concern, I'll copy in, or make sure they know'.
 
I have from time to time just ran through a survey I felt obliged to do and given everything the top mark. Just before posting I see that the Likert scale has been inverted or turned around from time to time so I may be saying I thought X or Y was dreadful. I post anyway on the basis that it'll be marked as an invalid paper but at least I have had the satisfaction of doing the thing and in some instances 'getting it off my back' having volunteered to take surveys every quarter from the local council.
 
As for humanity or humour some of the surveys and results in Viz Magazine or Private Eye say more about the human psyche and British humour than any formal survey can manage.
 
If anyone fancies a 27 part 'dream survey' I've had online let me know.
I'll leave the kinds of things created at the frontiers of blogland circa 2001 to your imagination.
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