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Areas of the brain triggered by difference senses

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 09:28
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Wellcome Foundation

Should anyone suggest to you that you are left or right brained then go to the Wellcome Foundation and look at this extraordinary artwork: 3d expressions of the parts of the brain triggered when a person smells different things.

Learning is the same.

Whilst drawing upon or from increasingly recognised common parts of the brain, the brain, in using and creating memories taps into multiple and diverse areas - some of them unique to the person. I smell mothballs I immediately recall 'sleeping over' as a boy at my granny's house.

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What impact does alcohol have on the brain?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 14 Sep 2014, 08:36

Fig.1 Does alcohol have a permanent effect on the brain?

The answer is 'yes', though of course it is dependant on many variables: binge drinking is bad, like a blow to the head. This comprehensive heavy-weight article I Googled, 'Alcohol's Damaging Effects on the Brain' satisfies my initial curiosity, then the above shocking image catches my eye.

Dare I ask if we know any child who clearly showed such facial traits?

Far too late to do anything about it though.

After this paper like post from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism I eventually start looking to chase up a few references (the very best way to satisfy you curiosity and layer detail onto the ideas you are gathering) when I read that 'memory formation and retrieval are highly influenced by factors such as attention and motivation'.

From E-Learning V

This quote from Kensinger E A et al in the Journal of Neuroscience 2003. Title: What neural correlates underlie successful encoding and retrieval? Not Found in the OU Library so I cut and paste into Google Scholar and there it is to download as a PDF.

It is not surprising that scientific research shows (not speculation) that distraction diminishes attention and therefore retention, nor surprising that a low level distraction has less impact than a high one.

Does a teenager (or any of us) supposedly doing homework while

a) interacting on Facebook

b) answering text messages

c) streaming a movie and/or

d) playing a video game

... complete a task half as well than when focused?

Exam conditions aren't just best for exams:

turn off the radio and phone, shut the door, put up a 'Do Not Disturb' sign, give yourself a set period of time in which to concentrate ... and reward yourself at the end of it (not with alcohol though).

Why we all need a 'room of our own'? (Even if you have to wait until someone else vacates it).

Better an hour studying when motivated and focused, then three hours while streaming a movie, or answering email?

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Dreams

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 3 Oct 2014, 09:15
From 2BlogI

I rarely write about these, though feel obliged when they are so telling. I had another double bill of movie like dreams. I won't bore you with the detail but I challenge any of these new 'memory' apps to account for them. What is my head up to? It's very probably because I am, after six or seven years of not having done so, thinking about storytelling: character, plot and narrative arcs. Where's that in a mini series such as 'The Borgias'. Some of these series, however often there is a murder or sex act after a while become as interesting as standing at a bus stop and starting to recognise the same faces every day. 

Nabakov said something about 'loving a memory to make it real'.

Can an App love something as abstract as a memory? It strikes me that memories can never be digitised, that as the construct, at that moment, of a chemical process, that they will be forever analogue. Can you digitise a chemical process?

Memory is not a photograph, or recording, not even something you have written down, rather a memory is what your brain at that moment chooses to construct for you drawing upon sources in various, and differing corners and recesses of your brain. It takes very little to alter this mix. Nothing you recall can ever be the way you remember it before, far from being frozen in time, as a digital form would do, it erupts like gas from a swamp.

In my early teens I had one of those 'Five Year Diaries' that offer four or five lines per day. After five years you have what you did on that day for five years. It took a long while for me to move on from these. What I did was try to write something about that day that would provide recall of some kind. I don't need the video of the day. Or an assortment of photographs. All it takes is a phrase, a place, person or event. Something you ate or saw on TV. Oh dear. I just saw that I thought my new girlfriend's breath was bad. She read this by chance a few years later. Together for five years we finally left each other in tatters a decade later. I can see where we were standing. Her Dad had come to pick her up. Neither of us could drive. She was 16, I was nearly 18. Do I need a gadget to replace my mind's eye?

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Digital Memory - false prophets, commercialisation based on limited knowledge, an inevitable shift ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Sep 2014, 10:43
From E-Learning V 

 

"It's as radical as looking at the difference between the roots of a tree and the petals of a flower".

 

Thanks for the Memory, In Business.

Peter Day Thursday 4th and Sunday 7th September

BBC Radio 4 

The power of serendipity.

At 21:33 last night my wife called from a rural train station. Apologising for being 'like my late Mum', she said there was something on the radio that might interest me. And so, 12 hours later I am about to listen to this for the FOURTH time. This isn’t because of its academic value per se, rather for its irritation factor. Going by the online monnica of ‘MindBursts’ for the best part of a decade hints at where my latent, longterm interests lie. What a mess and joy ‘natural’ memory can be; I’m yet to see an algorithm deliver credible serendipity. When did my mother last call me in this way? She died exactly two years ago. It would have to be about three to two and a half years ago and most likely would have been Samuel Pepys dramatised for radio, or the hints then of the content that is now flooding the airwaves on the First World War.  Letting that memory fizzle, reform and sink back into my brain. Does this programme trivialise or simply ignore the complexity of the brain? No neuroscientist was interviewed. Shame. 

Very often the BBC and Peter Day et al get it right, but here the researchers and writers have got horribly lost, like a kid on their first visit to a fairground they have run about picking up hifhafultiing fag ends, being impressed by trivia, while occasionally calling in an academic or business big hitter. My concentration lapses on each time of listening after 15, then 20, then 25 minutes. The FIFTH and SIXTH listening my start in the middle. What these programme need, regardless of accessibility needs, is a transcript. I could have got this in a couple of sittings by listening to Peter Day while reading the transcript.

There is value in imperfection. There is value in being irritated by a programme. Had this been a lecture I would have had a list of questions at the end, I may even have heckled or muttered my annoyance along the way.

What a hotchpotch.

There are problems of audience, intent, journalist sensationalism, taking such a random and ranging set of examples and setting them as if they warrant or deserve to share the same platform. 

It begins with something that would have a live audience listening to a stand-up comic nodding in agreement: our no longer having phone numbers in our head. Why would we try to recall the complex and the trivia, an area code as a name with and three digit number, say Wideopen 3119 (my home phone when I was a kid) is easy; not so easy, especially after repeated additions and alterations are the lengthy and multiple contacts we have today. And what was wrong with the pocket address book in its day? It wasn't a case of remembering a phone number, so much as remembering where we'd put our address book.

Technology is there to manage our memories. Luciano Floridi

"It's as radical as looking at the difference between the roots of a tree and the petals of a flower".

This is the man who should have carried the programme; instead we get a soundbite at the start and another at the end. As bookends his profound thoughts barely tether this piece. Perhaps it just tries far too hard to cover everything in a myriad of ways and ends up trying to catch smoke rings in its fingers?

We hear from:

Evernote: set up six years ago, a series of digital tools to help people remember everything. Research. Communicate. To visually communicate what you mean. Phil Libbin,

Timehop set up by Jonathan Wegener. The idea is to milk what people put into Facebook. He has big financial backers. Timehop replays a day at a time a year ago, ten years ago, drawing from Facebook. He suggests that ‘old is awesome’. Aimed at getting users, not revenue. Will make money ‘when the time is ripe’. I find it dubious and ethically immoral, even inept naive views of how people want the serendipity of forming and reforming their own memories. His game plan can only be to sell to Facebook. I quit Facebook recently and doubt I will ever return. Far, far, far to invasive and exploitative, and for me, distracting and addictive.

d3i, set up by Oliver Waters. He used to keep a ‘journal’ from ten up to university. So what. Millions do and many for far longer, and in a directed way, say keeping minutes of business meetings led to Linkedin. The key, he thinks, is not keeping the diary yourself. WRONG. D3i is dependent on the nonsense and ephemera that people put into Facebook. a) this Facebook dependence is dangerous and limiting b) a fraction of people are digitally literate or even care, or care to use social media very much c) students, by way of example, are shown to distinguish between their social, digital and student academic lives. My tip is to perhaps keep a dialy log, or diary. Perhaps restrict to a learning journal if you are studying. Or write a travel log for a trip. I have great fun looking at a diary I kept just for a French Exchange I did in my teens. Another for a gap year job in the alps for a season. 

Memoir. Lee Hoffmann. He suggests there is value in the trivia of social media. Such as sitting with a grandchild and they ask how you met and you show them rather than tell them. This is horrid. Far better to learn to tell stories and learn to listen to the story teller. Snapping away at the trivia of the day. Gross failing to understanding the nature, quality and accruing and sifting quality of storytelling. A few memories as a child of sitting on my grandfather's knees while he talked about the First World War would be reduced to ... her son, watch the video while I go and do something more useful with my time. Poppycock. If you take the human out of memory then it is counterproductive.

Rather

Improve what we have. All text with voice, all voice with transcripts, all video with text and audio grabs …. I’m unconvinced that the commercial operators have much understanding of how memory works. The company they failed to spot is QStream, which in a far more tailored, and valuable way, works with our propensity to forget to aid memory creation in the brain - which is where you need the information if you are to do anything original with it. 

The Problem

The need to filter and forget, far better to enhance or support memories that have value, rather than those that do not. So much is missed in this programme. The fundamental background understanding of memory and how and why we forget. 

We hear from:

Peter Baron, Google. He's asked to talk about European Court of Justice ‘take down’ law and the legal and social need to forget things like spent court convictions. 

European Data Protection Law

Then there's a thing called 'Chronicle of Life'

Facebook and Flickr, so long as they are profitable.

And someone called Milan Chetti, of Chief of Research at HP, Boston Maschatucets.

If I can spell these names correctly I'll find them online, see what the have to say and re-invent this piece for my own understanding of the situation. I ought also to revisit anything I've tagged: life logging, memory, forgetting and so on in here.

All this will take time that I'm prepared to put in to write an article, if not a paper. 

One of the profound impacts is that the memorisation process of the human brain has been altered already … constant reliance on mobile devices has hurt our short term memory as mankind, while digitisation of events over time can help recall and improve out long term memory. So short term memory being carried by devices, while long term memory is enhanced. So we forget directions and phone numbers as our devices do this for us, storing contact details and getting us from A to Z and home, while deeper.

Ki Commenenti - Chronicle of Life. To store data forever.

Spelling anyone?

What about life logging, what about problem solving, such as dementia, even assisting at school and in the workplace. The answer is smarter, personalised and mobile and AI.

If it can be done, it will be done.

Luciano Floridi (misspelled on the BBC website) again ... 

Innovation, Legislation … but understanding lagging behind

Reshape huge chunks of our lives in ways we haven’t understood.

From E-Learning V

 

Floridi uses the metaphor of sediments and layers, a better analogy, as it starts to create in the minds eye a complex environment, though as connected information, digital content changes as associations, reviews, use and comments accrue. I made the connection to Hjulstrom's Curve as I was helping my son get his head around this for A' Level geography last night. I dug out my own Geography text books but found nothing on Hjulstrom. This came from a considered search and selection online. I started to teach my 16 year old son how to do a more academic search online. His approach lacks so much finesse it is shocking. A few minutes of my TLC and we find a brilliant short video from an Irish Geography teacher that put it all so very well.

The programme annoys me because from Peter Day and the BBC you expect a far higher degree of scientific even academic certainty rather than something that is part the One Show for radio. Luciano Floridi of all those we hear from is the one to track down as he does what the very best academics do; they take the  complex and try to explain it based on sound research and a depth of experience that few of the others have.

A memory isn’t static, now is it tangible, it is a chemical construct of the moment that the human brain reinvents every time we recall a memory. All that we have experience since that event formed a memory impacts on how we recall it. To preserve an aspect of such an event digitally can never be a ‘memory’ : a photograph of your child’s third birthday doesn’t include the smell of candles and chocolate cake that reminds you of your own eighth birthday, or in my case that my father never attended a single birthday, not my birth, not my 21st … he turned up to say he was leaving. No figuring that. And immediately indicating how a memory is a shifting entity and if you think about it for long enough it is probably very personal.

Just because you can, does not mean it has value. For centuries people have kept diaries, but how many are a Samuel Pepys or an Anne Frank? It is the record of events so much as the interpretation and voice of the author sharing memories and consequences of these events. 

My rant not over. This is a subject that fascinates me. 'Mind Bursts' as a thought has been my external blog for seven years and with hints of something on the horizon I bought the dot com last year. 

The problem now, compared to ten years ago, is finding amongst millions people to talk to about this. Finding like-minds used to be so, so much easier before the Internet got out of hand and now deluges us with stuff, with too much commercialised and gamified content that gets in the way. 

If you listen to the end then perhaps 2020 will be the end - there won't be enough electricity generated in the world to store this digital content anymore. Hopefully it'll all implode, there'll be a massive clear out, and no doubt there'll be a healthy re-invention or return to books and photo albums.

Meanwhile, my memory-support system called this e-learning journal, blog, portfolio thingey offers up the following. The value of these tagged posts is that they are my interpretation of ideas from months or years ago that will trigger an aggregation or assimilation of fresh ideas and thoughts, something that can never occur simply by grabbing new, unknown stuff produced by others on the Interent. It matters that saved content connects with your soul, that intangible part of the brain that nothing digital can ever reach or approach at mimicking.

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A radical thinker who gives many academics a run for their money

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From E-Learning IV

Fig. 1. Malcolm Gladwell - Desert Island Discs

A fascinating insight to someone who connects the latest thinking from all kinds of disciplines and often gives senior academics a drubbing. He challenges anyone who suggests that the Internet is damaging the brains of the connected youth to come up with the research; actually, between them, the OU and Australian Universities have thus far shown that as far as their brains and our brains are concerned it's business as usual.

Like so many episodes of Desert Islands Discs a magical way to learn something new or to gain a deeper insight into someone.

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Learning Theories meet Activity Theory in a series of doodles

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 May 2014, 06:57

 

Fig. 1 When Learning Theory met Engestrom

(Clicking on this might take you to the original, as well as each doodle as a separate image)

I am forever 'mashing things up' with whatever tools I stumble across - recently adding images and text with an App called 'Studio' - essentially loads of layers, typically text and graphics over a photograph. In an attempt to assemble paper scribles and add annotations I've produced the attached. I'm trying to visualise 'opennness' with this, and by doing so implying that what goes on between groups of people is perhaps similar to what goes on with different parts of your brain - it is contrasts and differences that assemble to create something new. It also relates to learning theories and practices - so didactic behaviorist, for constructed to cognitive. I suppose what I might be proposing is looking at how a person, a couple of people or a group of people interact and how openness in such situations is more conducive to problem solving and creativity.

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New blog post

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 29 Sep 2013, 07:02
I love to travel, not just on holiday with friends and family, but alone. Maybe this happens to you too, but I always find travel, especially new trips and destinations, is a catalyst to reflection.
 
All I did was take the first train out of Lewes to spend the day at the University of Birmingham. Two things that shook my brain: St. Pancras International ... and, sounding like a commercial, Virgin Trains. Although the train was quiet two people came through the train to collect rubbish ... as bubbly as buttons. Four times. The toilets were spotless. All in very sharp contrast to Southern Trains out of London where everything was overflowing ... 
 
I last studied 'lecture style' 31 years ago, yet I have signed up for one of these while I continue my learning journey here through all the MA ODE modules.
 
Learning is learning - it neither takes place online or off. It is in your head. It is what the brain is given a chance to do with it that counts.
 
I can now weigh up the two as I study in two very different ways in parallel.
 
There is of course 'blended learning' too that in a planned way mixes up both use of e-learning and face to face.
 
I met someone who, like me, has just completed a degree with the OU and we immediately began to share notes.
 
The OU is of ourse 'open' to anyone - online learning makes formal learning possible for any of us who either need to stay in one place, or are always on the move. People who need significant flexibility in how they manage their time ... and don't want the cost in time and money to get to a place for a tutorial, seminar, lecture conference. And people who 'don't get on with people' - not just agrophobia, you know what I mean. I switch constantly, sometimes very keen to be on my own ... 
 
Nothing beats getting to know your fellow students than spending a day with them, during coffee and comfort breaks, at lunch, walking through the campus, in seminar rooms before a talk begins ... and on the way home when you find part of your journey is shared.
 
Relationships formed here are akin to a long distance phone call, or letters to a stranger, even, oddly, having a chat with the postman or a builder ... you let them into your house.
 
And your head?
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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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What is going on in there? This and the wonders of the brain and the universe ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 4 Apr 2013, 13:35

JVMRi3.tiff.jpg

When I think if learning, I think of the minuscule intricacies of the component parts of the brain and at the same time the immense vastness of the known universe.

As humans we are eager to understand everything. It seems appropriate to marry neuroscience with astrophysics, like brackets that enclose everything. From a learning point of view then ask as you look at a person or group of people, ‘what is going on?’ specifically, ‘what is going on in there? (the brains) and between them to foster insight, understanding, innovation and advancement.

The best interface for this, a confluence for it all, is the Internet and the connectedness of it all.

What has the impact of the Internet been and based on everything we currently know, where do we presume it is going?

 

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What will the impact be of the Web on education?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 29 Mar 2013, 04:54

How is knowledge sharing and learning changing?

From four or five months after conception with the formation of the brain, to the moment of brain death we have the capacity to learn, subconsciously as well as consciously. Whether through interlopers prior to birth, in infancy and early childhood, or through family and carers in our final moment, days, weeks, months or years. At both ends of life the Web through a myriad of ways can advise, suggest and inform, and so educate, like never before. While for all the time in between as sponges, participants and students we can access, interact, interpose and interject in an environment where everything that is known and has been understood is presented to us. The interface between person and this Web of knowledge is a fascinating one that deserves close study for its potentially profound impact on what we as humans can achieve as individuals and collectively:  Individually through, by with and surfing the established and privileged formal and formal conveyor belt of education through nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary centres of learning. Individually, also through expanding opportunities globally to learn unfettered by such formal education where such established opportunities don’t exist unless hindered through poverty and politics or a lack of communications infrastructure (a robust broadband connection to the Web). And individually and collectively alongside or beyond whatever formal education is provided or exploited by finger tapping into close and expanded networks of people, materials, ideas and activities.

By seeking to peg answers to the role the Web is starting to play, at one end to the very first opportunity, at the micro-biological level to form a thought and at the other end to those micro-seconds at the end of life once the brain ceases to function - and everything else in between, requires an understandings neuroscience and an answer to the question ‘what is going on in there?’ How do we learn?

From an anthropological perspective why and how do we learn? Where can we identify the origins of knowledge sharing and its role in the survival and domination of homo sapiens? And from our migration from the savannas of Eastern Africa to every nook and cranny of Earth, on land and sea, what recognised societal behaviours are playing out online? And are these behaviours mimicked or to a lesser extent transmogrified, warped or elevated by the scope, scale and speed of being connected to so much in such variety?

A history of learning is required. From our innate conscious and subconscious capacity to learn from our immediate family and community how has formal education formed right the way through adding reading, writing and numeracy as a foundation to subject choices and specialisms, so momentarily expanded in secondary education into the single subjects studied at undergraduate level and the niche within a niche at Masters and doctoral levels. And what role has and will formal and informal learning continue to have, at work and play if increasing numbers of people globally have a school or university in their pockets, courtesy of a smartphone or tablet and a connection to the Web?

The global village Marshall Mcluhan described is now, for the person connected to the Web, the global fireplace. It has that ability to gather people around. Where though are its limits? With how many people can we develop and maintain a relationship? Once again, how can an understanding of social networks on the ground inform us about those that form on the Web? Multiplicity reins for some, flitting between a variety of groups while others have their niche interests indulged, celebrated and reinforced. Is there an identifiable geography of such hubs small and large and if visualised what does this tell us? Are the ways we can now learn new or old?

In relation to one aspect of education - medicine - how are we informed and how do we respond as patients and clinicians?

The journey starts at conception with the mixing of DNA and ends once the last electrochemical spark has fired. How, in relation to medicine does the quality (or lack of), scale and variety of information available on the Web inform and impact upon our ideas and actions the length of this lifetime’s journey At one end, parents making decisions regarding having children, then knowledge of pregnancy and foetal development. While at the other end, a child takes part in the decision making process with clinicians and potentially the patient - to ‘call it a day’. Both the patient or person, as participant and the clinicians as interlocutors have, potentially, the same level of information at their fingertips courtesy of the Web. How is this relationship and the outcomes altered where the patient will know more about their own health and a good deal about a clinician’s specialism? The relationship between the doctor and patient, like others, courtesy of the connectivity and capacity of the Web, has changed - transmogrified, melted and flipped all at the same time. It is no longer them and us, though it can be - rather, as in education and other fields, it can be highly personalized and close. Can clinicians be many things to many people? Can any or only some of us cope with such multiplicity? A psychologist may say some will and some won’t, some have the nature for it, others not. Ditto in education. Trained to lead a classroom in a domain of their own, can a teacher take on multiple roles aimed at responding to the unique as well as the common traits of each of their students? While in tertiary education should and can academics continue to be, or expected to be undertake research as well as teach? Where teaching might be more akin to broadcasting, and the classroom or tutorial takes place asynchronously and online as well as live and face-to-face. Disaggregation equals change.

In relation to one aspect of education in medicine and one kind of problem, what role might the Web play to support patients so that they can make an informed decision regarding the taking of potentially life saving, if not simply life improving, medications? Having understood the complexity of reasons why having been prescribed a preventer medication, for example, to reduce or even eliminate the risk of a serious asthma attack, what is going on where a patient elects, sometimes belligerently, not to take the medication. Others are forgetful, some misinformed, for others it is the cost, or the palaver of ordering, collecting and paying for repeat prescriptions.

Information alone isn’t enough, but given the capacity of the web to brief a person on an individual basis, where they are online, what can be done to improve adherence, save lives and enhance the quality of life?

My hypothesis is that a patient can be assisted by an artificial companion of some kind, that is responsive to the person’s vicissitudes while metaphorically sitting on that person’s shoulder i.e. in the ‘Cloud’ and on their smartphone, tablet, headset, laptop or whatever other assistive interface will exist between us and the Web.

 

 

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H809 Activity 8.1-8.5 Teenagers do Physics with the intervention of a computer to prompt discussion

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013, 09:14

Mini+Marshmallows.JPG

In the abstract we are told that ‘Although ICT resources are commonly expected to produce uniform benefits’ Tolmie (2001) Are they? And that, ‘they are necessarily employed within pre-existing contexts of educational and social activity’. Tolmie (2001)

When and where could a context NOT be pre-existing?? Something is, or is not. Context is an absolute.

Rather, what is that specific context. Otherwise this is tautology. It is like saying that electricity pylons go into an existing landscape. Isn’t this stating the obvious so that a gullible audience nod in agreement?

Tolmie (2001) talks of ‘unexpectedly diverse effects’. Unexpectedly or diverse? Surely not both.

Is this not something of an exaggeration? And in any case, such diverse responses should be either expected, or not presumed either way to be likely or unlikely to happen. It is very dangerous to pre-empt findings.

I visualise the introduction of new technology such as this as drops of ink in a pool of water in a stream  - it has to compete with the mix that is already there, as well as its natural flow and other behaviours - leaking away into the land and evaporation for a start.

My conclusion based on reading the abstract is to: Think people above all else. Internal and external contexts are fluid and based on responses too and feelings.

It is all complex, and more to do with the brains of the individuals than simply their context . Everything can and should be measured in some way, from an agreed benchmark, to monitor, track then analyse. It is far more complex.

Take any class, habituated by the classroom, the people around us and the pattern and behaviour of the teacher … especially on a warm Friday afternoon, no wonder the mind wanders. Just because a person is physically in a classroom, even participating in a task, does not mean that much is going in if they are dreaming of the weekend or Fiona Henderson from the girl’s school down the road …

The expression ‘oversimplified’ used by Tolmie (2001)  is a) hyperbole b) a value judgment.

Better ‘simplified’, preferably qualification of the term - simplified as in ‘clipped or contained’ that parameters are created because of the remit of the funding process. You are not able to ‘look outside the box’ as only that which takes place in the box is funded. There needs to be some of one and some of the other - research based on ‘tackling circumscribed needs’ while at the same time research that has an open brief and is open ended - that stands back to see the wood for the trees, rather than, to continue the metaphor, to examine only one kind of tree in the woods in order to avert the ‘mentality of one-stop resources’ mentioned by Oliver & Conole (1998)

How else do you address improving a situation other than by identifying the problems?

Anything else is misguided (literally), or indulgent. Far worse, in the NHS, and Post Office and Banking System have been wholesale computing systems that really were alien and universal.

Change management. Everyone has a point. Time to listen and involves matters most. The psychology of innovation. Resistance is despised. (Robinson et al., 1998)

Making the wrong assumptions that blame the teachers rather than the technology - which is a catalyst for complexity, rather than a tool for conformity.

Evaluation work also rarely does more than examine the explicitly intended effects of ICT, and so fails to identify unintended or serendipitous repercussions that may actually be a critical aspect of its impact (Jones, 1998).

But the entire point and context of an exam is to remove such context in the surroundings by placing the student in ‘exam conditions’ in a neutral space, where parameters of time and context are controlled and aim to be common to other students and impartial.

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.

I'm through the reading and taking it further - reading the original paper to see if my concerns and amusement are justified.

I find the gender difference uninsightful and unhelpful - we know this anyway. Men and woman are different physiologically - which includes the brain where there are various documented differences especially between the differing amount of grey and white matter and the concentration of neurones and close connections in women compared to men. But the differences between men and women are not black and white (and their are not racial differences whatsoever) ... within these differences there is considerable variety.

Now add each person's context - which for me starts a few months after conception and every possible influence since - the same chaos theory that says that when a butterfly beats its wings in the Brazilian Jungle there is a typhoon in Malaysia will suggest that that marshmallow your grandmother gave you on Christmas day when you were six while watching Jimmy Saville introduce the Chart Show will influence how you respond to the 14 year old boy you have been paired up with in a physics class who offers you a handful of mini-marshmallows by way of 'making friends' who in turn is nervous about this strange but beautiful creature who he hasn't noticed all year but rather fancies even though his older brother has his eye on her - what was that the teacher said checking the trajectory of your balls on the computer ?????

The wrong approach was taken, though the theory throws up some interesting questions

I will change my opinion as I go through my notes but my current stance is that a quantitative before and after study requires many hundreds of participants in a randomised controlled trial and the gender differences are a distraction - far better to have administered questionnaires before and after and drawn upon each students SATS results or some such to get some sense of where they were coming from in relation to physics.

More interesting pairings would be like-minds and enemies - really. A couple of buddies having a laugh might learn less than a pair who can't stand each other, or another pair who are rivals.

Have I been watching too many teen movies? Probably.

Already I have a script in my head based on Tolmie in which far from being the less talkative, the FM pairs are chatting away to themselves (in their heads, written and delivered as stream of consciousness voice over), communicating in subtle ways through body language and as a result actually communicating more, not less than the ones who won't shut up - and who may be playing up to the research conditions.

This is the other fundamental humdinger of a problem - these students are being tested under 'lab conditions'.

My memories of teenager physics classes are more akin to St.Trinian's with boys. I even have a diary to call upon which I may look at just to get me into the role. I have a household of teenagers and another five nephews and nieces in this age bracket if I need to be reminded of what it is (and was) like.

Oddly enough, work is often the last thing on their minds. Which is why homework is so important - fewer potential distractions.

This will be less than hearsay in due course - I am also refreshing what it was and is like to be a teenager through some additional reading. Problem is my daughter senses that I am observing her from time to time.

I'm just asking myself the same question I asked when she was born, 'what is going on in there?' - but in a quasi-academic rather than father-daughter way.

Researchers make the mistake of believing that their intervention - in this case using a computer to support a physics class by trying to prompt discussion - is going to make some measurable difference.

Can they not see the bigger picture, and how vast it is?

If each human brain has as many neurons in it as the visible galaxy - 98 billion, and each brain though similar, is connected in different ways, by gender but essentially by genetics, with every remembered moment of waking and sleeping life in between. This is why, to have something measurable, researchers taken to the lab and until recently would have stuck with sea-snails, rats and in the past cats and primates … while gradually observation and measurement of electro-chemical activity in the human brain has become possible.

When it comes to exams surely examiners know that the response to a unique set of questions in an exam, certainly at undergraduate level, if not at post compulsory level, will test the student’s ability to construct a response both from what they know, and what they have to surmise.

REFERENCE

Jones, C. 1998 Evaluating a collaborative online learning environment Active Learning

Oliver, M. & Conole, G. (1998) Evaluating communication and information technologies: a toolkit for practitioners. Active Learning, 8,3–8.

Robinson, H., Smith, M., Galpin, F., Birchall, D., Turner, I. (1998) As good as IT gets: have we reached the limits of what technology can do for us? Active Learning, 9, 50–53.

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.

 

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H809: Activity 7.1 Timelines, theories and technologies

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 24 Feb 2014, 15:21

This is a learning dilemma that will become increasingly prevalent. You have a stinker of a complex mass of resources and cobbled together ideas to compile into some kind of order only to find that it has been done for you. This is an activity of how understandings of the process of learning has changed over time.

On of our tutors offers a helping hand:

 

Take your time reading this through and then consider how these historical changes might affect

  • the development of educational technologies
  • ethical considerations in e-learning research
  • research in your own discipline.

There's quite a lot in there. If you want to start just responding to one of the bullet points above, that's fine.

When these modules are designed is proper consideration really given to the students? Who they are? There levels of commitment and understanding? For all the personas I'm familiar with I do wonder.

And that's not even the start of it. We are then asked to look back at week 3 (a month ago), and look for relationships and connections between the narrative we create (above). Then, as if this isn't enough we need to rope in last weeks ethical considerations, and while we're at at put in the 'wider politicalo and social changes'.

Already we have, in my estimation (and this is my sixth postgraduate module and the fifth in the MAODE series) a good 16 hours work to do.

But there's more:

'Consider how the subject you studied for your undergraduate degree has changed over time'.

Post your answers in your tutor group forum and compare them with others.

Across the five groups I think, so far two, sometimes three people, have given this a go. Each could write a chapter in a book (one nearly has)

2 Hours have been allocated to the task.

I repeatedly find that whatever time is given as a suggested requirement for a week's activities that you need to add 50%. So 14 hours becomes 21.

Like a junior solicitor I've been keeping tabs on how long everything takes - and this is someone who is by now, evidentially, digitally literate and familliar with the OU VLE. If you can find 21 hours great. If not then what? If you can handle getting behind or strategically leaving gaps that's fine, but if you feel obliged to get you money's worth and want to do it all then what? And of course life goes on around you: kids off school, elderly relations fall ill, the workload ebbs and flows, the car breaks down ... your Internet connection becomes about as vibrant as a mangle and it snows a bit.

A simple guide to four complex learning theories

http://edudemic.com/2012/12/a-simple-guide-to-4-complex-learning-theories/

I came across this from edudemic and can't think of anything clearer.

 

The discussion offers some further thoughts, deleting the word 'traditional' and replacing with classical.

The ifs and buts of the people associated with each of these and how absolute any of them can be, especially connectivism. However, I see connectivism not as the end of a chronological chain, but rather a loop that has people connected and learning in their family, extended family and community. And the one component that has not changed a jot? The way the human brain is constructed during foetal development and the unique person who then emerges into any of some hundreds of thousands of different circumstances and from way they may or may not develop 'their full potential'. Though I hazard a guess that this will always remain impossible to achieve. 98 billion neurons take a lot of connecting. It starts at around 4 months after conception and only ends with death - death being after the vital physiological supports have collapsed and like the self-destructing tape in Mission Impossible 'all is lost'.


The infographic runs to and 12 rows. This is the last row. The rest you ought to see for yourselves.

This is the charming copyright notice.

Copyright 2013 © Edudemic All rights reserved.

Powered by coffee, and a love all things education technology.

Simplistically the technologies I can add across this chronology are:

Books - Learning by rote > Literacy (writing, paper) - but then the Oxbridge Tutorial goes back over 750 years and that was and still is 'Constructivism' before someone came along 700 years later and gave it a name.

I'm reminded of the aphorism from Philip Larkin, 'Sex started in the Sixities' - about the same time as constructive learning. As for 'connectivism' what happens in a market, what has happened at religious gathering for millennia? Why do clever people have to come along and say these things have never happened before? Connectivism = discussions. Perhaps we'd be better off NOT writing it down, by going and finding people. I spoke to a Consultant the other week who for all the technology and e-learning swears by the conference. And for how many milliennia have 'experts' likeminds and the interested (and powerful/influential) had such opportunties to gather.

In 1999 my very first blog post was titled 'what's new about new media, not much'.

Whenever I read it I feel the sentiment is the same - as people we have not changed one jot. Just because everyone has a 'university in their pocket' - if they are some of the few hundred million out of the 7 billion on the planet who have a Smart Phone or iPad does not change the fundamentals of what we are and the connectedness of our brains.

 

 

 

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My interest in the Web and learning is the interface between the two

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 24 Mar 2013, 08:04

DSC03192.JPG

Fig.1. Scan at four and a half months.

My interest in the Web and learning is the interface between the two, from cradle to grave, from the a foetus at around five months once a brain has formed enough to register its surroundings through sound and touch to the moments before death as the faculties fail - and the interface between neuroscience and psychology and web-science through learning, from the perspective of both student and educator.

As a parent and child I have been present at both the moment of birth and death.

I wondered 'what is going on in there?' as our child formed and wondered, with my late mother, 'what is left going on in there?' after she had suffered and at first survived a series of strokes.

Our daughter, born in 1996 - it was a tad too soon to be trawling the Web for information – books played their part and soon both mother and foetus fell into a habit of listening to Mozart and falling asleep, a pattern that continued through our daughter's early years.

My mother died last year, but not after I defied the medical view of her condition and found 'a way in there' with an iPad loaded with photographs of paintings: images from a Van Gogh exhibition at the RA did the jobs, she had hosted a family visit and was her granddaughter's guide. She was born in 1931.

I even have a link, via the Web to a generation before, having interviewed my late grandfather at length to create his blog in abstentia.

Learning impacts the brain in ways that neuroscientists and psychologists are starting to map and explain.

Even the Web is yet to match the possibilities of the 98 million neurons of the human brain, though at the current exponential rate of growth it is expected to make it some time around 2030. By then both the mind and the Web will make more sense. What is going on in there? The brain. And what is going on out there? The web. And how does the interface and engagement between the two inform, educate and change behaviours?

P.S. If anyone can 'read' this scan and explain what I am meant to see I'd be most grateful. I have this moment on video too somewhere. It says 'face' on the scan. Really??

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How insight and creativity works - towards a theory of creativity

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 10:32

Why are we insightful? What is going on in the brain when we have a flash of insight?

Horizon on the Brain looks at:

  • Insight
  • Divergent thinking
  • Improvisation
  • Unusual and unexpected experiences
  • Schema violation

Based on this I'm going to take up something mindless to do between the gaps - doing the dishes surely counts?

Reading does not?

Watching TV does not?

  • Walking the dog
  • Falling asleep in the bath
  • Pruning bushes
  • Mow the lawn

When and where do people have moments of creativity?

The neuroscience of electromangentic and fMRI scans.

Human advancement is dependent on creativity.

You will hear from:

  • Prof Jonathan Schooler
  • Dr Mark Beeman
  • Dr Charles Limb
  • Dr Simone Ritter
  • Dr Jon Kounios
  • Dr Rex Young

You will hear about:

  • The neural correlate of creativity
  • The anterior superior antilial giros
  • Look for unexpected experiences Scehema violation
  • Breaking cognitive pedants

Breaking any routine – switching steps Change your routines Well trodden neural pathways are abandoned.

  • Mind wandering helps the creative process Engaging in a non–demanding task
  • Don't just do nothing, do something undemanding instead ...

If you're stumped, take a break e.g. walk, shower, gardening ... walk the dog.

  • Down regulate your frontal lobes.
  • Some people are hypofrontal. Losing your inhibitions when you improvise.
  • Releasing your mental handcuffs.
  • Science to explain.

Towards a theory of creativity.

REFERENCE 

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H817 Visualizing Open Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 23 Oct 2014, 07:17
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. This IMHO is what learning has become in the 21st century - and how it got there

There's more going on here than you may realise!

From E-Learning V

Fig.2. Traditional top down learning

Two triangles, one above the other and linked with a downward arrow suggests traditional top down learning ... or simply knowledge transfer from someone who knows something to someone who does not.

From E-Learning V

Fig. 3 By someone's side

Two triangles, one facing the other, may represent a shift towards collaborative or horizontal learning in a formal setting, though for me it represents the learning you do away from the institution - with friends, with family 'on the same level' as it were.

From E-Learning V

Fig. 4. Participatory and situated, networked learning on the periphery

From E-Learning V

Fig.5 The thinking starts with Vigotsky and his research into behaviourist learning

It then progressed to the study and analysis of learning in communities

From E-Learning V

Fig. 6. Activity Theory as conceived of and developed by Yrjo Engeström. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.7 The interplay between two entities or communities coming together to solve a problem and thus producing something unique to them both (object 3) - a fresh idea.

From E-Learning V

Fig.8. Activity Theory re-connected - breaking out

Though developed over some thirty years the structure of 'Activity Theory' as a model is breaking down because of the quality, speed and way in which we now connect overrides barriers and invades silos making communication more direct and immediate.

From E-Learning V

 Fig. 9 Activity Theory in a connected world

Everyone and everything is just a click away.

From E-Learning V

Fig.10 Visualizing the maelström of original ideas generated by people sharing their thoughts and ideas as they form

The maelström of new ideas where people and groups collide and interact. Historically this had been in grounded 'communities of practice', whether a London coffee shop or the senior common room of a prestigious university, the lab, the studio, the rehearsal room ... today some gatherings online are frequent, enabled by the Internet and no less vibrant as like-minds and joiners contribute to the generation of new ideas. 

This, drawing on Engestrom via Vygotsky, might be a more academic expression of Open Learning. Here a host of systems, expressed in model form, interpose their drive to achieve certain objectives into the common whole. That mess in the middle is the creation of the collective powers and inputs of individuals, groups, departments or institutions. The Open bit are the connections between any node in one system, and any other node from any othe one of the systems ... which blows apart the actions within a single system, making them more open, though not random. 

From E-Learning V

Fig. 11 It's going on inside your head.

fMRI scans reveal the complex way in which ideas form and memories are recalled and mixed-up, challenged and re-imagined. We are our very own 'community of practice' of conflicting and shared viewpoints. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.11. Perceiving brain activity as the interplay between distinct, interacting zones

From E-Learning V

Fig. 12 Ideas enter your system, your brain and are given a fresh spin

From E-Learning V

Fig.13 Ideas coalesce until you reach a point of understanding. The penny doesn't so much as 'drop' as to form.

Where would we be without one of these. 98 billion neurons. A uniquely connected mass of opportunity and potential. This is where, of course, memories are formed and thoughts had. Increasingly we are able to share ideas and thoughts as we have them, typically through the tips of our fingers by sharing our thinking online, especially where it comes to the attention of like-minds, and troubled-minds - anyone in fact or strongly agrees or strongly disagrees enough to contribute by adding their thinking and revealing their presence.

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What's going on in there?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Mar 2013, 08:48

This apparently.

20130318-233848.jpg

Fig. 1 New Scientist 9 February 2013 Mind Maths by Colin Barras

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If I coud see what is going on in there!

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This could surely be some kind of nueroscience research - my mind is going through hoops and will continue to do so while it figures out what the heck if going on. I have a contact lens in my left eye for close up and a lens in my right for distance. My mind will in time put to two pictures together in one. For the time being parts of my brain are being made to dance. This would surely show up on an fMRI scan - it should do - I can FEEL it.
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Loss of a Mother - woman have Woman's Hour, men have Top Gear.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 12 Mar 2013, 11:03

Woman also have 'Loose Women', surely the female version of 'Top Gear'. But do men have an equivalent of 'Woman's Hour' or are we supposed to get that from GQ or Esquire magazines sad

I don't make a point of listening to Woman's Hour, but as I'm at home and have done years on and off as househusband it becomes a regular feature of the day. The radio goes on in the kitchen and in the car. I need to be in one or the other.

Is 'Woman's Hour' a party broadcast for the female gender or fascinating issues presented in a radio magazine that mix topicality, with feature and fiction?

Actually it was this late Friday morning I was running out in the car to walk the dog on the South Downs.

Friday 8th March is one you need to download before it comes off air in a few days time.

Alice%2520Walker%2520Judy%2520Murray%2520Lucy%2520Gannon%2520Maureen%2520Fearon%2520WOMANS%2520HOUR.JPG

Fig. 1 Listing on BBC Website - you've got 4 days within which to download this.

BBC RADIO 4 WOMAN's HOUR - PODCASTS

Topics covered:

  • Women Coaches -(worth keeping)
  • Alice Walker - author of the Color Purple (very worthwhile)
  • Vicki Price and the law
  • Women in parliament - could they job share?

The one that had me stop what I was doing ...

Loss of a mother

I'm the boy whose favourite place as an infant was on my Mum's hip and as I gew up on the kitchen counter learning to cook, taking her tuition as an art teacher (MA in Fine Art from University of Durham). Our parents split up when I was eight and she only remarried in her 60th year. She died a few months ago.

Woman%2527s%2520Hour%2520LOGO.JPG

Fig. 2 Women's Hour, Friday 9th March 2013 A 43 minute programme.

On loss of Mothers - if you only have 12 minutes sping through to 00:30:00

What is the impact of losing a mother?
Alice Walker
What is happening here and why?

Paul Mcartney was 14 when his Mum died of a brain tumour. If he had a time machine he would go back and spend time with her.

A speaker Jane Tilly about her mother when she died when she was 17.

At significant transition moments, having no one to share it with.
A role model

The guests:

Maureen Fearon – Therapsit

Lucy Gannon (Playwright, television writer, plays, shortsand 'Soldier, Soldeir' and producer)

Lucy Gannon

  • Lucy's Mum died when she was eight.
  • Know who you are, what diseases you've had, so you lose some of your identity.
  • Children need to know that they are at the centre of someone's world so that they know they are
  • Your life is going on, try to get continuity.
  • You lose your place in the world – she was in care though.
  • Keep that child in the centre of the world they know.

Maureen Fearon

  • Her mum died when she was 29.
  • Look at the grandparents, look at the average, and she's going to be at least that = 89/90.
  • Deeply tearful because of trigger music.
  • That overwhelming,  'I want my Mum'.
  • Smells. Going through the tough times in life. Through challenging times that smell comes and floats away. When there is no smoke there. In our minds, or where it is.
  • Took 12 years of real pain, neurolinguistic exercise ... did it once and fixed.

The mention of how the mind brings back smells is intriguing.

Maureen Fearon is a therapist, not a neuroscientist. There is a phenomenon where we see people we love who we have just lost, it might be the end of a close relationship or the death of someone close - our mind sees them in other people. I relate to this idea of lucid reconstruction of specific smells.

Working%2520Memory%2520L5704%2520N4D.JPG

Fig. 3. From 'Neuroscience for Dummies' - not as stupid as it sounds!

I can, give me a moment, smell the mothballs in my late grandmother's spare bedroom, and while she smoked them the Benson and Hedges cigarettes which surely made her knitting honk? Other smells I can call up include the silt and rotting fish heads of Beadnell Harbour in the 1960s ... and a Christmas tree, and Christmas Pudding, marshmallows roasted on an open fire, melting butter on toast with Old English Marmalade ... and our pet dog as a child, Morag the black labrador, wet and warm from being out in the rain ...

Sheila%2520and%2520Jonathan%2520c1973.JPG

Fig. 4. Sheila Vernon (nee Wilson) 1931-2012 with her son Jonathan c1973/1972 ?

My Mum's parents where 83 and 96 when they died, so an average might have been 90?

She died a few months ago age 81. She had planned to beat the Queen Mum. We all thought she'd do so. But as my even later grandfather kept saying having reached 90, 'I don't mind when I go, I've had a good innings'. He was in his 97th year - we thought he'd make it to a hundred, but at trip to the Western Front to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Paschendaele where he had served as a machine gunner had left him ill (and heart broken).

 

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Mind, body and soul

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 7 Mar 2013, 08:55

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Fig. 1. Looks a like a good read

I'm starting to read papers on neuroscience that result on my starting to use my hands and fingers as I read, even reading and re-reading phrases and sentences. What is going on here?

If I understand it correctly there is, because of the complexity of connections between neurones, a relationship with many parts of the brain simultaneously, some common to us all, some, amongst the millions of links, unique to us. Each neuron is connected to 10,000 others. To form a memory some 15 parts of the brain are involved. It is situated, much of it we are not aware of. Come to think of it, while I was concentrating I got cramp in my bum and right thigh perched as I am on a hard kitchen chair, and the lingering after taste of the cup of coffee I drank 45 minutes ago. I can hear the kitchen clock ticking - though most of the time it is silent (to my mind), and the dog just sighed.

Does it matter that my fingers are tapping away at a keyboard?

Though second-nature, touch-typing it still occupies my arms and hands and fingers which may otherwise be animated were I talking. I am talking, in my head. The stream of consciousness is almost audible.

What would happen where I to use a voice recorder and speak my thoughts instead?

By engaging my limbs and voice would my thinking process improve and would the creation of something to remember be all the stronger.

I'm getting pins and needles/cramp in my right leg. Aaaaaaaaaaagh! Party over.

The question posed is often 'what's going on in there?' refering to the brain. Should the question simpley be 'what's going on?'

Learning & Memory

My eyesight is shifting. In the space of six months of moved to reading glasses. Now my normal glasses are no good either for reading or distance. Contacts are no use either. As a consequence I'm getting new glasses for middle distance and driving. The solution with the contact lenses is more intriguing.

To correct for astigmatism and near or short sightedness I am going to have a one lens in one eye to deal with the astigmatism and a different lens to deal with the short sightedness in the other. My mind will take the information from both and ... eventually, create something that is sharp close up and at a distance. This has me thinking about what it is that we see, NOT a movie or video playing out on our retina, but rather an assemblage of meaning and associations formed in the brain.

I will try these lenses and hang around, wander the shops, then return. I am advised that I may feel and appear drunk. I can understand why. I could well describe being drunk as trying to navigate down a path with a microscope in one hand and a telescope in the other while looking through both. I feel nauseous just thinking about it.

So 'stuff' is going on in the brain. These days the activity resulting in the brain finguring something out can, in some instance and to some degree, be seen. Might I have an fMRI scan before the appointment with the optician? Might I then have a series of further scans to follow this 're-wiring' process.

I need to be careful here, the wrong metaphor, however much it helps with understanding may also lead to misunderstanding. Our brain is organic, there are electro-chemical processes going on, but if I am correct there is no 're-wiring' as such, the connections have largely existed since birth and are simply activated and reinforced?

Any neuroscientists out there willing to engage with a lay person?

What would observing this process of unconscious learning tells us about the process of learning? And is it that unconscious if am I am aware of the sensations that have to be overcome to set me right?

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Uta Frith - the brain as a garden, full of the most interesting, different things ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 1 Mar 2013, 15:50

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Fig.1. My brother's 'garden' for which he won a school prize.

'Her metaphor for the brain is that of a garden, that's full of the most interesting,  different things that have to be constantly cultivated and constantly checked' Kirsty Young (01:24 into transmission, BBC 2013)

This morning I caught Professor Uta Frith of UCL on Desert Island Discs for the second time - this time round I paid closer attention.

I then went to the BBC website and took notes.

Having recently completed H810 Accessible Online Learning and of course interested in educaiton, this offers insights on what studying autism and dyslexia tells us about the human mind.

There's more in another BBC broadcast - Uta Frith interviewed for the BBC's Life Scientific - Broadcast 6 Dec 2011 accessed 1st March 2013 - and available by the way until January 2099 should you not be able to find time and want your dyslexic grandchildren to listen.

The difference in how each of us see the world.

'We learn by taking different perspectives – something about ourselves which we otherwise would have never known'. Uta Frith

'Take what's given to you and make the best of it, but of course the cultivation is key to all of these things, so culture in our lives, learning from other people ... these are the really, really important things'. UF

We may all have some of this in us.

Genetic factors matter.

'How we are raised is a myth. It is not right. It has been so very harmful. It is a illusion to think that doing the right things, for example that you get from books, that you can change things.'

Then from BBC's Life Scientific

'A passionate advocate of neuroscience and how its findings can be used in the classroom to improve learning. She hopes that eventually neuroscience will inform education in the same way that anatomy informs medicine'. (01:35 in, BBC 2013)

Wanting knowledge of the brain to inform education the way knowledge of the body informs medicine.

From the UCL pages

Professor Uta Frith is best known for her research on autism spectrum disorders.

Her book, Autism, Explaining the Enigma (1989) has been translated into many languages. She was one of the initiators of the study of Asperger's Syndrome in the UK and her work on reading development, spelling and dyslexia has been highly influential.

Throughout her career she has been developing a neuro-cognitive approach to developmental disorders.

In particular, she has investigated specific cognitive processes and their failure in autism and dyslexia.

Her aim is to discover the underlying cognitive causes of these disorders and to link them to behavioural symptoms as well as to brain systems. She aims to make this research relevant to the education of people with development disorders and to contribute to a better quality of their everyday life.

Uta Frith on YouTube on early years, then on dyslexia

 

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Can a popular book sit on the fence? Academic vs. popularist

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Feb 2013, 18:43

I wonder if the difference between the book selling 'voices' of e-learning are to academics what pop music is to classical music.

They make a great fuss, sing and dance, but lack substance. They are popular and sometimes wrong. Marc Prensky and the Digital Natives compared to Martin Weller's Ring Cycle?!

In 'The Shallows' Nicholas Carr goes out of his way to select anecdotes and references to prop up his thesis that Google is making us stupid. The wise, though less popular and academic approach would have been to make the case both ways with equal effort, to argue that Google is making is smart.

The two propostions would make for a reasonable and reasoned debate. There are two books in it.

Can a popular book sit on the fence?

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The idea of gathering a substantial part of one’s life experience fascinates me, as it has often inspired others

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013, 09:42

Fig. 1. Hands by Escher.

The danger is for it to become one’s modus operandi, that the act of gathering is what you become. I recall many decades ago, possibly when I started to keep a diary when I was 13, a documentary - that can no doubt now be found on the Internet - on a number of diarists. There were not the well-known authors or celebrity politicians, but the obscure keeper of the heart beat, those who would toil for two hours a day writing about what they had done, which was to edit what they’d written about the day before … if this starts to look like a drawing by Escher then perhaps this illustrates how life-logging could get out of hand, that it turns you inside out, that it causes implosion rather than explosion. It may harm, as well as do good. We are too complex for this to be a panacea or a solution for everybody. A myriad of book, TV and Film expressions of memory, its total recall, false recall, falsehoods and precisions abound. I think of the Leeloo in The Fifth Element learning about Human Kind flicking through TV Channels.

Fig. 2. Leeloo learns from TV what the human race is doing to itself

Always the shortcut for an alien to get into our collective heads and history. Daryl Hannah does it in Splash too. Digitisation of our existence, in part or total, implies that such a record can be stored (it can) and retrieved in an objective and viable way (doubtful). Bell (2009) offers his own recollections, sci-fi shorts and novels, films too that of course push the extremes of outcomes for the purposes of storytelling rather than seeking more mundane truth about what digitization of our life story may do for us.

Fig. 3. Swim Longer, Faster

There are valid and valuable alternatives - we do it anyway when we make a gallery of family photos - that is the selective archiving of digital memory, the choices over what to store, where to put it, how to share then exploit this data. I’m not personally interested in the vital signs of Gordon Bell’s heart-attack prone body, but were I a young athlete, a competitive swimmer, such a record during training and out of the pool is of value both to me and my coach. I am interested in Gordon Bell’s ideas - the value added, not a pictoral record of the 12-20 events that can be marked during a typical waking day, images grabbed as a digital camera hung around his neck snaps ever 20-30 seconds, or more so, if it senses ‘change’ - gets up, moves to another room, talks to someone, browses the web … and I assume defecates, eats a meal and lets his eyes linger on … whatever takes his human fancy.

How do we record what the mind’s eye sees?

How do we capture ideas and thoughts? How do we even edit from a digital grab in front of our eyes and pick out what the mind is concentrating on? A simple click of a digital camera doesn’t do this, indeed it does the opposite - it obscure the moment through failing to pick out what matters. Add sound and you add noise that the mind, sensibly filters out. So a digital record isn’t even what is being remembered. I hesitate as I write - I here two clocks. No, the kitchen clock and the clicking of the transformer powering the laptop. And the wind. And the distant rumble of the fridge. This is why I get up at 4.00am. Fewer distractions. I’ve been a sound engineer and directed short films. I understand how and why we have to filter out extraneous noises to control what we understand the mind of the protagonist is registering. If the life-logger is in a trance, hypnotized, day dreaming or simply distracted the record from the device they are wearing is worse than an irrelevance, it is actually a false cue, a false record.

Fig. 4. Part of the brain and the tiniest essence of what is needed to form a memory

Mind is the product of actions within a biological entity. To capture a memory you’d have to capture an electro-chemical instance

across hundreds of millions of synapses.

Fig. 5. Diving of Beadnell Harbour, 1949. My later mother in her teens.

An automatically harvested digital record must often camouflage what might have made the moment a memory. I smell old fish heads and I see the harbour at Beadnell where as a child fisherman brought in a handful of boats every early morning. What if I smell old fish as I take rubbish to recycle? Or by a bin down the road from a fish and chip shop. What do my eyes see, and what does my mind see?

I love the messiness of the human brain - did evolution see this coming?

In ‘Delete’ Mayer-Schönberger (2009. p. 1) suggests that forgetting, until recently was the norm, whereas today, courtesy of our digital existences, forgetting has become the exception. I think we still forget - we don’t try to remember phone numbers and addresses as we think we have them in our phone - until we wipe or lose the thing. In the past we’d write them down, even make the effort to remember the things. It is this need to ‘make an effort’ to construct a memory that I fear could be discombobulated. I’m disappointed though that Mayer-Schönberger stumbles for the false-conception ‘digital natives’ - this is the mistaken impression that there exists a generation that is more predisposed and able than any other when it comes to all things digital. Kids aren’t the only ones with times on their hands, or a passion for the new, or even the budget and will to be online. The empirical evidence shows that the concept of a digital native is unsound - there aren’t any. (Jones et al, 2010., Kennedy et al, 2009., Bennet and Maton, 2010., Ituma, 2011) The internet and digital possibilities have not created the perfect memory. (Mayer-Schönberger 2009. p. 3)

To start with how do we define ‘memory’ ?

A digital record is an artefact, it isn’t what is remembered at all. Indeed, the very nature of memory is that it is different every time you recall a fact or an event. It becomes nuanced, and coloured. It cannot help itself.

Fig. 6. Ink drops as ideas in a digital ocean

A memory like drops of ink in a pond touches different molecules every time you drip, drip, drip. When I hear a family story of what I did as a child, then see the film footage I create a false memory - I think I remember that I see, but the perspective might be from my adult father holding a camera, or my mother retelling the story through ‘rose tinted glasses’.

Fig. 7. Not the first attempt at a diary, that was when I was 11 ½ .

I kept a diary from March 1973 to 1992 or so. I learnt to write enough, a few bullet points in a five year diary in the first years - enough to recall other elements of that day. I don’t need the whole day. I could keep a record of what I read as I read so little - just text books and the odd novel. How might my mind treat my revisting any of these texts? How well and quickly would it be recalled? Can this be measured? Do I want it cluttering the front of my brain?

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What purpose does an earworm serve?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 22 Oct 2012, 21:53

Today BBC Radio 4 treated us to some insights on the 'earworm'

20121022-140558.jpg

Fig. 1 Shaun Keaveny on earworms - today, BBC Radio 4

'Earworm' is a loan translation of the German Ohrwurm - it is a portion of a song or other music that repeats compulsively within one's mind, put colloquially as "music being stuck in one's head." Wikipedia

Getting stuff to stick in your head for learning is useful. Use the idea in revision. Hum the tune in your head during an exam.

There are dozens of songs that I will forever associate with a person, place or mood.

Where the ear worm isn't lodged I have tracks that I know will evoke the time and place, just as a time or place will set the music off.

Various examples are given of that tune you can't get out of your head, triggered like all memories by a siteor smell, thought or mood - then stuck. Not just a tune that is getting airplay, but obscure soundscapes from your past. A lecture in psychology from Goldsmith's London shares ideas gleaned from three studies. Powerful stuff.

In relation to learning I'd suggest using an ident and a sting.

Have an opening theme that is repeated - library music serves its purpose though professionally composed music is pretty good too and far less expensive if you know who to ask such as new comers to the industry with unrecognised talent.

Associations are changed - for me Ian Dury was me and Carolyn B and 'Storm's' house when I was fifteen, now it is Peter Cook outside Dingwall's Camden, some thirty years later.

I heard Johnny Cash performing 'Hurt' exactly two years ago (Johnny Vegas on Desert Island Discs) and now have the tune lodged in my head. And the sheet music downloaded so that I can sing it.

With a piece of video you can set the tempo with a 'click track' against which you then cut. Either a composer comes up with music against this tempo or you find something that fits.

As a director the choice is what you consider professionally to fit - but how about in a learning context you encourage students to lay in their own track of music? Synchronised with the click-track might it be more powerfully remembered as a result?

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How to be creative. What is going on here and can it be measured?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 2 May 2012, 09:21

BBC Radio 4 in ten minutes time.

That's 'Start the Week' from this morning. See my notes below.

Or click here. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01gnq8y

Then return for a chat?

(Follow up)

How did I get that one wrong?

It turned out to be a rather interesting doccumentary on the children of the Olympics bid.

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The Contents of my Brain

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 23 Jan 2013, 12:41

The current generation will be able to begin to achieve a fraction of this if they please; all I have to go on are diaries I stared in March 1975 and efforts since then to recall all the events, feelings and dreams of my life to that point.

This alongside photoalbums, scrapbooks and sketch books, with lists of books read and films seen, maps of places visited and a complete extended family tree ought to offer a perspective of who or what I am.

Does any of it impact on how I think and behave?

Without my mind is it not simply a repository of typical memories and learning experiences of a boy growing up in the North East of England?

Blogging since 1999 there are like minds out there, though none have come back with an approximation of the same experiences (its been an odd, if not in some people's eyes, bizarre, even extraordinary roller-coaster of a ride).

It's value? To me, or others?

I could analyse it 'til the day I die. My goal is no longer to understand me, but to understand human kind. And to better understand the value of exercises such as this, not simply hoarding everything, but of consciously chosing to keep or record certain things.

For now I will exploit the tools that are offered. In theory anything already digitised on computers going back to the 1980s could now be put online and potentially shared. Can I extract material from a Floppy-disc, from an Amstrad Disc, from a zip-drive? Should I add super8mm cine-flim already digistised on betacam masters? And the books Iv'e read, beyond listing them do I add links even re-read some of them? And a handful of school exercise books (geography and maths) A'Level folders on Modern History. I kept nothing from three years of university, yet this is where the learning experience ought to have been the most intense. But I had no plans to take that forward had I?

My university learning was spent on the stage or behind a video camera.

Should I undertake such an exercise without a purpose in mind?

Do I draw on it to write fiction?

There is a TV screenplay 'The Contents of My Mind' that could be stripped down and re-written, even shared.

And all the fictoin, the millions of words.

Will this have a life if put online?

Is it not the storyteller's sole desire to be heard? To have an attentive audience?

 

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