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So much to say, so little time to say it!

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I am keeping a regular work journal. As I work in Learning Tech for an FE/HE College these are busy and educational times indeed!

I am online via Google Chat all day, with at least one, sometimes several Meets in a day. These include sessions with tutors/staff and students, typically on how to make the most of Google Meet or just digital literacy. I gave a team session on Screencastify last week and attend a weekly all staff session which has between 98 and 143 attending - so far.

Use of interactive platform ThingLink has become integral to our forthcoming online Open Day. There are now 360 degree images, many linked into 'tours' or with additional interactive elements, running for all five sites and a number of departments.

As the Digital Editor of an educational charity we have seen our followers double across social media, we use Facebook and Twitter. We have responded with seminars and quizzes by Zoom, more podcasts and videos and a monthly newsletter going out every week.

Local politics too has seen our first Full Town Council, alongside a weekly informal town council meeting - also on Zoom.

The swimming and sailing clubs are less active. Sailing on our inshore lake started again - but no rescue boats out. Swimming is down to land training and a lot of cycling.



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Back to big swim club teaching & coaching

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Mid Sussex Marlins Pathways for swimmers

I'm back at Mid-Sussex Marlins the Sussex swimming club I joined in June 2008 and from which I have had only a couple of breaks - a year at the Open University, Milton Keynes in 2011 and the last four months as the head coach at a much smaller club down the road.

This chart could have been drawn up by me. I like to reduce things to infographics like this. 

Today I was teaching four sessions: x3 30mins and x1 45 mins, our Grades 1, 2, & 3 and a Grade 7 group. I enjoyed slipping back into the routine: getting to know and remember the name of every child during the swim, having a teenage Level 1 assistant and working through a new assessment sheet for these 7 to 11 year olds.

I was impressed to see an Olympic Trials Qualifying Times notice on the wall.

I'll be coaching too - without the head coach responsibilities. 

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Great Day until this happened !

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Ending my first 12 hour day, 7:30 am out of the door, 7:30pm home, a pheasant 'floats' into the road and hits the wing mirror hard. It cops it. I roll down the window and grab the mirror before it clatters and breaks too. Its neck broken (the wing mirror, and no doubt the poor pheasant too) I can see that the entire unit will have to be replaced. That'll be £125 parts and labour sad

Otherwise the Digital Editor, Learning Technologist and Head Coach had a great day: an item added to The Western Front Association website - ironically the Gallipoli Association annual conference, a day developing the Students with Special Education Needs projects - transcribing the interviews and seeking ideas and assistance from colleagues internally, and then my first evening 'poolside' as the new Head Coach at Hailsham Swimming Club.

Home as our son gathers up his belongings to head for Paris on a six month placement with Kenzo (male fashion design - though they want him for his graphic art/illustrator skills).

I'm reading stuff and nodding off in bed by a shocking 8:45pm

I'm not so much as 'keeping the wolf from the door' as having the time of my life. 

Throw in some sailing and safety boat duties on the sea, some life-drawing and vegan cooking, running and walking the dog ... 

 

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Coach Vernon

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 30 Aug 2019, 17:33

As the recently appointed Head Coach at Hailsham SC this paper will be my bible. It has been used for the last few years at Mid Sussex Marlins SC where I have been coaching since 2008.

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Would you swim in the Atlantic? A friend asked.

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My response -

As long as you don't swim too close to large ships or get caught in a trawler net. I'd stay in shore rather than 50 miles out. Try the first 20 yards off the beach and don't get out of your depth. Seriously, rip tides are a terror, I've been caught in a couple. Even I always swim with a kicker float on a piece of string ... something to grab onto in case I get cramp or caught in a current. Oh, and I might even wear a wetsuit and a woollen hat.

I'm sailing the Atlantic at the end of the year. I don't intend ever to be in the water unless there is an emergency. I won't fall in as I'll always be attached to a harness. I'm asthmatic so falling into cold water is dangerous.

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What the OU has taught me

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Whilst I cannot yet see how or where I will use my OU MA I have, over five years, here and when studying, learnt to fill much of my day with reading and writing. In one respect I am back where I was exactly nine years ago: writing all the hours I can. I don't blog. I go to bed early with a story or character on my mind and as soon as I am awake I am looking at notes I received overnight from a reader I befriended on the OU FutureLearn course 'Start Writing Fiction.'

Nine years ago I worked freelance writing and editing copy for websites, training and promotional. Nine years ago I started to take professional swim coaching work. I do both of these again four days a week for a few hours at a time: the wolf is not so much at the door, as sitting at my side but I don't feel I have any choice any more.

Meanwhile I envy my 18 year old daughter who took herself off to Paris, took two jobs, has rented a studio flat and is writing fiction with the kind of enthusiasm she had devouring books when she was little. Good for her.

I am writing at www.startwritingfiction.wordpress.com

This blog I set up initially so that a bunch of us could share work to review. It turned out more practical and very easy for each of us to have our own blogs though.

I no longer blog per se. Rather I write up between 500 and 3000 words of fiction every day, sometimes 5000 words If I am transcribing things I have already written. 

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Props

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 26 Jan 2015, 10:29

 

Fig.1 Mussel shells

Three times a week I teach swimming to kids age 7-12. All classes run for 45 minutes. Each week we work on a different stroke or school. Every time include some fun in the session rather than having them bash up and down the pool doing drills or parts of the stroke. The fun brings them back. At this age make it a drag and they either play up or don't show.

I do this thing called 'sea otter'. For one length, 25m, they have to pretend to be a sea otter. I don't need to show them a picture. Most can visualise it from a natural history film. The sea otter swims into the kelp and pulls up mussels. They bring a rock to the surface too, then lay on their backs, breaking open the shells and eating the content. I take them through the actions: long armed doggied paddle, duck dive to the bottom of the pool, onto their backs at the surface, a gentle flutter kick while they break open the shells, eat the contents, throw away the shell pieces then roll onto their fronts and repeat the exercise. I expect them to do this four to five times as they swim the length of the pool. Some like to make squeaking noises. All grin. All take their improvisation seriously and do a great job.

I tick off the long armed doggie paddle, the duck dive, the push off the bottom, the flutter kick on their back, and developing fluency and love for the water as all worthwhile. From this they improve their front crawl and back crawl, they make steps towards a tumble-turn and even diving (several don't, none do well) and they have fun - always deserved after 15/20 minutes of 'real' swimming: lengths up and down the pool to warm up, kicking with a float or on their back.

I play other games. Maybe three such interludes for a couple of minutes at most across the session.

Six years of doing this with this club and the teenagers laugh about 'otter' some even insisting once in a while to add it to their coached session where they are swimming over 2200m in an hour. 

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Enriching stereotypes: FutureLearn 'Start Writing Fiction' with The OU

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 2 Dec 2014, 17:42
From Writing

Fig.1. No my usual spot for writing - on a retreat in Devon

Invited by the OU moderator for comments on week long series of exercise on 'enriching character; I write:

"Extraordinary. I'm on my second pass. I came through early, and now return not wanting to get ahead of the conversation. Particularly useful as I am actively writing at the moment, so this is the best of all learning because it is applied. Regarding character it about giving them shape, depth and 'points of interest' - more 6D than even the 2D we are asked to get away from. I visualise characters as hedgehogs with many prickles, but only a few of these matter to the story - though all of them matter to the notebook which I'm gradually coming to care about more and more, cursing the times I 'have a thought' and don't get it down somewhere safely. I am hugely pleased to be here and very proud to be an OU graduate already - not, sadly, from this faculty: yet!"

I'm finding the oddest of balances in my life too: writing for myself from 4.00am to 8.00am. Picking up work from 10.00am to 1.00pm. Then a siesta. I live in the wrong country for this, I'd prefer to be in a hammock in the shade by a pool. Dream on. Evenings from 5.00pm to 9.00pm I am usually 'poolside' teaching or coaching swimmers. Delighting yesterday evening to be back with some squad swimmers I last saw four years ago - now in the mid teens, some achieving amazing things in the water, all at that gangly stage of youth development my own children have come through in the last year. 

The issue then is how or where or why I fit in the OU module <<L120 L'Ouverture. Intermediate French >> I committed to. Learning a language is daunting and outside my comfort zone. What I do know now, not surprisingly, is that all learning comes about as a result of concerted and consistent effort over a long period of time. 

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Dead Swimmer

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From Swimming

Fig. 'Dead Swimmer' to 'Streamlined'

One of my favourite swimming drills across all levels of swimmer. Back to teaching after 18 months (or is it two years). Loaded on a Kindle I show it to swimmers in the water and walk them through it. We repeat it in the deep end of the pool and later build in gliding and kicking drills.

Of course, every kind of drill and programme can be found on YouTube. 

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On blogging. It isn't for the most part. Thoughts on my own future tracks

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 6 Mar 2014, 12:18

I posted my first content to an 'online journal' - no one called them blogs way back then, on the 24th September 1999. I've been at it ever since - every day for at least the first four years then I reviewed my practice, split into a number of parts and specialised. I also took an MA in the next best thing 'Open and Distance Education' (MAODE). So, yes, blogging fascinates me. Twitter as a 'microblog' is not - it is chatting. And many so called blogs are actually something else too - corporate marketing brochures, magazines, radio shows, TV channels, photo dumps and galleries. For me, and those of us writing in 'Diaryland' over a decade ago a blog, like a diary, is something you kept up every day, reflected your daily life and was largely secret: you wrote amongst friends rather than to an audience. This meant that they remained authentic, deep, even 'in confidence'. Has all of that been lost? I wonder. 

What we have here is either a 'learning journal' or 'an e-portfolio' - that's if you want to attach it directly to your studies. Because of it's odd nature and history it is also what was once called a 'Bulletin Board', indeed, I had a go of an early one right here - sort of, that as on a Masters in Open and Distance Learning module in 2001. It really was posting to a bulletin board, a sentence or two attached to any others that were going up. More like an early version of a Student Forum.

Having said all of this, as a direct result of just completing H818: The Networked Practitioner  (EMA away last night). I plan to review, refine and redirect my blogging behaviour. Here it will be business as usual, though only if my relationship with the Open University is continued in some capacity or other (I got up early to do some application forms). Beyond these 'walls' I will professionalise my blog on e-learning and post continent aimed squarely at practitioners - for educators, on learning. I do think the 'e' is redundant regarding e-learning, indeed the 'm' from mobile learning is redundant too. Currently at 'My Mind Bursts' this will go into the fledgling 'Mind Bursts' which will go live once I've got 100 of my choicest posts in there. Or, 25 ... my 'A to Y' of learning, named so courtesy of the Open University where you will find the Computer Help Desk has no 'Z', so don't think you can look up 'zipping files' as I did while struggling to post an EMA. The response I got back was characteristically obtuse. 

The blog I stopped posting to on swimming teaching and coaching (I did for ten years as a direct consequence of taking my kids down to the pool eleven years ago) gets more views per day than any of my other blogs - go figure! It is useful. I answer direct daily questions. The biggest 'seller' is the 45 minute lesson plan for teaching or coaching swimming - I have all strokes, all stages and all problems addressed. That should tell me something. More at the catchily named 'Coaching and Teaching Swimming'.

This by the way is called 'reflection'. I should have Kolb's Learning Cycle spinning through my head right now. I don't. My head is fudge and I need the coffee that is brewing on my desk,

The other blog, 'That's Nothing Compared to Passchendaele', which requires and deserves tidying up started out as the memoir of my late grandfather, a machine gunner in the First World War - the only one who survived it would appear. Actually, in 1992 there was a 75th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Ypres) and there were four of them. One was an ammunition carrier. The other two were machine gunners, you could tell from their thumbs - like the beak of a spoonbill, squished flat from periods of anxiety pressed against the triggers of a Vicker's MKII Machine Gun. Like the swimming thing I need to hone this down to a resource of value - just his story, his words (over three hours of interviews) and photographs with references which would do the historian in me proud.

There will be a lot of 'ditching of babies' - there will be a good deal of painful unknitting of layouts and extraction. 

Are these blogs? Actually no. I ought to think of them as books and give them the professional focus that is required before you can go to print.

And finally, a blog on the use of Quick Response codes in education. This as a consequence of H818 and the ten minute presentations we gave a couple of weeks ago.

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Swimtag

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 29 Jan 2013, 22:49

Swimtag%25203.JPG

Fig. 1. Swimtag

Swimtag today, skitag tomorrow

Serendipity had me click on Swimtag and I'm hooked - as a swimmer and coach, but for the purposes of this note as a prospective PhD student looking for a research project for the next three years.

My interest is in e-learning, sport and virtual assistants / augmented learning.

Armed with a set of swimtags I'd like to research their use with a range of swimmers: masters, elite athletes, learn to swim and swimmers with disabilities. We have all of these in our 1000+ member swimming club Mid Sussex Marlins SC. Early days - I have only just completed a Masters in Open & Distance Education and am tentatively speaking to potential supervisors at the Open University, Oxford Internet Institute and Web Sciences at Southampton University with a view to submitting a doctoral research project in the next couple of months.

My vision is how swimtag becomes as commonplace as swim goggles, then translates into other sports and other fields, including business, but also as a potential prothesis for people suffering from dementia or memory loss so potentially tied into other data capture devices.

I am seriously looking at funded PhD research for the next 3/4 years.

I am interested in e-learning, so Learning & Development particularly for v. large organisations. There is a groundswell of interest in devices/software that enhance or support memory and learning. There is a fertile crossover between health - providing support say to those who would benefit from cognitive support, what we call 'lifelogging' - so gathering pertinent data about the world around you, then using this in an artificially edited form (using Artificial Intelligence algorithms) to supplement memory loss or to enhance learning potential as a virtual companion. Those recovering from a stroke or with dementia included.

It may sound like science fiction but people have been working on these ideas for a decade or more.

I appreciate that simply tagging vulnerable people who may wander off and not know how to find their way home is one way to support but I'm thinking about quality of life and facilitating memory and communication too.

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h810 Activity 21.1 Scripting for the visually impaired

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 10 Nov 2012, 06:32

1) Find an example of an online learning resource from your own context that has plenty of visual content that might need to be described for a visually impaired student.

Teaching breaststroke : symmetrical whip kick and glide, arms in front of the shoulders during the pull, head still looking no further than in front of your hands.

Coach Marlins - my swim teaching and coaching blog.

A personal resource, reflection on swimming (masters) and coaching for Mid Sussex Marlins Swimming Club.  A first step towards creating a mobile resource. Below is an excerpt from a typical morning teaching four groups - three grade groups (4.5.7) typically 7 - 11 year olds) and a disability swimming group of children and adults.

See 'The Swim Drills Books'

The introduction read here : YouTube

Grade 7 are technically superior and have more stamina and may be a little older. The ones I watch out for are the 7 year olds in with 10 and 11 year olds as they need a different approach, TLC and play.

WARM UP

  • 3 x 50m warm up of front crawl and backstroke

Always giving a tip before starting them off (and accommodating the odd swimmer who is invariably late), say 'smooth swimming' or 'long legs'. i.e. reducing splashing and creating a more efficient swimmer.

  1. Make sure too that there is a 5m between each swimmer.
  2. 25m of Breaststroke to see what I've got and potentially adjust accordingly.

LEGS

Breastroke%2520breathe%2520kick%2520glide%2520drill%25207.JPG

  • Kick on front with a kicker float.
  • Taking tips from 'The Swim Drill Book'
  • I remember to put as much emphasis on keeping the chin in.

The glide is key - this is where to put the emphasis.

  • May start the 'Kick, Pull, Glide' or better 'Kick, Pull, Slide' mantra to get it into their heads.

ARMS

 

Breastroke%2520poolside%2520drill%25201.JPG

Standing demo of the arm stroke, from Guzman, forming an equilateral triangle and keeping the fingers pointing away.

  • Will 'describe' the triangle poolside then ask what it is and what kind of triangle.
  • Anything to get them to think about it a little.

Breaststroke%2520poolside%2520drill%25202.JPG

  • I show this as a single action.
  • Other things I might say include 'heart shaped' *(upside down).
  • And making a sound effect 'Bu-dooosh' as I push my arms out.

Breastroke%2520poolside%2520drill%25203.JPG

Repeat the need for a pronounced glide, even asking fo a 2 second count (one Mississippi, two Mississippi)

I support by showing images from 'The Swimming Drill Book' on an iPhone or the Kindle

Leading into the turn we do in sequence (from the shallow end):

    • Push and glide for count of 5 seconds
    • Same, then add the underwater stroke and See how far you can go.

Legs Only Drill (Advanced)

Arms outstretched above the head. No kicker float

  • The whole BR transition counting 3,2,1.

2) Use the resources for this activity to help you to decide which visual content needs describing.

  • The objects that need describing might be photos, diagrams, models, animations and so on.

In the resources I was impressed by the clear, logical, analytical description of some of the complex bar charts, flow charts, pie charts and others. This is how all descriptions should be. In 2010 or 2011 the BBC reviewed how weather forecasts were delivered. It was determined that they were far too flowery. A plainer, clearer approach - overview, identified the region, immediate and forecast weather. Move on. Much more like 'The Shipping Forecast' was wanted and worked better. No more 'weather-caster personalities' then. It isn't entertainment, it is information.

3) For those objects that need describing, decide what kind of description would be needed.

'Before beginning to write a description, establish what the image is showing and what the most important aspects are'. UKAAF

'Consider what is important about the photograph in the context of how the image is going to be used, and how much detail is essential'. UKAAF

In swimming, any description of these visuals should emphasise the purpose of the action, the key action in relation to the physics and physiology of the pull, the action in relation to the rules of competitive swimming.

  • Keep it simple
  • Get to the point
  • Choose the right words

4) Choose two visual objects and write a description of each.

Kick without a float. Arm pull practice standing in water or on the side of the pool.

If you can, ask someone who has not seen these visual objects to read your descriptions. Then show them the object and the context. What was their reaction? (If you have online tools to share visual resources, ask another student in your tutor group to do this activity with you.)

5) Which aspects of this task were straightforward?

Knowing that gender is irrelevant. Putting it in context.

6) Which aspects of the task were difficult?

Care not to use terms or metaphors that the swimmer may not be familiar with if they have never seen them.

Reading text on a diagram and wanting to shut my eyes so that I can hear the description without the image. Need to use screen reader or record and play back.

'Remember that blind or partially sighted people cannot skim read, so let them know how long the description is likely to be'. UKAAF

Knowing what to leave out, being confident to leave something out then knowing how to handle it.

'It is important that information provided for sighted people is also made available to blind and partially sighted people, even if the way the information is given is different'. RNIB (2009)

An author should write with a single reader in mind - in this instance while visual impairment is the modus operandi - they are first of all a swimmer or swim teacher/assistant - so the description must be given with this in mind, which in turn defines the writing/editing process of what to put in or what to leave out.

7) What else might have helped you to do it more easily or helped to improve your descriptions?

Physically moving the student athletes arms and legs through the positions. With their consent, allowing a visually impaired swimmer lay the hands on the arms then legs of someone as they go through the movement.

  • An artist's manikin or a jointed doll, male or female action figure,
  • Braille embossed outline.

'However converting a visual graphic to an appropriate tactile graphic is not simply a matter of taking a visual image and making some kind of "tactile photocopy". The tactile sense is considerably less sensitive than the visual sense, and touch works in a more serial manner than vision. Therefore the visual graphic needs to be re-designed to make sense in a tactile form for blind and partial sighted readers'. RNIB (2009)

In some subjects, interpreting an image or diagram could be a key skill that students are expected to learn.

Drill-down organization

Descriptions should follow a drill-down organization, e.g., a brief summary followed by extended description and/or specific data. Drill-down organization allows the reader to either continue reading for more information or stop when they have read all they want.

Keeping this logic rather than imaging the sighted eye skipping about the page, so I imagine I am not allowed to lift the stylus from the screen ... it has to be ine continuous, logical flow. Constructing a narrative would add some logic to it as well.

10) Can descriptions be done in such a way that you are not giving students the answers?

This was an interesting and relevant point regarding humorous cartoons 'Cartoons and comic strips need to be described if necessary. Set the scene of the cartoon without giving away the joke Provide a brief overview of the image.'

The same therefore applies to 'giving the answer' - treat it as the punch line but leave it out. and like a quiz book say, 'answers on page x'.

11) What do you think your strategy would be if you can’t find a way to give a description without compromising the learning outcomes?

Script differently - this is after all a different audience - and all students are ultimately an audience of one. Perhaps all resources will become highly personalised in future?

12) How can providing descriptions be included in the workflow process of delivering an online module? (This was touched on in the discussion for Activity 17.3.)

  • I liked this quotation:

"When organisations send me information in formats that I can read myself it allows me to be independent, feel informed and appreciated - just like every other customer." End-user UKAAF

From Describing images 2: Charts and graphs

  • Definition of print disability
  • A print-disabled person is anyone for whom a visual, cognitive, or physical disability hinders the ability to read print. This includes all visual impairments, dyslexia, and any physical disabilities that prevent the handling of a physical copy of a print publication.

REFERENCE

RNIB Tactile Images : http://www.rnib.org.uk/professionals/accessibleinformation/accessibleformats/accessibleimages/Pages/accessible_images.aspx

RNIB Image Descriptions : http://www.rnib.org.uk/professionals/accessibleinformation/accessibleformats/accessibleimages/imagedescriptions/Pages/image_descriptions.aspx

Gould, B., O’Connell, T. and Freed, G. (2008) Effective Practices for Description of Science Content within Digital Talking Books [online], National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), http://ncam.wgbh.org/ experience_learn/ educational_media/ stemdx (last accessed 10 November 2012).

UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF) (undated) Formats and Guidance: Accessible Images [online], http://www.ukaaf.org/ formats-and-guidance#accessible (last accessed 10 November 2012).

University of Aberdeen (undated) Keep It Simple [online], http://www.abdn.ac.uk/ eLearning/ accessibility/ checklist/ keep-it-simple/ (last accessed 10 November 2012).

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How e-learning would benefit from looking at some s-training

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 13 Oct 2012, 16:10
20121013-085349.jpg

One tactic used in all swimming training from club squads to the Olympics is the concept of whole-part-whole: to develop the stroke, either to improve skills or strength, you break the stroke into parts. The simplest expression of this is arms only or legs only followed by the full stroke. This is repeated over different distances and whether an aerobic or anaerobic set, against different turn around or repeat times. This is finessed with drills, so taking on of the four competive strokes - frontcrawl backcrawl, breasstroke and butterfly - what might we see?

This morning's Master's set had the following drills: short doggie laddle, long doggie paddle, catchup, touchfloat and closed fist. Each was a 50m drill followed by 50m full stroke. Later we did some arms only sets over 100m against the clock. And we swam sme backstroke and breaststroke for slme variety before some short full strokes sprints on Frontcrawl and a swim down.

How might this translate into a training session or e-learning module?

To start with the module, like a set, would need to change every week, so that there is progression in the challenges set, the skills in technique to demonstrate and even the times to rest or turn around a swim.

There would need to be variety too, which typically means emphasis on a different stroke but inlcudes having a different coach, swimming in a different lane and having different swimmers in the lane with you.

I rarely see such variety or such progressive, long term, planned in progression in learning and development, while many e-learning modules are no better than the leaflet or linear video they replace - they are fixed.

Does this work?

How do you reversion content so that it gets progrossively more challenging at a pace that puts the individual learning just beyond being able to d the thing with ease? Effort matters, easy learning isn't learning, just as a stroll in the park isn't a training run.

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H810: Activity 5.3 National Policies on provision for people with disabilities

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 19 Oct 2014, 07:50

I work for a global e–learning company Lumesse which has 73 offices spread around some 40 countries. It would be interesting for me to see what accessibility polcies exist (I'll search online) probably a nod in each case to national or regional policy and legislation.

Of greater interest and relevance and running in close parallel to education at all levels: primary, secondary and tertiary and beyond – is the policy for sports in the UK and for swimming in particular. (I'm familiar with Swimming Governing bodies in the US, France and Australia so could check these too).

As the 'Swim21 co–ordinator' for one of the largest swimming clubs in Southern England I compile a report with supporting evidence every four years to achieve various Amateur Swimming Assocation (ASA) national accreditiations. This includes provision for disabled swimmers. The award is used as a management tool – the club is a limited company with over 1000 members, some 26 paid staff and 60+ volunteers.

Swim21 – which stands for 'Swimming for the 21st century', goes beyond national legislation regarding disability, equality and inclusion – so much so that it impinges on the Data Protection act – those party to the information we make available have a current CRB check and have signed various documents agreeing to abide by certain disclosure rules, an ethics policy and an equity in sport code of practice.

Educational institutions would benefit from taking a look at this – I can see that it would, if permitted, cover far more than they do or are prepared to do in Tertiary Education. Would they carry the cost, even the potential risk?

The Swim21 report is divided into three parts: Compliance, Athlete Development and Workforce Development.

In each of these there are criteria the club must reach regarding disabled swimmers. I believe that most institutions – universities and businesses, tick boxes for compliance but fail to address the development of and support of their people – including disabled staff. There are notable corporate exceptions, but I can't think of a university other than The OU that champions learning for disabled students ... or provides so well for disabled staff (I worked on The OU campus for a year).

What I find interesting in relation to H810 and ASA policy is the close interplay between various apparently innocuous or tangential criteria that make what the club does such a success – in fact our club is a regional centre of excellence or 'Beacon Club' for disabled swimmers. It is this weave that integrates what we do that makes provision, and therefore access for disabled swimmers possible.

Crucial to this is a good working relationship with the pool operator, local schools for disabled students and a couple of champions who hold on tenaciously to what we can provide.

The relationship with the pool operator, meetings, adherence to their emergency and health and safety policies, provision of appropriate facilities and so on is a starting point. Tangential, but crucial to have in place. There has to be physical access for disabled athletes to changing rooms, toilets and the pool(s) with trained, sympathetic staff on hand.

The fundamental ingredient is what we call 'water time' – access to the pool or pools at times that suit the swimmers, rather than being marginalized to an evening slot on a Saturday or Sunday which is the policy in many pool operators when it comes to disabled swimmers. In relation to H810 then access to 'air time' is key, access to include the right, motivated, experienced and educated tutors, with appropriate resources – with access ring–fenced, protected and treasured.

Our disabled swimmers, themselves divided into two ability groups, have slots on a Saturday morning and a late afternoon/early evening on Wednesday. We integrate certain disabled swimmers into mainstream learn to swim and teenage swim groups and when they come along or develop would include them in squad sessions too. Here too Tertiary Education needs to understand the need not only for total, or part time integration, but also the provision for full or part time specialist, niche provision. This is provided by and should be informed by national organisations for sight, hearing, physical and learning impairments.

Provision for disabled swimmers is ASA Swim21 policy and includes: self–assessment on the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), attendance by coaches on an ASA approved Disability Awareness Course and partnership with local disability organisations.

Supporting this, coach/athlete ratios are moderated to match the needs of the swimmer with 1:1 for some disabled swimmers, even 1:2 or 1:3 at times. We have to declare these ratios and demonstrate that they meet criteria by swimming level, age group and disability. There is a club Child Protection Policy and Equity Policy, and coaches agree to abide by a Code of Ethics – these embrace all swimmers.

In relation to H810, and where Tertiary Education might learn something – we maintain a record of club personnel which includes CRB and current relevant qualifications, as well as safeguarding and protecting children training. Most significantly with membership we capture medical conditions of all participants, disability information and emergency contact information. Teachers and coaches, on a need to know basis, have this information too (though it is wrapped in a data protection statement).

We attend ASA approved workshops on Swimming for Disabled Athletes.

All members, which includes parents and other volunteers, agree to a code of conduct. Anyone working with or likely to work with children have a current CRB check whilst every three years the club puts on a Child Protection Workshop which includes working with vulnerable and disabled swimmers. This is now supplemented by several ASA e–learning modules that include niche topics on coaching swimmers with visual impairment, physical disabilities, learning difficulties and/or behavioural issues.

The note on a swimmer is vital to a teacher or coach

Just a line or two and we can seek further advice and of course speak to the swimmer themselves leading to conversations on what they want to do and where they have problems to overcome. We improvise, compromise and accommodate. The context poolside is of course very different to e–learning if we think of e–learning as distance or independent learning, however, if we think of it as social learning online and do more supported synchronous and quasi–synchronous learning, then there are close parallels. The mistake is to think of e–learning purely in terms of ways to get 1,000 people a year through the same induction process or 2,000 through the same postgraduate module – wherein lies the importance of access to and the engagement of the tutor, and other people in support. People create access, improvise, accommodate difference, find ways around barriers ... and come to understand one person to another, what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Reflecting on this, there is another vital component 

We very often know the disabled swimmer from age 9 or 10 into their late teens – volunteers who work in specialist schools may well have known the swimmer for even longer. Some stay on to swim as adults. Given that there are so many kinds of disability and such a spectrum for each, this knowledge is vital. For example, it helps to know that a swimmer who is barely able to walk can, with assistance, balance on a starting block long enough to start a race. I'm starting to wonder where the equivalents exist in higher education and for e–learning in particular - perhaps this same swimmer using a specialist keyboard to be as active on social networks online as anyone else, not quite an avatar, but as 'free in the airwaves' online as they are in the swimming pool.

 

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Creative Technique: Working with Dreams and/or Keeping a Dream Diary

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 17 Jul 2012, 07:56

This from B822 Creativity, Innovation and Change which ended in April.

Several reasons why as a technique it is out of the reach if most of us and impractical as a management tool.

a) What good is it 'dreaming up' something at random.

b) That has nothing to do with the course.

I found myself giving a presentation to an eager group in a crowded boardroom. I don't know why.

'and Jonathan is going to give you the criteria'.

And up I step, in a two piece suit with the manner of Montgomery addressing the troops - effusive, informed, consided and persuasive.

It went something like this:

"We human are blessed with an innate ability to float in water, though not necessarily fully clothed, or carrying a backpack and rifle."

Laughter.

"We should encourage swimming for a number of reasons: for the love of it, as a life skill, as a competitive sport and for fitness'.

At which point I am full conscious, which from a dream state meant 'I lost it'.

Why this dream?

I am reading a good deal on the First World War and I am swimming four or more times a week again after a long, slow easing back into the sport over the lt five months. I even got papers through yesterday which I only opened late in the evening before going to bed to say that I had passed the ASA Level 3 module on Sports Psychology (which makes 10// modules down on that 'Front'.

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Poolside swim teacher support

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 2 May 2012, 09:25

I'm poolside with an iBook, Kindle and various smartphones looking at how best to support swim teacher development. Micro-sized, images based, sequences, drills, parts of lesson plans.

Content needs to be:

  • Simple and clear
  • Varied
  • Of use to coach and swimmer
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New blog post

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Interested in swimming? Interested in being a swimming teacher or coach? What about water-polo? Once again I am blogging about my poolside/teaching experiences in my swim teach / swim coach blog.

The Welly Man

(Named thus because I also used to instruct sailing and took to wearing sailing wellies poolside. They keep you feet dry, unlike trainers and are more comfortable than flip-flops. I was nicknamed 'the welly-boot man' by the young swimmers).

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Level 3 ASA Swimming Coach

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As if I haven't got enough going on the ASA sent my results to date for the 10 part ASA Level III coach certificate. I have taken and passed 9 out of 10. All I have to do is submit a piece of Sports Psychology and I'm just about done. So a few degrees, an MA and a Level III Swimming Coach.
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2012 New Year's Resolutions anyone?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 18 Apr 2012, 07:22

I always think of these ahead of the festive season so I'm prepared come January 1st. The other thing, is you can give it a bit of a go now without any feeling of obligation to make a true run of it.

Swimming and swim teaching & coaching

I will swim, not 3 times a week, but once at least. I will also return to coaching after a 9 month break: I flourished in the role and the swimmers I taught and coached did well too.

Complete B822, my fifth of six modules towards the Masters in Open & Distance Education.

I'd like to graduate in 2012 but the timing of my final 30 credit module may take me into 2013: doing two in parallel for 4 months looks foolish.

As ever, blog.

Even a picture and 30 words, but something every day. This now occurs here, at www.mymindbursts.com and in blip.foto under mindbursts.

Is 250,000 page views attainable in 2012!?

and to what end other than meeting the challenge of posting something of worth and being a 'blogger's friend'.

Four months later (End of April 2012):

  • I can report that I am coaching for between 2 and 4 hours a week and signed up to the club as a Masters so swimming with them Saturday mornings and typically twice during the week).
  • The last TMA for B822 went in, the mark wasn't great, 54, but I'm through to the exam which is next week.
  • This blog hit 180,000 views yesterday and had 1000 views in one day earlier last week. Another 70,000 views in 11 Months? Pushing it, especially as from May to August I won't be on a module.

 

 

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B822 Reflection

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Working efficiently does not mean filling every day with work. Compartmentalising work, play and study time became crucial. I now get more done by containing it to set times. I'm getting out, working and studying better when I do and feeling far less stressed. Yet to get sleep patterns in order; I sense a need for exercise which for me means regular swimming.
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B822 - Orientation ahead of D-Day

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 17 Apr 2012, 07:41

My fourth module and some 12 days before we officially start.

I neither hang back, nor do I wade in; I appreciate that the person who finally makes it on 1st November may feel left out or left behind.

I leave nothing in the cafe area where no fewer than two course tutors have introduced themselves. Elsewhere I am one of four to have made it to the door.

There will be books, though thus far I am downloading PDFs are reading them off the iPad.

In order to take motes it strikes me that a second tablet would be an advantage so that I can have two screens. Two hinged like a book?

I sense a different tone, a sense that there is a team present to supervise our first moves rather than a single tutor.

The print-like lay-out of the texts lifts the words away from the VLE too, subtle yet recognisable differences. Already the reading impresses: I could spend the next ten years giving the many creative techniques a go and not get to the end.

This is something that has impressed me with each OU module that I have done, you could never want for something to do, ample to fill 12-15 hours a week, yet room to spend 20 or more hours if you wished.

On a totally different matter I agreed to complete and submit my old Swimming Club's Swim21 application, something that I had done for the last three years. In this way I can at least keep my interest in swim coaching alive even if I am no longer poolside (for now).

And then in my inimitable way I go to the Harvard Business Review, as invited, to download 'How to Kill Creativity' only to spot 'The Rise of the E-lance' instead which takes a 1998 look at the opportunities then arising for the freelance in an IT rich world.

I download this into iBooks only to find a 2011 PDF on Webinars of most immediate interest, afterall I am this week an next seeing people about putting on Webinars for us. Some self-discipline is required, getting the required reeading done first during time I set aside to do so, rather than last.

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Student : What's in a word?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 26 Feb 2012, 06:19

A subtle shift.

Perhaps we'll come one day to consider the word 'student' derogatory - why?

Because it's a put-down that places the educator at a higher level.

We're in it together, learning always and often playing dual roles as learners and the learned.

This is the equalizer with social media learning/education.

We're all in it together, always were ... always are.

So good-bye to the 'B' arc.

Douglas Adams

Gatekeepers serve no purpose and are easily and immediately ignored.

I'll expand on this in any way you wish:

  • Debate
  • Broadcast
  • Print
  • Down the pub

I'm an enabler, keen to bring the best out of others, I am after all (or was) a professional coach of elite swimmers.

 

 

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H800: 32 Wk5 Activity 1 Metaphor and Symbols in Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 8 Mar 2011, 20:15

My first take on Saloman (1997) 'Of mind and media', ran to 3,800 words, my second take is still 2,800 ... (See below, it's my previous blog entry).

Now that I've devoured the text I'll consider the questions.

Do you prefer certain forms of representation to a greater extent than others?

1. The only kind of learning that matters is learning that works. This will vary by context, content and desired outcomes. A piece of chalk on a blackboard is learning, as is Avatar. The first might cost $1, the latter $200m.

If so, why do you think that is the case?

2. We cannot always indulge our differences. I dare say the best education might be privileged and historically at home with a governess then a tutor. Personalisation by yourself, aided by parents/siblings peer pressure and your school/institution is what e-learning offers via social networking, forums, YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook, Wikipedia, Google and all the rest of them.

Does this preference apply to everything you attempt to learn?

3. If I am motivated to do so I will do more than watch the TV programme or catch the radio show ... I will do more than buy the book (or books), I will do a course, join a group, get a qualification. It is progressive, exploratory and stepped; it ends in your head, and may begin on your own but is often best developed with others. Though ask a successful author how they developed their craft skills or how they now work and I doubt they say they do it as a group/collective in a writer's group.

Or does it vary from one type of learning task to another?

4. Whilst certain approaches, if there is a choice, do lend themselves better to certain ways of doing it, any learning is defined by the candidate's motivation to learn and what is available, let alone their individual circumstances. I do think that challenging someone to learn might deliver a better outcome than spoon-feeding or mollycoddling. I learnt to deliver a baby when I had to, I had about five minutes to read a very short chapter on 'home delivery'. I learn to sail when it went wrong and we escaped drowning. I learnt to make training films by making mistakes (and putting them right). I once saw a production of Sleuth that was performed in front of the curtains with none of the pyrotechnics or gadgets ... in this simple form it was more engaging. i.e. I am going back to the story told around a campfire, perhaps with a song. This is how to enjoy Beowulf rather than as a movie.

Does the article make you think differently about what you do?

5. The article irritated me. It is 4, 800 words long. The first half could be removed entirely. Editorially I would have put a line through the waffle and a red line over disagreements. I have a paragraph of what I'd fix that I'll post in my blog. It should have been edited to improve what is poor writing. However, it is this disagreement and the 'mistakes' that have rattled me and so got my attention. How therefore to create a tussle with the text or concepts? They do it at Oxford, it's called a debate.

To what extent do the technologies available limit the learning and teaching possibilities in terms of forms of representation?

6. The technologies are not the limiting factor, they are only possibilities. The limiting factor is the author of the learning - bells and whistles do not improve a lesson if the teacher hasn't a) got an idea b) prepared a 'script' that has some chance of success.

Can you describe any specific examples of how different forms of representation are an important influence on teaching and learning situations with which you are familiar?

7. In H808 we did a group task that had to end with a presentation/representation of some kind. We had powerpoint presentations, and videos but to my surprise as I had doubted it would work one group did a poster that was rich, comprehensive, inventive, memorable and in one shot said it all - indeed with the flows and movement of information about the page I'd even described it as interactive. i.e. Keep It Simple, Student. I've been using a Kindle poolside to show swimmers pages from the 'Swim Drill Book'. It has proved extraordinarily effective.

To what extent do assessment methods constrain or privilege certain forms of representation (for example, how much does a written examination reveal about a learner’s competence in communicating effectively in a second language?).

8. Testing is more vital for the learning process than as a test to achieve a grade, pass or mark. But of course assessment is crucial for the sake of credibility and to have something to open a door to work. A written test tests someone's comprehension of the language and confidence/ability with this language first. Interesting for the last year I've been feeding my learning back to a national sports organisation. I have been fairly critical of a written test for sports coaches as it is at odds with the way they learn and what they do ... it was dropped from the curriculum last week. I had read during H807 or H808 about how the thing to be taught, the approach to teaching it and the way it is assessed should all marry up. i.e. to teach someone to dive Kate are they ever going to have to go near or in water? Of course they are. At what point does their reading or writing skill hinder their ability to qualify? If you want to learn to sail someone had to give you the helm; my father would never do so! I went off and did a course without telling him so that should he fall over board I'd know how to get back to shore. The ultimate tests I have windsurfing and skiing have been where errors would be fatal ... though I'm not suggesting a test should be a life or death matter, though it wouldn't half concentrate your mind.

Finally, I spent this morning with a colleague/friend who did an e-learning diploma with Sussex University.

We shared favourite e-learning websites and the ones we hated the most. I came away rather depressed by the awfulness of many, their formulaic approach and dreadful written and spoken English - there is a lack of craft skills. I think these things have been designed and created with the context in which the learning will take place in mind or the multiple opportunities people can and will find to engage with a task or topic. Personally, I like to hear and see it from several sources, good and bad, then give it a go several times ... and in time form an opinion having done what I'm doing here and did this morning over coffee - batting it about.

We liked Spaced-ed and can see what they are doing with Qstream ... though our own e-learning will naturally engage even more than these!

I came away with key ideas such as: metaphor, variety, mistakes, context, relevance and participation.

REFERENCE

Salomon, G 1997, 'Of mind and media', Phi Delta Kappan, 78, 5, p. 375, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 8 March 2011.

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Where old meets new: paper and handwriting vs e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Nov 2014, 06:53

Paper Assignments

I have in-front of me an Amateur Swimming Associations (ASA) paper for the Level III Senior Club Coach certificate. There are 12 sheets, facing side only. The paper is waxed, copyrighted and stamped with the ASA logo. Having attended a day long workshop on the topic, done some reading and from my own experience I complete these assignment and submit. It ought to be submitted as is; this is in part a test of authenticity. I have handwritten my responses. My habit and way of doing things is to have it in a word document, so I load the text and tables, complete the required questions/tasks, print off and submit both parts. Invariably I get a note about the typed up/printed off version being so much better ... it takes skills that even I lack to write something in some of the minuscule boxes.

I was discussing on Monday with the ASA how to avoid plagiarism with e-assessments.

I mentioned Nottingham University medical students attening a computer-based assessment. I mentioned software that can spot plagiarism. I struggled however with the kind of forms the ASA uses as these tests seem to be have written with the EXAMINER in mind ... i.e. to make them easy to mark. Which also makes it easy to cheat. The answer is the same, not open to interpretation. More or less. This isn't strictly fair ... papers are returned covered in red ink - I have redone one paper.

There has to be a sign in process that is used to identify a person.

How many people cheat? Is it such a problem?

Apparently so. Even with certificates and qualifications it appears easy to falsify documents. And often, these determined people are excellent teachers/coaches who have learn their trade as competitive swimmers and/or on the job, so they know what they are doing, they simply don't have the piece of paper.

Memory Cards

I also have in front of me a set of handwritten cards given to me by a colleague who has just taken her Level II Coaching certificate. She failed the written paper. She used these cards to test herself. My intention is to put these into Spaced-Ed, as an exercise, possibly to create or to begin to create a useful learning tool.

I like the way Space-Ed prompts you over the week, tests you on a few things, then leaves you alone. You have time to assimilate the information. Is it easy learning? It is easier learning ... nothing beats a period of concerted effort and self-testing to verify that you know something or not.

Whether electronic, or paper ... or the spoken word, there is always a bridge to gap, a translation, as it were, of the information a person wants or needs to assimilate and this assimilation process.

Common to all is EFFORT.

Do you work hard at it for longer periods of time ... or divide the task up into smaller chunks? Which works best? For you, or anyone? Is there a definitive answer? No. It will vary for you, as with anyone else. It will vary by motivation, inclination, time available, the nature and importance of the topic, the degree to which this topic is covered in print or online, or in workshops and in the workplace. In deed, my contention, would be that the greater the variety of ways to engage with the information the better it will be retained and the more useful it will be when required in a myriad of ways to be applied or is called upon.

On reflection

I learn from writing somethign out by hand. I learn again when I type it up. I may not be engaging with it 'in the workpale;' but there is engagement non the less through my eyes, hands and fingers. Similarly the person who wrote out this pack of 71 cards (both sides written up) was preparng themselves, afterall, for a written exam. She knows her stuff poolside, her struggle (as I know is the case for many) is translating this into exam-like responses in a highly false setting, away from a pool, from swimmers, having to read words to respond in text, rather than reading an athlete (observation) and responding with a fixing drill or exercise.

 

 

 

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M-Learning?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 19 Feb 2011, 16:08

Armed with a Kindle with the Swim Drills book loaded I was poolside teaching and coaching swimmers for three hours.

For the last year I have run programmes based on drills in 'The Swim Drills Book' and have relied on lesson plans and sometimes laminated print outs.

Today I took the Kindle

Swim%20Drill%20Book%20Dead%20Swimmer%20GRAB.JPG


Never before have I found the swimmers so attentive, coming close to the side of the pool to look at the pictures.

Here is a great drill to develop streamlining

DSC00841.JPG

They start in what we call 'Dead Swimmer' then straighten up, arms first, then legs into the 'streamline position.' They then kick off, add a few strokes and continue up the pool.

They got, far quicker than my efforts to demonstrate and talk them through.

Simple.

The pictures say it all.

Is this mobile learning?

Whatever it is, this works.

Next step to blog about in my Swim Coach website www.thewellyman.wordpress.com.

We bought a dozen copies of the Swim Book.

Perhaps we need a dozen Kindles.

Could we have waterproof versions?

And perhaps A4 clipboard in size?

With a wireless link to a poolside whiteboard.

Better still, an LCD screen on the bottom of the pool!

REFERENCE

The%20Swimming%20Drill%20Book%20GRAB.JPG

Guzman, R (2007) The Swim Drills Book

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