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On keeping a diary online

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 16:17

Anais%2520Nin%2520SNIP.JPG

‘When people ask me how to keep a Diary, I refer them to Ira Progoff's Intensive Journal [method]....One cannot help being amazed by what emerges from this skilled inner journey. All the elements we attribute to the poet, the artist, become available to everyone, to all levels of society.’

Anais Nin

  • How to start your diary
  • In ‘The New Diary’ Tristine recommends that you:
  • Begin with a self-portrait
  • Begin with a period
  • Begin with today

Each time I come back to a blog after an absence of weeks, months or years I approach it in one of these ways: I assess who I am, go over the previous period when I’ve been away from the diary, and count these musings as my first entry.

From Ira Progoff’s A Journal Workshop seven useful techniques for diary writing are offered:

  1. List or Period Log
  2. Portrait or Life History Log
  3. Map of consciousness (Recapitulations and rememberings)
  4. Stepping Stones/Scenes from our lives
  5. Twilight Imagery Log
  6. Altered point of view
  7. Unsent letter
  8. Dialogue Dimension


Then read a few inspiring blogs from fellow OU students such as Rosie Rushton-Stone.

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H800: 25 Where does virtual learning begin?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 28 Feb 2011, 06:27

And if real learning occurs, is it no longer 'virtual?'

Where does reality end?

What part of your subconscious is real?

It happens after all, if yo think it or dream it. We distinguish between learning and e-learning; should we ? Did we distinguish a different reality after the train, after the telephone, after television or a man on the moon?

I am often online, I speak to people through Skype and Elluminate.

Yesterday I likened an Elluminate 'tutorial' with seven or eight fellow students as wearing a blindfold in a meeting; yo have to be alert to the presence of others, be sensitive to their interest (or lack of), their hand going up, or not. You are dependent on your only sighted person present - the tutor or moderator.

Over the last month I have been interviewed for a job on Skype. Producers have discussed my work on Skype.

I have been set task to show what I can do, somehow my body of work, the videos and scripts not real enough. Can I still fill a blank sheet of paper with pertinent and persuasive ideas; that's what they want to know.

My blend of learning uses the conscious and subconscious.

I consciously go to bed with a book, now on Kindle, currently reading through my extensive highlights and notes on two books: Education Psychology (Vygotsky 1926) and 'Rethinking Pedagogy for the Digital age (Helen Beetham & Rhona Sharpe eds. 2007). As I drift away I may close the Kindle, may slip it safely to one side .. may not. I matters not a jot. I'tll look after itself.

No wonder I find myself dwelling on all matter of things.

Earlier I woke thinking about one of these job interviews: it may be to work on contrast, it may be to work freelance, there are even a couple of full-time posts. All want to know what I have done recently. What they really need to know is what can I do for them next week or month. Or now.

As I return to consciousness I reflect on the interview that was on my mind, only to realise that it is highly unlikely that my future boss Is Johnny Depp. I've been duped by my own mind. No worries. The thoughts relate to the real opportunities, not this peculiar mash-up in a virtual world.

I have multiple presences in cyberspace with 'faces on' that may be anything from a week to 15 years old. Indeed, I ought to attach an image of the six year old me to a collection of 'earliest memories.'

I have a couple of existences in Second Life too, though I've yet to run with these.

Would I not get more confused over where reality ends?

If it is becoming less easy to distinguish reality from the virtual, how are we supposed to differentiate between learning and e-learning? Is it not the case that both could be going on ... but a student, or the students are doing no learning in either situation? That they are elsewhere? That they are not engaged? Yet hours later, consciously or otherwise, a recollection of a 'lesson' may produce a learning moment, may generate 'stuff' a learning object in that person's consciousness?

 

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H800: 22 Reflecting on H800

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 10 Mar 2013, 00:26

How goes it?

Like a roller-coaster, merrily going along, like the C4 ident:through the loops of a roller-coaster though the shapes I see are 'H' and '800' and '807' and '808' as I pass by.

Then I switch track and venue and find myself on the Mouse-Trap. Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Here there is a rise and dip where you are convinced you will hit a girder. I just did, metaphorically speaking. (Diary entry, August 1980)

Ilness changes things

Nothing more than a rubbish cold made uncomfortable by asthma.

It is a set back of sorts. I can sleep and read. But the spark has gone (for now).

To use a different analogy, if I often think of my mind as a Catherine-wheel, this one has come off and landed in a muddy-puddle.

We're in the week of metaphors for learning.

I can draw on any notes I've taken on this here and in my eportfolio. This is more than an aide-memoire, it favours the choices I made before at the expense of anything new. So I widen my search. The OU Library offers hundreds of thousands of references in relation to 'Education' and 'Metaphor' going back to 1643.

Gathering my thoughts will take time.

There are 26 pages (nearly 12,000 words) to read (course intro, resources). Far, far more if I even start to consider ANY of the additional references or reading.

Give me three months. We have, or I have left, three days.

My approach is simple. Tackle it on the surface, drill into an author or topic that is of interest and expect to pick up on and pick through this again later this module, later this year ... or next existence. (I believe in multiple existences and flux. We are transitory and changing)

As well as tapping into the OU Blog and e-portfolio the blog I've kept since 1999 might have something to say on metaphor. If I care to I might even rummage through A'Level English Literature folders from the 1970s, just to trigger something. Engaged and enabled by Vygotsky and others in relation to memory and learning I value this ability to tap into past thoughts/studying with ease.

(Ought others to be sold the idea of a life-long blog?)

Otherwise I have gone from learn to swim in the training pool, to swimming lengths in the main pool ... to observer/coach who will participate, but has a towel over his shoulders and is looking around.

The next pool? Where is that?

I'm not the same person who set out on this journey 12 months ago.

On the other hand, having a Kindle makes me feel more like a teenager swotting for an Oxbridge examination; I like having several books on the go. I'll be through 'Educational Psychology (Vygotsky) by the end of the day and am already picking through and adding to copious notes.

Piaget next?

Then a little kite-boarding as I head away from the swimming pool that has been an MA with the OU?!

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H800:17 Kindle:6 Some thoughts on Linked In, Vygotsky and me

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 21 Dec 2012, 05:54

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Unable to sleep I do this.

A mini-reflection on building a profile in Linked In.

Then get on with reflecting on my notes on Vygotsky.

The more I read, the greater my fascination. Vygotsky (translated) I find like H.G.Wells, also of the era, extraordinarily readable and current. A considerable amount of 'Educational Psychology rings true.

There is then at the confluence of a thought regarding Vygotsky as uploaded this image above; I am only saved from tears by what I was reading about Educational Psychology - understanding does this to you.

I am reminded of my late father who would have be 80 last week.

It was an innocent way to start a thought, how in less than a week a Kindle has taken over my book reading. Somewhere I have a Bird Book, signed by my late father, given to me on a whim on the ONLY visit he ever managed to our former home in Little Compton in the Cotswolds. For my father, everything was out of his way, but somehow the old A34 rather than the M40 into London brought him to our doorstep.

Of course, such as bird book is still required. The Kindle doesn't do colour - yet.

The thought produced a physical response.

Kindle%20Vygotksy%20Emotions%20GRAB.JPG

(James, 1929)

Have we all had an encounter with a thief? If the image of the birds has me thinking about my father (conservationist, ornothologist, rubbish dad ... ) then the mention of the word 'thief' has me visualising a large screw-diver, the weapon of choice I picked up in the garage as someone tried to break in.

(By now we're living in a studio flat on Hamilton Terrace, though chronologically we've slid back a few years).

The text from Vygotsky has a resonance, and as I keep reading, a convincing argument in relation to education.

Work with these kinds of responses of the individual = success

My concern in relation to e-learning is how easy it is to duplicate what is inappropriate for a class of 30, but the authors (and their sponsors) believe is appropriate for 10,000.

Which in turn brings me to the week 2 activity in H800 of the MAODE

Online through the participation and collaboration of others in your immediate circle, which includes your tutor group, module cohort, wide MAODE colleagues and like-minded OU friends identified here, can your learning experience be personalised.

Ergo, we have a duty to comment, and only through writing ourselves, might we enable (or expose) our selves to comment in turn.

It does strike me that there is a 'layer' to the OU blogs-cum-threads that is missing: the MAODE or 'Education' blog platform.

As I've commented some thousand entries back, writing here is perhaps like doodling on a scroll of toilet paper in a public convenience.

Not the image or sentiment I wanted to conjure up, but a scroll, with perforations top and bottom comes to mind. What you do with this script if you've even read it is for your mind to decide.

REFERENCE

Williams, J (1929) Quoted in Educational Psychology, Vygotsky. Chapter 6.

Kindle doesn't give you a page number, presumable all e-Reader follow a similar convention. To cite do I give Location 1874?

Without knowing what I am doing or what it will achieve I search 'James' in the Kindle PC version, am about to click when a drop down offers me not a reference at the back of the 'book' but a link to Google or Wikipedia. I click Wikipedia and seamlessly, find myself here.

 

William%20James%20Wikipedia.JPG (Wikipedia, accessed 17FEB2011)

 

And as we're talking about physical responses to things then this brought a shiver down my spine and matching the cliched 'reflexive' action my draw dropped.

I don't know what planet I'm living on any more.

No wonder I can't sleep, Kindle content isn't a soporific book, rather it's wired into your cerebellum where in an action not dissimilar to Ken Dodd's tickling stick, your mind is suitably agitated.

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Ken Dodd and his tickling stick sad

(I saw him live as a 10 year old, insanity. About as funny as my Granny sitting on a bowl of peaches).

P.S. Whether for personal, OU or the wider world, this demonstrates a value of blogging ... just start to write and let your mind unravel. And if you'll only get quiet for 90 minutes in the dead of night, that's what you'll have to do.

 

 

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On blogging vs keeping a diary or are they the same thing?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 18:18

Maketh up a quote at ye beginning of thy book; it will make people think thou art clever.

Christopher Marlowe ‘The Obscure Tragedie’ Act II, Scene ii.

The following comes from a seminal book on diary keeping by Tristine Rainer.

Here are some key thoughts

Some of this thinking can be brought up to date in the context of keeping a diary online; the essential principals remain the same.

A dairy is many things:

‘Everything and anything goes. You cannot do it wrong. There are no mistakes. At any time you can change your point of view, your style, your book, the pen you write with, the direction you write on the pages, the language in which you write, the subjects you include, or the audience you write to. You can misspell, write ungrammatically, enter incorrect dates, exaggerate, curse, pray, write poetically, eloquently, angrily, lovingly. You can past in photographs, newspaper clippings, cancelled checks, letters, quotes, drawings, doodles, dried flowers, business cards, or labels. You can write on lined paper or blank paper, violet paper or yellow, expensive bond or newsprint.’

Tristine Rainer, ‘The New Diary’ 1976.

‘Flow, spontaneity and intuition are the key words. You don’t have to plan what you are going to do. You discover what you have done once you have set it down.’ Tristine Rainer.

Keep it all in one place

‘When the dreams like next to the fantasies, and political thoughts next to personal complaints, they all seem to learn from each other.’

This works for blogging:

Write Spontaneously

Write quickly so that you don’t know what will come next. How the unexpected can happen. Surprise yourself.

Write Honestly

Be open about what you really feel. Few diaries actually lie to themselves in a dairy, but many out of shyness with themselves avoid writing about the most intimate aspects of a situation.

Write Deeply

Anais Nin, disappointed with her childhood diaries, developed the practice of sitting quietly for a few minutes before beginning to write. She would close her eyes and allow the most important incident or feeling of the day or of the period of time since she last wrote to surface in her mind. That incident or feeling became her first sentence.

Write Correctly

Expressive language is not a science. There are no rules. You are writing for yourself, so self-expression is the key. Test the range of your natural voice – it will develop. Errors are part of the form of the diary, as they are part of life.

Choose your audience

Your best audience is your future self. In ten years time you won’t remember the situation unless you capture all its sensual vitality now.

Value contradictions

In time they will develop towards a larger truth; leave them in.

‘Some diarists find when they go several weeks without writing they begin to feel off balance and take it as a signal that they are avoiding the inner self.’

Those of us who keep a diary regularly are stuck with it; whether it appears online, and which bits of appear online is another matter.

‘We taught the diary as an exercise in creative will; as an exercise in synthesis; as a means to create a world according to our wishes, not those of others; as a means of creating the self, of giving birth to ourselves.’

Anais Nin, December 1976.

There’s more to follow from Tristine Rainer on basic diary devices and special techniques.

P.S. The Marlowe quote is John O’Farrel’s invention and appears in ‘I blame the scapegoats.’

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H800:8 Activity 2 Reflection on Day One, Week One!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 18 Oct 2014, 16:04

H800:8 Activity 2

Rather than a stiff, post-graduate and academic tone and choice of words I found the introduction to H800 engagingly informal and personable with everything covered: the practicalities as well as emotional response the task ahead. I find this a significant shift from H807 which had little introduction and was presented more like a piece of self-managed distance learning – you’ve signed up, here’s the door, enter and begin. I wonder if this is a sign that the OU is following the trend towards more informal learning practice?

I find it odd the way I now comprehend and relate to something that is said because I’ve experienced it, whereas before it would have registered simply as something I’m yet to do. All I’m talking about here is Elluminate or Skype, talking one to one or in a group to people whose personalities and interests you may only have some hint of from what they say and how they say it (and how often, and when). We reveal so much in our voices; our humour, mood, age, gender, where we grew up in our formative years (or not, which says something too). As someone who has for many years taken an interest in character and how it is revealed by these things I cannot help but think that I am taking part in some online improvisation.

By doing, we normalise it.

Speaking to people via the Internet is just a four/five or six-way conference call … with, synchronised computer diddling. The other week I met people I had only ‘met’ through the OU Blog which demystified and normalised the process (about time too). Blogging from 1999 it felt weird to find yourself hearing a person you’d spoken to for years, or to see them as they are rather than how you had them in your mind’s eye. Which in part explains my continued us of an MR scan rather than a mug shot (though there are plenty of these scattered through my OU blog). This was in part informed by some research on role play in online learning.

On reaching the end of H807 I felt I wanted to do it all again, that I’d missed a great deal, at times en missed the point.

On settling into H808 I found that what I needed to repeat was the way to work collaboratively online and to make some choice tools sing; this happened, so I got those parts of H807 I need over again. Entering H800 I look at any hint of repetition in a positive way, as a chance to pick it up again, engage a bit more, understand a bit more, perhaps even to take the initiative, and most certainly to guide or propose ways forward for others. The shocking thing is to feel that this is not the same person at the keyboard who was here a year ago. I have fire in my belly, a sensation that was my motivation in my teens, twenties and thirties. Where this will take me is another matter!

How people learn remains my fascination; the better I understand this, the better I will be able to apply it. This is primarily an intrinsic motivation – I find it extraordinarily rewarding to find ways to help people be the best that they can be, to create opportunities, to point them in the right direction or to offer support myself as a non expert tutor, or on a few topics as a subject matter expert myself. The short term reward is their progress; if I am paid to do this because I do it well, this is a bonus and would and in part does, allow me to be better, and more comfortable at it still. Even a roof over one’s head, food, the means to get around, the means to get online and bills paid is an achievement in the 21st century.

2) The MA is letters after my name (my second), so the cumulative benefit of the MAODE is the confidence, supported by the work undertaken to take on contracts, or to transition from agency work into working in-house.

My relationship to fellow students, as with a team in the real world, is far more one of contributing, sharing and experiencing this together.

Personal Development Planning came to the fore in H808; from this I recognise my need here to take the lead as someone who is on his third, not his first module. Already I hear myself thinking about how collaborative exercises have over the last 12 months either failed or succeeded. Someone has to take the lead, though this can and should be a ‘baton’ that is passed between those who during that period are most available to keep the kettle boiling, or the ball rolling to mix metaphors and trip myself up in the process!

I already use external blogs and forums extensively, something that has developed over the last 12 months.

I also feel that I participate actively online with a number of communities. Increasingly, as I would have hoped I am being proactive, setting up forum threads, leading interest in a community blog, even presenting potential projects to sponsors … and having a high profile job interview.

3) Therefore, the outcome for me in H800 is either to have a professional e-learning project financed and in production, or to be contributing to the learning and development needs of a global enterprise on contract or as an employee.

4) I hope I will start getting some of the IT basics right. To feel comfortable online with the fundamental tools of receiving and creating content.

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My head's like a hedge-hog with its paws on a Van de Graff generator

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Nov 2011, 17:54

Or a guinea-pig chewing an electric cable behind the TV.

Same thing

Strange things are going on with my head.

The synapses are snapping.

This is the state of my mind.

It's exciting. It's exploitable.

The internal goings on of my cerebellum have gone from guinea-pig to hedgehog via a Frankenstein-like jolt of the old juice.

Last like this?

Undergraduate 1983.

(And most of yesterday, and the day before of course).

This is what studying does to my mind. It's taken eleven months in OU Land. The buzz began ... a few weeks ago.

It is like going from clueless first year undergraduate to the second year. Even online, you need to get the lay of the land. Even now that are vast swaves of OU activities, e-tivites, buttons, bolt-holes and affordances to discover, chew over, toy with and adopt, or adapt and move on, or stay with, or who knows what.

Funny. I never use the OU library anymore.

Once signed I just Google. Same thing? Instance ... rather than the time it takes to make a coffee.

Web-entrepreneur 2000. I was buzzing then too, mind and on two postgraduate courses - the OU (a somewhat earlier version of Open and Distance Learning) that in technology terms was like using a hand-pushed lawnmower to cut a path through a waterlogged meadow full of cattle. The mismatch between cutting-edge practice with a leading web agency and the course was the difference between reading an e-book or going into the Bodleian and thumbing through a vast, leather-bound index.

The best place to sthink on the planet. At a desk surrounded by ancient books ... with a lap-top. It's as if you are sitting inside the minds of everyone who has ever thought there before. Now we can get an inkling of this when you feel like minds are listening. Are they?

I feel the desire once more to spill the content of my mind ... to empty every moment I have sought to catch. Why? Not just because I can (although I appreciate there are plenty of people who keep diaries all there lives. But because of the way it wakens up your mind to a version of a moment in your past. These moments flip and change perspective as you revist them. Most odd.

"It's a matter of love; the more you love a memory the stronger that memory becomes."

Nabakov.

Note the time. I have slept in the last 24 hours.

About four hours between 15h30 and midnight in two or three chunks.

Actually I've buzzed a lot over the years. It's who I am, when I'm being me at my best.

Skieasy was an interesting idea.

I still have the chess set I made out of a selection of bottled-waters. Dasani, that Coca-cola flop, is the King of the Black Pieces. I cheated a bit, Copella with their squared off bottles are the Castles and I had to use Fabreze for the Horses.

INSERT PIC HERE

There are currently several voices in my head, people from the past, smiling and asking questions.

I'm being emotive and passionate about some new fangled way to do use video and they're listening. I feel this way about the Internet. My head is firmly back in 2000, with the electricity of an undergraduate and the knowledge of a PhD. (I could have one if the various courses I've done had been or could be validated and LinkedIn). Eventually.

I intend to study for life, life-long learning - literally.

I'm planning a module beyond the MA in Open and Distance Education that I'll complete in October 2011.

Foundations in research probably rather than a different subject, though in good time Modern History (yet again), and Geography (yet again).

E-learning enables this

Fine Art can never happen; I can't hunker down like that. (Unless I can do Fine Art via an A3 sized tablet? If it's good enough for Hockney, it's good enough for art students. Fine Art as a e-learning course. (Now there's a challenge. And an opportunity.)

Never say never when it comes to e-learning. Someone will be running an e-learning Fine Art MA within the year. You could use a Kinex to draw onto a tablet rolled like a piece of Clingfilm onto a pane of glass. Observed at work by your tutor a million miles away (or a few hundred at least). You see it is possible.

Never say never when it comes to e-learning, which is why I propose a new module for the MA in Open and Distance Education. It's called 'The E-learning Entrepreneur.' Any one listening? (Not at 2h05). I'll linkIn with it and see what bubbles up from the digtal hyrdrosphere.

I don't care if it takes six years for each one of these courses, I'll be around for a long while yet.

My grandfather made it to 97 and never lost his marbles. Bless. He died with some thoughts on Newcastle United and a swig of Newcastle Brown Ale (he'd worked in brewing from the age of 14 to retirement).

My mind wanders. Good. It should. So should yours.

New thinking doesn't idle around in one pocket of your subconscious, it dances like a Minx feeding on your the maelstrom of your mind.

And I'm yet to say what I sat down to write. Right.

Doodles on backs of envelopes. I have a lot of envelopes. I must have invested in a large supply a decade ago. Stick down the back and use them for notes. Light, a soft write with a gel-pen. Takes a doodle. A gem. An idea.

This process started 48 hours ago.

One image. A second. (The PDP thermal idea). And since then I've been revisited by an idea I had in .... 1998, I suppose.

ADD SKETCH HERE ... currently on

a) the back of an envelope

b) on a piece of scrap wallpaper (very good for doodles as you can spread wide)

and c) in my head (which should be in bed)

Title, Synopsis, Abstract, Review, Précis, Student Notes, Book, Book + References.

This is a volume control for 'volume' of words rather than sound.

Depending the time you have to engaged with the contents of the author's (or authors' heads) you skate or roll this slider back and forth until you hit on a what you're prepared to take in. You can always expand, if the mind takes you there ... you can always roll into the synopsis if your train comes in or you see an email you're prepared to answer.

(Email, I'm starting to treat it like the old postal service - two deliveries a day, at a time to suit me. So before breakfast and after lunch. If you want me otherwise phone.)

Where was I? So, text volume control thingy.

I was just learning Dreamweaver, on a Mac, probably an LCII or something c.1998.

Maybe or earlier. TBT hadn't been born I was sleeping where he'd shortly be sleeping (actually I was sitting where he was born a few weeks later, at home, caught by me some time before the Midwife made it over from Cheltenham. Another story.)

I won't have a record of it, I was months away from blogging. Unless, which is likely, I was keeping a diary off-line. Would that be 'logging?It'll be just as lost though as it'll be a floppy disc. Or were there CDs by then? Or possibly an IOMEGA Zip drive?

And now we have LCD TVs the size and thickness of a postage stamp.

Re-reading 'Contemporary perspective in E-Learning Research' can't help my sleeplessness.

Far from boring me to sleep, which it did six months ago, I find single words are scorched into my forehead and sentences are like liquid gold being poured down my ear. Oh dear. I think I understand it.

I commit a book crime.

Historically I have always read a book and taken notes at the same time. This goes back to Oxbridge Entrance exam reading lists and beyond.

Get it while it's hot on the first shot.

I did this with Conole et al in August.

I could even read those notes, but those notes WERE WRITTEN BY SOMEONE ELSE.

So I have to start over, this is TAKE TWO.

Anyway.

The sacrilege is the use of coloured Marker Stabilo Market pens on the pages of the book. This is because I'm treating the book as if it isn't there, as if it is in an iPad (I don't have one, I'll give me my address if you feel I should have one).

Yes, I am using a highlighter pen on the paper-based text because I've got so used to doing this in e-journals exported into Word.

Of course, this Stabilo Pen should DOUBLE as a TEXT READER so that said highlighted words could be drawn straight into my laptop and quoted here ... with the link and correct Harvard Reference put in place for me too. Pretty please. Tech person reading.

(Do tech people read? I suspect they call it something else. Scan?)

Oh heck. Not another idea. It's only 1h36. (or was when I started. That was nearly an hour ago. I don't edit, I know not how, I ellaborate.)

I have this fear that having an idea is pointless, because whatever you can think of someone has done it before.

Which makes this a race, catching wave after wave after wave of information as it comes in on the digital ocean, hoping, believing, that from time to time it'll be a big wave, my wave and I'll ride it like a pro-surfer. Enough. I need a coffee. That'll send me to sleep.

Anything's possible.

I look at this, my invention, my interpretation of how Personal Development Planning can lift a life, raise your spirits, send your career into a controled cycle of advancement and I want to sing about it. I want to be on this ride and bringing others along with me.

What can go wrong?

Coffee poisoning.

So, this Microsoft guy who is recording every moment of his day (and night? and ablusions?). You have to be at the head of the team, not the pond fodder. I gave this a momentary go voice recording three one hour swim coaching sessions. I am yet to listen over. Perhaps I'll do it once to see what lessons I learn.

On the other hand, someone interested in coaching swimmers may listen to the lot of it. And with nothing in vision there are no Safeguarding Children issues ... I consciously only used swimmer's names once I had hit pause.

My coffee's cold.

Do I warm it up? I'll not sleep. I haven't exhausted the possibilities.

A swimming pool beacons.

Once was the time I swam every day. I'll do so again. I can subdue my mind only if I sink the body around it.

 

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Deep thoughts on e-portfolios, the meaning of life, minds, like-minds and Avatar, via Nottingham university and GCSE hydrology.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 21 Nov 2013, 10:58

Does your e-portfolio get in the way or support what you do?

Whoever you are?

Whoever has a stake in it.

Thinking out loud, started on 12th October 2010, picked up again and rolled around my mind on 13th January 2011.

Wherein lies the beauty of a blog, or in this case an ECA that requires reflection on the mind games of the past four months.

There’s a picture in the New Scientist of how ants, in their hunger for a sweet that has been dropped in the gutter have gathered in, or moved away some forty or more leaves which now form a circle around the fallen sweet.

This is what I am doing as I reflect on the activities of H808, each e-tivity, each note, paper, report, forum entry, blog or e-portfolio asset is a leaf that until now has been scattered somewhere, online, offline, some in a heap, some laid out, some yet to blow down from a tree.

My mind, its little and large pathways, the synapses that run between the left and the right hemispheres, are busy with a thousand ants moving these leaves aside, while gathering some of them up to make a pattern.

From Essay Style Visualised

And then, for a moment I saw that six petalled flower I have drawn before, the shape of the A’ Level essay, but somehow I see also a podcast and the analogy fails and without even the politeness of animated transformation my flower becomes a Christmas Tree.

From Essay Style Visualised

On this tree, the structure of the ECA, I will hand 10 or more ‘things.’ No good my just thinking about it though.

Time to move on.

I recommend the use of eportfolios, whether or not they are packaged as such. Often the affordances are there anyway. I’d like digital building blogs as simple and as versatile as Lego bricks so that I could have a button away, on my homepage, depositories and repositories, that do the jobs of blogs, wikis and eportfolios without any need to feel they are separate entities, rather the words I think, and images I take or draw, or recordings I make are like a rain shower (with the occasional deluge or drought) that is taken care by the system, MySystem.

Is this a homepage? All those toolbars? Mine's a mess. I dream of a computer screen A1 size, two of them preferably and a homepage as busy as a photomosaic coverpop.

Currently it looks like this. Could someone offer some advice on how to get my head around this before my entire home page is a Venetian Blind of unwanted toolbars and browsers?

From Drop Box

MySystem would be an assemblage of tools and services to store, collate, elaborate upon, develop, select and share all that can be digitised. Text for the most part, but images too, still and moving. And numbers, as stats or formulae. Assets in polite society, 'stuff’; for a Saxon word and something in Latin for anyone trying to pull rank.

Whatever definition we come up with for ‘e-portfolios’, someone else has another one.

And why not, this is but functional flotsam-and-jetsam on the Digital Ocean?

My first blog in September 1999 covered this. Perhaps I should shift my thinking and take in ideas of both oceans and clouds, the binary code the water molecules the form the water cycle? Now there’s an idea: the Internet as something fluid, changing, responsive ... predictable to a degree ... its shifting patterns advancing relentlessly rather than recycling, the apocryphal butterfly in one part of the system beating its wings and having a profound effect elsewhere, the Twitter-effect. This analogy of oceans and clouds hasn’t changed in a decade, perhaps it is the Geographer in me?

 

From Drop Box

 

I am still looking at a year 8 geography exercise book featuring the water cycle.

‘Analogies taught man to think.’

Now who said this?

I have it on a sheet of motivational quotes given out at the School of Communication Arts by John Gillard. This sheet and some other papers, a portfolio of ideas, is in a portfolio (the physical kind). There’s a storyboard for a couple of commercials: I could shoot these on my phone. Indeed, given that one takes place up a cliff face the phone might be the best camera for the job. No amount of Googling has located it for me. Proust perhaps? Shakespeare … or a commentator on Shakespeare?

All e-portfolios are squirts of ink into this ocean.

All content is drips, drops and an occasional multi-coloured deluge. Though pre-empting bespoke consultative decision making on behalf of a client, real or imaginary, my simple advice regarding e-portfolios is - do it all.

1) Your own - that does the business and ought to be the final repository for e-materials that are being shared or assessed, that is easy-peasy to link or upload for those who are expert in these things or have a system that they play well and with which they can 'sing.'

2) A smorgasbord of off the shelf e-portfolios that people may get free, or as part of their trade or other association, or be happy to subscribe for (after all, there's a good deal that can be done with them that is personal, off-campus and away from work).

3) Their own. The end result, the content and where and how it is finally presented is all that matters. In any case, there is every chance that your students are more e-literate than you are, speak the code like their Mother Tongue and will do what so many students have done before them and re-invent the digital wheel. The content is its own subject matter expert – it is out there being freely exchanged and wikified to the ‘nth’ degree of finality.

4) With institutional, administrative, management and support from academics and tutors that also encourages peer support and so enables 1, 2 & 3.

Everyone will have their own idea of what an e-portfolio is … if it ‘is’ anything at all in the physical sense, because of course it isn’t until you print it off, or play the asset. It isn’t a trunk, it isn’t a filing system.

Perhaps in truth it would look as bland as the grey matter of your brain?

Why and how does this help anyone?

By visualising something you give it powers.

The problem lies where your visualisation doesn’t match with mine, but as the designer it is my world that you have to live within in. I suppose we each of us require a bespoke website and a team of people working on it to forge this link between what enters and leaves our heads.

So why do I hear the voice of Dr Angela Smallwood?

It was the JISC conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Hall of Parliament Square.

It was a workshop on e-portfolios. ‘I was a baby’ (quoting Neytiri from Avatar talking to Jake).

But I bought into the idea of ‘deeper thinking’ and how it is achieved. Wasn’t the computer in Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy called ‘Deep Thought’ ?

Food for thought?

Breakfast.

Bacon, toast and a fried-egg.

Only blog for the day, I promise.

Work to do!

 

 

 

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Mind, metaphor and mirror neurons - and the impact on blogging

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Nov 2014, 06:56

1. Are we hard-wired to how we conceptualise ideas?

2. Does this help or hinder the way we use eLearning tools?

3. Will children, say, 50 years from now, look at paper and pen in the same way as a person does now when they take a first look at computer?

4. Are we at some 'transition' point, and if we are, what does this mean?

My tutor in H808 asked me this on 12th September.

I feel far better able to reply now after four months of H808 and some fortuitous reading, though I did respond at the time. My forum thread exchange then and reflection on it today will form part of my ECA.

It surprises me that I have subscribed to a magazine at all, but I find the New Scientist offers plenty on our e-world upon which to reflect and insights to all kinds of other things that tickle my brain.

It matters that you read broadly.

The French Film Director Francois Truffaut was a firm believer of reading everything and anything that caught your attention. He’d have loved the web. It matters that you follow what the web offers, then browse the shelves for magazines at the newsagent on the forecourt of your station.

My favourite button that has been crucial to the longevity of my blog (elsewhere) for the last seven years is ‘Enter@Random.’

We don’t think in chronological order.

thinking is a mess, it selects ideas and makes things up sing different sides and corners and crooks and crannies of our brains. I unplugged the calendar on my diary in year one and replaced it with 12 themes that have now grown to 37. For a period there were 37 blogs, but try managing that, to say you end up with a split personality is an understatement.

My tutor put it to me (and us) the H808 Tutor Group:

1. Are we hard-wired to how we conceptualise ideas?

Dr Vilayanur S Ramachandran thinks so. We have a unique capacity to think in metaphors. This matters. It is this ability that makes us creative, allows us to be inventive, it is what makes us human beings.

Read all about in the New Scientist.

Quoted here within the 200 word count permission for a student quote.

Added as for student reading in a non-commercial academic context having read the copyright permissions.

Ramachandran is particularly interested in metaphor because it ties in neatly with his previous work on synaesthesia - a kind of sensory hijack, where, for example, people see numbers as colours or taste words. "Metaphor is our ability to link seemingly unrelated ideas, just like synaesthesia links the senses," he says.

After spending years working with people who have synaesthesia, he believes "pruning genes" are responsible. In the fetal brain, all parts of the brain are interconnected, but as we age, the connections are pruned. If the pruning genes get it wrong, the connections are off. "If you think of ideas as being enshrined in neural populations in the brain, if you get greater cross-connectivity you're going to create a propensity towards metaphorical thinking," he says.

I don't have synaesthesia, neither does Ramachandran, but he points out to me the strangeness of asking why, say, the cheddar cheese in your sandwich is "sharp". It's true, cheese isn't sharp, it's soft, so why do I use a tactile adjective to describe a gustatory sensation? "It means our brains are already replete with synaesthetic metaphors," he says. "Your loud shirt isn't making any noise, it's because the same genes that can predispose you to synaesthesia also predispose you to make links between seemingly unrelated ideas, which is the basis of creativity."

www.NewScientist.com.

Thomson (2010)

Of the 12 photographs in this issue as many as 8, I think, are from the Getty Image bank. I wonder if one day, especially if I’m reading this on an iPad the images will move, rather as the paints are alive in the background of a Harry Potter movie. It wouldn’t take much for a photography to video as well as, or instead of taking a photograph. Indeed, the BBC now permit directors to generate HD TV footage using digital SLR cameras … the lenses are better, the creative choices wider.

Interesting.

2. Does this help or hinder the way we use eLearning tools?

How we use the web, let alone e-learning tools is in its infancy. We are still putting old ways online, still making web-pages into slide shows and calling them immersive learning. Gaming may change this, with the budget. Better, faster tools will enabled more. Collaboration on world wide wikis with like minds, and great minds, contributing will speed up the rate of change.

We’ll think in the same metaphors though, share and reinforce new metaphors and then some Leonardo da Vinci of the 21st century will come along and break it apart. Though we may not appreciate their insights at all.

Mobile learning, smart-phone learning on the move, or whatever you want to call it should shake things up. At first this will be, and is, the same old stuff sent to your phone, basic card to card Q&A even if it includes a bit if video or an animated graph.

I want learning projected onto the back of my scull, I want it in my head, not online or in a device. I want interactions with specific parts of my brain. I want my brain duplicated so that I can take more lessons at the same time, to learn multiple languages and to take several degrees simultaneously.

3. Will children, say, 50 years from now, look at paper and pen in the same way as a person does now when they take a first look at computer?

It is extraordinary the relationship between our minds and out limbs, or arms and finger tips. With training we can sight read a score and play complex musical pieces, we can scroll, cut, edit, fly and colourise images into a piece of drama that has us crying, or heads in our hands and we can type, like the clappers.

We can draw too, and sculpt, and swim and dance and do gymnastics.

Our relationship with the nerves in our body is a complex one. As for handwriting, our relationship with fountain pens, marker pens and pencils? It ought to be a skill still taught at school, there need to be handwriting competitions as there once were … even if they are tied into art classes and design.

How different is a stylus on a tablet to a piece of chalk on a slate?

I implore my children to write and draw. An illegible Christmas list is no list at all. They’d type, they do type. Yet how backwards is a QWERTY keyboard?

4. Are we at some 'transition' point, and if we are, what does this mean?

Yes. And I mean to be part of it.

We have reached the Tipping Point.

A book a read if I recall in 2001 when we thought we were approaching a tipping point, actually we were reaching the point at which the first e-bubble would burst. First and last? These things go in cycles, whatever the politicians do to stymie human nature. Greed and regret, progress, reflection, reinvention … then we do it all over.

We’re not even less violent than we were at the times of the Viking raids.

Meandering? A stream of consciousness? Reflection? Regurgitation?

All of this, and it all matters. You don’t have to read it, and you probably haven’t. This is here for me to find when I need it in seven months or seven years time.

It is remarkable how your views change; so it matters to have what you originally thought in front of you. There are memories I have that haven’t just been reworked over the decades, but have become different events. This isn’t simply age, though that has much to do with it, I view what I did as a child or teenager as I observe my own children today, the difference is, I can’t influence the behaviour and actions of my younger self, though I can, I hope listen to and guide my own children to actions and decisions they will feel comfortable with in the years to come

REFERENCE

Thomson, H (2010) V. S. Ramachandran: Mind, metaphor and mirror neurons 10 January 2011 by Helen Thomson Magazine issue 2794.

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Where we'll be in 2025 from the perspective of someone in 1975

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 9 Jan 2011, 09:02

For the introduction of my H808 ECA I've visualised a Movie Poster.

Man 2025 from 1975 Sunday Colour Supplement

 

This comes from a Sunday Newspaper, in 1975.

This image, along with some shots of the diary went into a blog in 2003. In 2006 I tried to establish which paper this image came from and failed. You'd imagine something right wing like the Sunday Telegraph, though it is more like to have been the Observer, or even the Radio Times? Strikingly there was no view taken on this pose looking for all intense and purposes like one of Hitler's Aryan few. The thinking behind it was that by 2025 we'd all be mixed raced, bald (for no apparent reason) and semi-naked due to our ability to control the climate.

The only reason I chose this as my personal movie poster for now is a desire to reconnect to my youth and a sense that I had a future, another 14 years at least! I wouldn't mind getting fit again too, overweight at 90kg and doing no exercise for several years has me far, far, far from this absurd image. Though age 19, with hair, this was me courtesy of swimming every day for an hour or more and sailing/windsurfing in the summer and skiing in the winter. Heady days.

Politically I should mention here that I swing between green, yellow, blue and red ... ocasionally even purple. I blend my vote too, rarely voting for the same lot between local and national elections and often preferring the independent choice. At uni I was a member of both the Conservative and the Labour parties sad

Who cares? I do. I can keep them all at arms length, especially the two parties that keep asking me to stand ... oh yes! My busy body considered an asset in local refuse collection, building, transport and various pollution issues. I should keep my mouth shut, but as you can see, I don't and it isn't difficult to point content like this (editted) to a person that matters.

For the conclusion I've visualised a Film Review.

I've also done a cartoon of one of the course authors as a weightlifter with the words RESEARCH on one end of the bar and the word PRACTICE on the other; the idea being that you get mentally fit by doing a work out that balances research and practice.

Where I come unstuck is with the PDP matrix.

 

1%20Your%20PDP%20pan%20for%20H808ECA.JPG
From Drop Box

 

I look at this and I see a train station message board on some concourse such as Crewe with few destinations of interest. I'll have to work on this.

The least  I want is the Message Board at St. Pancras International with Paris, Lille and Brussels written up, though my most inspired train message board will always be Gar du Nord, Paris. As a teenage my jaw always dropped to see destinations like Berlin, Moscow and Turin, where across the channel pre Eurotunnel you were supposed to get excited about Ore, Doncaster and Birmigham International sad

Any ideas? Perhaps if I visualised it as an Advent Calender? Or a box of chocolates (life, is after all, life a box of chocolates according to Forrest Gump).

Ideas on a plate please.

P.S. A reminder to myself to dig out a collection of scrapbooks from 1987-88 when I was at London's, School of Communication Arts and perhaps a reminder to start doing this again. Or do I? I'm getting into the habit of photographing things that catch my eye, uploading, cropping and fixing, then tagging and putting them online. Perhaps I'm a candidate after all for the e-diary, a record of everything, all day.

 

 

 

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Balliol College Record and late Christmas Cards

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 8 Oct 2011, 14:52

The Balliol Annual Record 2010, and some late Christmas Cards, arrived on our doorstep this morning.

The Balliol Annual Record, the print version of LinkedIN or even Facebook, has had its day; it was a few months late, which hints at its demise. The news is thin, I'm in touch with College Alumni through LinkedIN in particular, Facebook a little bit  - even Friends Reunited.

Every word that I read here should be online, I dare say it is.

I shall therefore vacuum pack this issue in the belief that it has to be the last.

Not even my father in law has a word and he's been contributing for the best part of 60 years. I'll see him in a few hours time and ask about this. I'm inclined to podcast him too, I have some questions regarding the migration of his School for Leaders to an online course - or at least modules that can be enjoyed largely when and where you wish. At 85 it is staggering how engaged he is with the new technology and what it can achieve.

Looking forward to how the OU reinvents itself on 2011; I know things are afoot.

If anyone reading this has a foot in the door I'd love to come in and do what I do best - stand back, observe, contemplate, then offer ideas from a rich and variegated career.

P.S. a spellcheck that doesn't recognise Facebook as a word is due for the scrap heap. Surely the OU can tie in to the OED??

Collating evidence for H808 ECA. Interestingly, in a parallele existence, I'd say that all the criteria I meet for H08 I have duplicated in Plenck and the LinkedIN Oxford Alumni E-learning group.

What I learn from engagement with like-minded enthusiasts is already outweighing what I am learning from this course; is this par for the course?

How come I know people who will be or are more qualified than the MA ODE can offer without ever having gone through these hoops?

Meanwhile, for reasons only known to her, I have read and chewed on a book from a psychoanalyst on the dilemma and trauma of the English School boarding school boy. I was packed off age 7 years 11 months and after a few aborted Colditz-like escapes got out age 16 years and 9 months.

I've been dealing with the fallout these last 18 months. My wish?

That I'd never, never, ever been sent away to boarding school.

Forty years on I am trying to undo the damage the places did to me.

'Sausage machine' is a good term for it ... the brutal bullying without anyone to turn to is something else. And yes, I had to fag and got out because I had no desire to be put in the position as a Public School Prefect (and for a variety of other reasons, including being told I could not take Art, would have to play rugger over swimming, could play the lead in Macbeth if I cuddled the new English Teacher and would not have a girlfriend until I got to my gap year or university).

Oh, and I hated the House Master and his assistant who were clueless dimwits who could never have held down a job outside the system.

These places in the 70s still expected to churn out obedient servants for the Armed Services, or the Civil Service or the Colonial Service ... to feed the public school need for staff.

This or your Pater & Mater owned most of Northumberland or Sunderland so education would be the only little bit of suffering you needed to endure before you could be ejected as a Prefect ready to be prefectorial over your minions.

My mission for 2011? Campaign to close all public schools; the current scam whereby they retain Charitable Status if the most laughable abuse of power, quite as bad as MP's expenses as a challenge to 'the way things are done.'

Quote me.

 

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Is it a conversation if all you do is nod you head?

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Is it a conversation if all you do is nod you head?

And contributions, whether relevant or not, are ignored?

Sometimes people want to release what is going on in their head, their frustration, anxieties and misunderstandings.

They want to verbalise their thoughts. This is reflection. They don't want you to comment either way. If anything all you can do is nudge them along.

Like a therapist?

Should a peice of reflection be offered publicly where comment is perhaps hoped for?

Does this make an asynchrnous conversation better than the one that's being going on at me for the last ten minutes?

(No I wasn't typing. Yes I'd turned off the TV and radio. Ostensibly I was listening. I made the mistake yesterday of suggesting some thoughts, even inviting a subject matter expert I know to get involved. Mistake. Sometimes after a couple of weeks writing a report you can't help by leak some words.

Wouldn't a mirror do?

Or as the character does in Avatar, just talking to yourself on a webcam?

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H808 activity 7.2 Anyone played Twister?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 18:42

Anyone played Twister

This is how I see ca7.2 in H808.

Twister

Table 7.1


Learning requires something from each of the quartiles (if I can call them that).

To study something you are familiar with in comfortable surroundings is one thing, but to study something with which you are not familiar in an unfamiliar setting has its values too because you have to make more effort, you gain insights, you may make mistakes and learn from them, or achieve something unexpected and feel rewarded for that. All of this can be planned for by your tutor. Why else the school-trip? Why else the brain-storming trip of business managers? How else did a team of advertising creatives come up with the line 'Refreshers the parts other beers cannot touch?'

 

Table 7.1

Depending on the group and the course, or the desired outcome I see the value in putting a task or unit in any or each one of these


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H808 activity 6

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 18:35

Some of the software is too clever by half. All of it has foibles.

Docx might punch some useful quasi-intuitive tools but it smacks of Apple pixie dust sprinkled over DOS. Failing to share docx word and excel docs with others with older software on PCs, let alone with MACs harks back to the early 1990s when this kind of incompatibility was common and a constant frustration in the 'creative industries' between those who were MAC based and those on a PC.

Up at 3.56am. Potty. But a couple of hours later and if I have been distracted I can only blame myself. The dog is asleep at my feet, the family sleep above me, though my head is full of domestic grief, not ours, but my daughter's boyfriends family starting a messy break-up with him temporarily ejected from his home and seeking sanctuary which we feel unable to offer.

Back to business.

My response too often is quick and emotional, this can apply to domestic life as well as work. I lead with the heart. I am learning to do otherwise, to make the time, to try to be rational, to avoid tipping from radical alternatives of hate and love, yes and no ... there is always a middle way, however hard it may be to negotiate or to my mind however dull 'middle of the road' might feel.

Middle of the road gets things done, with drama, in a professional manner, which may be the point in a module on the 'e-learning professional.'

H808, UNIT 6 A COLLABORATIVE EXERCISE

Having had some successful experiences I know what it takes, what skills, tools, timekeeping and commitment works. Where in the past I have been introduced by others to some simple online tools to share, collaborate and contribute work in an engaging way, both synchronously and asynchronously ... it may be my turn to get out of the passenger seat and take the wheel. Often you find the 'vehicle' drives in automatic, Skype and sync.in for example, Google Docs too, are far easier than you may at first imagine.

Tools for co-ordinating availability between people on opposite sides of the globe anyone? Personally I operate as if in three places ... spending a few hours on the Indian subcontinent, a few hours in the UK .... then reappearing on the West Coast of the US!

The 24 hour economy should not mean that you work for 24 hours. Or does it? Perhaps we'll reach the stage where we keep links with people permanently open wherever we go, as if they are sitting on our shoulders, forever at our side, omnipresent and god like (in the Greek sense).

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Ivan and the dogs

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 22 Oct 2010, 08:00

Ivan and the Dogs

Occasionally I am engaged by a radio play, this one had me parked up for the final 15 minutes. Yes, I can get it on iPlayer, but I enjoyed it on its first outing (I think).

Dickensian, gripping, magic, visual and dramatic.

If I had the means to buy the film rights I'd get them in the bag tonight. This is one for Warner Brothers (does that diminish it). I hope not.

Hatti Naylor's play directed by Paul Dodgson. A Peer Production for BBC. 14h30 Thursday 21st October 2010.

From the BBC iPlayer podcast blurb:

Based on the extraordinary true story of a boy adopted by a pack of wild dogs on the streets of Moscow.

Ivan Mishukov walked out of his drunken, arguing parents flat aged 4 and went to live on the streets of Moscow. There he was adopted by a pack of wild dogs and with them he spent two winters on the streets. When the play begins Ivan is now 11 and has never told anyone of his time with the dogs until one night his foster mother promises another dog if he will tell his story.

The story takes us though the backstreets of Moscow at a time when the idea of life itself was being devalued and where we meet glue-sniffing children who fight for their territory in underground sewers and drunks who will freeze to death in the winter. Amidst this human catastrophe Ivan learns that only his dogs can really be trusted and embarks on an extraordinary relationship of mutual need.

Credits: Ivan: Tom Glenister Cellist: Sarah Moody

Go listen while you can.

Simple, engaging, moving, relevant ...

and if you have children (an 11 year old boy at some stage helps) and have or have had aa dog, you'll love it.

Which probably explains why it caught my attention ... narrowcasting like a rifle at the man with a 12 year old son and a 2 year old nonsense of a fluffy white dog.

(If you are going to write, know your audience, for radio, this is a single person. Is this not the case with all stories? )

Is this not valid for any kind of communication?

 

 

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Using a bog(s)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 20 Oct 2010, 04:54

For the last hour I've been drilling deeper into the layers of Compendium in order to collate and compose and collect evidence for H808 TMA01 which requires reflection on the first FOUR units of 'The E-learning professional.'

I noticed this typo and a rye smile forms. The temptation is to leave it. For some this is the attitude to blogs and bloggers, that it all might as well be flushed away.

As we know, this writer thinks differently.

I think there is value in the flotsam and jetsam of one's mind being backed-up in some way, whether privately in a diary-like blog that is private for you only to read, or a mind-opening memoire, a personal internal-debate or simply a record of what you do and who you meet and what is said ... that you expose and disclose to others, selectively or otherwise, to make friends, or not, to find like-minds ... on a blogging platform that suites you or in/or your own website.

This here isn't for the purposes of social networking.

This is just one thing that sets the OU Blog patform apart from others. I like this scroll or honour, the vicarious way in which entries you would otherwise never read are placed before yor eyes.

Having blogged for 11 years and 3 weeks it is the relationship with only one or two people that comes to matter. You get into each other's heads, or at least that part you are willing to share. Their voice becomes familiar, their views respected and valued.

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E-portfolios (the Government perspective)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 8 Oct 2010, 11:35

The drivers and issues regarding e-portfolios from a Government perspective is all about creative the life-long tax-paying, contributing 'Citizen.'

 

Bubbl.us Government drivers for e-portfolios

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Reflection in H.E. Creme. Bubbl.us. H808

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 21 Nov 2011, 23:59

EFFORT COUNTS (Creme)

Assessment of learning journals and the value of reflective writing for undergraduates and graduates using Bubbl.us to construct the knowledge map from an initial sketch on a fag packet.

With special thanks to fellow student Lesley Morrell who shared this software with us in the first place. I like it as a draft before Compendium, where I will take it next.

Available as a dowload on request ... or to share through bubbl.us.

 

Effort that 'doesn't count' in a learning journal kept for purposes of assessment.

Resource Guided

In which the author does their directed reading, as per the brief. Scanning a few reports, choosing the few than can be covered in the allocated time and drawing their conclusions from these alone.

Tutor Guided

In which the author first follows, then seeks clarification and support for the route to take. This may have at its heart the concern or interest in 'how do I get the marks' for anything that may be required for assessment. (The balanced approach is to draw upon the tutor as an additional guide to all the others in blue)

Course Guided

In which the author aims to do as the institution course moderator), awarding body requires. Previous knowledge of this, or other such like institutions will help. With the caveat: ‘A collaboration of strangers’. In which a forced grouping (of convenience, without bias/favour) is constructed and required to perform as if they have come together naturally.

Self-guided

In which the author draws more fully on their own experience of this kind of thing, through reading and practice, as a student, employee, child/sibling or parent ...

Misguided

In which the author through choice or influence takes the wrong path. If working in isolation, not seeking or receiving tutor or peer group feed-back they either go off on the wrong path, or they wander aimlessly like a boat without a rudder. A certain way to disillusionment, delusion and/or depression.

Collaboration as peer guidance

In which one or two fellow students take on a mentoring or partnering or even a paternalistic/maternalistic role. They become a more trusted and understanding friend whose shared journey, experience, intelligence and way of putting things keeps you straight, or puts you back on track. Perhaps more effective where the group that collaborates is self-forming. In which an informal, larger grouping of people support one, several or each other through the process. Perhaps as effective, if not more so, where someone takes a leadership role. Either way symbiosis or reciprocity may (or may not) be expected or required.

Self-forming Collaborative

In which an informal, larger grouping of people support one, several or each other through the process.

Serendipity

In which the author, through following up references within references finds a meaning and 'truth' that is deeper and more meaningful to them. It is therefore given greater weight (whether or not this will be respect or followed up in the course of assessment).

Libertine

The idea that the author does as they please. They express or 'perform' a typed-up, written-out 'stream of consciousness' - 'free thinking' if you like.

Indulgent

In which the author goes off in a world of their own. Dropping in thoughts and ideas from any old place, even if referenced, they are drawing on their entire life experience, anything they are reading at the time, or may have picked up from the internet, TV or radio in the last hour.

Thorough

The idea that the author does a comprehensive job, though this may be descriptive, rather than reflective or thoughtful. The ground is covered in a systematic, probably linear way - which in effect resulted in Dewey 19933) first thinking about a better approach.

Resourceful

In which the author play Huck Finn (in which he gets friends to paint a fence for him). This might be considered more devious, than resourceful as it implies building on, though hopefully not plagiarising the thinking of others. It may include reading all the suggested resources, but may also imply seeking out something more current that may very well answer the exact question for which they are seeking the answer.

The next step, even if the word count has been exceed, is to put it through Compendium to add underlying reports and references.

I've already had a great experience of producing a project briefing document in Compendium, sharing this withou someone several hundred miles away and then discussing it on Skype. Compendium meant that he got what is clearly a draft, a working document, the way my mind has thus far thought the project through. He could then indulge where necessary his greater curiosity by reading the attached notes, documents or reports.

The trick with this continued reflection on reflection, beyond due dates, word counts or reading lists, will be to wrap it all up at some stage, editing along the way, and if it is going to be submissable, reducing it to a 500 word count.

This has to be the eighth or ninth effort at this, forays that have yet to benefit from the kind of academic rigour and effort that will no doubt deliver an end result.

The fear is that this is like shooting an arrow at the moon, when the target is 60 yards away - clear as dandy. But this is who I am, and how I approach things. The trick is to pay me on a fixed-fee basis, because you may pay for 20 hours effort, but you'll get 60.

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H808 Reflection on Reflection. Core Activity 2.3.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 20 Nov 2020, 18:56

Reflection is ‘cognitive housekeeping.’ Moon (2005). OU Student Jane Barret (2010) doubts that Moon supplies evidence, feels that ‘critical thinking’ is a better term and that Moon (and others) are trying to make something abstract concrete. I prefer to think of reflection in an academic setting as ‘guided consideration and compartmentalisation of the material you’re working with.’

Reflection in the context of studying requires the student to hold a mirror up to their student-selves. Efforts to get things straight in your head, to generate your own take on the topic being studied may go awry on take one, shape up in take two, and, one would hope, comes together by take three. Reflection on this process helps establish the final thoughts. In the OU context where is take one and take two? Some of it is undertaken in the forum, some of it in the blog. Either way, feedback, comment and critique as well as marking is the way to pass through these cognitive stages. Nothing obliges one to reflect more than success or failure, a hearty slap on the back, or a slap across the face. You do well, you want to do better; you do badly, you want to put it right. You reflect on this and find a better way forward. Wherein lies the importance, in e-learning, of comment and collaboration, using what the Internet affords, those around you whose different take and experience can add colour and understanding to your efforts.

Reflection is like making a buerre blanc, which is made by reducing white wine vinegar with stock, a shallot and then carefully adding cubes of unsalted butter. In other words, reflection is at first a gathering in of the correct resources and then a reduction of these resources.

Drawing on what Dewey says, that reflection is ‘a kind of thinking that consists in turning a subject over in the mind and giving it serious thought’ makes me think of composting. You put all kinds of bits and pieces in that over time, reduces down to plant food and fibre, or in the case of reflection, a sentence or two that sum up your thinking.

Dewey defined reflective thought as 'active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusions to which it tends' (Dewey 1933: 118)

Both of these ideas imply a ‘deep approach’ to learning, wherein lies the value of reflection. You take the experience of reading and interacting with others, and draw some tentative conclusions; you achieve more than simply itemising what others have already expressed ‘surface learning’.

Reflection is a process that both reduces and gathers in. The end result ought to be something potent and memorable.

REFERENCE

Barret, J c2.4 Reflection and learning (2) my views. OU. (Accessed 28 SEPT 2010)

Dewey, J. (1933/1998) How we think (Rev. ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Moon, J. (2001) ‘PDP working paper 4: reflection in higher education learning’ (online), The Higher Education Academy. Available from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id72_Reflection_in_Higher_Education_Learning.rtf (accessed 25 Sept 2010).

Moon, J. (2005) ‘Guide for busy academics no. 4: learning through reflection’ (online), The Higher Education Academy. Available from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id69_guide_for_busy_academics_no4.doc (accessed 28 Sept 2010).

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H808 activity 2.3 reflection and blogging

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 18:10

I read the instructions and tips from our tutor on Core Activity 2.3 H808 - on Reflection and blogging and it had might as well have been an address from the form teacher to a class.

This boy is at the back of the room doing an observational sketch; every so often I jot down the teacher's words. On getting home I look at my home work. There is one word 'reflect.' I look in the mirror. I look at the guy staring back, figure out that this isn't a piece of art home-work so write something.

Thirty years on and initially I only saw the word 'reflection.'

I skim read, a block of text in one eyeful. I come away with impressions. I make assumptions. I am not good with clear instructions. I probably expect to have the school or university Sergeant Major forever on my back - indeed when I had an agent or a sales director exploiting what I could do this was the only way to extract something from my head that could be sold. I'm fine with clients too: succinct brief; tight schedule ... payment.

On reflection, therefore, I function better as a team of two or three.

Slowing down, writing it out, breaking it into its component parts I see that the request is multi-layered, that the end result will need to be composed within certain parameters: Moon and Creme, reflection in the specific academic context of H808 and the 'e-learning professional.' I have the 1990s OU Book 'How to study.' All of this is explained. I could take me an hour to dissect Trevor's instructions. Perhaps I have to until I can train my brain to do it this way.

Keying in 'creme', 'moon', 'reflection' and 'blog' in my My Stuff I come away with in turn 7, 14, 71 and 116 entries.

I have the articles downloaded somewhere (note to self to put online so that I can draw on them from whichever computer I'm at).

Keying in 'creme', 'moon', 'reflection' and 'blog' into my OU Blog I come away with in turn 6, 12, 46 and 68 entries.

These entries have been compiled since February. If I can tag all searches with H808 -  then some of these search findings would be reduced. I don't believe that either the Blog or My Stuff operate with an advanced search such as this. All the more reason for me to put everything into Fillemaker Pro (a task I began in week one of H807 in February, but dropped when I learnt I needed to spend £200 or more to replace my version of Filemaker that was now too old to upgrade sad

I cannot read and review 340 Blog and MyStuff entries.

Without spending much time with any, I must get the gist of what they contain, bearing in mind the criteria for this task.

The problem is one of how I tag this data. As it goes in I need to -self-review. to rate it with a star system, somehow, to add several filters. But how?

In any case, would this not all be better off in my head where my brain will do a more successful job of drawing to the surface the answers I need?

Filemaker Pro. A relational database I love. I could search by multiple tags, include a number-based scoring system, by date, or weight, or reference ... by word count. The list goes on. The trick is to do this early on. With Filemaker it is easy to take a template such as this one and re-arrange it to create a multiplicity of templates that all draw down the same information. This is where I need to be. It's software I can make 'sing'; I find the OU Blog and MyStuff plodding by comparison.

Beyond these walls there are nearly 2,000 blog entries containing 1.6 million words. On paper there are I estimate there are 3.5 million.

Habit? Obsession? More akin to a bodily function than either writing or reflection?

Is reflection useful? What about blogging?

Most of H808 is about getting students to do it. I might be a case of doing it less. Or putting on a totally different head when I do it here. Context is everything. But I don't want several blogs, one is fine. I don't want to twist this 'Voice' into words to get marks. Why don't others come round to my way of thinking, my way of doing things? This to me is learner-centred.

This amount of content might be exceptional, but are we saying that people should keep learning journals for life?

In their forties they are going to have several hundred thousand words. 500 words a day for twenty years? It doesn't take much.

Perhaps if I were compiling a book of 50,000 words. Otherwise I know that to write 500 words it will require a locked door, a blank sheet of paper, an ink pen and a clock. Thirty minutes max, twenty minutes may work better. This is how exams work, they bring it to the surface, they excite your body and mind and if you've been guided correctly the right ideas will emerge, first as a treatment, then as the 'essay.'

This or I need a) to get everything into Filemaker Pro and b) look for some kind of Artificial Intelligence add-on. But is that me? Letting the software make my choices? Or does it learn to make the choices I would by following my previous decisions (Another conversation, for another place)

Two hours of this and all I've done is think about answering the question ... I have read two items from My Stuff and one from my the Blog. And on these alone I have generated 300 words (not including these).

I got up in the middle of the night in order to do the task, not think about doing the task thoughtful

Maybe I'm not cut out for this. Or this is an example of where reflection and blogging can be counter-productive (or over productive?) Same problem, job not done.

I jam at a QWERTY keyboard where something more regimented is required.

And then I sleep, no doubt to dream. So there's no escape from it.

As I've suggested before, if I could provide evidence of a dream that showed I was thinking about reflection and bloggind in H808 would this count as evidence? If I could shove a web cam in my ear.

Now that's silly.

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Reflection - personal, extended

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 7 Feb 2014, 13:39

I am undergoing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. For the last 18 months, initially every two weeks and now every month I see a therapist. I pay for this myself as the NHS could only offer 20 minutes every six weeks and said I was just 'a bit depressed,' - 'like most people.'

Five years ago I was temporarily diagnosed A.D.H.D.

This was turned on its head by specialists in London who couldn't distract me and found that as the tasks I was giving to do got harder my concentration improved. Ritlan had been fun. My problem was boredom. Always has been. Whenever there is a family gathering should we discuss the first words of various nieces and nephews, let alone the adults, one of my siblings or my mother will say my first word was 'why?' and my first phrase was 'I'm bored.'

I'm still bored and I'm still asking why. I was 49 last week.

I think too much. Rather than thinking less, please can someone put me in a situation where I can think until my brain hurts.

A best moment for me, outside the exam room ... a TV programme than was going to go live in 90 mins. The MD pulls the entire theme and my producer looks at me and says let's do something new from scratch. It was that or waste the expense of presenters, camera crews (live, multi-camera, galley staff, support staff etc: etcsmile No rewrites, no rehearsals, that script was handed out with minutes to go. Unprepared the interviewees were fresh. it worked. I'm good at doing 'from the top of my head.'

By reflecting on how I behave in certain situations, coming to understand the situations and my upbringing I am changing some of my behaviour - much of the time. This 'reflection' has at times been recorded, transcribed and chewed over - just like this. More often I treat the moment, the hour for what it is> I do wonder if I dwelt on it more often, whent back over these discussions if I would embed the change?

My late father when in his mid-twenty to mid-thirties ( I am told and believe) would spend an hour or so with his mother coming home. (That or he was having an affair - more likely?) Something of a matriarch my grand-mother, I could imagine this regular reflection facilitating and guiding my father's success. Reflection or dictation, being told what to do or coming to yor own decisions? I wonder. It's value, doubtful beyond building a substantial PLC. In terms of his relationships (catastrophic he went through four marriages). I was staying with him as marriage three collapsed. He was attending Relate. He enjoyed these sessions, admitted he was probably mad and came out of these sessions rationalising who he was without any intention of changing. It gave him an excuse.

If any component of this was reflection, then it was reflection reinforced a modus operandi, rather than changing it.

Wherein lies my issue with reflection and blogging. Is it necessarily something that results in change, or even something for the better?

Didn't Hitler write Mien Kampf while gaoled? This is narcissistic, self-indulgent reflection that gave him the opportunity to develop self-belief in his warped ideas.

See, reflection can back-fire, bringing the worst out of people, not necessarily the best.

The desired outcome of reflection as a form of thinking in an academic context is to help embed ideas and facts.

It is an aid to a neurological process, by using the information in a variety of ways it comes to matter more, priorities are made, choices taken, you form you own view of what matters and what does not. However, you share this reflection and immediately it is being written for an audience; you reflect and submit this as evidence in an assignment and the first thing you do is to check the requirements of the paper, and how it will be marked and then you adjust, edit and as a consequence contort the truth that reflection should try to uncover.

If reflection has worked then I can see a need to return to live or as-live TV. I thrive on pressure - head pressure.

 

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Here's an idea - review and grade reports

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 1 Oct 2010, 12:44

Here's an idea.

I'd like to see a 'review grade' recommends star system on all the resources we're invited to read, whether they are a must read or supplementary.

Whilst it is a skill to skim read something before giving it your all, I'd like to have a second, third or fourth opinion. Or just a fellow student indicating, 'don't bother,' or just as useful, 'don't miss this one out.'

Too often I have got stuck into a report only to find I wish I hadn't, either I'm not ready for it, or someone else says it better.

On the resources on 'Reflection' (H808) I feel I came in as an MA student on a topic that in one context I understood, but in relation to its use in academic study I did not. The 'heavier' text simply wound me up. Then I got the RLO from the University of Central London. Simple.

Something happened. What happened? So what? What next?

See, I can even remember it.

Though required for H807 I don't recall it being emboddied in the module. Were too many of us left to flounder? Or allowed to flounder?

Moon, Creme and all the rest embed this simple message in so much learning theory and psychology that the only thing they needed to communicate got lost. It assumes previous knowledge.

Go back to Kolb, rather than tacking on ifs and buts and provisos, or invent your own 'cycle of reflection.' I want to read Dewey. The book, hardback. From a second hand book shop. In my hand. With a former teacher's pecilled in notes.

I've come across a system that is simpler than any of the above.

You ask the question 'what is the problem?' over and over and over again.

By the time you have answered this six times you may be surprised at the truth it reveals, the real problem that on fixing resolves everything else.

Reflection that produces an outcome, or simply a dog chasing its tail?

REFERENCE

(in due course, I think I've drawn on the thinking of a dozen above).

Imagine if we had to reference everything we said in a conversation at a cocktail party? Or in the pub? I feel a sketch coming along. I wonder if I could get Mel Smith and Rhys Grifth-Jones back together to do one of their head to heads? You know, over the table, resting on their elbows, deliberating. But whenever they say something that requires a Harvard Style reference they must give it. Try that as they have first one, then a second or a third pint of Harvey's ale.

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I've been asked to bash my fingers flat with a tent-peg sledge hammer

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 08:11

Despite using the OU e-portfolio MyStuff for six months I am yet to upload a document, rather than pre-editing and pasting in notes.

As an exercise I am uploading the reading for Core Activity 2.4 on Reflective writing.

This serves several purposes:

a) testing the affordances of the technology - easy tagging and location of complete reports

b) collecting reports on a topic that interests me very much for future and extended use.

None of this changes my need to read, note take, take notes on the notes, reference other sources, see what other people say, blog it, then sleep on it (the best kind of 'cognitive housekeeping'.)

There is a set of 17 questions I use to analyse a dream. This usually reduces down to a core feeling or two. It intrigues me what my head delivers over night.

Could a dream be offered as evidence of reflection?

I cannot prove it happened. I cannot prove its contents, the places, people or events. Yet they are real. They exist. They have a material form do they not? We just have no way of copying them. Yet.

Now wonder Sussex University dropped the assessment of Learning Journals.

As soon as you set a parameter of length you diminish the stream of consciousness that is the mind at work; anything else is forced - considered: or is this the point?They are considered thoughts?

Reflecting I will enjoy. I live my life in the past.

Indeed I spend so much time writing about what I've done I sometimes wonder if I'm living my life in reverse.

Having to edit the stuff will be like hitting the fingers that are gently tapping away at this keyboard with a 1kg club lump wooden sledge hammer camping peg mallet.

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Reflection on IT skills

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 08:04

There are several software packages I need to familiarise myself with.

This is the consequence of being a freelance, a one man band. If I cannot communicate the way I would wish without a better knowledge of various tools, then I must grasp the IT nettle.

I'm learning Outlook by using it

A 1000 member swimming club, its swimmers, parents, committee, teaching and coaching staff is my material. As I coach or teach five days a week there are a myriad opportunities to create groups, build profiles and get in touch to make things happen.

I prefer Filemakerpro over Excel, but need both.

Having someone who can make Excel sing I've decided to catch up on my knowledge of Filemaker Pro, after all, I can merge all Excel files in Filemaker then build templates from there. It is this ability to build a multitude of bespoke templates that appeals to me, it gives me as many ways as I want and can imagine into the information I store there.

This I will use for the swimming club, performance records of swimmers, tracking coaches too ... and collating data for the club's Swim21 submissions. I trust it will also become part of my e-portfolio for the OU, even a way, yet again, to tackle 90,000 word long fiction.

Let alone a place to gather client and project details.

On verra.

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Dreams and other people's notes

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Is reading the notes someone else has taken on a report about as engaging and of value as reading someone's account of a dream they've had?

My dreams have been interesting.

On brief. Perfect for reflection. This is what happens when you try to fall asleep your brain tickled by a movie with a ridiculous premise (Jumper) and frustrated by a your own anxieties about what you think about the course.

I should do nothing until the maelstrom subsides.

The dream I can recall in minutest detail. I can shred it on 27 questions I've been using for a decade to do this kind of thing.

I'm reminded of some advice in Robert H Heinlein's Sci-Fi bible, 'Time Enough to Love' where we learn how Lazarus Long survived yet another life as his life never ended, while those around him died.

Fit in. It doesn't pay to stick out.

Or in the case of an academic course, if it doesn't get you marks, don't bother.

Meanwhile my eye caught this.

'A great memoir is an unflinching mirror.' Robert MCrum, On Books, The Guardian, last Saturday.

This to me is reflection. Not 500 words, but 50,000. Not over 10 weeks, but over four or more decades.

To reflect is to stand in front of a mirror, not at the end of your career, but at the start, or between times.

That said, I am often told that to 'reflect' is to look at yourself in the mirror, and if you don't like what you see, do somethign about it. i.e. think about what you have done, what you need to do, then do it.

 

 

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