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Visualising the learning design process

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 23 Jan 2013, 06:07

Visualising the process and products of learning design

I will be at CAL ’09 next week in Brighton, and am looking forward to it, in particular some of the sessions and papers which include work from the JISC Curriculum design call. For example, the “challenges of the design pattern paradigm” session and other learning design papers/session. In the meantime I thought I’d put up the poster that my colleagues and I have put together, This poster  entitled “Visualising the process and and products of learning design” will be presented at CAL ’09.

It  is a very short synopsis of the visualisation and representation work we’ve been doing here at the OU. A  version of the poster itself is available for download (click on the image to see a low resoultion image of the poster, or on one of the  links to see a higher resolution PDF at either A4 or A0 size):

Image showing “Visualising the process and and products of learning design ” poster

Visualising the process and and products of learning design, A0 sze (pdf, 1.9 Mbyte),

Visualising the process and and products of learning design, A4 size (pdf, 1.1 Mbyte).

Also, a draft of the text of the poster (including the abstract and references) is available here.

Can visual representation work at the curriculum level?

Apart from the design patterns and learning design stuff, one of the other things I would like to explore whilst at the conference is if or how visual representations have been used at programme level (or above). As far as I’m aware, most visual representation work has focused on the activity or course level, and describes interactions involving students and teachers.  But what about the curriculum level? I’m keen to talk to anyone working in this area: please do  contact me if you are, or add a comment below, thanks <img class=" src="http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/brasherblog/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif" />

CAL ’09 poster text

Abstract

Teachers and media developers go through a complex decision making process when designing new learning experiences – working towards an effective pedagogical mix, combining resources, tools, student and tutor support. For an individual media developer or teacher, the process of creating a visual map of a learning activity clarifies their own understanding of the mix. For teams comprised of individuals focused on different aspects, a visual representation supports communication about issues that need to be resolved before the activity is delivered to students.

This paper focuses on the development of CompendiumLD, a particular strand of work within the OU Learning Design Initiative. CompendiumLD is a tool to represent and visualise learning designs; it is an adaptation of Compendium, an existing knowledge mapping tool. CompendiumLD has been developed iteratively, informed by evidence gathered through a series of interviews with academics, and tested through a series of faculty based workshops. Development has proceeded from changes in the set of icons used to represent components of learning activities, through to specific functionality to support the design of learning activities. This functionality includes context specific learning design help and a set of visual design templates.

Findings to date indicate that most users find the tool easy to use, that it makes the process more explicit and provides a useful vehicle for sharing design ideas with others. Some users are interested in its potential to support both the process of learning design and the production of maps for use by students.

Recently introduced  features include (1) the facility to specify times that students and tutors will spend on specific tasks, producing a running total displayed on the user interface and (2) support for transclusions (intended to help designers  identify reuse of  e.g. tasks or learning objectives. Initial evaluations of these new features will be discussed.

1       Introduction

A learning activity can be conceptualised as a specific interaction of learner(s) with zero or more other(s) using specific tools and resources, orientated towards specific outcomes (Beetham, 2007).  Evidence we have gathered indicates that designing learning activities is inherently messy, creative and iterative, and that choosing  the best combination of tools, resources and tasks for a particular context is difficult (Conole et al., 2008). In the Open University and other distance universities, design is typically carried out by teams composed of people with a variety of specialist skills including academics, programmers, graphic designers, editors and project managers.

2       Aims

Our aim is to research, design and implement a range of tools to support individuals to design effective learning activities, and to enhance the effectiveness of design teams.

One approach we have taken is to apply the concept of ‘knowledge cartography’  to learning design, building on previous work in this area including other visual representations of learning designs (e.g. UML activity diagrams, LAMS).  This has led to the development of a software tool CompendiumLD through which we are exploiting two aspects of mapping, the product and the process.

  • As products maps can visually represent complex relationships between objects, which highlight key elements and connections for a particular purpose
  • Creating a map forces a person to externalise their understanding of the situation, and this process clarifies their understanding of the situation

(Okada, Buckingham Shum, & Sherborne, 2008).

Design processes

In our research  to date we have studied how design  is carried out by individuals and teams within the iterative design cycle which occurs before courses are launched.

We will be studying how CompendiumLD can be used by teachers to  deliver teaching activities, and how it can be used to evaluate the design of activities.

Design products

Snapshots from the design process

The learning design nodes are on the left hand side: these can be dragged and droped onto the working area. Learning design nodes include

Learning activity

Learning outcome

The nodes can be connected by dragging between them.

Double-clicking on a learning activity opens it

A screen grab of CompendiumLD showing the main working area labelled  “Andrew Brasher’s Home Window”.

Context sensitive prompts appear when nodes are added.

3       Evidence

Empirical evidence gathered to inform the development of CompendiumLD  includes the collection of user requirements (Nixon, 2007), case studies (Wilson, 2007), 12 semi-structured in-depth interviews, and evaluation of workshops and focus groups (Cross, 2008). In January 2009 we began in-depth evaluation of holistic course design, which has and will involve studying course teams’ use of visual representations during the design process over a period of 9 months.  Examples from our evidence base are shown as speech bubbles.

4       In use

Examples illustrating how CompendiumLD can be used within the design process are provided by  snapshot 1 and snapshot 2. Snapshot 1 illustrates an early stage of the  the design process, snapshot 2 a later stage when a more detailed description has been generated and some of the issues that arose in snapshot 1 have been resolved.

5       Conclusions and future work

The qualitative data we have gathered so far indicates that generating a visual representation helps to clarify designers’ intentions, and aids communication of those intentions.  Continuation of the iterative improvement of the tools and methods we have developed is planned for 2009-10, including trials across a range of UK universities. So far our work has focused on the representation of learning activities within a course or module. We will be looking at applying visual representations at different levels, e.g. across degree programmes, and requirements gathering workshops to inform this are planned for later in 2009.

References and further information

Full references for the citations in this poster are available from are available from http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/brasherblog. Information about CompendiumLD is available from http://compendiumld.open.ac.uk.

Beetham, H. (2007). An approach to learning activity design. In H. Beetham & R. Sharpe (Eds.), Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: designing and delivering  e-learning (pp. 26-40). Oxford: Routledge.

Conole, G., Brasher, A., Cross, S., Weller, M., Clark, P., & White, J. (2008). Visualising learning design to foster and support good practice and creativity. Educational Media International.

Cross, S., Conole, G., Clark, P., Brasher, A., & Weller, M.   . (2008). Mapping a landscape of Learning Design: Identifying key trends in current practice at the Open University. Paper presented at the LAMS Conference.

Nixon, S. (2007). LD project final report – final report of the LD VLE programme work. Milton Keynes: The Open University.

Okada, A., Buckingham Shum, S., & Sherborne, T. (2008). Knowledge Cartography: Software Tools and Mapping Techniques: Springer.

Wilson, P. (2007). Progress report on capturing eLearning case studies (Internal report). Milton Keynes: The Open University.

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What is a learning activty? Grainne Conole

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Sept 2011, 09:40

Beetham provides a simple definition

"an interaction between a learner or learners and an environment (optionally including content resources, tools and instruments, computer systems and services, 'real world' events and objects) that is carried out in response to a task with an intended learning outcome." (Beetham, 2004)

Conole has developed a learning activity taxonomy (Conole, 2007; Conole, 2008) that attempts to consider all aspects and factors involved in developing a learning activity, from the pedagogical context in which the activity occurs through to the nature and types of tasks undertaken by the learner. The taxonomy is based on the premise that learning activities are achieved through completion of a series of tasks in order to achieve intended learning outcomes. The taxonomy was derived by working with practitioners to elicit the stages involved in the design process and consists of three main components:

  • The context within which the activity occurs; this includes the subject, level of difficulty, the intended learning outcomes and the environment within which the activity takes place.
  • The pedagogy (learning and teaching approaches) adopted. These are grouped into three categories – associative (acquisition of skills through sequences of concepts/tasks and feedback), cognitive (construction of meaning based on prior experience and context) and situative (learning in social and/or authentic settings).
  • The tasks undertaken, which specifies the type of task, the (teaching) techniques used to support the task, any associated tools and resources, the interaction and roles of those involved and the assessments associated with the learning activity. In particular the types of tasks which a student might do as part of the learning activity are described in detail and grouped into six categories; assimilative (attending and understanding content), information handling (e.g. gathering and classifying resources or manipulating data), adaptive (use of modelling or simulation software), communicative (dialogic activities, e.g. pair dialogues or group-based discussions), productive (construction of an artefact such as a written essay, new chemical compound or a sculpture) and experiential (practising skills in a particular context or undertaking an investigation).
  • http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloud/view/2473 (Accessed 4/4/11)
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H800: 45 Week 8 Activity 2 (Part 4) Tools for Learning Design

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 16:14

Is this a model or an expression of what took place?

At what point, by adding Tutor engagement, and then picking out individuals in relation to their tutor group forum participation do you make assumptions?

A questionnaire would elicit the facts.

At some point the complexity of the activity shown diminishes the ease at which the chart is interpreted.

33pysds_H800-WK8-Act3.jpg

 

I'd replaced the imploring 'HAVE FUN!' with the more germane 'ENGAGE!' i.e. take part, I say this because debate and discussion may not be fund with a smile.

Often I liken a session that spins out of control as a Catherine-Wheel nailed to a post that fizzles and falls ... or winds down. Some activities can be like this, 'full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.'

They tend to be the most fulfilling, where everyone in the group takes part. Or at least SIX on a regular basis to give the thing some spin.

Failure to participate is the killer; with it an activity can be a wild success, drawing people in, urging them to take part. Without them you are on your own 'with your books and your thoughts.'

The reality of distance learning online is a bit of both, the trick is to be able to engage and disengage with reasonable flexibility, not feeling guilty whether you are quiet for a period or when you are ever-present.

The role of the tutor is a tricky one

Mentor and coach, or subject matter expert? Institutional insider to guide? Overseer? Absent landlord? Marker? Assessor? Animateur?

The role is changing. It will be as different as it is in the 'real' world from the one-to-one private tutor, or the 'gang master' running 60 students via pre-recorded video lecture. Customers, as students can call themselves with greater validity if they are paying significant sums, will be demanding.

'Change is all around us'.

(Sung to the tune of Wet, Wet, Wet's 'love is all around us').

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H800: 45 Week 8 Activity 2 (Parts 1, 2 and 3) Tools for Learning Design

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 5 Oct 2012, 23:18

PART ONE

This is how I develop a Creative Brief ... this happens to be an MAODE exercise on Learning Design.

As a video producer this is the idea I'd sell to the client.

I'd then work with a coach and group of swimmers to set the scene and milk it.

This is the kind of thing corporate clients use to teams of 10,000 employees. This is also how I go about writing scripts, sometimes adding drawings, cut-outs from magazines and photos. Nothing hi-tech at the thinking stage ... which gives people more freedom to contribute.

A whiteboard marker pen on unforgiving wallpaper backing paper (30p a roll in from the reduced bin!). Stuck to the kitchen door.

PART TWO

The Forum Thread deserves as Swim lane of its own with as much activity into it and Elluminate as I have put here into a blog/microblog.

How%20much%20changed%20when%20printed%20arrived%20COMPENDIUM.jpg

Often I find a dedicated thread such as e-Learning Professionals is more likely to guarantee a response to something I say; the reason for this is simple, they have thousands of active members.

There are reliable statistics to say what tiny per centage of people are happy to write, read, comment and contribute. 1% to write, about 4% to comment. This has to be reflected in forum activity too, however much it is required by the course. I've missed out blogs other students keep, and the links back and forth to these.

You'd be surprised how much goes on in the background.

I've found myself working things through with people in different tutor groups, who did the module a year ago ... or who have nothing to do with MAODE but have an answer. Which reminds me of the fantastic diagram drawing tool dia. How does Naughton’s journalistic point of view compare to those of an academic?

I worked through it alone, blogged about it and offered thoughts and replied in the tutor forum.

The degree or blogging I’ve put forward reflects what I consider an invaluable addition to taking part in Forum Threads. You express what you think, ‘stream of consciousness’ into your own blog, edited to140 character for Twitter than take part in a Forum where some back and forth discussion should come about.

The other invaluable form of participation is through a conference call – as Jonathan Swift said, ‘I don’t know what I mean until I have heard myself speak.’

This is akin to a treatment outline for a video. The script in our case is the ad-libs and verbatim responses of student and input from the tutor. I like the idea of swim-lines and can imagine the Tutor online as a coach, rather than a subject matter expert, as a guide and mentor.

The reality is that such rapport develops with fellow students.

It is a shame that there isn’t more continuity through your original cohort. I have used the Compendium to share projects, using the layers to attach documents and have another contribute. For a simple mind map I like bubbl.us, otherwise I’m as likely to do a sketch and photograph it to share … or draw directly into a paint/draw package such as ArtPad using a stylus and Wacom board. Like all tools you need to have a clear use for it, rather than playing in a sandpit. To be able to collaborate in a team people need to be familiar with and using the same software/platforms.

Compendium can be used as a basic mind-map or flow chart and with experience be used for much more, as an e-portfolio of sorts.

It is overly prescriptive. Tools need to be intuitive and follow common practices regarding buttons and outcomes. For a first draft I prefer marker pen on paper, followed by bubbl.us.

As Beetham’s Chapter 2 (Activity 2) points out learners will find their own way through a task regardless. We understand things differently, draw on different experiences and come up with our own metaphors.

Whilst I go with the ‘Swim Lanes’ analogy, I often think the reality is like a Catherine-wheel nailed to a post in the rain.

Should an exercise such as this be addressed in a way that has so scientific connotations? It is surprising how easy it is to share the narrative of a linear activity in a multitude of ways. A simple set of numbered bullet points, perhaps worked up as a presentation. As a board game, one step taken at a time. Or a set of activity cards. You can talk it through by counting five activities off on your fingers. I'll do one of these in the truly, joyful, brilliant www.bubbl.us and post it to my ou blog and extracurricular blog' 'My Mind Bursts' which in turn is fed to Twitter 'jj27vv.'

Make one of these mind maps, then change your mind and be tickled with the way the 'node' or 'bubbl' behaves . Go see! This and a list of wonderful tools from an H808 student who is a primary school teacher in Thailand. Work should be fun, especially learning design. After all, if you don't enjoy it, how do you expect your future students to behave?

PART THREE

Bubbl.us has gone from toy to a grown up tool with layers and the opportunity to add sound, images (stills and moving) and no doubt much more, none of which I have had time to try.

The old bubbl.us was like playing with kid's party balloons and when you deleted a balloon (or node) it blew up and burst into flames. This new version still does some magic to the eye, fading away like a mist, also when you save melting into the background like a rainbow of ice melting.

An extraordinary delight to the senses and apparently of far more practicle use than I credited it with a few months ago.

 

33pxxlo_New-Sheet.jpg

 

Click on this and it takes you to Picassa Dropbox. You can then enlarge it, save the code and help yourself. I think all the images I've put into this OU identify album is 'open to the public.'

Seeing this all again I am reminded of my inspiration David McCandless.

By working on this a few more times an art director or designer would turn it into a thing of beauty; it is this level of inspiration that sells ideas to committees, colleagues and others.

People buy into ideas. People like to be inspired.

The pedagogy must of course be sound, the right offering of activities, outcomes and learner flexibility and support is the OU magic mix.

P.S. Don't imagine I was familiar with any of these tools until I started the MAODE in Feb 2010, most of everything I now use I was introduced to by someone here.

PART FOUR

Add the role of the Tutor.

Get in a designer and make it a thing of information beauty.

Sell it internally and externally.

Schedule, produce.

Watch what happens and adjust accordingly.

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h800: 44 Week 8 Activity 2. On learner's emotional responses to technology

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 8 Mar 2012, 15:22
DSC00677.JPG

Pic from MMC Learning

'An approach to learning activity design (Sharpe et al. 2005) concluded that, as well as ICT skills, key issues were learners’ emotional relationship to the technologies they were offered – especially feelings of frustration and alienation – and issues around time management.'

In our tutor group and module forums we've gone through time management at length.

Understandably.

Though I suspect that for many of us time passing is the only certain thing in our lives. It has required therapy for me to downplay events when they DON'T go to plan ... that life as a Dad, husband, parent, portfolio-worker person, studying (two courses, this and sports related), as well as feeding the guinea-pigs, putting out the rubbish, sorting the recycling, putting air in the tyres on the car, fixing the fence ... collecting children from an event, taking them to the station ... let alone the other generation, four relatives in their 80s and 135 and 210 miles away.

I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

No schedule set for the morning, let alone the day or the week can be followed. (Which is why I get my hours in 4.40 am to 7.00am each early morning ... more pleasant with the sun joining me at last)

So, to the emotional response to technology.

I've come to apply the same kind of thinking to technology, yet more technology, especially if I don't like the look of it, as something that WILL, in the fullness of time, have value.

There is no point putting off engagement with it.

The same applies to a difficult to read text (there has been plenty of that lately). It WILL become clear, it just may take three or more attempts, could involve getting advice from others in the peer group, a search on the web and dare I say it a BOOK. I actually pick up copies of 'Facebook for Dummies' and 'Blogging for Dummies' as a matter of standard practice from the library (remember them?). These books are authentic, scurrilous and engaging. The body and mind enjoy the break from the computer screen.

I got 'Digital Marketing for Dummies' for my Kindle though ... how else can I read it in the bath while holding a coffee in my right hand (I am right handed) and 'the book' in my left, perfectly able to flick on through pages with my thumb.

Design isn't just programming when it comes to software.

Compare Mac to PC. Mac not only works, but it is obvious, intuitive and often beautiful to look at.

We are so used to the extraordinary simplicity of Google, YouTube and Facebook that we baulk if a piece of software, perhaps Open Source, doesn't have the look and feel of the familiar. It IS a DESIGN issue, as in creating a love affair with the object that has both form and function, rather than function alone.

Compendium; it is versatile, engaging and intelligent ... but could it dress better and be more intuitive and less 'nerdy' ?

Rethinking%20Pedagogy%20for%20a%20Digital%20Age.JPG

More from Sharpe and Beetham:

'The use of technologies can compound existing differences among learners due to their gender, culture and first language'. Beetham and Sharpe (2007)

I like this too:

Learners cannot therefore be treated as a bundle of disparate needs: they are actors, not factors, in the learning situation. (ibid)

And this:

They make sense of the tasks they are set in terms of their own goals and perspectives, and they may experience tasks quite differently if digital technologies – with all the social and cultural meanings that they carry – are involved. (ibid)

Perhaps we should be seeking advice on these feelings too, how they can get in the way of us tackling technology or a tough read/assignment. After all, if motivated, people will overcome such problems, but if we become demotivated it is habit forming.

REFERENCE

Beetham, H and Sharpe, R 'Rethinking Pedagogy for the digital age'. (2007)

p.s. This book needs an emotionally appropriate cover. Might I suggest a design from Helen A Dalby. Personally I'd like to see academic publishers make all book iPad friendly with illustrations throughout, maybe video and some interactivity too. Why stick with the rough, when you could make it smooth and cool. Video introduction from each of the authors please ... and links to their blog.

Sharpe, R, Benfield, G., lessner, E. and de cicco, E. (2005) Scoping Study for the Pedagogy strand of the JISC e-Learning Programme, Bristol: JISC. Online. Available. www.jisc.ac.uk/index.cfm?name+elearning pedagogy

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H800: 44 Week 8 Activity 2. An approach to learning activity design

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 26 Feb 2012, 06:08

Notes on Beetham Chapter 2 An approach to learning activity design.

Rethinking%20Pedagogy%20for%20a%20Digital%20Age.JPG

I've found this the chapter on ‘an approach to learning activity design’ from Helen Beetham profound and invaluable.

Helen Beetham is a Research Consultant to the JISC e-Learning Programme. Previously she was a Research Fellow in e-learning at the Open University.

The profound revelations I feel I have had concern three projects to 'reinvent learning' with interactive then web-based learning in the 1990s and 2000s that I am familiar with (I was in the production company or agency doing something else, or know the person and the project's history).

And the sense I wanted from MAODE of the history of education which I sum up as:

1 to 1 the governess and/or then tutor of the aristocracy. 17th century (and earlier, and well into the 20th)

DSC00785.JPG

Samuel Daniel was a court poet and amongst others tutored Lady Anne Clifford. A copy of his miniature was inserted in Lady Annes 1646 'Great Picture' that told her life story/struggle.

1 to many in schools (both private and state maintained). (For wealthy families who couldn't afford the tutors ... the 'public' schools of Britain from the 16th century, followed by the Victorian & Edwardian schools for all).

H800%20Wk2%20Children%20being%20brain-fed%20books%20GRAB.JPG

1 to 1 or many to many (depending on how you look at it) which brings back a good deal of the 1 to 1 that the likes of Princess Elizabeth might have had in the 16th century, through peer-support you have your time with a subject matter expert (if they will indulge you) ... and time with people with very different experiences and insights that can be better at giving your thinking a jolt ... or if we will indulge each other through 'social educational networking'.

I appreciate the history of education goes back further to Greece, Mesopotamia and even hunter gatherer societies on the plains of Africa.From Marketing to the Social Web. Larry Webber.

My feeling is that technology isn't as novel as we think; in fact it is enabling what used to occur in closer nit learning groups embedded in society.

I wonder if I should be looking at learning patterns from the Bantu in the Congo and apply that to teenagers wishing to learn using mobile devices in the 21st century, the urban jungle and chase replacing the forests, bore hunts and multiple relationships.

There is a lot to think about. I see learning design as akin to designing and growing a maize maze. One this is in place you have choices regarding whether guide an individual around your labyrinth by calling out ‘left!’, ‘right!’ or just ‘hot!’ or ‘cold!’ while others you leave to figure out their own way through. There will be graded outcomes that require exiting the maze, others where they never leave and yet others where they exit where right they came in – all depending on the activities, the learners and the desired outcomes.

The emphasis, from Beetham’s point of view, is that with learning design should be on learners, the activities they do (not tasks) and the outcomes. Beetham (2007).

Activities, not the tools used or the supporting materials, matter the most.

Whatever way you plan, develop and scaffold learners will do the activities their own way - in different contexts people learn in different ways which raises issues for activity design Beetham (2007).

I ask myself:

· How prescriptive should you be?

· How confining should the parameters be?

· What degree of latitude is offered?

Situative%20Constrive%20Associative%20Learning%20JISC%20GRAB.JPG

The learning activities may be any combination of associative, constructive or situative. Learners will develop their understanding as a result of consolidation and practice, drawing on their strengths and preferences and a repertoire of approaches. Beetham (2007) e.g. an apprentice learns in an associative way be rehearsing skills and concepts.

REFERENCE

Beetham, H, and Sharpe, R (2007) Rethinking Pedagogy for the digital age.

 

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My Mind Bursts

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 08:22

It is 10 years since I last registered a domain name.

Here I am

My Mind Bursts

It's the mirror of all that goes on here +

A good deal or reading and writing (fiction)

And in time a good deal more

Like my favourite blog entries of the last 12 years.

& Digital Marketing

 

 

 

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H800: 40 From Teams to Knots - Engeström

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 28 Sept 2012, 14:25

When flummoxed and interested in equal measure I buy the book.

Engestrom%20Team%20to%20Knots%20GRAB.JPG

An article won't do. I need to understand the person's argument more fully. Written some 10 years on from the article we are looking at in H800 'From Teams and Knots' may benefit from Engestrom having had 10 years teaching at a US university.

Can I read it in 24 hours though? (and take notes)

Reading the sample champter on my Kindle I am immediately taken by the author's interest in teams in industry, in particular in car manufacture and the work of Jones et al in Lean Production in the 1990s. For four or more years I was spending three weeks out of every four videoing the development of lean production at UGC. An author who made no sense on first reading, I suddenly find has a great deal to say about something with which I am familiar.

 

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H800: 40 Expansive Learning and Engestrom

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 28 Sept 2012, 14:24

 

Engestroms%20Triangle%20Fig%203%20%20GRAB.JPG

 

I've taken this, from Engestrom and considered this as the interplay between SIX people (or groups) - or a mix of the two. Six people who are bringing to the discussion their different backgrounds and ideas in order to address a topic. At arm's length, the objects, the ideas, views or knowledge that they have begins to take on an identity of its own.

 

Object%207%20Engestrom%20GRAB.JPG

 

'Expansive learning is based on Vygotsky, though three times removed; it implies that we learn within activity pockets as individuals and groups. The interplay between these groups are the consequential objects of learning that in turn transmogrify in the presence of other objects. Solving problems, dealing with contradictions, may come about as these learning systems slide or shift'.

Amyone care to comment?

This is my take on a topic that has taken me through the briar-bush and out the other side. Has the struggle been worth it. The challenge I feel I face when reading papers such is this is how to make the subject matter comprehensible to the non-academic, I challenge I throw down to every academic: it is possible to make yourselves understood by the majority, rather than a minority.

REFERENCE

Engeström (2001) article, Expansive learning at work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualisation

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Interacting activity systems: Engestrom

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 06:26

 

1). What kind of theory of learning is offered by classic activity theory?

A single activity system unit that works upon an object and delivers an outcome

2). What are the five principles of current activity theory? According to Engeström:

  1. A collective, artifact-mediated and object-orientated activity system, seen in its network relations ot other activity systems, is taken as the prime unit of analysis.
  2. Multi-voicedness of activity systems. A community of multiple points of view, traditional and interests.
  3. Age and history
  4. Contradictions as sources of change and development - accumulating structural tensions within and between activity systems.
  5. The possibility of expansive transformations.

3). What is the problem with the ‘standard’ theories of learning that expansive learning addresses?

Standard theory equates to lasting behaviour change whereas expansive learning considers a sideways shift of the entire activity system.

 

created using Art Pad

I was thinking in terms of trying to boil two pans on water on one hob; the flames between the pans cause more conflict than harmony. Shift both pans to the left or right and the heat is under each activity rather than between them.

I'll get out a pad of paper and try some more of these.

4) What is the criticism that Engeström makes of the apprenticeship model of learning?

Doesn't permit the development of original thinking. (I disagree. It depends on the person you are apprenticed too. Think of the many great artists who learnt their craft under a great master, then broke loose).

In relation to e-learning or are we calling it technology-enhanced learning here I fully recognise the value of participation, letting go of your thoughts and therefore being one of these 'activity systems' so that a shared 'third object' (Engestrom, 2001) as it were, moves forward.

The best colloborative work is like this, my experience being those video production, often drama based, that require multiple inputs from people with very different, and specific talents.

I've gone on to try and express the Engestrom diagram in 3D, and drawing six activity systems ... i.e creating greater complexity to begin getting closer to the highly complex reality and in turn a different diagram/illustration entirely.

 

REFERENCE

Engeström (2001) article, Expansive learning at work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualisation

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Joining the Open University Business School

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 23:23

It has surprised me how much my mind has be thrown by this exciting prospect. Like so many OU students I'm now very much in the camp of having my mind in two places.  Of course, the MAODE is complementary and my working world will substantially be an online one.

So, with one major sports related e-learning project set to one side and my head engaged in OUBS matters I return to contemplating 'Expansive learning.'

 

Activity Theory

I've decided that my problem isn't with the thinking, but with how it is expressed. I've therefore taken this model and set it up with chess pieces on a table. I need to visual people, objects and concepts rather than giving them titles or symbols. Some years ago when developing a project I got permission to spend an hour at a local youth theatre and I had the young people walk through and improvise the roles I was trying to form into a video script.

 

Where there's a budget to do so it pays to hire a designer, visualiser or art director such as David McCandless.

 

Learning%20how%20to%20Visualise%20McCandless.JPG

 


I wish academics, like copywriters in advertising, would work with art directors or designed, anybody who can better visualise what they have in their minds. There is more to sharing knowledge than text and diagrams. Where I also struggle is where these diagrams take on the attributes of science-fact, when they are simply models - one means of sharing a concept where there are plenty of others.

How often do you hear people say 'I see what you mean?'

Perhaps the best was to express Activity Theory would be as a podcast, to explain it without any image allowing each person to visualise it in their own way. Now there's a challenge.

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Visit to OU Milton Keynes

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A month ago I met, for the first time, someone I first got to know online; this having blogged since September 1999.

On Friday I paid a visit to the campus of the Open University which means after 13 months I get to see where this is all coming from (and where it might all lead?)

I arrived in very good time.

I've been to Milton Keynes before. I was lost for 45 minutes going up, down, and around and around all the around around abouts.

My first impressions? Space 1999

Remove the series? A colony on the moon?

I was equally lost driving around a quiet campus a 7.15am. It struck me that with the exception of the incongruous Walton Hall set in the middle of it all, and the Church, that each new wave of building was competing to be of the age. So we have the best (or worst) of each era: 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s set out in ample space (very un-English).

With ample parking.

I parked up and fell asleep. (I'd been driving for 2 hours 45 mins). I woke to find every space in the car park taken.

How everything else pans out we'll have to see.

I had an interview with one of the faculties; should I be saying which?

Perhaps that would be presumptuous. I'll take this conversation to another blog for that.

It was a positive and experience. Doing an OU course can be transformative, I would and could make studying a regular part of my working life, feeding what I study in my own time directly into the work place.

I liked this last 13 months to having the embers in a fire given a shaken; there are sparks and heat once more.

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Digital Parent - neither Natives nor Immigrants

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 15:52

I've been taken in by and am now set against the idea of that there is a generational difference when it comes to use of technology - yes those starting university today clearly have different experiences with the kit than we/I did (I was at Oxford in 1981-84).

The computer was in a lab. My Dad had a Microwriter. By 1985 I might have had an Amstrad and a pager.

My point with this Digital Natives thing is that the term was coined without foundation. It is now being debunked. How come the academic instituions went along with it? Had this faux pas occured in the sciences propper rather than social sciences the ho-ha would have featured on the Today Programme.

This isn't a red top newspaper or titletattle on local radio, so why get taken in by the hyperbole.

Anyway, the OU research folk have been busy these last few months releasing all kinds of papers on the theme. Here are some of them.

It is has never been generational.

'Our research suggests that we should be cautious about distinguishing a specific generation because although there are age differences there are additional factors differentiating students, specifically gender and disciplinary differences. We find significant age related differences but we are reluctant to conclude that there is a clear disconnection between a Net generation composed of Digital Natives and older students.' ( Jones and Ramanau, 2010)

Read these for more

Jones, C and Ramanau, R (2010)

THE NET GENERATION ENTERS UNIVERSITY: WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR
TECHNOLOGY ENHANCED LEARNING? UK Open University, United Kingdom

Jones, C A new generation of learners? (2010) The Net Generation and Digital Natives

Jones. C and Healing, G (2010) Net Generation Students

 

 

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H800: 37 Communities of Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 17 Oct 2012, 04:44

BBC%20Radio%204%20In%20Our%20Time%20MEDIEVAL%20UNIVERSITY.JPG

11th century Bologna

We've had a thousand years of learning based on being somewhere. Location mattered for the teachers (Masters) and the libraries.

21st century Cyberspace

We've had a decade of learning that still relies on community, but we can be anywhere (within reason) we like. Broadband Internet access matters. We are guided through the resources by a mixture of people and artifacts. A good deal of it is a pot-lunch at best, with people bringing something to the table, a smorgasbord at least, where we help ourselves.

One part of the community has not changed one jot - like minds gathered to talk, whether like this, through our finger-tips and a keyboard, but best of all in a live synchronous meeting.

These should be made compulsory.

No everything can be what we want, when we do or don't want it. We have to submit papers, We have deadlines. Why not this? Better still bring in the online viva - I've had one twice, the Job Interview across the Atlantic via Skype.

Have things changed that much?

Our minds are the same? Our desire for compassion, to be heard, to contribute, to be recognised even rewarded. We crave friendships, we make mistakes, we learn or don't learn from these, many of us marry and raise kids and grow old, have ideas, good and bed, published or not.

Life will go on, with or without the e-learning?

Will it be a better life?

I suspect not, just different.

Where is all the Leisure Time we were promised in the 1970s.

We have become slaves to the technology, being measured and observed as we tap out our lives, and machine-like we could be judged on how many words, and where these words appear and how often and who often reads them, measured in click-throughs, and page views and other site analytics.

A decade ago I envisaged my then infant children studying six A'Levels then two degress - simultaneously. To differentiate yourself maybe this becomes necessary and possible.

I've come across people hear studying TWO degrees simultaneously.

Perhaps this cross-fertilization will generate new ideas - or ware us down by the need to compete.

On verra.

 

The BBC offer references. Not only can you listen and take notes, and listen again, but you can then follow it up with further reading. I liken this to a wrap. The main meal comes from the OU canteen every day.

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H800: 36 Further Reading ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 14:26

Further reading and distractions. Several I'd recommend here for H800ers and H807ers and H808ers. In deed, anyone on the MAODE.

A couple reveal other interests (Swimming, History) as well as business interests (Digital Marketing/Social Networking)

 

Kindle%20Reading%20FEBMARCH%202011.JPG

 

I just craved a read, cover to cover, rather than all the reports and soundbites. At the top of my list for relevance is the 1994 translation of Lev Vygotsky from a book that was originally published in 1926 - highly relevant to e-learning because perhaps only with Web 2.0 can his ideas be put into action. Also Rhona Sharpe and Helen Beetham (eds) on 'Rethinking Pedagogy for the Digital Age', just the kind of thing we read anyway, just valuable to read the entire collection as there is a pattern, a train of thought you follow through the book with an excellent introduction to each chapter by the editors. Others? Several on the corporate side, impressed with Larry Webber. Several practical if you are teaching and want loads of 'how to' e-tivities. Don't touch Prensky - inflated and vacuous. I don't understand why or how come he is so often brought into conversations ... because he irritates people into speaking out?

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H800:35 Web 1.0 to Web 4.0

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 16:01

I think Tim O'Reilly (2005) should have a say in this; did he not coin the term Web 2.0? Of course, we didn't know, at the time, that we were in the Web 1.0 phase.

It feels like trying to decide where the boundaries are between the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages; indeed, the analogy is apt as both are about technologies. The latter over thousands of years, the former over thousands of DAYS.

I'm reading Larry Weber on Digital Marketing. He wants readers to think in terms of us currently hitting Web 3.0 with Web 4.0 on the horizon. His history doesn't serve him well. To my mind he wants us to think if 'new media' as Web 1.0. It wasn't. For the most part in the late 1980s and early 1990s we were just getting to grips with digital, with interactivity offline on Philips Laser discs, CDs then DVDs. I recall, painfully, trying to migrate interactive DVD content to the web c1998 ... the platform couldn't handle the file sizes. Anyway, this was when Web 1.0 began with the Web.

Isn't Web 2.0 really tied to the Dot.com Bubble Burst of late 2000/2001 ?

The industry began to think itself out of the mess and the possibilities shifted as broadband became common place.

So where does this leave us now?

Did people living at the time of the Bronze or Iron age really care? Imports gave a hint of what other cultures could do.

My thinking is that the shift is so great and so fast that we are entering Web 3.0.

But this isn't a board game, we aren't simply leaving one domain and entering another. For heaven's sake, we still have pen, paper, artillery, stone pestle and mortars, wooden rolling pins, iron tanks ..

Web 2.0 is Warner Bros teaming up with Facebook to deliver video on demand.

Web 3.0 will be want hundreds of thousands of people do with the content, because they sure as heck won't simply sit back and watch. The way they mash it up and share it then come up with something NEW, this is Web 3.0 behaviour.

Web 4.0

Larry Weber hints at where it is going. Your thoughts?

REFERENCE

O’Reilly, T. (2005) What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software [online],http://routes.open.ac.uk/ ixbin/ hixclient.exe?_IXDB_=routes&_IXSPFX_=g&submit-button=summary&%24+with+res_id+is+res18497(last accessed 16 March 2011).

Weber, L (2009) Marketing to the Social Web (Second Edition) John Wiley & Sons.

(See Larry Weber introduce the second edition here)

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JISC 2011 ONLINE

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Listening, watching, clicking through slides at my own pace, following Twitter feeds, posing my own responses and even getting a 'Twitter' in edgeways.

JISC%20Research%20Mangement%20JFV%20GRAB.JPG

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JISC ONLINE

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Made to think about Attendance

Because I couldn't. Somehow the technology or actions required to move from one hall to another overcame and IO found myself stuck in the same hall as the Keynote speech quite unable to figure out how to move.

Still, I could click through the presentation slides of Doug Belshaw and came up with my interpretation of attendance.

Attendance requires 'engagement,' it also requires 'effort,' which in simplest terms needs 'motivation' and a willingness to battle against barriers that you may come up against that in your personal circumstances are large or small. Today 'engagement' probably also requires 'collaboration', 'participation' and via blogs/social media etc: 'publication.'

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JISC ONLINE

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So glad I diodn't treck across the country to attend JISC 2011. The online experience is SUPERIOR to attending ... whilst I may not be able to network or go to stands, I can, from my kitchen table, happily view, grab, twitter, post notes on and so engage in future sessions/workshops ... while taking notes. It surprises me how much I can read, listen to, watch and write at the same time.

JISC%20LIVE%20KEYNOTE%20GRAB%202.JPG

Go see!

JISC 2011

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h800: 34 Vicarious Learning (Wk Activity 4)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 10:32

There is no need for me to plug gaps - there aren't any.

There have been choices to make throough-out H800 wks 1-5. For the TMA01 we are to comment, 500 words each, on THREE activities (with a couple of exclusions which are required four the FOURTH part of the TMA).

Content to cover the ground and ill for the best part of three weeks I wasn't going to do my old thing of 'do everything' choose later ...

However, I thought this reading nmight be part of the 'compulsory' component on 'metaphor' in learning.

In fact, I find it a separate line of thinking entirely, far more pragmatic, and not even complemenetary to the idea of metaphor, though vital the thoughts we are developing on 'Acquisition' and 'participation' for the simple reason that this discussion wraps them up in one activity called 'Vicarious Learning'.

I found this diversion highly information, indeed so much so , that I feel without it I could not have come to my current level of appreciation of acquisition and participation, that instead of separate staged entities, they can be bound together in a single experience.

This idea of ‘vicarious learning’ has been popular with educational researchers as a topic since 1993 and originally formed part of Bandura’s (1977) work.

It is of course what happens all around – we learn by default, by observing others being taught, and either struggling or succeeding at a task or with a concept. Has human kind not done this always? You learn from your parents, siblings and peers, from uncles and aunts, elders and others in your immediate community and from any group or community your are sent to or put into in order to learn.

The suggestions it that ‘observed behaviours are reinforced’ … with a bias in favour of positive reinforcement of ‘good behaviour or outcomes’ rather than poo behaviour and none or negative outcomes. I wish I believed this to be the case and will need to see the research. There are always exceptions to the rule, people who pick up the bad habits and the way NOT to do a thing, or through their contrary nature deliberately go against the grain (though by doing so their formal learning would soon be ended).

Is observation ‘participation’ ? Surely it is?

Yes I learn as ‘one removed as it were’ from the interaction they are watching. Indeed, it is ‘acquisition’ too.

Reading this puts a wry smile on my face because of the way the language of e-learning has settled down, we come to accommodate phrases and ways of putting things that make sense to all in a less cumbersome fashion than this – it is the nature of language. ‘web-based generic shell designed to accept data from any discipline that has cases’.

The PATSy system looked at/looks at:

· Developmental reading disorder

· Neuropsychology

· Neurology/medical rehabilitation

· Speech and language pathologies

It is a:

· A multimedia database/resource.

· + virtual patients

· Clinical reasoning and diagnosis

‘Results showed that online interactions with PATSy were positively correlated with end-of-term learning outcome measures.’

It is helpful where students struggle to articulate their misunderstanding.

TDD (task-directed discussion)

Useful for reflection.

Especially to reveal what a student DOESN’T know, not what they DO know.

It provides:

· A multi-media database

· Discussion tools

· Reading resources

It operates:

· At a distance (does it say)

· On campus but working alone (clinical)

· As observers of learners and as learners themselves.

REFERENCE

Cox, R. (2006) Vicarious Learning and Case-based Teaching of Clinical Reasoning Skills (2004–2006) [online], http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ esrcinfocentre/ viewawardpage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-139-25-0127 [(last accessed 10 March 2011).

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How positive leadership spreads like a Mexican Wave

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 8 Dec 2012, 00:01

How a ‘contagion of positive emotions’ from and of the right leader or teacher will greatly enhance the learning experience and project outcomes.

The problem is, you need to be there to get the vibe. I dare say parenting therefore has a huge impact on the developing child - nurtured or knackered?

But what does this say about the role of distance learning?

A bit, not a lot. Tutorials from time to time may pay dividends. We should stop being such e-learning purists and meet face to face when and where we can … at least online, if not in the flesh.

And before I go anywhere, thanks to someone for the link to this which I received in my daily maelstrom of Linked In forum threads, emails, comments and what not.

Advances in neuroscience may help us understand the internal mechanisms that enable some people to be effective leaders, and some not. Boyatzis (2011)

The leadership role is moving away from a “results-orientation” towards a relationship orientation. Boyatzis (2011)

People who feel inspired and supported give their best, are open to new ideas and have a more social orientation to others. Boyatzis (2011)

The difference between resonant and dissonance in relationships was tested, for example the difference between an inspired and engaging leader, compared to one who makes demands and sets goals.

While undergoing an MRI scan people were asked to recall specific experiences with resonant leaders and with dissonant leaders. When thinking about ‘resonant’ leaders there was significant activation of 14 regions of interest in the brain while with dissonant leaders there was significant activation of 6 and but deactivation in 11 regions. i.e. people are turned off by certain kinds of leadership. Boyatzis (2011)

The conclusion is that being concerned about one’s relationships may enable others to perform better and more innovatively– and lead to better results i.e. be an inspired, motivating leader, not a dictatorial or demanding one.

How therefore if running a course online does the course chair or a tutor engender these kind of feelings in their students?

The other lesson from this is to appreciate how quickly impressions of others get formed or the neural mechanisms involved.

First impressions count

They impact on how one person responds to another for some time to come. We are emotional beings, however much we’d like to control our behaviour.

The other idea is of ‘emotional contagion’ or ‘emotional arousal’ being picked up in the neural systems activate endocrine systems; that imitation and mimicry are important i.e. you cannot lead at arm’s-length – you have to be there, as must be your team, and by implication, where learning is involved, you students. Boyatzis (2011)

What you pick up in the presence of others is:

  • the context of an observed action or setting
  • the action
  • the intention of the other living being.

‘A sympathetic hemo-dynamic that creates the same ability for us to relate to another’s emotions and intention’ (Decety & Michalaks, 2010).

There are three implications of these observations Boyatzis (2011):

  1. the speed of activation
  2. the sequence of activation
  3. the endocrine/neural system interactions.

Our emotions are determining cognitive interpretation more than previously admitted.

Our unconscious emotional states arouse emotions in those with whom we interact before we or they know it. And it spreads from these interactions to others.

Research has suggested that negative emotions are stronger than positive emotions which may serve evolutionary functions but, paradoxically, it may limit learning. Boyatzis (2011)

i.e. where the teacher shows leadership that engenders a positive response the learning experience is increased (think of the fictional character played by Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society, think of Randy Pausch the late Carnegie Mellon Professor of Virtual reality) … whereas negative emotions.

From a student’s point of view if you have a teacher you do NOT like (or no one likes) this will have overly significant NEGATIVE impact on your learning experience.

So it matters WHO and HOW you are taught, not simply an interest or passion for a subject.

‘A contagion of positive emotions seems to arouse the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which stimulates adult neurogenesis (i.e. growth of new neurons) (Erickson et. al., 1998), a sense of well being, better immune system functioning, and cognitive, emotional, and perceptual openness’ (McEwen, 1998; Janig and Habler, 1999; Boyatzis, Jack, Cesaro, Passarelli, & Khawaja, 2010).

The sustainability of leadership effectiveness is directly a function of a person’s ability to adapt and activate neural plasticity. Boyatzis (2011)

The SNS (Sympathetic Nervous System) and PNS (Parasympathetic Nervous System ) are both needed for human functioning.

They each have an impact on neural plasticity.

Arousal affects the growth of the size and shape of our brain. Neurogenesis allows the human to build new neurons. The endocrines aroused in the PNS allow the immune system to function at its best to help preserve existing tissue (Dickerson and Kemeny, 2004).

I FOUND THIS PROFOUND

Leaders bear the primary responsibility for knowing what they are feeling and therefore, managing the ‘contagion’ that they infect in others.

(Is a disease metaphor and its negative connotations the appropriate metaphor to use here?)

It requires a heightened emotional self-awareness.

This means having techniques to notice the feelings, label what they are and then signal yourself that you should do something to change your mood and state.

Merely saying to yourself that you will “put on a happy face” does not hide the fast and unconscious transmission of your real feelings to others around you.

Leaders should be coaches in helping to motivate and inspire those around them (Boyatzis, Smith & Blaize, 2006).

But not any old form of coaching will help.

Coaching others with compassion, that is, toward the Positive Emotional Attractor, appears to activate neural systems that help a person open themselves to new possibilities– to learn and adapt. Meanwhile, the more typical coaching of others to change in imposed ways (i.e., trying to get them to conform to the views of the boss) may create an arousal of the SNS and puts the person in a defensive posture. This moves a person toward the Negative Emotional Attractor and to being more closed to possibilities.

What does say about parenting?

The role or the patriarch or matriarch in the family? And whilst your father may be an inspiring leader at the office, what if he is a nit-picking bore and a negative grudge when he comes home?

REFERENCE

Boyatzis, R. (2011) Neuroscience and Leadership: The Promise of Insights Leadership | January / February 2011

Boyatzis, R.E., Smith, M. and Blaize, N. (2006) “Developing sustainable leaders through coaching and compassion, Academy of Management Journal on Learning and Education. 5(1): 8-24.

Boyatzis, R. E., Jack, A., Cesaro, R., Passarelli, A. & Khawaja, M. (2010). Coaching with Compassion: An fMRI Study of Coaching to the Positive or Negative Emotional Attractor. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Montreal.

Decety, J. & Michalska, K.J. (2010). Neurodevelopmental change in circuits underlying empathy and sympathy from childhood to adulthood. Developmental Science. 13: 6, 886-899.

Dickerson, S.S. & Kemeny, M.E. (2004). Acute stressors and cortisol responses: A theoretical integration and synthesis of laboratory research. Psychological Bulletin.130(3): 355-391.

Janig, W. & Habler, H-J. (1999). Organization of the autonomic nervous system: Structure and function. In O. Appendzeller (ed.). Handbook of Clinical Neurology: The Autonomic Nervous System: Part I: Normal Function, 74: 1-52.

McEwen, B. S. (1998). Protective and damaging effects of stress mediators. New England Journal of Medicine. 338: 171-179.

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H807 Innovations in E-Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 28 Sept 2012, 12:43

Were I back on the H807 Merry-go-round, I'd love to do the Innovations in E-Learning module over again ... indeed, given the pace of change maybe a three year refresher is required.

I'd have loved some of this:

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And this:

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And this:


Digital%20Straegies%20for%20Powerful%20Corporate%20Communications%20GRAB.JPG

 

Which was my third e-book purchase.

I have read it, highlighted it, reviewed it, shared notes via Facebook on it as I went along and will blog about it at length in due course. And Twitter this, and that. And respond to comments.

Most important of all, I am acting on this books advice which means I now have feed from Google Alerts, and Technorati amongst many other suggestions on how someone who feel they have a voice can find like minds.

 

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Is looking at this better than reading the chapter around it?

Best of all is to share it and discuss with those who know better, or want to know better. My opinion is your opinion put through the kitchen-blender.

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H800: 30 Language, Communication, Education and John Seely Brown via Hitchings and Tyneside

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 22 Dec 2020, 20:40

The meaning of words and learning, from how we learn to speak via Hitchings, John Seely Brown and the Open University MAODE module H800.

I like that thought that ‘All knowledge is, we believe, like language’.

Whether we are educators or not, we all have experience of acquiring or possibly learning a language. I was brought up in the North of England by aspirational Geordies who between them wanted to instil ‘correct’ spoken and written English. Woe-betide the child who spoke with a hard ‘a,’ spilt an infinitive and sprinkled their conversation with ‘sorts of … ‘ or ‘you know.’ I’m surprised none of us came out with a stammer. Could this be why my brother bit his nails all the time? He held onto his Geordie accent despite his parents best (or worst efforts). Which has me thinking, we’ve had a Royal who stammered, is there one who used to bite their finger-nails?

Language, and our choice of words and the words that are coined and come into common used are vital. I STILL get into conversations over whether it is ‘E-learning’ or ‘online learning’, and as they are the client you can imagine which way I tip.

‘Its constituent parts index the world and so are inextricably a product of the activity and situations in which they are produced’. Brown et al (1989)

This indexing of the world makes for a fascinating book. Hitchings on the English Language gives a wonderful insight not only into the way ‘English’ developed, has changed and is changing … and why words matter.

‘A concept, for example, will continually evolve with each new occasion of use, because new situations, negotiations, and activities inevitably recast it in new, more densely textured form. So a concept, like the meaning of a word, is always under construction’.

Think of conceptual knowledge as similar to a set of tools.

‘People use tools actively rather than just acquire them, by contrast, build an increasingly rich implicit understanding of the world in which they use the tools and the tools themselves’. P33

I like this idea too, that we can equate words with tools and vice-versa. They are components that enable communication. And communication facilitates learning.

But of course ‘How a tool is used will vary by context and culture’. Brown et al (1989:33)

Wherein lies the inherent problem with language, whether it is translated, or especially if you think you are talking the same language … but are not because your take and comprehension of a word or set of words is different: should, would, will, can, maybe, perhaps … all words that combined with a look, and body language may make someone believe they mean ‘yes’ or they mean ‘no’. So do you, in such situations act or do nothing? Language can have us sitting on the fence. Is this what academics do? Forever transitory between the commercial world where decisions are paramount?

‘Enculturation is what people do in learning to speak, read, and write, or becoming school children, office workers, researchers and so on’. Brown et al (1989:32-33).

I loathe the word ‘enculturation’ as I only ever come across it in reports/conversations such as these. As all learning, in all its stages becomes readily available and transparent I wonder if such words, indeed any jargon or acronyms are justified? It is possible to be intelligent without cluttering your sentences with ‘big words’ or sounding patronising. Try it; it’s habit forming. Like all education.

‘Given the chance to observe and practice in situ the behaviour of members of a culture, people pick up on relevant jargon, imitate behaviour, and gradually start to act in accordance with its norms’.

I read, unless you are born into a middle class family of snobs who deny their roots.

Ambient culture over explicit teaching

‘When authentic activities are transferred to the classroom, their context is inevitably transmuted; they become classroom tasks. The system of learning and using (and, of course, testing) thereafter remains hermetically sealed within the self-confirming culture of the school’. Brown et al (1989:34)

Wherein lies the discord in many school classrooms

The students’ lives are so far removed from the school experience that they cannot behave. They could and will only learn if they do so within the context of their family lives. How many families sit around together, in front of the piano, or radio, or TV, let alone at the dining room table? Children don’t sit still, physically or mentally. They occupy their own space both online and off. No wonder they take laptops into lectures. And can they blog, and send messages while sitting through a lecture? Probably. They could even stream it live to someone who can’t make it … or just record it for later consumption (or not). Not being the operative word, what they can grab of it in transit is probably as much as they’ll take in first time through. Just plain folks (JPFs)

I love the idea of JPS

‘Just plain folks’ (JPFs),’ we are told, ‘learn in ways that are quite distinct from what students (in the classroom) are asked to do’. (Jean Lave’s ethnographic studies of learning and everyday activity 1988b). (Weren't JPS a brand of cigaretter, famously branded gold and blank on Forumula 1 Racing cars of the 1970s?)

JPFs are best off as apprentices rather than having to make qualitative changes in school. Brown et al (1989:35)

This is what we do. We label, we index, we give things names. We categorise whether or not there is truth behind the category. I debunk ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’ as concepts wherever I can as false, yet we know what is meant by it, as with ‘Generation Y’ or the ‘Facebook Generation.’ We cannot have a conversation without such terms.

What as a teacher do you make explicit and what implicit?

The problem is that to overcome difficult pedagogic problems you make as much as possible explicit – this is not the way to teach.

Indexical representations which ‘gain their efficiency by leaving much of the context underrepresented or implicit.’ Brown et al (1989:41)

i.e. what you leave out is perhaps more important than what you put in.

Which explains the problem with Wikipedia – it aims to be universal, comprehensive and definitive.

It wants to be the last word on everything, even if the last word is always the next word that is written. From a learning point of view I’d like to launch a moth-eaten version of Wikipedia, the Gouda cheese version that leaves stuff out, that is nibbled at and full of holes.

Why?

Because this will get on your goat and prompt you to engage with the content, to correct it, to fill in the gaps. Can someone write an app to do this?

To go in and remove sentences, replace the right word with the wrong one, a wrong date/place with the facts currently given?

'Communication is essential to our lives, but how often do we stop to think about where the words we use have come from?'

Henry Hitchings poses this question on the flyleaf of his gloriously informative and entertaining book on the History of English 'The secret life of word. How English became English.' Hitchings (2008)

REFERENCE

Hitchings, H. (2008) The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English.

Brown, J.S., Collins.A., Duguid, P., (1989) Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. Educational Researcher, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Jan. - Feb., 1989), pp. 32-42 American Educational Research Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1176008 . Accessed: 05/03/2011 13:10

 

 

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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: 24 Wk3 Metaphor in Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 8 Nov 2011, 22:15

It could be the subject of of PhD Thesis

Metaphor is the essence of learning, of knowledge transfer, of transmitting ideas, of ideas themselves, of innovation and creativity.

We labour it

 

H800%20The%20Nature%20of%20Metaphor%20Fig1%20MORGAN%20GRAB.JPG

Reading Sfard and various other authors/academics and philosophers ... and a neuroscientist I draw my own conclusions in relation to learning in general and e-learning in particular.

Metaphor%20Overlap%20in%20Learning.jpg

 

The first image is from Gareth Morgan. The explanation of how metaphor is used, and potentially abused (or simply confused) is clear. 'Man is a lion. He is a lion because he is brave.'

We permit poetic licence

We then move on to the idea of what I am calling (for want of a metaphor) Stage 1 Learning, that necessary first step where the person learning needs to acquire 'stuff,' where knowledge is imparted or experienced. This might be a lecture, a talk, a video, a book. Acquisition for me is not the metaphor, it is the description of what is occurring. I cannot see 'acquisition.' I can see someone at a supermarket check-out 'acquiring' goods, I can even visualise the 'sausage machine' concept/cartoon of information/knowledge being ground out of books and deposited in a person's head.

Moving on to Stage 2 Learning (though it could be any stage 2 through to infinity) we have a tool of learning, 'participation.' Here, once again, I understand an adjective describing actual participation, as demonstrated in the John Seely Brown lecture, of students working together at a table (round of course), with those on the 'periphery' taking part tangentially while those in the middle are the primary 'actors.' THIS is learning in the Congo Rain Forest to get honey from the top of a tree, this is learning above the Arctic Circle to cut blow-holes to harpoon seals ... this is how 'man' has always learned. a) where's the new thinking? b) is 'participation' a metaphor, or simple an adjective?

For me participation is the end of term play, the Christmas Panto, working on a student newspaper, blog or TV magazine show.

To use metaphor suggests improving communication of ideas and doing so in a persuasive and memorable way. There are cliched metaphors. They lose currency through over use. Educators appear to be stuck in a rut on this one, regurgitating old ideas.

 

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