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DD210 and DE100 2015 - 16: Tutor Blog Posts

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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Tuesday, 22 Sep 2015, 08:19

Hi groups

I am very committed to the idea that teachers should primarily be learners, so I will put hints about my own learning from and about the content of DD210 and DE100 here for you to comment on as you wish.

Note that this is a public space so do not refer to the names and personal details of others in the group or elsewhere here in your comments. If you want to devise and share your own blog space do it here by sharing the link with us.

The other material in the blog relates to my own study on the MA in Open and Distance Learning and is not meant as a model for your practice - stick to the guidance given for TMAs in the module.

Again, have a great year!

All the best


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A blog on Reading my own blogs - what have I learned?

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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Wednesday, 9 Sep 2015, 22:01

Extract from TMA04

Owning Up to Blogs

During H800 to date, I completed 9 blog postings (Bamlett 2015). My first related to the course itself and to anxieties about being observed, monitored and judged. As a direct response to a design initiative it focused on an identity that was neither certain nor, at this point, developing – seeing intervention from the module design structure and personnel, and perhaps even peers, mainly as a ‘challenge’ without any particular dynamic of development that ‘learning’ requires. Hence the writer and picture-maker here takes distanced metaphoric identification with a manipulated learning ‘subject’, a rat in a Skinner box (Figure E) that is explicitly compared to the ‘experimental subjects’ of an early version of H800 reported by Conole (2013), one of the module’s earliest design authors. Bayne (2004) makes an appearance but only the negative and fearful identifications that I found there:

‘the subject of study: yourself, yourself in groups, yourself opting out of groups’. 

The term ‘subject’ is less affirmative of ‘self’ here than it is subjected and enclosed by controls. There is a hint of the narrative to follow – the sense that what controls, by overseeing and monitoring is not just course design features and other support mechanisms (that sometimes don’t look like support) but a self-regulating avatar:

‘detecting things in my own behaviours that I wasn’t all that fully aware of before’.

Looking at that now, this ghostly self-monitor is the self-regulating capacity that the course was aiming to bring into being as one of the products of ‘learning’.

There is no even development in the learning in these blogs. Later ones set myself tasks in order to explore blogging itself (a review of Taylor 2014 and Tkacz 2015, a summary of a technology used in my current teaching F2F that was new to me or tasks developed from the module activities). In retrospect, it feels to me that there is open experimentation here not only with blog but different varieties of self-display and authorial role, which occasionally do not derive from fear and anxiety but playful joy. Tone begins to variegate. In May 25th, the focus is metacognitive: on changing ‘selves’ as product of learning that is neither playful nor fearful but merely an emergent and more rational subjectivity judging more fairly the support systems around its growth:

“this is a matter not only of personal identity – but how we should think about personal identity - … one way the self changes is in learning more appropriate ways of assessing (judging) its own judgements.”

These issues feedback from experiences in forums and interactions, including feedback from TMA02, which had explored ‘self-display’ constraints in the group and self. However, now with partners in a learning process that are beginning to be highly esteemed, the process is meta-cognitive (a way of thinking about how thinking happens). On 27 June, after a conscious decision to return to blogging, now with more positivity, the post feeds forward to the concerns of TMA04, reflects forum discussion but also situating parts of my own life-narrative in that process without a disabling sense of threat about facilitating your own observance by others – perhaps even greater comfort with, and less fear of, self-judgements.

Hence on the 3rd July, I chose to make my own failure in a wiki task part of the learning process for myself and others. Fuelled by feed-forward to TMA05, it also opened self to later reflection BY self AND others. The last piece to date (19 July) alluded to elements of my autobiography (some of which would be recognised ONLY by those closest to me (who were not reading them) and myself) and blending within them elements of self I valued – the love of literature, language (now feeding forward to E854) and the world of co-production (which for me meant teaching I was doing elsewhere on the Social Care Act UK 2014).

I might now reify this process as ‘metacognitive autopoesis (self-making)’, were I not still hesitant about regarding the survival of the emergent product through change. However, there is a recognizable narrative here of a learner growing into ownership of a rich kind, aware that that ownership owes much to, and is still buttressed by, collaboration with others, and, particularly moderator support.

Of course, this analysis does not facilitate my full ownership of the records of that process. The OU holds personal blogs accessible to its learners on its LMS for 3 years after study ends. Of course these could be transferred to an independent blog provider but that might break the important sense of historical connection of self to other(s). Anderson (2006) shows that such narratives facilitate coming to terms with ‘owning’ one’s own process of self-owning, and its ‘persistence’ across metamorphoses:

“Persistence: The reflective posting of a blog are a digital record of the learning process. They can be an integral part of the lifelong learning accomplishment and e-portfolio of the learner. They should not disappear at the end of a course.”

 In this essay I discussed various forms in which ‘ownership’ of learning is judged relative to a number of stakeholders. One of these Stakeholders remains to be discussed in a pending EMA – the products and process of participatory and co-productive groupwork.  In looking at the tension between the claims of LMS and PLE to provide a route to ownership, the ‘autopoetic’ and ‘metacognitive’ function of one Web 2.0 tool has been analysed in relation to what it might show about how, and whether, I ‘own’ my ‘own’ learning. This is not a completed task and may not be till mortality is fulfilled.

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Stahl (2006) on Group Cognition

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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Monday, 17 Aug 2015, 19:44

Figure 1: Stahl (2006:237) diagram of the Cycle of knowing

Stahl's model of the cycle of knowing or 'group cognition' shows the necessary and intrinsic link between the processes of 'personal knowing' and the processes of 'collaborative knowing', which he also terms 'group cognition'. The evidence for the existence of the dual linked processes here, Stahl finds primarily in 'interaction analysis', a refinement of 'conversation analysis'. The evidence used comes from the methods and theories of many academic disciplines and 'involves issues of pedagogy, software design, technical implementation, cognitive theories, social theories, experimental method, working with teachers and students, and the practicalities of recording and analyzing (sic.) classroom data (246).'

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EMA (H800 at the OU) - Learning how not to do it!

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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Tuesday, 11 Aug 2015, 09:09

In the rubric to the EMA task set, we are told that the segmented directive tasks historically produce good work from students but that some may find it over-specified. I'm beginning to see some of the problems here.

The killer is that this piece, given its specification, is actually quite short. Given that Part A and B both require 2 technologies, you have say 1250 words to describe for Part A the 'main uses' of each and evaluate them against these uses. That is a big ask and some selectivity is going to be required and concision.

My immediate concern is that larger issues are hard to 'fit in', though they seem important. For instance, I've been pondering how to think of evaluating strengths and weaknesses of its 'uses'. How do I distinguish between creative and innovative affordances of a technology and the technology itself? Which am I evaluating? Strengths and weaknesses really seem to belong to the interaction between the technology, its application within a teaching and learning design and serendipitous factors that might emerge as it is used - not to the technology per se.

I don't think I can explore that in 1,250 words and there will have to be some very some SMART thinking about how to frame this issue which addresses the issues economically without reducing the task to a functional list. The answer might lie in being clear about what is meant by your 'experience' of the technology - how has that experience opened up strong uses in teaching and learning design that can be made of the particular technology. What were its deficits? Are they intrinsic deficits or ones that can be changed by a) improvements in the teaching and learning designs or b) in the potential evolution of the technology for change in its own nature. Thus, at a certain historical moment - a weakness of some Wiki applications is the integration of features like charts and graphics but, although this problem persists in the OU wiki it doesn't in other versions of the wiki that are discussed in the literature.

Even then vast areas for potential exploration grow. HOW do you learn to be selective here - to specify the project even more than it is already. I'm struggling with this!

My past is a bit mixed academically but now I'm retired I have reverted to an old-fashioned expository style, trying to enjoy describing things again, especially things that were before outside my experience. I'm used to writing myself into a topic - getting immersed into it but that has dangers here of getting lost in its newness to you and the joy of discovery of what, to other people, are already probably quite standard ideas.

Below is how I started on wikis. I quite enjoyed it but it isn't addressing the issues. To exorcise it, I'm including this false start in my blog  as a self-warning: SELECT, SPECIFY, BE DIRECT and therefore concise. Learn how to 'park' certain questions for later reflection.


"WHAT are Wikis?

A backward-looking discipline like etymology seems a poor place to begin definition of 'emergent' phenomena like software learning applications, but in this case it is necessary. Whilst few still attempt to use the false etymology of wiki as an acronym ('what-I-know-is'), it can still be found in Gomes and Sousa (2013:627), probably as a result of confusion of the prototypical format of wiki software with the encyclopaedic ambitions ofWikipedia. As the latter flourished, it began to retrospectively validate the 'bacronym'. However, although semantic connections to the aggregation of personal knowledge in wiki work, and are of some interest to teaching and learning: they are also pedagogically misleading.

wiki wiki bus

The term was adopted by Howard Cunningham for his new WikiWikiWeb after he learned about the fast shuttle service (Fig A.) serving the airport at Hawaiia: in Hawaiian, it means 'quick', and when 'doubled', 'very quick' (Oxford 2015). Hence the associations are with perceived pace of time and connection not with personal knowledge aggregation per se. It is this act of attaining personal association within a larger group, without the constraints usually posed by the time taken to bring about human interactions at a distance that should, and will, occupy us more in what follows. Linking people up very quickly from the moment of serendipitous contact with output from one by another is the essence of asynchronous media (where time as constraint is not a significant factor in cementing the link)."

So bye-bye bus and languorous exploration. Time to relearn how this might be done!

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Steve Bamlett, Tuesday, 11 Aug 2015, 09:18)
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INGRAHAMDum defeated by JONESDee - or is there a better way to discuss! A Blog

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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Sunday, 19 Jul 2015, 15:00

INGRAHAMDum defeated by JONESDee - or is there a better way to discuss! A Blog

Steve Bamlett H800 (BTG)

 This piece really requires Fig A for its effect as an Alice satire. However, the picture was big - so see attached Word file version if you are at all interested.

Is academic debate over-pugnacious in its attempt to win the argument! I think it is if the aim of each side is to just knock each other's blocks off. As I read Ingraham's side of the debate, I find a desire to 'compete and win' in it that I equate with 'academic' traditions at their worst. Not that I think 'Ingraham' is being bad - just following an academic culture of getting one over on my competitor for the attention and publication space it wins me, like, I have to say many others in the business. I do not see the same impetus in Jones: whose tone is calming and participative - and aims to a greater understanding of how to describe the emergent and (as yet) unclassified forms of co-production and co-regulation facilitated by new technologies.

In a sense this is because Jones understands metaphor as an emergent factor in the development of communicative language, whilst Ingraham does not even attempt to do so. I am not sure the latter would even consider the nature of language important, as both Jones and Engeström clearly do.

For Ingraham this debate is a binary matter. My metaphor is bigger / better / more enhanced than yours (come off it boys!).

It is a 'debate' about how to describe innovative ways of participation and co-production made available by Web 2.0 / 3.0 (or whatever other metaphor you prefer). We need metaphor because otherwise we would strain to find a SINGLE concept that can express what these forms are. After all, if such a concept existed, it would mean that the 'emergent' forms are not emergent at all. They would have to have already have EMERGED to be named.

It's not a 'network with nodes', says IngrahamDUM, 'it's a rhizome: anyway people aren't nodes they are agents and decision-makers'. JonesDEE might have retorted, 'No! They are not rhizomes they are networks with nodes.' But he does not fall into that binary - yes or no - trap. Metaphors are not meant to express a judgement about the nature of a 'thing' in one word or picture - they are provisional and loose. We use them when we do not know yet what the thing we want to express is. We are not even sure it is a thing. That is why Jones talks about the 'reifying' nature of the way Ingraham approaches metaphor - he thinks metaphor is a statement about a thing (the 're' in reifying is from the Latin for thing). We may need to ensure that people know when we use metaphor it is a 'loose usage' (Jones 2004b:190), because that is HOW LANGUAGE ALWAYS USES METAPHORS. Look at the perfect way, Jones uses knowledge of comparative language to make the point, whilst discussing the metaphoric use of the word, 'node'.

"node can be applied at various levels in what may be described, like the Internet itself, as a network of networks. ... node in English derives from a biological reference to growth points in plants. In French the word is 'noeud' and derives from knot, suggesting a less particular interpretation of what a node might be (ibid.)”.

Metaphors apply complex pictures and ideas that sometimes have to be very loose alternatives for each other not precise placed (or topological) contestants and co-debaters. Their effect is to work with not against each other precisely because what they try to express is (as yet, at least) inexpressible in ordinary language. The same could be said of good poetry. When Shakespeare wants to show the beauty that might have lay under the monster Caliban in The Tempest became, he makes his experience a compound of the most beautiful metaphors:

"Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that vie delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometimes voices,
That if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again, and then in dreaming
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again."
(Act 3, Scene 2)

Jones too is very aware of what language is - sounds yearning to escape conventional meanings they take on when hardened into words. The only refuge is for words and meanings to play loosely with each other until we begin to know what they might be made to mean. Then meaning emerges for acquisition or appropriation for a short time at least. Metaphor, he claims, is about its function in creating meaning out of novel experience.

I believe Engeström (2007) does the same. His essay, as if aware (as I think Engeström is) of the debate above, does not say the fungal life form, 'mycorrhizae' is the true metaphor to replace 'rhizome'. He sees it as a continuation of the 'play' (and the tone is very playful) by showing that the emergent and unspoken potentials of new forms of communication (his instance being the co-production involved in the 'open source software community') are as yet indescribable in any one way - even one metaphor (however fancy). Thus what it yearns to describe is a 'runaway object': it runs away before it can be 'grasped' (in the metaphoric sense of that dead metaphor).

The object is at the same time a product and a project: it does useful work for users, yet it is unfinished, full of challenges and continuously developed further. (ibid:52)'

Meanwhile three cheers for JonesDEE for a short time. The Jabberwock you killed is the hydra of over-literal thought. IngrahamDUM will however live to see another day and another light.


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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Tuesday, 11 Aug 2015, 09:28


Below is the original text. However, the experiment was based on ignorance of the affordances of the OU Wiki. In fact I thought this the only way to test them. To see failure in its full glory, connect to the wiki trial:

PS. On the 4th July and in order to get a personal outcome (usable for teaching in October), I edited the Wiki page to add an alternative format - for my own learning ONLY. I've also attached Word file for table version.


I'm leaving the text below as it was (bar correcting any typos / spelling errors found) out of interest for me. I might even reflect on all this in EMA.

A WIKI Exercise.

Learning Outcomes:

The learner will:

Demonstrate the ability to choose or write a number of statements that predict features of the role of a teacher in 2030.

Express a measure of their confidence in that statement.

Justify in one brief sentence their level of expressed confidence.

Elaborate on the statements in one brief sentences.

Collaboratively work to a choice of the 5 statements in which the group as a whole have most confidence.

Evaluate the learning, if any, involved in this exercise.

Suggest changes to improve the exercise or create an alternative exercise.


The Task

Stage 1

Learners have been instructed to establish a group view of what the teacher's role will predominantly involve in 15 years.

They will produce facilitate a wiki to collect statements that express statements about the key features of a teacher's role in 2030, together with an expression of their confidence about their prediction, an explanation of that confidence and any additional elaboration of the points.

In order to facilitate brief expression, the statements must be able to be written (such that they can be read) on a template that restricts the space for expression.

Some statements will be provided in a 'Model Doc'. The 'Model Doc' will also contain a template for new contributions of statements originating from the learner or their reading. The completed template can be copied into the 'Data Collection Wiki'. See 'Model Doc' (attached).

This task will be available for one week only before Stage 2.

Stage 2

If possible from the data achieved in the Data Collection Wiki the 5 statements in which the mean confidence of the group is highest (where H = 99, M = 66 & L = 33) will be selected into one master document (perhaps another wiki OR a Word document).

If selection is not automatically possible the team will participate to agree a mode of selection of the 5 statements representing the group's most confident predictions.


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The Ownership of Learning: issues related to conceptualising ‘learning’ as a product

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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Tuesday, 11 Aug 2015, 09:20

The Ownership of Learning: issues related to conceptualising 'learning' as a product

This contribution owes something to a distinction drawn in Ian Derbyshire's contribution to the Ownership thread in Bob Kemp's Tutor Group Forum Week 19. As I write this, I begin to recall that my language here, that of 'debt', is itself not unrelated to the idea of who 'owns' an idea. However, rather than pursue this now, I wanted to 'take' (suddenly a thief) Ian's distinction between learning considered as either:

  1. A process, or;

  2. A product.

I fully agree with Ian's distinction and use this agreement (and my attribution of his 'right' to the original ownership of the idea enables me, I take it, to understand that I have been contracted to use that idea).

However, I want here to concentrate solely on three ways in which the idea of 'ownership' has been relevant to my experience (as a learner and teacher) of 'learning' considered only in in its character as 'product'.

  1. Ownership as a Right

    1. 'Ownership' is the name that can be given to the belief that I have certain rights in relation to something I possess. For instance, a slave-owner believes they have the right not only to use the mental and bodily talents of a slave but also to alienate by sale or dispose of in other ways, by overuse or wanton destruction, that possession. The choice of example here is deliberately stark, but it would be equally true if the possession were a 'pen', whose capacities I turn to my advantage till I tire of it or wear out its non-sustainable resources.

    2. I can lend my possession to others or permit the reproduction of its content without giving up these rights. I may contractually require acknowledgement from the person to whom I lend my ideas that they are 'mine', either by financial return or statement of attribution of the fact of my ownership. Therein lies the basis of the right we call 'legal copyright', and therein lies the basis of 'referencing' systems in academic work. We use the ideas at the cost of formal attribution.

    3. I have illustrated this by acknowledging a debt to Ian above. The process is however, unless we believe that an idea is 'original' in its entirety, endless with each borrowing from a writer entailing a series of other borrowings. Do I have to also acknowledge the sources of Ian's idea for instance, and so on - potentially ad infinitum?


  2. Ownership as a label

    1. If I own something I label it as 'mine' (rather than 'yours' or 'hers' or theirs). In terms of ideas I usually use the words 'I' and 'my' to express the fact that they belong to me.

    2. Academic language, despite the demand for attribution by referencing of 'taken' ideas to others, restricts the use of 'I' and 'my' in relation to concepts or observations, demanding third-person recounting. Fay (1996:216ff.) attributes this convention to the demand academic writing has historically made of itself to represent the world 'objectively'. This paradigm is questioned now. Fay (ibid) argues that it hides the fact that all 'inquiry is inevitably perspectival, and its results inherently partial and interested.' Knowledge presented in the third-person is precisely knowledge without a label of ownership (and herein lies some more of the academic's anxiety about adequate referencing). It is, Fay suggests, knowledge offered without the accountability of its originator being openly acknowledged. Of course, many academic methods nowadays (although it wasn't the case when I was young) recommend 'reflection' and 'reflexivity' as means of re-instating the accountability of authorship. However, such practices rarely descend below higher under-graduate work and cause anxiety even then in students accustomed to hearing the prohibition against 'I' in essays as if it were an inner voice.

    3. So what is that to do with technology? The strange relationship between academia and Wikipedia is worth considering in this respect. Wikipedia has become the home and defender, almost as a defence against academic criticism of it, of the 'neutral point of view'. Is such a view an abjuration of 'ownership' of knowledge by individuals or an irresponsible lack of accountability in the statement of 'original' ideas? Wikipedia eradicated the problem by banning 'original' material.


  3. Ownership as statement of taking responsibility for a larger tradition or a 'fashion'.

    1. When I first went into social work, I remember a manager saying to me that I had to take 'ownership' of words as they are understood in the profession - words such as 'assessment' for instance that it is not used in the way educators used it then. What this suggests to me on reflection is that 'professionals' take on that role and persona by 'owning' its specialist language. It was in that spirit that in 2005, I trained in primary care mental health at Teesside University.

    2. In my first assessed essay, we were invited to contextualise anxiety and depression (the areas of specialist training we underwent) in relation to practices in primary care. For me that meant, I thought, 'owning' a relationship to the language of medical practice. In one point I referred to the 'nosology' of those mental health conditions, a word I confronted in a book by a GP. The word comes from the same Greek root as the second part of the word, 'diagnosis'. It refers to the study of diagnostic categories. When my essay was returned, the feedback referred to my use of 'made-up' words, like 'nosology', which the marker, a former mental health nurse, had never heard. I was mortified - although I never get 'mortified' so easily now.

    3. Challenged later, the marker said the word was anyway too specialist and too 'technical'. Exception was taken to the use of words originating in classical languages. I take this point, since as a mental health worker I would not use the word to a person using the service. However, how would I 'read' books from the medical tradition without 'owning' it, at least in part?

    4. The problem does not go away. When I was taught grammar in the 1960s, teachers stressed the heinous nature of using an 's' to pluralize words from Latin like 'forum'. The true plural must be (they forced me to 'own'), as in Latin, 'fora'. Now, such uses are themselves frowned on and seen as incorrect and the tendency is to 'disown' them. This one is a big worry for me on H800 'forums'J. However Latinate plurals continue to exist in English (flora, fauna, agenda, and data) but only when the singular of those words (agendum and datum in particular) is rarely used - or seen, more often, as a lexical error. The lesson: do not try to 'own' a classically derived vocabulary and grammar - indeed 'disown' it and 'own' modernity. In the end knowledge becomes this way reduced to a form of higher 'fashion' where what you own gives you away - anyone got any bell-bottom jeans out there?

Those are my reflections.

All the best



Fay, B. (1996) Contemporary Philosophy of Social Science Oxford, Blackwell Publishing.

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Mobile Learning makes the Boundaries of the Subjects you study mobile too!

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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Friday, 13 Nov 2015, 18:32

Technology-focused changes in pedagogy: the 'affordances' and potential meanings in the term, 'mobile learning'?

Sharples et. al (2005) say that 'mobile learning' is not just about the hardware devices we possess and the software we access through them but about a re-definition of learning. They do this by employing a very wide definition of 'mobility'. For them learner mobility covers the learner's journeys through both space and time but also between different learning projects and topics. In short 'mobile learning' is learning that is not fixed and static in localised space but multiform and distributed across wide expanses of:

  • Time;

  • Geographical Distance;

  • Roles in our life in a specific time phase;

  • Roles in our life over the whole lifespan including life transitions (becoming a parent and so on);

  • Subjects we study;

  • Use of technologies and 'non-technological' learning;

  • And, the projects in which we access learning formally and informally.

If that is so, learning is not only about 'where' we learn but what we learn and how 'what we learn' is defined. Academic subjects tend to have some specific 'standard' forms based on the 'rules' of the academic discipline. Yet how were such rules and boundaries constructed?

I think Kukulska-Hulme (2012) helps us here by looking at how mobile learning can and does impact on learning a language. We are used to thinking of language study as located in rules governing certain sub-domains, the rules of grammar guiding language syntax for instance. This is only the rule however in areas of study which are not guided by academic linguists. Teaching outside linguistics has been hooked on rules for punctuation, for instance that are often claimed to be commonly misused in academic essays. In any school or college in English-speaking regions there will be at most times a conversation about 'students' not using apostrophes correctly.

But how stable are such rules. It was only in the eighteenth century that rules for punctuation began to be rigidly codified and considered as part of a set of principles through which English language use ought to be organised. This does not mean that it was then or now actually organised like that. The periodic sentence was the invention of an elite - concerned to see language as a hierarchical ordering principle like that they associated with good governance in other realms.

Although this grossly oversimplifies. I think that one way in which this was done was to organise learning around language on canonical examples and rule books and eventually in static organisations called universities. In universities the standards of 'grammar' could be located again as a principle to organise others. There is a reason for the name of 'grammar' schools, which were so essential to state education in the twentieth century.

What Kukulska-Hulme shows us is that mobile learning not only defines where we study language and for what purposes - as we drive our taxi around Athens for instance - but what we learn, which is now defined by shifting and highly flexible variants, defined not by 'standard' rules but local applications. What passes as 'correct' in such circumstances will be very adaptable indeed to the places, times, roles and so on through which we pass. What seems to be suggested is that what defined 'language' in the past - standard rules and lexical categories - will be without function when they are no longer defined by a single static curriculum. And what are academic disciplines but boundaries put around knowledge that are policed and maintained by people recognised (and 'qualified') as experts. This is a wonderful sentence:

"..., language learning can escape the traditional constraints of place and time that partly determine existing curricula, which focus largely on what can be achieved and tested at home or in the classroom” (Kukulska-Hulme 2012:10).

I think it is a wonderful sentence because it enforces a truth, quite delicately I think, that constraints of time and place sometimes define and create boundaries around what you are learning - what the topic in itself IS - not only the locations once thought appropriate to learning. Static learning helped to construct static rules in other words - a kind of standardisation in language that is entirely alien to any 'genuine' experience of even a single language when it becomes subject to mobile learning. As you shift in zones of time, space, role and subject-matter then the rules change with you. No-one ever grasps a language really without grasping that.

For practical tips on MALL see:



Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2012) ':anguage learning defined by time and place: A framework for next generation designs' in Díaz-Vera, J.E. (ed.) Left to My own devices: Learner Autonomy and Mobile Assisted Language learning: Innovation and Leadership in English Language Teaching, 6. Bingley, Emerald Publishing, pp. 1 - 13.

Sharples, M., Taylor, J., Vavoula, G. (2005) 'Towards a Theory of Mobile Learning' - Accessed via link in Study Materials.

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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Tuesday, 11 Aug 2015, 09:21

I found the transcript (and the short clip) of Boud's lecture really fascinating.

The stress on fostering 'reflexivity  and self-regulation' (p. 22 of transcript) in learners about the nature and functions of assessment seems central, as is the central idea of the primacy of 'judgement' over 'assessment'. Judgement is seen as a collective and collaborative activity, as it inevitably is in any 'practice' situation, outside of the judicial system - where final decisions are a matter of both convenience and necessity rather than truth.

The stress on collaborative nature of judgement is less important than the implications of co-construction of the assessment domain, the assessment task and judgements about what constitutes competence in performing the task in that domain. Boud uses Seely Brown's word 'genuine' (p. 23) to express the nature of such judgement - in that this is how professionals make judgements in situations where inter-disciplinarity and inter-professionalism are necessities (of course as a social worker at heart I'd instance  safeguarding or support provision).

I loved the richness of the implication that collaborative and co-constructional work means more than involving people in 'self-assessment', even though that too is necessary (p. 20). The section on 'disaggregating' the surrogate role of sole assessor held by university lecturers is fascinating:

"we need to think about what are the appropriate communities of judgement that students need to engage with, to be, to think about, to take account of, and position themselves with respect to. ... What is the appropriate community of judgement for any kind of activity?" (p. 21).

And how great to be able at last to query the satisfactoriness of psychometric measures and the authoritative hold they have on the area - now seen (p. 21) as a 'mere frippery.'

The way I understand this is that self-assessment cannot be enough because it assumes that the 'self' that started the journey constituted by any challenging activity is the same 'self' as that which emerges. But, of course it isn't - even if only in that defines its boundaries in relation to the rest of the community in different ways - ones impacted upon by the collaboration in the task and co-construction of outcomes that it involved. This is a matter not only of personal identity but how we should think about personal identity - perhaps in a more open and less bounded way. And one way the self changes is in learning more appropriate ways of assessing (judging) its own judgements.

If learning has been active, the self-judgements people make of self and its relation to collaborators and the outcomes learned will always be rather different from learning outcomes set beforehand. This also means that assessment criteria will have developed - will involve more and more personnel than you might be aware of when you start.

QAA Standardisation - it's going nowhere compared to this. Its function might seem to be just a matter of convenience - creating more barriers between them (who we want to yearn to know what we know) and us (who think we already know it).




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Week 12: Exercise 4

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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Tuesday, 11 Aug 2015, 09:29

Then share your views in the forum, and/or make notes in your blog, about the following issues:

What do you think is the likely impact of this technology on the students’ perceptions of the quality of their modules, their approaches to studying and their academic performance?

The technology I am going to refer to is the use of a Ladibug device. This slim piece of hardware looks like a desk lamp with a large plastic ladybird as its head. It is operated through companion software and is therefore connected to the PC and any existing OHP. In Bishop Auckland HE Centre this is a ceiling set OHP.

Lumens' LadibugThe Ladibug once activated projects an image of any document placed below it at great and very clear magnification. It appears to self-focus (certainly I did nothing to achieve a clear image).

This allows an A4 page completed by a student or student group to be projected for the purpose of a group or individual presentation. Of course tutors can with this share textual or graphic documents or put up a stimulus for an exercise.

It is promoted by the college as an alternative to the use of flip-chart paper and pens for group presentations.

The advantage of this device is that it is an easily learnable device that can put students in control of elements of a teaching plan, reporting back from private study or sharing a stimulus with their work group or whole class. Images can be captured and later distributed either electronically or printed.

When I used it for group work I was disappointed. An A4 sheet is insufficiently communal and groups tended to atomise rather than cohere around it as I have seen happen with flip-chart paper and pen. I think in future I would ask students to prepare a segment of the whole page based on a master-plan which the group would re-assemble (making group changes) at the end. My fear is that group work in F2F events may lose coherence.

What do you think is the likely impact of this technology on the teachers’ perceptions of their teaching context and their approaches to teaching?

It might increase the use of shared stimulus (text or graphic) without recourse to a photocopier and emphasise the need for literature search. However Ladibug does capture images, so complex stimuli can be given out at the ends of class or sent to an email distribution list. Think of the cost savings on printing, colleges!

Teachers may see the Ladibug as like the conch in Lord of Flies since who holds it has the 'floor' and this may cause more democratic (or less autocratic) teaching practices to emerge!

Do you think this technology embodies particular assumptions about the nature of teaching and learning in higher education? 

In this case no, since its use rather than its nature will determine the nature of T & L. As with any other technology, it is a slave rather than a master of 'learning design!'

If so, what are these assumptions? Are they likely to promote more positive perceptions, more desirable approaches to studying and better performance on the part of the students?

Given my (convenient) view on the question above, there is less to say here. I do think learning design the prior thing, so much so that its role is iterative - review of LD leads to redesign and so on, ad infinitum.

So having less to say than I thought, I'd like to share a resource (from St. Clair, R. (2015) Creating Courses for Adults: Design for Learning San Francisco, Jossey-Bass p. 150) - my book at bed-time.



Table 1: Selected Teaching Methods




Small Groups

Whole Group

The model is surely, Steve thinks at least, about the combination of   different forms of PARTICIPATION and ACQUISITION. Both can happen in any   social group size.


See Danny’s comments on Ex. 2 Week 12














Problem Solving


Case Studies


Twitter comments

Collective curriculum




Collective response

Role plays


Q & As

This model is LED by task and the combination of tasks into whole   design. The table shows how different methods could be used in places where they might be meet a task requirement.

Steve disagrees with some of the placements (surely Wikidocs are, at  best, not ‘individual’) but we have seen problems with this elsewhere in H800. However, the base words (e.g. respond) really get to the nitty-gritty of design



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Exercise 4_c - I hope - Cost effectiveness of a MOOC aimed at older people and their carers in North East England

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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Tuesday, 11 Aug 2015, 09:29

•In your tutor group forum, discuss the elearning initiatives that you thought about above. Discuss the factors you included in your cost-benefit analysis. Compare them with the factors that other members of your group used. What were common, and what were specific to the context or the programme?

Do they have common characteristics that help to make them cost-effective?

For my contribution, I am reviewing a course that would have been useful for me as a social worker working with older people and for teaching therein.

This MOOC is offered from the Centre on Ageing at Newcastle University and is directed at service users, their informal and formal carers and professionals. It is called:

Ageing Well: Falls (FutureLearn)

It can be accessed on:


The aim of the course is to reduce the personal and social costs associated with frequent falling by instituting awareness of the factors that lead to falls. It teaches how preventative strategies can be put in place. The aim is to empower the persons most at risk from falls. It will also involve considerable saving in costs related to the community, professional referral, as well as costs to hospital and home care and support provision. on the evidence it will  contribute to longevity.

It utilizes, ‘the knowledge and experience of … the award winning Falls and Syncope Service (FASS) at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary - the largest unit of its kind in Europe, recognised internationally for its innovative work in the field of falls and blackouts'.

The evidence of large scale cost- savings to health services, individuals, families and professional and community resources (home care, aids, nursing resources) is suggested by the followiong:

“Every day in the UK, almost 10,000 people aged over 65 will fall down. The personal costs are staggering, with falls resulting in injury, broken bones, fear of falling and social isolation.”

A less ambitious programme was offered in one of my old haunts, The London Borough of Houslow, and evaluated in 2009. See:


I discovered am older paper on approaches to cost –benefit analysis moreover by Watts et. al. (2008), that covered more traditional approaches for people with Parkinson’s (who are very much at risk of frequent falls) which can be accessed on:


It is clear from this that the social benefits of reduced falling as a result of physical training intervention (progressive resistance strength training and movement strategy training) are immense. The paper recommends using a number of indirect benefit - cost criteria (benefit - cost ‘per fall’ in two categories of seriousness and benefit - cost ‘per quality adjusted life years saved’)l. However these traditional programs have considerable direct costs (Watts et. al. 2008:4).


If we compare the ability to minimise and eradicate such costs BETWEEN such traditional programmes and online MOOC provision, like that in Newcastle, the picture appears to me to resemble – and perhaps to copy exactly – Bassi’s (2000) chart – see below (fig. 1):

Fig. 1: A worksheet demonstrating potential reductions of cost between traditional falls training and the Newcastle MOOC. (A * indicates areas where costs might be made negligible or absent over the time of the project)


More Traditional Provision (Watts   et.al. 2008)

Ageing Well: Falls (FutureLearn)


Fixed Cost

Marginal Costs

Fixed Cost

Marginal Costs

Direct Cost





Professional Trainers’ compensation





Aids /Adaption providers &  vendors





Materials, development





Materials, production





Materials, distribution















Travel (Ambulance type) expenses





Administrative support





Indirect Cost





Patient / Carer compensation










Opportunity Cost






This illustration is likely to be applicable as a direct result of MOOC provision and represent benefit – cost surpluses to individuals at risk, their carers, familires, community health and social services, secondary health services and other stakeholders yet unidentified.


Bassi, L. (2000) ‘How much does e-learning cost’ in LineZine (Fall 2000) available from: http://www.linezine.com/2.1/features/lbhmec.htm (accessed 1/5/15).

Future Learn (2014) ‘Ageing Well: Falls’ from MOOC List available from: https://www.mooc-list.com/course/ageing-well-falls-futurelearn (accessed 1/5/15).

Hounslow (2009) Older Peoples’ Falls Strategy Hounslow, London Borough of Hounslow, available from http://www.hounslow.gov.uk/older_peoples_falls_strat.pdf  (accessed 1/5/15).

Watts, J.J., McGinley, J.L., Huxham, F., Menz, H.B., Iansek, R., Murphy, A.T., Waller, E.R. & Morris, M.E. (2008) ‘Cost effectiveness of preventing falls and improving mobility in people with Parkinson disease: protocol for an economic evaluation alongside a clinical trial’ available from: http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2318-8-23.pdf (accessed 1/5/15)




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Openness Examined: Recent Books

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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Tuesday, 11 Aug 2015, 09:21

An informal comparative review of Taylor, A. (2014) The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age London, Fourth Estate & Tkacz, N. (2015) Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

“Openness is a philosophy that can easily rationalize its own failure, chalking people’s inability to participate up to choice… “(Taylor 2014:139)

It is open season, so to speak, on ‘openness’. Both of these important, and very differently orientated, books stress that whether something is described as ‘open’ or ‘closed’ (whether it be a society – as in Popper’s anti-Marxist philosophy – or any other system) is far less important than other features of its political structure and organisation.

Openness in late twentieth-century thought has stood for freedom, radicalism but above all for meritocracy – the notion that in ‘free’ exchanges (whether in a market economy or an internet forum) the best will rise to the top by a process that appears entirely spontaneous and unplanned. Not so, say both writers: Taylor from the perspective of the philosophic and documentary artist and Tkacz from that of an analytic media academic.

Tkacz’s post-modern analysis is careful and astute and argues from close involvement with the most ‘open’ system of all, Wikipedia. Taylor (2014:221) exempts Wikipedia from her strictures about the limits of openness, which makes Tkacz’s (2015;65) argument all the more urgent since he argues, that ‘Wikipedia is defined through the systematic exclusion of certain kinds of knowledge.’ However, based in very urgent cultural struggle it is Taylor that throws out more light, even if of a very diffuse kind. Whilst Tkacz’s argument is controlled and ‘academic’ in its generic conventions, Taylor throws out tough-minded apercus’ of considerable brilliance that ring in the mind and which speak to the H800 experience better than anything I have read:

“Strategically constructing an identity requires a kind of feigned authenticity” (OUCH! – that hurts!) “that involves continual management and monitoring of audience feedback. Self-censorship is inevitable; one must be ‘liked’ above all … It puts a premium on quickness and sensation, on the emotions of anger and awe proven to trigger virality. If slow-moving and sometimes solitary work was always at a disadvantage, now it is even more so.” (Taylor 2014:208)

Hence, she claims that art and certain constructions based in patience and passive experience are its victims. Hence that brilliant pun! ‘Virality’ is a criteria of noisy, timely and crowded success that just nearly sounds like ‘virility’. Taylor’s is a highly sophisticated and gendered argument but it works like art more than it does the philosophers she so admires (and about whom she made very ‘edgy’ documentaries: Zizeck! and Examined Life). Tkacz, with its careful discriminations about conceptions of knowledge and truth in relation to ‘point of view’ and ‘exit’, is another thing, but it has its moments that might sound like Taylor:

“To be ‘well-behaved’ is to produce statements that stick to the topic at hand and the rules in play. Well-behaved statements are ones that ‘find consensus’ and ‘avoid edit-wars.’ (Tkacz 2015:101)

Above all what both point out is that certain aspects of the world as we have known it are at risk and that we allow them to pass without comment at peril to the quality of our lives together.

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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Tuesday, 11 Aug 2015, 09:22

subject of study

Doing the H800 module has been a surprising challenge. This is because I had no real idea of what might be studied. Sometimes it has felt like not only responding to activities, which I'm used to on OU courses, but also to other people's responses to activities and to their response to your response   ... and so on, in a potentially endless cycle. The amount of control on the pace and terms of the study seems so different from other OU experiences. But you get to rather like that.

However, recently I have thought that this is done not just to provide a framework for study but also a framework in which TO BE STUDIED. Suddenly you are the subject of study : yourself, yourself in groups, yourself opting out of groups. This first struck me when I read Baynes (2004) article on the early stages of this course but has done more so when I contacted Grainne Conole's chapter in Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age (the 2013 2nd edition).

Here the data used to explore 'learning design' (the ostensible focus of study in Weeks 8 - 9) was from H800 students. Their use of the exercise became in itself something to be studied.

It makes you aware of how persistently this course makes you aware that your views are observed and evaluated in many different ways. In particular, I, at least, feel that the subject of study is how people respond to such scrutiny as learners. I suppose that is partly because I have, because of the requirement of the module for you to read your own and other's posts and analyse and critically evaluate them as part of the TMAs, felt like I have been detecting things in my own behaviours that I wasn't all that fully aware of before. In observing yourself, you are also observing how you appear to others.

So far I have found this both frightening but also exciting. I wonder sometimes though whether the truth unearthed here is that no learning goes deep if it is not also of yourself, and your functioning - the way you represent yourself, react to representation by others and seek to revise such representations. Hence, perhaps the subject of study is not only some knowledge or skill, experienced alone or in groups, that we aim to see more clearly but also a recognition that 'you' (whatever that means or can be made to mean) are 'the subject of study', at least in part. 

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