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Trying to jog my memory - is 'e-learning' the 'ready meal' of learning?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 7 Jun 2014, 05:42

Fig. 1. Somewhere along Dyke Road yesterday morning I had this thought ...

I had a thought on 'the evil of e-learning' as I drove my daughter to her final A' level exam. She was flicking through some revision notes on cards and intermittently going to her phone to listen to clips of John Donne she was hoping to remember. A bit of e-learning there. I meant to write down the thought but was driving. Six hours later it comes to me again, I write 'e-learning is evil' as the title of one of these posts (I use my student blog as a learning journal and portfolio) and my wife bursts in with some exciting news that I am eager to here and not wanting to be rude I'm sure the thought will wait ... but no, it had gone.

I'm reflecting on this now in the hope that it'll come back to me ... I may have to drive out to my daughter's school simply to see if that jogs my memory. I'd like to think the idea I had was profound, but I've lost it for the moment. I need to get those parts of my brain that were active at the time re-aligned ... 

Four years and seven OU modules and a passing thought about the nature, possibilities and weaknesses of e-learning comes and goes. 

It'll come to me. 

Everything will need to be as it was yesterday. I'm unlikely to have my daughter in the car if I drive out there ... she's done with school smile I guess during the exam she got a text from Glyndebourne to ask if she'd do an afternoon shift which is where her Mum took her in the afternoon - so much for celebrating!

There was something about the moment, reflecting on the end of her secondary education and what she's gained or achieved, the relevance of her circumstances and who she is ... using her iPhone to scroll through podcasts of readings of John Donne ... with sets of handwritten cards. The radio was off; I knew it would have been a distraction. I didn't speak. All the more reason to having given my head the chance to think, where there is a chance there is more activity internally and less competition from external inputs.

Was that it?

E-learning externalising the knowledge and spoon feeding someone else's interpretation of the answer? E-learning as the 'ready meal' of education? That learning the product of a collection of images and impressions? That a tricky quotation my daughter was trying to get to stick, like a PostIt note to the back of her head would forever be associated with the myriad of ways in which she was introduced to the passage, wrote it down, re-wrote it selectively from her A' Level English folder, and was now, in her way, listening to it and reading her handwritten revision card ... and that yes, on quizzing her in the evening over supper she'd referred to the quote as well and was quite chuffed with the whole experience.

This is it.

That e-learning risks stripping out a mass of personalised contexts that make the learning memorable and personal, and even worthwhile. Looking back on my seven modules (so far) with the Open University everything done online (and I have thousands of posts and thousands of screen-grabs and notes on it) on reflection, risks having been very clinical. Not all of it. Not always. But the idea of learning online 'by joining the dots' scares me. What's the use of that?

I'm going to have to go and sit in the car.

If I'm still stuck then when I drive my daughter to work later this morning I may see if any of it comes back to me. There is method to this; I know from years of clawing back dreams, those most wispy of experiences, that the closer you recreate the very moment of thought, the more likely enough parts of your brain will fire up to bring it back ... or, in the neurological sense, to recreate an approximation of the thought. 

We did speak. Something about exams. The stress, value and differentiation in grading of them. She spoke about Lear, I spoke about Hamlet. In the back of my mind I was reflecting on the benefit or otherwise of our children having their parents both together and at home. We've not been sticklers for revision, rather enablers, helping them see the value and need to get on top of their subject, and to help them or allow them to vary the pace by still seeing friends, getting out, some footie or the gym ... I wonder though if streaming TV series and movies back to back will be my son's undoing; yet I recall I would often have had the radio on as my companion to revision. We'll see. I know that what works is the ability to focus; if you want it to the brain will tune out the distractions.

E-learning is massive and complex. It's neither a panacea, nor an absolute. Can it be too clinical though? The context in which we learn, engaging all the senses, has a profound impact on how and if we form a memory and can then keep it.

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H809: Activity 13.1

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 24 May 2013, 11:22

Read pp. 3–8 of Hammersley’s paper, up to the heading ‘Context as virtual’. Identify the ways in which Hammersley talks about context and, in particular, what he identifies as ethnographic understandings of context.

 

In Week 8 context was identified as an issue in research methods generally. How do you think Hammersley addresses the issues concerning context raised in Week 8?

The point made introducing Activity 8.3 is that ‘ Crook and Dymott (2005) adopt a different theoretical approach to learning and context. Hence their research adopts different methodologies compared to the studies discussed by Tolmie.

From Tolmie (2001). Surroundings mean different things to different people. It is naive and deterministic to think that people are so easily governed by their context. The individual over the surroundings. Unless we think students are like a uniform tribal grouping.

‘They are necessarily employed within pre-existing contexts of educational and social activity’. Tolmie (2001) But such ‘contexts’ are or have been radically overhauled, take ESSA in Manchester by way of example. Both how and where the students and teachers interact matters. Rather like product design - form and function. The two are complimentary.

Crook and Dymott (2005) seem focused on the interaction between the various media of life, in particular written texts, lectures and social interactions affect the manner in which we think and express that thinking. Writing to me is a function of the communicating clusters in our brain and will produce the similar ‘comprehension’ results whether cunieform on clay, hieroglyphys on stone, handwriting on papyrus, printing on paper, text on a screen or an annotated animation in a video. The way the brain interlinks with other parts of the brain, and does so in different ways every time a fact is remembered will differ. An item listed on clay will be associated with the act of tapping a hammer into the clay, or an idea expressed via a QWERTY keyboards and printed off might recall the smell of the printer ink .. but does the kernel of the thought differ? To what degree is context the wrapping and associations rather than the information itself?

Learning is both an artefact and a process - the artefact exists as a potential in the brain and when stimulated can in part, through the complexity, be seen in a fMRI scan. The process of learning takes place as an interaction with the world around us, more people, but also the context and ours.

From the recorded memoirs of my late grandfather Jack Wilson, (Vernon, 2008) I wonder how, as an office boy age 14-18 he responded or changed to going from a ‘copy writer’ using 'copying ink' and using carbon paper to using the Blickenfurentstater typewriter that was brought round to the office one morning … and handed to him to master. It intrigues me that even a hundred years ago one generation might hand ‘new technology’ to the youngest member of the team or group … as if we expect the youthful mind and attitude to be more plastic? He lived through a period of extraordinary change - first motorcars, typewriters, telephones, aeroplanes … ‘total war’ … part and parcel (his expression) of these technological innovations were changes in society, not least caused by the First World War. Yet in all of this I can’t see how the context can be isolated from the far more significant influence of the person as an individual or in their community … that historically calamitous events and physical change to the environment fail to have a profound effect, collectively, on who or what we are as humans. Was it Prof. Robert Winston who said that Homo Sapiens doing Cave Paintings has more, not less, in common with a concert pianist in the 20th century? I do rather think that the capacity and scope of the human brain rather outweighs context.

Is context a red herring? Would it not be more interesting to understand what is going on in the brain of the person? That internal ‘context’ is surely where the ‘action’ i.e. the learning and memory formation, is taking place?

REFERENCE

Crook, C. and Dymott, R. (2005) ‘ICT and the literacy practices of student writing’ in Monteith, M. (ed.) Teaching Secondary School Literacies with ICT, Maidenhead, Open University Press.

Tolmie, A. (2001), Examining learning in relation to the contexts of use of ICT. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 17: 235–241. doi: 10.1046/j.0266-4909.2001.00178.

Vernon, J.F (2008) That’s Nothing Compared to Passchendaele (accaessed 9th May 2013. http://machineguncorps.com/)

 

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The context and nature of learning in 2012

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Learning has to take in the context of work and social factors.

Regarding Web 2.0 it is as commonplace as TV and radio, indeed I'd say it has almost completely replaced TV for some of us – this is not generational or even specific to a cohort, rather some prefer the online environment to the many others on offer. 

In our family the Internet takes precedence over radio, newspapers and magazines. For my personal learning environment PLE I now include the hardware – over the last two years I've gone from clapped out Mac laptop to an iPad: I keep everything online. If I need a laptop or desktop I borrow. My Smarthpone is my 'university in my top pocket' and some. I have a Kindle too for all books, even replacing some I have as hardbacks, while PDFs go to the iPad. 

I will preload the Kindle with ample reading as this will go to the beach while the iPad stays at home (cottage).

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How you learn?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 20 Nov 2013, 12:10

 

 

Fig.1. How you learn!

I set out with the idea of doing nothing more than making a face out of time, effort and motivation.

Then 28 months of the MAODE kicked in, as well as experience. How we learn is a rather complex affair. The influencing factors given above carry different weightings and change through time as events play out.

(This should be interactive so that you can adjust the size of each factor to suit your current circumstance, or circumstances you recall from past experience, at school say ... or that you hope for in the future. With this in mind I'll give the above a second shot in Bubbl.us)

Do we define 'success' as individual happiness or achievement through the education process and beyond?

SH1T happens.

To study learning we rock and roll between simplification and complication, in an effort to understand we create models, but the reality is always as messy as the individual, their mind and circumstances, when and where they were born and so on.

  • An uncle takes the kids to a show, and one of them take as shine to performance.
  • A child breaks an arm and goes to hospital and takes an interest in working in a hospital.
  • A teacher makes and illustrates and interesting point about landforms and calls one an isthmus and another a peninsula and the idea of naming forms and understanding how they take place takes root.
  • Then along comes World War 1, or you are hit by a bus and hospitalized or fall in love smile

And in all of this, some of us to respond to many of these external stimuli while other of us take a focus and lasting interested, whether as a hobby or career.

A work in progress!

I rather like the idea of trying to create the kinds of infographics produced by David Mcandless illustrated in 'Information is Beautiful'.

Please suggest factors and weightings!

If you are studying education or learning is there research on these factors, surveys that give weightings and importance to the different factors, or is everything a subset of something else?

H800-11B / EMA Tutor Group Forum / h800 overview framework Janet Gray Post 1. 26 August 2011, 16:01h800 overview framework (accessed 6SEPT2011) http://learn.open.ac.uk/mod/forumng/discuss.php?d=624853

From E-LEARNING
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H800 WK27 Technology-Mediated Learning Contexts

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 28 Sep 2012, 14:30
Technology-mediated learning contexts

Mary Thorpe (2009)

If face-to-face is the answer, how do you (Crook and Light, 2002) replicate the combination of informal and formal discourse opportunities that characterise the face-to-face campus.

The answer is in social networks such as Linkedin being alerted every time someone in your circle updates, or adds friends or writes something, though different, there is at least an inclining of this meeting serendipitously around the water-cooler, or passing in the corridor. Also the random offering up of 'people you might know', even if they haven't instigated it. This is beyond face-to-face, but designed to replicate the chance encounter that makes up human intersctions.

In Diaryland (1999) a similar trait is offered as within a set number of 75 friends you always know who has updated i.e. who is active and therefore around and more inclined to engage.

Differs from face-to-face

Why hybrid?
What community?


'Technologies, such as social networking, can be used to construct personal learning environments designed by the learner precisely in relation to their interests and goals across a range of practice boundaries'. (Anderson and Dron 2007)

Helping to get the best out of someone and making the case for the PLE, which afterall, is what a person takes with them as they progress, as they invariably will, from one learning institute to another, what is more, having control over this PLE, whereas any VLE is open to change beyond their control.

'Technology self-evidently involves tools, understood as both the physical resources and practical skills required to make use of them, but to focus primarily on the tool or the virtual space would be to make a categorical error, mistaking a component part for the system as a whole'. (Jones and Eshault, 2004)

Thinking of my late grandfather's garage with all its tools, the context would be the mix and combination of tools, some complimentary, some one offs, and the space (once he'd rolled the car out of the garage). Most importantly it would include him, both actively engaged in a task and from my point of view, someone who was always keen to pass on skills and insights. 

Issues regarding identity -practice/familiarity

Trust and authenticity (checking/verification)

'Students may not take up the opportunities offered, or may do so to little good effect.' (Thorpe, 2008:122)

'Asynchronous conferencing for example has fostered both utopic and dystopic views of its potential'. (Haythornthwaite 2006)

The importance of the beginning of the course the same as in face-to-face, you only have one chance to make a good first impression.

'That particular aspect of getting everybody involved right at the very beginning really sets the scene for the rest of the course.' (Thorpe 2008:123)

'The designg in effect performs a mix of compulsion and engineered interaction that combines formality with informality.' (Crook and Light, 2002)

'The potential for expansive learning'. (Tuoni-Grohn and Engeström, 2003)

'This is learning that crosses the boundaries of different activity systems, expanding involvement with others and developing both individual and collective learning'. (Cole and Engeström 1993)

'A context has to be reconstructed and participation invited through the use of activities, structured formats and textural genres operating at various levels.' (Thorpe, 2008:130)

'Engeström (2007) emphasizes the importance of learning across multiple activity systems where knowledge is being developed across many sites, from the formal academic context through practioner-focused websites and fora to the workplace. Technologies, such as social networking, can be used to construct personal learning environments designed by the learner precisely in relation to their interests and goals across a range of practice boundaries (Anderson and Dron 2007)

A hybrid mix of community and network. (Thorp, 2008:129)

Research

Progressive focusing (Straus, 1987)

REFERENCE

Anderson, T. and Dron,J.(2007)

Crook,C and Light,P (2002) 'Virtual society and the cultural practice of study' in S.Woolgar (ed.) Virtual Society? Technology, Cyberbole, Reality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Haythornthwaite,C. (2006)

Jones, C. and Esnault,L(2004)

Tuoni-Grohn,T. and Engestrom,Y (2003)
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E-portfolios from the student p.o.v. H808.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 16:19

E-portfolios from the student point of view.

 

Bubbl.us learner-centred e-portfolios

 

 

 

I like what bubbl.us can do. Without fuss and with a sense of fun a few ideas on the back of the proverbial fag-packet (in my case in an A5 drawing pad) becomes something semi-permanent and easy to share. Commpendium takes this one step further, allowing each 'node' to contain layers of details as documents or attachments.

Here, after some weeks of this, I try to cover every corner, literally, on the topic of 'e-portfolios for learners.'

I read somewhere a hint of why students baulk at this - their perspective, for the most part, is short-lived. Several years working in the communication of graduate opportunities it was surprising how few could look beyond 'Day One' at their place of work, to their completing their first year ... unless, as in accountancy, law and some industries there was a longer-term career training period.

It isn't just as matter of context, it's a matter of perspective.

Anything 'sticky' can as easily become unstuck.

Remember how stuck we were on FriendsReunited, before MySpace and then Facebook came along?

On the one hand a software developer makes their platform 'interoperable,' but then you open the door to users switching platforms.

What is the commercial value of free software? What is the cost? Pop-up adverts inside your' virtual head.'

If someone can exploit it, they will.

Aalderink and Veugelers.

 

 

· Focus on competence-oriented education

· Emphasis on student development

· Fostering academic maturity

·Net generation oriented


REFERENCE

Aalderinck, W. and Veugelers, M. (2005) ‘E-portfolio’s [sic] in The Netherlands: stimulus for educational change and life long learning’ (online), paper presented at the EDEN 2005 conference in Helsinki, Finland, Portfolio Themasite. Available from http://www.icto.ic.uva.nl/surf/nl_portfolio/Publicaties/Downloads/aalderink_veugelers_2005.pdf- FOR ANALYSIS

 

 

 

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Reflection - personal, extended

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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TMA03, Reflective Writing and e-learning (or not).

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 16 Mar 2014, 06:14

I understood from the heading for TMA03 in H807 that 'it is permissible to use an extract from a very long message.' I therefore deleted the 900+ additional words that on two occasions occurred in a forum message.

At one stage I had in an earlier draft all messages including the Tutor's introduction, my full response and even a previous pertinent message from another contributor. This for 'context' and making marking easier might have been better than all the html links that I added PER MESSAGE. I checked these anchors/links and there was a graphic in the Blog message too - clearly something in the uploading/submission process fangled these up.
 
The links/titling were absolutely as clear as anyone could wish them to be. A message per page.

My understanding of what makes 'reflective' writing is perfectly valid. It is open ended, not prescriptive - it is after all my mind that is coming up with these ideas, which is the entire point of it, to develop my personal understanding. I am trying to enhance my way of thinking, not adopt someonelse's.

In relation to my continued dislike of the term 'e-learning,' it isn't difficult to refer to plenty of current articles, including JISC that agree that the term is not universally agreed or accepted. Salmon referring to 'e-lapsed' time for an 'E-tivity' is palpably ridiculous. Academic os this ludicrous desire to 'coin a word or phrase and a cliched attitude regarding e-learning that anything with 'e' attached gains the 'e-' branded values. Balderdash.
 
'The first decade of the 21st century is already on the wane and we stand at an interesting point as regards the use of technology to support and enhance learning and teaching. The fact that we still refer to much of this enhancement as e.learning (and still disagree about what the term actually means) signals that the relationship between technology and learning is not as yet an entirely comfortable one.' JISC 2007 (Introduction)

The lesson I have learnt is that it is vital to meet face-to-face, even to speak to someone through. Elluminate or on the phone where all kinds of important cues and nuances to understanding come into play: tone of voice, pauses, choice of words ... and then facial expressions and body language when face-to-face. As occurred at an ASA workshop the other week, I simply couldn't get my head around what the tutor was trying to say about Some aspect of Nutrition,I eventually left it, but a fellow student could see by my expression that I was just fed up of asking the same question and getting a numpty response that made no sense - this student made a far better job of explaining to me the point the tutor could not.
 
Two decades of sailing and I could tie and adequate Bolen knot with a struggle having been shown how to do it a hundred times - only when an instructor used the term 'it's a gripping knot' did I understand WHY the knot worked and WHY it was important. My father didn't permit the word 'why?' His favourite line was 'don't ask why, ask how high.' Whatever that means!?
 
I must know why.
 
My quest is to discover why. Why is my nemis. Get me asking questions and I become driven to find answers, my asnwers.

If I keep asking 'why?' regarding the ECA, it will be because I haven't had this 'Bolen knot' moment - I genuinely thought with TMA03, as occurred on about the 7th draft of TMA02, that this moment had occurred.
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