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Can a popular book sit on the fence? Academic vs. popularist

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Feb 2013, 18:43

I wonder if the difference between the book selling 'voices' of e-learning are to academics what pop music is to classical music.

They make a great fuss, sing and dance, but lack substance. They are popular and sometimes wrong. Marc Prensky and the Digital Natives compared to Martin Weller's Ring Cycle?!

In 'The Shallows' Nicholas Carr goes out of his way to select anecdotes and references to prop up his thesis that Google is making us stupid. The wise, though less popular and academic approach would have been to make the case both ways with equal effort, to argue that Google is making is smart.

The two propostions would make for a reasonable and reasoned debate. There are two books in it.

Can a popular book sit on the fence?

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B822 BK2 Technique Library Metaplan

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 19 Apr 2012, 07:33

I knew a Metaplan moderator well and become familiar with the texhnique which he taught in moderated groups all across Europe (in several langauges).

  • Cards of various shapes and sizes
  • A logical process

REFERENCE

Schnelle, E. (1979) The Metaplan Method: Communcation Tools for Planning and Learning Groups.

Business Week (1976) Industrial Edition, N0, 2436, 14 June 1976, p. 90G

'The Providence Plan' (1994) http:qqq.brown.edu/Departments/Taubman_Center/plan.ecap_ch2.html

 

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B822 Techniques Library : Selling

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 22:04

B822 Techniques Library ‘Factors in ‘Selling’ ideas

Context

  • Timing
  • Audience
  • Idea champion

Content

Use simple language

Use a clear statement of the need for the idea. Describe the problem your idea will solve and explain why it needs to be solved.

  • Present both pros and cons
  • Provide evidence
  • Stress key points
  • Anticipate questions
  • Be persistent

Based on: VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed., Van Norstrand Reinhold. Technique p. 285

 

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H800 WK21-22 Activity 2d VLE vs. PLE who wins?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:59

H800 WK21-22 Activity 2d VLE vs. PLE who wins?

  • John Petit
  • Martin Weller
  • Niall Sclater

Stephen Downes – Students own education

· How much do they actually differ in their views?

· What is my perspective?

· Freedom is lack of choice

· Parameters work

· Creativity is mistakes

· Have rules, the mischievous or skilled will break them anyway

· The end result counts.

a) This isn’t a debate. Neither takes sides and the chair interjects his own thoughts. A debate, whether at school, university or in a club, or in a court of law or the House of Commons, is purposely adversarial, people take sides, even take a stance on a point of view they may not wholly support, in order to winkle out answers that may stand somewhere between the two combatants.

b) During the MAODE this might be the second such offering as a ‘debate,’ the last being as weak. What is more I have attended a Faculty debate which shilly-shallied around the issues with at times from an audience’s point of view it being hard to know whose side the speakers were on?

c) As well as deploring the lack of rigour regarding what should or should not be defined as a debate, the vacuous nature of the conversations means that you don’t gain one single new piece of evidence either way. Generalities are not arguments, neither side attempts to offer a knock-out blow, indeed Martin Weller seems keen to speak for both sides of the argument throughout.

When Martin Weller implies that a VLE constrains because ‘There are so many fantastic tools out there that are free and robust and easy to use.’ I would like a) example b) research based evidence regarding such tools, which do offer some compelling arguments, these commercial and branded products have to offer something refreshing and valuable.

Unlike some university offering they are therefore not only effective, but vitally, they are fun, tactile, smartly constructed, well-funded, give cache to the user, are easy to share, champion and become evangelical about, explored, exploited and developed further. Here I compare Compendium with the delight of bubbl.us.

Here I compare blogging in the confines of the abandoned cold-frame that is the Victorian OU student blogging platform compared to the Las Vegas experience of WordPress.

I can even compare how WordPress performs externally compared to the shackled version provided by the OU. On the one hand there is a desire to treat students like sheep; there is even a suggestion in this chatty-thing between Niall Sclater and Martin Weller than OU undergraduates ought to offer the most basic environment in which to operate. Access is an important point, but you don’t develop players in an orchestra by shutting everyone in a hall and giving them a kazoo. And if that Kazoo requires instructions then it deserves being ignored. Having lived with it for a year the OU e-portfolio My Stuff might best be described as some kind of organ-grinder with the functionality and fun-factor of Microsoft DOS circa 1991.

Martin Weller makes the point about tools that might be used this before, during and after their university experience. There is a set of ICT tools covering word-processing, databases, number manipulation, calendars and communications that are a vital suite of skills; skills that some might already have, or partially have … or not have at all. The problem is in the accommodation of this widely differing skill set.

JV Exposure to new, or similar, experience of better as well as weaker programmes/tools, fashion, peer group, nature of the subject they are studying, their ambitions, who they are, how much time they have, their kit, connection and inclinations, let alone the context of where they are going online.

In this respect Martin Weller is right to say that ‘some kind of default learning environment’ is required first of all.

Caveat: You are going to need people to use the same kind of things in order to be able to communicate.

· University blog vs. their own bog.

· University e-portfolio vs. their own portfolio.

· Elluminate vs. Skype.

· Mac vs. PC,

· Tablet vs. laptop.

· Desktop vs. smartphone.

· Paper vs. e-Reader.

· University Forum vs. Linked in or others.

· Twitter vs. Yammer.

Swimming analogy: training pool, leisure pool, main pool, diving pool, Jacuzzi.

Niall Sclater makes a point about a student using an external blog that doesn’t have a screen reader. Do browsers not offer this as a default now? Whilst I doubt the quality of translation I’ve been having fun putting everything I normally look at into French or loading content onto an e-reader and having it read to me on long car journeys. The beauty of Web 2.0 and Open Learn is that developers love to solve problems then share their work. Open Learn allows these fixers to crack on at a pace that no institution can match.

Perhaps issues regarding passwords is one such problem which is no longer a problem with management systems. Saving passwords etc.: Other problems we have all see rise and fall might include spam. The next problem will be to filter out spam in the form of ‘Twitter Twaddle’ the overwhelming flack of pre-written RSS grabbed institutional and corporate messages that should without exception be ‘flagged’ by readers as spam until it stops. I never had a conversation with a piece of direct mail shoved at me through my letter box, or spam come to that matter. Here largely the walled, university environment in which to study, is protected from the swelling noise of distraction on the outside,

Niall Sclater talks about the Wiki on OU VLE, in Moodle ‘comprises what we consider is the most useful functionality for students. The OU ‘cut out a lot of the bells and whistles you find in MediaWiki’. New to wikis I enjoyed being eased into their use, but like a keen skier, or swimmer, having found my ‘legs’ I wanted incremental progressions. Being compelled to stay in the training pool, or on the nursery slopes, to return to by Kazoo metaphor, is like having Grade 5 flute, but having to play with six novice recorder players in Kindergarten. We move on and therefore what is offered should move with us.

Universities fail abysmally to sell their products to their captive audiences.

Commercial products are sold, invitingly to everyone who comes within earshot. There is a commercial naivety and intellectual arrogance sometimes over stuff created that must be great, because it is the invention of brilliant minds … and that its brilliance will be self-evident even if it sits their within its highly branded overcoat waiting for some time to take an interest and take it out for a test drive. Creators of these tools forget that a quick search using some of the terms related to the affordances of the product being offered will invariably produce something more appealing from the likes of Google, Adobe, Apple or Microsoft.

Nail Sclater points out that some students can be confused by too much functionality. I agree. If there is a product that has far too much functionality, it is Elluminate. And even for a library search, it ought to be as simple as the real thing … you go to a counter and ask for a title. Google gets it right. Keep it simple. Others are at last following suit. Or is the Google God now omnipresent?

Martin Weller stumbles when he says that Nail ‘hits on two arguments against decentralised PLEs by

a) Giving three arguments

a. Authentication

b. Integration

c. Robustness

b) He is meant to be in favour of PLEs.

i.e. academics are incapable of debate because they are, to use of Martin Weller’s favourite terms ‘contextualised’ to sit on the fence. A debate should be a contest, a bullfight ideally with a clear winner, the other party a convincing looser.

You wouldn’t let a soldier chose his weapons then enter the fray. There has to be a modicum of formal training across a variety of tools, and in a controlled, stepped fashion in order to bring people along, communally, for retention and to engender collaboration and participation and all that benefits that come from that.

Who at a time of change is going to declare their role, or department redundant? Brought into a new role, Social Media Manager, I feel I will have succeed in 12 months if I have handed over the keys to others, spread some of the glory about. That’s how I see it, a little bit of everybody’s lives. You can wordprocess, you can do some aspect of Social Media. There are other functions though that long ago were circumvented by clever software. Web 2.0 deplores the gatekeeper. It wants to put everything ‘out there,’ enabling everyone and anyone to make of it what they need and please.

Personally I’ve been loading content, text and images, in diaryland since Sept 1999 and have never had an issue with access, yet I have repeatedly found my OU e-portfolio failed, or that while composing a response in a forum the system fell-down and I lost what I was doing.

Nial Sclater argues in favour of VLEs to ensure usability, access, extension to students, common ground on terms of tools, opportunity and form an assessment point of view, use of content too.

While Martin Weller wants to ‘Support’ – an argument for VLEs. (I’ve now made the point several times that Martin Weller seemed unsure of which side he was on, and by personality and from experience, will never take a side in any case).

We DO want people going away being able to use package X. Do we turn out Roy Castle types who can play loads of instruments not very well, or a virtuoso performer who can at least play the cello well?

JP stepping in ‘as my confidence grew I got to know that and my confidence grew across the year as I got to know that and one or two other very limited and well-supported tools’

Nial Sclater’s point that the same tool is required for collaboration and assessment. This applies also to reading the materials provided and doing the activities so that these are the points of reference for assessments (as currently practised). How can a Tutor mark an assessment that is based on vegetables from a walled Victorian kitchen garden, when the student offers flowers grown from seed in a tub? To return to my sporting analogy, how might I judge a person’s ability to swim after 12 weeks if they’ve been learning how to sail?

Parameters have a purpose.

The greatest resistance to a writer is having no sense of purpose, no goals, no parameters, no set pieces, no one to be on their case. A free for all, perhaps as the new London Business and Finance School is finding, is that just giving students the lot and telling them to get on with it is not conducive to a viable learning experience. (Nor do I think it’ll deliver someone is able to work with others).

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H800: 50 Wk11 Why arguments (and fights) stick in the mind

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 17:47

There was argument between a couple of Profs on Radio 4 on Thursday evening.

They were disagreeing on how best to describe the movement of photons or something in light waves. She likened it to a Mexican Wave, an idea that he rubbished. I think they ended up with a ‘pass the parcel’ idea as a compromised. Once we’ve listened to them having a go at each other for bit we are told that they are married (and happen both to work for the OU).

It was 'The Light Switch Project'.

This for me demonstrated how debate is memorable, you experience the process by which people struggle to agree, or agree to disagree about something and as a result you take your own stance.

I liken technology creep to a liquid or gas that gets into everything.

It is liberating and enabling though. For example, I’ve seen my children take an interest in something and through ‘how to videos’ online learnt skills that in the past might have taken weeks to pick up from siblings, parents or grandparents.

It can be both a catalyst and an accelerator.

Learning about technology by using technology i.e. context, applied learning … even practice based learning. Learning using technology as a tool to help students learn, Like educational films (the original documentary), radio and TV, slide-projectors and photocopies, biros vs fountain pens, the typewriter then word-processing, video and interactivity through CD-rom, whiteboards and Internet access.

Does it work?

Does use of a Spellchecker improve spelling, or simply make you dependent on the technology? It is a must. Though I’d say the first skill is touch-typing as however advanced the technology may be, the QWERTY keyboard is dominant and for many will be a barrier.

How technology is introduced matters, whether it is bottom up to meet an individual need, or top down as a perceived ‘must have’ or panacea without proper consideration for how it will be used.

The learning design comes first, knowing what resources are available, and from a teacher’s point of view deciding strategically how to mix it up given the choices and whether and how to respond to new apps and technologies as they come on stream.

Is a teacher as performer, coach, subject matter expert in the flesh and in front of a classroom audience of 30+ going to be more effective than a one-to-one with an avatar in a 3D virtual world.

At some stage we’re going to look at the technology and see that all it is doing is trying to recreate what we have already and have done for decades – taking kids out of their homes and putting them in an institution up the road while parents go to work.

If teaching online is so good why not keep the kids at home?

Surely there’s never been a better time to self-educated? Are my children growing up too fast? Does it matter that they have been exposed to so much and can dig around online to see and find out things a generation ago we had limited access too?

Physiologically and mentally they mature at the same time.

I keep the line ‘when I was a boy’ to myself, but I see far more parallels than differences; many things are faster, even instant. You want to speak to a friend or have a question answered and it is. They have no excuse to ask ‘why?’ when they are able to go online and little reason to ask ‘what can I do?’

A grant that must be spent results in a school acquiring a dozen Sony Flips (or a cheaper equivalent) so let’s use them.

The choices have surely become bewildering?

However, who should be making the choices – the head of department, the teacher or the student? Or if I spread this net wider, governments and parents? There is no doubt that reasonable IT skills are vital to employability – it’s getting to the stage where you can’t answer the phone without going through Outlook.

Growing up I took learning to be something that you ticked off; i.e. you thought, I can do that, then moved on. I feel today that this is never possible, that anything you learn is just a step on from your previous position of ignorance that can always be improved either by doing it differently or better i.e. life-long learning is the norm, and ICT makes in possible.

Could we apply the same thinking to household appliances?

Where would we be without a fridge-freezer, electric-steam iron or toaster? We’d manage. Might I suggest that nothing has changed? That ‘amelioration’ of what always has occurred with knowledge transfer is occurring? That the effect in the learner’s mind is physiologically no different to what it has always been?

 

 

 

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H800: 47 H800 Week 8/9 Activity 7 Cloudworks 'Swim lanes' for learning design,

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014, 14:23

It is one thing to contribute to a flash debate, it is quite another to embrace the Cloudworks platform.

There is only one way to test the water, and that is to get in. We talk of 'swim lanes' for learning design, I like every platform, every social network, business network or here, educational network, to be a visit to another pool, a lido, indoor or out, leisure pool or training pool.

They need to know who you are, you have to sign in. Then you have to change, get in, and give it a go.

So I am for the umpteenth time adding a profile picture and a profile, tagging, finding favourites debates and linking to people.

It all takes time.

Online you control time. Intensive engagement might move things along ... on the other hand, it may irritate those who've been here a while.

It should take time.

Find the rhymn of the place, observe when and where there is a buzz. Identifiy the 'champions,' come in on the periphery, pick up a thread, join in tentatively, give it a go here and there.

I make a contribution to a Flash Debate on the futre and threats to universities

Universities will flourish as they become part of the mainstream and engaged with the world, rather than distinct from it. Relationships with governments, industries, schools (for future students) and alumni (for past student) will develop and become continual, rather than passing. Student cohorts may look the same on the ground, but in the virtual world will be broader and deeper, technology and systems allowing a greater diversity. Not all institutions will have the ability, whether through lack of financing, the burden of their past and costs, to be flexible and change. The overall impact will be of an evolutionary change, though for some it will be a fight for survival.

BRANDING

Established, motivated, well-supported and well known colleges and institutions, where there is strength as a brand, as well as financially, in their governing body and from alumni will thrive. They can afford to exploit the changing circumstances (and they can’t afford not to). Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Bristol, UCL and the OU are not about to go under. On the other hand, new, complacent, poorly supported, little known educational institutions where the sources of income and grants may be narrow or uncertain, with weak leadership and ill-established (or disloyal) alumni will fail.

BUSINESS

The opportunities to flourish are extraordinary; the global demand for tertiary education with tens of millions of people from Asia, for example, seeking higher education over the next decade means that there is a growing and hungry market if you have the right ‘product.’ Education is a business, whether the model is that students are educated for free or pay part of the fees, cash flow matters. Retailing has been in constant flux, from the high street to out of town shopping, with national and international brands dominating, and then online shopping cornering certain markets, from books to electronic goods. Retailers have had to change the mix, where they locate and what they sell. Universities are less agile and less prone to the vicissitudes of short-term purchasing decisions, but the impact on them of new technologies is no less profound. Negotiating their way through this will require skill, the most vulnerable institutions will fail.

QUALIFICATIONS

Letters after your name differentiate you from other candidates for a job or promotion. Where there are many applicants for the same position where you studied, indeed, who you studied with, will matter. It helps to study under the best in your field. It depends entirely on where you wish or plan to go afterwards, where and if a position or job requires a certain qualification, and if a qualification from one or another institution has greater perceived or actual value. However, as those with experience of the job market will tell you, it is how what you have been taught is applied and how you relate to other people, that will determine your success.

CAMPUS BASED vs DISTANCE LEARNING

Technology is blending the two: increasingly students are opting for this, to be campus-based, but to take advantage of the technology to better manage their time or support their learning. Far from being the death-knell of the traditional university, new technologies will assist in their finding ways to develop and support a broader and deeper student body. Participation and collaboration, socialising away from the screen, is a vital component of the university experience for those coming out of secondary education – the demands and expectations of a mature student are very different. How people get on, how they work together, is a vital lesson that a campus based university offers. Whilst increasingly our online experiences are as ‘real’ as everything else we do, it is how and if we can work as a team that will decide how we progress. The student experiencing this will better know themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and suitability for different career paths.

CHANGE

Like retailers, manufacturers, broadcasters, publishers and the post office, we are in a period of significant change, new technology was already having an impact, the economic down turn has aggravated this, obliging some forcing other institutions to act. How this change is managed will decide who survives and who struggles on. There is a fine line to tread between innovating early, or too late, changing wholesale or piecemeal. The wise institution not only spreads its risk, but also casts its opportunism just as wide as spreading your bets covers you in a world where nobody knows what will work or not. Libraries, one of the draws to a campus-based university, cannot be as influential as hundreds of millions of texts become instantly available in digital form. Senior lecturers and researchers should be employed for their ability to communicate, support and rally students around them, not simply because of the paper they are working on. Students will demand more if they feel it is the cash in their pocket that is buying what the institutions offers. Errors, failings and shortcomings of a person, a module or course, can be spread through online reviews and will decide their fate. New blends of courses will invent themselves where a student feels able, supported through e-learning, to cherry pick, even to study simultaneously quite different subjects. Cohorts, if on the ground still that 17-23 year old age group, will become far more diverse, with groupings formed by mutual interest in a subject. Life-long learning, already apparent in some professions, will become more common place as people recognise the need to refresh their understanding of some topics, while gaining new skills and additional insights.

Am I responding to a thread, or like the second or third speaker at an Oxford Union Debating Society getting up to say my piece?

And if I sit on the fence, what kind of debate is that?

We should be obliged to take sides, THAT would be a debate, otherwise it is a conversation, another online tutorial.

Thus far Cloudworks is like a new swimming pool, refreshing and full of opportunity. To thrive, let alone survive, it needs people coming down to swim, to jump in, to train, to meet ...

And once you have your regulars, keep them coming back.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 13 Jul 2010, 20:40

Having bought into the OU Blog and contributing to 'IT' for the last 22 weeks to have no access for .... 12 hours ... is like having a lobotmy.

I'm not saying that a soul even reads this kind of entry but I've been rampaging through every rerference and lead like a forensic scientist these last few days eager get to the point, where I get the point that our esteemed OU author reached.

One worrying insight ... I find I can too often get to a reference more quickly directly through Google, than limping through the OU Library service search thingey ... and the glitches and hurdles that some providers present to you.

On the other hand, the OU Access sign is always encouraging.

Downtime July, August?

Different time.

This morning I had tow ancient mercury fillings removed while I discussed online tutoring with my dentist. Who is a Kings College, London Prof ... who takes online causes in dentistry once a quarter ... with students around the world.

He hates it.

Why?

The students know it is recorded, so don't turn up. It isn't a lecture, it is a tutorial. There may be 8 or more students, but only two interact and the only times we get some kind of dialoge it will be because a dentist in Isreal finds he is meant to share insight on tooth decay with a fellow dentist in Iran.

Yes. I agree. Debate engenders discussion, while cosy, feely goody-goody panders to the lazy lurkers.

Why is the Oxford Union Debating Society thriving?

How come they had a debate here recently on the future of E-learning!

Debate works, difference works ...

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