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Essay writing style: clay or concrete aggregate?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 1 Oct 2014, 15:10
From River Ouse Low Tide

My tried and tested methodology, beyond the doomed 'winging it' is 'concrete aggregate'. Other weeks or months I accumulate a lot of stuff, much of it in a blog like this; not quite a relational database but the 'stuff' is here, tagged and of reasonable relevance. In a now defunct OU ePortfolio called 'MyStuff' or 'MyOU' - I forget, you could then shuffle and rank your gobbets of nonsense and so, discounting the volume of stuff, potentially, have a treatment that could then be turned into an essay.

Such stuff, if it contains, 10,000 words, often with chunks of verbatim passages, can be a hell of a task to hack into shape. You build in bold forms out of concrete and can only get it to look like a garden, or park sculpture, with a pneumatic drill and chisel. Sometimes it works. You get there. It is dry and workable. You'll more than pass. It depends on the subject, the module and the specific expectations of the assignment. Where you need to tick many boxes this approach may work well.

Clay is the better way forward in most situations. Here you build up your arguments in logical steps then refine them at the end. This, particularly in the social sciences, is where the tutor wants to see how you argue you case, drawing together arguments and facts, mostly those you've been exposed to in the module, though allowing for some reading beyond the module. You have to express your opinion, rather than listing the views of others. Get it right and this is the only way to reach the upper grades? Get it wrong, which is the risk, and you may end up with a hollow or limp structure with grades to match. 

 

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Not recommended

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 3 Oct 2014, 09:09
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Over doing the reading

I'm trying to put to bed what might be my 27th assignment: the last three have been non-OU but the same rules apply: whether tutor marked assignment, end of module assignment or an essay.

Have I ever been cut out for this?

Clearly, getting from TMAs in the 50s and a couple of EMAs in the 40s to TMAs in the 80s (and beyond) and EMAs in the 60s and 70s (though never beyond) indicates that I've learnt how to provide what is required ... and by default, that I have also learnt something (though my brain will complicate, and bury everything that goes in so fast that it's like putting rotten tomatoes onto the compost heap).

This is what I prefer by far: 'writing from the hip' I call it, or 'jazz writing' where a stream of consciousness, or drivel, fills the page.

I am taking a moments break from the nightshift.

This nightshift, awake at 2.00 am and writing by 2.30am has, over several years, become my default position whenever I need a three hour run at something; even the dog is asleep. I have to struggle to hear much more than a buzz in my head and either the tapping on this keyboard or scratching away of pen on paper.

Can I bring to some kind of conclusion this 'learning journal' in relation to writing 'the perfect essay'? 

Despite my best wishes I am NOT a strategic worker or thinker: my curiosity is too much of a pull. I do exactly what I was warned against a year ago - 'vanishing down rabbit holes'. I am the White Rabbit and Alice combined; an intriguing reference enthrals me so off I go. If I can I will source the paper, even get the long out of print book - I may even read the thing, take notes and then pop my head of this hole and wonder what the feck I'm playing at.

An essay needs a copse, not a forest. Imagine what it is like trying to turn an forest into an essay: too much wood (far too much paper). Not simply tough to digest, but any intrinsic pleasure from the act of writing at last is diminished by my knowledge of how much I will have to leave out. 

In the dead of night.

Giving up alcohol and coffee has not helped.

In every respect the alcohol was by far the easiest thing to cut back and cut out - just the conclusion to a ten year minor skirmish that ultimately was or is a medical irritant (allergic to it). Last week I managed 48 hours, or as it 36 hours without coffee. Hardly an achievement given that I was comatose, walking wounded or asleep for the duration. A mug first thing since has found me taking an afternoon siesta and still sleeping for seven + hours. I am sitting with the requisite jug of coffee now. 

I'll get to the end of this and do it justice

'On reflection' the couple of EMAs in the 40s I received was because having done the work, and got reasonable TMAs I blew it with this last struggle and deadlines ending up submitting the latests draft as the seconds disappeared. This time I have had months, really, months and even now I have another three days. I just want to do what I know has to be done: get a good draft finished a few days before, then do the re-read and edit. Nothing less will do and only then can I feel I've done all that I feel I am capable of. The truth is this does not, nor never has come naturally to me. I prefer being up on my feet doing and taking part with a team of people.

Take a nap, then, trusting to my wits and the fresh sea air, I'll be bobbing around offshore by mid-morning taking part in some global sailing charity event. 

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Extensions

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From E-Learning V

In my experience if you ask for an extension for a TMA you will always get one; I've occasionally asked for a couple of days and got a week. With EMAs the deadline is sacrosanct. I've asked on the day and a week back; I guess the earlier you see the problem the better. It depends on the problem. Never really meeting my online tutor it took me too many modules before I'd pick up the phone, yet nothing has ever worked better than a short chat. If your request for an extension is genuine, like the kind made of hair, you'll want and probably need a helping hand so take what is on offer. 

The problem with an extension is that it could simply be delaying the pain ... you continue in the same vein, blocked, muddled, reluctant to start, or finish or submit; or you haven't done the work and know it.

If you've done the work but are having a mental or academic block then ask here, ask in your student forum (too often quiet) and most certainly talk to your tutor. Often some focused advice will say you are on the right track, press on, talk it through, now write it down and send it in, or that you are trying to write a chapter rather than an essay, to narrow it down, to think strategically.

If you haven't done the work then use the extension to figure out how you can put in enough hours, strategically, to cover enough of the ground and do it. If that means a few late nights or early mornings that so be it.

And shit happens - I've lost parents. The worst. And I've been made redundant. In fact both happened together in my first module and I quit ... I sulked instead of talking to someone. The OU would have been understanding. Anyway, you may have to drop everything for a week or more. Everyone will he hugely sympathetic.

Otherwise, like teachers with decades of experience, the tutors will smell a rat if you simply haven't done the work and don't intend to. If this is the case then personally I'd just knock off a submission and send it in. You may still pass. You may be asked to resubmit. The assumption will be that you've done your best even if you haven't. Or perhaps you have? Honesty is always heard with sympathy.

I'm reminding myself that however distant distance learning might be you are always a phone call away from your tutor. I always regret not taking up the offer of talking it through. They won't think you're an idiot; they'll admire you for caring about wanting to try to get it right. In seven modules I think only once did our tutor group have such an active online presence that we could sort out each others' problems, another the tutor didn't just say they were available, but they proved it by being online moderating and 'seeding' conversations rather than waiting in the background (or just absent). And then a time when I kind of buddied up: she was great at one kind of thing, I could help with another - she was an 'adapter' I was the 'innovator' I guess. 

Have I had a reprieve? Not exactly. I have, or thought I had a 10th September deadline - actually thats for resubmissions for April !? So I have until the 24th September. I have worked my way into a corner so will take a day off, then see what I can write in exam conditions, see if a fresh approach can produce something more fluid. It's a relief to be able to step away from a disaster. 

I am so envious of people who turn mountains into molehills. I turn mountains into a range of mountains and usually get lost until someone drags me out. TMAs are foothills, EMAs the one mountain. They all count, so press on.

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Too much coffee? Its a product of too many TMAs

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 6 Sep 2014, 13:45
From E-Learning V

 Fig.1 The effect of drinking too much coffee

With an assignment, TMA or EMA or exam deadline comes the inclination to get up earlier and drink stronger coffee, in larger doses over longer periods. Easing off the caffeine in take comes at a price: headaches. This isn't a drug you can come off in an instant ... or in my case, at all. 

I'm trying to stick to water after breakfast; the problem is that I may have had a jug of expresso by then. If I get a headache later in the day what do I need? Paracetamol and caffeine. 

My symptoms:

  • Ringing in ears
  • Heart palpitations
  • Gut rot
  • Dehydration
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Restlessness

NONE of this is conducive to getting much done. I need to put in a couple of hours a day for the next four days at least. 

Quitting coffee is on the cards. Done with alcohol, meat might be cut back to the weekend or cut out entirely. Quit Facebook. Cut back on Linkedin. Off on retreat in a couple of weeks when I plan to leave all gadgets behind - let's see or prove how productive that can be. Five days with pen and paper.

 

 

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The right way and wrong way to assess

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:46

Looking back over four years can be revealing. In 2010 I was struggling with my third Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA03)  in the Master of Arts Open and Distance Education (MAODE). I queried the assignment process. In particular I felt as if it was akin to making a tapestry. Three years on I feel my last couple of TMAs and EMAs weren't simply making a tapestry - but doing so wearing roller-skates on a ship in a heavy sea.

Nothing would stitch together. I had far too much wool. 

The criteria, meant to be helpful, detailing paragraph, by paragraph if not sentence by sentence what the examiner is looking for ties my head in knots. 

I contrast this, favourably, with the MA I am doing with the University of Birmingham. Clunky but effective. I have a reading list. We attend lectures and take part in seminars and I write a 4000 word essay drawn from a list of 12 to 16 titles.

This allows me to be fluid, rather than the ground beneath my feet.

Throughout the MAODE I think the only module the regularly had this 'essay writing' approach was H809: Research practices in educational technology. 

I can be accused of over thinking and over preparing a TMA or EMA - yet this, too often, is how the things have been designed. Less would be more. Simpler would not be easier, writing is hard enough without having to second guess what a third party will be thinking as they read while running down a check list to give you a tick and therefore a mark and ultimately a grade.

Reflecting on four years I can see marks in TMAs, and EMAs especially, improve. I think TMAs in 60s, and 70s and the odd EMA in the 40s, then 50s give rise to TMAs of 80s, even in the 90s, though my best EMA was a 76. Of course, in their wisdom, my student grades for each module simply reads 'PASS'. I feel this rather diminishes the effort and evidence. There is certainly a different between a candidate scoring in the 40s and 50s between one scoring in the 60s and 70s and 80s. 

I met an MBA student who had achieved a distinction in every module. I was in awe. Not your usual OU student (are any from the Business School). She had a first in her first degree from Oxford: Classics. Some people have a mind for these things. Perhaps it is my head that sloshes around like the proverbial storm, rather than the system I have been part of?

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EMA Blues

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 2 Mar 2014, 16:49

Not at home and thinking of excuses not to get on with this - I have my laptop but left the charger at the front door, poor signal out here in the wilds of ... The Cotswolds, and busy. 

But instead I find the connecting is good, the last draft in Google docs is easy enough to work on (though no tables) and sitting by an open fire it is very conducive to refkection - though not hard graft. Just two days away from it makes it all look like a gargantuan task. I'm not short of words, rather the opposite, having to extract the bare bones to generate 5000 words from notes - this is where keeping a blog can feel counterproductive. Must I work through the 70+ posts on H818 in order to write the EMA? Apparently so.

I may try to tackle it as a 12 minute presentation - could I get up and talk it through with an audience unfamiliar with the module ?

 

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What is it with the End of Module Assignment?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014, 20:30

 

Fig. 1 What kind of greenhouse or green-shed does your EMA look like??

Why is it always the hardest thing I've ever had to write before?

I feel like an architect/builder, who having spent five months on a job thinks he has finished and is told that NOW they want me to build a model of the building and present this for scrutiny.

In other words, the work has been done, the lessons have been taken, the knowledge has been gained ... 

And now they want me to prove it. Couldn't I just be scrutinised over Skype?

This isn't an essay title, but rather 5000 words in three parts with it tightly prescriptive both on required content and how any of this will relate to marks. It does my head in because, to go back to the architecture or building analogy I do find that I put up a greenhouse only to find they wanted a garden shed with solar panels. By the time I realise this I have a day left and decide to put in a bit more glass ... and paint it green.

So it sort of fits the bill!!!

Anyway, I've got a week to get it written and plan to get it done in the next couple of days. I've got the parts laid out across the floor and the instructions in my hands.

A greenhouse from Ikea.

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New blog post

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For all the gadgets I've gathered around me and despite for 18 months doing everything on a screen through a keyboard or touchpad, I know have a whiteboard and put sheets of paper on the wall. I take notes. And when I need to hunker down I pick one of these and commit.

Green - One Minute

Yellow - Three Minutes

Black - Thirty Minutes

Blue - An hour

I practice I find 3 minutes does the job and I may keep going for several hours. My heart is telling me not to panic then the adrenalin rush kicks in.

An hour is just that. It is a pre-arranged slot and I find I am yawning at 55 minutes, as if I am waiting for the class to end.

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Vehicles for learning or vehicles for assessment?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 13 Dec 2013, 07:44

An essay, and therefore all assignments should be for the purposes of learning. To help the tutor, even your peers, to see where your thinking has reached and add to and correct as necessary. Assessment should be the end of module dissertation or written exam.

What do you think?

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Preparation, preparation, preparation ...

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And breathing space.

How I prepare a TMA or EMA is completely unlike anything I did in the early days, even in the first couple of years or more of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MA ODE). It is far more like designing an Airfix model, making the parts, then constructing the thing. At this stage, having thought about and written up all the component parts I did a rough assembly and came up with 3437 words for a 4000 word assignment.

Actually this is too many words - not a problem as I know where the fat lies, ideas expressed in too large a chunk. After that it's a case of getting the prose to flow.

Prioritise and give it time to breathe. I've pretty much given up on social media too - this is study journal and a moment to reflect. 'Blogging' and writing an academic paper are very different things - even journalism doesn't get close. Blogging is playing in the sand, journalism is a papier-mache self-indulgent sculpture, whereas academic writing is gathering together a complete set of artefacts, carefully arranging them in a cabinet and including all the labels.

 

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Time to write

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Aug 2013, 20:55

Screen%2520Shot%25202013-06-20%2520at%252003.18.21.jpg

Fig.1 H809 EMA Mindmap (for fellow H809 / MA ODErs I've added a PDF version in the TMA Forum) Created using Simpleminds.

  • H809 - Practice-based research in e-learning
  • MA ODE - Masters in Open and Distance Education
  • TMA - Tutor Marked Assignment
  • PDF - PDF

Yonks ago I realised for me the best time to study was v.early in the morning. 4.00 am to breakfast isn't unusual, 5.00 am is more typical. All it costs is an early night. This is easy too - no television. Its move from the shed to the dump is imminent.

A week ahead of schedule I find I have an EMA to complete - this'll give me a three hour, exam like run of it. Even the dog knows not to bother me.

For those on the same path the mindmap of my H809 EMA is above.

Ask if you're interested in a legible PDF version.

This gorse bush off density has patterns within it that I can decipher. The net result ought to come out somewhere around the 4,000 word mark too. This approach could not be more different to my earliest TMAs and EMAs three years ago - they were too often the product of what I call 'jazz writing' (this kind of thing), just tapping away to see where it takes you. This process used to start on scrolls of backing wallpaper taped to my bedroom wall. Now it goes onto a whiteboard first.

As always this blog is an e-portfolio: most notes, moments in student forums and references are in here.

I recommend using a blog platform in this way. You can default to 'private', or share with the OU community ... or 'anyone in the world'. One simple addition to this would be a 'share with your module cohort'.

By now I have clicked through some 165 posts taggeed H809 and can refer to H809ema for those picked out for it.

One split occured - I very much wanted to explore the use of augmented reality in museum visits, but found instead a combination of necessity and logic taking me back to the H809 TMA 01 and a substantial reversioning of it. Quite coincidentally this proposed research on adherence to preventer drugs amongst moderate to severe asthmatics had me taking a very close interest on a rare visit to a hospital outpatient's. Nasal endoscopy must look like a circus trick to the casual observer as the consultant carefully 'lances' my skull through the nose with a slender and flexible rod on which there is a tiny camera and light. 'Yes, I can see the damage from surgery' he declares (this was 33 years ago), 'but no signs of cancer'.

There's a relief.

An unexplained nose bleed lasting the best part of 10 weeks was put down to my good-boy adherence to a steroid nasal spray that had damaged the soft tissue. And the medical profession wonder why drug adherence can be so low? 20% to 60% 33 years on and courtesy of the OU Library I found a wholly convincing diagnosis - allergic rhinitis. The 'paper' runs to over 80 pages excluding references and has some 20 contributors (Bousquet, 2008). I'll so miss access to the online library as most papers appear to cost around the £9 to download. This desire to remain attached by a digital umbilical chord to such a resource is one reason I wish to pursue yet more postgraduate studying and potentially even an academic career. I get extraordinary satisfaction browsing 'stuff' to feed my curiosity.

When I stop diddling around here I'll pick off this mindmap in a strick clockwise direction from around 1 O'Clock.

Simpleminds is great as a free App. It's taken me a couple of years to get round to paying £6 for a version that can be exported into a word file though I rather enjoy the slower, more considered 'cut and paste' which adds another opportunity to reflect, expand or ditch an idea.

REFERENCE

Bousquet, J, Khaltaev, N, Cruz, A, Denburg, J, Fokkens, W, Togias, A, Zuberbier, T, Baena-Cagnani, C, Canonica, G, Van Weel, C, Agache, I, Aït-Khaled, N, Bachert, C, Blaiss, M, Bonini, S, Boulet, L, Bousquet, P, Camargos, P, Carlsen, K, & Chen, Y (2008) 'Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA) 2008 Update (in collaboration with the World Health Organization, GA2LEN', Allergy, 63, pp. 8-160, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 19 June 2013.

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Potty or just excited?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 12 Jun 2013, 02:22

Screen%2520Shot%25202013-06-11%2520at%252018.54.54.jpg

Excited and nervous about getting my head around an EMA and turning this into a P.hD proposal I wacked off an email to a contact on the US East Coast not expecting a reply for 24 hours. They're potty too ... either in the office at 9.00pm last night (their time) or taking 'office' emails.

My excuse is the dog decided to dig up her bed an hour ago. (1.00pm)

I have a lot of reading to do. I've made a start on 'The Future of Pharma' which is by an OU Visiting Professor. When I crawl off back to bed (like now) this can had an odd effect on my dreams - trials, drugs, 'Big Pharma' can meld into a horror story. Not helped by a dose of Netflix 'Resident Evil' earlier on either.

'The Worlds Most Important Industry' writes the author - not how too many people see it, but then when did they or a loved one last take any kind of medication that has improved their quality of life? Personally I would have been dead in the first six months ... and at some stage in the last 30 would have succumbed to an asthma attack, flu or bronchitis ... or all three simultaneously. My brother would have died age four.

On the other hand my grandfather made it to 96 and had little to do with doctors. While my mother might have succumbed to a couple of strokes instead of being kept alive in the most pitiful state for an additional three months ...

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Word Count for a TMA

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It is taken me nearly four hours to reduce 1780 words to 1070 words for one part of a 2000 word TMA.

  • It is worth reflecting on this exercise.
  • This is where lasting learning occurs.
  • The intellectual demands and effort means that some of this will stick.
  • I had to prioritise ruthlessly.
  • And then edit like I was writing a Tweet.
  • And as my confidence grew in what I had to say my tone became more precise and decissive.

Now the problem is the other half of the 2000 word TMA.

It now looks, by comparison, somewhat moth-eaten. If I edit with the same approach the word count will come down to 700 or less - so understandably a different kind of effort will be required to identify what I have missed out.

Onwards.

I need it out of the way so that I can get on with my very last EMA.

Which makes this my last TMA.

All the more reason to make it a good one then.

Never understimate how much time should be devoted to 'getting it right' even when you think you've got there with an earlier draft.

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It took me a year ... no longer, 18 months. Even longer than that, two years, to recognise what it took to get consistently high marks.

I couldn't fathom what people were doing.

Is it a formula? Or just application? Is there a method? Whatever it takes until you feel confident you know what is going on ... so read, read again, ask questions. Then going and read something else. Disagree, agree ... sleep on it. Then, ever so slowly it starts to dawn on you. This is what they are on about. I am prone to read well beyond the listed resources though, picking through papers until I find the one that speaks to me - the voice that expresses it in a way that has ressonance. And I am prone, within reason, to get the book that is cited in a paper I like ... so a collection of second handbooks under the table and a larger collection of eBooks. eBooks I read faster, highlight and take notes as I go along, then migrate notes and quotes into a Google Doc. I kid myself when I have a lot to read that it is different on the Kindle, the iPad or on the TV size screen that is ... well the TV (but my computer too).

A couple of weeks ago I took the TV and put it in the shed. One of those things the size of a pedal car.

No one misses it.

Everyone is on a screen elsewhere in the house. We stream movies. We use BBC iPlayer.

I don't miss clicking between channels looking for something to watch, finding nothing much but glued to the thing for a few things all the same.

Movies?

Ironclad

That's the way to do Medieval!

A week away in April and I still haven't recovered my old rhythmn. Nor will I. Instead of bloggin I have every conceivable thing to sort out with the house and garden. Somehow both were abandoned for three years - I wonder why that was?

The lawn was so bad I needed an industrial strimmer. The lawnmower I bought in 2007 is still in its original packaging in the shed.

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A new chapter begins ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 8 May 2013, 04:42

Four months into making the decision to pursue this route I have taken my first step towards doctoral research. I had to collate qualification certificates from ancient degrees - which was an interesting experience. And talk to OU Tutors about an academic reference. It feels as scary as putting in an EMA, except that here the result is either pass or fail.

If I can stick to this plan then the full round of applications starts in January 2014.

As much work as possible until September 2014 would be a good idea.

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As cyberborgs mark EMAs don't ever risk venturing beyond the OU climbing frame.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 4 Apr 2013, 17:45

And then there's this - 12 grabs of an Activity System looking like Toblerone.

One per month, one per hour.

This is the point. The thing is

a) a grab in time

b) unstable

c) a construct or model (as well as a theory).

A theory because it can be re-apppied (for now).

DSC06464.JPG

Fig.1. Its image explains itself.

Engestrom and others go to great lengths to remind us that the model/theory of an Acticity System is a snap shot in time - that even as we look at it things are moving on, that the relationships don't simply change as a result of the interactions with each other - but because the whole thing shifts.

OK. Take a chocolate triange of Acitivty Theory and visualise it in sequence. Better still, drop what you are doing and go and buy some.

Now take a piece and eat it.

The logic remains equally sound when I suggest that by consuming a moment of the Activity System in its last iteration you are enacting what the Interenet has done and is doing.

This is what the connectivity of the Web does - the degree and scale of connections is overpowering and consuming.

One step more.

That triangle of chocolate, nougat, almonds and honey that I see as a multi-sensory experssion of an Acitivity System may be digested in the stomach, but its ingredients hit you in the head.

It's a brain thing.

Which explains my interest in neuroscience.

It happens. It should be visible. It can be measured.

Just reading this a million Lego Characters are kicking a few more million molecular bricks along a dendrite in part because they must, then again just to see what happens (yes, I have just read 'Neuroscience for Dummies'). So some stick in odd places. Some will hit the mark (whatever that is) while another will remind you of the very moment you first nibbled on Toblerone.

I LOVE the way the brain will throw you a googlie. (as a fraction of the planet know cricket other metaphors are required. I never even played the game as I was deemed rubbish - actually, though no one spotted it in five years of prep school, I needed glasses).

On the one hand, my interest is to take a knife to all of this, chop it off and put it in the compost bin so that I am left with something that is 'tickable', on the other hand I want to indulge the adventure of the composting process.

 

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How to write the perfect essay every time

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A 30 second video says it tall:

DSC00351.JPG

 

CLICK HERE The perfect essay (or not).

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Resistance and an EMA

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 19 Mar 2012, 08:23

The EMA is due on Monday.

Instead of writing the penultimate draft from the notes, earlier drafts, diagrams and pics I have assembled I am spinning through people's blogs. On the MAODE modules this served a purpose because there are always a handful of people who get into the blog thing on H800, H808, H807 and H809. However I have only ever come across TWO people doing any MBA module here and never anyone who is doing or has done B822 'Creativity, Innovation & Change'. All I need, or benefit from is the knowledge that I am in the same place they are or were ... or are reaching, to help clear the fog so that I can give the thing some certain shape. One trick, I've done this, is to write my TMA into this blog space ... never publish, but somehow I feel, momentarily, I have grabbed my space on the Church Hall platform and I have no choice but to talk through what I've got.

What have I got?

  • Five parts with a very clear sense of how many words per part are permitted and will work for what I think I know.
  • A couple of drafts which very unusually for me gives a total some 1000 words under rather than 10000 words over the required total.
  • A neat collection of course work references, quotes and diagrams.
  • Evidence in the form of photos, more diagrams, and comments on the topic from discussions that I seeded 'businessy' groups in Linkedin.
  • This stuff printed out and in digital form.
  • Two hours before I need to get off to the swimming club where I swim an early morning Masters session then teach for a few hours.

SO

  • Focus on pulling stuff together for two hours.
  • Do the swim.
  • Then look at it afresh this afternoon.
  • This is a REPORT, so keep each part objective, and contained by the word count.
  • Stop fretting! A pass will do, but if I submit nothing a fail is inevitable sad
  • It MUST go on Sunday as I'm in London all day Monday.

(P.S. At some stage I'll be wandering around the Hockney at the RA if anyone wants to meet up)

 

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 18 Mar 2012, 10:05)
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How to use your blog for Tutor Marked Assignments

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 May 2014, 06:58

This is my approach, it works for me.

Everything goes in here: notes from what I read or come across, sometimes so I didn't lose track of them, course related comments I post on people's blogs too.

A good deal of this remains hidden (private), however I will sometimes 'expose' notes and cryptic thoughts in case someone can make sense of it for me, or chivvy me along to construct some rounded thoughts and sentences with the stuff.

There's some random stuff too.

Tagging matters immensely.

'Search' leaves it to chance, which might help you serendipitously to come across a thought or note you had, but is scrappy and can be time wasting, rather be tag happy and have a system.

Everything gets the module reference, if there is an activity reference this is added as a single word such as 'h807activity3.4' or some such so that it can be searched for and found with ease.

Come TMA time I revisit all the content from that block and start adding the tag, for example, 'h807tma2', or as I'm currently doing 'b822tma3'.

Gathered in one search list I then go through each relevant post refining my thinking.

At some stage I may add further tags to identify arguments or to give it a chronology if that isn't apparent. I then cut and paste to a word document.

I MAY assemble in PowerPoint simply to help shuffle ideas around.

A system?

Hardly. Each to their own. I panic like anyone else over an assignment but know the stuff is here and having done the reading and activities and having shared my thinking and had this coloured and shaped by others that I ought to be able to assemble a cogent case.


Tags are strategic, Search is more random.

I switch between the two when revisiting note

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36 hour catch-up

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 7 Mar 2012, 17:42

Never one in the last two years to get behind I am now playing 36 hour catch-up.

I got through six hours of reading overnight, there's a tutorial tomorrow that must count for something, then another 6 on Sunday. Maybe a few hours on the train on Monday and perhaps another 6 on Tuesday, even Wednesday.

Next weekend I'm coaching Saturday then in London for a day of Gamesmaker Training ahead of the Olympics.

Can an EMA be written in transit?

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Further mistakes I have made writing assignments and essays expressed as cartoon daisies

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 19 Apr 2012, 08:24

DSC00352.JPG

I wrote one of these for an end of Module Assignment.

I got carried away with a single thesis. Not only did I stick to the topic, but I illustrated it. It was the image of a thermal on which career development was built. Problem was I hadn't given myself time to qualify my thinking, indeed, despite a heap of work I barely mentioned it (and barely got any marks). DSC00355.JPG

Here the essay has been bought online.

Sometimes it is easy to spot the pot. These days software does it for educational institutions.

 

DSC00358.JPG

To the right or to the left; if the essay shows any political bias it is going to score less well.

DSC00359.JPG

 

The essay that's going nowhere.

No idea, no essay plan, contemplates where it would like to go then reflects on where is would like to have been without saying very much at all.

 

Permalink 4 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 10 Jan 2012, 19:56)
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B822 TMA01 Away!

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You'd think I'd know this as I submit my first Tutor Marked Assignment of my fourth module towards a Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE), but when you think you have finished you haven't.

I would give NINE hours to the following:

a) Edit (to the parameters of the word count)

b) Referencing (everything)

c) Narrative flow, which can muck up (a) and (b)

Actually, my first edit had me bin the thing and start again, I'd written it like a letter to a Great Aunt, more of a blog post than the required report.

It has taken 12 or so of these, including EMAs, to feel comfortable with leaving things out, not simply writing succinctly, but dropping ideas that are weak or appear to be repetitive. My inclination is to leave nothing out.

An interesting exercise which will segue into the next two assignment and an exam in April. I feel I have a 'road map'.

Yes, a Christmas Break, but I'll use it first to catch up (I'm a week behind), then to get ahead.

On point c) it helps enormously to reference notes as you go along. Repeatedly I found I could search a quote or author in my own blog, which I use as an e-portfolio, and the correct reference was ready to be cut and pasted into the assignment.

On point a) I have been known to read the assignment out, record it, then listen to the play back. This can be painful as you find there are entire chunks of stuff in the wrong place, or an exercise you'd love to include is redundant. This pain slowly recedes as you feel convinced you have done the right thing by the assignment.

Mark prediction? New tutor, new topic? I never know, but somewhere between low 60s and high 70s.

On verra

Meanwhile, I've got bags to pack, a car to have a new battery fitted, then to load, then off.

 

 

 

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EMA Away!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 27 Sep 2011, 07:37
I have a month or six weeks before B822, the shift I suppose into the application and management of innovative e-learning. After some silly hours over the weekend, which I wish I'd done a week ago, I 'crashed' by watching two E4 films back to back, falling asleep and catching up or falling behind by flicking between the movie and the movie+1. They both featured Spitfires, the first Alec Guiness and a Maltese girl - he died; the second Kenneth Moore and hearty British girl - he didn't die but he did lose his legs being a show-off in an Avro. Ian Kershaw's new book looks a good read; I've got through his biography on Hitler visiting my inlaws (he fought in the Warsaw Uprising), politics and the WWII are big topics. And I have this blog to sort out, migrating its contents over to www.mymindbursts.com
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H800 EMA NO PANIC!

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This 6,000 word assignment is in its final draft.

My current estimation is that it will take another 16 hours to complete; it is due 12 noon on Monday.

Why so long?

The content and narrative is in place, and running at 8,000 words it should be just a case of judicious editing and referencing. The challenge is how to create the required, or my desired, weave of references, quotations and illustrations while not 'losing the plot' or making something straight-forward confusing.

Whilst two years to get to publication for an academic seems extreme, I do nontheless now appreciate how and why these things can take so long. However, I question why the marking system and the objective appears to be to turn us students into the writers of academic papers, when for most of us the desire, certainly in the Masters in Open and Distance Education is far more practical, indeed the Sussex University e-learning diploma is assessed through the completion of a series of workable e-learning modules or activities that can lead to students applying this content directly in their workplace or joining any of the many e-learning and web business along the Sussex Coast.

 

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H800 wordled

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 9 Sep 2011, 20:31
H800%252520EMA%252520Wordle%2525201.JPG

If only you could paste notes and quotes into some software and produce, rather like baking a cake, a complete EMA.
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