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Study Tips for studying online

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  1. Read the syllabus.
  2. Plan weekly study times.
  3. Log on to the class at least 3 times a week.
  4. Ask questions.
  5. Make connections with your fellow students.

Do you agree? How do you plan your week? How often are you online? Have you made friends with fellow students?

I picked up these tips from the emoderation training course I am doing with Coursera through the University of Leiden - the second such MOOC I have done, the last one being with Coursera itself when I became a mentor 18 months ago (on a photography course of all things).  I have degrees in Geography and Open & Distance Education. 

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What are MOOCs doing for learning?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 17 Nov 2014, 08:24

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are new and FutureLearn, a wholly owned subsidiary of The OU is itself adapting as traditional institutions embrace e-learning, respond to feedback and results and improve.

MOOCs will be new for a decade.

E-learning like this is not a lecture series online, TV online, a book online, quiz or a tutorial online. Whilst this is invariably the starting place for 'ground based' educators, the academics working with instructional designers, not in isolation, need increasingly to begin with a blank sheet rather than looking at the physical assets of academics, books, lectures and papers around them.

What we are witnessing today is that transition from the Wright Brothers to the World War One fighter planes. We are seeing hints of the jets to come. We are a long way from drones. I use the analogy having just completed a wonderful three-week MOOC 'World War 1: Aviation Comes of Age'.

Innovations go through recognisable phases.

E-learning in the forms of MOOCs is still at the stage of 'early adoption' - rest-assured they will become commonplace, though surely with a different name. MOOCs can be a hybrid during a transitional phase so long as this is seen as the first step in many away from traditional approaches, embracing what works online.

Academics need to come out of their cupboard, come away of their studies and welcome into their midst those of us seeking to understand and to integrate the processes involved - that combination of learning and e-learning: how and why we learn and how then scale (massiveness), interactivity (digital) and connectivity (openness) changes things. In time, when the academics themselves have reached their status of 'doctor' and 'professor' through e-learning, when we can call all them 'digital scholars' rather than simply 'scholars', then we'll be able to look down from the clouds and smile at how much things have changed.

Think evolution not revolution.

Think how long it will take to see out the current generation of academics - thirty to fifty years?

Ultimately MOOCs are about a combination of sequential activities and 'interactivities', collaboration and connection.

Gilly Salmon coined the term 'e-tivities': sadly not in common usage, it nonetheless captures beautifully what is required for students to learn online - doing stuff, alone, with other students and with the academics.

Collaboration is a long held view of a kind of learning in 'communities of practice' most associated with the academics Lave and Wenger: how working together is a more effective for of constructed learning.

While 'connectivity', often associated with the academic George Siemens, is the new kid on the 'learning theories' block. Connectedness as a way of learning is dependent on a few things: the affordances of the platform to permit this with ease: if you have the opportunity compare current student messaging and blogging platforms at your institution with those at FutureLearn which has stripped back the unnecessary and concentrated on this 'connectivity'; the number and mix of participants: massive helps as a small percentage of a group will be the front runners and conversationalists with others benefiting from listening in, out of choice not pressure and the 'quality' of the participants in that they need to have both basic 'digital literacy' skills and reliable access based on their kit and connection.

Embrace the pace of change

A lean and smart organisation will tumble over itself, re-inventing and experimenting with ways things are done until clear methodologies present themselves for specific types of learning experience: 'head work' is different to' handiwork' - academic study is different from applied practice. Subjects freed from books and formal lectures, like the genii released from the bottle will, in the cloud, form into shapes that are most suited to their learners and what is being taught: blended and 'traditional' learning most certainly have their place.

Academic snobbery is a barrier to e-learning

John Seely Brown, working out of the Palo Alto Research Centre, famous for coming up with the WYSIWYG interface between us and computers and a 'learning guru' is passionate about the idea of 'learning from the periphery' - this is how and when someone new to a subject, or team, hangs around at the edges, learning and absorbing what is going on at the heart. The wonder of open learning is the participation of equally brilliant and curious minds, some who know a good deal on a subject while others are just starting out, eager to listen, willing to ask questions that may be naïve but are usually insightful; in the two-way exchange both the die-hard academic and the newbie change for the better. Learning feeds of this new fluidity.

It is evidence of the 'democratisation' of learning.

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F is for Future Learn

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 6 Jun 2014, 03:49

  • Flickr

  • Forum

  • Facebook

  • Face to Face

  • Flipping (Flipped classroom)

  • Fingerspitzengefuhl

  • Future Learn

Surely I've missed a few Fs in my 'A to Z' of e-learning? An author? An App? I've added 'face to face' as this is the perennial argument against self-directed distance and online learning - Rosetta Stone a gamified way to learn a language lacks the currency of being there.

On Flickr for seven or more years I found myself sharing an interest in the First World War and Hastings courtesy of some photographs my grandfather had of his time there during early training in the Royal Air Force (just formed). Further links led to a lengthy interview for a research paper (UCL), BBC South East and BBC Radio 4. Since when the grandson of someone else featured in the photos has come forward. Flickr makes for an interesting story as it was developed as a games platforms then turned into something else. 

Facebook for learning? For informal learning. I don't see it yet. Correct me if I am wrong. Perhaps people are learning far more than they or we are aware. I keep Facebook to immediate family and friends. If I want to learn anything I got to Linkedin Groups. 

Fingerspitzengefuhl expresses what I feel we do an the human-technology interface - finger tapping on keyboards.

'Consider this medium as like talking with your fingers - half-way between spoken conversation and written discourse.' (Hawkridge, Morgan and Jeffs, 1997, quotes in Salmon 2005)

Future Learn is a bit of a new one and an unknown quantity. I've done a couple of MOOCs on future learn (Massive Open Online Courses). Will they and it be a passing phase? There will be competition. Every university will be MOOCing in due course. I admire their enthusiasm and simplicity: a short video, some content, some sharing and a quiz. An assessment. A buzz. 

Forums are a tool in the e-learning design of online courses. How they are placed strategically and whether they work and contribute to specific learning objectives is another matter. 

'Flipping the classroom' is hype. The expression may be used to imply or suggest the need for some kind of revolution in school teaching; I think not. Evolution yes. Teachers and classrooms still matter. It is a way into conversations on how learning technologies and resources are used though. Which is more than a TED lecture and the Khan Academy.

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The Girl at the Lion d'Or

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 25 Nov 2011, 13:34

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Having enjoyed 'Birdsong' by Sebastian Faulks I not only went on to read many other Faulks' novels, I also went on to read much of Pat Barker too (for the First World War setting), and Ernest Hemmingway. Indeed, written at the time, HGWells take you to a similar place.

I find myself reading 'The Girl at the Lion D'Or'.

As is too often the case I realise half way through I have read it before; I should know the characters and recall the events and outcome: I don't. In fact, I am compelled as much to read it for the story as to satisfy this nagging feeling I know something dreadful or beautiful is about to happen. We get a little of each. And some wonderful interludes, as if Faulk's wove in some short stories that weren't going to endure as novels. (There's a nifty idea).

I want to talk about this lovely story, how Anne comes from Paris to work at the Hotel Lion D'Or. Who and what she is touches many lives, she is a catalyst for misbehaviour, action and change.

But I can't help but reflect on how I read, or skim read. I simply do not take it in, or rather, my mind leaves it on the surface, like a conversation overheard on a train. My mind, my kind of mind at least, or how it has formed, through a combination of genetics and experience, treats all readying as frippery. The consequence of this is that when I have academic reading to do it takes a huge effort to get anything at all to stick.

Reading on its own is pointless.

Historically I took notes long hand of everything I read. Historically, at school and university this would become an essay, the essay would be discussed in a small tutor group, filed, then looked at again months later for an exam. This kept that knowledge for the required period. Today I take notes through a QWERTY keyboard and upload. I am toying with adding pen to paper again. Then what? So long as I return to the notes and develop them the topic may become a living thing. Best of all, for me at least, are the vibrant tutor groups, or some online forums where I can find them. I need to wrestle with a topic, to agree and disagree, to read more, to seek out my own heroes and villains from further references. Then, and only over a period of months, if not years, do I make any sense of it, do I feel a sense of conviction about what I have picked up, understood or misunderstood.

I'm coming to apperciate why 'scholarship' takes time.

I don't take notes when reading a novel; perhaps this allows me to enjoy the second or third reading. You discover new things, you pick up the detail, nuances that weren't apparent the first time round. You may even get a better sense of the author's voice and purpose.

Can anyone recommend a good read?

I feel a novel a week inbetween OU reading and employment would be a good tonic for my mental well being. I beleive I work and think better too, but escaping from it all regularly.

You can immerse yourself in a subject and drown.

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H800 Forum Strengths & Weaknesses

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 5 Oct 2012, 23:34
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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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Use of personal photos

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 10:37

A healthy debate over the use of photographs has developed in our Forum.

What is best practice?

There needs to be common behaviour for a start. If some of us show our faces while others do not, or put up abstract images or symbols then I'd liken this going to a dinner party and finding some people in fancy dress, or eating alone outside ... or hiding under the table.

There is a very good reason to 'show your face' - there is not better way to relate to someone, or to 'tag' a piece of text.

As a swimming coach I now coach or teach or have responsibility for nearly 300 children age 5-17. I know who they are because I recognise their faces. This is what we humans do, faces are of such vital importance, even our field of vision is defined by the scale and detail of a face.

The choice of picture matters too. Why half hidden? Is it recent? And the mood? Would it ideally look like the Mast Head for a Newspaper ... or ought it to be more modest and reflective, not quite a passport photo but equally bland?

What do people think?

How do you represent yourself?

Do you have a different picture for different sites or do you use the same picture each time?

Is this you in the last year? Or the last decade!

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