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Identifying student groupings for legitimate study

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 1 Jun 2013, 05:33

In my quest to understand, who, why and what we are I am fed by the OU Online Library, Google Scholar and Amazon. The paper I am currently writing (Lindroth and Berqusit, Reading 17 in H809) needs me to identify, qualify or reject, as strong or weak, boundaries that define a group of people.

Whilst I can understand the justification for a study of, say the Saami People, also of Hells Angels, and Gamers - those who role play in virtual worlds ... I am struggling with the authors who in this case felt that a decade ago certain students in H.E. could be identified as 'laptopers'. From my point of view if there was any weak culturally identity with a computer those who used Macs might have thought they stood out - or was that 'Think Different' independent mindset just a clever advertising ruse?

TMA03 is proving an enlightening journey that takes me back to an undergraduate module I did on anthropology - then still largelly an historic, geographically definable adventurer into unknown societies. More so than with any other module in the MA ODE family I have taken several steps beyond the confined of the resources. Courtesy of the Web it is with relative ease, and a little damage to my wallet, that I am able not only to pull out papers, but a number of eBooks and second hand paperbacks have also made it to my desk.

Making Knowledge: Explorations of the Indissoluble Relation between Mind, Body and Environment (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute Special Issue Book Series) [Kindle Edition] By: Trevor H. J. Marchand

Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography (School of American Research Advanced Seminar Series) James Clifford and George Marcus

Tales of the Field: On Writing Ethnography, Second Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and) John Van Maanen



 

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The House and Garden have done for my OU Student Blog ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 22 May 2013, 06:42

Pulling the house and garden apart has produce a victim ... OU work has to be carried out in a more strategic fashion, typically very early in the morning before the mayhem around me begins.

The EMA could be an interesting challenge - I'm having a cataract operation. Apparently a combination of skiing and sailing has damaged my eyes  (UV damage) ... I'm yet to be convinced of the need for an operation for 'lens replacement' for another decade or two though ... (I have twice worked a season in the French Alps ... 31 and 29 years ago though!) That an having a 'sun lamp' at home when we were growing up ... and my father even got a sunbed. We always wore dark google wit the sunlamp but would lie on the sunbed without any protection reading a book sad

Despite the above I have devoured two additional books for H809 not on the 'reading list' and ordered a third.

  1. David Garson (2011) Validity and Reliability.
  2. John Van Maanen (2011) 2nd Ed. Tales of the Field. On writing ethnography.
  3. James Clifford and George Marcus (1986) Writing culture. The poetics and politics of ethnography.

This is something I miss, that 'standard text', H810 being the exception. Getting to know one or two authors well has a lot to be said for it, rather than constantly dipping between the multiple voices of the Course Team and papers.

Cataract Surgery

(The above is also an excellent example of a succinct, professional explanatory animation).

How to be put off a cataract operation!

Perhaps this is better

Tips (what I'll be telling my teenagers):

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Do not burn.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Usa a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours, or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
  • See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.

Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses have been popular with people for years, both for comfort and as a fashion accessory. However as studies and research continue to demonstrate a relationship between UV-A/UV-B exposure and ocular disease, the protection of the long-term health of your eyes is yet another reason to wear sunglasses. In order for sunglasses to provide adequate protection for your eyes, they should:

  • Block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation;
  • Screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light;
  • Have lenses perfectly matched in color and free of distortion and imperfection;
  • Have lenses that are gray, green or brown.

What to look for in sunglasses.

(I wonder if I ever wore sunglasses when windsurfing in the 1980s?)

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H809: Activity 13.2 - Reflections and notes

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 24 May 2013, 11:03

Participation in ...

Observation of ...

What is the Chicago School?

In sociology and later criminology, the Chicago School (sometimes described as the Ecological School) was the first major body of works emerging during the 1920s and 1930s specialising in urban sociology, and the research into the urban environment by combining theory and ethnographic fieldwork in Chicago, now applied elsewhere. While involving scholars at several Chicago area universities, the term is often used interchangeably to refer to the University of Chicago's sociology department—one of the oldest and one of the most prestigious. (Wikipedia)

Requires a chapter, even a book on it. Possibly a block, even a module in its own right.

Does the ethnography depend upon the physical presence of the enthnographer in the midst of the people being studied? (Hammersley, 2006 :08)

Not any more. An ethnographer in a virtual world amongst virtual people is present. Is, however, an ethnographer present where they to observe footage from Big Brother, either in real time, or post-production (literally). Are we ‘kitchen ethnogrpahers’ when we watch a TV series about a group ‘under observation’?

‘With the availability of mobile phones and portable computers, electronic virtuality is now embedded within actuality in a more dispersed and active way than ever before’. (Hammersley, 2006:08)

Is interviewing ethnographic? (Hammersley, 2006:09) How else do you ‘give voice’ to the participants and capture their perspectives?

Witness accounts are flawed.

A witness might lie, but will certainly have a stance, however nuanced, they may even have a false memory. Indeed, over time, the nature of this memory will change other ideas, true or false recollections aggregate to it. And is impacted by the context. (Hammersley, 2006:09)

Rather to record conversations … but who is to set the guidelines? (Hammersley, 2006:10)It can be argued that everything we do or perceive is real. Whether in a virtual world, or dreaming ... or 'the real thing'.

The experience has a form in that an electro-biological process has taken place in all these cases - it's in your head! Science Fiction writers and filmmakers play around with this all the time. My understanding from neuroscience is that typically any memory, or rethinking of a memory or experience, connects with some 15 areas around the brain ... which change (enhance, diminish). The scale and scope amongst our 98 billion neurons is ... well, vast. So much of what we do or experience can and will have only a tiny impact on who we are (genetically decided construction of the brain during foetal development) and what we experience (whether this experience is internal or external). Does the brain even differentiate between conscious and unconsciousness, beyond tagging them one or the other so that, however vivid it was, you know that was a dream where you turned into a flying fish ... or that running around like Conan the Barbarian with the head of a wolf in World of War Craft is not the same as sitting in a Geography class. Neuroscience is trying to see and map fractions of activity in the brain, but this is a long way from offering such human-coloured maps as evidence, say of specific learning having occurred, so short of an objective result we can only rely on the subjective i.e. to ask a lot of probing questions and draw conclusions.

In relation to a face-to-face as virtual, surely there is more in common with a Skype interview 'face to face' and a similar interview over a table ... but there are degrees of virtual and 'real' as an interview when in role play or improvising say as a character in World of Warcraft would surely be more akin to the an exercise that actors do. Or what about role playing real people in order to prepare for a debriefing, or tough interview ... as in media training for managers?

Fascinating ... my curiosity has been re-engaged even if professionally strictly quantitative plays so well into funding mechanisms. You design learning that can be quantified, using  appropriately accommodating learning theories, so that investors can monitor their return.

People in virtual worlds are themselves - but more so.

i.e. in various forms people might either be themselves big time, almost hyping up who they are while others would take a part of themselves and enhance that ... so they roleplay the minor god (in the Greek sense), or swap gender, or role play being a teenager again ... or for that matter being older than they are. i.e. the original person is still at the core of it all.

 

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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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Learning Theories in a mind map

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Nov 2013, 13:56

Fig. 1. Learning Theories. Click on this and you can grab the original in a variety of sizes from the Picasa Web Album where it resides. (Created using SimpleMinds APP)

In an effort to impose some logic these are now grouped and various links also made. The reality might be take a large bowl of water then drip into these 12 coloured inks. The reality of how we learn is complex and will only be made the more so with fMRI imaging and advances in neuroscience.

My favourite Learning Theory here is one that Knud Illeris (2009) came up with - not learning at all, resistance too or defence learning. You just block it. That's how I did 9 years of Latin and can decline how to love a table - I have no idea anymore what 'ramabottom' or some such means either. Ditto French as taught before secondary school and Chemistry - right or wrong, tick and box in a multiple choice each week. Still, for someone who couldn't give a fig for either this approach got me through on a C grade. For French the 'holistic' approach worked a treat - French exchange, then back to hitch through France with some French guys who didn't have a word of English, then got a job out there. Chemistry worked best with my Chemistry 7 set.

Activity Theory and Communities of Practice are surely in meltdown with the connectivity of Web 2.0?

The nodes and silos are too easily circumvented by each of us going directly to the source. 'Community of Ideas' works best for me.

Learning Theories

1) Neurophysiological - stimulus response, optmization of memory processes: Sylvester, 1995; Edelman, 1994; Jarvis, 1987.

2) Holistic - Illeris, 2009.

3) Behaviorist - Stimulus response pairs, Skinner, 1974.

4) Cognitive - Communication, how the brain receives, internalises and recalls information, problem solving, explanation, recombination, contrast, building upon information structures, focus on internal cognitive structures, models, methods and schemas, information processing, inferences.; Wenger, 1987; Hutchins, 1993; Anderson, 1983; Piaget, 1952.

5) Constructivist - Learners build their own mental structures, design orientated, assimilative learning (Illeris, 2009); task-orientated, cohort/collaborative group. Leonard, 2010): Vygotsky, 1934; Piaget, 1954; Bruner, 1993; Papert, 1980.

6) Transformative Learning - significant (Roger, 1951, 59); Transformative (Mezirow, 1994); Expansive (Engestrom, 1987); Transitional (Alheit, 1994).

7) Social - Socialization, a psychological perspective, imitation of norms, acquisition of membership, interpersonal relations (Bandura, 1977)

8) Communities of Practice - The focus is on participation and the role this plays to attract and retain new ‘members’; knowledge transfer is closely tied to the social situation where the knowledge is learned, (Learnard, 2010); shared, social and almost unintentional; legitimate peripheral participation (Lave, ); taking part in the practices of the community. A framework that considers learning in social terms. Lave & Wenger, 1991.

9) Communities of Interest -

10) Accommodative Learning - Illeris, 2007.

11) Activity Theories - Learners bridge the knowledge gap via the zone of proximal development, Wertsch, 1984. Historically constructed activities as entities. Thinking, reasoning and learning is a socially and culturally mediated phenomenon. Learnard, 2010. Engestrom, 1987; Vygotsky, 1934; Wertsch, 1984.

12) Organizational - How people in an organisation learn and how organisations learn. Organizational systems, structures and politics. Brown and Dugiod, 1995. Noaka and Takeuchi, 1991.

13) Resistance to/defence learning - Illeris, 2007

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What is learning?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 4 Dec 2014, 07:50

H809 TMA 02 C

Learning is complex so creating.

All observations are theory impregnated. Popper, (1996:86)

Learning can broadly be defined as ‘any process that in living organisms leads to permanent capacity change and which is not solely due to biological maturation or ageing (Illeris 2007, p.3)

Learning involves both internal and external factors. (Conole and Oliver, 20xx)

Human learning is the combination of processes throughout a lifetime whereby the whole person - body (genetic, physical and biological) and mind (knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, emotions, beliefs and senses) - experiences social situations, the perceived content of which is then transformed cognitively, emotively or practically (or through any combination) and integrated into the individual person’s biography resulting in a continually changing (or more experienced) person.

(Illeris, in Contemporary Theories ... 2009)

There are many different kinds of learning theory. Each emphasizes different aspects of learning, and each is therefore useful for different purposes. (Conole and Oliver, ) What matters in learning and the nature of knowledge. And how families develop their own practices, routines, rituals, artifacts, symbols, conventions, stories and histories. (Conole and Oliver, )

Identify the key components of a number of theoretical approaches. Briefly introduce, say what it is and highlight key concepts.

How these might be applied to learning design with technology.

Clear RQs that are clearly derived from specific theories.

Recommend which data collection processes would be appropriate.

Conole et al (2004) x 7: Behaviourism, Cognitive, Constructivism, Activity-based, socially situated learning, experiential and systems theory.

Cube Representation of model. (Should be those things you roll) ADD OLDS MOOC and/or H817open

Mayes and de Frietas (2004) x3 Associative (structured tasks), cognitive (understanding) and situative.

Beetham (2005) x4: Associative, cognitive constructivist, social constructivist, situative.

See x4 Learning Theories Mind Map

Edudemic (2013) x 4 behaviourist, cognitive, constructive and connectivism

Traditional Learning Theories

http://edudemic.com/2012/12/a-simple-guide-to-4-complex-learning-theories/

Etienne Wenger (2007 in Knud Illeris) x9: organizational, neurophysiological, behaviourist, cognitive, activity theories, communities of practice, social learning, socialisational, constructivist.

Community of Practice and Community of Interests

‘Practitioners and overwhelmed by the plethora of choices and may lack the necessary skills to make informed choices about how to use these theories’. (Conole and Oliver 20xx)

 

 

 

 

Behaviourism

A perspective on learning (Skinner, 1950) reinforce/diminish. Stimulus/response. Aristotle. Hume. Pavlov. Ebbinghaus.

 

Cognitivism

Kant, Gagne, Rumlehart & Newman.

 

Activity Theory

Builds on the work of Vygotsky (1986). Learning as a social activity. All human action is mediated through using tools. In the context of a community. Knotworking. Runaway object.

Useful for analysing why problems have occurred - discordance. See Greenhow and Belbas for RQs.

Constructivism

Engestrom, Soctrates, Brown, Bruner, Illich,

 

Connectivism

Bush, Wells, Berners-Lee.

 

Humanism

Leonard (500 Theories)

 

Learning Theories from Wenger and others applied to OLDS MOOC

Organizational, Neurophsiological, Behaviourist, Cogntive, Resistence to or defence learning, activity theory, communities of practice, accommodation learning, social learning, transformative learning, socializational, constructivist.

Conole x6 pairings diagram

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Formulate clear questions.

Amplification (Cole and Griffin) Amplifying as an increase in output - give a hunter a gun and they kill more prey. Give someone a computer and they write and calculate more. ‘Technology is best understood not as a static influence on literacy practice, but as a dynamic contributor to it’.

Learning and teaching: Behaviourism x3, cognitive theories x10 (including constructivism), humanisitc approaches, and others.

RQ

Quality not quantity

How these depend on the theoretical approach.

Strengths and Limitations

S - Situation, interactions, mechanisms can be more or less collaborative (Dillenbourg, 1999:9). Knowledge always undergoes construction and transformation in use. Learning is an integral aspect of activity. (Conole and Oliver, 2005). Communication is learning.
W - Across cultures, not just US and West. Caricatures/simplistic. Not a neat narrative.
O - Donations, Funding, Book promotion (MIT). The learner as a unique person.
T - Funding

REFERENCE

Conole (2007)

Conole, G; and Oliver, M. (eds) (20xx) Contemporary Perspective in E-learning Research. Themes, methods and impact on practice.

Crook, C and Dymott, R (20xx) ICT and the literacy practices of student writing. a

Edudemic. Traditional Learning Theories. (Accessed 19th April 2013)

http://edudemic.com/2012/12/a-simple-guide-to-4-complex-learning-theories/

Greenhow, C and Belbas, B (20xx:374)

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Ways of looking at theories of learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 24 May 2013, 12:13

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H809: Activity 7.4

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013, 10:39

20130324-234258.jpg 20130324-234309.jpg 20130324-234322.jpg 20130324-234644.jpg 20130324-234330.jpg

KEY

Green = Activated

Amber = Engaged

Red = Blocked

What concerns me is the belief that theories of learning, which academics have identified in eduation in the last 90 years, are either key drivers or infleuncers in the design of learning. Surely these are all observations after the event. Like trying to analyse a standup comedy routine using a set of plans and parameters - 'Good Morning, Vietnam' comes to mind. As, I suppose would 'Dead Poets Society' to bring in Robin Williams again. Was the Khan Academy a product of such analysis? No? An investment banker wanted to help his nephews out with their Math so he recorded some videos. Actually, I jsut realised my wife is doing this for a friend's daughter who is learning French - creating bespoke French language pieces for her to practice on. I can't even think what either of them are - behaviourist or social-constructive and experiential. I'm afraid, given what the academic 'gurus of e-learning' keep coming up with they are probably the least intuitive or inventive because their hands and minds are tied by this kind of thing. Just my opinion.

If I want to develop a platform or school that uses e-learning I'll go find myself a 'Robin Williams' kind of educator - someone has a natural flair for it, who engender a following, who most importantly delivers extraordinary results.

Looking back at school I know that what motivated me was two fold - my own long term goal and the quality of an inspired and informed teacher who had tutoring, moderating and teaching in their blood.

There's a reason why research and teaching don't mix. I've asked some academics about this and they have told me that they haven't gone into the commercial sector, nor do they teach ... 'because they hate people'.

Where in these theories is the person?

This relationship, the rapport that can form between tutor and student is what is lacking and it is why, in my opinion, the lifes of the Oxbridge Tutorial, that one to one, or one to two or three hour long session once a week is far, far, far from dead.

Neuroscience is going to blow this allow out of the water.

Already the shift is very much in favour of genetics and the way our unique brains are formed as we develop as a foetus. It is nature, not nuture, so frankly, we can have anything thrown at us in terms of life experience and how we learn and how we respond will remain individual. This is the perspective of my father in law whose secondary education was the being in the Polish resistance during the Second World War, his first university a prisoner of war camp. He had England or the US as choices having decided not to return to Poland. And found himself learning English in Gateshead. The story continues ... so what kind of learning was occuring in the POW camp?

He bartered lessons in German for lessons in English.

Social-situated in extremis.

Not that it can be injected into a class, and even less so in online learning, but 'fear' doesn't half help turn a short term memory into one that will stick. Playing Devil's Advocate, can 'e-learning' only ever be 'cotton wool' the safest, tamest learning you will ever recieve? Try reading an essay out in a tutor group - there's fear! Try getting up in a hall of 300 people to make your point in a debating chamber - terrying. An odd conclusion to reach at the end of this reflection on the exercise - but where is the 'fear'?

And I mean the right kind of fear, not the threat of the cane or other such punishment, but the fear of letting you down, or your side down, or of humiliation ... against the public reward if you get something right?

Pinned down in a collapsed cellar in Warsaw my father in law believed he would die. He was the only one alive. Everyone else had been flattened. By some chance he had been standing under a beam that had partially protected him. He made promises he'd keep if he lived. He was found. A smash to the head.

Does learning have more impact when there is something at stake?

Try introducing this element into an e-learning module.

The impossible hypothesis - people learn better and make decisions with firmer convictions, where their life is at stake?

Then again we turn to neuroscience and will conclude that some will, some won't, that the response of the individual to a shared experience means that you get as many different outcomes as there are people.

Institutions think that grades divide students - that's only the tiniest fraction of what makes each person in that class different. If the student isn't suitably self aware to know how to play to their strengths and managed their weaknesses then the observant tutor and others who are part of the institution should be doing this on their behalf - as parents, friends and siblings might do. Even with medical intervention.

The 'Flipped classroom' for me is finding ways to work with the individual who happens to be in a class that is probably already sorted by age and culture, if not also social class and gender.

And therefore already inappropriate.

Maybe the classroom has had its time. A short-lived interlude in human development over the last 70,000 years.

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An avalanche is coming

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 24 May 2013, 12:42

An avalanche is coming: Higher education and the revolution ahead

An Avalanche is Coming (not)

No it isn't, or rather - no more than at any specific location around our digital universe. And the idea of a revolution is ludicrous. Do we expect to see guns in schools? (US of A excepted).

Pearson Education want to scare us. This paper is doing the rounds and courtesy of is sensationalist title and its massive quoting of the press in its construction then it will get ample press coverage. Most in academic institutions, some years ago, realised that the change, would be more akin to melting glaciers. Not even of the climate change variety.

I've got an essay crisis on at the moment.

The module is Practice-based research in e-learning with the OU.

The first block and the last five weeks has been spent learning how to review literature so that you feel the authors are credible and the subject has been treated in an objective way with research that is empirically based. There are academic papers and books on the likely or potential changes to Tertiary Education, such as:

  • 'Rethinking University Teaching: A conversational framework for effective use of educational technology', Diana Laurillard
  • 'Contemporary Perspectives in E-Learning Research: Themes, Methods and Impact on Practice' Grainne Conole
  • 'Preparing for Blended e-learning' Allison Littlejohn
  • 'Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age' Helen Beetham
  • 'The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice'

I have read all of these and am currently reading 'Teenagers and Technology (Adolescence and Society' Chris Davies and Rebecca Eynon which took me to her paper 'Mapping the Digital Divide in Britain: Implications for Learning and Education'.

My sober response to this 'paper' starts with the title.

We should read anything with a sensationalist title with great caution. There are two traps that journalists fall into, or exploit, either to say there is revolution or to say that disaster looming. The sober, academic, empirically researched view is often far more contained, less exciting and so less inclined to gain press attention for its authors - in this case Pearson.

I'm up at 4.15 to write an assignment where I have had to put forward five papers and argue for their inclusion to help me get to the bottom of a research question.

I've read three books, reviewed some 60 and read some 20 papers at least to get this far. The research question is set in Tertiary Education.

In the last month I have been to both University of Southampton and University of Oxford - I don't for example, see Balliol College, Oxford, marking its 750th Anniversary this year, changing that radically. The model works too well, indeed, if anything, the Internet will make these institutions more appealing to students. Indeed I spent over an hour on the phone to a second year English Literature Student last night - from Perth in Western Australia, clearly very bright and motivated. She described how she Googled 'English Literature', found the top universities, then chose the one of the leading Colleges at Oxford.

My alarm bells start to go when a forward is written by 'emeritus' - however amazing their career has been, they have retired and their choice may be for PR reasons.

Excuse the cynic in me.

Are the other two authors, employees of Pearson, learning academics? Neither.

Then I turn to the bibliography and I find pages of citations ... for journalists.

In my experience of the last three years of a Masters course in E-learning I have learnt that very few journalists should ever be read on the subject as they always have an agenda - the bias of their paper, the need to sell papers, and the need to sell themselves. What struck me is that NOT ONE of the leading academic figures on the shifts that are inevitable to tertiary education are mentioned here, the names I have given above you may notice, were mostly figures from the OLDS MOOC by the way.

I will read and try to offer a balanced review in due course but fear that the response that it usually elicits in me is the same as the sensationalist titles of these things.

In this case, if its snow then wait for spring and the problem will go away ... and what about all those countries that have no snow?

A few years ago I realised that there was something no right with the concept of a 'digital native' or 'digital immigrant' - both are nonsense.

More recently I've given far too much time to stripping down Nicholas Carr 'The Shallows: what the Internet is doing to our brains' more nonsense that at least has be eager to study neuroscience.

Perhaps I like a fight, or debate.

Academia doesn't have to sensationalise - it has to aim to get it right, prove its case, strive for objectivity and 'the truth' and be reviewed.

This looks too like exaggeration 'avalanche' and 'revolution' are well chosen buzz words that will make headlines in the papers - and it lacks the empirical evidence which is a necessity. (And don't be fooled by fellow humans how have been to Harvard or any where else - we're all human, all fallible and usually have an agenda). Must go! J

I may be wrong, but a little more than intuition says read with great caution and make up your own mind - what would or what do fellow OLDS MOOCers think for example?

'Making meaning with metaphors' or some such is a quote from Grainne Conole.

We did a module that was about little else. We cannot help but think in metaphors - neuroscientists such as V J Ramachandran think this is what distinguished us from Neanderthal - we 'think outside the box' as it were. So, metaphors matter and are convincing and plausible and simple.

My take on the Internet and the WWW is to think of Web 1.0 as a digital ocean and Web 2.0 as the entire water cycle (yes, my first degree was Geogrraphy!). So, no harm to have an avalanche in the mix ... but in this context, of a global system, with cyberspace, the avalanche is just one event or a series of events, in one landscape, that is one tiny part of a vast, far more complex and changing system.

I flick open this table I created in order to review the literature for the paper I have to write ... give me a few days and I'l apply it to 'The Avalanche is coming'.

Nice title, what about the content?

TITLE
Who are the players? What are their credentials. Which institutions did they represent and where are they now. What have the written since and what else are they known for?

QUESTIONS / PROBLEMS
What research questions are being addressed?
How does the research question relate to the design of the research?
What is the sector and setting? (e.g. school, higher education, training, informal learning)

LITERATURE REVIEW
In what ways is the wider literature used in the paper?
What theories, concepts and key terms are being used?

EDUCATION THEORY
What views of education and learning underpin the research?

METHODS
What methods of data collection and analysis are used? (e.g. the number of participants; the type of technologies; the use of interviews, surveys, observation, etc.)
What are the limitations of the methods used?

FINDINGS
What did this research find out?
What counts as evidence in this work?
Are there any ethical issues associated with the research?
What are the implications (if any) for practice, policy or further research?

Lord David Putnam is quoted in the opening pages.

He is Chancellor of the Open University, an honorary post, he is a former producer of TV commercials and movies who sits on the Labour benches in the House of Lords. Nice chap, but his perspective is to the left and whilst he will listen to the brilliant minds around him when he visits the Open University, he is not an academic himself. i.e. what is expressed are an opinion.

What we need are the facts.

 

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