OU blog

Personal Blogs

Design Museum

Are Texting, keyboards and touch screens to blame for terrible handwriting?

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 5 Apr 2018, 18:36

Various kinds of handwriting

It's generational, but those of us brought up with handwriting competitions at school and handwritten essays and the written examination are judgmental of a generation who apparently have terrible handwriting and can't spell.

Do they need to? They can touch type - can you? Faced with a sheet of paper and a pen to write an essay they may struggle to be legible and make spelling mistakes - but how often do they do that, or will they need to that. 

Isn't it like complaining in the 8th century that scribes would be rubbish with a chisel putting their words in stone.

The goal is everything - clear communication. Doesn't technology deliver this?

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

H809: Activity 13.1

Visible to anyone in the world
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/)

 

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

Research Question: by comparing history essays written in 1979 on British and European History 1450 to 1660 with the same or similar essays written in 2012/2013 is the impact of digital technologies recognisable?

Visible to anyone in the world

 

Reading through the remarks on the Crook and Dymott paper (H809) in relation to different ways of writing whether pen to paper or fingertips to screen, I noticed a couple of fellow students wondering out loud if there are differences between what and how a student writes today compared to 20 years ago.

In a box in a lock-up garge, filed as they were written 32 years ago I have sets of essays on both British and European History. I have nothing to be proud of - grades range from D to B. And as we never had a word limit some essays go on and on and on and on ... to no avail. There might even be an F in there.

Are these subjects taught anymore?

1450 to 1660 or some such, Henry VII to the Restoration with 'Europe' another country ...

My daughter, an A' Level history student,  is studying World War 1 and Chinese History, so that's no good.

Surely the feeding tactics of the teachers will be the same? Short spells around Secondary Schools suggest to me that neither Geography, History nor English teaching has changed at all at A' Level in the last 30 years.

Read stuff, take notes, write essays, sit exams becomes read stuff (sometimes online), take notes (sometimes typed into a computer), write essays (often typed up and emailed), sit exams ... where you have to handwrite on paper.

Sounds to me like a serious mismatch of inputs and testing.

The kit may help or hinder. What matters is the quality of the memories laid down in the brain and the thoughts that can arise from getting enough of the right stuff in there.

My limited understanding of neuroscience would suggest that those parts of the brain used for communication and comprehension haven't changed a jot since Gates and Jobs and Tim Berners-Lee came along. Rather there is the possibility of a good deal more 'noise' - so on the one hand even more garbage 'polluting' the young scholar's mind whilst on the other easy and swift access to the very highest quality content - which in the past your teacher would supply with those slippery chemical smelling copies - what are they called?

The task then is to have a process so that this conent 'binds' - and whatever process or processes or tactics are exploited by teacher and pupil one thing has not changed a jot in 30 or 100 years. Time, effort, guidance, persistence ... recognising when you don't understand and having that fixed ...

Of similar interest might be a box of letters written by teenagers to each other at the time. These could end up in a museum one day - but are these asynchronous missives very different to postings to social media, particular as blogs? Very, I would have thought. The immediacy of the technology favours Twitter over the essay like letter sent by snail mail - slow to compose and equally slow to deliver.



 

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

When is a blog, not a blog?

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 15 Jan 2011, 18:37

When it's a photo-journal.

As I work from home I alleviate the boredom of the day by at various times moving to my wife's desk.

Hot Desk 3

Assuming she is not, which she often isn't because she has a laptop and also likes to spend part of the day looking out the front window.

iBook

Meanwhile I might shut myself in here. Actually at the end of the bed like a teenager doing A' Levels, in this case on an iBook which I think is eight years old, which in dog-years makes it about 86. The battery has been replaced, the screen has gone and the operating system doesn't support most Flash and crucifies MyStuff. I did H807 on this and nearly didn't survive the experience.

Print off

And then I get fed up with computer screens, and do this (onto recycled paper used for professional projects which risks getting me very confused if I look at the wrong side of the sheet).

K2 ECA

And so I spend an afternoon away from the computer and have found this an effective way forward.

Which is often the case.

I also like to write on wallpaper backing sheets that come in long scrolls. I have one taped to the wall above the bed right now. My wife tollerated its presence last night, she may not once I've scrawled H808 ECA stuff all over it.

Of course, if a picture is worth 1,000 words then I have once again said far, far too much.

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Rubbish fonts are more memorable, ditch usability and make the brain work for the information.

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 13 Nov 2012, 20:46

From BBC Radio 4 Today New scientific research reveals that students learn better when learning is made harder, specifically when using a font that is more challenging to read. Neuroscience blogger Jonah Lehrer discusses his own gut feeling that we remember ugly fonts much more easily.

 

Comically ugly fonts are the best.

 

So perhaps I should blog like this?

 

Ugly%20Fonts%20make%20it%20memorable.JPG

Try these:

 

Anglo%20Zulu%20Wars%20FONT%20GRAB.JPG

 

And what about handwriting?

 

DSC00372.JPG

 

'It’s a really interesting way to convey information', says Jonah Lehrer, 'as it can take a lot of work to decipher handwriting'.

 

How about these for examples if you’ve forgotten what handwriting looks like?


 

Diary%20Grab%20%20JAN%205%20FIVES%20FLIP%20GRAB.JPG

 

or this?

 

Dodgey%20Handwriting%20example.JPG

 

Let's get back to handwriting.

Or find a way to handwrite here. With a stylus and tablet?

The handwritten note, letter, or journal entry tells you something about the writer' mood, gender, age, level of education (or intoxication), even their occupation.

I've collected hand-written letters between 1969 and 1993 from family members and friends, including my grandfather whose 1918 RAF Log Book I feature above. If ever published, these artefacts will be best read in their original form rather than transcribed.

 

Permalink 4 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 16 Jan 2011, 15:06)
Share post

This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.

Total visits to this blog: 5340149