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B is for Blogging

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 12 May 2014, 07:12
  • Blogging

  • Helen Beetham

  • BBC (BBC education, BBC Bitesize, BBC iPlayer)

  • 'Birds of a Feather' (not the TV sitcom, but the research concept of like-minds connected online)

  • Blended Learning

I pick out blogging as the most important 'B' in an A to Z of e-learning as I've come to feel that the act of blogging, as a shared learning journal, meets many learning criteria: constructing meaning and connectedness. You share what you do, even if comments are few. This ties into 'bird of a feather' - the title of a paper that shows how people with common interests or beliefs will associate with each other, share and support. Personally this was particularly apparent in the early days of blogging, say 1999-2003 when the numbers online was manageable and less gamified. It'll take me a while to edit, collate and write on blogging from the 400+ posts I have made on blogging over the last decade. I've made a start.

The BBC is a magnificent resource: inspirational programmes and for schools the magic of bitesize for revision.

While Helen Beetham is an academic and author you ought to be reading often.

B is also for:

  • Back Channels
  • Martin Bean
  • Behaviourism
  • John Seely Brown
  • Doug Belshaw
  • Boud
  • Boyer
  • Bruner
  • Tony Benn
  • Boyer
  • The Brain
  • Books

REFERENCE

Birds of a Feather: How personality influences blog writing and reading. (2010) Jami Li and Mark Chignell. Science Direct. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 68 (2010) 589-602.

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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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Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age - mind map

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 16 Mar 2014, 08:55

 

Mind map based on two key chapters from 'Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age' by Helen Beetham and Rhona Sharpe.

Click on the image for the Picasa Gallery and download. Created using the iPad APP 'Simple Minds'.

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H800: 29 On Reading a book, cover to cover

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 16:02

I have no doubt that habit has something to do with it. My reading list before going up to Oxford perhaps. A stack of second hand books, a pen and notebook. I like reading a book cover to cover.

I am on my third MAODE module. You are pointed at a chapter here, a chapter there, loads of reports too, but no longer a book. We had books in 2001, a box of them and a CD-rom.

I have bought and read three topic related books. Do they now clutter up shelf-space? They are like oranges I have squeezed dry, for pulp, juice and pips.

I have bought eight e-books and have devoured two of these.

Eeducational%20Psychology%20GRAB.JPG

It was reading Vygotsky's 'Educational Phsycology' that made me appreciate the value of reading a single author cover to cover. What is more, I enjoy the limitations of his own reading. This is 1926. How many people is he going to read and reference. Not that many, John Dewey stands out so will be my next read. There has to be value in engaging with a flow of argument from one mind over many thousands of words. Perhaps it is a relief where so much of my reading is prompted by Linked In Forum Messages, OU Tutor Group Forum Messages and feeds from blogs.

Rethinking%20Pedagogy%20for%20the%20Digital%20Age%20GRAB.JPG

'Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age' is a compilation piece.

The K-tell album of e-learning authors.

All our favourites get to sing their song.

I enjoy how the editors introduce each new chapter, at least there is some attempt to bind the contributors to a theme. I wonder from amongst them if I have heard a voice I am interested in hearing again? i.e. once again, this suggestion that you tune into a person's way of thinking and expressing themselves and by doing so surely speed up the learning process?

What counts though are my highlights and notes.

Having read each cover to cover I am now going through the 350 highlights/notes on EACH. This gives me the chance to expand, delete, add and reflect. And for those poor people who Friended me on Facebook by accident rather than design, Tweet-like updates directly from the Kindle. I need to find a better way to manage these ... sending them here would be an idea, at least there's some relevance.

I am reading no fewer than FOUR what we might term 'popular' books on e-learning, the DIY books primarily aimed at teachers. One is brilliant, two are also-rans, but one is dreadful: Prensky gets headlines for his headlines (Digital Natives) ... there is no substance to him and I heartily wish the OU would drop him as a point of discussion.

Or is this the point?

You know you've learnt something once you've gone from nodding along with all he says to consigning him to the bin?

REFERENCE

Vygotsky, L.S. (1926) Educational Psycholgy.

Beetham, H., Sharpe, R (eds) (2009) Rethinking E-learning Pedagogy.

 

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Kindle 4

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 26 Feb 2012, 06:22

Far from saving me time, owning a kindle is obliging me to spend more time with the text.

There are no page numbers at all, they've been deleted, instead, it is done by line or word ... so (Location 870) might be how a highlighted piece of text is referenced. How I deal with this should I quote an author I don't yet know.

If it takes me as long to work through my notes and highlights as it took me to read the chapter in the first place ... then I simply accept that I have still got a heck of a lot to learn and that in good time, these points, squirreled away will bounce back into my life with a click of my fingers.

A book, for example.

Ask, a literary agent has asked.

Am I Kindled out? My contact lenses are stuck to my eyeballs and the skin under the pads of my thumb are chafed from scooting back and forth over a keyboard.

Am I learning anything though?

That a great deal of nonsence is written. That authors must be pillored if they use strings of abbreviations and terms that are not common place. Courtesy of Kindle and an e-book I was able to see, for example, how often LOM was used in the body of a book. Four times it turned out, and in three it had been written out in full and in the fourth as LOMS it meant something else.

This I my bugbear about the use of the highly technical descriptors: more, very, truly and actually.

Pedant?

That's me.

Kindle will drive some people crazy at is potential. I see a way into the minds of many authors. My son dismissed it. One of his friends, I can't get away from it.

Further insights?

There's a way to write for a Kindle. Ditch many diagrams and tables. Think in terms of graphics that would work on TV (in black and white). Write short sentences (these are good discipline).

Meanwhile I have generated 11 pages of quotes and notes (4,000 words) having so far only regurgitated my thoughts on the introduction and chapter one to Rhona Sharpe's 'Rethinking Pedagogy for the Digital Age' (2007). It's that kind of book.

Fun packed.

And valuable.

(Even if I keep disagreeing with the authors)

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Gobsmacked by Kindle and my first e-Book

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 9 Feb 2011, 12:51

In less than ten minutes I bought one of these.

Kindle%20Ad%20Grab%202.JPG

I then bought this.

Rethinking%20Pedagogy%20for%20a%20Digital%20Age.JPG

For now I'll read it on my laptop; the Kindle arrives tomorrow.

The world is changing, mine just has.

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