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Distance Learning 80 years ago

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 26 Jun 2012, 17:55

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I am reading a 52 piece part work 'World War' edited by Sir John Hammerton and published between 1936 and 1937 with occasional contributions from H G Wells, this alongside various staple and new reads on World War One.

As a piece of learning design what could be simpler? A magazine delivered each week, chapters deliberately left unfinished between parts, photos offering points of interest explained and developed in later issues.

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Perspectives shift of course, just as they had a view on the Napoleonic Wars. However, in many cases 1914 was not dissimilar to a battle of 1814, or 1870.

'Read in a period until you hear its people speak' E H Carr.

I play this trick of falling asleep with an event in mind and courtesy of the painkillers I am currently taking I enter a vivid dream world much of which I can recall.

The problem with WW1 is the clammer of voices, not just what you can read, but the voices you can listen to on DVD or podcasts, indeed I have several hours of my own grandfather in a County Durham accent that those not familiar with the North East would call Geordie and find, at times, incomprehensible.

How does an historian deal with history when the record is everything? Had a soldier gone into battle in 1914 with a video headset what would we do today with years of material? My grandfather, for example, had no leave from the day he left England in early 1916 to his transfer to the Royal Flying Corps at the very end of 1917.

Would the reality be a huge amount of sitting around dealing with the boredom, discomfort and fear?

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This is a map I drew with my grandfather in his 97th year. This and his visit to the trenches the previous year would allow me to retrace his steps, almost by the day between September and end of December 1917.

But why?

A researcher from UCL quizzed me on this some years ago and I had to conclude that for me it was less an obsession with WW1, but rather reminding me of a dearly loved grandparent. I can't see drawing up maps of my grandmother's trips into Newcastle on the tram having the same appeal (or historical record or value).

Gradually online I am connecting with grandchildren of veterans and others interested in WW1 so that there is a component of 'Social Learn' between blogs and Facebook. All the books I read I share on Twitter, which may help promote the book, but is also attracting many like-minds.

At what point do I become so well informed that I could sit an exam without sitting for the qualification?

Can I short-circuit the steps to an MA in History? There are two parts to the degree, but it is the second part, the ellective, that takes me into WW1 territory.

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How should we remember the First World War?

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I call it 'War One' having heard American's use this expression; I guess they're up to about War 20 by now? And we can't be far behind. Then again, which war was our first? 1066!

Is the period 2014-2018 a great opportunity to educate?

An excuse to consider what drives nations to War?

H G Wells reflected on this in August 1914 and again in 1936. He was wrong to think it was the 'war to end war' but right to look at economic imbalances and protectionism as a root cause. Who would blame the nations of Africa attacking Western Europe for a piece of the pie?

How is and will the world pie be shared out when so few continue to gather so much to themselves and keep it?

The Open University is running as series of lectures at the Imperial War Museum on 8th July I believe, though for my money, an MA in History with the University of Birmingham has more appeal as its emphasis is on 'War One'.

Afternoon Lecture Series, 2.00pm-4.15pm 

2.00pm, The Origins of the First World War

Annika Mombauer, Senior Lecturer in The Open University’s History Department
Was the war an accident, or was it design? This talk will offer an interpretation of the war guilt question based on primary sources and speculate about the possibilities of some different outcomes.

When I last looked 'Modern History' at Oxford only got as far as the 18th century

I think the world wars were considered too recent and were give to PPE (Politics, Philosophy & Economics).

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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: 34 Whereso art though, Webeo 4.0 ?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 20:49

For an H800 WK 5 activity I'm contemplating the transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0.

Meanwhile I'm reading a book that wants to move me on from Web 3.0 to Web 4.0.

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Is this akin to the Neanderthal form of teaching that was Modern History at Oxford, ending I think around 1702. My daughter is styding Modern History and takes in the Second World War - this feels like yesterday (though my parents were children during that war).

Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 is starting to feel ancient.

Web 3.0 is where it's happening.

Web 4.0 is where it's going ... until and only if we coin a different term to trump it.

Never has my head hurt so much, I feel like all the Dr Who's in one ... a person from each era contained in the same being, loyal to each, while desperate to be embraced by the latest think, very conscious that the religion of tomorrow is of more value that the beliefs of the distant past of ... well twenty years ago.

 

Dion Hinchliffe does it this way:''

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I'm uncertain which or what analogy to use, but if you are studying 'innovations in e-learning' how can what is going on right now not be far more relevant to the thinking of a decade ago, let alone a few years ago?

It's as if this is 1911 and we're style unsure (as they were) if heavy-than-air machines would get off the ground. H.G.Wells had his heroes in dirigibles.

 

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