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I was 39 when I first signed up for an Open University MA in 2000. It was the MA in Open & Distance Learning. Having taken and not completed one module I picked this up again in 2010 and completed an MA in Open & Distance Education in 2013.

A further degree in British History of Britain and the First World War has followed. I am the Digital Editor for The Western Front Association. 

I am a Green Party Town Councillor and the Head Coach at a local swimming club. So a busy life that also includes involvement with the local sailing club and life drawing.

 

 

 

 

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The Western Front Association

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Event details HERE >>  http://bit.ly/2kbrXZX 

I've been the digital editor for the Western Front Association for 4 1/2 years. Here is the kind of thing I do, promoting a local branch event. This one is in Warwick tonight. There are 54 UK branches, another 2 in Ireland and a handful in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium and France. 

During this time I took an MA in British History and the First World War. I had thought about taking the OU MA in History which covered 1845 to 1945 or thereabouts but considered it too broad for my needs and interests. I wonder now if I should look again? However, three jobs, 53 working working hours, additional volunteer hours for Lewes Town Council and Lewes District Green party - as well as sailing and sailing duties, let alone 12 hours a week commuting leaves me without the time. I do think that in the the past these degrees have served the purpose of filling gaps in my day and week which are now well and truly covered!

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A Third MA

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 9 Jul 2018, 04:54

This is all too OU. Though the days of 'leisure learners' gaining multiple degrees was ended with the change to tuition fees a few years ago. I recall at my graduation the compare would announce from time to time that someone collecting their degree was on number three, or even number five.

I only have one MA, the MAODE from the OU. Although I should by now have a BA in French, and could have studied history with the OU, rather than with the Universities of Birmingham and then Wolverhampton.

I hanker after and expect the OU way of learning - with everything online, or at least considerable, intelligent online support in a blended version. Studying first at Birmingham and then Wolverhampton was no better, and often less well supported than my undergraduate degree of 1981-84. 

Needless to say, 9 July 2018, marks the culmination of my third Masters Degree.

BA/MA: Geography

MA: Open and Distance Education

MA: British History and the First World War

All I have to do is successfully negotiate the WLV 'Turnitin' system.

All I have to do is read it through by 15,000 words just one more time and try for the eighth of ninth time to get the conclusion right. I am writing about the nature of 'war enthusiasm' during the peak recruiting season into Kitchener's volunteer army in 1914. I have used the normal distribution or 'bell curve' to argue in favour of a spectrum of behaviours from antipathy to jingoistic enthusiasm for enlisting, with the majority either side of a line which had them enlist out of necessity for economic reasons, or had them enlist out of a sense of duty, patriotism and a desire to 'get the job done'.

As the Digital Editor of The Western Front Association website, this MA has, over the four years it has taken (including a two year gap between the universities of Birmingham and Wolverhampton) and a six month extension due to illness, filled my head with enough WWI content to help me with my 'job'. It also gives me some credibility in the WWI community. It will see me writing the occasional article and book review too. 

As the void in my academic life opens up I contemplate a PGCE to support my 'blended learning' advocate role, or, as time my be running out, to push for enough further credits through the OU to gain an MEd. I completed two units beyond the MAODE so in theory have 10 to 15 credits (I am unsure how many) towards whatever is required for the MEd. This would spur me to research and write about some of the initiatives I am involved with - not least the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in the classroom. 

 

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Historiography of Enthusiasm for war and the reasons men enlisted in 1914

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I'm still doing MindMaps and still using SimpleMind. Having compiled, builty on and grouped ideas, authors, bullet points and quotes the entire thing can be exported as a Text File. A bit of shuffling about, a few added notes and links and you have a coherent and detailed article, piece or chapter.

In my case this is part I of a three part dissertation on the opening weeks of the First World War in Great Britain. 

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Learning with the OU compared to other MA courses

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Had I known and experienced what I have now learnt and put up with as an MA postgraduate student first with one university, and then two years later having transferred, with another, then I would never, ever have considered alternatives to the OU.

The online support, even, or especially where it has been heralded as 'blended learning' has been atrocious, laughable and quite frankly scandalous both for the platform itself and the ignorance the academics who were meant to support it - they were clueless, blundered along, contributed nothing, got in the way and simply refused to learn what is best practise in a student forum.

Added to which, my subject, with slightly different titles depending on the institution, though the First World War, should have been, I now see, studied in the much broader context in which the OU treats the subject.

I don't expect to be studying an MA in History with the OU in a year's time - to add to what would be my fourth MA. The time is long overdue either to find the strength and sense of purpose to undertake a PhD - or to fret about other things in life.

Politics.

Never much bothered me before, but the last year has allowed me to understand exactly where I stand - bang in the middle.

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When is an App better than a book?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 May 2015, 09:16

Dan Snow. "Clearly an App is better than a book for history."

This is a fascinating insight into the way we learn and educate is changing with students exploring, creating and sharing from an App 'smôrgasbord' of rich, interactive content. 

I picked up this thread in the WW1 Buffs Facebook pages

This conversation will keep me busy for several months. The debate on the guardian site is heated, personal and too often Luddite in tone. Why try to say that a book is better than an eBook is better than an App that is 'book-like?' I'll be pitching in as I believe what he argues is right and applies immediately to Geography too. I've studied online learning, history and geography - all to Masters level. I'm not an historian, geographer or an educator: I'm simply deeply curious and fascinated by the way we learn.

Key to Apps is immediacy, relevancy and motivation.

Put content into a student's hands in a way they appreciate: at their fingertips, multi-sensory and connected. An App can take all that is a book, and add several books and angles; all that is TV or Radio and have the person sit up, create content of their own, form views, share opinions and therefore learn, develop and remember.

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Tools worth sharing

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Nov 2014, 10:12

Fig.1 Word and Tiki-Toki

Constructing a length piece of writing - over 50,000 words and need to stick to the chronology of events, at least in the first draft, I have found using the timeline creation tool Tiki-Toki invaluable. You can create one of these for FREE.

Over the last few months I've been adding 'episodes' to a timeline that stretches between 1914 and 1919. You get various views, including the traditional timeline of events stretched along an unfurling panorama. However, if you want to work with two screen side by side the 3D view allows you to scroll back and forth through the timeline within the modest confines of its window.

 

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Must see TV

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 23 Aug 2014, 10:38

Fig. 1 Episode 3 of 'Our World War'

There are many reasons to watch this 45 minute drama made by BBC Documentaries:

1) It is a gripping piece of entertainment that incorporates modern music to help evoke the feelings and tone.

2) The sense of what it meant to take part in this conflict to Britain then, and today, is palpable

3) For a piece of screen writing I can think of little that is so sharp, so succinct, so remarkable ...

4) You don't think of it as a documentary. This isn't docu-drama, so much as drama that seamlessly includes a few animated maps and subtitles as does many a movie or TV series these days

5) You too will be recommending that people watch it.

6) The series so far is excellent, this episode stands out as brilliant - I was left weeping in sadness and joy, while reflecting the violent conflict, though not on this scale, is still very much a contemporary issue.

7) You have this week to watch it. (What seems to happen then is that towards the end of the series it will be offered as a DVD)

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Happy Grampa Day

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014, 20:20

Fig. 1 Jack Wilson MM with his daughter, Tyne Cot Cemetery, August 1992

I'm sure everyone has a date when they recall a close family member: my late grandfather would have been 118 today. He was born on the family farm in Dalston, Cumberland on this day in 1894. Now that would have been something to get the attention of the news and social media: 118 years old. The oldest man alive celebrated his 111th yesterday and there's a character who still goes into work four days a week in New York - he's 104. If I am not mistaken the oldest person ever to live was a French woman who made it to 126 and only died in the last year or so.

From E-Learning IV

 

Fig. 2. The oldest man in the world ... with more than just one foot in the grave?

Twenty years in a care home? It must depend on the quality of life you have: bed ridden, or like the late Norman Wisdom the life and soul of the party. From about age 86 onwards my grandfather would say, 'I've had a fair innings. His wife had recently died. A decade later he was still coming to 'ours' for Christmas lunch with three sisters in law who in turn were 98 96 and 92 ! They were long livd, frugal, non-alcohol drinking Quakers who kept themselves engage and busy. My late great aunt Mary was doing home visits to 'her old ladies' who were ten years younger than her. This all in the North East (Fenham, Gosforth, Ponteland). 

So, no more 'grampa' (as we called him as children), and no more mum either: she would have been 83. So much for expecting to outline the Queen.

How we mark the passing of a loved one, and what record we have of their lives fascinates me. Who could unscramble the mass of data that we create, or is created on us and digitised in 2014? Has the nature of an personal archive changed? Who has time for it? Can we rely on or get value from an algorithm that seeks out patterns and narratives in a life story as it occurs and once it is over?

In a dozen posts or more here I look at 'life logging' and what it means: for supporting those with dementia, for example, to supporting and gathering a record of value to family and others.

 

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Testament of Youth

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Fig. 1. Kit Harington stars in Testament of Youth

It's a good time to read Vera Britain's autobiographical story set during the First World War - based on the movie trailer we're in for a treat next year when this comes out. There's no escaping the hundredth anniversary of WW1 so go with the flow I say.

'Study a period in history until you can hear its people speak' said the historian E H Carr - correct me if I paraphrase, I've struggled to find the page in his 'What is history'. These days you study in a period until you can hear its people speak and write a screenplay (or radio). 

 

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The worst of both worlds rather than the best

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 5 Jun 2014, 06:09

 

 

Fig .1. The Dynamics of Doctrine: The Changes in German Tactical Doctrine During the First World War. Timothy Lupfer (1981) Combat Studies Institute

Sometimes the technology lets you down. Here, having tracked down an obscure book I discover that it is only available in 'digital form' - though it isn't. Rather it is a series of 80 photographs, not even scans and these are presented in landscape form too small to read without expanding the page.

On an iPad the pages flips to horizontal unless you lock the screen. To read the text I have to enlarge each photograph one at a time. I cannot highlight, or annotate. I cannot search. I cannot link instantly to any reference or footnote. 

It had better be worth the effort to extract the information that interests me (it will, there is very little on German tactics on the Western Front while there is a mountain on what the British were doing). 

The effort to read this book will, whether I like it or not, make what I read more likely to stick - the effort is more likely to result in stuff going into the deeper recesses of my memory rather than floating on the surface. 

Usually books that have had this done to them are printed out, on demand, and couriered; I have a few. Again, with mixed results, some brilliant and book like, one I have like a bad photocopy on glossy paper.

The error was during the inputting. Some student operative faced with a stack of books to put through the digitising system didn't line this up. Or, perhaps, this has been copied from a microfiche? That would explain why it scrolls from left to right.

Read on.

 

 

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Reflecting on H818: The Open Studio

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014, 08:06

I'm getting a sense of deja vu as the rhythm of this module reveals itself.

Openness comes with some caveats. It is not everyone's cup of tea.

As people we may change or behaviour in different environments.

I am not saying that we as individuals necessarily behave in the same way in an Open Studio online (a virtual studio no less) than we do or would in an open studio, as in a collective in a workshop or 'atelier' that is 'exposed' to fellow artists -  but is nonetheless human interaction with all the usual undercurrents.

What I believe will not work is to put a gaggle of creators in the same room and expect them to collaborate.

The studios of the 'open' type that I am aware of are either the classic Renaissance workshop with a master artist and apprentices at various stages of their own development, or,  with a similar dynamic in operation, the 'occupants' of the studio are exposed LESS to each other and more to external commentators and contributors and this requires some formality to it .i.e. not simply 'the person off the street' but an educator/moderator in their own right.

Is H818:The Networked Practitioner too dependent on chance?

The foibles of a small cohort and the complex, messy, moments 'we' are in. Three years of this and, by chance only, surely, six of  us in a subgroup jelled. More often the silence and inactivity of the majority makes 'group work' a myth - partnerships of two or three were more likely. The only exception I have come across in the 'real world' have been actors working together on an improvisation - they have been trained however to disassociate their natural behaviours.

Some of us study with the OU as we cringe at the 'exposure' of a course that requires us to meet in the flesh - distance learning suits, to some degree, the lone worker who prefers isolation.

By way of revealing contrast I am a mentor at the School of Communication Arts

Modest though pivotal role given their format and philosophy - exposure to many hundreds of kindred spirits who have been there ...  a sounding board and catalyst. NOT a contributor, but more an enabler. 

We'll see. My thinking is that to be effective, collaboration or exposure needs to have structure and formality in order to work.

At the Brighton Arts Festival the other evening I wonder how the 80 odd exhibitors would cope if the Corn Exchange was also their workshop?

In certain, vulnerable environments, the only comment should be praise. Feedback is invited from those who are trusted.

A school setting is different again, as is college ... people share the same space because they have to.

Open Studio apears to try to coral the feedback that comes anyway from a connected, popular and massive sites such as WordPress, Linkedin Groups, Facebook and even Amazon. Though the exposure, if you permit it, is tempered and negotiated - Facebook is gentle amongst family and friends, Linkedin is meterd and professional in a corporate way, Wordpress is homespun while Amazon, probably due to the smell of money can be catty - and in any case, the artefact is a doneddeal, it's not as if, to take a current example, Max Hastings is going to rewrite his book on the First World War because some in the academic community say that it is weak historicaly and strong on journalistic anecdote.

We'll see.

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On getting it wrong about how Europe went to war in 1914

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 22 Sep 2013, 19:16

 

Fig.1. From Max Hastings new book. Catastrophe.

This is wrong!

Russia's partial mobilization on the 26th understandably gave rise to considerable worry in Germany and Austria-Hungary.  Only when Russia fully mobilized on the 29th did Germany responded. It worries me how many inaccuracies, lies, and old assumptions will be published and broadcast over the next five years. Max Hastings is not an historian.

Perhaps in our connected 21st century any such errors will be quickly picked up.

Did your great-grandfather or grandfather take part in the conflict? Did a great-grandmother become a nurse? Is there a death or several indicated in your family tree from this period? How relevant is it today tothe map of Europe and of the world?

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Graduation Day at The Dome, Brighton. MA ODE

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Apr 2013, 15:34

1.jpg

I'd just paid £50 to hire a gown so I thought I'd save the £65 to £195 on the 'Official Graduation Photo'. This is the one that gets put in a frame with my certificate then. A positve, even emotional experience and a reminder of what the OU stands for and what it means to all of us to do this journey. This should be 2003, but never mind ... got there in the end!

Applications go out in various directions for funded doctoral research ... and one curiosity, an MA in History at Birmingham on 'The Great War' to try and finish a project I started over 22 years ago on the Machine Gun Corps.

I thanked my 14 year old son for coming along as I drove him around to a friend's house and he said, 'No, thank you for inviting me'.

Meanwhile, back to H809.

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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?

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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.



 

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Where do I stand academically? Where and what next? And the madness of being.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 07:48

Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) with the Open University, UK (OU)

H800: Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates

H807: Innovations in eLearning – Learning outcomes

H810: Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students

B822: Creativity, Innovation and Change

H808: The e-learning professional

 

This completes the Masters Degree. I graduate on Saturday 27th April 2013

Currently (March 2013) I am taking H809 as a bridge towards doctoral research or professional consultancy. Complete in June 2013.

H809 Practice-based research in educational technology

I joined the #H817open MOOC for one component of this module. I will register for 2014

H817: Openness and innovation in e-learning.

I am applying to undertake doctoral research in education - using learning technologies.
 
H809 will help prepare for applications starting in January 2014 for an October 2014 start. Most are now a 4 year programme, with a Masters in research to begin. WebSciences at University of Southampton is an interesting option - I attended an Open Day in January.
Too many active interests was a stated issue on childhood school reports. Nothing's changed.
 
I am looking at an MA in History with the University of Birmingham which would give me the opportunity
study the First World War. (I have written extensively about this through my late grandfather's memoire 'That's Nothing Compared to Passchandeale')
There is more.
 
I attended the School of Communication Arts, London. A full-time programme in copywriting, art direction and design and have worked in the 'creative' and 'communications' industries all of my career.
And 'EAVE' (European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs)
 
My first degree is in Geography. My dissertatio nwas on demographics. I love maps. Perhaps I should try to match maps, e-learning and the First World War. Animated it all and add some interviews and 'drama reconstruction'.
See what happens when you let something fester and wake up in the middle of the night.
 
Neuroscience and long term memory are fascinating too.
I need my life over. I need to split into three and start again. I need a coffee and a long walk on the South Downs. (I need to go back to bed)
And then there's Fine Art.
 
And Creative Writing. And cooking. And the garden. There's teaching, and moderating ... and blogging. There's movies. And sailing and swimming coaching. There's family and friend ... ah. Friend? I knew there was something missing in all of the above.
Scrap the lot and have a belated 50th birthday to celebrate 20 years of marriage, parenthood and the madness of being. Then sign up to crew in the Round the World Yacht Race.
And if that doesn't kills me ...

P.S. ADHD

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Smarty Pants will rule!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 12 Feb 2013, 14:04

I  have been repeatedly pulled in by various plausible and intelligent thinkers.

  • Marshall McLuhan
  • Nicholas Carr
  • Malcolm Gladwell

even

  • Marc Prensky

They may motivate people to take a closer interest but are without exception populist, picking references that support their thesis to convince the gullible of the new world order. Marc Prensky is garbage from beginnign to end so I cannot understand how the OU has been suckered into pedaling his ill-informed perspective - unless to prevoke debate.

Marshall McLuhan sounded plausible in 1960 but can be shown to have got it wrong - an irrelevance then and of no value to consider today. Nicholas Carr is no better - his goal is to sell books only.

14 years ago my first blog post was 'What's new about new media? Not much'.

As a historian/geographer I simply could not see it this way, in space or time, it wasn't the case that what we were experiencing was very much different to shifts driven by technology that have occurred over the millennia.

But this thesis, 'business as usual' doesn't get you noticed, or heard, or recognised, or making a living selling books or standing up in conferences. There must be an aspect of being human that favours the new against all else. Which explains a good deal. Geographers think in millions of years, Historians in thousands.

Most of us can barely reflect on the tiny period of our own existence ... which is why weather phenomena, technology and war seem of the times.

Smarty Pants will rule!

Clearly a popularist title for the book I am yet to write - on the coming of wearable technology. Starting in our underwear - are we fit? are we agile? what's are heart rate doing? how does this relate to the context of our lives? If the data might save or improve our lives why not?

And a button-sized camera at this level would give an interesting take on the world.

Who remembers the 'Wicked Willy' cartoons?

Though seeing a world through his lens might be a dangerous though intriguing place to go.

I've thought it, someone in California has probably been doing it for the last three years sad

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H810 - How to turn 13 issues into 3 for our End of Module Assignment

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Jan 2013, 21:13

Courtesy of browsing through my own and two other tutor groups, and looking at the lists produced by a couple of student friends who did H810 in 2010 and 2011 I've developed this 'long list' of 13 issues. I wanted to eliminate concepts and models, which were distracting me. I struggled repeatedly to get these in any order until I did two things:

1) put the issues into my context, knowing the set up and people, what could or would result in something happening for the better in relation to delivering any learning, let alone accessible e-learning for those for whom there are barriers from a variety of known impairments or disabilities

2) create a table of all 13 issues and compare one to the other as less or more important IN MY CONTEXT.

My chosen context is the coaching and teaching of swimming in the UK - with e-learning available for teachers, coaches, club officials, parents and athletes.

I particularly want to thank Simon Carrie who has my point 3 as his first issue - I hadn't given it a moment's thought but in my context, and no doubt in the context of most of us, it cearly is very important - people and tools cost time and money.

(The ones I am likely to pick for the EMA are highlighted - skewed by the needs and practices of my chosen context)

1 Objecti(ive) - The importance of and scoping of the objective as means to an outcome
2 Subject - Significance or role of the subject (student/lecturer) User Centred Design. Involve users in the design.
3 Incentives - Incentives to invest
4 Universal Design - Universal Design/Equity
5= Novice 2 Expert - The role of the novice to learn, participate and develop expertise.
5= Framework for change - A framework for change - An Activity Systems as a model for analysis and action
7 Tools - Role of tools - assistive, web pages, equipment and 'design for all'.
8 Contradictions - Contradictions , conflicts of problems with the actions between components of a recognised activity system
9= Rules - The role of rules (legalese and guidelines) - informal and formal
9= History - What the history of such efforts says about what should be done next and what can be achieved in the future.
11= Division of labour - Division of labour - who is responsible, who is the broker?
11= Community - The community as a ‘community of practices’ or a constellation of connections that engage and participate.
13 Game-like - Game-like play between institutions

What are your thoughts? In your context? How would you prioritise or word these issues? Are there more still (probably).

The two other contexts that interest me are from the point of view of an e-learning agency and from a client point of view.

For the latter - Object(ive) as everyone works to the brief once this is written with clear objectives, universal design for those for whom design as an expressions of creativity and problem solving is important. Tools as agencies are expected to come up with a 'clever' technical response. Framework for change - as in a consultancy capacity the agency will be expected to offer some actionable plan.

For the former - Incentives (as performance Improvement), Rules (legal and mission compliance) and division of labour (who does what) are likely to be significant.

 

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Marching on November 5th in Lewes, East Sussex

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 7 Nov 2012, 12:04

DSC06220.JPG

Fig.1. Preparing to march - Commercial Square Bonfire Society - Lewes, East Sussex

You move to Lewes and once a year you find yourself dressed up with several thousand other people in the town. We alternate between Buccaneers, Confederate Soldiers or Smugglers. You go out as families, meet up with friends then during and between seven marches - starting at 5.15pm with the last procession at 11.30pm - you drop in to eat, stop to eat, go to 'your' pub ... and carry in quick rotation a dozen or so burning torches. You must be dressed correctly. You must march in threes. You have to replace any torch that goes out immediately.

The atmosphere in the town since 2.00pm is carnival time. All parking places are suspended so streets are clear. Schools close early or have the day off. Business close early. Shops on the procession routes board up the windows.

The hub is the town war memorial, while the six societies (or is it seven now), each fan out to different parts of the town for their bonfire and fireworks display.

What's this got to do with learning?

Experiential - Tom Paine, Martyrs burned at the stake, The Gunpowder Plot and remembrance of the fallen at the Town War Memorial. Not so sure about the dressing up though - Confederate Soldiers, Zulu Warriors, 'Red Indians' (sic), Monks, Smugglers, Victorian Ladies and assorted others ...

A sense of community?

We came to the town with a 2 and a 4 year old in 2000 and were promptly enrolled.

More photos from last year HERE

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Final module to complete the MAODE

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 05:22

Successfully registered and signed up for H810: accessibility - starting September with a January finish. This will complete my first, extraordinary OU Journey after three years.

Intellectually challenging, rigorous, comprehensive, expansive and life transforming. It took a while but I am now working for a world leader creating e-learning resources for companies - manager training for the most part.

It won't end here. I have my eye on a History MA. I've discussed this with student services. Starting September 2013 in two parts this will take me into the Centenerary of that horror, the 'war to end war' (HGWells) 1914-1918 that I blog about at www.machineguncorps.com

History would have been my first degree decades ago had I not got cold feet and switched to Geography. And an MA in Fine Art (which had been on the cards in 2010 when I elected for the MAODE.

I guess that's the next decad taken care of!

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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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History of Art

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I played this with my Mum in the 1970s and eventually knew every painting in the set. No formal lessons, some visits to galleries but these were initially confined to the North East of England.

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What lessons do we learn from such games when it comes to teaching? That it can be fun? Exploratory? By default?

How or where else could this be applied, whether as a commercial game 'for all the family' or to use in the classroom, meeting room, board room, lecture hall?

  • Cloud Formation
  • Breeds of Cattle
  • Car Makes
  • Body Parts (Human, as in First Year Medical Students)

Please do add your suggestions ...

 

 

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500 years of Lewes Old Grammar School, so what do they do? Close the High Street and march around town in costume

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 24 Oct 2014, 08:29

A school parade through Lewes. This is Lewes. This is normal.

I've been marching around in fancy dress for 12 years either as a Confederate Soldier or an early 18th Century Pirate.

Does Lewes produce more historians per head of population than other towns in the UK?

I wonder because all this activity must have an impact, especially on the younger participants. I took over 200 photos this afternoon, and spent a lot of time getting close ups of the 3d 'Banners' that were paraded through town.

The detail and craftsmanship impressed.

The entire set could be used as multiple pegs into the 500 year history of England ... and beyond, this is afterall the town of Tom Paine.

This on the day Scotland starts its yes campaign for independence and I happend to be reading the chapter in the Norman Davies book 'The Isles' on the extraordinary mishaps that resulted in the union of England and Scotland in the first place.

Scotland had gone bust financing an attempt at empire building in central America. I favour independence. Of the 62 ancestors I can trace back to the 18th century one was Irish, and some 50 from Scotland, the rest from the North East or North West of England.

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The Economist posted this in their Linkedin group a while back. What do you think?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:52

The membership of this group continues to grow at a rapid speed and we get a healthy stream of postings of discussions and news.

1. The discussions board is primarily intended to start discussions therefore please take some effort to phrase your idea, thought or observation in such a way that responses are encouraged.

2. Don’t make multiple posts of the same item.

3. Don’t blatantly promote your company, product, weblog or yourself.

4. Please do not promote other groups (unless of course they are one of ours!) or simply provide links to external reports (though of course we all have some of these to share from time to time). Rather, if there is something worthwhile to be found elsewhere, please post the premise so it can be discussed here.

5. Posts that are off-topic will be removed.

6. Multiple off topic/solicitation postings will result in removal from the group. Indeed, if any members flag a discussion three times it is automatically removed.

I champion this OU Student Blog platform thingey because it is aking to the Bulletin Boards of a decade ago. You post your stuff and others may spot it vicariously or tune in. I love the stuff I am introduced to that would never otherwise pass before my eyes. I want to sudy Art History, I can't get enough of the MAODE of coourse ... I even quite enjoy the enthusiasm some people have for poetry and maths.

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