My OU Years

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 24 Feb 2014, 17:21

Fig.1 Odd that, 12 years and I've gained hair, glasses and a tie.

In February 2001 I began an OU module on Open & Distance Learning - last year I graduated with the Masters in Open & Distance Education (MAODE). Since then I've taken a couple more MAODE modules to stay up to date. Impossible given that any MAODE module is out of date before it goes live?

In 2001 distance learning looked like this:

Fig.2. Some of the books that came in my OU 'Box' at the start of the module

The next direction has to be horizontally into the Open University (again), or vertically towards a PhD. Or both? Or neither.

Meanwhile, I sincerely recommend that anyone with any interest in the way education is going to follow the BBC tonight.

The Classroom of the Future

Is it an OU co-production? These days these things usually are.

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Using Kolb's experiential learning cycle to assess a creative workshop I gave in 2012 as part of the long gone, though brilliant module 'Creativity, Innovation and Change'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:17

Fig. 1. Kolb’s ‘Experiential Learning Cycle’ reversioned.

I did something …

This is my take on Kolb’s ‘Experiential Learning Cycle’ which I will use to explore what I ‘did’. I ran a creative problem solving workshop. The motivation for attendees was to pick up some creative problem solving techniques, to solve a problem we had with using social media and to do some team building. The objective for me was to crack this problem and to introduce a more creative and collaborative approach to problem solving.

Fig. 2. Coach to Olympians running a workshop - part class, part ‘pool side’

I couldn’t help but draw on experience as a Club Swimming Coach planning programmes of swimming for a squad swimmers and as the ‘workforce development’ running training programmes for our club’s teachers and coaches. Planning and preparation when you are putting athletes in the pool several times a week over months is vital. On a smaller scale this workshop required a schedule, to the minute, with some contingency, allowing you to build in flexibility for both content and timings.

Fig. 3. Planned to the minute - my creative problem solving workshop

The plan was for five to six creative problem solving techniques to be used, top and tailed by, using terms from swimming, a ‘warm up’ and a ‘warm down’. The modus operandi of the Residential School had been to introduce, experience and play with as many creative problem solving techniques as possible.

Fig. 4. As a prop, food and aid memoir a bunch of bananas has multiple uses

‘Bunch of Bananas’ is a creative problem solving technique that suggests that you include in the group a ‘plant’ - a person over whom other’s will slip, like the proverbial banana. My take on this was to introduce two outsiders - a Russian academic who would bring a different take on things and the a mathematician and senior programmer.

Fig. 5. ‘Mother-in-law, Samurai, Tiger’ is a great warm up.

We did a warm up called  ‘Mother-in-law, Samurai, Tiger’. This is the team equivalent of ‘Paper, Scissors, Stone’ where two teams face each other and on the count of three, having agreed what their response would as a team, they either 'Tut-tut’ and wag their finger like a mother-in-law, 'growl' and get their claws out like a Tiger, or shout 'ha!' while posing like a Samurai warrior brandishing his sword. This is the ‘warm down’ to stick with the swimming coaching metaphor was to have participants get into the ‘streamlined’ position that swimmers adopt - essentially a stretching exercise.

Fig. 6. Human Sculpture and Timeline are useful ways to have people look at and feel a problem in a different way and from a different angle.

In between we did a mixture of physical and mental activities, including Human Sculpture where one person becomes the sculptor and uses everyone else to form a tableau or sculpture that expresses their talk on the problem. Another was timeline where you imagine looking at the problem from the perspective of the past and future.

Now, stand back  …

Standing back I’d say that running a workshop for colleagues has advantages and disadvantages. How would a director or line manager feel about their views being exposed like this. On the other hand if well managed it becomes a team building exercise too.

The challenge is to know what risks to take and how to build in flexibility, not just in timing, but in the kind of activities. This requires that despite the plan you are alert to signals that suggest an activity should be developed or dropped. Workshops and seminars I take have a common element - there is ‘hands on’ activity.The goal is that at the end of the session people feel confident that they could do these things themselves. I’m less comfortable about teaching where the communication is one way - me talking and them taking notes. I value encouraging self-discover and people being on their feet, interacting and having fun.

The workshop was experiential

It was collaborative and iterative, it was problem-based learning that used communication skills.

How did you feel about that ?

Fig. 7. How we like to be ‘in the flow’ rather either bored or stressed from being too challenged. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1975) Mental state in terms of challenge level and skill level.

I felt ‘in the flow’ for most of the time, suitably challenged and never bored. Though anxious and surprised when a colleague gave me a drubbing the day after feeling that they had been tricked into attending. This came as a surprise, the other surprise was how away from their desk and computers the apparently introverted could become so animated and responsive.

I felt like a party planner. I was hosting an event. The atmosphere of controlled enthusiasm would be down to me. I would be, to use a French expression, the ‘animateur’ or ‘realisateur’ - the one who would make this happen and bring it to life.

Fig. 8. For all the playful activities, we are still reliant on Post It Notes and flip charts

Now what ?

On this occasion we delivered a couple of distinct responses to the problem. People reflected on the experienced and felt it was both enjoyable and of practical value. The request was not that others would host such an exercise, but that I would do more. I was subsequently booked to run a few more workshops on specific topics with different groups in the faculty. The question that we couldn’t resolve was whether were  a ‘creative organisation’ ? My own conclusion being that we quite palpably were not.

REFERENCE

Ackoff, R.L. (1979) The Art of Problem-Solving, New York: Wiley

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1975). Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0-87589-261-2

Experiential learning theory. (Available from http://www2.glos.ac.uk/gdn/gibbs/ch2.htm. Accessed 22FEB14)

Gundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed, Van Norstrand Reinhold. Te hniques 4.01, 4.06, 4.57

Henry, J and the course team (2006, 2010) 'Creativity, Cognition and Development" Book 1 B822 Creativity, Innovation and Change.

Henry, J (2010) ‘Set Breakers’ Henry (P. 96)

Kolb, D.A. 1984 Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

McCaskey, M.B. (1988) ‘The challenge of managing ambiguity’, in Pondy, L.R, Boland, R.J and Thomas, H (eds) Managing Ambiguity and Change, new York, pp 2-11

Henry, J & Martin J (2010) Book 2 Managing Problems Creatively

Schon, A.A. (1983) The Reflective Practioner: How Professionals think in Action, London: Temple Smith

Tassoul, M, & Buijs, J ( 2007, )'Clustering: An Essential Step from Diverging to Converging', Creativity & Innovation Management, 16, 1, pp. 16-26, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 22 February 2014.

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Are you a Tablet Agnostic, Atheist, or Evangelist?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 2 Jul 2011, 05:16

Or is that device agnostic?

Quite right too, though my life was easier when it was all Mac. I'm working on some ideas in relation to Martini-learning.

You know the thing, having a Smartphone or iPad that you can use (cue the music) 'anytime, anyplace, anywhere.'

It's just learning folks.

Whether you add an i, an e or an o, as in iLearning (interactive), eLearning (electronic) or online learning. Not forgeting web-based learning which it was called c1998 to 2005?

I am reflecting on how best to introduce new anything to people.

As a professional swimming coach I think a good metaphor is teaching adults to swim. I can get the motivated person to a full Triathlon in 18 months and an Iron Man in Five Years.

It all starts in what used to be called the 'baby pool' or training pool. Just get into your costume and get your toes wet might be a start. I am ok with many blogging platforms, I've observed their progress with a rye smile for over 12 years and have a habit of giving them all a go.

I am getting used to Linkedin.

Next stop a master class in Twitter and Facebook (where all three Jonathan Vernons are I regret to say me ... Getting unstuck, not feeling comfortable with the 'collective' me.

A simple exercise with a tablet I feel has been to have had access to an iPad for three weeks but only used the wifi connection. I now have the sim card in.

So work doesn't just come home, it can be 'enjoyed' 'indulged' or 'executed' from a Wendy House at the bottom of my mother's garden.

Here's the rub.

I have to be indoors because the reflection on the icey glass surface of an ipad gives me more cloudworks on the keyboard and screen than I need. For reading at least it is back to the Kindle.

P.S. Having not used my mobile phone for a week, and not missed it, this like Television, might be a piece of technology that like my Psion and Palm One before, have had their day.

Permalink 4 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 2 Jul 2011, 05:21)
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Social Media Matters for communications and education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 08:21
I have drifted over to my mind bursts - just Google it and take your pick. I have in effect for the last three months been doing a second module in parallel while also starting a new job. One naturally feeds into the other. Applied learning works. There is no formal course of action; though there is naturally a significant amoint of activity; I like to scramble up any new learning curve, especially this one because it fascinates me. I've always been a natural networker, not working the crowd, but genuinely enjoying the company of people, listening to their ideas, woes, beliefs, their enthusiams too. If something is being said about Social Media I am reading about it online, joining groups on it (join me in Linkedin), and getting books on it- everyone an e-book with each one treated as if it belongs to a compulsory reading list. Ask about these, or spin through this blog; in most cases I start the entry with a picture of the book. I've reviewed them too which amuses me becuase by Googling my name several of this reviews are top ranked. (69133)
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H800: 47 H800 Week 8/9 Activity 7 Cloudworks 'Swim lanes' for learning design,

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014, 14:23

It is one thing to contribute to a flash debate, it is quite another to embrace the Cloudworks platform.

There is only one way to test the water, and that is to get in. We talk of 'swim lanes' for learning design, I like every platform, every social network, business network or here, educational network, to be a visit to another pool, a lido, indoor or out, leisure pool or training pool.

They need to know who you are, you have to sign in. Then you have to change, get in, and give it a go.

So I am for the umpteenth time adding a profile picture and a profile, tagging, finding favourites debates and linking to people.

It all takes time.

Online you control time. Intensive engagement might move things along ... on the other hand, it may irritate those who've been here a while.

It should take time.

Find the rhymn of the place, observe when and where there is a buzz. Identifiy the 'champions,' come in on the periphery, pick up a thread, join in tentatively, give it a go here and there.

I make a contribution to a Flash Debate on the futre and threats to universities

Universities will flourish as they become part of the mainstream and engaged with the world, rather than distinct from it. Relationships with governments, industries, schools (for future students) and alumni (for past student) will develop and become continual, rather than passing. Student cohorts may look the same on the ground, but in the virtual world will be broader and deeper, technology and systems allowing a greater diversity. Not all institutions will have the ability, whether through lack of financing, the burden of their past and costs, to be flexible and change. The overall impact will be of an evolutionary change, though for some it will be a fight for survival.

BRANDING

Established, motivated, well-supported and well known colleges and institutions, where there is strength as a brand, as well as financially, in their governing body and from alumni will thrive. They can afford to exploit the changing circumstances (and they can’t afford not to). Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Bristol, UCL and the OU are not about to go under. On the other hand, new, complacent, poorly supported, little known educational institutions where the sources of income and grants may be narrow or uncertain, with weak leadership and ill-established (or disloyal) alumni will fail.

The opportunities to flourish are extraordinary; the global demand for tertiary education with tens of millions of people from Asia, for example, seeking higher education over the next decade means that there is a growing and hungry market if you have the right ‘product.’ Education is a business, whether the model is that students are educated for free or pay part of the fees, cash flow matters. Retailing has been in constant flux, from the high street to out of town shopping, with national and international brands dominating, and then online shopping cornering certain markets, from books to electronic goods. Retailers have had to change the mix, where they locate and what they sell. Universities are less agile and less prone to the vicissitudes of short-term purchasing decisions, but the impact on them of new technologies is no less profound. Negotiating their way through this will require skill, the most vulnerable institutions will fail.

QUALIFICATIONS

Letters after your name differentiate you from other candidates for a job or promotion. Where there are many applicants for the same position where you studied, indeed, who you studied with, will matter. It helps to study under the best in your field. It depends entirely on where you wish or plan to go afterwards, where and if a position or job requires a certain qualification, and if a qualification from one or another institution has greater perceived or actual value. However, as those with experience of the job market will tell you, it is how what you have been taught is applied and how you relate to other people, that will determine your success.

CAMPUS BASED vs DISTANCE LEARNING

Technology is blending the two: increasingly students are opting for this, to be campus-based, but to take advantage of the technology to better manage their time or support their learning. Far from being the death-knell of the traditional university, new technologies will assist in their finding ways to develop and support a broader and deeper student body. Participation and collaboration, socialising away from the screen, is a vital component of the university experience for those coming out of secondary education – the demands and expectations of a mature student are very different. How people get on, how they work together, is a vital lesson that a campus based university offers. Whilst increasingly our online experiences are as ‘real’ as everything else we do, it is how and if we can work as a team that will decide how we progress. The student experiencing this will better know themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and suitability for different career paths.

CHANGE

Like retailers, manufacturers, broadcasters, publishers and the post office, we are in a period of significant change, new technology was already having an impact, the economic down turn has aggravated this, obliging some forcing other institutions to act. How this change is managed will decide who survives and who struggles on. There is a fine line to tread between innovating early, or too late, changing wholesale or piecemeal. The wise institution not only spreads its risk, but also casts its opportunism just as wide as spreading your bets covers you in a world where nobody knows what will work or not. Libraries, one of the draws to a campus-based university, cannot be as influential as hundreds of millions of texts become instantly available in digital form. Senior lecturers and researchers should be employed for their ability to communicate, support and rally students around them, not simply because of the paper they are working on. Students will demand more if they feel it is the cash in their pocket that is buying what the institutions offers. Errors, failings and shortcomings of a person, a module or course, can be spread through online reviews and will decide their fate. New blends of courses will invent themselves where a student feels able, supported through e-learning, to cherry pick, even to study simultaneously quite different subjects. Cohorts, if on the ground still that 17-23 year old age group, will become far more diverse, with groupings formed by mutual interest in a subject. Life-long learning, already apparent in some professions, will become more common place as people recognise the need to refresh their understanding of some topics, while gaining new skills and additional insights.

Am I responding to a thread, or like the second or third speaker at an Oxford Union Debating Society getting up to say my piece?

And if I sit on the fence, what kind of debate is that?

We should be obliged to take sides, THAT would be a debate, otherwise it is a conversation, another online tutorial.

Thus far Cloudworks is like a new swimming pool, refreshing and full of opportunity. To thrive, let alone survive, it needs people coming down to swim, to jump in, to train, to meet ...

And once you have your regulars, keep them coming back.

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H800: 45 Week 8 Activity 2 (Part 4) Tools for Learning Design

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 16:14

Is this a model or an expression of what took place?

At what point, by adding Tutor engagement, and then picking out individuals in relation to their tutor group forum participation do you make assumptions?

A questionnaire would elicit the facts.

At some point the complexity of the activity shown diminishes the ease at which the chart is interpreted.

I'd replaced the imploring 'HAVE FUN!' with the more germane 'ENGAGE!' i.e. take part, I say this because debate and discussion may not be fund with a smile.

Often I liken a session that spins out of control as a Catherine-Wheel nailed to a post that fizzles and falls ... or winds down. Some activities can be like this, 'full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.'

They tend to be the most fulfilling, where everyone in the group takes part. Or at least SIX on a regular basis to give the thing some spin.

Failure to participate is the killer; with it an activity can be a wild success, drawing people in, urging them to take part. Without them you are on your own 'with your books and your thoughts.'

The reality of distance learning online is a bit of both, the trick is to be able to engage and disengage with reasonable flexibility, not feeling guilty whether you are quiet for a period or when you are ever-present.

The role of the tutor is a tricky one

Mentor and coach, or subject matter expert? Institutional insider to guide? Overseer? Absent landlord? Marker? Assessor? Animateur?

The role is changing. It will be as different as it is in the 'real' world from the one-to-one private tutor, or the 'gang master' running 60 students via pre-recorded video lecture. Customers, as students can call themselves with greater validity if they are paying significant sums, will be demanding.

'Change is all around us'.

(Sung to the tune of Wet, Wet, Wet's 'love is all around us').

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H800: 40 Expansive Learning and Engestrom

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 28 Sep 2012, 14:24

I've taken this, from Engestrom and considered this as the interplay between SIX people (or groups) - or a mix of the two. Six people who are bringing to the discussion their different backgrounds and ideas in order to address a topic. At arm's length, the objects, the ideas, views or knowledge that they have begins to take on an identity of its own.

'Expansive learning is based on Vygotsky, though three times removed; it implies that we learn within activity pockets as individuals and groups. The interplay between these groups are the consequential objects of learning that in turn transmogrify in the presence of other objects. Solving problems, dealing with contradictions, may come about as these learning systems slide or shift'.

Amyone care to comment?

This is my take on a topic that has taken me through the briar-bush and out the other side. Has the struggle been worth it. The challenge I feel I face when reading papers such is this is how to make the subject matter comprehensible to the non-academic, I challenge I throw down to every academic: it is possible to make yourselves understood by the majority, rather than a minority.

REFERENCE

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Interacting activity systems: Engestrom

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 06:26

1). What kind of theory of learning is offered by classic activity theory?

A single activity system unit that works upon an object and delivers an outcome

2). What are the five principles of current activity theory? According to Engeström:

1. A collective, artifact-mediated and object-orientated activity system, seen in its network relations ot other activity systems, is taken as the prime unit of analysis.
2. Multi-voicedness of activity systems. A community of multiple points of view, traditional and interests.
3. Age and history
4. Contradictions as sources of change and development - accumulating structural tensions within and between activity systems.
5. The possibility of expansive transformations.

3). What is the problem with the ‘standard’ theories of learning that expansive learning addresses?

Standard theory equates to lasting behaviour change whereas expansive learning considers a sideways shift of the entire activity system.

I was thinking in terms of trying to boil two pans on water on one hob; the flames between the pans cause more conflict than harmony. Shift both pans to the left or right and the heat is under each activity rather than between them.

I'll get out a pad of paper and try some more of these.

4) What is the criticism that Engeström makes of the apprenticeship model of learning?

Doesn't permit the development of original thinking. (I disagree. It depends on the person you are apprenticed too. Think of the many great artists who learnt their craft under a great master, then broke loose).

In relation to e-learning or are we calling it technology-enhanced learning here I fully recognise the value of participation, letting go of your thoughts and therefore being one of these 'activity systems' so that a shared 'third object' (Engestrom, 2001) as it were, moves forward.

The best colloborative work is like this, my experience being those video production, often drama based, that require multiple inputs from people with very different, and specific talents.

I've gone on to try and express the Engestrom diagram in 3D, and drawing six activity systems ... i.e creating greater complexity to begin getting closer to the highly complex reality and in turn a different diagram/illustration entirely.

REFERENCE

Engeström (2001) article, Expansive learning at work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualisation

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H800:35 Web 1.0 to Web 4.0

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 16:01

I think Tim O'Reilly (2005) should have a say in this; did he not coin the term Web 2.0? Of course, we didn't know, at the time, that we were in the Web 1.0 phase.

It feels like trying to decide where the boundaries are between the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages; indeed, the analogy is apt as both are about technologies. The latter over thousands of years, the former over thousands of DAYS.

I'm reading Larry Weber on Digital Marketing. He wants readers to think in terms of us currently hitting Web 3.0 with Web 4.0 on the horizon. His history doesn't serve him well. To my mind he wants us to think if 'new media' as Web 1.0. It wasn't. For the most part in the late 1980s and early 1990s we were just getting to grips with digital, with interactivity offline on Philips Laser discs, CDs then DVDs. I recall, painfully, trying to migrate interactive DVD content to the web c1998 ... the platform couldn't handle the file sizes. Anyway, this was when Web 1.0 began with the Web.

Isn't Web 2.0 really tied to the Dot.com Bubble Burst of late 2000/2001 ?

The industry began to think itself out of the mess and the possibilities shifted as broadband became common place.

So where does this leave us now?

Did people living at the time of the Bronze or Iron age really care? Imports gave a hint of what other cultures could do.

My thinking is that the shift is so great and so fast that we are entering Web 3.0.

But this isn't a board game, we aren't simply leaving one domain and entering another. For heaven's sake, we still have pen, paper, artillery, stone pestle and mortars, wooden rolling pins, iron tanks ..

Web 2.0 is Warner Bros teaming up with Facebook to deliver video on demand.

Web 3.0 will be want hundreds of thousands of people do with the content, because they sure as heck won't simply sit back and watch. The way they mash it up and share it then come up with something NEW, this is Web 3.0 behaviour.

Web 4.0

Larry Weber hints at where it is going. Your thoughts?

REFERENCE

O’Reilly, T. (2005) What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software [online],http://routes.open.ac.uk/ ixbin/ hixclient.exe?_IXDB_=routes&_IXSPFX_=g&submit-button=summary&%24+with+res_id+is+res18497(last accessed 16 March 2011).

Weber, L (2009) Marketing to the Social Web (Second Edition) John Wiley & Sons.

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h800: 34 Vicarious Learning (Wk Activity 4)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 10:32

There is no need for me to plug gaps - there aren't any.

There have been choices to make throough-out H800 wks 1-5. For the TMA01 we are to comment, 500 words each, on THREE activities (with a couple of exclusions which are required four the FOURTH part of the TMA).

Content to cover the ground and ill for the best part of three weeks I wasn't going to do my old thing of 'do everything' choose later ...

However, I thought this reading nmight be part of the 'compulsory' component on 'metaphor' in learning.

In fact, I find it a separate line of thinking entirely, far more pragmatic, and not even complemenetary to the idea of metaphor, though vital the thoughts we are developing on 'Acquisition' and 'participation' for the simple reason that this discussion wraps them up in one activity called 'Vicarious Learning'.

I found this diversion highly information, indeed so much so , that I feel without it I could not have come to my current level of appreciation of acquisition and participation, that instead of separate staged entities, they can be bound together in a single experience.

This idea of ‘vicarious learning’ has been popular with educational researchers as a topic since 1993 and originally formed part of Bandura’s (1977) work.

It is of course what happens all around – we learn by default, by observing others being taught, and either struggling or succeeding at a task or with a concept. Has human kind not done this always? You learn from your parents, siblings and peers, from uncles and aunts, elders and others in your immediate community and from any group or community your are sent to or put into in order to learn.

The suggestions it that ‘observed behaviours are reinforced’ … with a bias in favour of positive reinforcement of ‘good behaviour or outcomes’ rather than poo behaviour and none or negative outcomes. I wish I believed this to be the case and will need to see the research. There are always exceptions to the rule, people who pick up the bad habits and the way NOT to do a thing, or through their contrary nature deliberately go against the grain (though by doing so their formal learning would soon be ended).

Is observation ‘participation’ ? Surely it is?

Yes I learn as ‘one removed as it were’ from the interaction they are watching. Indeed, it is ‘acquisition’ too.

Reading this puts a wry smile on my face because of the way the language of e-learning has settled down, we come to accommodate phrases and ways of putting things that make sense to all in a less cumbersome fashion than this – it is the nature of language. ‘web-based generic shell designed to accept data from any discipline that has cases’.

The PATSy system looked at/looks at:

· Neuropsychology

· Neurology/medical rehabilitation

· Speech and language pathologies

It is a:

· A multimedia database/resource.

· + virtual patients

· Clinical reasoning and diagnosis

‘Results showed that online interactions with PATSy were positively correlated with end-of-term learning outcome measures.’

It is helpful where students struggle to articulate their misunderstanding.

Useful for reflection.

Especially to reveal what a student DOESN’T know, not what they DO know.

It provides:

· A multi-media database

· Discussion tools

It operates:

· At a distance (does it say)

· On campus but working alone (clinical)

· As observers of learners and as learners themselves.

REFERENCE

Cox, R. (2006) Vicarious Learning and Case-based Teaching of Clinical Reasoning Skills (2004–2006) [online], http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ esrcinfocentre/ viewawardpage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-139-25-0127 [(last accessed 10 March 2011).

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H800: 30 Language, Communication, Education and John Seely Brown via Hitchings and Tyneside

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 22 Dec 2020, 20:40

The meaning of words and learning, from how we learn to speak via Hitchings, John Seely Brown and the Open University MAODE module H800.

I like that thought that ‘All knowledge is, we believe, like language’.

Whether we are educators or not, we all have experience of acquiring or possibly learning a language. I was brought up in the North of England by aspirational Geordies who between them wanted to instil ‘correct’ spoken and written English. Woe-betide the child who spoke with a hard ‘a,’ spilt an infinitive and sprinkled their conversation with ‘sorts of … ‘ or ‘you know.’ I’m surprised none of us came out with a stammer. Could this be why my brother bit his nails all the time? He held onto his Geordie accent despite his parents best (or worst efforts). Which has me thinking, we’ve had a Royal who stammered, is there one who used to bite their finger-nails?

Language, and our choice of words and the words that are coined and come into common used are vital. I STILL get into conversations over whether it is ‘E-learning’ or ‘online learning’, and as they are the client you can imagine which way I tip.

‘Its constituent parts index the world and so are inextricably a product of the activity and situations in which they are produced’. Brown et al (1989)

This indexing of the world makes for a fascinating book. Hitchings on the English Language gives a wonderful insight not only into the way ‘English’ developed, has changed and is changing … and why words matter.

‘A concept, for example, will continually evolve with each new occasion of use, because new situations, negotiations, and activities inevitably recast it in new, more densely textured form. So a concept, like the meaning of a word, is always under construction’.

Think of conceptual knowledge as similar to a set of tools.

‘People use tools actively rather than just acquire them, by contrast, build an increasingly rich implicit understanding of the world in which they use the tools and the tools themselves’. P33

I like this idea too, that we can equate words with tools and vice-versa. They are components that enable communication. And communication facilitates learning.

But of course ‘How a tool is used will vary by context and culture’. Brown et al (1989:33)

Wherein lies the inherent problem with language, whether it is translated, or especially if you think you are talking the same language … but are not because your take and comprehension of a word or set of words is different: should, would, will, can, maybe, perhaps … all words that combined with a look, and body language may make someone believe they mean ‘yes’ or they mean ‘no’. So do you, in such situations act or do nothing? Language can have us sitting on the fence. Is this what academics do? Forever transitory between the commercial world where decisions are paramount?

‘Enculturation is what people do in learning to speak, read, and write, or becoming school children, office workers, researchers and so on’. Brown et al (1989:32-33).

I loathe the word ‘enculturation’ as I only ever come across it in reports/conversations such as these. As all learning, in all its stages becomes readily available and transparent I wonder if such words, indeed any jargon or acronyms are justified? It is possible to be intelligent without cluttering your sentences with ‘big words’ or sounding patronising. Try it; it’s habit forming. Like all education.

‘Given the chance to observe and practice in situ the behaviour of members of a culture, people pick up on relevant jargon, imitate behaviour, and gradually start to act in accordance with its norms’.

I read, unless you are born into a middle class family of snobs who deny their roots.

Ambient culture over explicit teaching

‘When authentic activities are transferred to the classroom, their context is inevitably transmuted; they become classroom tasks. The system of learning and using (and, of course, testing) thereafter remains hermetically sealed within the self-confirming culture of the school’. Brown et al (1989:34)

Wherein lies the discord in many school classrooms

The students’ lives are so far removed from the school experience that they cannot behave. They could and will only learn if they do so within the context of their family lives. How many families sit around together, in front of the piano, or radio, or TV, let alone at the dining room table? Children don’t sit still, physically or mentally. They occupy their own space both online and off. No wonder they take laptops into lectures. And can they blog, and send messages while sitting through a lecture? Probably. They could even stream it live to someone who can’t make it … or just record it for later consumption (or not). Not being the operative word, what they can grab of it in transit is probably as much as they’ll take in first time through. Just plain folks (JPFs)

I love the idea of JPS

‘Just plain folks’ (JPFs),’ we are told, ‘learn in ways that are quite distinct from what students (in the classroom) are asked to do’. (Jean Lave’s ethnographic studies of learning and everyday activity 1988b). (Weren't JPS a brand of cigaretter, famously branded gold and blank on Forumula 1 Racing cars of the 1970s?)

JPFs are best off as apprentices rather than having to make qualitative changes in school. Brown et al (1989:35)

This is what we do. We label, we index, we give things names. We categorise whether or not there is truth behind the category. I debunk ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’ as concepts wherever I can as false, yet we know what is meant by it, as with ‘Generation Y’ or the ‘Facebook Generation.’ We cannot have a conversation without such terms.

What as a teacher do you make explicit and what implicit?

The problem is that to overcome difficult pedagogic problems you make as much as possible explicit – this is not the way to teach.

Indexical representations which ‘gain their efficiency by leaving much of the context underrepresented or implicit.’ Brown et al (1989:41)

i.e. what you leave out is perhaps more important than what you put in.

Which explains the problem with Wikipedia – it aims to be universal, comprehensive and definitive.

It wants to be the last word on everything, even if the last word is always the next word that is written. From a learning point of view I’d like to launch a moth-eaten version of Wikipedia, the Gouda cheese version that leaves stuff out, that is nibbled at and full of holes.

Why?

Because this will get on your goat and prompt you to engage with the content, to correct it, to fill in the gaps. Can someone write an app to do this?

To go in and remove sentences, replace the right word with the wrong one, a wrong date/place with the facts currently given?

'Communication is essential to our lives, but how often do we stop to think about where the words we use have come from?'

Henry Hitchings poses this question on the flyleaf of his gloriously informative and entertaining book on the History of English 'The secret life of word. How English became English.' Hitchings (2008)

REFERENCE

Hitchings, H. (2008) The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English.

Brown, J.S., Collins.A., Duguid, P., (1989) Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. Educational Researcher, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Jan. - Feb., 1989), pp. 32-42 American Educational Research Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1176008 . Accessed: 05/03/2011 13:10

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H800: 18 Eating Three Humble pies - on reading, dated reports, participation online (and the use of cliched corporate catch phrases)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:00

Eating humble pie

At various times over the last 12 months I have knocked the MAODE because of the amount of reading required, particularly in H808 ‘Innovations in e-learning’, where it rankled to read reports that felt out of date or books of the last century, and across the modules for the lack of examples of ‘innovations in e-learning,’, as if the MAODE should exploit the students by sending through the online hoops the equivalent of a performance in a Cirque du Soleil show.

I take it back:

I eat humble pie for and offer three reasons:

2. The earliest investigations on things we now consider common place and highly revealing

3. Bells and whistles may have no tune Reading works, though it is unnecessary to have the books in your hand, or to print of the reports.

I’ve done both, starting the MAODE or ODL as it was called in 2001, I had a box of books delivered to the door (I have many of these still).

Picking it up again in 2010 with H807 ‘Innovations in e-learning’ for want of an e-reader or adequate computer I found myself printing everything off – it unnecessarily fills eight large arch-level files (where if kept for a decade, they may remain).

There is value in printing things off

One of these, exactly the kind of document I would have rejected in 2010 as dated, was written in 1992.

What is more, this paper addresses something that one would imagine would need a modern perspective to be of interest, the subject is the value of networking – what we’d call online collaboration or participation today.

The earliest investigations reveal the inspiration at a time when there were few options.

One the one hand I can go to the OU Library and type in ‘participation’ and ‘e-learning’ and be invited to read as PDFs a number of reports published in the last few months, on the other, I can go and see some of the earliest efforts to understand the possibilities and overcome the technical issues in order to try and recreate for distance learners what campus based students had all the time – the opportunity to meet and share ideas, the tutor group online, as it were.

See below

Computer Networking for Development of Distance Education Courses (1).

In my teens and helping out on video-based corporate training films I recall some advice from the Training Director of FIH PLC, Ron Ellis. It’s one of those irritating corporate communications acronyms:

‘Keep it Simple, Stupid’

(as it was, though as some now prefer)

‘Keep it short and simple’.

It’s a fascinating story and remarkably for Wikipedia were entries are often anything but, it is short and straightforward.

The points I am making are straight forward too.

2. Research and References

3. Simplicity

The process is enhanced and highly tailored once the content you need to consume is in a device that is slimmer than a slim novella. The affordances of the e-reader mean you can do away with pen and paper (though not a power or USB cable).

My passion for reading, where the 'Content is King', which perhaps unnecessarily brings me back to Wikipedia.

What you read, and the fact that you read, matters more than its being in paper form, whether chained to a shelf in the Duke Humphrey’s Library, Oxford (Bodleian), or bubble-wrapped from Amazon, let alone printed off on reams of 80sgm from WHSmith, holes punched and the thing filed for delayed consumption.

Reading too, I realise, is the purest form of self-directed learning

Vygostky would approve.

You are offered a list of suggested titles and off you go.

Parameters help

It is too easy to read the irrelevant if your only guide is Google and it is just as easy to purchase or download a book that has the title, but whose author could at best be described as ‘popular’.

It may fell archaic and arcane to be presented with a reading list, but I recognise their value, if only as the maelstrom of digital information spins across your eyes you can focus.

It may require effort to skim read the abstracts and contents of 33 books and papers in order to extract three or four to read over a two week period (as required to do in May 2001 on the then ODL), but the method works:you get an overview of the topic, a sense of who the authors and institutions your ‘school’ considers of interest, and then motivated by making some choices yourself, you read.

This in itself is one reason to avoid Wikipedia

if everyone reads the same content, everyone is likely to draw the same conclusions.

In any case, my issue with Wikipedia is three-fold, entries are either too short, or too long and there is no sense of the reader, the audience, for whom they are written; at times it is childish, at others like reading a doctoral thesis.

Or am I missing the point?

it isn’t a book, not a set of encyclopedias, but a library, communal built, an organic thing where those motivated to contribute and who believe they have something to say, do so; though all the corporate PR pap should be firewalled out.

Either way, my ambition is for WikiTVia, in which the entire content of Wikipedia is put in front of the camera and shot as chunkable video clips.

Anyone fancy giving it a go?

I digress, which is apt.

If you have a reading list you are less likely to get lost

What is more, you will have something to say in common with your fellow pupils when you’re online.

It matters for a niche conversation to be 'singing from the same hymn' sheet which is NOT the same as singing the same tune.

(Aren’t I the one full of cliché and aphorisms this morning).

Which brings us to point three, and a theme for Week 2 of H800 ‘Technology-enhanced learning: practice and debates.’

A title I have just typed out for the first time and I initially read as ‘Technology-enhanced debates’ which could be the right way to think of it given an initial taste of Elluminate.

It doesn’t work and there seems to be little desire or interest to fix it.

I’d liken my first Elluminate session to my first attempt (indeed all my attempts) to learn to row.

Think of the Isis, early November morning, eight Balliol Men kicked out of bed by 3rd year student Miss Cressida Dick to cycle down to the boathouse.

We varied in shape and size like the cast of a James Bond movie:

Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton, Jaws and Odd-Job, Scaramanger and Ros Klebb, Goldfinger and Dr. No.

Despite our coach Dick's best intentions everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

Later that term on in our only race we were promptly ‘bumped’ and were out.

I wonder if the joint experience of Elluminate will find us bumping along discontentedly for the next few months?

My suggestion would to disembark to something simple, that works (as we did in H808)

Elluminate to Skype with Sync.in or Google.docs is the difference between crossing the English Channel on Pedalos, or sharing a compartment on the Eurostar.

Had this been a business meeting I may have said let’s email then pick up the phone and do a conference call that way.

If it had mattered and the journey was a matter of hours I may have said, hold it, let’s meet in a couple of hours.

What matters is achieving the outcome rather than trying to clamber on board a beach-side round-about on which the bells and whistles are falling off.

Reading, referencing and simplicity brings me to a paper we were expected to read in 2001.

Computer Networking for Development of Distance Education Courses (1) Tony Kaye.

Institute of Educational Technology

(Link broken and my searches thus far have not located a copy of this paper)

It was written in 1992.

(Until this week I baulked at reading anything pre Google, Facebook or Twitter. What, frankly is the point if none of these highly versatile, immediate forms of collaboration and communication online are not covered?)

This report is as relevant to synchronous and asynchronous collaborative online learning in 2011 as the earliest books coaching rowing.

The basic issues remain the same: the problem to solve, the goal and outcomes.

It’s relevance is like starting any conversation about the Internet with Tim Berners-Lee and CEARN.

In the paper, expert discuss the potential for computer support through local and wide-area networks for ‘work groups engaged in collaborative authoring tasks.’

You see, this, to keep it simple, is all we were trying to achieve on Elluminate, a ‘work group engaged in collaborative authoring tasks.’

Today we can hear and see each other, though the voice will do – and despite being so anachronistic, we can, presumable, all type on a QWERTY keyboard.

Courtesy of Cloud computing any other shared tool, from word, to spreadsheets, presentations, art pads and photo manipulation, we could choose to use from a plethora of readily available free choices.

‘it takes as a basic premise the need for a progressive co-evolution of roles, organisational structures, and technologies (Englebart and Lehtman, 1988), if technology is to be successfully used for group work.’

‘A summary of some of the main findings from studies of traditional (i.e. non technology-supported) course team activities is presented’.

This I consider important as it re-roots us in the very process we are trying to recreate online, a meeting between people, like or not-alike minds, with a common theme and goal.

This report was written for and about teams planning and writing distance teaching materials, however, as it points out,

‘many of the issues raised are relevant to other group collaboration and authoring tasks, such as planning and writing reports, research studies and books.’ Kaye (1992:01)

It makes fascinating reading, not least the comprehensive list of items that would have to be co-ordinate to create a distance learning ‘package,’ resplendent with diskette and C90 audio cassettes, 16 hours of TV and a 300 page course Reader.

Have things moved on?

Where’s our TV in MAODE?

I actually believed in 2001 I’d be getting up in the middle of the night to view lectures.

We don’t have lectures in the MAODE, why not?

It should not be a dying form.

The detail of designing, developing and producing a distance education package, though interesting in itself, is not what I’m looking for in this report, so much as how the teams used the then available technology in order to work together collaboratively online.

There were clear, agreed stages.

The emphasis on this report (or book chapter as it is sometimes referred to) are the ‘human factors’.

A wry smile crosses my face as I read about some of the problems that can arise (it sounds familiar):

• Lack of consensus
• Differing expectations Nature of roles and tasks ‘differences in the perceived trustworthiness of different colleagues’ [sic]
• Different working patterns “Varying preferences in use of technology (which in this case include academics who use word-processors and who ‘draft in manuscript prior to word-processing by secretary” [sic]

Then some apt quotes regarding the process from this disparate group of individuals:

‘working by mutual adjustment rather than unitary consensus, bending and battering the system until it more or less fits’ (Martin, 1979)

‘If some course teams work smoothly, some collapse completely; if some deliver the goods on time, some are hopelessly late. Course teams can be likened to families/ Happy families do exist, but others fall apart when rebellious children leave home or when parents separate; most survive, but not without varying elements of antagonism and resentment.’ (Crick, 1980)

There is more

In microcosm it’s just the same on the MAODE.

I come to this conclusion after four or five ‘collaborative’ efforts with fellow students.

We’re human

We work together best of all face-to-face, with a real task, tight deadlines and defined roles, preferably after a meal together, and by way of example, putting on a university play would be an example of this.

Recreating much or any of this online, with a collections of heterogeneous strangers, with highly varied lives not just beyond the ’campus’ but possibly on the other side of the planet, is not unexpectedly therefore primed to fail.

This said, in H808, one collaborative experience I was involved with, between six, with one in New Zealand, was a text book success.

Why?

As I put it then, ‘we kept the ball rolling,’ in this case the time zones may have helped (and my own insomnia that suggests I am based in Hong Kong not Lewes, East Sussex).

It also helped to have a Training Manager from the Navy, and a Training Manager (or two) from Medicine.

There was professional discipline that students and academics seem to lack.

Indeed, as academics often say themselves, they don’t have proper jobs.

Isn’t it about time that they behaved like the professional world, indeed, took lessons from corporate communications instead of getting things wrong all the time?

I read this from the 1992 report and wonder if when it comes to the people involved much has changed inside academic institutions.

‘There is evidence to suggest that course team processes can become pathological if the factors listed by Riley(1983) (particularly, it could be argued, the ‘private’ factors) are not properly addressed.’ Kaye, (1992:08).

‘One experienced course team chairman (Drake, 1979) goes so far as to say that …

“the course team is a menace to the academic output and reputation of the Open University,” [sic/ibid]

‘because it provides a framework for protracted (and exciting) academic discussions about possible options for course content and structure, but that when the real deadlines are imminent, many academic are unable to come to define decisions and produce satisfactory material.’

!!!

If academics at the OU can’t (or couldn’t) work together what hope to do mature postgraduates have?

Our maturity and NOT being academics probably

‘problems can arise in the relationship between academic staff and radio or television producers’ Nicodemus (1984) points out that the resultant anxieties can cause “ … a lot of flight behaviour which simply delays and dramatises the eventual confrontations.’

I have an idea for a soap-opera set on the campus of the OU; this report provides the material

I'm not going to quote it all, but there is some social science behind it. Hopefully this paper or chapter is traceable.

Brooks (1982) has observed that when complex tasks are shared amongst individuals or small working groups, the extra burdens of coordination and communication often counteract the productivity gains expected from division of labour.

Problems arise from social psychological processes:

for example, pressures to confirm in a group might cause people to behave less effectively than if they were working alone, and diffusion of responsibility and lack of ownership of a group product can lead to group members contributing less effort to a group task tan they would to a personal, individual, project.

However, we are left on a positive note by this report

“ … the cycle of integration-disintegration is, after all, also known to be important in creativity.” (Nicodemus, 1984)

In the case of distributed course teams (eg those working on interdisciplinary, or co-produced courses) where, a priori, a strong case might be made for networked computer support for collaboration, it would seem important to pay even more attention to the underlying dynamics within a team.

Enough, enough, enough … I am only half way through this report.

Let’s skip to a conclusion, which is as pertinent today as it was in 1992.

‘The social, psychological, and institutional factors influencing the processes and outcomes of academic teamwork were stressed in the first part of this chapter (see above, this is as far as I got), because these factors are probably of greater overall importance in determining successes than is the nature of any technology support which might be made available to a course team'. Kaye (1992:17)

REFERENCES

Brooks, F 91982) The mythical man-month: Essays on software engineering. Reading. MA.: Addison-Wesley.

Crick, M (1980) ‘Course teams: myth and actuality’, Distance Education engineering, Reading, MA.: Addison-Wesley.

Drake, M. (1979) ‘The curse of the course team’, Teaching at a distance, 16, 50-53.

Kaye, A.R. (1992) ‘Computer Conferencing and Mass Distance Education’, in Waggoner, M (ed) Empowering Networks: Computer Conferencing in Education, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Educational Technology Publications.

Martin, J. (1979) ‘Out of this world – is this the real OU?” Open Line, 21, 8.

Nicodemus, R (1984) ‘Lessons from a course team’, Teaching at a distance, 25, pp 33-39

Riley, J (1983) The Preparation of Teaching in Higher Education: a study of the preparation of teaching materials at the Open University, PhD Thesis, University of Sussex.

Post script

In the course of writing this I discovered (courtesy of Wikipedia) that Leonardo da Vinci may have coined the phrase, or a version of ‘Keep it simple, stupid’ and also invented the pedalo. The mind boggles, or is Leonardo still alive and contributing ? (his fans certainly are).

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Kindle 3 JV Unwell and Kindling

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 16:06

When your 14 year old daughter is in bed with flu, and running a temperature, you relent when she pops her head up from under the duvet and wants to use your laptop to watch a movie and get in touch with friends.

I think, because I use a keyboard extension that the chances that I will pick up her germs are reduced; I forget that we both use the same mouse. She blows her nose, uses the mouse, goes to sleep for three hours. I pick up the laptop, go online, do stuff like making a sandwhich  ...

That's four out of four now down with the bug, only the dog and the guinea-pigs seem fine (so far).

It doesn't take long before I wind down

An odd sensation, like your battery has gone flat.

If only it were as simply as plugging yourself into the wall or changing a battery

I am just grisly and very tired

I had a flu jab in October so I should be avoiding the worst of it.

Sit back from this screen ... you just can't tell how infectious these things can be !

If it is one bonus it is the Kindle

It can be read in bed, your head on a pillow, operated with one finger, one thumb ... and as my brain is mush I can make the text huge and read three words across like a TV autocue. When I fall asleep, so does it. When I wake up it is picks up where I left off. In fact, it will read the book to me ... however, will it tell when I am asleep? That would be clever.

I've gone from one book to several

Between them Amazon and Kindle have their fingers in my wallet.

I'm 46% the way through the Rhona Sharpe book. Here's a new concept ... no pages.

In addition I have samples of six other books, two blogs and a magazine on a 14 day free trial (I will cancel these 7 days in or earlier to be sure I don't continue with anything I don't want)

And new books, and old books.

In the 1990s I bought CDs to get back or replace LPs of my youth. Over the last five years I've got rid of most of these and run with iTunes.

Books, due to lack of storage space, are in really useful Really Useful boxes in a lock up garage we rented to help with a house move ... three years ago. Is there any point of a book in a box? I have over the decades taken a car load of books Haye on Wye and sold them in bulk. A shame. I miss my collection of Anais Nin and Henry Miller; I miss also my collection on movie directors and screenwriters. Was I saying that this part of my life had ended? Or I needed the space (or money). I fear, courtesy of my Kindle and lists of books I have made since I was 13 that I could easily repopulate my mind with the content of these books. Indeed there is no better place to have them, at my finger tips on a device a tasty as a piece of hot toast covered in butter and blueberry jam.

Page Views

I do nothing and the page views I receive doubles to 500. What does this mean? I am saying too much? That the optimum blog is one per day? Or have folks found they can drill through here for H807 and H808? Who knows, I don't the stats provided by the OU are somewhat limited. I'd like the works. Which pages do people enter on, which are most viewed, where do they exit, what's the average pages viewed by an individual and so on. In my experience 500 page views means three people reading 100/150 each with a few others dipping in and out.

How Kindle has changed me in 24 hours

My bedtime reading for anyone following this is 'The Isles' Norman Davies.

I read this in the 1990s when it came out. I felt it deserved a second reading. It is heavier then the Yellow Pages and almost as big. Because of its bulk I may have it open on a pillow as I read; no wonder I fall asleep. (Works for me). Having downloaded it to the Kindle last night in 60 seconds and for less than £9 I may now read more than a couple of pages at a time. I can also annotate and highlight the Kindle version. I have an aversion to doing this to the physical thing ... I am used to selling on my old books. Not something I can do with a Kindle version. Which makes me think, should these digital versions not be far, far, far cheaper? Take 'The Isles.' The dust cover is in perfect nick, I took it off and boxed it rather than get it torn. The damp in the lock-up garage hasn't caused too much harm. I could get £8 for it, maybe £5.

What else?

More on E-learning:

• Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age. (Rhona Sharpe)
• Creating with wordpress (blog)
• Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. (2010) Will Richardson
• E-Learning by Design (William Horton)
• How to change the world (blog)
• SEO Book (Blog)
• Digitial Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications (2009) Paul Argenti and Courtney Barnes
• The Online Learning Idea Book (Patti Shank)
• Using Moodle (Jason Cole and Helen Foster)

Some bought, some simply samples. The blogs on a 14-day free trial. Neither worth £0.99 a month.

Best on Kindle

The big surprise, the book that is so beautifully transmogrified by Kindle, lifted by it, is 'The Swimming Drills Book' (2006) Ruben Guzman.

No! This isn't what happens if your swimmer gets it wrong. This is a drill called 'dead swimmer' in which they float head down, then slowly extended into a streamlined position, kick away and then swim full stroke.

'The Swim Drill Book' is a mixture of text, almost in bullet point form, and line drawings of swimmers in various stages of effort to perform a stroke or drill or exercise.

If an author needs advice on how to write for a Kindle, or for a tablet, I'd point them at this book. This is NOT how it was conceived, but it is how it works on this alternative platform.

Download Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac then find 'The Swimming Drills Book.' You can then view a sample which takes you beyond the acknowledgements, contents and introduction into the first chapter.

A thing of beauty

By tweaking the layout, text size and orientation, you can place the diagram/drawing full screen. It simply works, just as the stunning black and white engravings and photographs that your Kindle will feature (at random) when 'sleeping.'

Here's an thought: if you're not reading a book it is gathering dust, a dead thing, whereas with a Kindle your books are simply asleep.

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H800:12 WK1 Activity 4 The Google Generation - True or False?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 16 Nov 2011, 23:57

Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. Written in 2007 (published 11 January 2008). Reviewed in 2011.

Part of the Week 1 jollies for H800.

(This picks up where I left off in the Forum Thread)

After a year of MAODE, a decade blogging and longer keeping journals (and old course work from both school and uni I might add) I feel I can tap into my own first, second, third or fourth take on a topic.

Increasingly, where this is digitised my preferred learning approach is to add to this information/knowledge, often turning my ideas inside out.

We are yet to have a ‘generation,’ (a spurious and loose term in this context) that has passed through primary, secondary and tertiary education ‘wired up’ to any consistent degree from which to gather empirical research. Indeed, I wonder when things will bottom out, when we’ve gone the equivalent journey of the first horseless-carriage on the Turnpikes of England to the 8 lanes in both directions on the M1 south of Leicester – or from the Wright Brothers to men on the moon.

I’d like to encourage learners to move on from copying, or cutting and pasting in any form, to generating drafts, and better drafts of their take on a topic, even if this is just a doodle, a podcast or cryptic set of messages in a synchronous or asynchronous discussion i.e. to originate.

I lapped up expressions such as Digital Natives, an expression/metaphor only that has been debunked as lacking any basis in fact.

I fear this is the same when it comes to talking about ‘Generation X, Y or Z.’ It isn’t generational, it is down to education, which is down to socio-economic background, wealth, access (technical, physical, geographic, as well as mental), culture, even your parent’s job and attitude.

My 85 year old Father-in-law is Mac ready and has been wired to the Internet its entire life; does this make him of this ‘Generation?’

If x billion struggle to find clean drinking water and a meal a day, where do they stand?

They’ve not been born on Planet Google, so don’t have this generational opportunity.

I find it short sighted of the authors not to go for a ‘longitudinal’ (sic) study. It strikes me as the perfect topic of a JISC, Open University, BBC tie in, the filming part funding the research that is then published every three years for the next thirty, for example.

Trying to decide who is Generation X, or Generation Y or the ‘Google Generation’ strikes me as fraught as trying to decide when the islands we inhabit became, or could have been called in turn England, Scotland, Wales, Great Britain or the United Kingdom.

We could spend an unwarranted amount of time deciding who is in and who is out and not agreed.

We can’t it’s like pouring water through a sieve. The creator of IMBD, a computer geek and film buff was born in the 60s (or 70s). Highly IT literate, then as now, he is not of the ‘Google Generation’ as defined as being born after 1993, but is surely of the type?

Personally I was introduced to computers as part of the School of Geography initiative at Oxford in 1982.

Admittedly my first computer was an Amstrad, followed by an early Apple, but I’ve not been without a computer for the best part of thirty years. I can still give my 12 year old a run for his money (though he does get called in to sought our browser problems).

And should this report be quoting Wikipedia?

Surely it is the author we should quote if something is to be correctly cited; anyone could have written this (anyone did).

Reading this I wonder if one day the Bodleian Library will be like a zoo?

The public will have access to view a few paid students who recreate the times of yore when they had to read from a book and take notes, and look up titles in a vast leather-bound tome into which we strips of paper were intermittently stuck. (not so long ago).

Is there indeed, any point in the campus based university gathered around a library when all his millions, or hundreds of millions of books have been Googliefied?

Will collegiate universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Durham (Edinburgh and Dublin? Harvard ?) become even more elite as they become hugely expensive compared to offerings such as the Open University?

There may be no limit to how much and how fast content can be transmitted … the entire Library of Congress in 3 seconds I am told, but there are severe limits to how much you can read and remember, let alone make sense of and store.

Is this not the next step?

To rewire our minds with apps and plug-ins? I smile at the idea of ‘power browsing’ or the new one for me ‘bouncing’ the horizontal drift across papers and references rather than drilling vertically, driven by a reading list no doubt.

I can give a name to something I did as an undergraduate 1981-1984. Reading Geography I began I the Map room (skipped all lectures) and then spent my morning, if necessary moving between libraries, particularly the Rhodes Library and Radcliffe Science Library, by way of the School of Geography Library, of course, and sometimes into the Radcliffe Camera or the PPE Reading Rooms.

I bounced physically.

I bounced digitally online as a preferred way of doing things. Though this often leaves me feeling overwhelmed by the things I could read, but haven’t read, that I’d like to read. Which is good reason ONLY to read the latest paper, to check even here if the paper we are asked to read has not already been superseded by this or fellow authors.

Old digitised news keeps like a nasty smell in the wind?

Users are promiscuous, diverse and volatile and it is clear that these behaviours represent a serious challenge for traditional information providers, nurtured in a hardcopy paradigm and, in many respects, still tied to it. (p9)

The problem with the short read and low tolerance of readers is the way papers have thus far gone from print version to digital version without, yet, thorough transmogrification.

We await new acceptable ways to write, and submit and share knowledge that is less formal and to anyone versed in reading online, digestible.

All authors for the web would do well to read Jakob Nielsen on web usability.

There is a way to do it. If it looks like it belongs in a journal or book, you are getting it wrong

Do the authors appreciate that labelling the behaviour ‘squirreling’ is self-fulfilling?

It normalises the behaviour if anyone reads about it. Whilst metaphors are a useful way to explain, in one person’s words, what is going on, such metaphors soon become accepted as fact.

There is a running debate across a series of article in the New Scientist on the way humans think in metaphors (good, can’t help it), and how ideas expressed as metaphors then set unfounded parameters on how we think (not so good, and includes things like the selfish gene, competition and so on).

This dipping, bouncing and squirreling, horizontal browsing, low attention span, four to eight minute viewing diverse ‘one size does not fit all’ individual would make for an interesting cartoon character. I wonder if Steven Appleby or Quentin Blake would oblige. ________________________________________________________________________________

Why ‘huge’ and why ‘very’ ? Qualify. Facts. Evidence. And why even, 'very, very.' This isn't academic writing, it's hear say and exaggeration.

There’s a category missing from the graph – branded information, such as Wikipedia, or Harvard Business Publication, Oxford or Cambridge University Press and Blackwell’s, to name put a few.

Where so much information is available, and so many offerings on the same topic, the key for anyone is to feel they are reading a reliable source.

The point being made later about ‘brand’ presence for BL … something we will see more of with the commercialisation of information. Even Wikipedia cannot be free for ever, while the likes of Wikileaks, for its mischief making and spy-value will always be funded from nefarious sources.

There are very very few controlled studies that account for age and information seeking behaviour systematically: as a result there is much mis-information and much speculation about how young people supposedly behave in cyberspace. (p14)

Observational studies have shown that young people scan online pages very rapidly (boys especially) and click extensively on hyperlinks - rather than reading sequentially. Users make very little use of advanced search facilities, assuming that search engines understand’ their queries. They tend to move rapidly from page to page, spending little time reading or digesting information and they have difficulty making relevance judgements about the pages they retrieve. (p14)

Wikipedia and YouTube both exhibit a marked age separation between viewers of content (mainly 18-24s) and content generators (mainly 45-54s and 35-44s respectively). (p16, ref 17)

‘there is a considerable danger that younger users will resent the library invading what they regards as their space. There is a big difference between being where our users are’ and `being USEFUL to our users where they are’.

Surely it would be easy to compare a population that have access and those who do not?

Simply take a group from a developed, rich Western nation and compare them to a group that are not, that don’t have the internet access, video games or mobile phones.

REFERENCE

Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. UCL 11 JAN 2008

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H800:11 WK1 Activity 3 How we perceive and write about innovations as they hit

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 31 Jan 2013, 05:47

Every innovation is perceived as siesmic, like a Tsunami it washes over everything. I like the digital ocean metaphor ...

In relation to H800 and the Week 1 activities the introduction and final chapter of Stephen Lax's book covers the communications innovations of the last century + enough to inform.

And whilst this is the topic for H807 'Innovations in E-learning' I recommend this. I like him so much I bought copies to give to friends; I don't know if they were grateful.

Is it available on Kindle?

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Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 15:42

It may be a wooden ruler, but I like this.

Norman Davies in 'The Isles' devotes a chapter to this idea of Britishness ... and across his book, the equivalent of another chapter all over.

We could get like this trying to pen in types of learning (e-learning, online learning, CBT etc the same applies to many facets of the Internet, it's like trying to define the oceans, ignoring the current the run underneath the surface.

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On blogging vs keeping a diary or are they the same thing?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 18:18

Maketh up a quote at ye beginning of thy book; it will make people think thou art clever.

Christopher Marlowe ‘The Obscure Tragedie’ Act II, Scene ii.

The following comes from a seminal book on diary keeping by Tristine Rainer.

Here are some key thoughts

Some of this thinking can be brought up to date in the context of keeping a diary online; the essential principals remain the same.

A dairy is many things:

‘Everything and anything goes. You cannot do it wrong. There are no mistakes. At any time you can change your point of view, your style, your book, the pen you write with, the direction you write on the pages, the language in which you write, the subjects you include, or the audience you write to. You can misspell, write ungrammatically, enter incorrect dates, exaggerate, curse, pray, write poetically, eloquently, angrily, lovingly. You can past in photographs, newspaper clippings, cancelled checks, letters, quotes, drawings, doodles, dried flowers, business cards, or labels. You can write on lined paper or blank paper, violet paper or yellow, expensive bond or newsprint.’

Tristine Rainer, ‘The New Diary’ 1976.

‘Flow, spontaneity and intuition are the key words. You don’t have to plan what you are going to do. You discover what you have done once you have set it down.’ Tristine Rainer.

Keep it all in one place

‘When the dreams like next to the fantasies, and political thoughts next to personal complaints, they all seem to learn from each other.’

This works for blogging:

Write Spontaneously

Write quickly so that you don’t know what will come next. How the unexpected can happen. Surprise yourself.

Write Honestly

Be open about what you really feel. Few diaries actually lie to themselves in a dairy, but many out of shyness with themselves avoid writing about the most intimate aspects of a situation.

Write Deeply

Anais Nin, disappointed with her childhood diaries, developed the practice of sitting quietly for a few minutes before beginning to write. She would close her eyes and allow the most important incident or feeling of the day or of the period of time since she last wrote to surface in her mind. That incident or feeling became her first sentence.

Write Correctly

Expressive language is not a science. There are no rules. You are writing for yourself, so self-expression is the key. Test the range of your natural voice – it will develop. Errors are part of the form of the diary, as they are part of life.

Your best audience is your future self. In ten years time you won’t remember the situation unless you capture all its sensual vitality now.

In time they will develop towards a larger truth; leave them in.

‘Some diarists find when they go several weeks without writing they begin to feel off balance and take it as a signal that they are avoiding the inner self.’

Those of us who keep a diary regularly are stuck with it; whether it appears online, and which bits of appear online is another matter.

‘We taught the diary as an exercise in creative will; as an exercise in synthesis; as a means to create a world according to our wishes, not those of others; as a means of creating the self, of giving birth to ourselves.’

Anais Nin, December 1976.

There’s more to follow from Tristine Rainer on basic diary devices and special techniques.

P.S. The Marlowe quote is John O’Farrel’s invention and appears in ‘I blame the scapegoats.’

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The value of voice recognition software

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 7 Feb 2011, 14:05

I have in front of me a script for a video production dated 1986. I could have typed it in by now. However, I have twenty of these to do and if I want to digitise 2.5m words from old journals and letters I may need something faster than typing it up or scanning it in.

Voice recognition seems to be the answer and this seems to be the product.

I've been familiar with the oddly named, though brand creating 'Dragon Speaking Naturally' since it came out. Now I feel a need. I doubt it'll solve an OU H800 essay crisis, though often reading something out loud is the best test of its sense.

Any recommendations or warnings?

I could also skip the writing/typing process entirely and turn into text what I record verbatim, for example, poolside coaching or teaching to inform fellow coaches. They can have it as a podcast and/or as text.

My aim is to find ways to get the contenst of my mind

On verra.

With all the production materials, scripts, schedules, budgets and other plans it feels retrograde to be taking a linear video production and turning it into a Power Point style presentation, but this is the plan. And to treat this as the penultimate draft before segments are replaced with video and interactive and assessment components are added.

The topic is The Great Picture which illustrates the struggle Lady Anne Clifford had to keep an inheritance her father bequeathed to his brother Henry during his lifetime for a cash sum, so denying his then 15 year old daughter what she considered to be her rights. The painting is dated 1646.

I have the permissions to use pictures of miniatures and other portraits dated from 1986 which I'll have to renew, including the lute music copyright. I own photographs of the picture I took between 1974 and 1990 and have broadcast quality video footage of the picture too. I also have and this replica which I've just photographed on the top of the piano where the figures are the size of Ken and Barbie rather than life-size.

The Voice Artist who 'played' Lady Anne will be replaced simply because I want to re-conceive it so that 'Harry Potter style' all the figures in the painting (and the painitings of paintings) tell their own story.

We'll see.

And this is simply an exercise to see if I can make the Adobe eLearning Suite 2 software I picked up at Learning Technologies sing.

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H800:8 Activity 2 Reflection on Day One, Week One!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 18 Oct 2014, 16:04

H800:8 Activity 2

Rather than a stiff, post-graduate and academic tone and choice of words I found the introduction to H800 engagingly informal and personable with everything covered: the practicalities as well as emotional response the task ahead. I find this a significant shift from H807 which had little introduction and was presented more like a piece of self-managed distance learning – you’ve signed up, here’s the door, enter and begin. I wonder if this is a sign that the OU is following the trend towards more informal learning practice?

I find it odd the way I now comprehend and relate to something that is said because I’ve experienced it, whereas before it would have registered simply as something I’m yet to do. All I’m talking about here is Elluminate or Skype, talking one to one or in a group to people whose personalities and interests you may only have some hint of from what they say and how they say it (and how often, and when). We reveal so much in our voices; our humour, mood, age, gender, where we grew up in our formative years (or not, which says something too). As someone who has for many years taken an interest in character and how it is revealed by these things I cannot help but think that I am taking part in some online improvisation.

By doing, we normalise it.

Speaking to people via the Internet is just a four/five or six-way conference call … with, synchronised computer diddling. The other week I met people I had only ‘met’ through the OU Blog which demystified and normalised the process (about time too). Blogging from 1999 it felt weird to find yourself hearing a person you’d spoken to for years, or to see them as they are rather than how you had them in your mind’s eye. Which in part explains my continued us of an MR scan rather than a mug shot (though there are plenty of these scattered through my OU blog). This was in part informed by some research on role play in online learning.

On reaching the end of H807 I felt I wanted to do it all again, that I’d missed a great deal, at times en missed the point.

On settling into H808 I found that what I needed to repeat was the way to work collaboratively online and to make some choice tools sing; this happened, so I got those parts of H807 I need over again. Entering H800 I look at any hint of repetition in a positive way, as a chance to pick it up again, engage a bit more, understand a bit more, perhaps even to take the initiative, and most certainly to guide or propose ways forward for others. The shocking thing is to feel that this is not the same person at the keyboard who was here a year ago. I have fire in my belly, a sensation that was my motivation in my teens, twenties and thirties. Where this will take me is another matter!

How people learn remains my fascination; the better I understand this, the better I will be able to apply it. This is primarily an intrinsic motivation – I find it extraordinarily rewarding to find ways to help people be the best that they can be, to create opportunities, to point them in the right direction or to offer support myself as a non expert tutor, or on a few topics as a subject matter expert myself. The short term reward is their progress; if I am paid to do this because I do it well, this is a bonus and would and in part does, allow me to be better, and more comfortable at it still. Even a roof over one’s head, food, the means to get around, the means to get online and bills paid is an achievement in the 21st century.

2) The MA is letters after my name (my second), so the cumulative benefit of the MAODE is the confidence, supported by the work undertaken to take on contracts, or to transition from agency work into working in-house.

My relationship to fellow students, as with a team in the real world, is far more one of contributing, sharing and experiencing this together.

Personal Development Planning came to the fore in H808; from this I recognise my need here to take the lead as someone who is on his third, not his first module. Already I hear myself thinking about how collaborative exercises have over the last 12 months either failed or succeeded. Someone has to take the lead, though this can and should be a ‘baton’ that is passed between those who during that period are most available to keep the kettle boiling, or the ball rolling to mix metaphors and trip myself up in the process!

I already use external blogs and forums extensively, something that has developed over the last 12 months.

I also feel that I participate actively online with a number of communities. Increasingly, as I would have hoped I am being proactive, setting up forum threads, leading interest in a community blog, even presenting potential projects to sponsors … and having a high profile job interview.

3) Therefore, the outcome for me in H800 is either to have a professional e-learning project financed and in production, or to be contributing to the learning and development needs of a global enterprise on contract or as an employee.

4) I hope I will start getting some of the IT basics right. To feel comfortable online with the fundamental tools of receiving and creating content.

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H800:7 The OU Good Study Guide 1990

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 3 Feb 2011, 15:05

If you think much has changed, it hasn't.

Not yet.

The means of delivery may have changed, but we are still reading words. And where there's video today there was the lecture before. Or the topic-focussed discussion, this forum feed, a tutorial.

Two modules in I came across this.

As valid today as it was in 1990.

Not that I was reading it then, I finished my first degree in 1984. This was something my daughter had been sent by her grandfather; she's 14. it's a foreign language to her. For any words she writes out long hand a thousand are typed into Facebook or Tumblr.

The lessons in here are straightforward; it pays to take you time and put in some effort.

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LT1.2 Learning Technologies. Day One.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 1 Feb 2011, 19:30

Knowledge Advisors gave one of the most important presentations at Learning Technologies.

Coming out of this presentation I was keen to read further White Papers which are available here.

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H800: 4 The bud opens?

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H807, H808 to H800.

Either it is reflection of my growth through this course, or it is a blossoming of the MA ODE course. Looking at how we students will share contact details: Email, Skype, Blog and Twitter accounts suggests to me that any containment within the OU VLE is now cursory.

I feel this will increase its use, not diminish it.

This will remain the hub from which course materials, resources and context eminated with blogging, Skype and Twitter having their role to play.

All I can suggest to fellow students is to screen grab, cut and paste or download content you create beyond this platform as at some stage it is certainly going to form a significant part of your aggregated knowledge, possibly even evidence of participation.

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H800:3 Technology (the mobile kind)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 18 Oct 2014, 16:45

In fact any kind.

Coming out of H807 I felt I was 'readoing for a degree' in the traditional sense of the words.

Entering H808 I found there'd be stuff I'd have to use, no escape.

In both instances I eventually got down to it; read masses in H807 and started to learn or relearn how to take an academic approach to research, reading and writing nad in H808 I tried everything, mastered some, reviewed everything, and saw gaps worth filling.

Just as there is the time to read everything there isn't the time to try everything either. Whatever the software does (or is called) there will be six others just as good. Like all good consumers I may go by brand name, so Google, Microsoft, Adobe and even Facebook and Twitter are in.

Go with recommendations from fellow students who can demonstrate what they can do with these tools and talk about it at length; anything else might lead you down a blind alley.

Have two or three versions of something on the go until you're happy. I'm for Firefox as a browser, but still use GoogleChrome while trying mywebsearch from time to time. I've had and have pictures in KodakEasyshare but find everything (as the rest of the family) now feeds into Picasa (I find it intuitive, streaming content from camera, through an edit, online then blogged in minutes).

So I have to go mobile.

My Sony Ericson is more matchbox that Smartphone, a pager, camera, phone thingey. Today I resolved to open the manual (I bought the thing 13 months ago). I have some pics trapped on the phone. I decide to find out how to get them onto the memory card, into Picasa Gallery and online. I find I might be able to send them to my Picasa Account or my daughter's Facebook account. Odd that one. The picas route fails but I correctly identify one of the three versions of me running around Facebook and successfully upload a series of pictures taken over Christmas 2009. All the pics are sideways on and I cannot see that Facebook has an edit function.

I consider this to be an achievement; though I suppose there will be a cost. If its a £1 pic then I'm £12 down. Luckily I stopped it from uploading 93 pics.

Now however whenever I go to my phone I have a stream of Facebook drivel from my cousins various activities, with an occasional piece of nonsense from my 12 and 14 year old. How do I turn this off? (How did I turn it on!) Is it costing me anything.

What's the use?

Learning Technologies say they are plenty of uses. I agree. Were this a business phone and a business Facebook group and everyone was chatting on a theme then being able to engage, or disengage from this lively on topic banter would be of value.

There are other pieces of software on my hit list for H800.

My attitude is to jump in fully clothed, wearing a life-jacket with a smile on my face. I my flouder, I may swim. I may need the life-jacket, I may not. But at some stage I'll be hawled into a community lifeboat, pick up and oar and start to row. A few weeks in I might be at the helm and a few weeks after this I may strip off and dive in off the prow to go looking for something fresh.

i.e. behave like a teenager even if you're not. And if you get stuck ... ask a teenager. What I love about my children is that they will gladly offer to help. I then see that they are as clueless as me at first but after a few goes they manage to crack the code.

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LT2:7 Learning Technologies. The challenge for RBS

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 30 Jan 2011, 15:12

Andrew Spencer from Royal Bank of Scotland gave a talk on the development of an MBA programme for senior RBS staff with Harvard Business Publishing

The relationhship was established with HBP prior to the economic crisis or the banking collapse. The challenge was to produce a global programme that would meet the needs of a diverse audience.

The RBS group of companies spreads far.

I loved the way he put it. RBS came up with two kinds of L&D offering:

Perhaps there's a place for cooking related anaologies. Mark Wagner has a podcast to an American Conference in which he calls a wiki a 'pot lunch.' In this respect a blog entry might be a Pot Noodle and a Twitter the last Hula-Hoop in the bag (a broken one).

In less corporate company Andrew might have said that the 'shit hit the fan' in this case it was the ship.

Some things would have to change.

They way RBS put it is that 'burning desire would have to transform into a desire for results.'

The cynic may say this is like saying greed had to be replaced by need?

Why HBP? For the brand and content and a previous working relationship.

A series of microsites were built so that people could find their way into the information. Andrew described this as a person finding the right door to go through. I'd go back to food and talk of a smorgasbord.

Once through this door a variety dishes are offered: insight videos, articles and indepth reports.

Take up of the offering picked up.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 3 Feb 2011, 07:15

In our first Cafe exchange for H808 various folk, Shaun, Maureen and Gemma recommend getting a heaqdset and microphone. In H807 I baulked at dressing up like someone in a call centre or spening a few quid I didn't have. I mistakenly thought I'd get away with an external mic and the lap top speakers. It didn't work so I ended up typing furiously to try and keep up with the conversation.

I am now the proud owner of a £9.99 head set that does the job beautfully. What is more, plugged into a digital recorder it is terrific for taking audio notes or podcasts.

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