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Five Years blogging here : time to reflect

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Why is Oxford, with the Oxford Internet Institute and a renowned Education Department not joining the e-learning revolution?

700 years of taking things at their own pace? Their research shows that it adds nothing to their successful and 'elite' model of teaching and research? They don't need to attract students. There can be over 100 applying for every available place.

They do however need to diversify.

It's taken 30 years to tip the profile of the Oxford student from 72% privately educated public school boy to around 49% privately educated and a 50/50 male/female split. By not joining in will they perpetuate the 'Ivory Towers' impression?

There are other reasons to develop massive open online courses, not least to appear open and accessible. The University of Southampton, by contrast, home to Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the only PhD programme on WebScience, have produced nearly a dozen 'massive open online courses' (MOOCs) over the last 18 months. I believe all, or most are on the FutureLearn platform; all are also embedded on the Southampton virtual learning environment (VLE) for students to do to supplement their course work. This I see as an important, valuable and better way to blend the learning experience. It would have been my prefered way of learning, offering some flexibility on the traditional course of lectures.

Is the Open University the only one to have entire degree courses online?

Not a book, not a residential, no face-to-face tutorials either.

By the time I had completed the MAODE, five modules over 3 1/2 years I assumed many other entire degrees, let alone individual courses would be offered in this way. They are not. A MOOC delivering two/three hours of crafted, scaffolded learning a week over a few weeks is demanding enough ... but a module that runs for six months, with 12/16 hours, even 22 hours a week? Though a 'prestige' course the OU MBA programme will spend, I believe, around £3m and three years creating a single one of its modules. These are expected to run for eight to ten years.

How much therefore to design, write and produce five of these, let alone the running and administrative costs?

Is it the right thing to do? E-learning is not a feature film. It is more like a garden; it must change and adapt to the seasons and climate change.

There was no e-learning climate two decades ago; it's the ozone of learning.

FutureLearn prides itself on responding to feedback. I've seen many subtle, responsive changes: several ways through discussion threads like this one which often run to several THOUSAND comments, pooling of creation skills amongst those producing the courses and greatly improving the forms of assessment: quizzes that are masterfully written to teach and to test, tasks for peer review that are part of the learning experience and now opportunities to sign up for a written exam - you pay a fee to attend a test centre, take the exam, and submit your paper. Of course, at this stage the idea of 'Open' is greatly weakened because once again their are parameters and barriers caused by geography and cost, probably also of confidence and familiarity with the formal written exam away from the keyboard and screen.

I reflect, today, on FIVE YEARS of formally studying Open and Distance Education. My blog runs to over 2,500 posts. What next? The same again? I've neither found a home in academia, or in corporate learning and development. Have I studied the wrong subject? I hanker forever to be telling stories. I thought I would successfully make the transition from linear-based video learning and development where I'd worked for some  twenty years, but have not and to rub my face in it the demand for video is finally increasing. Though never again the broadcast like budges we had for multiple cameras and live shoots, for a mini-bus of actors and a director from 'The Bill,' and special effects from The Mill.

I have had my eye on the Creative Writing Course for at least four of the last five years, but felt, for a change, I'd finish something. Instead, I find I am back in March 2006 going through two large 'Really Useful Boxes' which contain the printed off manuscripts of two novels, a couple of screenplays, a TV play and assorted short stories. 

Is this my life? Dominated by a history of making the wrong choices?

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Where did you join the throng and what's missing?

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Fig. 1. The Video Arts development journey from linear storytelling on film to multisourced, chunked, networked and open learning.

Professionally I came in with VHS - shot on Umatic then Betacam, edited on 1" tape then digitally. In 1986 Abbey National still distributed staff news on an AV slide carousel - there has always been inertia, though today change, new versions and upgrades are built into the system - or an accepted way of life. Visiting a regional BBC TV Station in 1989 I thought it was behind the production processes used in Soho and Covent Garden - the advertising industry, events and training business were all quicker to develop.

DVD are missing, as are intranets. Computer based learning in house, in a learning lab, then dispersed on internal systems developed in the mid 1990s.  You can put the Philips Laser Disc in there too - mid to late 1980s before the CD-ROM took over.

Streamling and downloads needs to be expressed very differently too - I'd give it a very thin wedge to start with. Great expectations of bandwidth from 2000 for the next decade meant that the DVD quality of 3D animationa, video and so on was impossible - yet the DVD market died. Someone the ease of distribution and ease of response on the network was considered more important.

Production values remain the thing that set Video Arts apart - and humour. If you are not paying suitable attention to the messages then it is fun to spoke the likes of Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant playing bank branch managers or other actors whose names immediately escape you but you recall from a period drama or a sit come, pops up with their arm in a sling with a health and safety story or as a junior manager with autocratic behaviours.

The laptop, after the desk top, was our first 'mobile computer' of course and today as well as the tablet Smartphones are a devise that plays a role in learning - for a start, everything I can do and read here I can manage on a Smarphone.

You do find new ways to learn - my favourite, a genuine creative problem solving technique according to an Open University MBA module I took - is to express some ideas such as this, or have a first swing at answering part of an assignment - then nod of. A ten minute sleep will do it. Either sinking into unconsciousness or coming back to consciousness I will be aware that I am dwelling on some condundrum and I just may have figured something out. Just don't do this a few hours before an assignment is due and decide as a result of your 'dream spirits' that you are going to rewrite from the top.

 

 

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 30 Dec 2012, 19:46)
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Exploring the World of Social Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013, 11:04



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Find it here: Smashwords

There can be no better recommendation to read a book than when its author spots you as a like-mind and invites you to read.

I am halfway through Julian Stodd's 'Exploring the World of Social Learning' and am keen to spread the word to those like me who are studying for a Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) - particularly in H807, H808 and H800 we are asked to learn collaboratively and go understand the dynamics of shared learning spaces online from this blog-cum-bulletin board platform, to student tutors groups and break-out cafes. You may even have made it over to the Open University Linkedin group (go see).

I not only find myself nodding in agreement but better still in Web 2.0 terms I find I keep wanting to pause to explore a thought or theme further, the subject matter embracing learning, social learning and e-learning - while drawing on a professional corporate learning and development background, which makes a valuable change from an academic perspective on social learning in tertiary education.

To do this I return to this my open to all e-portfolio-cum-blog to search for what I have thus far picked up on social learning, learning theories, forums and so on. And to do the same in other people's blogs as hearing these familiar voices helps make better sense of it all.

I should add a grab here of the couple of dozen books I have read in, on and around 'social learning' - I put 'Exploring the World of Social Learning' alongside:

'The Digital Scholar' Martin Weller

'A New Culture of Learning' Douglas Thomson and John Seely Brown

'From Teams to Knots' Yrjö Engeström

'The Now Revolution' Jay Baer and Amber Naslund

via a solid grounding in educational theory that you'd get from Vygotsky's 'Educational Psycology'.

An alternative to, or addition to reading about social learning in an academic papers, that are by definition are several years out of date, rate MySpace above Facebook and fail to mention iPads or Smartphones in the mix.

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This convinces me that increasingly prodution process, like basic web creation before, will increasingly be in-house

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 14:19

This clip serves two purposes.

1) It convinces me that companies want e-learning production skills in house. Only the exceptional project, because of its scale and desired impact, will go to specialists with superior craft and technical skills. Everything else will be in house.

Of the 135 training videos that I've produced or directed I believe that all the magazine programme from employees/stakeholders, probably those for shareholders too, as well as most 'how to' training can be done in house.

This leaves the 'wow' factor impactful, persuasive, big budget, commercial and conference opener to the external supplier or the corporate or government department with deep pockets.

2) This clip also convinces me the the OU needs to update H807 'Innovations in E-learning.' If the material being viewed doesn't demonstrate what is currently possibly it can hardly claim to be illustrating anything innovative.

Adobe e-learning suite used by Toshiba Learning & Development

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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

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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.

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The RBS group of companies spreads far.

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

'Ready Meals and ingredients.'

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).

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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.

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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.

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Take up of the offering picked up.

 

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