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Google's Imperial Hold over the English Speaking World

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I used to have this gripe about Microsoft - that on a PC the default on a computer bought in the UK was for US English. Why has it just taken me 10 minutes of pain trying to change the page settings in a Google Doc from inches to centimeters? Because the default on thousands of college computers is US English,  and with that all the spelling, punctuation and measurement defaults.

It no longer surprises me how much American English is now used in England - not just spellings, but pronunciations too. But I am no longer my mother's son, ready to do as her generation did - correct anything that wasn't 'Received Pronunciation'.

I see it is indicative of multiculturalism and welcoming constant change. I am the antithesis of conservative, laggardly tradition.

 

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Language Learning Platforms

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Several fairly new language learning platforms have come to my attention. None solve the problem of 'will power'. My preference would always to be immersed in the environment of the language and to be living and working it.

Go to Coffeebreakacademy.com

You can pick your level and then have a trial where over a number of weeks you will have three lessons to complete. Each course runs to 40 lessons.

I'll let you know how I get on. 

I've used Rosetta Stone successfully over a few years to improve some grammar and perfect my articulation around the harder to say words for an English gob. 

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How to pronounce anything!? Even 'Bruno' with a French accent

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 12 Nov 2014, 08:34
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Pronunciations around the globe

Learning French with The OU I am finding the toughest task is to kill my British accent. I've been using Rosetta Stone too. There are certain words with combinations of letters that fox the English tongue.

You know you're mastering French, for example, when you can differentiate between the subtleties of 'de' and 'deux'. Do you want some croissants or two? 'Trois' and 'quatre' may flumox you too, so perhaps go in wanting two of the things, ask for five, as 'cinq' is easy on the English tongue, then hide or eat the spare three on the way back to the campsite?

Anyway, as I'm working with the written and the spoken word and I'm used to Googling everything I was delighted to come across a website that purports to help you correctly pronounce anything. 

I was toying with words such as 'Victoire' and who wouldn't get their tongue tied with 'Hesdigneul.'

The 'grin from ear to ear' fun came when I looked up 'Bruno'. 

I had a French friend in my teens called 'Bruno' and I could not, for the life of me get his name right. It always sounded like Bruno, as in 'Frank Bruno'.

What this site does is it gives you sixty versions of how 'Bruno' is pronounced all over the world. Click on the UK, then somewhere in France and you'll see what I mean.

I laughed even more when I put my own name in, to hear 'Jonathan' said in a Swedish, Taiwanese, American, French and German accent.

Go on, give it a go smile

 

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Not a word

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 9 Jul 2014, 10:01

Fig. 1 You turn your head to take in the view and risk getting run over

I came out to Spain on a one way ticket with instructions to get a bus, followed by a four hour cross-country hike. My ignorance of Spanish is so great that before I even go into a toilet I have to keep an eye on whether men or women and coming in and out.

Ask, ask ... ask.

Even if neither of you have much clue what the other is saying. I tried writing out a few phrases, such as 'where can I get the bus too ...' and ended up showing this note to people. I nearly got a bus to La Lina, Grenada ... rather than La Linea, Concepcion. I would have ended up 200 miles in the wrong direction.

In awe as the bus came over the rise of a mountain and in the distance the cliff face of a mountain rising out of low cloud in front of a channel of dark, busy water. I was looking across the straights of Gibraltar. Bus cracked on at speed. I could have sat there for the day. 

Spanish courtesy of Rosetta Stone. This is so good at perfecting pronunciation that one phrase and I get a stream of Spanish back. More useful is one of those 'Spanish Basics'. 

We stepped back into England to watch the Germany Brasil game in a British Pub in Gibraltar. Very odd. What is it with Gibraltar? The curiosity has me again.

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Gobsmacked

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Fig. 1. MarineTracker.com

This blew me away. A service that tracks every vessel at sea. For various levels of monthly subscription the service will do all but helm your tanker, yacht, motorboat across the world's oceans - that is coming.

It isn't quite Google Streets - you can't drill down to live satellite images at sea level. 

Will DVLA track every vehicle on UK roads one day? Why not? All driving offences will become a thing of the past or be prosecuted the moment they are committed. And we take a step further towards the driverless car.

Then tracking people; voluntarily. Why do that? Having a snail-trail database of where you have been. It would be interesting to analyse how, ant-like, we go about our lives. The commute would be seen for the almighty waste of time that it is.

Would it be ethical to microchip your kids? Or a parent with dementia?

And regardless of this what kind of services could be offered to someone whose whereabouts is always tracked? To some considerable degree we allow this and encourage it as soon as we turn on a mobile device? I don't speak a word of Spanish - yet. I'd like through my phone, with an ear piece, to have a one-to-one tutorial as I attempt to cross the country to locate the above yacht when it puts into port in the next couple of days. 'Just in time' language tuition. 

Other things I don't want to look up. 'Tell me about ...' and I am promptly told about the thing I am looking at in a language, and style that suits me ...

Far fetched?

Artificial Intelligence offers a way forward to bring unprecedented levels of personalised learning to millions.

Those with a smart phone and speedy Internet access; so neither inclusive, nor fully accessible or even without cost. So severely limited in that respect as a harbinger of education for the world. 

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An impromptu three day trip to Barcelona has left my head in a spin.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 9 Jun 2013, 11:50

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Billed as a ‘Daddy Daughter’ trip we mixed art, architecture, shopping and food (with sunshine). My daughter is contemplating Fine Art at university. In just a few days we packed in hours, on foot, along streets, through galleries and museums and parks, into markets and up and down and through slick airconditioned Barcelona rapid transit system.

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We took in Picasso and Joan Miro museums, through the National Museum of Catalonia El Greco to Dali, on the streets we found Gaudy while the Contemporary Museum of Art gave me Lawrence Werner. Where unable to use a camera (the iPhone, I left my digital SLR at home to keep us down to hand luggage) I bought a postcard, guidebook or did a sketch.

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It left me hungry for more: the food from tapas bars, the architecture and history, the weather and the sea … it has left me full of ideas regarding learning, from seeing Picasso’s early efforts at drawing, through the work of Joan Miro from beginning to end. This 'pass' to six museums is one way to do it - I got around four of these and can return within three months in this ticket. With Gatwick up the road and travelling out of season I may get back later in June or in early July

As a visitor what more do we need than our eyes, feet and a sketch pad or notebook?

Does a digital camera make it too easy? Not permitted to use a camera at the Picasso or Miro what did we lose and the gallery gain? I bought books at the Picasso, Miro and Contemporary Art Museum, though not at the National Museum of Catalonia where I used my iPhone to grab images all the way around.

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Meeting a friend who lives in 'Barca' was revealing - he learnt Spanish in a month. He could. He can focus. Two weeks on the grammar with the right book on a beach, then two weeks intensive studying by day with an hour of conversational Spanish in the evening which he got in exchange for an hour of English conversation. Immeservive and concentrated effort.

To what degree does e-learning remove the need to make an effort and dilute any immersiveness to just one or two senses (to what you see and hear)?

I like to pick up a language in context, through association, trial and error. Signs in multiple languages, like the Rosetta Stone, appear to offer a way into the language … or is this also a short cut ? You won’t learn anything so long as you are offered the translation. I wonder if this can be reverse engineered? Instead of seeing the Spanish world translated through English eyes, how about seeing the English world through Spanish Eyes? To wear glasses that use augmented technology to offer me the day to day in Spanish? What is already being done?

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Is Google translate teaching me written French or am I teaching 'it' to translate French into English?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 14:31

It's 21 years since I lived in France.

Amongst other things I translated kids TV cartoons from French into English! I'm now trying, once and for all, to get my written French in order courtesy of:

  • Doulinguo
  • Qstream
  • OpenLearn French
  • Google Translate
  • A MOOC in French (ABC of business start ups if I have understood what is going on!!)
  • And the threat of legal action from the owners of my late Father's timeshare flat in the French alps (he died 11 years ago ... ). Only this week have they finally acknowledge my letters - probably because I chose to write in pigeon French rather than bolshy English.

When I want to write in French I give it a stab, stick it through Google Translate then  jig my English around until I get what I would have said in French out of the other end. (I can speak French - like a Belgian I am told).

When I read any tricky French I paste it into Google Translate and adjust until, once again, it has the sense of what I would have understood had I simply heard it spoken to me.

The test is how quickly will I be found out in an all French MOOC.

The only issue is that hopping around computers in our house (My teenage son has a couple of huge screens which I particularly enjoy using while he is at school) - I found one viewing of the MOOC was being automatically translated - which can in itself be quite a laugh. But at what point will such translation be seamless, at least to the non-linguists? At what point will it suffice as an adequate stab at what is being said and meant by what is being said?

Will be have a Bable Fish in our ear along with the Google Glass(es)?

 

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The Gutenberg Galaxy

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 10 Feb 2013, 20:03

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Reading this as it is name dropped so often. Stripping it bare and re-interpretting it for 2013.

‘I don’t know what I mean until I have heard myself say it', said Irish author and satirist Jonathan Swift

Conversation plays a crucial element of socialised learning.

Courtesy of a Google Hangout we can record and share such interactions such as in this conversation on and around ‘personal knowledge management’.

Here we can both see and hear why the spoken word is so important. Trying to understand the historical nature of this, how and when the written word, or other symbols began to impinge on the spoken word requires investigating the earliest forms of the written word and trying to extrapolate the evidence of this important oral tradition, the impact it had on society and the transition that occurred, after all, it is this transition that fascinates us today as we embrace the Internet.

Humans have been around for between 100,000 and 200,000 years.

(Encyclopedia Britannica). There are pigments and cave painting have been found that are 350,000 years old. (Barham 2013), while here are cave paintings as old as 40,000 years (New Scientist).

Stone Age man's first forays into art were taking place at the same time as the development of more efficient hunting equipment, including tools that combined both wooden handles and stone implements. (BBC, 2012).

Art and technology therefore go hand in hand - implying that the new tools of the Internet will spawn flourishing new wave of creation, which I believe to be the case. This era will be as remarkable for the development of the Web into every aspect of our lives as it will be for a epoch identifying renaissance - a new way of seeing things.

We’ve been seeking ways to communicate beyond the transience of the spoken word for millennia.

McLuhan takes us to the spoken word memorised in song and poetry (Lord, 1960 p. 3) while a contemporary writer, Viktor Mayer-Schonbeger, (2009. p. 25) also talks about how rhyme and meter facilitated remembering. McLuhan draws on 1950s scholarship on Shakespeare and asks us to understand that Lear tells us of shifting political views in the Tudor era as a consequence of a burgeoning mechanical age and the growth of print publishing. (Cruttwell, 1955)

McLuhan suggests that the left-wing Machiavellianism in Lear who submits to 'a darker purpose' to subdivide of his kingdom is indicative of how society say itself developing at a time of change in Tudor times.

Was Shakespeare clairvoyant?

Did audiences hang on his words as other generations harken the thoughts of  H G Wells, Aldouz Huxley, George Orwell and Karl Popper, perhaps as we do with the likes Alan de Bouton and Malcolm Gladwell?

'The Word as spoken or sung, together with a visual image of the speaker or singer, has meanwhile been regaining its hold through electrical engineering'. xii. Wrote Prof. Harry Levin to the preface of The Singer of Tales.

Was a revolution caused by the development of and use of the phonetic alphabet?

Or from the use of barter to the use of money? Was the 'technological revolution' of which McLuhan speaks quoting Peter Drucker, the product of a change in society or did society change because of the 'technological revolution'? (Drucker, 1961) Was it ever a revolution?

We need to be careful in our choice of words - a development in the way cave paintings are done may be called a ‘revolution’ but something that took thousands of years to come about is hardly that.

Similarly periods in modern history are rarely so revolutionary when we stand back and plot the diffusion of an innovation (Rogers, 2005) which Rogers defines as “an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption. (Rogers, 2005. p. 12). To my thinking, ‘diffusion’ appears to be a better way to consider what has been occurring over the last few decades in relation to ‘technology enhanced communications’, the Internet and the World Wide Web. But to my ears ‘diffusion’ sounds like ‘transfusion’ or ‘infusion’ - something that melts into the fabric of our existence.

If we think of society as a complex tapestry of interwoven systems then the Web is a phenomenon that has been absorbed into what already exists - this sounds like an evolving process rather than any revolution. In context of course, this is a ‘revolution’ that is only apparent as such by those who have lived through the change; just as baby boomers grew up with television and may not relate to the perspective that McLuhan gives it and those born in the last decade or so take mobile phones and the Internet as part of their reality with no sense of what came before.

Clay tablets, papyri and the printing press evolved. We are often surprised at just how long the transition took.

To use socio-political terms that evoke conflict and battle is a mistake. Neither the printing press, nor radio, nor television, nor the Internet have been ‘revolutions’ with events to spark them akin to the storming of the Bastille in 1789 or the February Revolution in Russia in 1917 - they have been evolutionary. Are we living in 'two forms of contrasted forms of society and experience' as Marshall McLuhan suggested occurred in the Elizabethan Age between the typographical and the mechanical ages? Then occurred between in the 1960s  between the industrial and electrical ages? 'Rendering individualism obsolete'. (McLuhan 1962. p. 1)

Individualism requires definition. Did it come with the universal adult suffrage?

Was it bestowed on people, or is it a personality trait? Are we not all at some point alone and individual, as well as part of a family, community or wider culture and society? We are surely both a part and part of humanity at the same time? Edward Hall (1959), tells us that ‘all man–made material things can be treated asextensions of what man once did with his body or some specialized part of his body.

The Internet can therefore become and is already an extension of our minds.

A diarist since 1975 I have blogged since 1999 and have put portions of the handwritten diary online too - tagging it so that it can be searched by theme and incident, often charting my progress through subjects as diverse as English Literature, British History, Geography, Anthropology and Remote Sensing from Space, Sports Coaching (swimming, water-polo and sailing). This aide memoire has a new level of sophistication when I can refer to and even read text books I had to use in my teens. It is an extension of my mind as the moments I write about are from my personal experience - there is already a record in my mind. What is the Internet doing to society?

What role has it played in the ‘Arab Spring’?

McLuhan considered the work of Karl Popper on the detribalization of Greece in the ancient world). Was an oral tradition manifesting itself in the written word the cause of conflict between Athens and Sparta? McLuhan talks of ‘the Open Society’ in the era of television the way we do with the Internet. We talked about the ‘Global Village’ in the 1980s and 1990s so what do we have now? Karl Popper developed an idea that from closed societies  (1965) through speech, drum and ear we came to  our open societies functioning by way of abstract relations such as exchange or co–operation. – to the entire human family into a single global tribe.

The Global kitchen counter (where I work, on my feet, all day), or the global ‘desk’ if we are sharing from a workspace …

or even the ‘global pocket’ when I think of how an Open University Business School MBA student described doing an MBA using an iPad and a smartphone as a ‘university in my pocket’. You join a webinar or Google Hangout and find yourself in another person’s kitchen, study or even their bed. (Enjoying one such hangout with a group of postgraduate students of the Open University’s Masters in Open and Distance Education - MAODE - we agreed for one session to treat it as a pyjama party. Odd, but representative of the age we live in - fellow students were joining from the UK, Germany, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates). I have been part of such a group with people in New Zealand and California - with people half asleep because it is either very late at night, or very early in the morning.

McLuhan  (1965. p. 7) concludes that the 'open society' was affected by phonetic literacy ...

... and is now threatened with eradication by electric media. Writing fifty years ago is it not time we re-appraised McLuhan’s work and put it in context. We need to take his thesis of its pedestal. Whilst it drew attention at the time it is wrong to suggest that what he had to say in relation to the mass media (radio and TV) if even correct then, others insight in the era of the Internet.  This process of creating an open society has a far broader brief and with a far finer grain today - , the TV of the sitting room viewed by a family, is now a smart device in your pocket that goes with you to the lavatory, to bed, as you commute between work and in coffee and lunch breaks.

It will soon be wearable, not only always on, but always attached as goggles, glasses, ear-piece, strap or badge. If 'technology extended senses' McLuhan, 1965. p.8 then the technology we hold, pocket and wear today, are a prosthesis to our senses and to the manner in which the product of these senses is stored, labelled, interpreted, shared, re-lived, and reflected upon.

If Mercators maps and cartography altered 16th century mentality what do Google Maps and Street View do for ours?

Did  the world of sound gives way to the world of vision? (McLuhan, 1965 p.19). What could we learn from anthropologists who looked at non–literate natives with literate natives, the non–literate man with the Western man. Synchronous conversation online is bringing us back to the power and value of the spoken word - even if it can be recorded, visualised with video and transcripted to form text. The power, nuance and understanding from an interchange is clear.

REFERENCE

Barham, L (2013) From Hand to Handle: The First Industrial Revolution

Carpenter, E and H M McLuhan (19xx) 'Explorations in communications'. Acoustic Space

Cruttwell, P (1955) The Shakespearean Moment (New York; Columbia) New York. Random House.

Hall, E.T. (1959) The Silent Langauge Lord, A.A. (1960) The Singer of the Tales (Cambridge. M.A. Harvard University Press)

Drucker, Peter F. "The technological revolution: notes on the relationship of technology, science, and culture." Technology and Culture 2.4 (1961): 342-351.

Mayer-Schönberger, V (2009) Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age

Popper, K. (1945)  The Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume One. Routledge (1945, reprint 2006)

Rogers, E.E. (1962) The Diffusion of Innovations.

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H810: Accessibility as a subject for stand-up comic Francesca Martinez

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 06:55

Check out this video on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUIYuJ62Qbs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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H810: accessibility in a word

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 5 Sep 2012, 18:29

Open

Access denied or access required implies there are barriers: closed doors, steps, text, voice, tools that require ten finger dexterity and so on. Open, in a spiritual sense, requires us all to be part of an omnipresent ether.

Alone

We are each unique, indivual and alone. Anything else is a label, catergory, sub-category or grouping defined by others to simplify their or our collective perspective with every kind of bias attached.

The level playing field can never be level enough. A new and better metaphor is required if it is to imply that everyone has an equal and fair chance.

Any suggestions?

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H810: Language, Terms, Access, Disability, Impairment, Xenophobia ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 6 Sep 2012, 14:51

Multiple asynchronous discussion in a tutor group, more of the same here – then get online and do the same live, in a synchronous chatroom or tutor group, or with those around you (family, friends and collegaues). This is such a terrific way to mold and shape your thoughts on an issue. I am doing H810 on 'accesibility' – a timely eyeo–opener with the Paralympics raging.

Forgive me if I keep mentioning the radio but I've driven well over a thousand miles in the last three days and not suprisingly there have been many BBC 4 programmes relating to disability due to the Paralympics - all on issues such as the terms to use, accessibility provision and even on how and when someone who becomes disabled 'Comes Out' to friends and family, as well as potentially to an institution where they work or study. Best of all, in the company of young cousins galore we have watched the irreverant, though brilliant, 'The Last Leg' on Channel 4 - comics and athletes, mostly with a disability though plenty of guests who do not, who rib and tell jokes, or make observations about the events of the day constantly making fun of themselves, their attitudes and the attitudes of others.

Dare I offer the kind of email or text they answer?

'Is it OK to punch a disabled person if they are being a knob?' Very Edinburgh Fringe, live and late in the evening, so fruity language used all the time - It breaks down barriers so is a form of access. I've got some time having finally got back home for 24 hours so plan to track down through BBC iPlayer the radio shows I'm referring too - as streamed radio these are only available for 7 days after transmission, though some are available as podcasts. Not necessarily outside the UK though? Perhaps if we act quickly we can persuade the BBC to archive and share some of this content? It's the kind of content that should be given a longer shelf life through Open Learn.

'Thlid, spas, spasmoid, mong' ... obviously and horrible terms used by boys age 8-10 at a boarding prep school in the 1970s.

Locally and with abusive undertones, children at a nearby home were name-called using a diminutive of the name of the place, 'Stellers' for Stelling Hall while at a public school where, for far too many bullying was the favourite sport, any act of stupidity you were called of all things, 'a right Balliol' after a local home for kids with learning difficulties. Even tourists got it in the neck as at any opportunity we'd lean out of a bus and yell 'tourist' at anyone with a rucksack and hiking boots (the school is in the Lake District). I turned up at this instituion after six months hospitalization, ops etc: having broken my leg very badly. I was nicknamed 'booties'' as I had to wear lace up ankle boots as one foot was smaller/weaker and required support. Did I like the term? Of course not, but by protesting the bullies insisted on using it. An entire cohort of younger boys, if anything at all distinguished them, they got a name, so accent, learning difficulty, squint, hearing, colour, religion - not just Jewish, but Catholics, were singled out.

Courtesy of Facebook I've recently been reminded of a list of abusive nicknames given to the teachers - in every case picking out a pysiological trait, accent or behaviour. Horrible.

All what I am saying coming to me from a dark, buried place in my head - no wonder Harry Windsor is admonished for calling a fellow soldier a Paki becuase he got this from Eton and being brought up in an elitist, underserved poweful and exclusive environment. To carry this on 'we' should now forever nickname him 'Bottom' so he isn't allowed to forget. I have to wonder from only a term of social anthropology as an undergrad if this, in a pack, or small group, comes from some innate sociatal xenophobia?

Thinking about the opposite of the appropriate behaviour or teriminology makes it apparent how much effort needs to be put in saying the best and correct thing especially as words come with all kinds of associations.

Historically was everyone who was different persecuted?

The solution to this is to get the person's name as soon as possible, double check with them how it is pronounced, even spelling, then use it - they are a name first, not a category, or a cohort, or an institution, but (like all of us) unique and individual, deserving respect, love and understanding. As I've come to understand v. painfully, whatever our bodies may be doing to let us down or limit mobility or the ability to communicate or even help ourselves, there is a good chance that much of or even a part of this unique being is cognitive to the last.

Respect this and imagine if by some twist of fate you were in this position not them - not pity, but the politeness to listen and look with care, even ask questions and never assume anything at all - being kept from the same life chances is perhaps what accessibility is all about, why should those who already be at an advanage be the  first or only ones to benefit from enhanced approaches to learning? Technology risks giving an 'unfair advantage' to those who already have a head start while access aims to gives everyone a chance or more appropriatley the choice to keep up or catch up in a way that suits them.

'Accessibility is a process of negotiation' - spot on.

Listen, ask questions, learn what you can about the person, their needs, wishes and expectations - get to know them. Where it is required offer choices, sometimes by trial and error, as for disabled people like all of us, we have our likes and dislikes, experiences of what works for us and what does not, and from a plethora of potential gadgets one thing or another, good bandwidth or not, a high resolution screen or not, preference for a mouse, tracker ball or tablet and stencil or a specialist keyboard - and so on. Take a course in learning theory!

Context matters. Pressume nothing.

Within reason be prepared to make the time to individualise and adjust everything - and expect to return to this to adjust as circumstances ebb and flow. One size never fits all - wherein lies the biggest barrier caused by mass produced technology from a mouse to off-the-shelf software. Can it be adapted? Is there an App that suits my specific needs? That opens a door that is currently closed?

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The Deaf

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 06:09
'The Deaf' not as a group defined by disability, but a group that is a linguistic minority. p8 Equality and Diversity in Language and Image. Guidance for authors and communicators. The Open University. January 2008
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Suga Mitra shows how kids teach themselves

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Inspirational TED lecture

Sugata Mitra shows how kids teach themselves

Enjoy !

(61475)

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On using Twitter in Education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 12:05

My concern, as I'm guilty of it as a blogger, is that it changes how you 'talk.'

My blogging voice is light and journalistic - it is difficult to escape this in an assignment, however many references I put on or re-writes I do.

A different mindset is required, literally wearing a different hat and taking a different approach from the start.

As a professional writer I ought to be able to write for different audiences. I'm not sure I can, indeed my voice has always bee the 'spoken word' for TV and Video with scripts design to visualise rather than say anything at all.

I find and consider Twitter to be an invaluable exercise in being succinct; stylistically this has to be a good thing.

However, as I found myself doing recently, something I wrote, after an edit, looked and read like x16 140 character Tweats strung together.

Surely engagement of any kind, a conversation over coffee, over lunch, Tweating or blogs, helps internalise and sought out issues and confusion in the student's mind. It is an activity even if it is being measured?

I wonder if a 'viva voce' in a video conference (Skype, Elluminate) wouldn't demonstrate the value of social networks in education, that it would be apparent that those who are talking about their topic in cyberspace are more likely to have formed some points of view of their own.

(49002)

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e-learning not elearning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 12:43

I've just noticed, that whilst the OU spellchecker recognises e-learning, it does not recognise elearning.

What about eLearning?

No.

Or e.learning?

Yes.

If I am corrected for using 'e.learning' am I right or wrong?

Does being right or wrong matter?

It's just a word.

It's not even that.

It's a letter.

e

 

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How talking to yourself makes you smarter. What about writing such a stream of consciouness into a blog though?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Nov 2012, 19:01

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Your inner voice.

How talking to yourself makes you smarter.

 

The Voice of Reason. Robson. (2010)

 

I was initially attracted to this edition of the New Scientist as the cover story offered to shed light on the value (or otherwise) of  what some term ‘stream of consciousness’ others ‘this voice in our heads.’ Of what value is it?  And if I can type as fast as I can think it is this a true reflection of what I am thinking, at the pace at which I am thinking it – or does the process lose something in translation? Using how we think and what we verbalise is given value here, which ought to bolster the views of H.E. institutions that ‘reflection’ has a purpose. The article also explains why we need to give things terms, though I’m also always curious to know why certain words last while others do not. If I’ve understood the ideas correctly then there is a suggestion that loose terminology, words for concepts that are not clear or still debated, are counter-productive, we need to be clear that our interpretation of a word, even something as simple as the colour yellow compared to orange, or hues of the colour blue, match the understanding that others have.

 

‘On average, 70 per cent of our total verbal experience is in our head.’ Boroditsky (2010)

 

Language helps us to think and perceive the world.

 

Naming objects helps us categorise and memorise them. Lupyan (2010)

 

i.e. things (concepts and objects) are more easily thought about if ‘verbalised’ through having a name.

 

However, labelling can also bury the detail. Lupyan (2010)

 

i.e. we humans work best at the macro rather than the micro level of terminology?

 

‘Labelling objects helps our minds build a prototype of the typical object in the group at the expense of individual features.’

 

Language shapes perception, argues Gabriella Vigliocca of University College London. Vigliocca. (2010)

 

The pumpkin test. 80% got the object from seeing it alone. 85 % of those who saw it and were told its name got it. While those who had what they could see in one eye ‘scrambled’ only achieved 75% suggesting that a visual with a verbal clue helps to anchor the object in the mind.

 

‘It seems that words prime the visual systems of our brain, conjuring up a mental image when it is seen’. Vigliocca (2010:32)

 

Boroditsky (2010b) recently found that Russian speakers, who have two words for different shades of blue, really are faster at discriminating between the different shades than English speakers. (The once discredited Whorfian hypothesis). The effect disappeared when they repeated a long number to themselves, as this interfered with their linguistic capacities.

 

Fundamentally, knowing the name for something helps identify it. Lupyan (2010)

 

‘It seems that our inner voice changes the way we experience the world. Language is like augmented reality – an overlay that changes how we think, reason and see’. Clark (2010:33)

 

With the above in mind I started the following list with a view to developing reasons for not using the word ‘stakeholder.’ With no end of this list in sight I may need to change my opinion, I may not like the word, but it works. But does it? Whilst ‘stockbroker’ I can see embodies a specific group of people, ‘stakeholder’ for shifts constantly, like a cloud forming under a summer sun.

  • employee
  • shop floor worker
  • management
  • owner
  • director
  • boss
  • line manager
  • people
  • brother
  • colleagues
  • stakeholders
  • staff
  • McWorkers
  • office staff
  • blue collar
  • white collar
  • sisters
  • champions
  • participants
  • slave labour
  • sweat-ship workers

‘Up to 80% of our mental experiences appear to be verbal rather than visual or emotional.’ Hurburt (2010) from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

‘It’s like a guidebook that has been developed by thousands of people before you, who have figured out what is important for to survive and adapt to our environment.’ Clark (2010)

 

Do you work with the radio on or off?

With the TV on or off? Or in an Open Plan office? Do you prefer a library or study? Can you work as you commute? Or on holiday?

 

Based on what we have learnt above what impact might this have on what you are thinking?

 

Does it depend on how easily distracted you are, how focussed? Work (study) in an environment that is relevant to the task and this enhances it whereas work (study) where verbal noise is a constant distraction and you cannot (or could not) work so well?

 

REFERENCE

Clark, A (2010) Language and Cognition, University of Edinburgh. Interview for New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010)

 

Boroditsky, L (2010a) Interview for New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010)

 

Boroditsky, L (2010b) Quoted in the New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010) from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 104, p7780

 

Hurburt, R (2010) Quoted in the New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010) from Psychological Medicine, vol 24 p385.

 

Lupyan, G (2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010) from Psychological Science, Vol 18, p1077.

 

Lupyan, G (2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010) from Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, vol 137, p348.

 

Robson, D. The Voice of Reason. pp30-33 Cover Story. New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept 2010).

 

Vigliocca, G (2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010) from Psychological Science, vol 18, p1007.

 

 

 

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Toy sword or steel?

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I have for the last six months survived H807 with a toy plastic sword.

The gob-smacking revelation that everything is achieved with far greater ease when you have an up-to-spec computer is ...  or should have been obvious.

I am borrowing a club lap-top. Design - hideous, Feel - awfull. DEsire to even tap at this QWERTY keyboard ... very low.

Once was a time for a few quid you could distinguish yourself and feel distinguished with a fountain pen. Not a Parker, but a Schaeffer ... or if you had a 21st or a 40th or some such celebration coming up, a Monte Blanc Cuban-cigar like phallus of a writing thing.

There's nothing phalic about a cheap Toshiba QWERTY keyboard.

Not upgrading a PC or MAC for six years leaves you squeezing ideas through a straw ... and a world that wants to pipe megatrons of info through your home and into your head FAIL ... if your didgeridoo, or straw, just don't come up to spec.

e-didgeridoo

Now there's a thought, and a word ... a s*** e-word.

I feel as if I have spent six months in training, and suddenly, fighting fit I am provided with the tools I need to communicate.

Voice recogntion?

In French, simultaneously ...

If the French language is to die in fifty years then il faut que je ... essaie ... de reflechire en francais.

 

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How hot are we?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 30 Aug 2010, 12:33

'By looking at written words, and especially those that have been highly valued, we can take the temperature of the society in which they were produced.' Hitchings (2009:124)

Many new words are coined working and existing online.

If they guage the temperature of society then who are we to:

  • google
  • e-stalk
  • e-learn
  • ping
  • podcast
  • twit and twitter

e-mail(my British born and raised 12 year old son calls the 'post,' calls 'letters through the door,' 'Mail.'

Who am I to correct him.

As Hitchings points out, all words assimilated into American become words used by us Brits and English eventually.

The very fact that more people speak English on the Indian sub-content than in/on or around the British Isles implies that the English language is secondary to culture and nation-hood.

It amuses me to learn that'gotten'is of these isles 200 years ago, so not an Americanism, but olde English in every day use. Alongside words such as 'trash.'

Indeed, reading Hitchings, alongside some Norman Davies (The Isles) you come to wonder for how long an English  language was set, culturally or by national or cultural boundaries.

The more I understand about how these 'Isles'were populated the less I feel we have had a settled language, let alone a 'people.'

We are everything and everyone who settles in these islands; I welcome them. As South Africa falters perhaps this mutli-lingual, mixed-race, compost heap of folk should adopt the 'Rainbow Nation' tag?

As Hitchings point out, in a study of London primary schools they found that 300 different languages are spoken. A dear friend is the Head Teacher of school where she can run off the 27 languages spoken in a single class of Year 5s.

A good thing. A positive thing. To embrace, to celebrate and engage.

 REFERENCE

The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English. Henry Hitchings. 2008

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Some interesting facts about English

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 30 Aug 2010, 12:02
Courtesy of Henry Hitchings. 2008

K.O. = 'Knock Out' so 'OK' ... not so!

I’ve learnt something. And so simple. I thought it might be American Airforce derived. Code. I always wondered about OK.

What about F.A.B? From ‘Thunderbirds.’

There are 6,900 different, mutually unintelligible natural languages.


96% of the world's languages are spoken by 4% of its inhabitants.

There are 750 languages in Indonesia.

Eleven languages account for the speech of more than half the world's population:


1. Mandarin Chinese
2. Spanish
3. Hindi
4. Arabic
5. French
6. Bengali
7. Portuguese
8. Russian
9. German
10. Japanese
11. English

Only SIX may be significant in fifty years time:


1. Mandarin Chinese
2. Spanish
3. Hindi
4. Bengali
5. Arabic
6. English

English dominates in diplomacy, trade, shipping, the entertainment industry and youth culture.

English is the lingua franca of science and medicine.

Its position is prominent, if not dominant, in education and international business and journalism.

There are more fluent speakers of English in India, where it persists as 'subsidiary official language' than in Britain.

English as a second language is spoken by some 120 million non-British.

English is spoken by

* 80% of the population of the Netherlands and Sweden
* 50% of the population of Germany, Slovenia and Finland
* 30% iof the population of Italy, France and the Czech Republic

REFERENCE

The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English. Henry Hitchings. 2008
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Face-to-face learning versus e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:53

Crucial to my development and understanding of e-learning is to have some one or two people I can discuss issues with face-to-face.

One an multiple MA graduate now with a Diploma in E-learning, the second a PhD Tutor in Environmental Law and the third someone who commissions e-learning projects (though he sticks with 'online learning' as the only term that is understood by lay-people).

A fourth person is a giant in education who in his 85th year just wonders if I can help put the papers he is still writing online to share with students. All he has in mind are a few dozen papers on a platform such as EduBlogs, which I can do.

My goal is to 'map' the many thousands of papers and books that are stacked three layers deep, to the ceiling, in his three-storey 15th century Cotswold home! i.e. The Contents of his Brain.

On verra

P.S. We've jsut had an hour long power-cut. The panic as two adults and three kids scramble around not knowing what to do is notable. I got my hands on the laptop so could press on under battery (but no internet connection as the router was down). My wife took a break from a mega pharmaceutical report she is writing to take her dog on an extended walk, while the boys (family and friends) gave up on dual Xbox and Internet activities to play poker!

Perhaps I could put a time on the electricity junction box to deny us electricity at random times through-out the day.

We might start talking to each other instead of e-mailing and messaging around the house.

Meanwhile, three computers are up and humming and my son is back on Skype planning some 15 rated Afghanistan-like raid with his cousin (300 miles away) and couple of Americans (one who calls himself David Hasselholf, but isn't as his voice hasn't broken) and someone's Mum who pretends to be her son as she likes the game more than he son does (I listen in).

All computers are in communal spaces in the house so that activities are surrepticiously or indirectly monitored.

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E-words and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 26 Aug 2010, 13:20

I've just negotiated my way into the OED online dictionary and have had my mind exploded.

Amazing. Thrilled. Delighted.

My quest is to share views on the word 'activity' and whether its reversioning to 'e-tivity' is justified beyond some kind of quasi-academic brand-speak to sell a book and a concept.

'Activity' is first cited in 1530. Kicked off-line in 2001.

Let's campaign to support these words rather than having them digitised into oblivion.

Let's use our booted heels to hack the 'e-' barnacle from words that deserve better. That stand alone. That have a meaning that is only diminished by adding 'e-'.

Let's ditch the unnecessary e-attachments.

Meanwhile, I'm off to lose myself in the OED where words are nutured like rare beasties kept alive, breeding and happy in a Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

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E-J

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We know about DJs broadcasting on radio, so how about an e-J doing likewise online?

 

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E-words. E-terms. E-lexemes.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:22

Inspired by The Secret life of words. How English became English. Henry Hitchings (2008)

‘Communications is essential to our lives, but how often do we stop to think about where the words we use have come from?’
Hitchings (2008)

Whilst ‘where words came from’ is the premise for ‘The Secret Life of Words’ it is much more: it is a history of the people who spoke English. It is a refreshing take on a chronology of events. We learn history through words for warrior, through the Anglo-Saxon, French and Latin word for the same thing ... and through the words the English language has so easily accommodated from across the globe. It is a fascinating journey, one made pertinent to someone studying on the cascading wave-edge of the digital ocean that is ‘e-learning’ with the frequent coining of new terms.

For a description of the way the English language functions (or mis-functions) I love this:

English is ‘Deficient in regularity.’

From James Harris (c1720) in Hitchings (2008:1)

It is exactly the kind of thing a teacher might write in red pen at the bottom of a school-boy’s essay.

This is another way of putting it. English, ‘this hybrid tongue’, as Hitchings calls it. Hitchings (2008:2)

A tongue that re-invents itself, twists and transmogrifies at every turn.

A couple of decades ago I recall there being suggestions that the English language would splinter into so many dialects, creoles and forms that a speaker of one would not understand the user of another. The opposite appears to be the case, that ‘core English’ has been stabilised by its myriad of versions. Users can choose to understand each other or not, to tolerate even celebrate their differences or to use difference to create a barrier: think of the class divide, the posh voice versus the plebeian, one regional accent set against another, or an accent from one former British Dominion compared to another.

‘Words bind us together, and can drive us apart.’ Hitchings (2008:3)

How is the Internet changing the English Language?

What impact has Instant Messaging, blogging and asynchronous communication had? Can we be confident that others take from our words the meanings we intend? As we are so inclined to use sarcasm, irony, flippancy and wit when we speak, how does this transcribe when turned into words? How can you know a person’s meaning or intentions without seeing their face or interpreting their body language? Must we be bland to compensate for this?

I love mistakes, such as this one from Hitchings:

Crayfish ... ‘its fishy quality is the result of a creative mishearing.’ Hitchings (2008:4)

Age ten or eleven I started to keep a book of my ‘creative mishearings’ which included words such as ‘ragabond,’ instead of ‘vagabond.’ I love the idea of the ‘creative mishearing,’ isn’t this the same as ‘butterfly’, shouldn’t it be ‘flutterby’? And recalling a BBC Radio 4 Broadcast on Creativity with Grayson Perry, ‘creativity is mistakes.’

Mistakes and misunderstandings put barbs on the wire strings of words we hook from point to point, between arguments and chapters. We are fortunate that the English language is so flawed; it affords scratches and debate, conflict and the taking of sides.

An American travelled 19,000 miles back and forth across the US with a buddy correcting spellings, grammar and punctuation on billboards, notices and road signs. His engaging story split the reviewers into diametrically opposed camps of ‘love him’ or ‘hate him.’ (Courtesy of the Today Programme, the day before yesterday c20th August 2010)

‘Our language creates communities and solidarities, as well as division and disagreements.’ Hitchings (2008:4)

My test for the longevity and acceptability of a new word coined to cover a term in e-learning will be twofold:

Can, what is invariably a noun, be turned with ease into a verb or adjective?

Might we have an Anglo-Saxon, French and Latin word for the same thing. We like to have many words for the same thing ... variations on a theme.

And a final thought

Do technical words lend themselves to such reverse engineering? Or, like a number, are they immutable?

If they are made of stone I will find myself a mason's chisel.

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Words. Language. Communication.

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'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)

Much of what Hitchings writes about in the first couple of chapters concerns how new words are easily accommodated, invented or altered because of certain endearing qualities of the English language.

I therefore embrace whatever new words academics wish to come up with, whether e-learning or e-tivites, e-granaries or 'enculturated.' If they can do it, we can do it ... and I can do it.

Join me on this journey.

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Words. A call for simple English.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 26 Nov 2011, 15:55

'Communication is essential to our lives, but how often do we stop to think about where the words we use have come from?' Hutchings (2008)

The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English

Words matter to me very much

Their purpose is to communicate.

We are all prone to use jargon, and the first time we use it we feel we belong that tribe. Academic writers are prone to the greatestmisdemeanours - they not only invent their own words, but they like to show off their command of words you/we have rarely come across, or they misappropriate words from other disciplines and force anew definition upon them.

Books on words appeal to me.

If Open Learning is to appeal to the broadest church, then clear, simple, language is required.

If you spot any polysyllabic bibble-babble, please do share.

Or is that me committing this very crime?

One long word, and another long word that might be of my own invention. My apologies.

So why use one word with many syllables which few people understand, when a sentence of short words would do a far better job?

Obfuscation or communication?

Showing off or joining the throng, who are your students.

And have I just done it again?

What I mean to say is, 'it cannot help learning if a writer puts in a long word that they and their colleagues understand that the majority don't.

Clear English, is simple English; anything more can be unnecessarily confusing.

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