## Is falling in love linear?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 21 Jun 2014, 08:09

Fig.1 A teenager on a quest for love

As a sixteen year old virgin the feelings I had for a girl had me indulging the sensations and plotting where it would go. It ended in tears - she took a fancy to my older brother. If anything happened, it was all in my head. She said I was in love with the idea of being in love. True. I wanted to record and reflect on all that I was going through, attempting to find a pattern in it. Any pattern, any model, is a crude simplification of reality. Learning above love or learning about learning as I've been doing these last four years is just as messy.

There's a dangerous interface between the academic and the popular, the scholarly paper and the journalist, where a plausible hypothesis passes for the truth. In the New York Times earlier last week a reporter interpreted the entry in a blog where the author suggests that learning isn't linear, but logarithmic. There's a ring of truth to it: achieving a grade, for example, above a certain figure (it differs by person, subject, module, stage in learning, proficiency and aptitude for the subject). There's also a ring of truth in the suggestion that some things are toughest at the beginning, while others are toughest at the end. The mistake is to think that such a model can be applied universally.

Any linearity is a model, an interpretation of reality, not reality itself. Several models I would refer to as alternatives to logarithmic and exponential, offered by this author and the NY Times journalist's misinterpretation would be:

Fig.2 In the flow

a) a straight diagonal line at 45 degrees with 'In the flow' as the title to illustrate the theory of getting 'in the flow' as a product of responding to stress on the one hand and learning or coaching to meet the challenge on the other as developed over decades by Miihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Fig. 3. The Forgetting Curve

b) the 'forgetting curve' developed over a century ago by Hermann Ebbinghaus

Fig.4. The Learning Cycle

c) the learning cycle, so a circle, developed by David Kolb.

Fig. 5 The learning thermal

d) My take on this is of an ascending spiral - which assumes constant progress. The reality is that we often hit turbulence, change or minds, come back to ground, gain a propeller, lose a leg ... Enough. I'll work this up when I can in a separate 'paper' and post in due course.

Oh heck. There are another two models I need to add to this:

Fig. 6 Activity Theory

e) Activity Theory, which is a triangle with six interconnected nodes (Yrjo Engestrom) and

Fig. 7. Network Theory

f) 'connectedness' (George Siemens claims credit) which is the 21st century take on an ever-present vision of how we learn ... which is related increasingly to 'network theory' which is complemented by current thinking on neuroscience - put crudely that all thoughts and ideas, their creation and memory are the product of the brain connecting at least seven now recognised clusters in different parts of the brain. Is 'network theory' the science behind the assumption of connectedness though?

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 21 Jun 2014, 13:36)
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## Learning Curves and Forgetting Curves

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 18:08

I've not come across Ebbinghaus in any of the three modules of the MAODE I have thus far studied (Ivan Illich and Wendy Becker have interesting things to say too).

Ebbinghaus

After some number of repetitions, Ebbinghaus would attempt to recall the items on the list. It turned out that his ability to recall the items improved as the number of repetitions went up, rapidly at first and then more slowly, until finally the list was mastered.

This was the world's first learning curve.

The effect of over learning is to make the information more resistant to disruption or loss.

For example, the forgetting curve for over learned material is shallower, requiring more time to forget a given amount of the material.

I relate to this and having taken many exams in my life it is useful at last to have some terms to refer to it all. The only exam I have ever had to resit should have been the easiest, not the finals of a BA (Hons) as an Oxford Undergraduate (or the entrance exam which was tough enough), but a Level II Teaching Swimming Multi-choice paper that took an hour. I simply hadn’t put in the time, say six hours over as many days, repeating by writing it out and testing myself.

Whilst in an exam the student may forget, there are exams where you want them to retain the information: junior doctors, health & safety in a nuclear power plant, or one I was involved with 'the packing and storage of uranium trioxide'.

Savings is the most sensitive test of memory, as it will indicate some residual effect of previous learning even when recall and recognition do not.

Which is what I just did, three weeks after the event.

If I go to the website where I stored the original mind–maps and lists I know that I could quickly re–engage with the material. Like riding a bike, windsurfing or skiing? Though not recalling the lines of Mercutio from Romeo & Juliette which I performed in my late teens. I can however recite some Macbeth, but only because I have repeatedly tested myself on the lines since my mid–teens).

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## Put in the disc, and close the door

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 14 Sep 2010, 14:49

Twenty five years ago or so my wife was given this instruction when using a computer for the first time. Like most of the students in the Computer Lab at UCL, London they duly put in the disc, and made sure the door to the lab was closed.

My son had a piece of homework last night that said 'explain what the words in italics mean.'

So he explained what it meant to put words in italics.

I learnt from the an interview on BBC Radio 4 yesterday that the way to 'happiness' and in the context of H808 'The e-Learning Professional' too perhaps, could be to follow the advice you find on the back of a juice carton.

'Stand up in a cool place.'

On rumaging through the fridge all I found was:

'Best before sell by date' and 'Shake Well before pouring.'

We expect instructions to be literal.

We even assume a pattern. No wonder we are so often tripped up when using new software that has its quirks or strange attributes.

Meanwhile, whilst in H807 I was overwhelmed by the amount of reading, in H808 I feel overwhelmed by the desire and need to try out and use regularly a plethora of e-portfolios, and other content sharing and storing software. At the same time, having not used an upgraded version of Word in six years, or Microsoft Outlook ever I am having to tackle rather a lot.

For how long can you afford not to upgrade if eventually when you do so the software looks and behaves in such a foreign way that you feel like a beginner?

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## Learning new software tools

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 8 Oct 2011, 14:56

I wonder if I'm weary of learning to use yet another software tool? Those that intuitively add to what I know already are easy, whereas new platforms are not.

A Mac user since the days of the 'Classic' I find common tools such as Outlook quite foreign, plenty of functionality, but very mathematical, boxy and dry. I need to use it to tie in with the work I do with a swimming club.

I'm not even great with Excel having only used it for basic accounts. When it comes to creating and managing a database I have always used FileMaker Pro - I prefer the flexibility of layouts as I like to have bespoke pages depending on what information is being collated.

Any tips on merging contact data from Excell to Outlook would be appreciated.

Meanwhile I'm beginning to use Google Docs and Compendium, but rather than 'playing' I need a specific task to undertake that will require their use. Anyone have some suggestions?

• Share the writing of a short story?
• Collaborate on an article related to e-learning?
• Design a piece of e-Learning on spec?

(I actually would like some collaborators to consider how to share some of the work of a soon to be 85 Oxford Don. Politics, Philosophy and since retiring 'Leadership')

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## The Learning Curve vs the Learning Slide

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The learning curve is shown as a series of steps during which time a student initially struggles with concepts and new knowledge, gets to grips with it then plateaus out. After a period the learning curve is met again ... and so on.

In my experience, this returning to academic study in an entirely online experience is less like climbing a steep curve, than jumping into a slide or water flume. The ride has thus far been fast & exhilarating. I have hit a necessary plateau. Or to continue the analogy I have come in with a 'splash.' (At least there is water in this imaginary swimming pool).

Only now am I taking stock, only now am I looking at the rucksack of course materials I have left at the top of the steps. So having shot along in a fast gear I am now going back to the beginning and will revist everything at a somewhat slower pace. I want to play with some of the OU tools & spaces. I want to print off the resources, even buy a book (Rogers' Diffusion in Innovations.). But will this stop me writing off the top of my head? I doubt it, at least not in a blog.

For me a blog has always been about doing exactly this. Where I place it and how I give it 'access' is another matter. To lock, or unlock. To leave ajar with the OU Code on a Post-it note under the door-mat. And how to tag it? My potentially naive experiment with tagging is to 'tag' everything on the basis that I won't know if it is reference-able or drivel until I look over it again i the weeks to come.

There are I believe tools that work better at doing this? Not jsut notes on scraps of paper, but ... a more cohesive & meaningful way to gather your thoughts?

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