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An exploration of the MOOC

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014, 19:37
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. My mash-up of a correct answer to a quiz in the FutureLearn course from the University of Nottingham 'How to read a mind' that ties in directly to The OU course on the same platform 'Start Writing Fiction'.

As these MOOCs complete I have a few weeks over Christmas to reflect on a busy year of Moocing about and to catch up with regular coursework on L120, assisted with a necessary business visit to France.

My MOOCing is enjoyed all the more while reading Martin Weller's new book that covers MOOCs, 'The Battle for Open'. These are interesting times indeed.

With friends yesterday I evangelised about MOOCs on FutureLearn and found that what worked was to describe a MOOC in layman's terms as the equivalent of a hefty, hardback, coffee-table book you buy because you have an interest in a thing. Let's say it is architecture. The book is written by an expert with engaging photographs, charts and maps. From time to time you indulge yourself. A good MOOC is similar, different and better. Online you have an expert who leads the course. The introduce themselves, the course and perhaps the team. And then over the weeks they drop in to say something with a pre-recorded video piece or text. They may even appear from time to time to contribute to the discussion: though you may miss them if the thread is running into the hundreds. 

I explained how threaded discussions work: that there can be thousands of comments, but you know everyone is talking about the same thing. That if you don't get a point you can ask and someone offers a response. You may still not get it. So you ask again. Once again, there is a response. You may do this a few times. Even come back to it a day or so later, but you are likely, eventually to see something that says it for you - your fellow students have fulfilled the role of the tutor that a tutor could never manage: they only have one voice and they can't give up the huge number of hours - there is one thread in 'Start Writing Fiction' that runs to 7400 posts.

These are filtered in three useful ways: activity, following and your comments. In this way you either look only at the lates posts, the posts of those you are following: say 10 out of 23,000 or, of course, you look back at your comments.

It works.

As for my graphic? Does obscuring the writing assist with anything? By making an effort to read the question are you any more likely to remember it?

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Open Warfare and 'The Battle for Open' - E-learning gets connected

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 11 Dec 2014, 06:52
From E-Learning V

Fig.1 The Battle for Open - Martin Weller. Available free to download

Full of the latest thinking and facts on open learning with special attention paid to MOOCs. Of most interest will be the work of Katy Jordan on retention rates. Here various papers are easy to find.

Enrich your knowledge on where learning is going. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.2. From The Battle for Open. p102 Attrition rates at a glance

Here are the figures to have at your fingertips:

  • The average (median) sign up is 43,000 of whom 6.5% complete - the range is from 4,500 to 226,652.
  • Completion rates correlate to course length, the shorter the more complete. Though the variance is from 0.9% to 36.1% with a median of 6.5%. Completion rates of 5% are typical.
  • 50% of those who enroll become active students. This is vital to recognise. All sign-up figures should be halved to give a working student population.
  • Completion rates as a percentage of those who are active range from 1.4% to 50.1% with a median of 9.8%.
  • The caveat I would give is that completion rates are too generous, you only have to do 50% of the course to qualify, so these figure could possibly be halved again. For me, completion means someone who takes part from beginning to end.
  • 45% of those who sign up never turn up or do anything. By the end of week two we are down to 35%. And by the end of week 3 or 4 it is plateauing near 10%.

REFERENCE

Jordan, K 2013, Hill 2013 MOOC completion rates. Initial trends in enrolment and completion of massive open online courses. http://oro.open.ac.uk/39592/

Weller, M. 2014. The Battle for Open: How openness won and why it doesn't feel like victory. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI: http://dx/doi.org//10.5334/bam

 

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MOOCs R OK

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'If you're not lost and confused in a MOOC you are probably doing something wrong.' Wrote Martin Weller 18 months ago (25th March 2013)

A MOOC is a 'Massive Open Online Course'.

Rubbish name I know. Free Online Learning for the masses might sound better. 

It's no longer the case. The FutureLearn MOOCs couldn't be more straightforward. If 'you' the student are lost then the course team and instructional designer in particular haven't done their job.

It's all about communication: clarity, consistency and simplicity. It's about being connected, engaged and inspired. It's about your curiosity being satisfied.

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W is for Wordpress

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 30 May 2014, 08:45

Wordpress

Etienne Wenger

Wikipedia (A snowman)

Martin Weller

Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web 4.0

Web Sciences

Yorick Wilks

H G Wells

Wired Sussex

Having blogged since 1999, then on Diaryland, I lived through the blogging revolution of 2002-2005 when a plethora of platforms came along. I tentatively tried several, including LiveJournal, Blogger, Tumblr and EduBlogs before settling on WordPress in 2007. It remains the most versatile, open, viewed blogging platform of them all. So easy that it is my default platform for a range of interests: learning, swim teaching and coaching, the First World War and more - a couple of 'Books of Remembrance' even and a multitude of other themes, issues and intersts. Try it. And like here, remember there is one very important option: public or private, in both cases it is still a blog, but when private it can be a diary and a portfolio. Mine is both a learning journal, and a journal. As a resource its value grows with regular use and maintenance - like a garden

When it comes to e-learning academics then there are few bigger names than Martin Weller, but when it comes to a demonstration of global reach through 'user generated content' shared by  hundreds of thousands of people forming interest groups and communities then for me, Wordpress, rather than Wikipedia is the e-learning blogging platform of choice.

I've called Wikipedia a 'snowman' as I had called e-mail a 'snowball' in the same sentence; one you aim, the other last as others add to it. Is it still the default for students? The problem now is that the content is like a granite cliff - unassailable it beleived in its scholarship and increasingly inaccessible as the editors become so entrenched - addressing eachother rather than a specific audience. There needs to be a dial that allows you to tone down or filter the content depending on whether you are a primary school student or have a PhD.

Web Sciences is a subject specialism at the University of Southampton.

Yorick Wilks has developed some interesting ideas on Artificial Intelligence and is at the Oxford Internet Institute.

H G Wells is a visionary, the Douglas Adams of his time.

Etienne Wenger - Communities of Practice Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Martin Weller - The Ed Techie

Tapscott, S. and Williams, D. (2007) Wikinomics; How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, London, Atlantic Books.

Pearce, N. (2012) ‘Developing students as content scavengers’, OpenCourseWare Consortium Global 2012/OER 12 Conference, 16–18 April, Cambridge.

Wilks, Yorick (ed.), Close Engagements with Artificial Companions: Key social, psychological, ethical and design issues. 2010. xxii, 315 pp. (pp. 259–286)

The on going story of the heavy metal umlaut on wikipedia.

http://jonudell.net/udell/gems/umlaut/umlaut.html




 

 

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Book or eBook?

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You’re missing a trick if you're ignoring eBooks.

My experience studying at postgraduate level over the last four years, first with the Open University and now with the University of Birmingham as well is that we need to consider and experience the affordances of both.

I will own the book and the eBook in some circumstances as they offer a different experience and options.

If you are studying a subject in a social context online it helps to be able to share what you find and think as you read. I did this with Martin Weller’s book ‘The Digital Scholar’ and found he was reading along through Twitter and my blog. I find where I have the printed book that I take photos of pages, mash these up and then share online – or resort to pen, paper and note taking in the traditional, lonely way. Then there are the huge tomes, some of the history books I am getting through right now that run to 900 pages – it is so much easier to carry around on the iPad. Using an eBook I highlight by themes of my choosing, add notes, Tweet short passages, seek out threads on single characters, link directly to references and post mashups from screen-grabs rather than photos straight into a e-portfolio so that the idea or issues are tagged and ready for later use.

Non-fiction books will become like some LPs of the past – do you want all the tracks or just your choice?

If I can buy 12 chapters of a book for £8.99 on Kindle, when will I be able to buy for 99p that one chapter I need? Speaking to a senior engineer from Amazon over the summer (old friends who moved to Silicon Valley twenty years ago) he wondered if the ‘transformative’ period for books was about to occur, just as it has occurred with music.

There will be a better, personalised hybrid form in due course, several of which I have tried. So far they have been marred by only one thing – poor content, the clickable, multimedia, well linked experience is apt for the 21st century.

Nothing replaces scholarship though , it’s just going to take a while to make the transition.

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Martin Weller: ten digital scholarship lessons in ten videos

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014, 10:30

Martin Weller: ten digital scholarship lessons in ten videos

The greatest quality of a Martin Weller lecture is that leaves so much unsaid and unexplained. This isn't a fault of the lecturer, rather it is either his personality to take an answer so far, to ask questions and then to leave question marks of various shapes and sizes hanging there. Your mission, if you care to take it, is to go and find answers. 

In this talk, or presentation ... or seminar (responding to questions afterwards lasts as long as the talk itself) Weller considers what it means to be a digital scholar, and in relation to H818 addresses the benefits and pitfalls of being open.

He begins with his book 'The Digital Scholar'. 

You can buy it - it's a book and an eBook. You can also download it for free. Its creative commons copyright also permits you to distribute it, attributed, even to mash it up i.e. to play around with it. I do - often. I Tweet it line by line, grab pages and annote with text and graphics. I try to bring the pages to life, to re-animate the dead. Which is the problem all books have - certainly compared to anyone used to the attraction of interactivity and mulitmedia and multi-sensory 'sit forward' content.

Privacy and online pressence

Do what works for you in different situations - there are many degrees of openness. The pay-off of pressence is enegagement, is to gravitate towards and to be a magnet for like-minds. Weller doesn't say it, but the best thing you can do online is to ask for advice and to know where to do this - in the right forum you will find an expert with the right voice, tone and techniques of explanation just for you. I have been taken by the openness of Amanda Palmer and her philosophy of knowing what she wants and asking for it.

Scholarly practice in the digital domain means:

  • Sharing

  • Engaging with networks online

  • Using resources

And it is, according to Weller, the intersect between openness, digital and networking were transformation occurs. I'd go further than this and put this Venn diagram in an unexpected context - not 'out there', not 'here' but rather between regions of your brain. It changes you. Those parts of your that you share, that you are open with, through the quasi-omnipresence of your digital being as it is networked, as connections form - as they do at home, around you with your friends and colleagues, so it creates new and otherwise unlikely tingles of response and activity in your brain. It is neurological.

Scholars have been there defining what scholarship is. However much I look at these guidelines and lists, as though they are prerequisites to get into grammar school and take a degree,  I think rather of 1901 and possibly still 1911 Census Returns where anyone attending school is defined as a 'scholar'. The act of being engaged in learning makes you more scholar than anyting else - the potential was there even if it was stymied when kids left school armed with the basics at age 14.

 

Wherein lies the problem. Weller says ten years, his peer group gives it longer, for the 'digital scholar' to emerge. I have argued that the digital scholar is imminent. I would now say that in time, retrospectively, we will identify people who already are the digital scholars - the 18 year old how schooled law graduated recently called to the bar, the 14 or 15 year old who has drilled through academic research to come up with his own viable solution to a medical issue ... the academic communtiy won't accept it for the very reason that they ONLY see scholarship as it is defined and won through traditional, conservative, tightly controlled levels. The digital scholar will transcend these ... people will simply appear, professor-like in all but name, as a result of the root they have taken into a subject that circumvents the 'required' pathway. 

 

Gobbledygook it may be ... but there are what we would understand to be quite normal conversations that plenty around us may have little understanding of. Those brought up in a digital world have always been familiar with its architecture - it just IS, like houses and trees. Whereas we - most of us anyhow, knew what the landscape looked like before. We have seen the bits and pieces, sometimes do disassembled as to make little sense and we have witness the folly and false starts too and the many white elephants. 

My niggle with any presentation that quotes somebody is not having the reference. Several hours of searching and I have found only some of the authors quoted and in the case of Waldrop above I can find him, but have no idea where he said it. This matters more to me than ever now, not simply because the level of engagement with the subject that I have reached, but because I expect there to be links and I expect the answer to be a click, and therefore a momentary glance away.

I cannot find Le Muir anywhere. This despite having read more than most on blogging over the last decade. To blog is interesting because the reality is that only a fraction of us take to it ... the teenager who kept a diary will make the best blogger, it's part of you. Now the academic community is beginning to expect the 21st century scholar to blog - to have a digital presence, to wear their research on their sleeve, to become like a special edition iPad or iMac, with a see-through skin. We don't care what you are like, but let us see all the same.

Weller compares before and after slides in relation to the blank with an OU logo and these colourful visualizations. He shows up a failing though. Someone who is good with words may not be able to visualise their thoughts - simply repeating a word in many fonts or creating a Wordle does not in any way complement or enhance the message. Advertisers discovered the answer in the 1960s - you put an art director and copywriter together. How can we get more of that in education? When I see and listen to academics I almost always see a group of strangers who happen to be in the same room. Even or especially in a jointly written paper I don't see how or where the collaboration has occured. It's not as if they are team behind a TV series, each person with a role so clearly defined that it has a title. That'll be the day. It would require the 'digital scholar' to become the equivalent of the producer or director with others taking part having clearly defined roles. As happens, for example, in a product trial.

 I would also question screen grabs as a way to illustrate anything. I'd far prefer that anyone picks up a pen and does a doodle that expresses what they see in their heads - this after all is closer to the meaning the author is trying to put over.

I will return to this moment repeatedly - I admire Weller and those academics who with determination stay on the platform and observe the world as it passes by rather than pandering to the futurologists and revolutionaries who think that we have to sweap away what went before rather than build on it and work alongside it. The first newspapers was printed on the 6th November 1605 - they've survived this far. Their savour might be augmented reality. 

I particularly like the above. I gave a few weeks of my life to writing a scaving book review of Nicholas Carr and 'The Shallows' and then supporting my perspective in a thread that emerged in the Amazon reviews. Perhaps I need to go a few rounds with Lanier and Turkle too then accept that a Master's education means that I will never stand, virgin-like, infront of authors such as these and offer them my body and soul. They are journalists, popularist, scaremongering, plausible and always wrong. 

 

This grab from an animation by David Shriver might be a life-changer - taking me back to a way I did things a couple of decades ago. I just got on with it. Something that is going to work big one day, has to work small first then multiply. I keep itching to start a lecture tour - I have the projector and lecturn. I know what I want to talk about. I need to book a venue and get on with it. 

 I agree with the above with an important caveat:

What has become self-apparent to me during the course of the last few years studying online education, and 'education' is that human beings are extraordinarly diverse. However much we see ourselves as part of a race or community or cohort or class, we are ultimately very alone in our uniqueness. What ever impression you get, say of tens of thousands in North Korea doing drills together in a stadium, they are, each of them, their own person. One of the most wonderous human traits is the contrarian - even against inclination they will do the opposite so as not to be the same. I particularly like the idea that 'not learning' should be see as an educational theory. It's true - keeping your sheet blank while everyone around you takes notes is an approach. Not learning means that you stand still, or go somewhere else while the conveyor belt of the class moves everyone else forward (though in different steps).

 

See the 20th March 2012 Lectures at LSE here.

Notes attached as a PDF.

I'm keen to expand on these notes. To fill in the gaps. To find the precise place where Weller refers to what someone has written.

Next step is cutting and pasting this into my external blog. Then spitting it out in bits as and when required. And nailing the references. A couple of clicks and I not only found the reference to John Naughton, but I'd bought his book. 90p on Kindle. 

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H818 Activity 2.2 eBooks vs. Textbooks

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 16:03


20131013-091401.jpg

 

Ones to  watch:

  • Amazon
  • Pearson
  • Academic publishers
  • Writers
  • Educators
  • University Faculties
  • Schools
  • Research in and of faculties.
  • Initiatives to give eReaders preloaded with course books to students.
  • Proactive use of eReaders by learners, say junior doctors.
  • Research in schools. Related research on mobile learning.
  • Drivers include cost savings.

The purchase of books and their distribution is expensive compared to digital versions that are easily uploaded and include a multitude of affordances:

  • highlighting,
  • book marking,
  • annotating,
  • sharing,
  • searching ...

Whilst digital versions of millions of books, journals and papers increase access and scope of reading, developers are producing new interactive, multimedia formats even blending eBooks into the learning process with assessment and student analysis through quizzes and games.

A student can find rapidly from vast sources the material they need to see, though distraction is an issue. They can fast track through 'reading', branch out or study something else in parallel. 


20131013-091924.jpg

 

Has this been cornered by Martin Weller?

The Institute of Educational

Technology at the OU is a leader.

Ones to watch:

  • Paul Anderson
  • Graine Conole
  • Tim O'Reilly
  • Eileen Scanlon
  • John Seely Brown
  • George Siemens
  • Clay Shirky
  • Rhona Sharpe
  • Lave
  • Wenger
  • M Wesch
  • Victor
  • Mayer-Schonberg
  • Adam Greenfield
  • Brian Kelly
  • Stephen Heppel

20131013-091947.jpg

Ones to follow:

  • Martin Weller
  • Helen Beetham
  • Rhona Sharpe
  • Allison Littlejohn
  • Chris Pegler
  • Sara De Frietas

Open Access: Guardian Higher Education Network

 

 

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H818: Activity 1.2 Open Learning is with us

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:24

I'll reflect on and absorb the H818 academic stuff in due course - somewhere in the reading a couple of authors were mentioned so while the pressure is low I've been reading Lawrence Lessig 'Remix' and re-reading, possibly for the third time, Martin Weller's 'The Digital Scholar'.

Open Learning is with us.

Whilst more people globally will get a slice of the tertiary education pizza, there will still be those that who are stuck on the edge with the crust while the 'privileged' few get the real substance. This applies between 'first' and 'third' worlds, but also locally in an education catchment area - when it comes to the democratization of education through e-learning some are more equal than others through having the kit, accessibility, inclination, support and opportunity.

Speaking with a school friend I'd not spoken to since we were 10 or 11 we got onto those OU broadcasts in the middle of the night, and then the BBC 'Trade Test Transmissions' - how else could we possibly know anything about how the stain glass windows were made for Liverpool Cathedral on how animals were rescued during the flooding of the Zambezi?

Repetition, rich content and a dearth of anything else to watch.

In sharp contrast 'open' today, and TV too means everything and anything. How can anything stand out?

Because the search engines offer it, because of branding and association, through word of mouth through your social and other networks i.e. as a consequence of the nature of your 'connectedness'.

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Has much changed here?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 19 Sep 2013, 12:57

I'm delighted to say the the transformation is an enhancement and the improvements are seamless without any loss of what we had before ... a 'bulletin-board-cum-blog-thingey'. My previous post suggested I might have found a bolt-hole without Internet. It hasn't lasted.

I will get Internet access down the road (I had wanted a garden office but this desire became an insummountable barrier at home).

All that it requires from me is something I lack - self-discipline NOT to get distracted by email, which includes updated postings from forums and the likes of Linkedin (let alone a gaggle of family members on Facebook). AOL is the worst as I innocently go to check email and find 20 minutes later I am still clicking through the inviting gobbets of news and sensation that is offered. 

I had hoped to behave like the smoker trying to give up - I'll only smoke other people's fags. A very, very, very long time ago ... I can honestly say I have never smoked a cigarette since I turned 20.

Back to the Internet. Like Television.

Or diet. We are living in an age where self-control is vital. Having not had a TV for several months I was eventually pushed to buy one. Courtesy of Which? we now have a TV so Smart that it probably tells my brother in South Africa who is watching what .... we can Skype sofa to sofa. I just wonder if our antics could be recorded and posted on YouTube? Not my doing but any of the teenagers with the wherewithal just hit a record button somewhere.

In all this hi-tech I DO have a tool I'd recommend to anyone.

I've invested in an hour-glass. In runs for 30 minutes. While that sand is running all I may do is read and take notes. This might be an eBook, or a printed book, either way they are on a bookstand. I take notes, fountain pen to lined paper. What could be easier? The left hand may highlight or bookmark and turn a page, while the right writes?

This works as the filtering process of the knowledge that I am reading and want to retain needs to go through several steps in any case. The handwritten notes will be reduced again as I go through, typing up the ideas that have some resonance for me.

My current task has been 'How Europe went to war in 1914' by Christopher Clark.

I doubt my second thorough read will be the last. From notes I will start posting blogs and going into related social platforms to share and develop thoughts and in so doing be corrected while firming up my own views. I need this social interaction, to join the discussion if not the debate.

Meanwhile I will revisit Martin Weller's book on Digital Scholarship.

However swift the age of the Internet may be he suggests it will still take a person ten years to achieve the 'scholar' level ... whereas John Seely Brown recently reckoned this was now down to five years. i.e. through undergraduate and postgraduate levels and popping out the other end with a PhD in five years.

DIdn't an 18 year old who was home schooled just get called to the Bar?

She graduated with a law degree while contemporaries did A' Levels and finished High School and then did a year of pupillage I suppose.

The intellectual 'have's' of the future will, by one means of another, achieve degree status at this age. The Internet permits it.

School is far, far, far, far, far too lax.

It tends to the median if not the mediocre. Long ago it found a way to process kids as a genderless yeargroup instead of treading each student as an individual ... so let them skip a year, let them stay back a year ... allow them to expand and push subjects that appeal to them.

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It took me too long to realise that things are in a module for a reason ...

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- some intelligent educators have sat down together to figure out what would be best for 'us'. For this reason I try to do all the activities rather than question them - often I am surprised.

In H817, the timeline of technologies we did to which learning theories were to be added is one of these (there's more in the wiki and I'll keep adding to this, and eventually have my own version in Google Docs). I could have cut to the chase three years ago - all I wanted to know was how to match learning theories to e-learning practice. I thought there were a set of off-the-shelf 'solutions'. The reality is of course far more complex.

Every kind of learning surely existed before someone came along and packaged as a theory?

The ability to keep learning, and to learn from eachother, and to solve problems is what makes us human and has enabled us to survive and thrive over the last 70,000 odd years.

Turning back to learning theories - there are only a few, at least they can be grouped under (with overlap): cognitivism, behaviourism and constructivism. While 'connectivism' is supposedly what the Internet delivers I would suggest that actually 'connectivism' came first, and is learning as an infant and child from a mother, parents, siblings and extended family. All the the Internet does is to amplify or permit such relationships on a global scale - keeping families close who might now live thousands of miles apart.

Surely we need to turn to Socrates and 'Socractic discussion' to understand the origins of discussion as a form of guided learning?

The simple relationship between someone who doesn't know something and someone who does. In H807 three years ago I interviewed a retired Oxford philosophy tutor on 'the Oxbridge Tutorial Method' (search Dr Zgigniew Pelczynski H807) and this is how he explained it - for the most part, someone who knows something pouring content into an empty vessel (John Locke).

My brother learnt to fix cars from his grandfather, I learnt to cook and draw from my mother, I taught my children to swim and my wife to drive ... this for me is what is missing in most online learning as developed out of distance learning by The OU.

In three years I have never had discussions with Grainne Conole, Martin Weller or Diana Laurillard.

The couple of MOOCs I have done, OLDS MOOC and #H817open have had these names participating, getting away from their research as I see it and showing their true colours as 'educators' (or not). My chosen pattern of learning would be to gravitate towards the expert, something I have to try and get right if I am to move into doctoral research.

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H817open MOOCs to get lost

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 15 Oct 2014, 12:58

 

'If you're not lost and confused in a MOOC you are probably doing something wrong'. Martin Weller (18:45 25th March 2013)

 

A terrific webinar hosted by Martin Weller with George Seimens speaking. Link to the recorded event and my notes to follow.

 

I took away some key reasons why OER has a future:

 

1) Hype between terrifying and absurd.

2) State reduction in funding will see a private sector rise.

3) Increase in rest of world's desire for HE OER

4) Certificates growing.

5) The Gap

6) Accelerating time to completion

7) Credit and recognition for students who go to the trouble to gain the competencies.

8) Granular learning competencies and the gradual learning and badging to stitch together competencies.

 

‘MOOCs indicate that we are seeing a complexification of wishes and needs’ - so we need a multispectrum view of what universities do in society. George Seimens, (18:51 25th March 2013).

 

 

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How would we recognise a digital scholar from the other kind if we met one?

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photo%2520%25286%2529.jpg

Martin Weller, in 'The Digital Scholar' looks forward to the time when there will be such people - a decade hence. I suggested, in a review of his book in Amazon, that '10 months' was more likely given the pace of change, to which he replied that academia was rather slow to change. That was 18 months ago.

Are there any 'digital scholars' out there?

How do we spot them? Is there a field guide for such things?

I can think of a few candidates I have come across, people learning entirely online for a myriad of reasons and developing scholarly skills without, or only rarely, using a library, attending a tutoral or lecture, or sitting an exam. But can they ever be considered 'scholarly' without such things? They'll need to collaborate with colleagues and conduct research.

On verra.

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An avalanche is coming

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 24 May 2013, 12:42

An avalanche is coming: Higher education and the revolution ahead

An Avalanche is Coming (not)

No it isn't, or rather - no more than at any specific location around our digital universe. And the idea of a revolution is ludicrous. Do we expect to see guns in schools? (US of A excepted).

Pearson Education want to scare us. This paper is doing the rounds and courtesy of is sensationalist title and its massive quoting of the press in its construction then it will get ample press coverage. Most in academic institutions, some years ago, realised that the change, would be more akin to melting glaciers. Not even of the climate change variety.

I've got an essay crisis on at the moment.

The module is Practice-based research in e-learning with the OU.

The first block and the last five weeks has been spent learning how to review literature so that you feel the authors are credible and the subject has been treated in an objective way with research that is empirically based. There are academic papers and books on the likely or potential changes to Tertiary Education, such as:

  • 'Rethinking University Teaching: A conversational framework for effective use of educational technology', Diana Laurillard
  • 'Contemporary Perspectives in E-Learning Research: Themes, Methods and Impact on Practice' Grainne Conole
  • 'Preparing for Blended e-learning' Allison Littlejohn
  • 'Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age' Helen Beetham
  • 'The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice'

I have read all of these and am currently reading 'Teenagers and Technology (Adolescence and Society' Chris Davies and Rebecca Eynon which took me to her paper 'Mapping the Digital Divide in Britain: Implications for Learning and Education'.

My sober response to this 'paper' starts with the title.

We should read anything with a sensationalist title with great caution. There are two traps that journalists fall into, or exploit, either to say there is revolution or to say that disaster looming. The sober, academic, empirically researched view is often far more contained, less exciting and so less inclined to gain press attention for its authors - in this case Pearson.

I'm up at 4.15 to write an assignment where I have had to put forward five papers and argue for their inclusion to help me get to the bottom of a research question.

I've read three books, reviewed some 60 and read some 20 papers at least to get this far. The research question is set in Tertiary Education.

In the last month I have been to both University of Southampton and University of Oxford - I don't for example, see Balliol College, Oxford, marking its 750th Anniversary this year, changing that radically. The model works too well, indeed, if anything, the Internet will make these institutions more appealing to students. Indeed I spent over an hour on the phone to a second year English Literature Student last night - from Perth in Western Australia, clearly very bright and motivated. She described how she Googled 'English Literature', found the top universities, then chose the one of the leading Colleges at Oxford.

My alarm bells start to go when a forward is written by 'emeritus' - however amazing their career has been, they have retired and their choice may be for PR reasons.

Excuse the cynic in me.

Are the other two authors, employees of Pearson, learning academics? Neither.

Then I turn to the bibliography and I find pages of citations ... for journalists.

In my experience of the last three years of a Masters course in E-learning I have learnt that very few journalists should ever be read on the subject as they always have an agenda - the bias of their paper, the need to sell papers, and the need to sell themselves. What struck me is that NOT ONE of the leading academic figures on the shifts that are inevitable to tertiary education are mentioned here, the names I have given above you may notice, were mostly figures from the OLDS MOOC by the way.

I will read and try to offer a balanced review in due course but fear that the response that it usually elicits in me is the same as the sensationalist titles of these things.

In this case, if its snow then wait for spring and the problem will go away ... and what about all those countries that have no snow?

A few years ago I realised that there was something no right with the concept of a 'digital native' or 'digital immigrant' - both are nonsense.

More recently I've given far too much time to stripping down Nicholas Carr 'The Shallows: what the Internet is doing to our brains' more nonsense that at least has be eager to study neuroscience.

Perhaps I like a fight, or debate.

Academia doesn't have to sensationalise - it has to aim to get it right, prove its case, strive for objectivity and 'the truth' and be reviewed.

This looks too like exaggeration 'avalanche' and 'revolution' are well chosen buzz words that will make headlines in the papers - and it lacks the empirical evidence which is a necessity. (And don't be fooled by fellow humans how have been to Harvard or any where else - we're all human, all fallible and usually have an agenda). Must go! J

I may be wrong, but a little more than intuition says read with great caution and make up your own mind - what would or what do fellow OLDS MOOCers think for example?

'Making meaning with metaphors' or some such is a quote from Grainne Conole.

We did a module that was about little else. We cannot help but think in metaphors - neuroscientists such as V J Ramachandran think this is what distinguished us from Neanderthal - we 'think outside the box' as it were. So, metaphors matter and are convincing and plausible and simple.

My take on the Internet and the WWW is to think of Web 1.0 as a digital ocean and Web 2.0 as the entire water cycle (yes, my first degree was Geogrraphy!). So, no harm to have an avalanche in the mix ... but in this context, of a global system, with cyberspace, the avalanche is just one event or a series of events, in one landscape, that is one tiny part of a vast, far more complex and changing system.

I flick open this table I created in order to review the literature for the paper I have to write ... give me a few days and I'l apply it to 'The Avalanche is coming'.

Nice title, what about the content?

TITLE
Who are the players? What are their credentials. Which institutions did they represent and where are they now. What have the written since and what else are they known for?

QUESTIONS / PROBLEMS
What research questions are being addressed?
How does the research question relate to the design of the research?
What is the sector and setting? (e.g. school, higher education, training, informal learning)

LITERATURE REVIEW
In what ways is the wider literature used in the paper?
What theories, concepts and key terms are being used?

EDUCATION THEORY
What views of education and learning underpin the research?

METHODS
What methods of data collection and analysis are used? (e.g. the number of participants; the type of technologies; the use of interviews, surveys, observation, etc.)
What are the limitations of the methods used?

FINDINGS
What did this research find out?
What counts as evidence in this work?
Are there any ethical issues associated with the research?
What are the implications (if any) for practice, policy or further research?

Lord David Putnam is quoted in the opening pages.

He is Chancellor of the Open University, an honorary post, he is a former producer of TV commercials and movies who sits on the Labour benches in the House of Lords. Nice chap, but his perspective is to the left and whilst he will listen to the brilliant minds around him when he visits the Open University, he is not an academic himself. i.e. what is expressed are an opinion.

What we need are the facts.

 

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H818 - The Networked Practitioner - New for Autumn 2013

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014, 07:50

Fig. 1. The Digital Scholar

Martin Weller's Digital Scholar becomes the basis for H818 - The Networked Practitioner

This new e-learning module from the Open University uses Martin Weller’s book The Digital Scholar is part of a wide range of open access material used for the module and Martin is one of the authors of the module content.

Chapter 1 - Read it here on the Bloomsbury website

Over the last couple of years I have said how much I would like to 'return' to the traditional approach to graduate and postgraduate learning - you read a book from cover to cover and share your thinking on this with fellow students and your tutor - perhaps also a subject related student society.

Why know it if it works?

Fig. 2. The backbone of H810 Accessible Online Learning is Jane Seale's 2006 Book.

Where the author has a voice and authority, writes well and in a narrative form, it makes for an easier learning journey - having read the Digital Scholar participants will find this is the case.

As in the creation of a TV series or movie a successful publication has been tested and shows that there is an audience.

The research and aggregation has been done - though I wonder if online exploiting a curated resource would be a better model? That e-learning lends itself to drawing upon multiple nuggets rather than a single gold bar.

There are a couple of caveats related to this tactic:

  1. Keeping the content refreshed and up to date. Too often I find myself reading about redundant technologies - the solution is to Google the cited author and see if they have written something more current - often, not surprisingly from an academic, you find they have elaborated or drilled into a topic they have made their own in the last 18 months.
  2. Lack of variety. Variety is required in learning not simply to avoid the predictable - read this, comment on this, write an assignment based on this ... but this single voice may not be to everyone's liking. Can you get onto their wave length? If not, who and where are the alternative voices?

 

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What do you understand by the word 'curation'? What does it mean in relation to content online?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 26 Feb 2014, 13:01

Fig.1. Bristol Fighter at the Imperial Museum

My understanding of curation is embedded in museums - I overheard the curator of the current Superhuman exhibition at the Wellcome Foundation Museum being interviewed by Aleks Krotovski on Tuesday.

When I took a picture using my iPad a member of the museum staff  politely told me that 'the curator asked that people did not take pictures' (and that the curator was in part to blame as he hadn't wanted the signage saying 'don't take pictures' too prominent) – curator as stage manager and executive producer of a collection of themed objects. The term 'object' itself embracing stills, artefacts, video-clips and activities. You curate stuff in a space and set parameters so that an audience of visitors can get their head around what, in effect, has come the curator's mind.

In the bizarre ways that these things happen I recall, age six at most, creating a fossil museum with ammonites found in the low rocky cliffs of Beadnell, Northumberland.

I was a curator, I brought together a themed collection of rocks, set them out in a room and invited people in – no doubt in the back of my mind imagining the glass cabinets and displays in the Hancock Museum, Newcastle.

Ian McGreggor of the British Museum with his History of the World in 100 objects is a curator - far more so than an amateur's eclectic collection of e–stuff. Or am I being a 20th century snob? Craving for academic elitism that is fast vanishing down the plug–hole as the digtal ocean and equally digital–cloud washes and blows over everything? I search that externalised part of my own mind, an extensive blog 13 years in the writing, for what I've said or stumbled upon before regarding 'curation' and find three entries, one prompted by my intention to attend this session in Bath and feeding off a visit to the De le Warr, Bexhill and the rest from Martin Weller's book 'The Digital Scholar' in which he lists curation as something universities will need to do. On Chapter 12 he has this list on publishing as:

  • Publishing
  • Research
  • Authoring
  • Submission
  • Rejection/modification
  • Publication
  • Dissemination

WHY?

  • Accepted practice
  • Academic respectability
  • Reward and tenure
  • Dissemination
  • Curation

I wonder if this following quote gives a sense of Martin Weller's comprehension of the term 'curation' as used in a Web 2.0 context:

'If Boyer's four main scholarly functions were research, application, integration and teaching, then I would propose that those of the digital scholar are engagement, experimentation, reflection and sharing'. Weller (2011).

On a quest to become 'digital scholars' or 'thought leaders' we should, to change one word –engage, experiment, reflect and curate'? The word, used in this, come to think of it, ought also to include 'moderate', even to 'chair' or 'host'.

In 2002 Gilly Salmon, then a lecturer at the Open University Business School, tried to coin the terms e–tivity and e–moderator.

Perhaps then, as these things go, the digital community have not picked up on these terms – instead they have hijacked 'curation'. We are going through a rich phase of redefining and inventing words and understandably they result in carnage and debate. Academics are guilty I feel of sometimes wanting to be the first to coin a word or use a new phrase or word in a new way because citation will mean that they are then quoted for every more. This happens in academic publishing and study, unfortunately 'curation' can leave you wondering about the source. Is 'jumbling together' the content of others from multiple sources even more questionable than turning to self–monitored wikis such as wikipedia?

Weller also says:

'If the intention is to encourage engagement then low-quality routes may be more fruitful than seeking to produce professional broadcast material'. Weller (2011) and 'Low quality individual items because of their obvious ease of production, can be seen as an invitation to participate'. Weller (2011)

Is curation a dirty word? Is curated content reliable? What does it mean in the corporate world?

REFERENCE

Krotovski, A (2012) The Digital Human. BBC Radio 4 (last accessed 22 October 2012)
McGreggor, I (2011) The History of the World in 100 Objects –http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/about/british-museum-objects/ + Neil McGreggor
http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/ahow/all
Salmon, G. (2002). E-tivities: the key to active only learning. Sterling, VA : Stylus Publishing Inc. ISSN 0 7494 3686 7
Salmon, G (2002) e-moderation
Stodd, J (2012) https://julianstodd.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/creating-and-sustaining-high-performance-learning-cultures/
Sullivan, A (2000-2012) The Daily Beast
Weller, M (2011) The Digital Human. More from Martin Weller in his blog: http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/Wijekumar, K. J., Meyer, B. J. F., Wagoner, D., & Ferguson, L. (2006). Technology affordances:  The "real story" in research with K-12 and undergraduate learners. British Journal of  Educational Technology, 37(2), 191-209.

 

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Exploring the World of Social Learning

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



20121007-063532.jpg

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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Blogs on e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 26 Aug 2012, 10:15

Doug%2520Belshaw%2520eBook.JPG

If you read only two, then follow Martin Weller and Doug Belshaw.

No time now, but I want to go back and re-blog Doug, even take some tips on knocking my own e-learning blog into shape. This is like going into a niche bookstore that ONLY promotes stuff on education and e-learnig.

Invaluable across the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE)

The book is good too.

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Why academics should blog. Matin Weller (from his blog)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Jun 2012, 15:06

The%2520Digital%2520Scholar%2520Mind%2520Map.png

Professor Martin Weller's BLOG

'In terms of intellectual fulfilment, creativity, networking, impact, productivity, and overall benefit to my scholarly life, blogging wins hands down. I have written books, produced online courses, led research efforts, and directed a number of university projects. While these have all been fulfilling, blogging tops the list because of its room for experimentation and potential to connect to timely intelligent debate. That keeps blogging at the top of the heap'.

Martin Weller (2011)

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Digital Scholarship

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Nov 2012, 12:01

The%2520Digital%2520Scholar%2520Mind%2520Map.png

Mindmap on Digital Scholarship

drawing on ideas from 'The Digital Scholar' Martin Weller,

'Blended E-learning' Chris Pegler

and my own OU and e-learning blogs

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(some of ...) My favourite blog posts (out of 15,000+)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 07:41

I've done an inadequate sweep of the 600+ entries here in order to select 7 entries and have it roughly down to these 27: If I do another sweep I'd find another 27 and be none the wiser. I have another blog with 16000+ entries and some 16 blogs. What interests me is what iWriter next.

I work in an Orchard Emotional intelligence means more ...

Email is a snowball

Is education a problem or a business opportunity?

Grayson Perry and Rose Tremain on creativity

Fingerspitzengefuegel How where and when do you learn?

152 blogs I try to keep an eye on

 E-learning is just like Chicken Masala

Life according to Anais Nin, Henry Miller and Samuel Pepys

100 novels personally recommended

12 Metaphors visualised to aid with the brilliance of blogging

Prensky and the concept of the Digital Native deserves to be lampooned

Love your memories in a blog

The Contents of my brain : a screenplay

We can't help to think in metaphors it's what makes us human

Maketh up a quote at ye beginning of thy book

Personal development planning as a thermal

What makes an e-learning forum tick?

Why Flickr on the Great War?

Social Media is knowledge sharing

Making sense of the complexities of e-learning

Social Learn (Like Open Learn but networked)

Twelve books that changed the world

Some thoughts on writing by Norman Mailer

Visualisation of the nurturing nature of education according to Vygotsky

Woe betide the Geordie linguist

Does mobile learning change everything?

The Digital Scholar. Martin Weller

The pain of writing and how the pain feeds the writing too

Digital Housekeeping and the Digital Brain

My heads like a hedgehog with its paws on a Van den Graff generator

Where's education in technical terms compared to the car?

My preference, having created an @random button for my original blog started in 1999 (and the first to do so) is to do exactly that: hit the 'enter@random' button 7 times and see where it takes me.

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Is Social Media a one man band, a chamber orchestra or the full philharmonic?

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Dan%2520the%2520Man%2520the%2520One%2520Man%2520Band%2520SNIP%25201.JPG

Dan the man

As a social media manager am I first flute, composer or conductor?

With direct experience working in an organisation of 4,000+ and in our faculty the only Social Media Manager and person with a social media and online communications remit I have good reason to reflect on the way the role of 'Social Media' is changing. The one man band metaphor falls down when you consider the number, size, scale and volume of the 'instruments' this bandoliers must play. Decades ago Roy Castle set a Guinness Book of Record by playing x different instrument in a set period of time. (Done live on Blue Peter in the late 1960s or early 1970s perhaps?). It can be like that.

Is the 'Jack of All Trades' the answer?

That depends on the kind of results you want. To stretch the metaphor we are yet to see the full philharmonic orchestra as an in-house social media team, though this might be what the large agencies offer. Those where social media is crucial, I've seen it at the FT, I would say they are moving towards the 'chamber orchestra' model: they have to, everything is going on line and opinion, not news, is the currency.

Where does this leave education? We shall see.

How much can you learn simply by join a group, say in Linkedin? You listen, you learn, you take guidance. You may offer some initial thoughts. Slowly and vicariously, depending on your motivation and skill set, you become more engaged, from the periphery you gravitate towards and are drawn to the centre of things. It may take two or three years (or months) and you find yourself considered to be a voice, an opinion maker, a leader. Are you?

What makes the Digital Scholar?

I'll find out as I aim to complete an MA in Open and Distance Education and am increasingly inclined to press on with an OU MBA too, as I currently take one of the modules. Mostly online, it could all be online. I share it all, empty my head into a blog each night and thus share my progress (or lack of progress) with a broad and eclectic mix of fellow students (undergraduates and graduates) ... and the occasional academic.

We live in interesting times.

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E-scholar, digital scholar, e-prof or e-reader?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 13 Oct 2013, 13:50

We'll have dropped the suffix 'e' with a year and the descriptors such as 'digital' sooner.

Learners should not be defined by the technology they use, whether books, TV, computers, or interactive web-content; they should be defined by the processes of myelination that is going on regardlessly, in it's most mysterious ways, under our thick skulls.

Who indeed is the 'digital scholar', an academic now an 'e-reader' in 'Enter Subject Specialisms Here'.

Some answers are offered in Martin Weller's book 'The Digital Scholar'.

My favoured observation post is to watch out for this slippery fish in the OU Student Blog Roll, more a stream of fish-fry commencing their online, 'electronically-enhanced' learning journey, than a mere list, more news feed, though refreshing from the perspective of the new, rather than the rehearsed and practises mind.

Once a fish, now a fisherman?

I have another 12 months in these waters, more if I postpone completing the MA (more by accident than design, I've not registered for the next module yet - whatever that might be).

The choices are bewildering, not least because I can drift off to do something with a different Faculty.

Part of the brilliance of The OU to enable such choices. Creativity and Innovation with the Business School is attractive.

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Four ways to be a 'Digital Scholar'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 16 Oct 2011, 05:05

If Boyer's four main scholarly functions were research, application, integration and teaching, then I would propose that those of the digital scholar are engagement, experimentation, reflection and sharing'.

Weller (2011 in Chapter 4, 20% of the way through, Kindle Location 1005. Is there a page number related to a print version? Amazon say not in a polite, informative and lengthy e-mail. What therefore is the answer to this referencing conundrum?)

Does Weller's suggestion make anyone who keeps a student blog and shares it openly like this a scholar?

Making us all digital scholars?

(I love the term as a hundred years ago in Census Returns it was used to describe anyone attending an academic institution, whether school or university).

Goals of the Scholarly Activity

  • Provide students with an opportunity to employ their unique skills and talents to pursue a project of their choosing under the mentorship of an expert in the field.
  • Provide mentorship and guidance for students interested in careers that integrate research, teaching, and clinical service (academic medicine).
  • Foster development of analytical thinking skills, rational decision making, and attention to the scientific method.
  • Enhance communication skills.
  • Enhance self-directed learning.

 

Reference

Boyer, E.L. 1990. Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Princeton, NJ.

Weller, M., (2011) The Digital Scholar

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The Digital Scholar (2011) Comments 1

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 16 Oct 2011, 05:10

 

I've picked this out of Martin Weller's new book 'The Digital Scholar'. (2011)

This book is published under a Creative Commons licence that throws away the old concenpt of copyright and ownership, inviting people to do as they please with the content so long as he is attributed (indeed any of the other authors/academics he quotes himself).

He is either on a mission, or playing at the edge of digital scholarship by inviting others in, expecting more than peer review for his thinking followed by publication years hence in an academic journal.

The stance I take, is that the outside, the novice, someone from a different discipline or culture, can, act in many ways to amerliorate knowledge, either as a catalyst for seeing things differently, or by seeing things differently themselves and in time being able to articulate this in a convincing manner.

They don't have to wait for permission or acceptance, they just do it.

So long as we can see (as you can online, say with a wiki) the trail of changes (editing, additions) others coming to this fluid material may draw their own conclusions (if a conclusion is now ever possibly given that a work offered online in this way is never complete).

 

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Reasons to blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 17 Sep 2011, 21:50
'Amateurs' often create content which addresses subjects that academics may not and also in a manner which differs from traditional teaching', Weller (2011)
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