OU blog

Personal Blogs

Design Museum

H818: A History of Openness

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014, 09:21

We're considering the nature of 'openness' in education as part of this new Master of Arts in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) module.

This is increasingly about ease of access to information, all of it, uncensored.

Often for ease of access and to gain a qualification with a marketable value, information that is packaged in books, journals and lectures, though increasingly in 'sexier' interactive and multimedia forms with the related 'scaffolding' that comes with learning design and planning. The natural tendency is to consider the hectic last decade of the Internet at the expense of the history of openness in access to information and an education over the last century.

A hundred years ago all but the most privileged were in the dark: leaving school after an elementary education, with reliance on biased newspapers, magazines and part works. Libraries, BBC radio and affordable paperbacks, secondary then tertiary education, cinema and TV have each had a role to play, as has the Open University.

Does enlightenment come with access?

What does it say of power of information and ideas where access is controlled, as in China? Does connectedness within openness lead to even greater coalescing of likeminds in cliques, reinforcing stereotypical biases rather than exposing them to valid alternative views?

Nothing is straightforward when it comes to people - heterogenous by design, homogenous by inclination.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

H810 Accessibility and equality

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 6 Sep 2012, 14:55

Given the start of the Paralympic Games last night it is hardly surprising that disability is a topic or theme on TV, the radio and in the press. Even the Simpsons' satire yesterday evening - the one where the school is split into girls and boys and Liza dresses up as a boy and becomes the object of bullies - had a powerful message regarding equality. It should be about seeing the strength while not ignoring the 'weakness', but accommodating or compensating for it, that it is the lack of x, y or z that makes the disability more of an issue that it needs to be.

Is it just about money?

It took a Paralympian wheelchair basketball player to point out how countries that hadn't the provision of the richer economies had older, clunkier, heavier wheelchairs.

I watched a piece of theatre for deaf people by deaf people. It reminded me of comia del arte - highly physical and rumbustious. I hadn't the slightest clue what was going on, certainly no idea what was being said. Had I someone twlking it through how different would the experience have been.

How do the movies portray disability? From Richard III and Frankenstein, to Finding Nemo, Slum Dog Millionaire and Avatar. Even Dr Who where Darleks, and certainly Davros, are disabled beings in wheelchairs with a wheelie bin, plunger and egg- whisk for limbs.

It takes being ill, of confined to a bed or wheelchair to get some sense if it, or having a close relation, infant or elderly in a state, or phase of amelioration or deterioration to feel it personally. I broke a leg badly enough and far enough away from home to require amabulances and special flights, hospitalisation then a wheelchair. For some months in order to get into the garden I pulled myself about quite happily on a large wooden tea-tray. We knew it was temporary, indeed within six months I was riding a bike and walking with a stick and six months after that competing in the swimming pool and on the rugby pitch - wherein lies a stark difference, the disabled person is very likely to be set inspite or despite of treatment and how the disability came about, indeed their situation is likely to be more complex with medications, care, a deteriorating prognosis even.

There is mental illness and disability in the family too - depression, learning difficulties, aspergers and autism. I'd even dare to say that being exceptionally bright or that ridiculously isolating term 'gifted' in the case of my late father isolated him.

If we wish for inclusivity when will the Olympics and Paralympics play out simultaneously?

Perhaps at a club level I should suggest that once a year we do this - having an inclusive event in contrast to the other exclusive events we run or take part in.

As I reflect I need of course to bring it back to H810.

The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) runs a workshop for coaches who work with disabled athletes - there is an online module too which I will sign up for. Annually we apply for a national award called Swim21 which includes an audit in relation to disabled swimmers - we ticked every box without question with qualified personal, watertime set aside, entry into internal and external galas and working with our local leisure providers but is this enough? If the bar isn't that high no wonder it is easy to get over.

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 31 Aug 2012, 06:07)
Share post
Design Museum

H800 Reflection on e-learning

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 21 May 2011, 14:29

A rare moment to stop and take stock.

Does learning something new enter a phase of such frenzy that the formal aspect of the process is irrelevant.

To say I live, breathe and eat e-learning would be an exaggeration, but the mix of social media (my professional responsibility) and e-learning (my passion as an educator) on top of a foundation of 32 years of 'educational inclinations' means that I find myself in a self-constructed maelstrom of activity.

32 years ago, a 17 year old, we lived 'above the shop,' as it were, a training centre for a PLC in Cumbria. I listened eagerly to the Training Director and I was allowed to use first 1 inch reel to reel black and white Sony kit used for interview training ... and then a hefty VHS camera. I created my first 'training film' - ironically titled 'How to give a slide presentation.

A desire to taken in, and then share, what I think and understand, with others has informed my career.

Meanwhile, whilst reliving and reinventing and/or returning to my video production roots, my current interest is mobile learning - not that it is should be called 'm-learning,' just that it is 'stuff' with a learning twist, that you can have with you, connect with and use, wherever, whenever and whatever you are.

With a bit of skiing, sailing and swimming

Each in various ways as an educator, and participant: guided skiing, but never the BASI qualification, Offshore Sailing RYA qualification while instructing at RYA Level II and swimming a few weeks of effort of the most senior ASA Certification that is current (Senior Club Coach).

Everything can be taught

My turn around moment on this was a presentation I was linked to when Max Clifford, self-taught PR guru, spoke lucidly and with enthusiasm for students studying PR.

Why?

If nothing else, it showed they were passionate about the subject to study it for three years.

(Note to Max, the passionate ones might be 20% of the cohort).

And cooking?

Greek Fish Soup.

I'm yet to reach the position that I can call myself a professional academic, but is it the case the some academics (or is it just mathematicians and philosophers) are also very good cooks?.

My theory is, that they use the period of cooking, to be engaged with one activity ... while thinking of something else entirely???

 

Permalink 4 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 22 May 2011, 14:38)
Share post
Design Museum

Collaboration in most things

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 21 Nov 2011, 08:18

Experiences here, lessons learnt and studied, has me now appealing to friends and colleagues to collaborate on all kinds of things.

What strikes me, having spent a few years buried in my writing and alone with the task, is how I have always worked best in a team, if only in a team of two. I do well as number two, I like to have someone working to, for or with me, I like constructing larger teams.

The intention therefore is to throw several balls into the air, but rather than juggling alone there will be a troupe. These will be formed into formal teams (businesses, projects) and less formal ones (writing, thinking teams and partnerships).

The outcomes?

  • Results
  • Credits
  • Reputation
  • Income
  • Contentment
  • Pride

Whilst supported online I know too that for the sake of cohesion and commitment there will need to be face-to-face meetings and shared offices. As soon as I can get an office in town, I will do so. I am looking for a space at the University Innovation Centre and for the first time in a decade will get an address in the West End, back to Newburgh Street or Newman Street, or in Covent Garden.

Ask me in 12 months time how 2011 has been.

Either way I'll keep you posted here.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

H808 Approaching ECA

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 16:03

Feeling that I have a gap in relation to learning pedagogy and wishing to read some articles that are more 2010 that 2000 ... I have picked out 14 fresh articles to read.

Invaluable

Prensky and his 'Digital Natives' can be dropped - nothing in practice proves the point. It has nothing to do with when we were born, and everything to do with our desire to engage with and exposure to the technology ... oh, and income, eduation, age, opportunity ... the usual criteria.

My 85 year old Father-in-law has had a Mac since ... since they existed. He continues to run postgraduate courses between two countries ... and hasn't had a P.A. for 15 years. He is more comfortable with current ICT than some teenagers ... why? Because he is goal-orientated. The technology is simply a set of tools, a means to an end.

Personally I'm running with the view that there is no such thing as 'e-learning,' just 'learning.'

After all, the models of learning that I need are based on print, lectures, classrooms and tutorials. How often is 'e' justified? Does it work to its strengths? Is is inclusive or exclusive ... just part of the mix or re-mix?

And might I hear from some practioners, rather than researchers? i.e. those who put it into practice? Not just from HE.

Try presenting an OU styled E-tivity plan to a client. Learn what their issues and expetations are?

Try using the word (if it is one) 'E-tivity' for a start.

Keen on innovation, ready to be sold, want the bottom line, to be convinced that it will deliver and that results are measurable. An please, don't quote, cite or reference anyone.

And don't use the term 'e-learning' either.

Not interested. It is 'learning stuff' online ... or online learning, with computers and IT.

Why the great divide between theory and practice? Between universities and the people who employ your students? Should not employers be telling universities what they expect, want and understand, rather than the other way round.

Concentrate on outcomes. Identifying and fixing problems. Multi-mode. Why go the 'e-learning' route for £60k when you can solve the problem for £15k in print.

Why don't we go there?

The needs should dictate the proposed solutions, not the course, or tools ... and their affordances. As if these new comers operate in isolation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Jul 2010, 11:57)
Share post

This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.

Total visits to this blog: 5328495