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Recreating that OU student feeling

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 24 Mar 2015, 12:13
From E-Learning VI

Need to plug a gap between courses or just can't stop e-learning?

I'm currently fighting my cerebral way through:

The Mind Is Flat

Understanding Drugs and Addiction

Community Journalism

Medicine and the Arts

Each has something to recommend though the humdingers are 'Understanding Drugs and Addiction' and 'Medicine and the Arts' : beautifully and thoughtfully done. Education as entertainment? 

 

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H809 Activity 8.1-8.5 Teenagers do Physics with the intervention of a computer to prompt discussion

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013, 09:14

Mini+Marshmallows.JPG

In the abstract we are told that ‘Although ICT resources are commonly expected to produce uniform benefits’ Tolmie (2001) Are they? And that, ‘they are necessarily employed within pre-existing contexts of educational and social activity’. Tolmie (2001)

When and where could a context NOT be pre-existing?? Something is, or is not. Context is an absolute.

Rather, what is that specific context. Otherwise this is tautology. It is like saying that electricity pylons go into an existing landscape. Isn’t this stating the obvious so that a gullible audience nod in agreement?

Tolmie (2001) talks of ‘unexpectedly diverse effects’. Unexpectedly or diverse? Surely not both.

Is this not something of an exaggeration? And in any case, such diverse responses should be either expected, or not presumed either way to be likely or unlikely to happen. It is very dangerous to pre-empt findings.

I visualise the introduction of new technology such as this as drops of ink in a pool of water in a stream  - it has to compete with the mix that is already there, as well as its natural flow and other behaviours - leaking away into the land and evaporation for a start.

My conclusion based on reading the abstract is to: Think people above all else. Internal and external contexts are fluid and based on responses too and feelings.

It is all complex, and more to do with the brains of the individuals than simply their context . Everything can and should be measured in some way, from an agreed benchmark, to monitor, track then analyse. It is far more complex.

Take any class, habituated by the classroom, the people around us and the pattern and behaviour of the teacher … especially on a warm Friday afternoon, no wonder the mind wanders. Just because a person is physically in a classroom, even participating in a task, does not mean that much is going in if they are dreaming of the weekend or Fiona Henderson from the girl’s school down the road …

The expression ‘oversimplified’ used by Tolmie (2001)  is a) hyperbole b) a value judgment.

Better ‘simplified’, preferably qualification of the term - simplified as in ‘clipped or contained’ that parameters are created because of the remit of the funding process. You are not able to ‘look outside the box’ as only that which takes place in the box is funded. There needs to be some of one and some of the other - research based on ‘tackling circumscribed needs’ while at the same time research that has an open brief and is open ended - that stands back to see the wood for the trees, rather than, to continue the metaphor, to examine only one kind of tree in the woods in order to avert the ‘mentality of one-stop resources’ mentioned by Oliver & Conole (1998)

How else do you address improving a situation other than by identifying the problems?

Anything else is misguided (literally), or indulgent. Far worse, in the NHS, and Post Office and Banking System have been wholesale computing systems that really were alien and universal.

Change management. Everyone has a point. Time to listen and involves matters most. The psychology of innovation. Resistance is despised. (Robinson et al., 1998)

Making the wrong assumptions that blame the teachers rather than the technology - which is a catalyst for complexity, rather than a tool for conformity.

Evaluation work also rarely does more than examine the explicitly intended effects of ICT, and so fails to identify unintended or serendipitous repercussions that may actually be a critical aspect of its impact (Jones, 1998).

But the entire point and context of an exam is to remove such context in the surroundings by placing the student in ‘exam conditions’ in a neutral space, where parameters of time and context are controlled and aim to be common to other students and impartial.

Surroundings mean different things to different people. It is naive and deterministic to think that people are so easily governed by their context. The individual over the surroundings. Unless we think students are like a uniform tribal grouping.

I'm through the reading and taking it further - reading the original paper to see if my concerns and amusement are justified.

I find the gender difference uninsightful and unhelpful - we know this anyway. Men and woman are different physiologically - which includes the brain where there are various documented differences especially between the differing amount of grey and white matter and the concentration of neurones and close connections in women compared to men. But the differences between men and women are not black and white (and their are not racial differences whatsoever) ... within these differences there is considerable variety.

Now add each person's context - which for me starts a few months after conception and every possible influence since - the same chaos theory that says that when a butterfly beats its wings in the Brazilian Jungle there is a typhoon in Malaysia will suggest that that marshmallow your grandmother gave you on Christmas day when you were six while watching Jimmy Saville introduce the Chart Show will influence how you respond to the 14 year old boy you have been paired up with in a physics class who offers you a handful of mini-marshmallows by way of 'making friends' who in turn is nervous about this strange but beautiful creature who he hasn't noticed all year but rather fancies even though his older brother has his eye on her - what was that the teacher said checking the trajectory of your balls on the computer ?????

The wrong approach was taken, though the theory throws up some interesting questions

I will change my opinion as I go through my notes but my current stance is that a quantitative before and after study requires many hundreds of participants in a randomised controlled trial and the gender differences are a distraction - far better to have administered questionnaires before and after and drawn upon each students SATS results or some such to get some sense of where they were coming from in relation to physics.

More interesting pairings would be like-minds and enemies - really. A couple of buddies having a laugh might learn less than a pair who can't stand each other, or another pair who are rivals.

Have I been watching too many teen movies? Probably.

Already I have a script in my head based on Tolmie in which far from being the less talkative, the FM pairs are chatting away to themselves (in their heads, written and delivered as stream of consciousness voice over), communicating in subtle ways through body language and as a result actually communicating more, not less than the ones who won't shut up - and who may be playing up to the research conditions.

This is the other fundamental humdinger of a problem - these students are being tested under 'lab conditions'.

My memories of teenager physics classes are more akin to St.Trinian's with boys. I even have a diary to call upon which I may look at just to get me into the role. I have a household of teenagers and another five nephews and nieces in this age bracket if I need to be reminded of what it is (and was) like.

Oddly enough, work is often the last thing on their minds. Which is why homework is so important - fewer potential distractions.

This will be less than hearsay in due course - I am also refreshing what it was and is like to be a teenager through some additional reading. Problem is my daughter senses that I am observing her from time to time.

I'm just asking myself the same question I asked when she was born, 'what is going on in there?' - but in a quasi-academic rather than father-daughter way.

Researchers make the mistake of believing that their intervention - in this case using a computer to support a physics class by trying to prompt discussion - is going to make some measurable difference.

Can they not see the bigger picture, and how vast it is?

If each human brain has as many neurons in it as the visible galaxy - 98 billion, and each brain though similar, is connected in different ways, by gender but essentially by genetics, with every remembered moment of waking and sleeping life in between. This is why, to have something measurable, researchers taken to the lab and until recently would have stuck with sea-snails, rats and in the past cats and primates … while gradually observation and measurement of electro-chemical activity in the human brain has become possible.

When it comes to exams surely examiners know that the response to a unique set of questions in an exam, certainly at undergraduate level, if not at post compulsory level, will test the student’s ability to construct a response both from what they know, and what they have to surmise.

REFERENCE

Jones, C. 1998 Evaluating a collaborative online learning environment Active Learning

Oliver, M. & Conole, G. (1998) Evaluating communication and information technologies: a toolkit for practitioners. Active Learning, 8,3–8.

Robinson, H., Smith, M., Galpin, F., Birchall, D., Turner, I. (1998) As good as IT gets: have we reached the limits of what technology can do for us? Active Learning, 9, 50–53.

Tolmie, A. (2001), Examining learning in relation to the contexts of use of ICT. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 17: 235–241. doi: 10.1046/j.0266-4909.2001.00178.

 

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H809: Activity 7.1 Timelines, theories and technologies

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 24 Feb 2014, 15:21

This is a learning dilemma that will become increasingly prevalent. You have a stinker of a complex mass of resources and cobbled together ideas to compile into some kind of order only to find that it has been done for you. This is an activity of how understandings of the process of learning has changed over time.

On of our tutors offers a helping hand:

 

Take your time reading this through and then consider how these historical changes might affect

  • the development of educational technologies
  • ethical considerations in e-learning research
  • research in your own discipline.

There's quite a lot in there. If you want to start just responding to one of the bullet points above, that's fine.

When these modules are designed is proper consideration really given to the students? Who they are? There levels of commitment and understanding? For all the personas I'm familiar with I do wonder.

And that's not even the start of it. We are then asked to look back at week 3 (a month ago), and look for relationships and connections between the narrative we create (above). Then, as if this isn't enough we need to rope in last weeks ethical considerations, and while we're at at put in the 'wider politicalo and social changes'.

Already we have, in my estimation (and this is my sixth postgraduate module and the fifth in the MAODE series) a good 16 hours work to do.

But there's more:

'Consider how the subject you studied for your undergraduate degree has changed over time'.

Post your answers in your tutor group forum and compare them with others.

Across the five groups I think, so far two, sometimes three people, have given this a go. Each could write a chapter in a book (one nearly has)

2 Hours have been allocated to the task.

I repeatedly find that whatever time is given as a suggested requirement for a week's activities that you need to add 50%. So 14 hours becomes 21.

Like a junior solicitor I've been keeping tabs on how long everything takes - and this is someone who is by now, evidentially, digitally literate and familliar with the OU VLE. If you can find 21 hours great. If not then what? If you can handle getting behind or strategically leaving gaps that's fine, but if you feel obliged to get you money's worth and want to do it all then what? And of course life goes on around you: kids off school, elderly relations fall ill, the workload ebbs and flows, the car breaks down ... your Internet connection becomes about as vibrant as a mangle and it snows a bit.

A simple guide to four complex learning theories

http://edudemic.com/2012/12/a-simple-guide-to-4-complex-learning-theories/

I came across this from edudemic and can't think of anything clearer.

 

The discussion offers some further thoughts, deleting the word 'traditional' and replacing with classical.

The ifs and buts of the people associated with each of these and how absolute any of them can be, especially connectivism. However, I see connectivism not as the end of a chronological chain, but rather a loop that has people connected and learning in their family, extended family and community. And the one component that has not changed a jot? The way the human brain is constructed during foetal development and the unique person who then emerges into any of some hundreds of thousands of different circumstances and from way they may or may not develop 'their full potential'. Though I hazard a guess that this will always remain impossible to achieve. 98 billion neurons take a lot of connecting. It starts at around 4 months after conception and only ends with death - death being after the vital physiological supports have collapsed and like the self-destructing tape in Mission Impossible 'all is lost'.


The infographic runs to and 12 rows. This is the last row. The rest you ought to see for yourselves.

This is the charming copyright notice.

Copyright 2013 © Edudemic All rights reserved.

Powered by coffee, and a love all things education technology.

Simplistically the technologies I can add across this chronology are:

Books - Learning by rote > Literacy (writing, paper) - but then the Oxbridge Tutorial goes back over 750 years and that was and still is 'Constructivism' before someone came along 700 years later and gave it a name.

I'm reminded of the aphorism from Philip Larkin, 'Sex started in the Sixities' - about the same time as constructive learning. As for 'connectivism' what happens in a market, what has happened at religious gathering for millennia? Why do clever people have to come along and say these things have never happened before? Connectivism = discussions. Perhaps we'd be better off NOT writing it down, by going and finding people. I spoke to a Consultant the other week who for all the technology and e-learning swears by the conference. And for how many milliennia have 'experts' likeminds and the interested (and powerful/influential) had such opportunties to gather.

In 1999 my very first blog post was titled 'what's new about new media, not much'.

Whenever I read it I feel the sentiment is the same - as people we have not changed one jot. Just because everyone has a 'university in their pocket' - if they are some of the few hundred million out of the 7 billion on the planet who have a Smart Phone or iPad does not change the fundamentals of what we are and the connectedness of our brains.

 

 

 

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H817 Visualizing Open Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 23 Oct 2014, 07:17
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. This IMHO is what learning has become in the 21st century - and how it got there

There's more going on here than you may realise!

From E-Learning V

Fig.2. Traditional top down learning

Two triangles, one above the other and linked with a downward arrow suggests traditional top down learning ... or simply knowledge transfer from someone who knows something to someone who does not.

From E-Learning V

Fig. 3 By someone's side

Two triangles, one facing the other, may represent a shift towards collaborative or horizontal learning in a formal setting, though for me it represents the learning you do away from the institution - with friends, with family 'on the same level' as it were.

From E-Learning V

Fig. 4. Participatory and situated, networked learning on the periphery

From E-Learning V

Fig.5 The thinking starts with Vigotsky and his research into behaviourist learning

It then progressed to the study and analysis of learning in communities

From E-Learning V

Fig. 6. Activity Theory as conceived of and developed by Yrjo Engeström. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.7 The interplay between two entities or communities coming together to solve a problem and thus producing something unique to them both (object 3) - a fresh idea.

From E-Learning V

Fig.8. Activity Theory re-connected - breaking out

Though developed over some thirty years the structure of 'Activity Theory' as a model is breaking down because of the quality, speed and way in which we now connect overrides barriers and invades silos making communication more direct and immediate.

From E-Learning V

 Fig. 9 Activity Theory in a connected world

Everyone and everything is just a click away.

From E-Learning V

Fig.10 Visualizing the maelström of original ideas generated by people sharing their thoughts and ideas as they form

The maelström of new ideas where people and groups collide and interact. Historically this had been in grounded 'communities of practice', whether a London coffee shop or the senior common room of a prestigious university, the lab, the studio, the rehearsal room ... today some gatherings online are frequent, enabled by the Internet and no less vibrant as like-minds and joiners contribute to the generation of new ideas. 

This, drawing on Engestrom via Vygotsky, might be a more academic expression of Open Learning. Here a host of systems, expressed in model form, interpose their drive to achieve certain objectives into the common whole. That mess in the middle is the creation of the collective powers and inputs of individuals, groups, departments or institutions. The Open bit are the connections between any node in one system, and any other node from any othe one of the systems ... which blows apart the actions within a single system, making them more open, though not random. 

From E-Learning V

Fig. 11 It's going on inside your head.

fMRI scans reveal the complex way in which ideas form and memories are recalled and mixed-up, challenged and re-imagined. We are our very own 'community of practice' of conflicting and shared viewpoints. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.11. Perceiving brain activity as the interplay between distinct, interacting zones

From E-Learning V

Fig. 12 Ideas enter your system, your brain and are given a fresh spin

From E-Learning V

Fig.13 Ideas coalesce until you reach a point of understanding. The penny doesn't so much as 'drop' as to form.

Where would we be without one of these. 98 billion neurons. A uniquely connected mass of opportunity and potential. This is where, of course, memories are formed and thoughts had. Increasingly we are able to share ideas and thoughts as we have them, typically through the tips of our fingers by sharing our thinking online, especially where it comes to the attention of like-minds, and troubled-minds - anyone in fact or strongly agrees or strongly disagrees enough to contribute by adding their thinking and revealing their presence.

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What's going on in there?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Mar 2013, 08:48

This apparently.

20130318-233848.jpg

Fig. 1 New Scientist 9 February 2013 Mind Maths by Colin Barras

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Mind, body and soul

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 7 Mar 2013, 08:55

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Fig. 1. Looks a like a good read

I'm starting to read papers on neuroscience that result on my starting to use my hands and fingers as I read, even reading and re-reading phrases and sentences. What is going on here?

If I understand it correctly there is, because of the complexity of connections between neurones, a relationship with many parts of the brain simultaneously, some common to us all, some, amongst the millions of links, unique to us. Each neuron is connected to 10,000 others. To form a memory some 15 parts of the brain are involved. It is situated, much of it we are not aware of. Come to think of it, while I was concentrating I got cramp in my bum and right thigh perched as I am on a hard kitchen chair, and the lingering after taste of the cup of coffee I drank 45 minutes ago. I can hear the kitchen clock ticking - though most of the time it is silent (to my mind), and the dog just sighed.

Does it matter that my fingers are tapping away at a keyboard?

Though second-nature, touch-typing it still occupies my arms and hands and fingers which may otherwise be animated were I talking. I am talking, in my head. The stream of consciousness is almost audible.

What would happen where I to use a voice recorder and speak my thoughts instead?

By engaging my limbs and voice would my thinking process improve and would the creation of something to remember be all the stronger.

I'm getting pins and needles/cramp in my right leg. Aaaaaaaaaaagh! Party over.

The question posed is often 'what's going on in there?' refering to the brain. Should the question simpley be 'what's going on?'

Learning & Memory

My eyesight is shifting. In the space of six months of moved to reading glasses. Now my normal glasses are no good either for reading or distance. Contacts are no use either. As a consequence I'm getting new glasses for middle distance and driving. The solution with the contact lenses is more intriguing.

To correct for astigmatism and near or short sightedness I am going to have a one lens in one eye to deal with the astigmatism and a different lens to deal with the short sightedness in the other. My mind will take the information from both and ... eventually, create something that is sharp close up and at a distance. This has me thinking about what it is that we see, NOT a movie or video playing out on our retina, but rather an assemblage of meaning and associations formed in the brain.

I will try these lenses and hang around, wander the shops, then return. I am advised that I may feel and appear drunk. I can understand why. I could well describe being drunk as trying to navigate down a path with a microscope in one hand and a telescope in the other while looking through both. I feel nauseous just thinking about it.

So 'stuff' is going on in the brain. These days the activity resulting in the brain finguring something out can, in some instance and to some degree, be seen. Might I have an fMRI scan before the appointment with the optician? Might I then have a series of further scans to follow this 're-wiring' process.

I need to be careful here, the wrong metaphor, however much it helps with understanding may also lead to misunderstanding. Our brain is organic, there are electro-chemical processes going on, but if I am correct there is no 're-wiring' as such, the connections have largely existed since birth and are simply activated and reinforced?

Any neuroscientists out there willing to engage with a lay person?

What would observing this process of unconscious learning tells us about the process of learning? And is it that unconscious if am I am aware of the sensations that have to be overcome to set me right?

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Can a popular book sit on the fence? Academic vs. popularist

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Feb 2013, 18:43

I wonder if the difference between the book selling 'voices' of e-learning are to academics what pop music is to classical music.

They make a great fuss, sing and dance, but lack substance. They are popular and sometimes wrong. Marc Prensky and the Digital Natives compared to Martin Weller's Ring Cycle?!

In 'The Shallows' Nicholas Carr goes out of his way to select anecdotes and references to prop up his thesis that Google is making us stupid. The wise, though less popular and academic approach would have been to make the case both ways with equal effort, to argue that Google is making is smart.

The two propostions would make for a reasonable and reasoned debate. There are two books in it.

Can a popular book sit on the fence?

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Do we use more than 20% of our brains?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 9 Dec 2012, 15:02

Asked this by my 14 year old son. He was a captive audience as I drove him 45 minutes to a footie march - I hope he didn't regret asking. I questioned any statistic that ended in zero and wondered if out of 100 billion neurons we ever used more than 2% of our brains - I doubted that we'd use all our brain if we lived a thousand years, in any case what we remember and how we remember it always changes. Earlier I'd told him how we'd 'wing it' in terms of finding the location for his match saying I'd remember how to get there once we got close - which is exactly how it played out.

I mentioned the App 'One Second a Day' and Microsoft Research into digitising everything. He's now warming up; I am left to reflect.

Recall in 3d is easier that a map or the written word - how would I have given someone else directions through the minor roads of West Sussex? Had I used a Google Self-Drive car last week - or been a passenger, my memory would have been different too. Is this the mistake 'we' are making in e-learning? Believing that a self-drive learning journey is better? Can something be too easy? I've done mandatory health and safety training as a part of compliance, clicking through video, animations and mutlichoice on a laptop 'til I passed. A manager could tick a box, and they would be covered for insurance but how in reality might I perform as a consequence of this 'learning' - surely that depends on how my perceptions and understanding of the learning translates into a real situation. Can you prepare customers for the evacuation of a sinking ship by getting them to do some e-learning - however immersive?

My son has seen a film called 'Limitless' in which the protagonist takes a pill and can then access 100% of their mind - he uses this in a bit of detective work by all accounts. My son said that someone who could or did remember everything committed suicide.

It's about time I revisted 'The Contents if My Brain' - a 90 minute screenplay effort on the subject, but like 'limitless' give it the one word catchy title and Hollywood treatment. US President stores the contents of his brain in case of all eventualities - assasinated this version of him continues to govern ... whith consequences etc: Title 'Back Up' or some such.

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The honest image - who are you or were you?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 4 Feb 2013, 09:32

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What image should we use to portray ourselves?

Is there such as thing as best practice? Ought it to be like joining a gym, we have a snapshot taken on a webcam and this current image, no matter how it comes out, becomes who we are?

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Do so few of us dislike or distrust what we see when we look at our faces in the mirror each morning?

It has been the subject of research, role play in online education; I'd like to do some of my own. I began a year ago with this.

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I liked the picture, felt it was healthy, robust and confident and confident.

I should have looked at the date on it. August 2004. Happy and sunny days. You age under stress and from the mid-40s it doesn't take much to add ten years -all that sun in the past, being unwell. As I write below, his spirit, like mine (I hope) remains that of an enthusiastic twenty-something. The same occurred with the Elluminate session we had in H800 the other day, the tutor on the webcam (initially in a scratchy black and white image) is not the person who goes by in the General Forum. Are we all guilty of this. Men included? We go with something in our late thirties or early to mid-forties?

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I then went with this.

An image I long ago used in my eleven year old blog. I wanted something that was indicative of the content and would last. I'm still inclined to run with this. It is indicative of what I think blogging is all about - the contents of your mind, what you think i.e. you 'mind bursts' as I call them on numerous blogs.

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Facebook personas sees me in a number of guises

While on Skype I use a image taken with the webcam on the day of an online interview - this is a month ago, so as contemporary as it gets.

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I have this image fronting Tumblr taken 21 years ago.

In moments of euphoria having just successfully negotiated a 15m pond of slush on a pair of skis in front of a crowd of early May skiers below the Tignes Glacier, France. The day I proposed to my wife. We'd be 'going out together' for three days ... we've now been together, well 21 years. In my original diary we could create banner ads to publicise what we had to say to fellow writers. One of these has a spread as long as the contents of my diaries and blog: they run from a 13 year old Head Chorister in cassock and ruffs, though gap, undergrad, to add exec, video director, with four woman I didn't marry.

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Increasingly, I am thinking of using a self-portrait, that this attempt to capture myself through my minds eye

is more telling that a photograph.

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I could use the drawing I did of a 14 year old

What amuses me most here is how I superimpose these attachments as if I were in a school play, the beard is clearly on the soft face of a pubescent boy - I should have looked at my grandfather for the face I'd get, with the more bulbous nose and pronounced chin. Talking of which, I find it intriguing that I am the spitting image of my grandfather, that my own children see images of him age 20 and think it has to be me. All that changes as he ages into a 40 and 50 year old is he goes bald, whereas I am thus far limited to a thinning of the crown.

This I'm afraid, if the age of my children in the rest of the picture is something to go by, is some seven years ago sad

My only reason for picking it is that I haven't renewed my contact lenses and am inclined, after twenty years wearing them to give up. Maybe laser surgery when I have the cash? This is contemporary. It doesn't say who I am, just 'what' I am. Wearing a child's hat (he's a dad), the headset to record notes onto a digital recorder (for a podcast), a coat he bought for honeymooning in the Alps (we went skiing) 18 years ago …

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I have of course not changed much since 1977

It takes me back to the original point - who are we? how do we representative ourselves online in a single image when we are all a sum of a complex of parts? Is it any wonder that we present multiple selves online, the more so the longer we've lived? I don't remember my father being around to take this picture. though clearly he did. I do remember the great-big wellies though and the joy of water spilling over the top if I could find a puddle or pond deep enough. And the jumpers knitted by my granny (sleeves always too long). And the trees in the garden I climbed behind. And my sister and brother … How set in were the learning process by then?

wKKpe0ZAxa1e9sqRyW_bahMr8uairY_sThqczOEpiQnLKYQLg8aDiBz_PsHDx3n4aKnRXqudrWmZ8UIaF1cFdmTvehWuyclKlcq1fHEpU4j_4032JeYSQWsL0w

The Dracula Spectacula, People's Theatre, Newcastle.

The teeth were made from dentine and fitted by an orthodontist.I rather foolishly sharpened the fangs and bit through my own lip on the last night. I had to sing while gargling my own blood. The joy of memories.

  • Could a daily snap taken when looking in the bathroom mirror be used to tag memories from that 'era' of your life?
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H800:17 Kindle:6 Some thoughts on Linked In, Vygotsky and me

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 21 Dec 2012, 05:54

DSC00817.JPG

Unable to sleep I do this.

A mini-reflection on building a profile in Linked In.

Then get on with reflecting on my notes on Vygotsky.

The more I read, the greater my fascination. Vygotsky (translated) I find like H.G.Wells, also of the era, extraordinarily readable and current. A considerable amount of 'Educational Psychology rings true.

There is then at the confluence of a thought regarding Vygotsky as uploaded this image above; I am only saved from tears by what I was reading about Educational Psychology - understanding does this to you.

I am reminded of my late father who would have be 80 last week.

It was an innocent way to start a thought, how in less than a week a Kindle has taken over my book reading. Somewhere I have a Bird Book, signed by my late father, given to me on a whim on the ONLY visit he ever managed to our former home in Little Compton in the Cotswolds. For my father, everything was out of his way, but somehow the old A34 rather than the M40 into London brought him to our doorstep.

Of course, such as bird book is still required. The Kindle doesn't do colour - yet.

The thought produced a physical response.

Kindle%20Vygotksy%20Emotions%20GRAB.JPG

(James, 1929)

Have we all had an encounter with a thief? If the image of the birds has me thinking about my father (conservationist, ornothologist, rubbish dad ... ) then the mention of the word 'thief' has me visualising a large screw-diver, the weapon of choice I picked up in the garage as someone tried to break in.

(By now we're living in a studio flat on Hamilton Terrace, though chronologically we've slid back a few years).

The text from Vygotsky has a resonance, and as I keep reading, a convincing argument in relation to education.

Work with these kinds of responses of the individual = success

My concern in relation to e-learning is how easy it is to duplicate what is inappropriate for a class of 30, but the authors (and their sponsors) believe is appropriate for 10,000.

Which in turn brings me to the week 2 activity in H800 of the MAODE

Online through the participation and collaboration of others in your immediate circle, which includes your tutor group, module cohort, wide MAODE colleagues and like-minded OU friends identified here, can your learning experience be personalised.

Ergo, we have a duty to comment, and only through writing ourselves, might we enable (or expose) our selves to comment in turn.

It does strike me that there is a 'layer' to the OU blogs-cum-threads that is missing: the MAODE or 'Education' blog platform.

As I've commented some thousand entries back, writing here is perhaps like doodling on a scroll of toilet paper in a public convenience.

Not the image or sentiment I wanted to conjure up, but a scroll, with perforations top and bottom comes to mind. What you do with this script if you've even read it is for your mind to decide.

REFERENCE

Williams, J (1929) Quoted in Educational Psychology, Vygotsky. Chapter 6.

Kindle doesn't give you a page number, presumable all e-Reader follow a similar convention. To cite do I give Location 1874?

Without knowing what I am doing or what it will achieve I search 'James' in the Kindle PC version, am about to click when a drop down offers me not a reference at the back of the 'book' but a link to Google or Wikipedia. I click Wikipedia and seamlessly, find myself here.

 

William%20James%20Wikipedia.JPG (Wikipedia, accessed 17FEB2011)

 

And as we're talking about physical responses to things then this brought a shiver down my spine and matching the cliched 'reflexive' action my draw dropped.

I don't know what planet I'm living on any more.

No wonder I can't sleep, Kindle content isn't a soporific book, rather it's wired into your cerebellum where in an action not dissimilar to Ken Dodd's tickling stick, your mind is suitably agitated.

Ken%20Dodd%20Tickling%20Stick%20GRAB.JPG

Ken Dodd and his tickling stick sad

(I saw him live as a 10 year old, insanity. About as funny as my Granny sitting on a bowl of peaches).

P.S. Whether for personal, OU or the wider world, this demonstrates a value of blogging ... just start to write and let your mind unravel. And if you'll only get quiet for 90 minutes in the dead of night, that's what you'll have to do.

 

 

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Time stretches if you keep busy

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 21:47

This may be a good or bad thing, depending on what is keeping you busy.

I need to find the perceptive Stephen Appleby cartoon that expresses this very well. It shows a guy riding an escalator which represents life and getting older; this character moans about life going too fast and immediately the escalator turns into a ramp. Of course, faced with this greater struggle our character bemoans his lot even more vosciferously.

(I liked it so much I cut it out and put in a portfolio - the physical kind. Today I would photograph and upload ... I'd digitised it).

I think this New Scientist article is saying take up Kite-surfing or rock-climbing.

Or gymnastics for the mind.

I feel for one year doing an MA course with the OU I have experienced three.

'People with busy lives don't necessarily live longer, but they might feel as if they do.'

All this is from a New Scientist news story 29 Jan 2011.

So how does someone gaoled for 25 years feel?

'Our brains use the world around us to keep track of time, and the more there is going on, the slower time feels.'

I'd hardly say I felt that time was grinding to a halt, but this last 12 months, with the OU MAODE in the vanguard, I've packed in a good deal. It's starting to feel like 'Groundhog Day' at the point where Bill Murray (Phil Connors) has gone positive.

People with busy lives are happier, so long as the degree of business is something that they control.

“If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.”

Find out more in 'Current Biology'

I relish phrases such as 'adaptive use of stochastically evolving dynamic stimuli' and 'a process of Bayesian inference based on expectations of change in the natural environment.' These phrases are food for the brain, like eating gizzards for the first timne, as I recall doing at the Auberge Les Allouettes age 15. I had this habit of always trying something I'd had not tried before; this I never attempted again. I did take to steak tartar

Neuroscience interests me; my steak tartare.

Which is another way, I am sure, to stretch time - keep a diary, blog, do an OU course, and so live in the past, present and the future.

 

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Buzzing

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 06:10

I'm not tired, which is the worry; it'll catch up with me. When I wake up with a clear, original thought I've learnt to run with it. Time was I could have put on a light, scribbled a bit then drifted off again. 17 years of marriage (and 20 years together) I've learnt to get up. And once I'm up, then I know it'll be a while before I can sleep again.

(I'll sleep on the train into London; at least I can't overshoot. I once got on the train at Oxford on the way into town and woke up in Cardiff).

I have the thought nailed, or rather sketched out, literally, with a Faber-Castell Artist Pen onto an A5 sheet of cartridge paper in Derwent hardback sketch book. This seems like a waste of good paper (and a good pen), but this doodle, more of a diagram, almost says it all. My vision, my argument, my persuasive thought. My revolution?

Almost enough, because I then show how I'll animate my expression of this idea by drawing it out in a storyboard. I can do it in seven images (I thought it would take more). I hear myself presenting this without needing to do so, though, believing myself quite capable of forgetting this entire episode I'll write it out too.

I once though of myself as an innovator, even an entrepreneur. I had some modest success too. Enough to think such ideas could make me. I realise at this moment that such ideas are the product of intense mental stimulation. To say that H808 has been stimulating would be to under value how it has tickled my synapses. The last time I felt I didn't need to sleep I was an undergraduate; I won't make that mistake. We bodies have needs. So, to write, then to bed.

(This undergraduate thing though, or graduate as I now am ... however mature. There has to be something about the culture and context of studying that tips certain people into this mode).

You may get the full, animated, voice over podcast of the thing later in the week. I'll create the animation myself using a magic drawing tool called ArtPad and do so using a stylus onto a Wacom board.

(Never before, using a plastic stylus on an a plastic ice-rink of a tablet have I had the sensation that I am using a drawing or painting tool using real ink or paint. I can't wait 'til I can afford an A3 sized Wacom board ... drawing comes from the shoulder, not the wrist and certainly not the finger tips. You need scale. Which reminds me, where is the book I have on Quentin Blake?)

Now where's a Venture Capitalist when you need one at 04.07am. That and a plumber, the contents of the upstairs bathroom (loo, bath and sink) are flooding out underneath the downstairs loo. Pleasant. A venture capitalist who is a plumber. Now there's something I doubt that can even be found if you search in Ga-Ga Googleland.

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Deep thoughts on e-portfolios, the meaning of life, minds, like-minds and Avatar, via Nottingham university and GCSE hydrology.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 21 Nov 2013, 10:58

Does your e-portfolio get in the way or support what you do?

Whoever you are?

Whoever has a stake in it.

Thinking out loud, started on 12th October 2010, picked up again and rolled around my mind on 13th January 2011.

Wherein lies the beauty of a blog, or in this case an ECA that requires reflection on the mind games of the past four months.

There’s a picture in the New Scientist of how ants, in their hunger for a sweet that has been dropped in the gutter have gathered in, or moved away some forty or more leaves which now form a circle around the fallen sweet.

This is what I am doing as I reflect on the activities of H808, each e-tivity, each note, paper, report, forum entry, blog or e-portfolio asset is a leaf that until now has been scattered somewhere, online, offline, some in a heap, some laid out, some yet to blow down from a tree.

My mind, its little and large pathways, the synapses that run between the left and the right hemispheres, are busy with a thousand ants moving these leaves aside, while gathering some of them up to make a pattern.

From Essay Style Visualised

And then, for a moment I saw that six petalled flower I have drawn before, the shape of the A’ Level essay, but somehow I see also a podcast and the analogy fails and without even the politeness of animated transformation my flower becomes a Christmas Tree.

From Essay Style Visualised

On this tree, the structure of the ECA, I will hand 10 or more ‘things.’ No good my just thinking about it though.

Time to move on.

I recommend the use of eportfolios, whether or not they are packaged as such. Often the affordances are there anyway. I’d like digital building blogs as simple and as versatile as Lego bricks so that I could have a button away, on my homepage, depositories and repositories, that do the jobs of blogs, wikis and eportfolios without any need to feel they are separate entities, rather the words I think, and images I take or draw, or recordings I make are like a rain shower (with the occasional deluge or drought) that is taken care by the system, MySystem.

Is this a homepage? All those toolbars? Mine's a mess. I dream of a computer screen A1 size, two of them preferably and a homepage as busy as a photomosaic coverpop.

Currently it looks like this. Could someone offer some advice on how to get my head around this before my entire home page is a Venetian Blind of unwanted toolbars and browsers?

From Drop Box

MySystem would be an assemblage of tools and services to store, collate, elaborate upon, develop, select and share all that can be digitised. Text for the most part, but images too, still and moving. And numbers, as stats or formulae. Assets in polite society, 'stuff’; for a Saxon word and something in Latin for anyone trying to pull rank.

Whatever definition we come up with for ‘e-portfolios’, someone else has another one.

And why not, this is but functional flotsam-and-jetsam on the Digital Ocean?

My first blog in September 1999 covered this. Perhaps I should shift my thinking and take in ideas of both oceans and clouds, the binary code the water molecules the form the water cycle? Now there’s an idea: the Internet as something fluid, changing, responsive ... predictable to a degree ... its shifting patterns advancing relentlessly rather than recycling, the apocryphal butterfly in one part of the system beating its wings and having a profound effect elsewhere, the Twitter-effect. This analogy of oceans and clouds hasn’t changed in a decade, perhaps it is the Geographer in me?

 

From Drop Box

 

I am still looking at a year 8 geography exercise book featuring the water cycle.

‘Analogies taught man to think.’

Now who said this?

I have it on a sheet of motivational quotes given out at the School of Communication Arts by John Gillard. This sheet and some other papers, a portfolio of ideas, is in a portfolio (the physical kind). There’s a storyboard for a couple of commercials: I could shoot these on my phone. Indeed, given that one takes place up a cliff face the phone might be the best camera for the job. No amount of Googling has located it for me. Proust perhaps? Shakespeare … or a commentator on Shakespeare?

All e-portfolios are squirts of ink into this ocean.

All content is drips, drops and an occasional multi-coloured deluge. Though pre-empting bespoke consultative decision making on behalf of a client, real or imaginary, my simple advice regarding e-portfolios is - do it all.

1) Your own - that does the business and ought to be the final repository for e-materials that are being shared or assessed, that is easy-peasy to link or upload for those who are expert in these things or have a system that they play well and with which they can 'sing.'

2) A smorgasbord of off the shelf e-portfolios that people may get free, or as part of their trade or other association, or be happy to subscribe for (after all, there's a good deal that can be done with them that is personal, off-campus and away from work).

3) Their own. The end result, the content and where and how it is finally presented is all that matters. In any case, there is every chance that your students are more e-literate than you are, speak the code like their Mother Tongue and will do what so many students have done before them and re-invent the digital wheel. The content is its own subject matter expert – it is out there being freely exchanged and wikified to the ‘nth’ degree of finality.

4) With institutional, administrative, management and support from academics and tutors that also encourages peer support and so enables 1, 2 & 3.

Everyone will have their own idea of what an e-portfolio is … if it ‘is’ anything at all in the physical sense, because of course it isn’t until you print it off, or play the asset. It isn’t a trunk, it isn’t a filing system.

Perhaps in truth it would look as bland as the grey matter of your brain?

Why and how does this help anyone?

By visualising something you give it powers.

The problem lies where your visualisation doesn’t match with mine, but as the designer it is my world that you have to live within in. I suppose we each of us require a bespoke website and a team of people working on it to forge this link between what enters and leaves our heads.

So why do I hear the voice of Dr Angela Smallwood?

It was the JISC conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Hall of Parliament Square.

It was a workshop on e-portfolios. ‘I was a baby’ (quoting Neytiri from Avatar talking to Jake).

But I bought into the idea of ‘deeper thinking’ and how it is achieved. Wasn’t the computer in Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy called ‘Deep Thought’ ?

Food for thought?

Breakfast.

Bacon, toast and a fried-egg.

Only blog for the day, I promise.

Work to do!

 

 

 

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Why digitisation your every action may have some value - the Quantified Self

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Nov 2011, 23:22

 

P1100006.JPG
From Drop Box

I've ignored ideas in the past and regretted it.

I recall a lunch with a Cambridge Graduate who had created software that made texting possible. His company was looking at ways to expand its use on mobile phones. All I could think was that it was a retrograde step and would take us back to pagers; remember them? How wrong I was.

I recall also reading about someone who had kept a 'web-blog' (sic) and photo journal of their business year in 1998.

Even as a diarist and blogger I thought this somewhat obsessive. From research into the patterns and networks created 'LinkedIn' emerged.

So when a Microsoft programmer Gordon Bell decides to make a digital record of everything they do to see what patterns may emerge THIS time I take an interest. (New Scientist, Opinion. 23 December 2010 / January 2011

My immediate thought, not least because I lack the resources, is to be highly selective. Had I a team to take content, edit, transcribe, edit, collate and link, maybe I'd do more; I don't.

A professional swimming coach should assess and reflect on the sessions they deliver. I did this without fail for nearly three years, by which time a good deal of it was repetitive and I felt comfortable with the many different plans I was delivering to different groups. I've been videod, I use video to analyse strokes and skills and I use a digital recorder to jot down observations of swimmers. So what if I leave the digital recorder open for a session. Am I prepared to run through this hour for a start? If I do so what might I learn?

That this is a valid form of evidence of my abilities (and weaknesses)

That edited (no names revealed of swimmers) it, especially parts of it, become a training tool (best practice) or simply insights for others on how, in this instance, a one hour session is transmogrified for use with different levels/standards/age of swimmer.

I video lectures in 1983 on Sony Betamax. I did plays. Debates. All kinds of campus activity around Oxford. I learnt a good deal. The camera is not your mind's eye, this is why you edit and develop craft skills, not because you want to dramatise reality, but because the mind does it for you. We don't go round with fish-eyes taking everything in, we do jump between a wide, mid and close shot. And when we concentrate on something the proverbial naked woman could walk down the street and you wouldn't notice. A camera around one's neck cannot and will not establish or adjust to any of these view points.

The act of recording changes your behaviour, it is therefore a record of a false behaviour.

I filled some of the gaps. I set down some of my thoughts on how swimmers were performing whereas usually I'd make a 'mental note' or jot something down on paper.

Shortcuts will be uncovered, valuable algorithms will be written. Might, for example, the old corporate audit of how people spend their time be transformed if, putting it at arm's length, the function is monitored during a working day?

We've seen from the reality TV show 'Seven Days' shot in Notting Hill how tedious the lives of Jo blogs can be as entertainment. We're tired of Big Brother too. As Bell remarks, 'most of the moments he records are mind-numbingly dull, trite, predictable, tedious and prosaic.'

To deliver further the New Scientist advices that we take a look at:

DirectLife

Dream Patterns

Mood

Brainwaves

Use of email

Online interactions

Optionism

Moodscape

Track Your Happiness

Your Flowing Data

Mycrocosm

One-tricks

personalinformatics.org/tools

Why a handwritten diary my be better not only that digitising everything, but even a blog?

The way you write reflects your mood, captures tone, even levels of intoxication, passion or aggitation, as well as your age. Though I fear the work of the graphologist is redundant. A choice is made over the writing implement, and the book or pages in which it is expressed. You make choices. If you must, you can have bullet points of events. It doesn't take much of a tickle for the mind to remember an exact moment. Such moments digitised are two dimensional, with no perspective. A memory recalle matures, its meaning changes as does your interest in it. A memory loved and cherished is very different to one that you wish to forget. What happens when both haunt you in their digital form? And when such memories become everybody's property?

Where does copyright stand if you are digitising life?

We watch TV, we read books, we play video games, we read letters and bank statements, we have conversations that are meant to be private ...

Meanwhile, I've barely dealt with the fall out of this Opinion piece in the New Scientist and the next issue looking at neuroscience does my head.

Here Vilayanur S Ramachandran gets his head around the importance of metaphor in creativity and how it separates us from all other beings. I used to cheat

 

P1090004.JPG
From Drop Box

 

It took you out of your own mind and messed it up; sometimes useful, sometimes not. The way to be creative is to develop an inquiring, critical, educated, multi-outletting, messed up mind. Sing, dance, draw, paint, play musical instruments, climb trees, exercise in crazy ways, every week do or say something you've never done or said before. 'Quantable.' (sic) Radio 4. 6th Jan 2011. 20h30. The context was using the process of counting numbers to quanitfy some excess and the interviewee used this term 'quantable' which the producer of the programme must have liked because it was repeated. Amazing how we can mash-up the English Language and the new word may make perfect sense. Where ams I? ECA and a job interview. So what am I doing here? Habit. I want to come back to these ideas later and by doing this I know where it is.

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Dear,dear, e-diary ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Nov 2011, 18:03

There's a piece in the New Scientist this last fortnight about the merits of not only keeping a diary, but digitising every moment of your waking life. The piece opens with the suggestion that at this time of year everyone is buying a diary; they're not. Most of us buy a diary in August as an academic diary if you have anything to do with educaiton (student, teacher, academic or parent) is a much more logical thing to have to carry you through the shool year. In any case, who cares where you start your diary if its digital or even a Filofax insert.

There's criticism of the Five Year Diary format, those diaries with a few lines to cover the day's events - where did Twitter get their idea from. A few lines every day is far easier to achieve than a page or more per day. I should know, I've been at it long enough.

Parameters, as any writer will know, matter.

They contain what might otherwise be a stream of never ending unconsciousness

Deadlines and word counts are helpful.

I wish I could do the research against the clock too. I have to give X hours to each topic, I would happily give x weeks and a some stage in that week I'd see I could press on for a month. I get this way when my curiosity is taking me off on a mental ramble.

The idea of keeping an objective, digitally record of everything you do does intrigue, not because of the data it captures, though I've had a few years that would be fun to re-live, but what it misses out. This is the idea of a researcher at Micrsoft who is recording his every action (and motion). However, the process misses out how you feel, and what you think.

And would have to be deactivated going through airports, going to the bank or Post Office, swimming with the kids in a public pool ... there's quite a list.

'It's a matter of love,' wrote Nabakov, 'the more you love a memory the stronger than memory becomes.'

How is such strength afforded a memory that remains on the surface of the mind, as there is no need to make the mental effort to embedded it, or to recall it, other than watching it over like a movie. A very bad, very dull, badly lit and performed movie.

'By having everything in e-memory you don't have to remember anymore.'

On the contrary by short-circuiting the implicit, instinctive natural memories making myelination process of the brain you are replacing something fluid and static, albeit it a multitude of snapshots.

 

 

 

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