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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 7 Aug 2014, 07:02

Fig. 1 Five Lasers, like butterflies

Helming the boat that set the buoys for this race (it's called 'Ark') I got this shot and likened it to butterflies in the back garden. I so wanted to be out there competing in the race and juggling my inabilities to control the dinghy, but got a thrill from this moment all the same with this imbalance of boats. One getting away, the others heading towards the buoy.

My turn next week.

I've done 12 hours on a 'pond' in various winds on a Laser so feel ready for the sea, and ready for bruises, muscle pain, a dunking: ready too for managed risk: I will have on a wet suit and lifejacket. I will have a pouch containing an inhaler (asthmatic) and water.

I like danger. I need the physical and mental thrills I so enjoyed in my 'youth'. I prefer a challenge. I want to be hit with a stick and offered a carrot. The OU equivalent of the written exam and recognition of success: TMAs are too infrequent for essay writing to become a way of life, whilst EMAs lack the danger and challenge of an examination.

'Ark' is a bit of a tug, a diesel engined quasi-fishing vessel on which the day's race buoys are kept - hunking great things on a long length of rope with a chain and anchor attached. It has a VHS radio so you call back and forth to your harbour of departure and the Race Officer in the clubhouse and RIBS in the bay.

Seven years since I was last on the thing I had with me a cushion I grabbed from the sofa at home not thinking why I did this ... until in the chop I recalled how I had broken my coccyx training to do this when I had bounced off the rubbery side of the RIB and landed on the anchor: twice. Broken coccyx. Imagine how they test for this in A&E? Basically someone prods you up the arse and if you scream there's a problem. This problem then turns into 'there's nothing we can do'. But here's a rubber-ring you may like to have to sit on for the next six weeks ... or don't sit down????

You live and learn, or rather learn through giving things a go until you can get it right enough.

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H800: 22 Reflecting on H800

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 10 Mar 2013, 00:26

How goes it?

Like a roller-coaster, merrily going along, like the C4 ident:through the loops of a roller-coaster though the shapes I see are 'H' and '800' and '807' and '808' as I pass by.

Then I switch track and venue and find myself on the Mouse-Trap. Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Here there is a rise and dip where you are convinced you will hit a girder. I just did, metaphorically speaking. (Diary entry, August 1980)

Ilness changes things

Nothing more than a rubbish cold made uncomfortable by asthma.

It is a set back of sorts. I can sleep and read. But the spark has gone (for now).

To use a different analogy, if I often think of my mind as a Catherine-wheel, this one has come off and landed in a muddy-puddle.

We're in the week of metaphors for learning.

I can draw on any notes I've taken on this here and in my eportfolio. This is more than an aide-memoire, it favours the choices I made before at the expense of anything new. So I widen my search. The OU Library offers hundreds of thousands of references in relation to 'Education' and 'Metaphor' going back to 1643.

Gathering my thoughts will take time.

There are 26 pages (nearly 12,000 words) to read (course intro, resources). Far, far more if I even start to consider ANY of the additional references or reading.

Give me three months. We have, or I have left, three days.

My approach is simple. Tackle it on the surface, drill into an author or topic that is of interest and expect to pick up on and pick through this again later this module, later this year ... or next existence. (I believe in multiple existences and flux. We are transitory and changing)

As well as tapping into the OU Blog and e-portfolio the blog I've kept since 1999 might have something to say on metaphor. If I care to I might even rummage through A'Level English Literature folders from the 1970s, just to trigger something. Engaged and enabled by Vygotsky and others in relation to memory and learning I value this ability to tap into past thoughts/studying with ease.

(Ought others to be sold the idea of a life-long blog?)

Otherwise I have gone from learn to swim in the training pool, to swimming lengths in the main pool ... to observer/coach who will participate, but has a towel over his shoulders and is looking around.

The next pool? Where is that?

I'm not the same person who set out on this journey 12 months ago.

On the other hand, having a Kindle makes me feel more like a teenager swotting for an Oxbridge examination; I like having several books on the go. I'll be through 'Educational Psychology (Vygotsky) by the end of the day and am already picking through and adding to copious notes.

Piaget next?

Then a little kite-boarding as I head away from the swimming pool that has been an MA with the OU?!

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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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Retrofitting prose with references, name dropping and blog stats

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 May 2014, 08:24

I consider it to be an expression of the progress that I am making that the first part of the TMA I have just written I completed in a straight three hour run with nothing more than a treatment in the form of a Venn Diagram doodled on a sheet of A3 to draw upon and the assignment title and defining outline pasted onto the top of the page on which I have been typing.

There are notes and figures and grabs all over the place.

I immersed myself in the topic last night when I keyed in 'learning' to MyStuff and found I had 463 assets to ponder. Though nearly discombobulated by the sluggishness of MyStuff I just about had enough in the titles and tags of the saved pieces to know if something was or was not worth reviewing. It was an interesting journey, not least that for me H808 is very much the second module, with H807 feeling like a foundation course before the real thing. And yet for some people I appreciate H808 is their first or even their last module towards the MA.

Talking of which, I registered for H800 in February 2011.

I feel I'm on a roll and don't want to take a break.

Between getting the kids into school and making a fresh pot of coffee the thought I had wanted to share here was the problem I potentially face with the essay I've just written. Previously I have used a list of referenced ideas and strung them together like fairy-lights to produce an essay that may not flow, or wrap well around itself well, but does the business. I fear if I now try to retrofit references and quotes that I may spoil it. On the other hand, this is the difference between writing a letter home and an academic paper.

My belief is that I know to whom I am referring when I use their ideas and dropping in their names and correcting any misquotes and incorrect expressions of their ideas will do the job.

On verra.

Another figure that I spied ... I've hit 10000 hits in my OU blog, which translates as 1000 per month. As we have no way to read the stats that underly these figures I can only make a conservative guess that 50-75% of all of this action is me. On the other hand, I do notice that I've been getting 25, then 50 and possibly 100 'hits' a day even when I've not blogged at all. Vanity or curiosity, or both.

Do emerge from the electronic woodwork please.

A comment is part of the collaborative process that is the essence of the full e-learning experience.

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