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Understanding the digital student experience

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Razan Roberts, Senior Director, Strategic Engagement and Communications, Salesforce.org Research findings. Link to PDF for this interim report available. Full report Spring 2021. 

  1. The challenge of providing a sense of belonging when everything is digital and virtual. A community approach is easy to introduce and scale.

    1. In the nordic countries 21%, in the UK 31% and Spain 39%.

    2. A community feeling is easy to implement and scale. 

  2. There is a widening trust gap between institutions. The trust gap was poor before and is widening. 40% between them and the leadership and 50% saying it is getting bigger. 37% staff are feeling this gap. Optimistically institutions have an opportunity to make changes now, to drive with transparency and clear plans to close the gap.

  3. Holistic well-being. Top of mind. 73% maintaining their wellbeing is their top challenge now. 72% financial concerns. 71% just finding a quiet place to work - yet it is such a simple problem to solve. Universities are taking this to heart. E.g. LSE. Community Club or Experience Club service beyond just reviewing assessments. 

  4. Students expect more flexibility in grading, course assessments and course content. So new business models are forming. 

    1. The Immersive hybrid > all the learning is online. Blends digital and the physical. Every single service being reviewed that goes to students. What is best served online, and what is best served in person. 

    2. Subscription model so that people can go in and out of training depending on the life and career plans.

  5. Revisiting career and education plans. 

    1. Students are Looking for learning with internships and direct job opportunities. 

    2. Students are looking for contact with alumni and employers.

What are the barriers to universities?

  1. Online learning, Zoom and others. But more like a bandaid. So they have to rethink the concept of what is online learning, more project based and interactive. 

  2. Digital Transformation. The fuller view of the students who have such a poor experience because they repeatedly find they have to tell one person after another who they are. 

  3. Human interaction and empathy. 

Effective communication. How do we rebuild the trust? The sense that they are looking after staff and student

  1. Frequent personalised communication. Knowing the words to use and the channels to use. Creating the connections. 

  2. Students are not feeling the support, which they could get in the past in person.

  3. Find a way for the interaction and communication to bridge the gap.

  4. Keep the students, and staff - safe and convincing people that this is the priority.

Coming out of Covid we will land somewhere in the middle. Some things will never go back. Many institutions are using data to enrol more students and to find a better match with the right academic programmes for them and help them feel they belong to that institution while opening up new markets - not least for the millions who need to find a way back into employment with further training. With insights and data we  are better able to identify students who are being challenged and need support - and this can be scaled and will be used.

A blended model is the future, rather than all online or all in person.



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Reflections on Teaching

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In a tour de force example of the value of face to face teaching in a class over learning online our PGCE tutor took us through the power of reflection. Look at the title of this blog 'Reflection on e-learning'. 10 years and eight months ago I was keenly filling these pages (on an ever so slightly different platform) as I took the first module in the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE). Search 'Reflection'.

Ten years on, while being invited to dig around in my head for an understand of the what it means to 'reflect', and while listening to my fellow students express their views and share their insights, we collectively construct and shape a meaning.

The beauty of this blog and its value ten years on and 5,000 entries later, is that I can search 'reflection' or seek out the tag 'reflection' and immediately be shown what I was reading, what I was being invited to read and what I was writing about it all. The beauty of this blog and it simplicity is that I can post and keep private, or post and share; it is as much as a private, even intimate scrapbook, mind dump and learning journal, as it is a potential resource for others. 

Reflecting on 'reflecting on teaching' and the profound differences between learning online (as it has so far been able to manifest itself) I see that one cannot replace the other, that certain elements are different to the point of being incompatible, that trying to recreate the class experience online is foolish and bringing the online way of doing things into the class just as wrong.

We have a long way to go yet to distinguish these differences and play to their strengths, rather than thinking one is superior to the other; neither is going away. The class I attended last night in which seven of us where there in person with the tutor and four were online is one I will return to again, and again for two reasons: first of all, to pick through what I was exposed to, what I was taught, the learning journey I experienced and the voices and words of others - everyone, in equal measure, was given the time and chance and encouragement to talk. And second of all, to contemplate the difference between the classroom and the online experience. What worked and what did not? What needs fixing to make it work better? 



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'What's new about new media? Not much'

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Two decades ago I wrote a blog with this provocative title. I wasn't being a Luddite, rather I was playing devil's advocat and suggesting that for all that digital offered (in education) the fundamentals were the same: a teacher with knowledge passing it on to their students.

I need to revisit the topic with the same approach.

It is too easy to celebrate the headliners of digital education, not least at the Open Univerity with Open Learn and FutureLearn, and the myriad of learning management platforms and Apps, but when it comes to a student, especially in primary and secondary education, and in FE and vocational courses, how much is still, of necessity, knowledge and skills passed on by a subject matter expert? How can infectious enthusiasm be recreated in a digital experience? It can't? How do you develop loyalty and respect for a teacher and their subject through an App? 

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Scenario-Based E-Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 21 Aug 2019, 14:43

Working with Anna Sabramowicz I have been introduced to the following scenario-based projects. This is what I would like to create to teach compliance with asthma drugs, and so much more ...

Broken Coworker : https://brokencoworker.com/ 

Connect with Haji Kamal : https://www.worldwarfighter.com/hajikamal/activity/ 

How to survive a nuclear bomb : http://how-to-survive-a-nuclear-bomb.pilots.bbcconnectedstudio.co.uk/index.html#

Our World War : WWI BBC :https://our-world-war.pilots.bbcconnectedstudio.co.uk/ 

Life Saving : Life Saver:http://life-saver.org.uk/#/REAL_STORIES

Will You Fit In? Deloitte:http://www.raptmedia.com/customers/deloitte/

I break the process down into six parts: 

  1. Business Alignment : are you a match for the client. Do you understand what they want and where your skills lie for delivery of interactivity.
  2. My Perfect Learner [Persona profiling] : get it down to one learner. Know who they are so that you can talk to them. 
  3. Interview. Call preparation and the story journey questions : interview the life out of the Subject Matter Expert (make sure they are the SME and you're not being fobbed up with an apprentice or someone tangential to the learning problem).
  4. Character Identification Criteria : build a profile of the protagonist of your story. The hero. It is their journey. 
  5. Write the Script : like any great storyteller, made all the harder with what is in effect a short story with a number of parallel routes.
  6. Produce it: find an illustrator, get a developer. 

 

 

 








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Blinkered to Learning Opportunities

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 2 Feb 2019, 14:06

 

I'm worried that eLearning is too prescriptive. This will depend of course at what level a student is being taught. Primary is different from Tertiary. At primary there is stuff you need to know, at tertiary you can be expected to explore around the subject. However, believing that a student can pick up everything in the most suitable way simply from what is put before them is surel a mistake.

The online learning I have experienced is rather of this type. You are blinkered to anything other than the content presented to you. This might work for some people, or even most people, unfortunately for me, I know this approach does not stimulate me at all.

I am trying to become a certified Google Educator Level 1. This is fairly basic communications stuff, though with some parts of the Google Suite I never touch. The 'learning' is repetitively of the same type and format: read a bit, watch or listen to a few examples, typically a teacher reading a portaprompt off camera (always from the US) in tones that lean towards sales pitch rather than candid revelation. My Teflon brain smells a rat and won't buy it. There are interludes to complete a multiple choice quiz. When you have done this for 12 hours and studies as many units you sit down to a formal 3 hour online test. I don't respond well to having been expected to wear blinkers all the way through the training, and remain blinkered during the test There is no room for manoeuvre: there is their way or the wrong way.

How many MOOCS are of a similar ilk? The learning is a kind of conveyor belt where through reading, answering questions and watching videos you are supposed to become conversant and more importantly a competent practitioner.

I need to be set tasks, I need to fail at these tasks and been corrected, I need to be recognised and rewarded when I get something right. Over time, a lot of time, what I am doing, why I am doing it and how I do it makes sense. This is what I call practical learning. I do best when such learning is on the job. I do best when two years in I am faced with an exam. The narrative of my learning follows the Hollywood Arch which builds towards a climax. I cannot abide coursework because my first efforts are invariably terrible. Here at the OU I was known to get grade in the 40s or 50s. It took a couple of years to reach the stratospheric heights of grades in the 80s (and one 92).

Take the blinkers off. Don't put your students in blinkers, Expect them to venture far and wide. Encourage them to look around, and therefore click around the many resources they can find and be informed by. 

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1 million views in an OU Student Blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 3 Apr 2015, 12:45

Fig.1. What do a million people look like?

I learnt when the figure was around 100,000 that these figures should be dismissed as 'pingbacks' - these automatic links to sites that link to my blog and vice versa. It's reciprocal, but it is not the same as a person reading what I have written.

It's trapped me though. At various moments over the last five years at 100, 1,000, 10,000, 500,000 views I have looked to the next figure and kept on posting content. The reality is that 1,000 'views' a day has been the norm for the last year whether or not I post anything. These 'pingbacks' are historic then: my linking to other sites, and then linking back to me. And what percentage of the views are me coming back, even linking to my external website Mind Bursts?

And if this is a record of my five years with the Open University where has it got me?

An MA in Open and Distance Education, halfway towards either an M. Ed or an Open Degree, a third of a way towards an MA in History (from another institution, but armed with 60 credits I can bring this to the OU). I worked for the Open University for a year, and I got so close to joining FutureLearn that I checked the cost of a season ticket into London. I've worked in commercial e-learning while remain attracted mostly to e-learning in higher education. The problem here is that all the roles are very junior first jobs, often technical rather than production or strategic. I can talk about the current state of e-learning for hours if asked. 

Academics are odd folk: buried in their expertise for decades they believe they should transfer their expertise and retain their status on other platforms and in other situations. It's like an author wanting to direct the movie of their best selling book; few can pull it off. Or a consultant surgeon feeling they should chair management meetings.

Those academics who take on the e-learning mantle are institutionalised academics who know their subject, and how to give a lecture series and run a seminar; does this qualify them to understand the potential of learning online with a mix of media and approaches? Whilst Clint Eastwood made the transition from actor to director, not all academics should or can make the transition to producer and writing e-learning: contributors as presents or interviewees yes ... play to their strengths, in other words, rather than revealing their weaknesses.

There are plenty of examples of academics, never at the OU, blundering into the online learning market believing that their academic reputation is enough to carry a course in a series of head and shoulders shots of them talking to camera ad nauseam.

Things are changing, and the OU, OU students and OU staff are leading the way.

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What's a MOOC from FutureLearn life? It's as easy as turning the pages of a book

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 7 Jan 2015, 11:12

My interest is e-learning. A decade ago it was web-based learning and before that it was online learning ... as compared to 'offline' learning on an intranet or in a computer learning centre. Across this period, whether on Laser disc, CD-rom, DVD, or online the key words to describe a successful piece of learning might include: easy to use, intuitive, effective, measurable results, gamified and impressive. 'Impressive' for a corporate client has always been important - they want to see how their money is spent. It matters to jazz a thing up, to find a way to deliver exception creative qualities in both the ideas and the execution of these ideas. In H.E. this 'impressiveness' has been thin on the ground the experience and view of H.E. that someone talking to camera with a slide show or whiteboard will do the job; it doesn't, not any more.

At the risk of writing a list I want to think about the 'enhanced learning' experiences that have impressed over the last 15 years:

Audi Shop DVD - Gold Award Winner at the IVCA awards. Stunning animated 3D animations of the engine. Like a 3D animated Dorling Kindersley

What are you like? - Gold Award Winner at the IVCA awards. An interactive life and career guide for teenagers done in the style of 'In Betweeners' and 'Some Girls' - nailed the audience with creative tone and visual effects. This won BAFTAs, the IVCA Grand Prix and NMA Effectiveness Awards. 

Ideafisher - first on floppy discs, then a CD. It did in the 1990s what various websites do today by linking vast collections of aggregated ideas and concepts that it filters out and offers up. The closest I've felt to AI for creativity.

MMC - online marketing courses. These were, for me, in 2010, an early example of stringing the face to camera lecture together with course notes to create a course. Still more like a self-directed traditional lecture series but the volume of content was admirable and some of the tools to control the viewing and reading experience were innovative.

TED Lectures. Are they learning? Or are they TV? Are they modelled on the BBC's Annual Reith Lecture series? Top of the Pops for the lecture circuit so tasters and Open Education Resources for grander things. 

Rosetta Stone - iPad App

Pure simplicity. I love these. I gave a year to an intermediate course in French, learnt some grammar and fixed several problems with my pronunciation. Like that game 'Pairs' you play as a child: a pack of cards with pairs of images on one side that you pair up. With considered, only sometimes over art-directed photography. Repetitive, always in the language you are learning. The next best thing to being dropped in amongst native speakers as an infant. It just works.

iTunesU - The History of English in One Minute.

Not so much a course as a series of stunning and memorable cartoon pieces that galvanise your interest. The next step is to follow through with a free trial course through OpenLearn and perhaps a nudge then towards a formal course with the Open University proper. 

FutureLearn - the entire platform.

As easy as reading a book. I've done eight of these and have another three on the go (two for review rather than as a participant). Across the myriad of subjects and offerings there are differences, all gems, but some are more outstanding than others. It is no surprise that those MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) produced by the Open University are some of the very best; it's what you'd expect with their experience. Other university's shine through for their confidence with the the platform too, for example, 'How to read a mind' from the University of Nottingham. 

MOOCs I love enough to repeat:

Start Writing Fiction: From the Open University

I may have been through this a couple of times in full and now dip back into it as I get my head into gear. I'll do this as often as it takes to get the thinking to stick. It's working. I read as a writer. I will interrupt a story to pick out how a succinct character description works.  I'm also chasing up a myriad of links into further Open University courses and support on creative writing. For example: next steps, creative writing tasters, and audio tasters on iTunes. 

MOOCs I may repeat next year ... or follow similar topics from these providers:

Word War 1: Trauma and Memory: From the Open University with the BBC

World War 1: Paris 1919 - A New World: From the University of Glasgow with the BBC

MOOCs I admire that target their academic audiences with precision:

How to Read a Mind: The University of Nottingham

Shakespeare's Hamlet: From the University of Birmingham

Web Science: How the Web is changing: From the University of Southampton

 

 

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What have I learnt? What do I need to reminding of? The blog review

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014, 07:08

This is the value of a comprehensive blog such as this - for its author at least.

My thoughts went into these posts. By going back through the content I can be reminded of the lessons I was learning or struggling with at the time.

It would help were I more strategic in my approach to learning - but that's not me. I like to dwell and drift. I don't know what matters so like to have it all at my fingertips.

Going through the eight OU modules I have completed is taking between one and three hours clicking through posts here. I can tap into TMAs and EMAs and feedback, much of which I have here too (on the private setting). It is revealing in two respects: how much I have covered and can now say that I know - I can speak 'E-learning' fluently; and how many links and references that I jotted down and have never gone back to - great apps, insightful papers, and moments of clarity.

To cover myself for a decade hence by which time this blog will have been wiped, I am copying, selectively, about 40% of the content of this blog into my external blog My Mind Bursts.  (tagged MMB here)

Having the MAODE is one thing. Calling myself and being a 'Master' of the subject needs to be the next step. Martin Weller believes it will take a person ten years to become a 'digital scholar' - I've got another five years to go then. 

Onwards

 

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What's in a word?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:35
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. What is a tutorial?

In my decade+ using these platforms (I first attempted a module of the Open & Distance Learning MA in 2000/2001)we've gone from 'computer-based learning' and 'web-based learning' to 'online learning' and 'e-learning' or 'eLearning'. 'MOOC' (Massive Open Online Course' is a dreadful term so 'Free Online Course' must surely be better?

It'll pan out over the years.

I have come to like 'hang-outs' (a term coined by Google) as an informal online gathering. A lecture online, is by default something akin to a 'TED lecture' surely? Webinars are a reasonable catch-all and perhaps what becomes of an OU Live moderated sessions?

Regarding tutorials, though traditionally small groups, a tutor and one or two, maybe three students for an hour - it is these asynchronous conversations that match this where the role of 'tutor' is taken by the educators, but also by well-informed contributors - this can happen here. The learning effect is, I would say the same, or very similar. You offer thoughts, these are challenged, or people agree and add or amend them and in this way you 'construct' meaning. Constructivism is one of the older 'learning theories', whereas 'connectivism' is very much a product of learning like this. 

These is called a blog platform, yet it has affordance of what used to be called a 'Bulletin Board' (I did one of these with the OU in 2001. Think text messages strung together in a kind of Excel spreadsheet). A blog, for my money, has a modicum of independence of design, tools and sharing. Go see WordPress. I wouldn't change much here though. I cherish the new things I learn from people on totally different courses, the company and support that I know is here too.

 

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Why some online learning works better than others

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 17 Oct 2014, 14:43
From E-Learning V

Fig.1 This is what a reading list looks like - too much of a good thing makes it a bad thing

I 'do' e-learning for two reasons:

  • love of a subject, or a desire to fill holes or build mountains in my knowledge
  • fascination in e-learning: what works and what does not.

FutureLearn is a magic platform

I love it's simplicity, clarity and intuitiveness. In the right hands it's the perfect cup of coffee. (and once a day takes about as long to consume)

Classy copy

The considered, edited and crafted content doesn't dick about: it is a brief talk, or walk and talk BBC documentary style opening (video), followed by a a dozen paragraphs of a succinct piece of required reading that is then opened to the 'floor'.

'Connectedness' is enabled

The threaded discussion looks more like this bulletin-board cum blog cum student forum. Perhaps, as this has developed over the last decade, is where the idea came from? As a bulletin-board each time you comment your thoughts are placed on the top of the pile: someone has to read it when they log in, or at least there's a  greater chance of that.

This connectedness is facilitated and encouraged further by alerts you get as others comment in a thread you've contributed to or started. 

Your contributions are sorted for you and so build, without you needing to do so yourself, into a threaded line of thought - you can see how you are learning, how your knowledge improves and your ideas develop.

There are parameters

There is a word count for each posting. 1200 characters I think and a time frame during which you can edit (15 minutes). 

There is a modicum of overload

We, as students, are the masters of the time we have, or want to give to a thing. We are also the ones who know and control the pace. It is too simple to say that some people read faster than others, so can consume more. We approach text in very different ways. What is crucial and done in the FutureLearn module I'm doing on the 1919 First World War Paris Treaty is the amount of reading offered. It is more than enough, but not overwhelming. It takes itself and its students seriously by saying that 'we think you can read all of this and contribute to the discussions in the time allocated - five hours a week'.

Module teams get it wrong when content is sparse or when they overload the student with that laziest of get-outs 'the reading list'. Getting it right requires effort, confidence in the subject you are teaching and a belief and understanding of the way people learn and the platforms and tools now available and how their evolving use impacts on learning. I'm doing a couple of FutureLearn modules: 'Writing Applications' at two hours a week, compares to World War 1: Paris 1919 at five hours a week. The contrast couldn't be greater. 

It's like the first offers you a small cup of coffee: no refills. Instant. You get it with milk whether you like it or not. While the second gives you a rich cup of coffee and, if you want them, a couple of refills. No more. There are parameters. 

FutureLearn keeps it simple

What matters are the words people type. There are none of the mess of unnecessary buttons provided here. Honestly. Keep it simple OU. They just muddle things massively. Where used they invariably take away from the ability to communicate. It is enough of a challenge to type on a QWERTY keyboard. Plain text does the job. In the hands of the amateur (all of us), being able to add colour, change font size and a whole lot more serves no useful purpose. 

Content is self-moderated by the group

A simple alert button allows you to flag something to let moderators know that something inappropriate is going on: hateful language, foul language, 'drunken' rants ... 

Go see

'There's something for everyone'.

 

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Why some e-learning is evil

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 16 Jun 2014, 11:31

 Fig.1 Student marginal notes in a second hand book

A couple of weeks ago it started to dawn on me that in some respects e-learning is evil; I lost the thought a couple of times a) because I was driving my daughter to her last A' Level exam at the time and b) starting to compose the ideas my wife felt the need to share with me some pressing thought and I did her the courtesy of holding everything to listen - not just to look as if I was listening (a man things?), but actually take it in to offer a response (another man thing?) The thought was lost.

Rummaging through boxes of text books in the hope that I will find a plug for an imminent trip to Paris by wife and daughter (a post exams and 18th birthday treat), I stumbled upon a book on 'The Causes of War' by Michael Howard and the thought returned:

E-learning is evil because it negates a student 'learning how to learn'.

This matters as most graduates don't apply WHAT they learn at university, but rather the process of learning itself; that application, thought, time, discovery for yourself, seeking out your own meaning, interpretation, sharing, nervous first attempts at constructing an opinion or stance, building on this through mistakes, correction and further reading, attending lectures, seminars, and tutorials. It is NOT a case of consuming within tight confines content that has been specifically constructed for you to follow, to the letter, without little expectation, or desire for you to wander off on any tangents of your own. This has been my too frequent experience of modules in the Master of Arts: Open and Distance Education as with few exceptions the module is written and presented to you like a huge stack of packed lunches for you to eat your way through, without deviation, pretty much day by day for a period of weeks and months.

This is a convenience that suits the nature of distance learning - to hook you into a diet of these set-meals that can collectively building into a degree. The tough reality and self-evident experience of learning is that few students are ready to be assessed until a year, if not two years into their subject. Otherwise the pattern of grades is surely likely to be a gradual step by step, incremental improvement from the 40s, to 50s, to 60s ... and hopefully 70s and even 80s. 

I would far prefer to master my subject first and then be assessed and in so doing get 70s and 80s across the board, once the cumulative effect of sustained learning over many months has had the opportunity to mature. 

There is probably therefore a lesson to be learnt here for the reasons why Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) fail - they fail because they promise a trick that in learning never works - there is no short cut, the brain doesn't allow it, thoughts and ideas take time to mature. Which brings me to the fallacy of so much e-learning that tries to suggest that a revolution in learning is occurring, that there is a quick fix through gamification, having Google and Wikipedia at your fingertips and worst of all by reading condensed books, or courses that hand you all the answers on a plate in a ready-meal, or drive-in take-away manner that may satisfy at the time, but fails to deliver in the long term. 

Six of sixteen MA students doing a Master's degree with the Open University have recently completed degrees with the Open University; we often compare thoughts. We're universally derogatory of both approaches! Learning is a pain in whatever form it comes, but the answer would be a developed blend of both worlds and approaches.

Books, the printed form, certainly have a place. It is a pain to read a book, to identify salient points with notes into a book, or with PostIt notes, and to filter these into a format where they can be preserved and then later applied in an essay or presentation. It is this pain, and the time and effort it takes to condense books, to gather your own thoughts on the ideas of others, and then to construct your individual take, with support from your faculty (tutor, chair, fellow students) that builds your confidence so that you write what you think, not what the you are required to express, in a format that can be marked by an autonomon. 

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Time and effort

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014, 13:06

The more I study at masters level and beyond what eLearning has to offer, the more I conclude that whatever the platform the learner needs to put in time, effort and engagement. All the eLearning can do is to provide content of the highest relevance and quality in a timely, cost effective, relevant and memorable fashion. Does it motivate? Does it engage? Is its effectiveness measurable? Do they change behaviours? Do they remember or at least have a response to the content?

Learning online it helps to have such a seamless, intuitive and frequently refreshed learning platform with the Open University. 

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New blog post

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 29 Sep 2013, 07:02
I love to travel, not just on holiday with friends and family, but alone. Maybe this happens to you too, but I always find travel, especially new trips and destinations, is a catalyst to reflection.
 
All I did was take the first train out of Lewes to spend the day at the University of Birmingham. Two things that shook my brain: St. Pancras International ... and, sounding like a commercial, Virgin Trains. Although the train was quiet two people came through the train to collect rubbish ... as bubbly as buttons. Four times. The toilets were spotless. All in very sharp contrast to Southern Trains out of London where everything was overflowing ... 
 
I last studied 'lecture style' 31 years ago, yet I have signed up for one of these while I continue my learning journey here through all the MA ODE modules.
 
Learning is learning - it neither takes place online or off. It is in your head. It is what the brain is given a chance to do with it that counts.
 
I can now weigh up the two as I study in two very different ways in parallel.
 
There is of course 'blended learning' too that in a planned way mixes up both use of e-learning and face to face.
 
I met someone who, like me, has just completed a degree with the OU and we immediately began to share notes.
 
The OU is of ourse 'open' to anyone - online learning makes formal learning possible for any of us who either need to stay in one place, or are always on the move. People who need significant flexibility in how they manage their time ... and don't want the cost in time and money to get to a place for a tutorial, seminar, lecture conference. And people who 'don't get on with people' - not just agrophobia, you know what I mean. I switch constantly, sometimes very keen to be on my own ... 
 
Nothing beats getting to know your fellow students than spending a day with them, during coffee and comfort breaks, at lunch, walking through the campus, in seminar rooms before a talk begins ... and on the way home when you find part of your journey is shared.
 
Relationships formed here are akin to a long distance phone call, or letters to a stranger, even, oddly, having a chat with the postman or a builder ... you let them into your house.
 
And your head?
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H809: Activity 11.7

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 4 May 2013, 05:16

Reading 11: Richardson (2012)

Face to face versus online tuition: Preference, performance and pass rates in white and ethnic minority students

 

Make notes as before. You can keep your notes on paper, in Word on your computer, or in your blog.

We suggest that you use the questions from Activity 1.4 (or elaborations of these questions) to guide your note taking.

In addition, we want you to try to classify the studies using Tables 11.1 and 11.2.

We also want you to note any difficulties you have with this task:

  • Are there words or concepts you don’t understand?

  • Are there statistical terms or methods that are new to you?

Finally, how convinced were you by the research?

There are plenty of approaches that I am not familiar - what worries me or interests me is I cannot comprehend why or how the research question was ever considered one that would produce a valid result of any kind. It strikes me as working with a woefully small sample. It strike me that the words 'ethnic and black' are, like 'climate change' in there to garner funding. It also takes a ludicrously parocial and simplistic view of the human condition and what defines us as people. To be truly detereminisitic why not define people by the ward where they werebrn, or the LEA region where they were educated? The idea that this study could ever distinguish between online and face-to-face seems obvious - why do it if the study is akin to taking a magnifying glass to one corner of a Persian carpet ... then repeating the exercise somewhere else on the same carpet. These are pre-Web 2.0 techniques imposed onto a 'connecting' world in a period of transition.

 

Race a discredited term – rather use 'ethnitcity'

 

Many minorities within white.

 

(Why not have students offer an identity of their own construction? How would you define yourself? My choice would be Oxbridge Educated Atheist English ...

 

Not, do you fit into any of these categories, and if you do, are there any correlations ... but rather drawn from the students themselves are their preferable, better and more representative ways of doing it?

 

The contrast, in the examples chosen, between online and face–to–face is simply not great enough. Neither, either taking an holisitic view could surely be expected to impinge on who the individual is (genetic, DNA, neurobiological) or their background, upbringing or present individual circumstances (where/how they live, family, finances ....)

 

I prefer face–to–face – does this show a conservatism in that group? An unwillingness to try something untried?

 

Is the author asking the right questions?

 

How exclusively online is online where a student may be able to discuss at length the contents of their course with family, friends and colleagues – even people who have already done the course?

 

The quality of online tuition I have received during the MA ODE has almost always been hugely below expectations. Fsce to face the tutor hasti engage for the full time that you and other students are present, while the impression I have, too often, with online tutors is that they are watching the clock and give individual enquiries and questions inadequate consideration.

 

Carefull about making inferences due to causal factors as students chose the kind of tuition they would receive.

 

Sample, far, far too small.

 

REFERENCE

 

Richardson, J. T. E. (2012) ‘Face-to-face versus online tuition: Preference, performance and pass rates in white and ethnic minority students’, British Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 17-27; also avilable online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/ doi/ 10.1111/ j.1467-8535.2010.01147.x/ pdf (Last accessed 04 April 2013).

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Learning or e-learning?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 2 May 2013, 05:29

If you could study full time at a college where there are only 30 students - all the same year group, and you work in teams of two or three - would you?

This 'college' has 500 mentors - people 'from industry' who come in as volunteers so that several times a week, if not most afternoons, the students have experienced people to listen and learn from how does this benefit the learning process? Is it 'learning from the periphery' when the 'centre' comes to you? It is socially-constructed, and cognitive?

How does this contrast and compare with 'learning at a distance' 'old school' with a box of books and DVDs or here on the MA ODE with everything online?

As a mentor at the School of Communication Arts, London I go in to sit with pairs of students for anything between 15 minutes and an hour. I listen. I try to be a sounding board and catalyst. I try to motivate. I refuse to judge or infect/impose myself, rather helping them to draw their own conclusions.

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Daphne Koller: The University has flipped and The OU should have been there first

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014, 14:27

Fig. 1. Daphne Koller TED lecture on YouTube

Daphne Koller is a professor of Computer Science at Stanford University and a Third generation PhD. In this insightful talk we learn how e-learning is changing learning opportunities globally. Scale is at the heart of it.

A Machine Learning Class at Stanford with an undergraduate enrolment of some 400 when put online is followed by 100,000. And the lessons from scale led to the creation of Coursera where anyone can take the world’s top classes for free - delivered by the best instructors from the best universities.

  • Personalised curriculum
  • A coherent concept in 8 – 10 minutes
  • Students can traverse the content in different ways background, skills or interest.
  • Support or enrichment.

Practising with the material is important.

Video is interrupted to pose questions. Students are expected to engage.

  • Multiple choice
  • Short answer questions
  • Grade math and models

To be told when you are right or wrong is essential to student learning.

How do you grade 100,000 students?

Peer grading is a surprisingly successful strategy (Sadler & Good, 2006) .

  • Teacher and student grades extraordinarily similar, even self-grades.
  • And the student learns from the experience.

And learning is socialised

  • Around each of our courses a community of students has formed.
  • Some meet online, others locally.
  • Students respond to each other’s queries.

‘The median question to response time was 22 minutes because somewhere around the globe there was someone awake’. (Koller, 2012)

From 0:14:11

‘There are some tremendous opportunities to be had from this kind of framework’.

‘First it has the potential of giving us a completely unprecedented look into understanding human learning because the data that we can collect here is unique. You can collect every click, every homework submission and every form post from tens of thousands of students so you can turn the study if human learning from the hypothesis driven mode to the data driven on transformation that for example has revolutionized biology.

Fig. 2. Correcting misconceptions and poor learning paths

0:14:40

You can use the data to understand fundamental questions like what good learning strategies are versus ones that are not and in the context of particular courses you can ask questions like what are some of the misconceptions that are more common and how can we help fix that. 2000 students give the same wrong answer ... produce a targeted error message to give personalized feedback.

Fig. 3. Benjamin Bloom (1984) , 2 Sigma problem.

Lecture, mastery based approach, taught one on one with a tutor. individual gives you 2 sigma improvement 50/50 Individual 98% above average But cannot afford to provide every student with an individual tutor. Mastery will grade multiple times and show you the same video over and over without getting bored.

How can we push towards the 2 Sigma curve.

‘The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting. From Ian Kidd's translation of Essays’. Plutarch

0:18:50 More time required igniting their creativity, their imagination and their problem solving skills by talking with them. We do that by active learning in the classroom.

Performance improves by every metric:

  • attendance
  • engagement
  • standardized tests

It would do three things:

  • Establish education as an absolute fundamental human right.
  • Enable lifelong learning
  • A wave of innovation

FURTHER READING

Guskey, TR 2007, 'Closing Achievement Gaps: Revisiting Benjamin S. Bloom's "Learning for Mastery"', Journal Of Advanced Academics, 19, 1, pp. 8-31, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 17 February 2013.

REFERENCES

Bloom, BS 1984, 'The 2 Sigma Problem: The Search for Methods of Group Instruction as Effective as One-to-One Tutoring',Educational Researcher, 6, p. 4, JSTOR Arts & Sciences IV, EBSCOhost, viewed 17 February 2013.

Koller, D (2012) Ted Lecture Daphne Koller: What we're learning from online education (accessed 17 Feb 2013 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=U6FvJ6jMGHU )

Sadler, P, & Good, E 2006, 'The Impact of Self- and Peer-Grading on Student Learning', Educational Assessment, 11, 1, pp. 1-31, ERIC, EBSCOhost, viewed 17 February 2013.

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H809 Paper 1 Scrutiny of a research paper

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 10 Feb 2013, 20:01

I should dig out the research but hasn't it now been shown that as long as students get to choose between classroom / lecture based, blended or online learning they are all equally happy with the outcome? This might suggest that institutions need to offer this mix ... but it shows how much better it is to start on a positive rather than feeling you have to have your module deliver in a set way whether you like it, or get along with this approach or not.

The other piece of reading I need to reference concerns a study, I think from the 1960s, and mentioned in The Gutenberg Galaxy by Marshall McLuhan that I am reading, that there are significant differences in how people interpret a piece of text, that we bring significant baggage to it, drawing conclusions and seeing patterns, making links and connections that are very much are own. This is particularly the case with 'open texts' that invite thought and require us to construct our own meaning compared to 'closed texts' which aim to present a thesis as an absolute. Is this why so many research papers are dry? Why they leave little impact? It suggests that a paper should be written up in two forms - for peer review and scientific scrutiny on the one hand, and to invite comment, feedback and contributions on the other.

A reason to blog? Your paper is published, then your write it up in a blog in a more accessible and 'open' manner?

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Reflection on keeping an OU Blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 7 Feb 2013, 07:04

MAODE%2520Wordle%252033%2520a.JPG

Fig. 1. The Open University's Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE).

Expressed as a Wordle. A personal collection of key influencers based on those tagged in this blog. Includes my own reading and indulgences.

On Friday, at midday, this blog reached a significant milestone.

I've been at it for 33 months. I've blogged the best part of FIVE modules now - most of which required or invited some use of the blog platform (or another). I required little encouragement - I used to keep a diary and have found since 1999 that in their digital form they are an extraordinarily versatile way to gather, consider, share and develop ideas.

The investment in time, on average, an hour a day in addition to - though sometimes instead of coursework over 1000+ days.

(This excludes 8 months I spent on the Masters in Open and Distance Learning in 2001)

To mark this event, and as I need to go through this online diary, this e-journal, this 'web-log' (as they were also once momentarily called) ahead of some exciting meetings coming up next week I thought a simple task might be to click through the tags to identify who have been the key influencers in my reading and thinking over the last two and a half years.

MAODE%25252520Wordle%2525252033%25252520x.JPG

Fig.2. Another way of looking at it. Betham, Conole and Weller are key MOADE authors from the Open University. John Seely Brown is a vital undercurrent, Engestrom one of several enthusiasms like Vygostky. While Gagne, second hand hardback, needs to be on your desk for frequent reference.

What I thought would take an hour has taken nearly 40 hours.

Clicking on a tag opens a corner of my head, the notes take me back to that day, that week, that assignment or task. It also takes me back to the discussions, resources and papers. And when I find an error the proof-reader in me has to fix. Aptly, as we approach November 5th, and living in Lewes where there are marches and fireworks from late October for a couple of weeks peaking of course all evening on the 5th, my head feels as if someone has accidentally set light to a box of assorted fireworks.

Just as well. Meetings these days are like a viva voce with eager ears and probing questions - they want the content of my mind and whatever else I bring to the subject after thirty years in corporate training and communications.

MAODE%2520Wordle%252033%2520d.JPG

Fig. 3. Wordle allows you to say how many words you want to include in the mix. To create weight I had to repeat the names I consider most important twice, three or four times in the list. I also removed first names as Wordle would have scattered these into the mix independently like peppercorns in a pan of vegetable stock.

The Task

  • List all authors who have been part of my learning and thinking over the last couple of years.
  • Include authors that my antennae have picked up that are relevant to my interest in learning, design, the moving image and the english language.
  • Visualise this and draw some conclusions

MAODE%2520Wordle%252033%2520z.JPG

Fig.4. This even makes three of the key protagonists look like an advertising agency Gagne, Beetham and Conole.

The Outcome

I can never finish. Take this morning. I stumble upon my notes on three case studies on the use of e-portfolios from H807 which I covered from February 2010-September 2010. To begin with I feel compelled to correct the referencing in order to understand the value, pertinence and good manners (let alone the legal duty) to cite things correctly. (Even though this post was locked - a 'private' dump of grabs and my thoughts).

Then I add an image or two.

These days I feel a post requires a visual experssion of its contents to open and benefits from whatever other diagrams, charts or images you can conjure from your mind or a Google Search - 'the word' + images creative commons - is how I play it.

David%2520Ogilvy%2520Bentley.JPG

Fig. 5. From David Oglivy's book 'Ogilvy on advertising' - a simple suggestion - a striking image, a pertinent headline and always caption the picture. Then write your body copy.

A background in advertising has something to do with this and the influence of David Ogilvy.

 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I spend over two hours on the first of three case studies in just one single post. At the time I rubbished e-portfolios. The notes and references are there. Tapped back in I can now make something of it. A second time round the terms, the ideas - even some of the authors are familiar. It makes for an easier and relevant read. What is more, it is current and pertinent. A blog can be a portfolio - indeed this is what I'd recommend.

From time to time I will have to emerge from this tramp through the jungle of my MAODE mind.

Not least to work, to sleep, to cook and play.

Gagne%25202.JPG

Fig. 6. In a word

USEFUL LINKS

Wordle

Date duration calculator

REFERENCE

Gagne, R.N. (1965) Conditions of Learning Holt, Rinehart and Winston

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Hang on lads, I've had a great idea!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 18 Oct 2012, 13:30

IMG_3487.JPG

Fig. 1. 'Hang on lads, I've had a great idea!' Richard Wilson at the De la Warr

If curation is the way forward to facilitate learning online then the next step will be for each of us to draw on our experiences as a visitors to countless museums and galleries, houses and castles - from the mishaps of a rainy day to the inspired and repeated visits to museum events.

Does this become a journey through your mind?

Is it any wonder that people who demonstrate extraordinary feats of recollection do so by pegging images to a journey through a familiar space?

Might a way to prepare for an exam to create a temporary exhibition of your own?

Where have you been that is worth forgetting or remembering?

For me it should be 'The Tank Museum' in Dorset. We only went because after five days of rain on a 6 day camping holiday we were running out of places to go. Another on the same trip was 'Monkey World'.

Both trips were memorable, 'The Tank Museum' because they had rigged up a First World War Vicker's Machine Gun to a video game so therefore the first time I personally placed my hands exactly as my grandfather would have done - explains why he had thumbs like a Spoonbill's beak.

As for 'Monkey World' - whatever that male monkey was up to on his own up a tree but in full view of visitors took some explaining (or not explaining) to a 10 and 12 year old.

Perhaps the most 'rubbish' trips are the most memorable for that very reason?

Where do you suggest NOT going?!

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Some online tutor sessions work, some do not. Some social platforms work, others do not. Why?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:58

Gagne (1970 pp29-30) suggests that instruction in an organized group discussion develops the use and generalizaton of knowledge – or knowledge transfer. Oxbridge tutors contend that the 'Oxbridge Tutorial' – a weekly, structured micro-meeting of two or three people, achieves this. One student reads out a short essay that the tutor and students discuss.

'When properly led', Gagne continues, 'such discussions, where the knowledge itself has been initially mastered', not only stimulates the production of new extensions of knowledge by students but also provides a convenient means of critical evaluation and discrimination of these ideas. Gagne (ibid).

Forty years on from when Gagne wrote this there are what are meant to be or hoped to be learning contexts where this kind of knowledge transfer through group discussion can still work – or may fail to work – either because the degree of subject mastery between students is too broad or there are too many students, or the wrong mix of students.

For example, in the Open University's Masters of Open and Distance Education (MAODE) between 12 and 16 postgraduate students meet online in a series of strucutured online tutor forums – some of these work, some do not. As these meetings are largelly not compulsory and as they are asynchronous and online, it is rare to have people in them together – the discussions are threaded. What is more, in any tutor group there will typically be a mixture of students who are on their first, their second, third, fourth or even fifth module of the Master's – some of whom, given the parameters offered by flexible and distance learning, may have spread these modules over five years. Then there is the task and how it is set, whether the participants are meant to work alone or collaboratively – the simplest and most frequent model online is an expectation to read resources and share notes and thoughts. However, personal experience over five such modules suggests that the committed engagement of say six people, working collaboratively on a clear set of tasks and activities with a time limit and climactic conclusion of delivering a joint project, works best.

Too many of these online tutorials drift, or fizzle out: too few posts, posts that are two long, fragmented posts linking to pages elsewhere, the indifference of participants, the lack of, or nature of the tutor involvement, excessive and misplaced social chat, or discussing subjects that are off topic ... It depends very much on the mix, inclinations, availability and level of 'knowledge mastery' as to how such online tutorials work out. As well as the eclectic combination of students the role, availability, online and other teaching skills, even the personality of the tutor and of course THEIR knowledge experience and mastery matters.

Just reflect on how such workshops or seminars may work or fail face–to–face – the hunger for knowledge on the topic under discussion, the mix of personalities and the degree to which their experience or level of understanding is the same, at slight or considerable variance, let alone any differences of culture, background, gender or in a business setting – position and the department they have come from.

Ideally the workshop convener, or what the French call an 'animateur' should, assemble or construct such groups with great care, like a director casting actors to perform a piece of improvisation. Different contexts offer different opportunities. As a graduate trainee in an advertising agency six of us were repeatedly assembled, the various departmental specialists and directors playing roles at specific times – bit players in these scenarios. On reflection, stage management by a team in the HR department had been vital. It is therefore 'stage management' that I consider of significant importance when trying to construct such collective learning experiences online in a corporate setting.

CONCLUSION

Know your players, cast with care, give direction, record what goes on and step in to nudge, re–kindle, stop or start conversations or activities.

REFERENCE

Gagne, R (1970) The Conditions of Learning

ADDITIONAL LINKS

Robert Gagne Wikispaces

Theories of Learning

Cognitive Design Principles

The Nine Events - from Kevin the Librarian

Various Models of learning - Illustrated

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Reflections on e-learning - September 2010 to September 2012

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 22 Sep 2012, 06:07

New Software

Things I was starting to get my head around in 2010:

  • Skype (a phone call for free)
  • Delicious (don't get it, yet ... or need it?)
  • Outlook (Never used it 'til last week not being a PC person)
  • Google Docs (Up there and loading docs. Hear good things from all)
  • Compendium (Created a map for an e-tivity based on my H807 ECA. Populating this to share content with a producer).
  • Zoho (signed in but not sure)
  • Mahara (But Google does it for free and has seamless interplay with all your other favourite Google tools)
  • Pebblepad (Mixed reviews)
  • Adobe Share (Been using Adobe products forever so this should get my attention)
  • Internet Explorer (new to this Mac user!)
  • Dropbox (I've always been a box person)

Where I stand in 2012:

  • Skype (use often to friends globally, notably for a job interview with Getty Images, interviewing Dr about Qstream and on an iPad passing my brother and my nephews around a room of cousins between the UK and South Africa at Christmas)
  • Delicious (Still struggle, not least as I have more than one account and because I don't see the need to bookmark anything as to Google is quicker and with cookies enabled takes me into my choices)
  • Outlook (formerly trained at the OU on Outlook - training on a 2010 version while we had a 2011 in our office. Still hate it having been raised on all things Mac. Outlook has the look, feel and functionality of Microsoft DOS c 1992)
  • Google Docs (Use as a store to aggregate content, sometimes to share, wiki-like with fellow OU students who are more ofay with the technology than I am)
  • Compendium (Can't stand it - prefer a variety of free iPad Apps, including SimpleMinds, Bubl.us and several others).
  • Zoho (signed in and gave up)
  • Mahara (signed in a gave up)
  • Pebblepad (signed in and gave up - initially making do with the OU's MyStuff, which has been discontinued. Find it easier to aggregate content, while I'm an OU Student in my OU Blog, then cut and paste into one or more WordPress blogs - I had 16 at the last count)
  • Adobe Share (Don't have the budgets, may be of interest once back in a commercial office)
  • Internet Explorer (Never. Over the period have slowly migrated away from Firefox, like family, use Google Chrome almost exclusively)
  • Dropbox (Not really)
  • PicasaWeb - download for all images from camera, iPhone and iPad. Fix then post to some 50 albums, some with over 1000 images (the Picasa limit), pay for extra space. Uncertain or lack confidence though in degree of privacy, especially if screengrabs and other images are automatically uploaded to Google + images (same PicasaWeb account in a different format)

Where I stood in 2010 compared to 2012:

Old Software

  • Word (Yes, but far less often. I write far more often on the iPad using the AI Writer APP, emailing this to a PC to edit, or uploading into a blog to edit there)
  • Filemaker Pro (No longer. I ran it on Macs and iBooks from its inception but others don't prefering of all things the ghastly Excel). Have Bento, baby FileMaker, on the iPad.
  • AOL (still with AOL, but prefer Gmail and still thinking about changing supplier to BT or Sky)
  • Power Structure (Didn't upgrade, my iBook died and the software is on an rescued harddrive though I doubt it will work with a new operating system)
  • Final Draft (An execellent script writing tool though created for linear output)
  • Adobe Photoshop (Haven't upgraded, making do with Picasa)
  • Dreamweaver (haven't been near it, I never was a programmer type anyway, though cut my teeth in this in 2000)
  • Excell (A very reluctant user - just cannot see how this is used by some to create posters, or run a database that required large quantities of content in a cell. Filemaker Pro is better)

Blogs

  • Diaryland (Quite the thing in 1999). Locked forever. Up forever. Sometimes cut and paste. Always amusing to read posts on developments in web-based learning c. 1999
  • LiveJournal (Preferred by 2002). A stepping stone out of Diaryland.
  • WordPress (Expert) Over a dozen blogs, most notably Mymindbursts, though no longer a diary or journal, but a niche journal largely about e-learning, with subject intersts including creative writing, philosophy, tertiary education, history (First War), online and distance education, theories of education. Also blogs on swim coaching and teaching, on the Machine Gun Corps, on the trials and tribulations of a househusband (from old diaries and blogs), on various fiction themes - but also a number of Books of Condolences, in 2011 for colleagues, but very sadly in 2012 for my mother too.
  • EduBlogs (No more)
  • Blogger (No longer)
  • OuBlog (Extensively for all Masters in Open and Distance Education modules, now on my fifth and final module. Daily reflection, updates, aggregating resources, screen clips, diagrams, images, snips from forums, links to other blogs, tagging to assemble content for assignment, re-blog with re-writes to external blogs. Use it like an e-portfolio with CVs and job descriptions here too.)
  • Blipfoto (A picture a day for four or five months - until I have my iPhone to my son. I make do with an iPad and prefer a cheap phone to have kicking around in my pocket or bag ... and to avoid being online when out on the South Downs walking the dog!)

Social Networking

  • Facebook (Love hate. Great to be in touch with immediate family and trusted friends only. Got some groups going with boys I knew age 8-13 at boarding prep school. Got out of hand when a relation fell very ill and died as to the appropriateness of sharing our concerns and grief online. Inclined to disengage - do so only to find I am still there?)
  • MySpace (Never, though I am there)
  • Friends Reunited (Never since they started to charge, or since they came back)
  • Linkedin (extensive, professional use with several hundred contacts and activity in many groups. Feed blog content into Linkedin automatically, tailor some content for specific groups, particularly relating to e-learning for corporates and tertiary education)
  • Twitter (extensive, professional use. Did use TweetReach and various other tools. URLs shortened from WordPress, will use Bitl.y)

Other

  • Flickr (Used to use extensively - migrated all content to Picasa as Flickr tried to socialise the space and I found my pictures being offered for sale!)
  • Kodak Easyshare (Rescued 500 of 700 uploaded photos and migrated to Picasa before Kodak closed)
  • YouTube (Should be making extensive use of YouTube. Starting to digitise 40 hours of Oxford Undergraduate life 1982-1984. With permissions will migrate clips to the web in due course.)
  • Picasa (my favourite now, the teenagers are on Instagram and Tumnblr)
  • Ancestry.com (Covered every conceivable ancestor as far back as is possible online. Could make use of the 2011 census to track down a great aunt but not inclined to fork out anymore or to deal with spurious requests from people so off the map in terms of the family tree it is verging on trainspotting.)
  • Genes Reunited (as above. Not been near it) Of minor interest at a family funeral to figure out who were the common ancestors - both gentleman born in the 1870s it turned out!

Browsers

  • Firefox (very rarely, probably in erro)
  • AOL (winding up here for the last 18 months, should have got out long ago.)
  • GoogleChrome (Almost exclusively)
  • Internet Explorer (avoided at all costs)

What's new?

For the last 18 months extensive use of an iPad and associated Apps, so much so that it is the replacement laptop and even covers as a mobile phone as people know to email me.

Trying to do my final MAODE module on the iPad.

Proving remarkably easy to do so.

Very versatile, especially where resources can be downloaded as PDFs, even to read in Kindle version. Read from the Kindle, note take on the iPad and post online.

Books. We no longer buy them. Is a garage full of wonderful hardbacks worth anything? Glad I never bothered to put up shelves.

Magazines and newspapers. All redundant. Only kept the Guardian on Saturday to have something to line the guinea-pig hutch, when they went so did the newspaper!

TV. Rarely ever watched live. Prefer BBC iPlayer. Exception being the Olympics and Paralympics.

Pen and paper. I do. An A5 notebook and pen. Though prefer to type up notes as I go along.

Twitter Share. Reading an eBook and sharing a line or two with a note directly into Twitter. This aggregates content in an editable format and alerts 'followers' to a good read - usually on learning, education, e-learning, also on social media, story writing and the First World War. Sometimes some great out of copyright literature.

 

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Special Relationships and the formative years of The OU

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 23 May 2012, 07:34

ASA%2520BRIGGS%2520SNIP.JPG

Special Relationships

Lord Asa Briggs

@Amazon

Not available as an e-Book (ironically)

Then again, Lord Briggs lives 5 minutes away here in Lewes. I should enquire about a signed hard back copy?

'In 1976 he was created a life peer as Baron Briggs, of Lewes in the County of East Sussex'.

Essential reading for all students of distance learning (and e-learning) to understand the manner in which the OU developed its remit.

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Tutor as host - its your party and your responsibility to make it work

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 30 May 2012, 11:29

This from Mary Thorpe (2009)

If face-to-face is the answer, how do you  replicate the combination of informal and formal discourse opportunities that characterise the face-to-face campus. (Crook and Light, 2002)

The answer is in social networks such as Linkedin being alerted every time someone in your circle updates, or adds friends or writes something, though different, there is at least an inclining of this meeting serendipitously around the water-cooler, or passing in the corridor. Also the random offering up of 'people you might know', even if they haven't instigated it.

This is beyond face-to-face, but designed to replicate the chance encounter that makes up human intersctions.

In Diaryland (1999) a similar trait is offered as within a set number of 75 friends you always know who has updated i.e. who is active and therefore around and more inclined to engage. All that matters is this sense of sharing the same space. It matters therefore that you are present often enough to be someone in this environment and that the affordances of the platform alert others to your presence.

The debate over the differences between face-to-face are dry

Why hybrid?

What community?

As the two worlds are now so familiar to many people, this is like saying, what is the difference between the Rugby Club and the Bridge Club.

There is no other difference. The means of engagement are ultimately the same, between one person and another. Like everything as you become familiar with these platforms, and as your friends are online too, you accept their presence or otherwise as if you have bumped into them walking the dog or a conference.

This isn't revolution, it is barely even evolution, it is us being people with a bunch of different tools as we crafty humans have done for millenia.

'Technologies, such as social networking, can be used to construct personal learning environments designed by the learner precisely in relation to their interests and goals across a range of practice boundaries.(Anderson and Dron 2007)

Better still you start to allow tools like Stumbleupon and Zite to do this for you, by feeding in a specific, tailored profile you can get these aggregators to draw down who you are and feed back intelligence.

The day we don't trust it we drop these tools like a hot-potato and go somewhere else.

They CANNOT afford to get it wrong.

I signed up in error to MY LIFE, I say this because I only wanted to trial it on a monthly basis. The moment I was on the phone was the moment I was reimbursed, which actually is a sound thing.

This expression, this test of 'trust' might be enough to take me back (except that I feel the entire idea was mine in 2001).

'Technology self-evidently involves tools, understood as both the physical resources and practical skills required to make use of them, but to focus primarily on the tool or the virtual space would be to make a categorical error, mistaking a component part for the system as a whole (Jones and Eshault, 2004)

We still use pen and paper, we still talk to each other face to face, we may even share how we are getting on with our parents over Sunday Lunch.

This isn't replacement technology, it is hyper complementary technology, it is as convenient as having a hanky on which to blow your nose, no more. You pull out your smartphone to share a thought. Or in my case at 3.10am I get up, doodle an idea for a video production and then stick up a discussion question to a number of Linkedin groups.

Serendipity

Thinking of my late grandfather's garage with all its tools, the context would be the mix and combination of tools, some complimentary, some one offs, and the space (once he'd rolled the car out of the garage). Most importantly it would include him, both actively engaged in a task and from my point of view, someone who was always keen to pass on skills and insights.

Issues regarding identity -practice/familiarity

Trust and authenticity (checking/verification) 'Students may not take up the opportunities offered, or may do so to little good effect.' (Thorpe, 2008:122) 'Asynchronous conferencing for example has fostered both utopic and dystopic views of its potential (Haythornthwaite 2006)

The importance of the beginning of the course the same as in face-to-face, you only have one chance to make a good first impression.

'That particular aspect of getting everybody involved right at the very beginning really sets the scene for the rest of the course.' (Thorpe 2008:123)

Tutor as host.

A good start is forgiving. A poor start is far harder to retrieve. The problem institutionally is if your are overwhelmed by students. Are there enough tutors? Are there even intermediaries to step in? 'The design in effect performs a mix of compulsion and engineered interaction that combines formality with informality.' (Crook and Light, 2002)

Too much of either is a killer. Overly familiar and talking about pets and holidays in the middle of a forum puts your off. So do course materials on the rare occasion with The OU when it is if your are interrupting the conversation between a couple of professors who have developed their own private language that only means something to each other. (This isn't far from the truth). 'The potential for expansive learning' (Tuoni-Grohn and Engestrom, 2003)

We all want our heads cracked open like a part-boiled egg. 'This is learning that crosses the boundaries of different activity systems, expanding involvement with others and developing both individual and collective learning'. (Cole and Engestrom 1993)

I call it Pixie dust over Object 3.

Object 3 must be the moment Dyson and his team come up with the airstream device. Innovation, inspiration and originality is there in front of us, like Macbeth's dagger, tantilizingly before our hands.

So talk to Lady Macbeth and your colleagues, let it out, share your thoughts, make the dagger real, You may find it's more of a tickling stick.

'A context has to be reconstructed and participation invited through the use of activities, structured formats and textural genres operating at various levels.' (Thorpe, 2008:130)

I no longer think this is the case. We aren't creating false or mimicking landscapes or environments online, rather we know what these environments are and behave accordingly.

This comes with experience, it IS NOT, and has NEVER BEEN GENERATIONAL.

I am not the only forty something who despite my children being infront of a computer before they could walk have vastly more experience of the internet and computers than they do. I challenge them to keep up or catch up, indeed, I am quick to run after them if I think they are discovering something I too have not tried.

Ask me for evidence, research by educational institutions in the UK, US and Australia, that debunk Generation X and Digital Natives as utter TOSH.

Engestrom (2007) emphasizes the importance of learning across multiple activity systems where knowledge is being developed across many sites, from the formal academic context through practioner-focused websites and fora to the workplace.

Technologies, such as social networking, can be used to construct personal learning environments designed by the learner precisely in relation to their interests and goals across a range of practice boundaries (Anderson and Dron 2007)

True.

But like an allotment you might start as an idea, the worth comes from putting in some time and effort.

A hybrid mix of community and network. (Thorp, 2008:129)

Yes, like weeds in the allotment and a few cacti on a tray of sand in the shed.


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H800 WK21 Activity 1c. Web 2.0 Tools for Learning - what I recommend

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 4 Oct 2012, 12:48

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It isn't for lack of overwhelming, immersive and engaging content online, especially 'how to' movies and 'clips' in YouTube, its how you as an individual cope with this inexhaustible choice.

Armed with an 3G tablet and sim card will we find we are learning more on the fly, taking it with us, much of it free, some of it guided and paid for?

Taking advantage of participation (John Seely-Brown), learning on the periphery (John Seely-Brown), vicarious learning (Cox) and if you can get your tongue around it 'serendipitous learning.' (me I think).

I'm finding that 18 months in, and having really started this gig in 1998 when from the agency end we were migrating interactive DVD based learning to the Web, that I of necessity must balance the tools I can play (musical instrument metaphor), compared to those I play with (sandpit, training pool metaphor) ... and I suppose those ones I am obliged to master whether I like it or not (prescriptive tools for work and study - in at the deep end metaphor?!).

Conole (2011) invites us to use 'metaphors for meaning making'.

I always have, often visualising these metaphors. Just search this diary on 'Metaphor' to see what comes up. Also try words or phrases such as 'traffic light', 'nurture', 'gardening', 'swimming', 'spheres of influence', 'hub', 'serendipity' as well as 'water' and 'water-cycle'.

I therefore offer the following:

Linkedin (For Forums, like this, in groups and networks)

Wordpress (for blogging, sharing, wiki like affordances, training, updates)

iPad (or Tablet) (Whilst PCs and Laptops have considerable power and versatility

Twitter (only for niche/target live discussions or quasi-synchronous conversations.

The rest of it is 'Twitter Twaddle'

Spam of the worst kind being pumped out by pre-assigned links as CoTweets or random disconnected thoughts. This is killing some forums where RSS feeds of this stuff overwhelms any chance of a conversation).

I've seen two Forums killed, temporarily I hope, by this stuff, the largest victim being the Oxford University Alumni group.

I believe it is simply the case of a new moderator niavely permitting Twitter feeds in on a discussion, ie. having the conversations between 30 disrupted by the disconnected chattering of 300.

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Why the world wide web 2.0 changes learning forever.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Nov 2011, 19:55

A pedagogy of abundance explains a good deal and changes everything

 

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From Dion Hinchcliffe

A pedagogy of abundance

This forms a chapter in Martin Well's new book.

If you are studying the Masters in Open and Distance Education MAODE (any module) with The OU you need to read this.

Weller takes us through a series of clearly expressed, persuasive steps, a brief history about the more recent shifts in education and how Web 2.0 changes everything.

I conclude that the nature of learning is reverting to its natural, un-institutionalised and a pre-formal classroom based model, whereby you learn on the fly vicariously, turning to groups and individuals of your own choosing, exploiting the abundance of the web to inform and connect, an apprentice of anything, perhaps even at times with a tutor or fellow students, in an experience that is more akin to that of a governess to child, or tutor to older student or expert and scholar.

Boyer (1990) established what scholars do

1) Discovery

2) Integration

3) Application

4) Teaching

It intrigues me that this set of activities or practices is precisely what one does in social media:

1) Seeking out through research those 'spheres of influence' where the discussions are generating something fresh and pertinent, that is informed, even scholarly and that you proactively integrate this 'sphere of influence' which might be an individual (blog, podcast, video) or a social media platform group, into your own online 'realm of thinking' through bookmarks, joining a group (and engaging in its vortex).

2) Engaging tentatively in some forums.

3) From observation on the periphery (Seely-Brown) to growing levels of participation you gain the confidence to apply what you understand to the degree that you too in turn not only express your thoughts in blogs, forums and discussion groups, but

4) find yourself teaching others, itself a learning experience. Weller implies that to understand what could happen in education we ought to consider the shift in the way in which we purchase digital artifacts compared to the physical object, that just as the abundance of music, movies and books in digital form has altered our behaviours regarding shops and shopping, so the ready availability of digitised learning materials is inevitably altering the way students view and purchase education.

We are moving from a model based on the economics of scarcity to an economics of abundance.

Here, though Weller doesn't offer it, a brief consideration of how centres of learning formed in the distant past is of value. How students gathered around a scholar, then as the technology made possible, books containing information and scholarly thought were gathered into collections.

The student and educators had to be physically present and thus our university towns were formed.

The formation of and subsequent success of establishments such as the Open University (begun 42 years ago) shows that separation of student and campus was possible where the technology and logistics meant that through books, TV, radio, tapes, and subsequently DVDs and the Internet the learning experience could be divorced from the campus. This dependence on the physical artifact is now dissolving too, the expense is no longer represented in the book, indeed the idea of a collection of many chapters in one place is challenged as the Internet allows far greater tailoring of content to the learning object.

Is this not a return to a more natural way of doing things?

Should we be turning for input here from to the social anthropologist and educational psychologist here?

Have we ever learnt in units of engagement that endure through the entire contents of a book in one sitting?

I wonder if the cook book as a model for e-learning is an apt one?

Chris Anderson (2008)

The future modus operandi might be to give away '90% of a product to earn 1 %'. The logic of accepting the way in which digital stuff is created, marketed and sold implies that the 'long tail of higher education' (let's keep kids at school for now), will give much more control to the student purchasing their education; that niche and tailored learning will be desired.

Of far greater worry, unless you and your institution are readily able to embrace change as an early adopter, is that modules themselves, like a set of wikipaedia pages offered in a myriad of personalised sequences, can be assembled like a set of smart Lego bricks by the learner themselves making substantial parts of an institution's functions redundant. Indeed, being able to slot in up-to-date content, easily achieved beyond the confines of a module, is indicative of a weakening in the relationship between institution and student.

There is less dependence on specific course materials when most references can be sourced with ease.

Even the social aspect of the campus based education is challenged

Think of it as a form of tourism, education as an opportunity to socialise, be entertained and to entertain, then this can be done online. (Don't we all go to university as undergraduates for the 'crack'?)

The gap between the physical and the virtual experience has closed

Can learning be purchased, consumed and certified like an eBook from Amazon?

Should the Milton Keynes Campus of the Open University be taking greater head of the vast distribution warehouses of Amazon on the other side of the M1?

Do you need the expert if their insights can be purchased through various forms of asynchronous communication? (a book) Or their synchronous insights and expertise supported by the hour through a webinar or Skype-enabled tutorial? If the sphere of influence is reduced to that of professor and scholar, as that between a piano teacher and pianist do we need the institution at all?

And in a world where all qualifications are not the same even if they have the same name, is the only outcome that matters for the individual, their job and how they consequently perform (or if it is an MBA how their business performs)?

If the same learning outcomes are offered, using largely the same set of materials in a sequence that is logical and engaging and will in any case be far more challenged or enabled by the context in which the student is learning, then surely the deciding factor is price and the only way to decide on which price to pay has to be a combination of the depths of your pockets and the perceived and actual desirability of the brand.

If Harvard Business School, for example, as the Mercedes of business schools, can now offer, like the car manufacturer, a range of products to suit different pockets, all with the same brand values and distributed with ease over the Internet, then how do others compete?

Or what if its star product, once limited by the physical limitations of a campus and the manageability of a cohort can be purchased by thousands?

Perhaps in a growing market, with significant demand, space remains for many players and new players. However, as any Internet search shows, if you are learning online the deciding point, exactly as a purchase of a packet of Cornflakes, comes as you reach up to the shelf and select product B rather than product A.

Might it be, that having been the only product for several decades, the Open University's 'product A' is competing with a rich alphabet of alternatives, many written and supported without doubt if you look at the lists of academics and personal by people who were originally taught by or taught at The OU.

If the model is to give away the digital object and make money on the physical then Oxbridge, Ivy League and other campus based institutions could potentially increase their intake 12 fold by running all courses online, with physical presence limited to three one week long residential sessions.

The College turns into a B&B with the residents changing every week, rather like the turn around days you have at a resort.

At no stage is contact with fellow students, tutors or the college itself ever diminished, as everyone is readily contactable thanks to a smartphone and a laptop. Likewise distance learning Institutions such as The OU to compete with these upstarts should offer a campus based experience by creating permanent bases strategically all over the world.

  • Freemium
  • The Long Tail

If we think of education as music, then we have two forms, the folk form inexpensively delivered in homes and community spaces and the elite form of the expert or most popular performer in access-restricted palaces and assembly halls. Whilst historically we have seen the music industry of the last century as the democratisation music, in hindsight, with the Internet, even this looks like a restrictive practice, holding purchasers back by the schedule of production, distribution and sales. Books are going the same way as CDs; as both are formats for learning materials, is it not simply the case that with lectures, tutorials and assessment online, that there is an expectation from all quarters that we can have it all, anywhere, any time? And that this can be achieved by any institution. It isn't difficult to digitise content, you simply don't go to print. Brand, like purchasing Cornflakes, the price and what you can afford is the only differentiator.

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An activist model.

While access to expertise remains rare, we have access to journals, videos, blogs, podcasts, slidecasts, also discussion forums, comments, and blogs. Weller (2011)

And these experts, certainly in distance learning institutions, are often bound only, like the students, by lengthy threads to remote locations. Their reputation, the weight of their knowledge a product of those parts of their thinking that has been published for public consumption. It then comes down to the quality of learning experience through tutors, online and other support. We should think of each online module as a virtual game, with all those ins and outs and possibilities thoroughly tested for the experience; exactly, in fact, as occurs in the Institute of Educational Technology at The OU.

Siemens (2005) considers the shift to greater control by the learner rather than the institution.

Constructivism, social constructivism and now connectivism are the learning paradigms. If education at close quarters in the Oxbrdige tutorial, involves dialogue, reflection and critical analysis, these are the same qualities that can be achieved online at less cost and at greater convenience.

The essence of learning

Conole (2008) Web 2.0 the collective and the network.

As in the physical world with its cliques and networks, from old school-tie to Free Masons, so online, despite our desire to exploit the ability to connect, there are controls and limits. You cannot wade in and exchange with much authority, the hero expert author of the books or papers yiu have come to admire. Seely-Brown and others are right to consider how all of us, unwittingly or deliberately, first engage as an apprentice of some sort. We must begin on the periphery. If dropped into the heart of things too soon our ignorance will mean we have no purchase at the centre and centrifugal forces will cast us aside.

As one commentator is right to point out, the Internet is the real world. A movie, or novel is fiction, but online with increasing ease, we behave in just the same way with someone a thousand miles away as someone sitting opposite us.

Web 2.0 = niche communities, social purposes, collective political action, amateur journalism, social commentary.

Just as we can have the successful, recognised and respected amateur journalist and amateur sports coach, so surely can we have the amateur academic, if only in the sense that none of these people are paid. We can all surely think of professional journalists, coaches and academics who are amateurish in their words, actions and thoughts. Just as there are successful 'citizen journalists' even the 'amateur novelist' who self-publish are there not likely to be 'amateur scholars' even tutors, anyone with that vocational desire to share their thinking in order to develop the knowledge of others?

Have we not reached a stage with the plethora of quality content online and the multitude of groups that you could join, that you could learn a great deal to a high academic standard or level of performance, entirely for free both in cost terms and the constructs of an educational institution. You may not have the piece of paper at the end of it or the letters after your name, or indeed the title before your name, but when did any qualification qualify you to do something with it?

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Seely-Brown and Adler (2008) talk of this shift to participation and demand-pull.

They talk of education being:

  • Free
  • Abundant
  • Varied
  • Easy
  • Socially based Connections light

Shirky (2008) Organisations

User generated content

In a world of abundance the emphasis is less on the creation of new learning materials than on the selection, aggregation and interpretation of existing materials. We don't need more, we need systems that let us draw in the freshest and most significant content on the fly. Dare I also suggest that just as music is easily copied and shared for free, that course content, and the learning design can just as easily be lifted and reconstituted? Weller 2011 i.e. New learning content becomes the remit of students who through the abundance of stuff and connectivity generate new content. The trick is to isolate those places where people of a like-minds gather. You cannot join more than a handful of groups and take part and so contribute or gain anything. The tasks therefore becomes to find or form such groups.

Barrows and Tamblyn (1980) problem based learning. Is identified as the old way of learning.

That you present a problem then teach a way to solve it.

Wenger (1998) the social role of learning and apprenticeship as 'legitimate peripheral learning'

Bacon and Dillon (2006) Communities of practice.

Siemens and connectivism.

The real issue is user-based content. Eric Schmidt, CEO Google. More content is generated and put online in any two days in 2011 than was created, published or broadcast between the development of the first means of mass distribution, the printing press and the coming of the Internet. We do in our millions, with extraordinary ease, in 48 hours what had taken some 600 years to do.

REFERENCE

Weller, M. (2011) in Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, 249 pp223-236

 

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