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H800 80 Week 19: Mobile devices, mobile learners & Web 2.0

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 5 Oct 2012, 06:28

From materials and commentary prepared by John Pettit (2008)

Of courses it is learning if it is on a mobile phone or any other device. Do we mean informal or formal learning? Vicarious learning or didactic? Stumbling across knowledge, or reading formerly to pass an exam? Does it matter? These devices blur the distinction between a means of educating that may eventually look dated and specific to an era.

Do we need campus based universities?

Kids can have their kicks in Ibiza then study online while holding down their first job.

Give the campus over to the retired and unemployed.

Do we need schools?

And if so, instead of being at the centre of a child's education, perhaps they become as tangential as a visit to the leisure centre of supermarket because you are better linkedin to the educators and the content when you're away from the place and all its distractions.

When do you ever not learn even if you don’t know it?

It depends entirely on what the device is being used for. Apps have shown how versatile we are at throwing activities and qualities at these devices. People want this stuff.

Is a laptop mobile? What about the old Apple Classic? I used to take it out into the garden on an extension cable and view it inside a cardboard box while sunbathing. Was that mobile? I can read in the bath on a Kindle and click through RSS feeds on the iPad while the Kettle boils. Might it simply feel as if all these people are following me around?

There are degress of mobility. Working in TV we carried around with us monitors to watch content back during a shoot. The thing was no more portable than a hod stacked with bricks.

When I read formal and informal learning I wonder if this equates to whether the learning is hard or easy. I have acquired knowledge in a formal setting and had a laugh, equally in an informal context without the self-motivation and will I have found informal learning very hard to do.

It is sometimes claimed that handheld digital devices allow students to learn at anytime, anywhere. A more nuanced position argues that the devices have the potential for ‘any time anywhere’ learning but that many other factors come into play.

For example, some devices may be easy to handle but have small screens that don’t allow easy reading.

Far from being hard to read the small screen is better suited to the narrow field of close vision that we have. So what if it is like looking through a letter box. If you want to concentrate why look at more?

A device can become too small. Too portable. As a video producer I have seen kit shrink so much that a device the size of a child’s shoe will generate a HD image and for $75 a day you could hire a camera that delivers 35mm quality. Making a film though with a device so small creates instability, you need some weight on your shoulder if you want to keep the image steady.

The portability and size of screen is less relevant than the affordances of the device, the fact that an iPad doesn’t support Flash, or Android is having problems with Google Apps, that is, if you are using learning materials that require specific functionality that isn’t working.

As for screen size, people may watch a blockbuster movie on a giant screen at the Odeon Leicester Square or on a Smartphone or palm-sized gaming device that is no bigger than a spectacle case; here what matters as with any movie, is the quality of the narrative, not the size of the screen.

Where a device’s portability comes into its own, as the person who recently made a phone call from the top of Everest, is the portability. Another extreme might be a cave diver with a device the plots the route for a cave system, or a glaciologists relaying pictures of a feature in a Greenland ice-sheet to colleagues thousands of miles away that informs the research.

‘Patterns of usage differ widely, and the fit between people’s lives and the devices they use can be very close.’ (Pettit and Kukulska-Hulme, 2007, p.28)

Is an apt way to express a new term being used in the Open University Business School to describe applied or practice-based learning that gets away from the ‘distance’ tag, that is to call it ‘nearness’ learning. (Fleck, 2011). I also like the idea of ‘intense but provisional,’ people’s attitudes are brand specific, with the Mac vs. PC split of computing now a split between Windows, Mac and Android (and others).

People chose brands to simplify the choices that have to be made between a plethora of devices, between Sony, Nokia, Goole and Windows, as well as between network suppliers, be that O2, Vodafone or others.

There is another way of looking at it though, if you come to see that all these devices offer the same sets of services and tools, from QWERTY keyboards, to a camera, from messaging to phone calls, to the hundreds of thousands of Apps, and in the case of the latest Windows phone … Windows software from Outlook to Docs, PPT to Excel.

Is size such an issue?

People have managed needlepoint for centuries and once painted miniatures. There is an appeal for the tiny sometimes, just as there is for the massive. In this respect the device becomes a reflection of the person’s personality, as well as the depth of their pockets, the availability of others services, from a signal to 3G (or not), even to the power to charge batteries.

Personal choice, celebration of variety, offering a smorgasbord rather than the continental breakfast.

‘That well-known random-access device consisting of ink on bound sheets of paper may still have plenty of life in it yet!’ (Pettit and Kukulska-Hulme, 2007, p.28) expressed in 2007 is how in 2011 writers in the e-magazine Reconstruction 6.4 describe the ‘long-tail’ of the blog, that definitions have become meaningless, suggesting that the varieties of ways to do or have what we have continued to call a ‘blog’ is as varied as the ways we have over many centuries come to use paper.

Drawing on a paper written in 2007 on research presumably undertaken a couple of years previously, it strikes me that ‘the world has moved on’, to say the least – though not enough. This exercise is looking at the extraordinary capabilities and uses for a device that in 2011 can offer somewhat more than was possible four years ago. This doesn’t mean to say we have the things.

From my own perspective I came into the MAODE (this time round) with an eight year old iBook that had trouble with some software, things as simple as PDFs and the latest versions of Flash as I was unable to upgrade the operating system. Working from a smallish screen I found myself printing off too. For the second module I had access to a better laptop and plugged it into a good-sized screen that allowed me to see a page of A4 at a time or to swivel the screen and have two windows open side by side. During the course of my third module (this one) I found myself without a particular device, but with access to a desktop, a laptop, even an iPad (and have used a Kindle to read some 16 books). Here I found myself putting everything online, into a blog and e-portfolio so I could access whatever I wanted wherever I was (or whichever device was available), as well as having the cataloguing, aggregating, sharing affordances that this has given. Any device, however mobile, and whatever size, can tap into this content.

The problem now, isn’t simply, for me at least, is the overwhelming volume of content I have put online, which despite adopting various approaches to keep track of it, has split into a number of blogs (OU, Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr), a number of cloud galleries/warehouses in the sky (Flick, Dropbox, Kodak and Picasa Galleries, My Stuff, Pebblepad).

It is apt that I blog under the name ‘my mind bursts’, because it has, and is.

Like having a thought, or recalling some event or fact seemingly on a whim, I find I stumble across these ‘mind bursts’ quite by accident, forgetting the number of blogs, for example, that I for a period started only to abandon so that ‘serendipity’ has a role to play through the myriad of links I’ve also made. None of this has helped by finding myself with three Facebook accounts and unsure how to delete the ‘right’ one.

The attitude can only be to ride this like the web surfer of a decade ago – to run with it, rather than try and control it. You meet friends coming off a training a Liverpool Station, you do not need to know who else is on the concourse, the timetables for every train that day, week or year. To cope with the overwhelming quantity of stuff tools to filter out what matters to you at that moment is coming to matter most.

Currently I find myself repeatedly drawn to the activities of Hugo Dixon, a former Economist and FT journalist, who set up a business he called ‘Breaking Views’ to counter what he already by then perceived as a deluge of online information and the old print-based expression ‘Breaking News’; we would come to need as some pundits predicted fifteen years ago, ‘information managers’ or ‘information management systems’.

I wish I could reference the expression properly but ‘Freedom is lack of choice’ is one of my favourites; sometimes filters and parameters have their place. I enjoy using a Kindle as much for its limitations; it is something I can take to bed knowing that it’ll send me to sleep, while an iPad keeps me up all night.

REFERENCES

Fleck, J (2011) Association of MBAs Conference Video 2011

Pettit, John and Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes (2007). Going with the grain: mobile devices in practice. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 23(1), pp. 17–33.

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H800 WK17

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I interviewed our Dean, Prof. James Fleck a couple of weeks ago (soon to appear on the Association of MBAs website as it was featured at their 2011 Conference).

Here he tells a story of what he calls 'distance' learning (used negatively); it is exactly what we saw in this Kansas University video; they were 'distant' said Prof. Fleck, because he couldn't make out the colour of the person's top in the back row. He compared this to what he said the Faculty of Business and Law achieves through 'nearness' or 'closeness' learning, using platforms such as this, web-conferences too, to support learning. The 'd' word has been banned because of its negative connotations, which include the idea that students have little contact with tutors or fellow students, which in most cases is never the situation as there are regular tutor meetings and other get-togethers. I had to be put right on this score (there are 330 regional centres globally).

In its blended form using a laptop or ipad during a lecture, to Twitter on topic to colleagues, or to see fullscreen or closeups of what the lecturer is delivering live, may enhance the experience, even bring people closer? JISC 2011 this year was attended by nearly 400 on Twitter watching and listening online with under 150 in the lecture hall.

The technology should enable, enhance and support, never to the exclusion of people how don't have the kit or reliable access. Talking of which, I interviewed an Visiting International Fellow from Ghana for the Faculty and couldn't help but ask a question relating to our MAODE; he gave permission to use this so I ought to offer it somewhere. This was on technolgy and the way mobile phones have 70% penetration in Ghana and are therefore crucial to overcome a list of other problems offering a real way forward to be able to exploit learning content, in this case Open Resources for training Civil Servants to MBA level.

And what I take from this?

The best lessons I ever had were from my grandfather; sitting with him learning about his experiences as a machine-gunner and then a fighter pilot in the RFC then taking him to the Imperial War Museum where they welcomed him like Royalty and even had a machine gun out for him! In a moment this 95 year old was crouched behind the thing ... anyway, the point it, one-to-one and face-to-face, an expert passing on knowledge to someone who is motivated is the ideal; how technology can facilitate a component of this is what appeals to me, playing on what we do best as humans in the anthropological sense.

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Applied Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:18

Odd how I can treat a TMA like an essay, research it to death and build towards an essay crisis. Having to write the TMA equivalent, a strategy paper on Social Media, I find I am a couple of days ahead with the first draft written, expectations of a meeting where expert colleagues will have input before finalising and presenting in a week.

Applied learning, or practice-based learning ... action learning, they're all the same idea that attracts a good deal of interest; it increasingly makes sense for people, especially if they are settled in a position that they enjoy and need, to study as the work, the learning occuring alongside what they do, rather than separetely from it.

In some respects this is the immersive learning that game-like learning environments are supposed to re-created; but why do that when you can have the real thing?

I had thought of creating it as a wiki, password protected for contributing stakeholders. As long as we're on the same wavelength from experience of doing this in the MAODE I'd trust the end result to be better as a result, the equivalent of lifting something from the 70% mark towards 85% and beyond.

Blogging here My Mind Bursts more than here, where the audiences have far more choice and haven't the focus of hear of learning with the OU.

Its been an interesting environment to hone some more advanced blogging habits and skills, not simply the generation of regular content, but how it is linked, where it is linked and the important of tags which I've used simply to identify content, but of course of seach engine optimisation purposes too.

If you have a moment and can put the right hat on, perhaps you're an Open University Faculty of Business and Law student anyway, then do please visit our website as I will be listening to all comers on valuable enhancements we can make here.

To 'blogify' is my mission.

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Social Media – Listen for long enough then join in and draw your own conclusions

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 18:06

What%2520is%2520history%2520SNIP.JPG

The historian E.H.Carr said,’Read bout a period until you can hear its people speak.’

It’s what took me to Oxford to read Modern History and what for some periods in history inspired me to attempt screenplays on the events in the year 1066 … and 850 years later on the Western Front. It’s the quote that impressed Bill Clinton enough to quote it in his autobiography. It suggests, short of being their, you must immerse yourself in a subject in order to understand it, in order to be able to speak its language.

‘Research a subject until the research reveals the narrative’.

Sounds like an excuse for there being no assessment, but perhaps reflects how we pick things up through ‘doing’.

I caught this on Radio 4, Saturday 9.00am, 9 days ago? I’d reference it if I could.


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MBA Blogger for the Open University Business School?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 Sep 2011, 12:46
Sean%252520Brady.jpg

Sean Brady

Management Tip of the Day

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Divided I sit

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 29 May 2011, 10:27

I've got a doppelganger: he's sitting opposite me.

We're on a see-saw.

At the moment I'm trying to get on with a Tutor Marked Assignment (H800, Masters in Open and Distance Education).

I'll be writing on the tutor and learner choices in relation to:

  • Visualisation of Learning Designs
  • Blogging
  • New Technologies in Learning (mobile)

while weaving in

  • Debates on the credibility/value of calling a generation 'Digital Natives' or some such.

My doppelganger is at work and eager for me to dip repeatedly into Linkedin.

There is some urgency here for me to identify and research a number of Open University Business School stories, always extraordinary narratives, in this case outside the UK. I'm using Linkedin to get in touch with the many associate lecturers who support our learning programme around the world.

So a bit of both.

By Tuesday I need to have the TMA written and would hope even to have a couple of stories coming through. (It may be Sunday morning but I've had one Associate Lecturer already reply).

What is the compulsion for some of us to use Social Media?

I wonder if it is the easy reward? I like listening to people's stories and we as humans love to tell tails. Personally is is low levels of dopamine in my mind that favours the novelty of the new relationship as it forms?

 

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Interested in blogging but don't know how? Try these OU Bloggers:

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 16:19
  1. Doing it the Open Way 'Voices and Texts'.

  2. Floating Along Gina Collia-Suzuki Art History Murder Mystery

  3. Freelance Unbound Making a living out of the crazy world of the business press

  4. From GCSE Maths, to Rocket Scientist...

  5. History of the OU Where students, staff and alumni share their OU experiences

  6. Isabella Black A215 Creative Writing having recently finished the A174 Start Writing Fiction.

  7. Lucienne Boyce's blog In 2006 I completed an MA in English Literature with the Open University, specialising in eighteenth century fiction.

  8. My Open University Life My Plan to get a Honors Degree Natural Sciences (Astronomy)

  9. My Open Experience My name is Hayley and I am a young student studying towards a Humanities Degree with a Philosophy and Religious Studies specialism

  10. Mathematics => A Blog Mathematics diary

  11. Meg Barker's Blog A lecturer in psychology teaching mainly on counselling courses: Counselling - Exploring Fear and Sadness. A counsellor adn writer on issues around relationships and sexuality.

  12. My Mind Bursts Reflections on e-learning as a MAODE student then Social Media Manager for the Open University Business School

 

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New blog post

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Sep 2011, 13:38

I joined the Open University on 11th April 2011 and now live in Milton Keynes during the week a fifteen minute walk from the campus. If I take the car it is a three minute run and door to door in ten minutes. This compares rather nicely to horror commutes in my past: South Coast to Hammersmith, 2 1/2 to 3 hours each way. Drive from Chipping Norton to Bristol, 77 miles, half on Cotswold Country Roads - all weathers.

To say I am now 'immersed' hardly does credit to the term.

The family I am staying with have several PHD students/academics staying in two houses (side by side) and three of the family work here too.(We walk in together)

I'm at the OU Business School (Faculty of Business and School of law).

My role is 'Social Media'  - ostensibly for external communications, but embracing to some degree internal communications and education.

Internal communications because the content/ideas and discussions generated internally feed the external content (to some degree) - certainly it informs me about what is going on.

Education because of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) link ... although a student I am embedded in the Deanery in an open plan office so people can ask questions and I can offer a point of view or indicate who, in my humble opinion, on campus might offer a more informed/expert point of view, which might come down to a paper or talk they have recently given.

A background in corporate communications using video, web and live-events brought me first to the MAODE and now to the OU, so there is a close correlation and logic to all of this.

On campus I meet regularly with people from other faculties, though I'm yet to bump into the glitterati of E-learning - a lunch-time lecture from Martin Weller that suggests that the scholarly blog is on its way should be of interest and I'll do what I can to share that here.

There are some extraordinary developments afoot, indeed they are up and running.

I think OU Platform is about to get a blast of publicity as a Social Media Zone for future, current and alumni students to stimulate their intellectual curiosity and create discussions and groups that may last for many years.

As part of a cross-faculty group that meets each week I am linking in face-to-face with those active in developing social media like tools on the OU VLE.

I am also able to tap into latest developments with extraordinary ease, meeting people in 'The Hub' a central refectory on the campus that is very close to the Institute of Educational Technology.

Yesterday was 'Learning at Work Day' at the OU.

Internal and external suppliers presenting their skills to the 4,500 or so on the campus.

I must have spent around 20-30 minutes at each of four or five stands. Of particular interest is the rapidity of desire for VLE content and course materials on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) ... or the more ubiquitous iPhone and iPad.

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Have we yet reached the moment when there is as much 'life' online as off?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 26 Feb 2012, 06:13

Too busy to blog? I can't be, it's my job.

I should be emptying the contents of my OU Student mind into this ... and here (www.mymindbursts.com) while doing a DR Who-like Confidential at the OU Business School.

On my second read of A New Culture of Learning. At this rate I'll have highlighted in chapter by chapter. It is WORTH the quick read.

The day has been spent gathering intelligence (content), then understanding how best to spread the good word via platforms I felt I was reasonably familiar with: Linked In, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr for example. There's a new side to it when you are here to converse and join in 24/7.

Coming to it from the Masters in Open and Distance Education I feel as if I am stepping over a stream, not chasm ... there is no great divide. Indeed, I can see that for some, and perhaps in time the edges that distinguish them will blur into Social Media Education - that these platforms are part of the mix, like the words written here, that form each of our experiences with the learning process.

Coming out of a webinar an hour ago (from Boston), I won't forget this message:

You need to be spending 1/3 of your time reading blogs, 1/3 of your time leaving comments on other people's blogs and 1/3 of your time writing your own blog if you want to develop an 'audience.'

Does anyone who thinks they blog seriously do that here?

I'm always struck by how our expectations are at first that as soon as we post something there will be thousands out of the hundreds of millions of people out there to read our staff; they will, but you have to play the game.

The above doesn't give much time for tagging. Maybe I'd adjust the above therefore to 30-30-30-10 with 10% of your time given over to thoughtful tagging.

(49867)

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Intellectually and spiritually content? Getting there

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:09

Delighted to have found somewhere to stay in Milton Keynes.

It is extraordinary that people live such lovely lives, the privilege of the commute being a short walk over a field, from village to Central Business District in minutes. This isn't the Britain I have ever known - a 79 mile commute being one of the worst, cattle-trucks in from South London even worse. But I've done the 'weekly border' having once been in Penrith, Cumbria while my fiance was in Paris, France for six months. Sleeping away from home is part of me of course, having had boarding school from the age of 8 I perhaps find it easy to get used to?

 

Of course the OU Campus is a strange beast, each Faculty a bright sparkly building set in its own grounds each building a short walk apart from the other. If it weren't for the speed bumps to slow the traffic down (people come in by car in their thousands) I'd imagine golf-carts to be the required way to move around.

 

But do you much? Your faculty is your home.

My home once again has connections with the university, mother and daughter work there. This does not need to be a point of conversation at home, I  have the Masters in Open and Distance Education to complete for a start and instead of talking about the OU I am delightfully engaged in conversations on the medical effect of what we eat. I find myself creeping back towards soya milk and muesli and away from coffee and biscuits.

For someone who typically blogs a thousand words a day I've been unusual quiet.

The pressure on my mind is considerable. If I find myself near a keyboard over the bank holiday I may catch up, though my inclination is to head for the sea.

This isn’t to say I’m not writing a thousand words an hour; that would be an exaggeration, but I find that 60 emails a day (sent), half this number received, contributions to Yammer an OU Twitter like feed and the various minutes and reports that I’m writing quite easily makes up the number.

As I will often tell people, the best contribution to my career was a touch-typing course at Oxford College of Education.

I'll become a poor-weather blogger.

Meanwhile what I have to say has gone into note pads. I’ve filled a 80 pad shorthand notepad, both sides. This contains a good deal of ‘Everything is Miscellaneous’ and all that I wanted from ‘Use of Blogs.’ How I would have preferred both on my Kindle, all this note taking reduced to highlighting, my ideas saved or shared immediately, and the entire thing now at the edit stage. Instead I’ll have to write it all out. I find my concentration wavers if I transcribe stuff, or more likely I feel inclined to add yet further notes and thoughts.

Meanwhile, perhaps sensibly going for paper rather than technology, I have ‘The Social Life of Information’ (2002) John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid to enjoy, ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’ (2007) Rick Levine et al and ‘E-moderating’ (2005) Gilly Salmon.

My perfect Bank Holiday would be to take these to sea – sail across the English Channel, a few days in French Ports.

As crew, this way I can read, all that fresh air, with occasional moments of physical agitation.

(48720)

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Digital Parent - neither Natives nor Immigrants

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 15:52

I've been taken in by and am now set against the idea of that there is a generational difference when it comes to use of technology - yes those starting university today clearly have different experiences with the kit than we/I did (I was at Oxford in 1981-84).

The computer was in a lab. My Dad had a Microwriter. By 1985 I might have had an Amstrad and a pager.

My point with this Digital Natives thing is that the term was coined without foundation. It is now being debunked. How come the academic instituions went along with it? Had this faux pas occured in the sciences propper rather than social sciences the ho-ha would have featured on the Today Programme.

This isn't a red top newspaper or titletattle on local radio, so why get taken in by the hyperbole.

Anyway, the OU research folk have been busy these last few months releasing all kinds of papers on the theme. Here are some of them.

It is has never been generational.

'Our research suggests that we should be cautious about distinguishing a specific generation because although there are age differences there are additional factors differentiating students, specifically gender and disciplinary differences. We find significant age related differences but we are reluctant to conclude that there is a clear disconnection between a Net generation composed of Digital Natives and older students.' ( Jones and Ramanau, 2010)

Read these for more

Jones, C and Ramanau, R (2010)

THE NET GENERATION ENTERS UNIVERSITY: WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR
TECHNOLOGY ENHANCED LEARNING? UK Open University, United Kingdom

Jones, C A new generation of learners? (2010) The Net Generation and Digital Natives

Jones. C and Healing, G (2010) Net Generation Students

 

 

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