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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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Informal learning, Google+ and iPads

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 23:55

I've set myself a challenge to take mobile learning to the nth degree, 'testing to destruction'.

If I thought the iPad would survive the experience I thought perhaps a jacuzzi or sauna?

Signal might not be good.

In my gap year eons ago I discovered that the hotel owner (4 star) thought it great that guests and staff, including a very lowly teen me, could 'chill' out together in 'his' sauna.

There is relevance and that is the idea of 'informal' learning.

Indeed, I wonder if many OU students, enjoying and enrolled in a 'life of learning' practice in a more informal way then us 'regular' students who (and I applaud it) take it reasonably seriously.

I could knock out the TMAO4 in a first draft before lunch today, not bother with much referencing and checking meaning, grammar etc: and submit expecting to scrape through with a 40 something at worst, a 50 something more likely. The problem I have is enjoying the present too much and even with e-learning being fed the latest through the likes of Zite and Stumbleupon.

Recording our hang-out session may have made for fun viewing.

On the other hand by doing so it radically changes the dynamic. I wouldn't want the student me confused with the business me.

(Four months in to a 12 month fixed contract).

That said I'd love a playback of my slow descent below the frame.

This is the trickster at play.

Belbin I believe categorises people and how they work in teams, I know where I belong! The very fact that it has become a catalyst for conversation shows it's value; where now Elluminate?

I've started to make comparisons in my OU Student Blog.

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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

JVTVCV%2520SNIP%2520STRIP%25204.JPG

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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H800 WK19 Twitter

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 1 Jul 2012, 17:52

I feel like a Kaizoo player in front of the Great Whirlitzer organ.

Reading 'Twitter for Dummies' doesn't help, but I am trying to master Linkedin, WordPress and Facebook at the same time. Which strikes me as trying to learn to play the violin, obeo and piano at the same time as having to conduct.

Thus far I manage the following:

  • Compose blog in Wordpress.
  • Tweet.
  • If it is OU related add the appropriate #.
  • May also add ^JV

I've been doing this for the 'Made in Britain' series with Evan Davies which starts on Monday with Business School input.

My handle in Twitter is JJ27VV. Someone had my name. This has stuck for a few years.

As I get my head around the OUBS website and this content is refreshed I and others authorised/enabled to do so, will Tweet pertinent content too.

Adding to the noise? Or or value? A must have ... because everyone esle is doing it?

I may Tweet things I find of interest, adding the hashtag or not. I am just as likely to 'Share' by sending the content to one of several WordPress blogs first.

There IS an educational value to this constant chattering, and that is to listen in and join conversations on something that is current.

So this week it might be conversatons on m-learning. (A suffix that is likely to become more quickly redundant than e-learning).

I wish I had the details to quote the person properly but in an interview a few weeks ago someone said 'research into a subject until the narrative reveals itself'.

I feel I have reached a stage where conversations that made no sense to me a year ago, now make sense and I can pick out threads, create my own narrative from it, even place the 'level' of conversation somewhere along that person's learning journey so that I can compare it to mine.

This in turn, again, there is a person to quote ... makes learning with this technology more akin to direct, face-to-face conversations that in the past would only be picked up by physically being on campus, in a student common room, lecture hall or tutor group.

The 'democratization' of education that I dismissed a year ago occurs because more often or not, the undergraduate gets to listen in and even join in discussion in the 'senior common room,' as it were.

This in turn picks up John Seely Brown's idea of learning through participation, starting on the periphery whoever you are and through listening and engagement slowly being enrolled and brought into the group.

Off hand I can think of my brother who develop his passion for all things mechanical buy watching his grandfather, then hanging around competent hobbyist mechanics, or pestering people who were servicing Mums car. He read the magazine, watch the TV shows, 'listen in' to the conversations and goings on around go-kart race tracks. He never had a lesson but is more than capable of rebuilding any car under the sun today.

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H800: 22 Wk2 Activity 1 John Seely Brown on participation through tinkering

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 8 Mar 2012, 16:53

I agree with John Seely Brown’s emphasis, however, how should the degree of and the value of participation differ between the following four types of learning situation: primary, secondary, tertiary and ‘on the job.’

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And how does this degree of participation through-out a term, day or even a lesson in relation to the context, the ratio of teachers to pupils, the subject matter, the mix of students, the time of day, period in the week, in the term and so on. And how does such participation rank. Or measure up, in terms of efficacy – the time in which certain learning outcomes need to be met and assessed?

Learning that might be described as mechanical, compared to intellectual, for example, between how to fill a drum with uranium trioxide correctly, reliably and safely compared to learning a language. And even within these examples, how does the person’s preferred learning style come in to play?

QQ 1. Your work so far on H800 includes some individual reading and viewing/listening. Does Brown’s argument imply that this is less valuable than your group work?

Not at all.

Participation is being recognised as a shift to make more of something that has always occurred, but is enabled by current technology, so that such participation is as possible at a distance, as it is face-to-face.

The individual reading, reviewing/listening … and watching provides the assets, insights and experiences of others that are required to begin to form an opinion. As Vygotsky (1926) points out, learning doesn’t occur in a vacuum, there are stages, or step changes, related to coming to a more mature response to something. However, Brown suggests during the course of the presentation, that merely attaching oneself to the periphery of group work that interests you, could or will, if you play your role, lead to a kind of reverse centrifugal force during which you will be drawn into, or tumble in amongst, the activity at the centre of the group. The example he used was on contributing to the development of Open Source Software, the outsider attaching at the periphery and through participation, confidence, demonstration of ability, through ‘tinkering’ and engagement, gradually proving themselves worthy of participation in the ‘inner sanctum’ as it were.

QQ2. What are the implications of his argument for your own use of technology – in your own learning and teaching?

If we think of the best way to learn a language as ‘immersive,’ then perhaps there are many more occasions where similarly immersive, participatory learning could have a place and produce, as a result, better ‘results.’ That there is no point in being precious with knowledge, instead of keeping it close, let it go, build reputation, share ideas. How authors or creators/creatives earn a living from the expression of their thoughts is another issue.

Models are changing across the board

This is completely counter to my experience of secondary and tertiary education, indeed, I liken myself to Brown who talks about his writing code that no others could read and being proud of this. We kept everything close to our chests. However, putting on theatre shows and later moving into TV and Film production, I was involved in a highly participatory activity, indeed, coming in as a runner, or production assistant is/was and still is the way to gain experience, learn on the job, prove yourself and through will, willingness and personality, being drawn in or permitted into the ‘inner sanctum’ which you might call the key roles of producer, director or writer (compared to assistants to any of these, or assistants to the assistants).

QQ3. What are your reactions to Brown’s style of presentation?

The experience in person would have been satisfactory. As you listen you may take notes, may refer as appropriate to the slides he uses, as well as watching his facial expressions and body language and listening to the change in timbre, tone and pace of his voice, all adding emphasis, nuance and even colour to what he is saying. As someone from Television, who has covered lectures/talks it disappoints me that little adequate thought has been given to why certain shot sizes work better, the variety of shot sizes, the angle from which it is shot, even the lighting as Brown often steps back into the shadows, let alone when and how to use cut-aways to the slides and to the audience. However, for a change, the sound quality is good – often it is atrocious. If you get bored or distracted count how many bald heads there are, try to see who is taking notes, does someone get up and leave then return.

None of this is pertinent to the piece and should never been in the frame! Indeed, picking up on what he says later I ought to load this into iMovies or FinalCut Pro, frame him, cut in therefore, and source alternative or better slides.

To cut back its length I may cut in audience shots, whether or not they are of people at this presentation so long as they appear to make a match. What Brown himself would applaud and calls ‘tinkering,’ which is perhaps his thesis.

To tinker is good. Participation is effective.

Enrolling people, engaging them, team-work, motivational techniques … all suggests the teacher not as subject matter expert, but as host, guide or coach ... so simply the person with first-hand experience. ‘Understanding,’ he says, ‘is socially constructed’.

QQ4. What are its strengths and weaknesses compared with the webcast lecture in Week 1 about the Google Generation, or with other presentations you have seen?

Online producers are yet to convince me that they have got it right. I doubt there is a single ‘best’ way to cover such talks/lectures … you may want to preserve the veracity of the presentation and therefore cut nothing at all, indeed, professionally for multi-media and for multiple platforms ‘we’ may provide potential editors with shot sizes and cut-aways to allow them to make their own editorial decisions: this would be in keeping with what Brown describes as ‘tinkering’ later on.

Dr Ian Rowland gave a chat, without visual support. Brown gave a talk with visual support that was weak – they didn’t complement what he was saying, they lacked, IMHO, adequate emphasis.

The answer, which those in education, where the budget permits, should do, is for writers to work with visualises, as in advertising copywriters work with art directors, or giving the emphasis to the director, as directors do with another person’s screenplay/script in TV. This isn’t so far-fetched, modern educators can shoot and edit their own video, and as educators surely they ought to be more away of the need and benefits of appealing across the senses. For example, if this presentation were going to 17,000 managers across the Deutsche Bank I might have the budget to employ an illustrator/cartoonist such as Steven Appleby to make more of these supporting images – to make them more memorable and appealing, and in so doing, strengthening the message.

QQ5. Is it paradoxical that you are invited to listen to one person talking about, among other things, the importance of study groups?

It isn’t paradoxical at all. We live in a mixed and multi-media world. Those recording these events, as here, shouldn’t just be alert to accessibility issues (sight/sound), but to learning choices an audience/readers might like to make on how they engage with the material based on personal choices and circumstances.

Often, despite balking at reading all the time, I would prefer the peer-reviewed, published paper that can be read in a fraction of the time it takes to sit through a ‘talk.’ Already I behave as my 12 year old son does and would have listened to John Seely Brown, while reading the transcript, while (as I did) executing quick Google searches on all manner of things that he mentioned, from ‘what is a ‘bull meeting,’ to the credentials of those he mentioned (what does it say in Linked In) and any related reports John Seely Brown may have penned SINCE this presentation in October 2007.

REFERENCE

 

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