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Less 'e' means more learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 28 May 2014, 15:44

Fig.1. My Personal Learning Environment

For someone who completed the Master of Arts Open and Distance Education over a year ago and has done further MAODE modules here and other MA modules elsewhere it surprises even me to recognise I learn, and probably do, more when I am NOT in front of the computer (iPad, laptop or desktop).

These days I have no choice but to read books and when I do this is how I set about them:

Read and attach PostIts

Write up, selectively, into a notebook the bits that I've picked out (there is a further filtering process here)

Then type these notes up into a Google Doc (typically into a table).

I have become meticulous about citing as I go along as to want to use a quote or idea and not know where it came from can take a considerable time to recover.

An eBook isn't only on the Kindle (now Paperwhite), but also on the iPad and sometimes even on the laptop or desktop. I read in tight columns with few words, fast - like a TV autocue. As I go along I highlight. Sometimes bookmark something important or big. And from time to time add a note. On other screens the highlights can be colour sorted, so I may theme these as highlights for an essay, for their narrative value, or simply their quirkiness (so I can blog about it).

Interaction with the content in any and many ways is key. Having a presentation to give or essay to write is crucial, otherwise you can read a book and highlight/bookmark far too much of the thing.

Invariably I follow up references. I may loop off to read parts of these references immediately, which may be a paragraph in another book, sometimes a book I can find free online, sometimes an eBook for £2 or so ... occasionally a hefty tome that gives me pause for thought. I have a student library card so can get down to the University of Sussex in 30 minutes. Here I've just read a few chapters from a biography on Plumer as I'm preparing something on aspects of Third Ypres, the Battle of Passchendaele. My self-directed reading list my have expanded to some dozen texts by now: divisional histories, several biographies on Haig, several books on military history with specialist books on the machine gun corps and gas. My notes are always created in Google Docs and in this case the folder shared with a fellow student who has added his own notes too. The learning process is akin to making a sculpture out of papier mache - I keep attaching little pieces and am starting to get a clear idea of the thing. 

Is reading still one of the most efficient ways to pass information from one person/source to another? It's quicker than a lecture. Good for many things. Were I studying Law surely reading is everything, whereas Chemistry or Physics you may benefit from and prefer the video/animation, the lecture with charts.

 

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Design Museum

P is for your Personal Learning Environment (PLE)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 3 Jun 2014, 12:49

 

My personal learning environment

  • Piaget

  • Chris Pegler

  • Personas

  • Personal Learning Environment (PLE)

  • Practice-based Learning

  • Randy Pausch

  • Punk Rock People Management

  • Produsers

Across the period I have been studying MAODE modules the nature, shape, scape and emphasis of my 'personal learning environment' has changed, in part as finances have waxed and wained, I have gone from a borrowed laptop working from print outs to making considerable use of a Kindle and then an iPad, before adding to this armoury a desktop and laptop and keeping all working 'in the cloud' so that it is readily accessed from any device. THIS is how I work 'anytime, anywhere' - each device allows me to tap into a module whether I'm travelling, on the kitchen table, in bed ... in the middle of the night, in the back of the car, on a walk. Whilst I have, typically, a three hour stint when I work during the day, much is picked up at other times, in particular reading on the fly, highlighting passages and then picking these out in notes later. I swear by the mind-mapping app 'SimpleMinds' and have even taken to screen-grabbing pages of books or papers to illustrate and annotate in a graphics app called Studio.

Piaget is an historic name in education that you'll need to read.

Chris Pegler has made her presence felt across the MAODE while I've been doing it ... she may even have been an associate lecturer in 2001 when I made a hesitant start on the thing. More of a doer than many of the academics you read - she has been present as the Chair, at conferences, and online. The kind of educator who engages with students rather than being sniffy about student engagement as too many research-bound academics can be.

Personas are a vital way to visualise your students when designing learning ... or creating any form of communication. As relevant to the creation of e-learning as the creation of anything else.

Practice-based learning or applied learning, sometimes 'just in time' learning has also to be blended learning. It is about effecting direct change in situ, supportive learning in the work-place. A smartphone or tablet with access to the Internet is all it takes rather than specialist papers or books. It's been around for far longer than may be apparent; in 1996 I was working for the RAC when they launched a bespoke handheld device that combined diagnostics, instruction and car payment in a single device called the 'hard body'.

Randy Pausch was an inspirational lecturer on 3d at Carnegie-Mellon University - go see his TED lectures.

Punk Rock People Management is the brain child of an OU MBA alumnus.

Produsers is a term that has not caught on, but sums up the idea of 'user generated content' where we, as students, not only consume or use information, but generate it too. This would include curating or aggregating content to share. It puts the onus of learning in amongst the students.

REFERENCE

Piaget, J. (1970) Science of Education and the Psychology of the Child, New York: Orion Press.

Pegler, C and Littlejohn, A (2004) Preparing for Blended e-Learning, Routledge.

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My Personal Learning Environment

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 11:49

I should look back at how this has changed over four years. Taking on more technology took a while. I remember the days of printing off. Then I migrated to an iPad and constantly looked at ways not to come offline ever. Now I mix it all up: I use a white board, I doodle in a notepad and I shift between devices as everything is done in Google Docs.

I have some favourite apps:

  • SimpleMinds
  • Studio

And load perhaps 50-100 pictures to Picasa Web Gallery every day ... there are over 2000 images and screen-grabs from the MAODEs alone. And far too many pictures of the dog hiding when I take her for a walk.

My only bete noire are the ruddy cables you need to supply power to the kit; I went away for a few days armed with iPad and Macbook Air but forget the charger for the laptop. The iPad cable feels as if I am packing a coil of rope - it ways more with the plug and takes up more space.

My test over the next couple of months is when I set off for a month to Belgium, France and the Alps. Will I hanker after a robust broadband signal all the time?

 

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