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How online courses are starting to make a change to how we learn

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 4 Feb 2015, 18:15

Fig.1 A publicity still from my own short film 'Listening In.' Did you catch it on Channel 4? I know seven people who did smile

Marshall McLuhan had a lot to say about the medium being the message when TV came along in the 1960s.

I always put the message first and with online courses (MOOCs by another name?) I would liken them to books or TV programmes ... there are many as you can imagine for every kind of audience, by educational attainment, and subject. I agree that learning is inherently social.

Having got kids who could touch type before they could handwrite and use the Internet before they could use the telephone I have witnessed them learn, collectively, online in various 'online' activities - almost always with the very same people they are seeing during the day in class.

Platforms, such as FutureLearn are tailored for this - EdX, by way of contrast is not.

Learning outcomes must be an important raison d'etre for MOOCs, but I don't see this at all as being the only reason institutions are producing them. They are seeking to attract students to courses that are either taught on campus or online at a distance. If a MOOC on Aviation Comes of Age in the First World War attracts 5000 and 500 finish the course 50 buy certificates and 5 sign up for the MA then they have doubled their student intake to a niche subject. I'm making a wild stab at the numbers: I don't know what they were. I can hazard a guess by the activity in the discussions. They are producing them to learn from the experience, gain the in-house knowledge and support their educators and producing online content for their regular courses too. 

The numbers I do know are for the FutureLearn course 'Start Writing Fiction' which had 23,000 students to start with and bucked the trend by having 25,000 in week two. I can only guess at the numbers who made it through to the end based on the crude stats we have for 'MOOCs' to date. A new outcome for this course is that nearly two months after it officially ended people are still starting and still completing the course: I know this as I set up both LinkedIn and WordPress groups to support them and actively return to the course myself to refresh ideas and contribute to reviews of work submitted and discussions with those there.

By way of comparison, the University of Southampton WebScience MOOC is aimed at PhD candidates: I should now as I was one of those candidates and interview to study a PhD. I had no answer for my not having a medical degree or having done a randomised control trial before.

The 'Oxbridge Tutorial' is commonly used in the UK and is a tutorial system used at Oxford Cambridge, Bristol, Durham and LSE I believe. Is it also the Socratic Method?

The method of knowledge transfer may be the same but numbers are lower 1:1, or 1:3 max. A MOOC experience that works, at this level includes both Socratic and Madras approaches, for better or worse. Worse according to Oxford's Internet Institute (Rebecca Eynon) where cliques form around the leading student educators that appear to block out others.

PhD students may have to study on their own, but do they want to? MA students don't.

The Educators I know at university want to teach too.

Digital literacy, like any kind of literacy matters. I engage those who have been online for a decade and those that are newcomers. They pick it up pretty fasts if helped by others.

Other MOOCs I've looked at are aimed at those at school (High School in England) to help them with university entrance and preparation, I've mentioned an MA even PhD level MOOC while the Exploring Filmmaking would have been on TV in the past.

EdX won't let you in without paying.

Udemy is getting a dreadful reputation.

Lumesse is a corporate platform a bit like FutureLearn.

A gem of a Free Course from FutureLearn that has just started is 'Exploring Filmmaking' with the National Film and Television School. As you'd expect the value are top notch. A great mix. Bitesize learning. Great discussions. 90 mins to 2 hours a week - a lot more if you get deeply engaged. 

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What supported, loving, inspirational learning looks like?

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Fig. 1. My sister and her month old grandson. (c) S.J.F.Mitchell (2014)

Is love the best form of education?

Love of your 'teacher'

Their love of the 'subject'

With motivation who needs the Internet or books? Both help. Classes help. Having and giving the time helps. Support helps. Parents play a role, and should they be around, grandparents even more so because they are there.

On a quest to find some international plugs (I failed), I stumbled upon the cards I used to give the eulogy for my late grandfather. He died in early December 1992 at the age of 96. He left school at 14. He talked about the First World War and I watched him, never idle, in the garage and garden. When do undergraduates or graduates get to 'watch' their tutors 'at work'. That would be an insight, and inspirational. Or is this in part what one gets during a PhD?

 

 

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H818 Activity 3.2

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 16:08

INCLUSION

Inclusion/Case Study : John, an engineering Postgrad PhD student with Cerberal Palsy

Inclusion/Multimedia Demo: Xerte

Inclusion/Workshop: Creative Problem Solving: YouTube

http://youtu.be/LFYLeT9q8tk

Loads of ideas in VanGundy's book: VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed, Van Norstrand Reinhold. Techniques 4.01, 4.06, 4.57

INNOVATION

Innovation/Paper: Spaced-Ed, now QStream. A platform initially designed to support junior doctors as they revised for formal knowledge assessments. Paper (Paper available in OU Library)

Innovation/demo: QStream 90 day trial

Innovation/Workshop: Creative Problem Solving

TAGS: cerebral palsy, accessibility, junior doctors, harvard, qstream, spaced-ed, structured problem solving, van gundy, xerte, multimedia, inclusion, case study, engineering, phd, innovation, youtube,

 

 

 

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Has much changed here?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 19 Sep 2013, 12:57

I'm delighted to say the the transformation is an enhancement and the improvements are seamless without any loss of what we had before ... a 'bulletin-board-cum-blog-thingey'. My previous post suggested I might have found a bolt-hole without Internet. It hasn't lasted.

I will get Internet access down the road (I had wanted a garden office but this desire became an insummountable barrier at home).

All that it requires from me is something I lack - self-discipline NOT to get distracted by email, which includes updated postings from forums and the likes of Linkedin (let alone a gaggle of family members on Facebook). AOL is the worst as I innocently go to check email and find 20 minutes later I am still clicking through the inviting gobbets of news and sensation that is offered. 

I had hoped to behave like the smoker trying to give up - I'll only smoke other people's fags. A very, very, very long time ago ... I can honestly say I have never smoked a cigarette since I turned 20.

Back to the Internet. Like Television.

Or diet. We are living in an age where self-control is vital. Having not had a TV for several months I was eventually pushed to buy one. Courtesy of Which? we now have a TV so Smart that it probably tells my brother in South Africa who is watching what .... we can Skype sofa to sofa. I just wonder if our antics could be recorded and posted on YouTube? Not my doing but any of the teenagers with the wherewithal just hit a record button somewhere.

In all this hi-tech I DO have a tool I'd recommend to anyone.

I've invested in an hour-glass. In runs for 30 minutes. While that sand is running all I may do is read and take notes. This might be an eBook, or a printed book, either way they are on a bookstand. I take notes, fountain pen to lined paper. What could be easier? The left hand may highlight or bookmark and turn a page, while the right writes?

This works as the filtering process of the knowledge that I am reading and want to retain needs to go through several steps in any case. The handwritten notes will be reduced again as I go through, typing up the ideas that have some resonance for me.

My current task has been 'How Europe went to war in 1914' by Christopher Clark.

I doubt my second thorough read will be the last. From notes I will start posting blogs and going into related social platforms to share and develop thoughts and in so doing be corrected while firming up my own views. I need this social interaction, to join the discussion if not the debate.

Meanwhile I will revisit Martin Weller's book on Digital Scholarship.

However swift the age of the Internet may be he suggests it will still take a person ten years to achieve the 'scholar' level ... whereas John Seely Brown recently reckoned this was now down to five years. i.e. through undergraduate and postgraduate levels and popping out the other end with a PhD in five years.

DIdn't an 18 year old who was home schooled just get called to the Bar?

She graduated with a law degree while contemporaries did A' Levels and finished High School and then did a year of pupillage I suppose.

The intellectual 'have's' of the future will, by one means of another, achieve degree status at this age. The Internet permits it.

School is far, far, far, far, far too lax.

It tends to the median if not the mediocre. Long ago it found a way to process kids as a genderless yeargroup instead of treading each student as an individual ... so let them skip a year, let them stay back a year ... allow them to expand and push subjects that appeal to them.

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Making Connections

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 13 Jun 2013, 08:42

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  • Stuff found behind the sofa
  • Mindstorms - Seymor Papert
  • Seven Years in Tibet - Heinrich Harra
  • The Future of Pharma - Brian Smith
  • H809 EMA
  • EPHMRA Conference 2013
  • P.hD Research

The stuff that came out of the sofa means nothing to me. These got shoved down the back and sides of the thing nearly a decade ago and whilst I can relate these bits to a child and our dog I cannot see the moment where the stuffing took place ... or even how it could have occurred. Lego bits got constructed on the floor. The dog should have been on the floor. We never used 'soothers' with our children so I guess a parent visited, removed one from a baby and it was lost. In learning terms I liken these artifacts to the niche ideas of an author whose context I don't comprehend - given my recent multiple visits to various museums it is also like going to a museum and walking past exhibits for which you have no context.

Mindstorms is often quoted and I can see why. It draws a lot from Piaget and even mentions Claude Levi-Strauss. I need to investigate both further. It ties into the work of Montessori too and the lessons we gain from understanding how children, or infants in particular, learn.

Seven Years in Tibet and other books by Heinrich Harrer might be better books that a film. I enjoyed the film with Brad Pitt as a lesson, not just as entertainment. My wife couldn't handle his Austrian accent. I was intrigued by the Dalai Llama and the breaking of rules which allowed his tutor to get closer than court etiquette would have permitted. It says a lot about formal vs. informal learning. As well as the drive of the pupil to comprehend.

The pharmaceutical industry inevitably touches on any research into use of prescription drugs. This academic, business school authored book, without becoming popularist, provides a serious of invaluable insights that put adherence to drugs in the wider context of funding, government, longer life and big business.

I am pulling together the EMA for H809. This segues into first interviews with potential supervisors for P.hD research in e-learning in healthcare.

My wife baulked at the £2000 fee to attend a Pharma Conference - EPHMRA. She isn't attending and will skip these things unless she joins Big Pharma or agency. Her contacts on the phone will provide some insights. Already though I squirm at 'papers' presented for an by corporate players as I cannot help but find holes - critiques being the modus operandi of H809.

 

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Potty or just excited?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 12 Jun 2013, 02:22

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Excited and nervous about getting my head around an EMA and turning this into a P.hD proposal I wacked off an email to a contact on the US East Coast not expecting a reply for 24 hours. They're potty too ... either in the office at 9.00pm last night (their time) or taking 'office' emails.

My excuse is the dog decided to dig up her bed an hour ago. (1.00pm)

I have a lot of reading to do. I've made a start on 'The Future of Pharma' which is by an OU Visiting Professor. When I crawl off back to bed (like now) this can had an odd effect on my dreams - trials, drugs, 'Big Pharma' can meld into a horror story. Not helped by a dose of Netflix 'Resident Evil' earlier on either.

'The Worlds Most Important Industry' writes the author - not how too many people see it, but then when did they or a loved one last take any kind of medication that has improved their quality of life? Personally I would have been dead in the first six months ... and at some stage in the last 30 would have succumbed to an asthma attack, flu or bronchitis ... or all three simultaneously. My brother would have died age four.

On the other hand my grandfather made it to 96 and had little to do with doctors. While my mother might have succumbed to a couple of strokes instead of being kept alive in the most pitiful state for an additional three months ...

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H809 TMA03 Away

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 5 Jun 2014, 05:29

How often have I written that?

This is almost certainly the last. At least for the time-being. The MA ODE is in the bag and this module, the bonus track of my investigation into e-learning. Just the EMA to go - not just a research proposal, but a PhD research proposal which will be the basis of my seeking to undertake doctoral research in 2014.

If I care to I have some 25 entries for this blog too - rather than using the blog as an e-portfolio though I am finding I am loading everything into and working from Google Docs while drawing from a gallery of albums containing thousands of e-learning related images and screen grabs ... around 1600 in fact.

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A new chapter begins ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 8 May 2013, 04:42

Four months into making the decision to pursue this route I have taken my first step towards doctoral research. I had to collate qualification certificates from ancient degrees - which was an interesting experience. And talk to OU Tutors about an academic reference. It feels as scary as putting in an EMA, except that here the result is either pass or fail.

If I can stick to this plan then the full round of applications starts in January 2014.

As much work as possible until September 2014 would be a good idea.

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My insatiable appetite for e-learning

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I've joined the #H817open MOOC.

A few reasons for this.

I had originally signed up for H817 so this is my way of getting a piece of the action. Although my MAODE is done I'd wanted to retake H807 (my first module) and found this replacement more appealing ... H807 was languishing in the early part of the millennium when I did it.  Think studying Aircraft before and after WW1 by way of example. It was all a bit clunky.

So there's that reason.

I'm on H809 which is the better potential bridge into research - applications for PhD work are coming due. I may even have to postpone 'til 2014.

And I believe in the power of total immersion.

Whilst distance and e-learning has served its purpose these last three years I now crave fulltime, campus based study - mixing with students and colleagues, attending and giving lectures, taking tutorials and moderating student forums i.e the all round educator in tertiaru ... or postgraduate study.

Onwards and upwards

(Fuelled by Prometheus which I watched last night and that infected my dreams. An add pattern of a repetitive or recurrent dream where I am Sellotaping posters to a long scroll and flying through space. Rather sums me up at the moment)

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OU Library and a developing understanding of why too many asthmatics don't bother to take their prescribed medicines.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013, 11:23

I will never tire from serving my curiosity when I entre the OU Online Library. I am often lost for weeks at a time, dipping into everything that catches my eye, reading some of if all the way through, following up further leads, then further leads until I find I've either circumnavigated the globe, dropped back a century or more or am spinning circles in a slow, spiraling descent through a single authors previous thinking.

I don't need a ball of thread to help me find my way out and there's no Minotaur to slay at the centre.

All I hate is a underpowered laptop and a rubbish internet connection.

Currently my interest is reseach on compliance, noncompliance, adherence and coherence in use of asthma drugs. I should know, I am one. My compliance is excellent. One asthma attack in my teens and I do everything to the letter. I fail to understand how and why 30% of people with my condition end up hospitalised or dead. The reading is extraordinarily diverse, bringing it down to the person, their identity with the condition and unwillingness to take a couple of puffs on an inhaler morning and night - when surely they are in and out of the bathroom anyway?

If you know any asthmatics like this please put them in touch or send them to my blog where I will add notes.

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H809 : Can blogging be worthy of academic study?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 2 Apr 2013, 12:07

I did a search in my own blog knowing that somewhere I cited an academic who described blogging as 'whatever you can do on electronic paper'.

Chatting about this at dinner my 14 year old son trumped my conversation with his mother as I tried to define a blog and what can go into one with one word 'anything'.

For me there has been a slow shift from text (the weblog-cum-dairy journal thingey), to adding pictures (which have become photo / image galleries, photostreams of Flickr and concept boards of Pinterest), to adding video ... to adding 'anything' - apps, interactivity, grabs, mashups, music ...

My starting place is here.

This 'eportofolio, writers journal, aggregating, dumping ground, place for reflection and course work'.

You see, is it a blog at all? This platform, I'm glad, has its design roots in a Bulletin board.

The limitations of our OU Student Blog platform works in its favour.

I can only put in two search terms. In Google I might write a sentence and get a million links, in my wordpress blog it might offer have the contents.

Less is more.

Here I search 'blog paper' and get 112 posts that contain both words.

I'll spin through these an add a unique tag. My starting place.

But to study blogging would be like researching the flotsam and jetsam that floats across our oceans - after a tsunami.

RESEARCH

Starting with a book published in 2006 'Use of Blogs' I want to read a paper 'Bloggers vs. Journalists' published in 2005. A search finds richer, more up to date content. Do I even bother with this first paper? (ironic that we even call them papers).

I can't read everything so how do I select?

  • Toggle through the abstract, check out the authors, see where else such and such a paper has been cited.
  • Prioritise.
  • Use RefWorks rather than my habit to date of downloading papers that MIGHT be of interest.

Whilst storage space is so inexpensive it is virtually free there is no need to clutter my harddrive, dropbox or Google Docs space.

Which makes me think of one of my other favourite metaphors - kicking autumn leaves into the breeze. That or drowning in info overload, or as the Robert de Nero character in Brazil, Archibald 'Harry' Tuttle, who vanishes in a pile of discared paper ... my mind wanders. We do. It does.

I stumble in the OU Library as I find I am offered everything under the sun. I am used to being offered academic papers only. So far all I'm getting are scanned images of articles in newsapers on blogging. All feels very inside out.

Where's the 'turn off the printed stuff' button?

I fear that just as I have never desired to be a journalist, prefering the free form of your own diary, letters, and of course blogging and forums online, I will struggle to write within the parameters of an academic paper. I'm managing assignment here, so I guess I'm learning to split the two. A useful lesson to have learnt.

Serendipity

Is this a research methodology?

I am looking at a book on bloggin, 'Use of Blogs' (Bruns & Jacobs, 2006). I have it open on p.31 Notes (i.e. references) for the chapter Journalists and News Bloggers.

As I pick through these articles, papers and reviews written between 2002 and 2005 I find several of the authors, a decade on, are big names in the Journalism/Blogger debate. It's as if I am looking at a tray of seedlings.

It strikes me as easier to start in 2006 with 27 starting points when the field of debate was narrow, rather than coming in from 2013 and finding myself parachuting into a mature Amazonian jungle of mixed up printed and digital, journalism and blog content.

Courtesy of the OU Library and RefWorks I have nailed this article after a decade of searching:

Druckerman, P (1999) Ellen Levy Has Got The Write Project For the Internet Age --- It's a Year of Scribbling Down Almost Everything; Ah, Yes, It Was a Raisin Bagel, New York, N.Y., United States, New York, N.Y.

Reading this around 23rd /24th September 1999 prompted me to start blogging

Then I'd been reading blogs for a few months but had a mental block with uploading HTML files and then along came the first 'ready made' DIY blogging platforms.

The last 12 years makes amusing reading - particularly the battle between journalists and bloggers. And who has won? Is there a difference anymore? Journalists blog and bloggers are journalists and entire newspapers are more blog-like from The Huffington Post to the FT ... which within three years will close all its print operations.

To be used in learning and to be a genre to study blogging needs to be part of formative assessment

A blog therefore becomes 'an active demonstration of learning' with cumulative feedback. I've only received ONE Tutor comment in my OU blog and that was to say why was I blogging and not getting on with my TMA. This person had their head so stuffed inside primary school education of the 1960s it made me feel like tossing my cap in the air.

Why MAODE students blog (Kerewella et al, 2009) depends on their perceptions of, and for:

  1. an audience
  2. community
  3. the utility of and need for comments
  4. presentational style of the blog content
  5. overarching factors related to the technological context
  6. the pedagogical context of the course

Cited x30

REFERENCES

'Bloggers vs. journalist: The next 100 year War?' 2011, Public Relations Tactics, 18, 4, p. 17, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 February 2013.

Bruns, A. Jacobs, J. (2006) Use of Blogs.

Kerawalla, L, Minocha, S, Kirkup, G, & Conole, G (2009) 'An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging in higher education', Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 25, 1, pp. 31-42, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 February 2013.

Rosen, J. (2007) 'Web Users Open the Gates', Washington Post, The, n.d., UK & Ireland Reference Centre, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 February 2013.

 

 

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Why blog? Ask Dr Lilia Efimova

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Nov 2013, 11:13

Fig. 1. Dr Lilia Efimova - her Phd thesis is on blogging to support knowledge management in the workplace.

  1. Somewhere to “park” emerging insights until the moment they are needed. Efimova (2009. p 75)
  2. Doesn’t require much effort
  3. Somewhere to park ideas
  4. Reading and engaging with others to become aware of issues and themes
  5. Topics accumulate and connections grew and things become clearer.
  6. A set of sense-making practices
  7. “Everyday grounded theory” Efimova (2009. p. 75)
  8. Connecting multiple fragments
  9. Getting into the writing flow
  10. Strengthened by readers’ feedback
  11. A channel for distribution
  12. Publication additional motivation to document emergent ideas
  13. A legitimate place to share thinking in progress
  14. -ve when the need is to be extremely selective and focused. Efimova (2009. p. 80)
  15. To collect in one place the fragmented bits relevant to my thinking Efimova (2009. 3.5.4)
  16. Clusters of conversations
  17. Conversations unfolding
  18. A personal space and a community space simultaneously.
  19. A personal narrative used to articulate and to organise one’s own thinking. (conversation with self. p 90?) around 4.3
  20. An example of hypertext conversation. Efimova (2009. p. 129)
  21. Weblogs provide a space that helps both to develop one’s own point of view and discuss it with others.
  22. Bloggers present their ideas to the world, readers learn from them. Efimova (2009. p. getting things done. staying in touch)

 

REFERENCE

Efimova.L (2009) Passion At Work : Blogging practices of knowledge workers. Novay PhD Research Series, No. 24 (Novay/PRS/024)

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Why blog?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 15 Feb 2013, 09:28

'As with writing, blogging is not simply formulating in words an idea already developed in one’s mind. It is also about connecting, developing and redefining half-baked ideas. When writing, I often go through the weblog archives to explore connections with what is already there. Reading and rereading what I wrote before shapes and changes what I’m about to write: I often find something unexpected or see patterns only in retrospect'. Efimova (2009. p 70)

REFERENCE

Efimova, L. (2009) Passion at work: blogging practices of knowledge workers. Novay PhD Research Series 2009 (www.novay.nl.dissertations)

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Lilia Efimova - Post PhD on Blogging (with purpose)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 12 Feb 2013, 09:10

Lilia Efimova

PhD Blogger

http://blog.mathemagenic.com/

REFERENCES

Anjewierden, A, & Efimova, L 2006, 'Understanding Weblog Communities Through Digital Traces: A Framework, a Tool and an Example', Lecture Notes In Computer Science, 4277, pp. 279-289, British Library Document Supply Centre Inside Serials & Conference Proceedings, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 February 2013.

Efimova, LL 2007, 'Getting value from employee weblogs: a knowledge management approach', Online Information -International Meeting-, p. 43, British Library Document Supply Centre Inside Serials & Conference Proceedings, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 February 2013.

Sauer, I, Bialek, D, Efimova, E, Schwartlander, R, Pless, G, & Neuhaus, P 2005, '“ Blogs” and“ Wikis” Are Valuable Software Tools for Communication Within Research Groups', Artificial Organs, 29, 1, pp. 82-89, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 February 2013.

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H809 WK1 DAY 2 Nerves

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 3 Feb 2013, 17:18

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Fig. 1. Lava Lamps - and how we learn - on a rising thermal and in coloured, slimy blobs ...

There is a physiological response to the first moments of a new module - I am nervous. This is like meeting the cast for a student play for the first read through. Intrepidation and expectation. As ever, I know no one, not the tutor or fellow students, though many of us have surely crossed paths on previous MAODE modules. We certainly have all of that in common so will have a set of themes and authors, favourite moments and gripes to share.

Visually I see this as my 'Lava Lamp' year!

The blob is starting to stretch and will at some stage take me away from the Master's Degree - now complete - and onwards either returning to learning and development in the multinational / government department arena of my past, or into research.

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Fig. 2. Lava lamp inspired quilt - illustrates this idea of the thermal. Is this how we learn? It's how I visualise it.

If you want the wordy, academic response then read Kolb.

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Fig. 3. How I see learning occuring - as expressed during H808 - The e-learning professional

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Swimtag

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 29 Jan 2013, 22:49

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Fig. 1. Swimtag

Swimtag today, skitag tomorrow

Serendipity had me click on Swimtag and I'm hooked - as a swimmer and coach, but for the purposes of this note as a prospective PhD student looking for a research project for the next three years.

My interest is in e-learning, sport and virtual assistants / augmented learning.

Armed with a set of swimtags I'd like to research their use with a range of swimmers: masters, elite athletes, learn to swim and swimmers with disabilities. We have all of these in our 1000+ member swimming club Mid Sussex Marlins SC. Early days - I have only just completed a Masters in Open & Distance Education and am tentatively speaking to potential supervisors at the Open University, Oxford Internet Institute and Web Sciences at Southampton University with a view to submitting a doctoral research project in the next couple of months.

My vision is how swimtag becomes as commonplace as swim goggles, then translates into other sports and other fields, including business, but also as a potential prothesis for people suffering from dementia or memory loss so potentially tied into other data capture devices.

I am seriously looking at funded PhD research for the next 3/4 years.

I am interested in e-learning, so Learning & Development particularly for v. large organisations. There is a groundswell of interest in devices/software that enhance or support memory and learning. There is a fertile crossover between health - providing support say to those who would benefit from cognitive support, what we call 'lifelogging' - so gathering pertinent data about the world around you, then using this in an artificially edited form (using Artificial Intelligence algorithms) to supplement memory loss or to enhance learning potential as a virtual companion. Those recovering from a stroke or with dementia included.

It may sound like science fiction but people have been working on these ideas for a decade or more.

I appreciate that simply tagging vulnerable people who may wander off and not know how to find their way home is one way to support but I'm thinking about quality of life and facilitating memory and communication too.

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H810 End of Module Assignment - done!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 13 Jan 2013, 10:15

I have never finished an assignment within a few hours of the deadline - it has taken, what 16 assignment and five modules to reach the stage with my FINAL assignment that I am satisfied with my fifth draft and can upload FIVE days ahead of the deadline.

If only I had understood the need to get to this stage, give or take a few days, many months ago ... to get on top of the subject in good time.

I have a week to decide whether to follow H809 on research methods ... with a view to beginning a PhD in September 2013!!!

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

My PhD topic might be on user generated content used in social learnign or the development of virtual companion (artificiual intellifence) to support people with dementia or recovering from a stroke.

Or I get a proper job sad

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What next regarding e-learning?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 04:54

This has me thinking and going through http://www3.open.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/qualification/F10.htm

With the MA in mind I have done:

H807 Innovations in e-learning

H808 The e-learning professional

And will complete next month:

H800 Technology Enhanced Learning

For the 180 credits required for the MA there is no choice (unless I am misreading it) but to do the only two remaining 30 credit modules:

H810 Accessible Online Learning

H809 Practice-based  Research in Educational Technology

Or have I got that wrong?

With this in mind it's H810 in September then H809 in February 2012.

To confuse issues there are professional reasons to start the MBA programme from October. Decision time then as I won't be doing two courses concurrently. Something I tried by doing over a three year period the UKCC ASA Senior Club Coach (swimming) qualification ... 

Freedom is LACK of choice.

I look forward to H810. Search H810 in the OU Student Blogs for an idea of what it is about; we did a rich, engaging and valuable period on accessibility in H807.

I'd do H807 again as I feel it was wasted on me. It took me six months to get into the postgraduate groove and my IT skills despite being online for a decade were woefully inadequate. The disappointment is that the reading and activities cannot possibly be contemporary so that you feel as if it is 2005 at best, 2003 at worst. I expected technological fireworks; at least I understand why that is not realistic. Perhaps the model whereby a module that aims to be innovative is designed and reinvented continually?

H800 is the 60 pointer but I have found it LESS onerous that previous 30 Pointer modules, not only is it spread thinner, but the pace is adjusted, the roll-over and degree of repetition embeds the learning outcomes and a TMA as prep for the ECA is inspired.

What next is asked by many MA qualified postgraduates I am finding. We hanker after more but short of a PhD what can be offered? Indeed, I think there is a gap in Tertiarty, or should it be called 'quartertiary' education?

If offered a further choice of modules beyond the MA I'd do them ... Towards at MA+ or MA* ?? Though in truth for how the thinking is applied, as a form of CPD.

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The e-learning professional. (v. long)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 31 Jan 2013, 06:23

The podcast H808 e-learning SMEs.

(Makes them sound like a prog rock band of the 1960s. Perhaps they were?)

[V. Long version here. 4,000 words +. 1,000 or under in H808 Tutor Forum.

Edited versions in the next 24 hours/couple of days in EduBlogs at www.mindbursts.edublogs.org]

Week One

I may be a professional swimming coach (amongst several things), but my head coach told me ‘I think too much.’ Think less and get the athletes to do more. Keep it simple. If there is any context however where thinking is the currency, literally if we are talking professionalism, then the more I think the more professional I become.

(Or not).

Many would say that a 3,000 word blog entry is 'unprofessional.'

I call it shared reflection, the 'uncut version.' It is the outcome of over five hours thinking on the topic. Hours banked. Ideas turned into cash. By definition when I have made two years worth of regular deposits I may call myself and even be defined as an 'e-learning professional' with the MA to suggest I have joined that club, and a job that for the remuneration I receive makes me a professional rather than a wishful thinking wannabe.

It is unprofessional as a post-graduate student to be flippant and/or verbose.

A professional would keep this down to 500 words, yet I am stretching it to 3,000. The uncut version. Reflection in action. My mind at work. Not the athlete sharing a few ‘mots justes’ after a successful race, but the race itself and all the training before hand. The choice words, bullet point form only with an abridged commentary goes into my Tutor Group Forum. Under 250 words there, is my targert. Under 1,000 words per OU blog had been my thinking too. Blown that then.

Watching the TV I fall asleep.

Listening to the radio (i.e. any audio) I do something else - I’d be distracted anyway, I have to.

In an effort to get into my head the points being made by OUr E-learning Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) I first read the transcripts provided and then listened to the podcast while reading the text.

What shocked me was how much I had missed.

I do less than skim read it appears, all I must do is to look at patterns and shapes. No wonder I learn so little when I do nothing more than read.

Lesson learnt?

This isn’t an 'airport thriller' I can read at break-neck speed chaisng the protagonist as he is in turn chased; this requires a different kind of reading.

It requires effort.

I must work with the text, make notes. Just highlighting choices words and sentences isn’t enough either. Effort I can do. It is consistent effort unless I am working under exam conditions where I struggle. There is always something more interesting to read.

Historically, when successful academically, it has been a huge effort and very time consuming for me. I have to take notes (long hand). Then I have to take notes on the notes. I have to make lists, take quotes and re-order the material. I may still not make sense of it. I need to chase up a few references. I need to find my own patterns. I need to discuss it. Argue about it, agree and disagree. And then, gathering up a wad of papers and scraps of paper the whole lot needs to compost for a few months. Then, and only then, might I start to ‘get it,’ and have something constructive and original to say.

Do any of us have this kind of time anymore? Did we ever?

(My late father, my daughter and a friend, a partner in one of the world's leading law firms, all have/had photographic memories. They would have read the transcript and been able to pick out its salient points after the first swift reading. Not so me, not so us?)

The process you see playing out here is an attempt to mulch the content, slow cook it and hope that I can achieve something in five hours that would normall require five months.

Keep cooking.

The second time round with the SME podcast I first worked with the text, highlighting points and generally trying to get my head around it. If you’ve come across Jakob Nielsen’s ‘Writing for the Web,’ this is what I did – isolating sentences and ideas, creating headings, sub-headings and bullet points, in a word ‘chunking. In fact, I begin to get close to doing what Richard Northridge recommends in the ‘OU Guide to Studying’ (1990) note taking, creating concept cards and then even looking for links and patterns in the text itself.

Lesson learnt?

This takes time and requires effort. I’m not great on effort. My modus operandi is (or has been) to take in volumes of material, but if this is only at a surface level no wonder I am often more frustrated than informed.

Lesson learnt?

Less is more. Rather than chasing a reference, another report or book, I need, at first, to ensure that the text I have in front of me has been dissected, not consumed, not afforded nothing more than a passing glance, but pulled apart, then reconstructed.

Lesson learnt?

Effort

Not the expected outcome of this simple task – my faltering approach to learning laid bare, but a valuable lesson at the start of the module.

At last I’m listening to the podcast.

I made myself think, made myself listen, I 'sat forward' (the technical term for interacting, for engagement.) I made myself read and take notes, made me list the contrasting ideas, the arguments for and against, the justifications ... and to cluster these ideas and adjust my own thoughts accordingly based on my experience.

I had something to think about as I listened.

Do I have anything in common with these e-learning professionals in relation to assumptions and aims?

  • Do I have different understandings of what it means to be an ‘elearning professional’?
  • Is there a distinct elearning profession, or is elearning simply an aspect of other professions?
  • The profession of teacher?
  • The profession of a university lecturer or academic?
  • The profession of a trainer or staff developer or a human resources developer in private corporate bodies?
  • Is there an elearning professional?
  • And should I be describing my job as that of an elearning professional?

My short reply, given my background in sports coaching, is simple.

  • If you are paid you are a professional.
  • If you are the athlete and not paid you are an amateur.
  • If you’re the coach and not paid you are a volunteer.

Therefore, if someone is good enough and experienced enough (or simply good at selling themselves and their ideas) – and they are remunerated for their efforts, then they are a professional.

Rebecca Addlington is a professional athlete. Bill Furness, her coach, is a professional too.

At my swimming club all the swimmers are amateur, though some through bursaries to pay for County and Regional development training are by definition quasi-professional as they are receiving benefits if not in cash, then in kind. Some of the coaches and I do not define myself as a swimming coach; it’s a hobby that’s got out of hand.

I have ‘put in the hours.’

(Which I can qualify by saying I have put in the appropriate hours. i.e. time will not make you a professional, the enduring focus of your efforts will)

One of the key themes of the podcast made by each of the speakers is that a professional has put in the time.

They have put in the effort, gained experience that is directly or indirectly relevant to their e-learning expertise – and by dint of this expertise (and being paid by the OU, for books and reports, lectures and workshops too perhaps) they are all professionals.

At the swimming club many of us (its the biggest club in the South of England) have earned our places through years of experience, gaining qualifications and attending regular courses (CPD) to retain a licence to teach or coach aquatics. Many of us, paid or not, can call ourselves 'professionals.'

Just as I’ve reduced my core thought to that of the contract between a professional and an amateur, by picking out the ideas of each speaker and doing something similar a number of interesting points regarding what it means to be an ‘e-learning professional’ emerge.

In this see-saw of ideas the protagonists have a habit of changing places.

By defining professional we should also think what it means to be unprofessional.

I’ve allowed this dance to play out as it leaves me with an image of a professional being circled by the professional wannabe, the unprofessional (as yet), the layperson, the naive, virgin student. A mass of non-professionals clamoring around the few.

The points and arguments frequently fall into another diametrically opposed set: the qualitative vs. quantitative, an objective point vs. the subjective, a value judgment vs. the facts. Everything overlaps - a Venn Diagram of the points would show sets within sets.

Adrian Kirkup

· Amateur vs. Professional (there are many highly ‘professional’ amateurs)

· Ineffective vs. effective.

Robin Mason

· Hasn’t done it for long vs. been doing it for a long time

· Undergraduate vs. PhD (A sub-set of the above)

· Hasn’t put in the hours vs. has put in the hours (more of the same)

· Immature vs. Mature (a variation of the same. Though professionalism is not a consequence of maturity)

· Inexperienced vs. Experienced.(Experience that takes time to acquire, and a certain manner to be effective)

Gill Kirkup

· A new field vs. an established field. (Disagree. Though a new field of subset of a professional activity would be definably professional).

· New vs. Established. (as above)

· No established standards vs. abides by general and specific received standards.

· Acting alone or part of a professional association.

· Part of the UK Higher Education Academy or not. (a subset of the above)

· Part of a legitimate community or not. (as above)

· Committed vs. Uncommitted.

· Respectful vs. Disrespectful.

· Respect for the individual learner, incorporating research and scholarship, the development of learning communities online is a hugely strong component in professional elearning practice. (successfully combines the subjective and unquantifiable with the quantifiable and objective)

· Juvenile and professional vs. professional only if matured. (as Robin Mason)

· Unlicensed vs. Licensed.

Robin Goodfellow

· Genuine vs. not genuine.

· Unrecognised vs. Recognised.

· Inexperienced vs. Experienced.

· Independent vs. tied (to government or a business).(disagree)

· Technical foundation vs. no technical foundation

· No need for a label, e-learning professional vs. professional enhancer. (strongly agree)

Chris Jones

· Takes time vs. no time.(as Robin Mason and Robin Goodfellow. You have to put in the time to become a professional. Which I guess applies as much to the professional criminal, as the Professional lawyer. Little p, Big P- see below)

· Part of the mainstream vs. Specialist. (disagree)

· ‘Lone Ranger’ and early stages of innovation ... vs. early majority and established (themes of Rogers)

· Enthusiasts vs. the not interested. (strongly agree)

· Society and the professionalisation of modern life (quotable)

· Sport in the 20th century and professional vs. amateurs in sport

· Traditional and modern professionals

· Autonomous vs. dependent

· Trustworthy vs. (spin/PR/Branding/Agenda)

· Not part of a trade association or governing body vs. part of such an association

· Generalist vs. specialist

· An outside vs. part of something

· Formalised standards vs. none

· Unmonitored vs. monitored

· Is there a distinct elearning profession, or is elearning simply an aspect of other professions?

· Little ‘p’ pr big ‘P.’

Jonathan Vernon (moi)

· Doesn’t look the part vs. looks the part.

· Lacks form vs. has form.

· Self-taught vs. ‘done a course.’

· Qualified (with the piece of paper to prove it) vs. Unqualified (however expert they may be).

Some thoughts on the points identified above

It is worth reflecting on Robin Mason’s point about ‘putting in the hours.’

The suggestion that genius and expertise requires 10,000 hours of effort is no urban myth. A study carried out at the Berlin Music Conservatoire identified three groups of graduates. Asked to estimate how many hours of practice and playing each student had put in since picking up an instrument they were then divided into three distinct categories: up to 4,000 hours, up to 8,000 hours and up to 10,000 hours. The first became teachers, the second category got places in orchestras whilst the tiny number who had put in 10,000 hours (takes around 10 years to do this) were most likely to be the solo artists, the concert pianists, the mavericks, the Vanessa Maes and Mozarts. Whilst all these categories are professionals, they are paid for their skills, the use of the word ‘professional’ to distinguish those who are expert, who have attained a certain standard, would in my view apply to the musicians who have made it into a top orchestra – with the soloists in a category beyond the ‘professional.’ Our ‘OU H808 E-learning SME professionals', given the decades of thought they have put into what we now define as ‘e-learning’, have been part of this ‘orchestra’ of professionals for some time, and who knows, we may have a Mozart amongst them. Personally, I've not read enough from any of them yet to know any better. I look forward to hearing what they have to say and how they say it.

Interestingly, Robin Mason returns repeatedly to a theme of time passing, of gaining, requiring or acquiring maturity of thought. Though I feel as if I am clutching at ideas in an amorphous cloud here, my sense is that whether it is professional with a big P or a little p, that the word ‘maturity'; might say it all.

What does maturity imply?

Growing up, lessons learnt, age, growth, adult hood, a way of behaving, able to fit in and contribute to a community and so on.

I disagree with Gill Kirkup

If I have understood her correctly regarding her suggesting that only in an established field is something professional whilst in a new field this is not possible. We can all think of (or at least imagine) an unprofessional ‘professional.’ The corrupt lawyer, the doctor struck off the medical register, the TV food expert who is not a doctor at all (and so a sham professional).

In 2000 I would have defined myself, as some of the panel here would have done, as what is now termed an ‘e-learning’ professional. After fifteen years in corporate communications, training and learning, creating linear, then non-linear and ultimately web-based materials the companies and government department for whom I worked through various production companies had to see me as ‘professional.’ I hadn’t done the post-graduate studying, but I’d learnt through observation and experience (first carrying video kit into the changing rooms of a nuclear power plant age 17 assisting with a training film for BNFL at Sellafield).

Interestingly, I don’t currently consider myself to be an e-learning or a learning professional and even with the MA I hope to gain in 2011 I will by my own definition not be a professional until I am being paid for my expertise.

To use a horse-racing term I lack 'form.'

I'm literally out of the race (for now).

Being studious here and building my confidence is part of the plan to regain the 'professional' tag.

Does a barrister on retirement cease to be a professional lawyer?

Socio-econonmically he/she would still be defined as a 'professional' would they not?

I agree however, very much, with Gill Kirkup’s views regarding ‘respect’ and her definition of an e-learning professional within the academic community.

Respect for the individual learner, incorporating research and scholarship, the development of learning communities online is a hugely strong component in professional elearning practice.’

(This, for me, successfully combines the subjective and unquantifiable with the quantifiable and objective. i.e. you can be a professional Professional).

I disagree with Robin Goodfellow’s view that a professional must be independent vs. tied (to government or a business). If we look beyond e-learning professionals and academia it would be quite wrong to say that someone is not professional simply because they represent the interests of an organisation or government department, let alone are being paid to take a certain stance or have a strongly held view (left or right wing politically, religious or atheist and so on).

If nothing else, I believe I have shown above that there is a natural dichotomy, if not a debate even an implicit conflict, between views on whether a person, or institution, or field of study, can be defined as professional or not, worthy of study or not.

It is engagement in such a debate where a professional proves their credentials.

A professional is a match for anyone, whilst the unprofessional would not play by the rules, make excuses, bow out...

Dare I imply that all the above are differentiating between the educated and uneducated?

Is it so black and white? Students at school, scholars as Edwardian’s would have defined them, and undergraduates, graduates too, in terms of education can never be defined as ‘professional.’

Or can they?

The government pays students to go to college, to stay on in secondary school after the age of 16 – does not this make them pros, like a boy of a similar age getting paid to play football in an academy, they literally ‘turn pro.’

I agree with Robin Goodfellow that there is ‘need for a label’, that what is currently the e-learning professional may be the ‘professional enhancer ‘of the future if the UK HE Academy has their way (though I doubt the term will stick). Just as Robin was (we were) once web-based learning professionals, or learning professionals, or professionals in education...

Big P, little p (Chris Jones) is the most memorable expression of an idea in relation to the professional Professional that I take from this and a worthy talking point. And 2,500 words in I could sum it up with a Twitter count.

Professional is an adjective and a noun.

Anyone can be described as ‘professional,’ (adjective) by dint of their behaviour and experience, however to be a ‘professional’, (noun), various criteria should be met. Depending on how your measure up, by Chris Jones’s definition, you are either Big or Little P.

(I can think of other categories where a similar way of looking at things could be applied, for example, ‘engineer’. The person who fixes my washing machine may call himself an ‘engineer,’ but Isambard Kingdom Brunel was an ‘Engineer’. A sports psychologist is no longer allowed to call themselves such, they are sports scientists. So Psychologist, if not professional, not has a legally binding form of expression and use).

I disagree however with Chris Jone’s view that Professionals (big P you notice) have to be specialists whilst implicitly, if they are professional at all (little p) they are not, or unlikely to be so if they are part of the mainstream.

Or do I?

(I'm changing my mind as I write this, reflecting on a matter tends to do this. You twist yourself in so many knots and then find you are looking in the opposite direction - and happy to do so)

Onwards

Is there an implicit elitism here that makes me uncomfortable, an obvious them and us?

As a Professional I am not ‘part of the mainstream’ ?

Yes, that’s it.

You see the ‘mainstream’ is the population, everyone, in the universe that we are discussing. Professionals are of the mainstream, of society, even if they are a subset community within the broader community.

The likes of Richard Dawkin and Stephen Hawkings are 'professional Professionals' by their engagement with the world, not because of an elitist, hide-themselves away hermit like attitude to knowledge acquisition. Do Simon Schama and Neil Ferguson fall into the same category of professionalism?

Be published and damned, broadcast and be damned even more?

But you don't have to be famous to be Professional (though I dare say you'd cease to be professional if you became infamous).

Or have I been making a mistake through-out this internal debate ... this reflection – that we have always only been discussing Big P professionalism ONLY as part of ‘the whole thing,’ i.e. the specific category of the ‘e-learning Professional’ and just as this time round I haven’t given a moment’s thought to ‘e-learning’ as a term, I have nonetheless unnecessarily dissected the term ‘professional.’

I’m yet to click through the OED online.

I daren’t. It may be my undoing.

Back to my idea of a Venn Diagram.

If ‘professionals’ is the universe then we have two subsets, Professionals (Big P) and professionals (little p) (the noun only). Far smaller, and intersecting both these sets, we have ‘e-learning.’ There are in e-learning little P and Big P professionals.

Still with me?

But there are also non-professionals, and even  the unprofessional to consider. Can they also be defined as Non-professionals (Big N) and Unprofessionals (Big U).

Final thoughts

Might a professional be defined as someone with 'qualified confidence in their field?'

Not finished yet

I've got a Venn Diagram to draw, some visualising to do.

Can a loner be a professional?

I enjoyed Chris Jones's point about the ‘Lone Ranger’ that in early stages of innovation there are maverick, loners having a go at something new way ahead of anyone else - think Dr Emmett Brown in 'Back to the Future' tinkering away at the construction of a time-travelling automobile. Are such people professionals or even professional? Does this 'odd-ball' behaviour disenfranchise you from the professional community, even if you have the mind the size of a planet?

A consultant escapes the hospital ward for a couple of years to undertake research. Just because they are beavering away on their own, being a 'Lone Ranger' doesn't disqualify them from the category of 'Professional,' (Big P), or even 'professional Professional' (little p, Big P).

Dare I suggest that our panel of e-learning experts are 'professional e-Professionals' ?

I don't even begin to delve into the thinking behind innovation diffusion. This is an entire module in its own right. It is called 'Innovations in E-learning', or H807 for short.

For more read 'Diffusion of Innovations' E.M.Rogers. (2005) 5th edition.

Nor am I going to teach the definition 'e-learning.'

Is there a professional 'look.'

Forgive me if I make a comparison here between the need for barristers to put on the appropriate garb in court and so look Professional with a big p, compared to those wishing to be called professional and seen as Professional who don't look the part. Poolside as coaches it is expected that all teachers are appropriately dressed in the club colours and well groomed - this looks professional. There was once a time when teachers wore a jacket and tie, so looked professional like fellow professionals such as lawyers and doctors. Don't academic look the part, 'look professional' in their gowns and mortar-boards?

And having addressed 'looks' can someone sound 'professional?

Think how a director chooses actors to play a role. Look at Michael Cane in 'Educating Rita,' is this the stereotypical professional Professor?

Another discussion, but coming from corporate communications we have been through exercises of using authentic presenters (people who work at the place) compared to buying in 'professional' presenters. To do justice to the message in the TV medium the professional broadcasters were far better at putting over the points the client wanted to make.

As I said, another discussion, a different thread.

P.S. It would be unprofessional to post such a long entry into a tutor forum, where a 500 word, even a 250 word version will be posted (the bullet points, or just my thoughts on the key bullet points ... or just where I strongly agree or disagree).

Lesson Learnt ?

Professionals put in the time and effort, and follow rather than ignore guidelines for the community in which they operate.

It strikes me that academics, like creatives, are more interested in reputation and recognition than money.

Is it not striking that not one of our panel mention it?

Can you be a professional without it?

And what about spelling and grammar?

The ability to communicate. Have I mentioned that. Can the professional spell?

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Face-to-face learning versus e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:53

Crucial to my development and understanding of e-learning is to have some one or two people I can discuss issues with face-to-face.

One an multiple MA graduate now with a Diploma in E-learning, the second a PhD Tutor in Environmental Law and the third someone who commissions e-learning projects (though he sticks with 'online learning' as the only term that is understood by lay-people).

A fourth person is a giant in education who in his 85th year just wonders if I can help put the papers he is still writing online to share with students. All he has in mind are a few dozen papers on a platform such as EduBlogs, which I can do.

My goal is to 'map' the many thousands of papers and books that are stacked three layers deep, to the ceiling, in his three-storey 15th century Cotswold home! i.e. The Contents of his Brain.

On verra

P.S. We've jsut had an hour long power-cut. The panic as two adults and three kids scramble around not knowing what to do is notable. I got my hands on the laptop so could press on under battery (but no internet connection as the router was down). My wife took a break from a mega pharmaceutical report she is writing to take her dog on an extended walk, while the boys (family and friends) gave up on dual Xbox and Internet activities to play poker!

Perhaps I could put a time on the electricity junction box to deny us electricity at random times through-out the day.

We might start talking to each other instead of e-mailing and messaging around the house.

Meanwhile, three computers are up and humming and my son is back on Skype planning some 15 rated Afghanistan-like raid with his cousin (300 miles away) and couple of Americans (one who calls himself David Hasselholf, but isn't as his voice hasn't broken) and someone's Mum who pretends to be her son as she likes the game more than he son does (I listen in).

All computers are in communal spaces in the house so that activities are surrepticiously or indirectly monitored.

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