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H809: Activity 11.7

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

Reading 11: Richardson (2012)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, how convinced were you by the research?

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


Race a discredited term – rather use 'ethnitcity'


Many minorities within white.


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


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


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


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


Is the author asking the right questions?


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


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


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


Sample, far, far too small.




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

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H809 Using technology for teaching and learning in higher education: a critical review of the role of evidence in informing practice.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013, 11:38

For those on H809, H800 and H817 which are all current, as well as anyone else on the MAODE but treading water between modules, the following paper from Linda Price and Adrian Kirkwood will be of interest.

Using technology for teaching and learning in higher education: a critical review of the role of evidence in informing practice. (2013) Price and Kirkwood. From our very own Institute of Educational Technology

What forms of evidence (if any) have influenced teacher’s practices?

As a pragmatist I've always wanted to believe that decisions are always made on the best possible evidence; humans aren't like that though. The e-learning industry was as much a part of the 2001 dot.com bubble as anyone else creating content and putting it online. Clients wanted even if they had no evidence that it worked or not and even once you have pages of content online for a while they wouldn't listen if you said 'this is all going to end in tears' - or rather, questioning their motives, trying to understand where the value would come from. It came in time. Thought FT Knowledge pulled out and another site I was working on, Ragdoll, turned from an information portal to a sales platform for its TV shows ... then an online TV Channel.

Now in week 4 of H809 we are preparing the first TMA. My approach has been to read as many papers as possible until a pattern starts to form. I could be reading short stories, or listening to rock ballads - the goal is the same, to see and understand the shape of good research.

This is a mixed-method study that includes:

  • A Literature review - using a framework - 96 papers/reports reviewed
  • A Questionnaire - analysed using content analysis - SurveyMonkey completed by 58
  • Interviews - using inductive thematic analysis - 8 interviews conducted

I had thought these 96 papers would be given as references or in an appendix. I guess only those that are cited appear. I would have liked to see the SurveyMonkey questionnaire too. But would this mean there would be no need for the paper - just release all the research and data and let readers draw their own conclusions?

If that happened I wonder how many diverse views we would get from 10 or even 100 responses. However objective we try to be it surprises me how different reports can be, sometimes to the extent that I wonder if people have been looking at the same event. The human mind is a wonderful and contrary thing.

Re-enactments of traditional activities in different media formats.

In the medical professions research favours positivist experimental methods. From large-scale controlled quantitative experimental studies such as clinical field trials.

Mixed method = a pragmatist paradigm.
Methodological triangulationn = research from more than one perspective

Increasingly, though my interests are diverse, I do find the research done on the use of e-learning in medecine of particular interest. There is a greater clarity and objectivity where you have 1000 medical students put through a randomized controlled trial over several months and the outcomes on their knowledge, or recall of facts, can be tested in a formal examin. There are no ifs or buts about naming organs, muscles groups or bones in the human body. It becomes less certain if you are testing changes in knowledge in say sociology as a result of using student forums or blogs. As Dianna Laurillard says when people push for answers, 'it depends'. The variables are many and complex.

'If conclusions from each of the methods are the same, then validity is established'. (Price & Kirkwood, p3. 2013)

This is a pattern that I could see myself applying:

Sequential mixed-method design (Cohen et al., 2011, p. 25)

  1. Literature review - informed who might be suitable for interview
  2. A short practitioner questionnaire
  3. Interviews with practitioners
  4. Analytic coding (Cohen et al., 2011)

My wife does medical market research and has to take or create transcripts, as well as do the interviews sometimes, with medical specialists. Some 35 hour long interviews must then be analsyed using a system, currenly manual, where phrases and terms are categorised and clustered. From this an attempt is made to write a comprehensive and object report. I always thought she was having to write a paper or sometimes the equivalent of a thesis every few months.

Clients of course want the 'heads up' or the 'abstract' and the report reduced to a series of slides. They must read the report but they far prefer to have it presented to them. By the time you are ready to stand up and talk someone through the findings you ought to feel fairly confident about keeping it succinct.

QQ When contemplating using technology for teaching and learning, what do practitioners considers as evidence of enhancement?

For me this could read, ‘when contemplating using technology for learning and development, what do managers consider as evidence of enhancement?

May answer is = be thorough, show evidence of being thorough, explain and share your thinking and practice.

After three years of the Masters in Open and Distance Education I am delighted to say that as a student I have got my head around all of these

E-learning artefacts that could be studied as such:

  • Blended learning/e-learning/hybrid courses
  • Audio/podcasts
  • Video resources/lectures/games
  • Multimedia tools
  • Virtual laboratories/fieldwork
  • Blogs
  • Collaborative tools/wikis
  • Online discussion boards/conferences/forums
  • E-Portfolios
  • Online courses resources
  • Electronic voting/personal response systems
  • Assistive technologies

I should go back and put these into a table to indicate where across H807, H800, H808, H810 and H809 I have done these. Some expansion could be given to forums. I got my blended learning not through the MAODE which is entirely online, but from B822 Creativity, Innovation and Change. There isn't much use of video either - though these days through TED lectures and a few OU inaugural lectures you get a taste. For video and interactivity I did parts of a video-based Social Media course. I'm familiar with virtual labs from OU Stories in the press. I first used electronic voting in 1997 during a live, broadcast event at Unipart Group of Companies ... and then during a day long workshop on Creative Commons at the Open University. I have seen assistive technologies in the IET Labs, but also on visits to special needs schools and of course, studied assistive technologies as part of H810.

There are Micro, Meso and Macro scales

  • Accounts of innovation
  • Lessons learned
  • Changes in practice

Respondents were more likely to be influenced by direct contact with colleagues and by experience of engaging with relevant work or personal activities. (Price and Kirkwood p. 10. 2013)

  • Institution’s Centre for Academic Development 40%
  • Academic Colleagues 25%
  • Departmental advice for e-learning 12%
  • Inductive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006)

This is revealing of human nature and human desires. Despite all the technology that might keep us at our desks there is still a desire to seek and take advice from another person. This is so much more apparent in the commercial world where sales people or project managers take clients through what e-learning technology can do, the strengths and weaknesses. Clients are then sold packages, platforms and tools. They want to hear from the experts, they don't want to read the papers - or to go on a course (though a few do some or all of the MAODE).

Four themes were identified by Price and Kirkwood.

  1. Nature of evidence and its collection
  2. Use of evidence
  3. Generating and sharing own evidence
  4. Changes in practice

Teachers are more concerned about ‘what works’ while researchers are more concerned about ‘why it works’ (Hargreaves, 1997, p.410).

We are all guilty of having our own agendas and perspectives.

Practitioners preferred to consult an academic developer or colleagues for guidance, rather than reading journal articles. (Price and Kirkwood p. 14. 2013)


Educator may think they are ‘improving’ learning in that learners retain more, achieve higher grades and get it down smartly and for less cost - they key driver and outcome is for a more flexible offering that that offered previously.

The academic developer’s role appears to be key in mediating evidence for practitioners. (Just as, I would suggest, the commercial developer’s role is key in mediating evidence for learning and development managers in business). i.e. we won’t review the evidence, that’s your job. Sell us something that works, that we can afford.

‘A dissonance has been observed’ by Norton, Richardson, Hartley, Newstead & Mayes (2005)

- subjectivity in categorisation and sampling methods countered by pragmatist paradigm adopted in this mixed-methods approach.  (Price and Kirkwood p. 14. 2013)


Braun, V.,  & Clark, V. (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3 (2), 77-101

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011) Research methods in education (7th edition). abingdon, Oxon. Routledge.

Hargreaves, D.H (1997) Educational research and evidence-based practice. London. Sage.

Norton, L., Richardson, T.E., Hartley, J.,  Newstead, S.,  & Mayes, J. (2005) Teachers’ beliefs and intentions concerning teaching in higher education. Higher Education, 50 (4), 537-571

Price, L., & Kirkwood, A.T. (2013) (in press). Using technology for teaching and learning in higher education: a critical review of the role of evidence in informing practice. Higher Education Research & Development.


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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Nov 2013, 11:23

Autoenthnography Or, how to write something of substance.

From Richardson (2000) via Lilia Efimova (2009. p. 39)

I've taken the view, with a lifetime of keeping a diary and 14 years blogging that I write whatever comes to mind as I put pen to paper or fingertips to the keyboard. There is a better way:

Substantive Contribution

Does this piece contribute to our understand of social life? Does the writer demonstrate a deeply grounded (if embedded) human world understanding and perspective?

Aesthetic Merit

Does this piece succeed aesthetically? Does the use of creative analytical practices open up the text, invite interpretive responses? Is the text artistically shaped, satisfying, complex, and not boring?


How did the author come to write this? How was the information gathered? Ethical issues? How has the author’s subjectivity been both a producer and a product of this text?

Is there an adequate self-awareness and self-exposure for the reader to make judgements about the point of view? Do authors hold themselves accountable to the stands of knowing and telling of the people they have studied?


Does this affect me? Emotionally? Intellectually? Generate new questions? Move me to write? Move me to try new research practices? Move me to actions?

Lived Experience

Does this text embody a fleshed out sense of lived-experience? Does it seem “true” - a credible account of a cultural, social, or communal sense of the “real”?


Richardson, L. (2000). Evaluating ethnography. Qualitative Inquiry, 6 (2), 253-255


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What's better the online tutorial or face to face?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 7 Dec 2011, 12:56

We're asked to consider this as part of the MAODE; it may even be a component of the EMA in H800, yet after three modules I had not experienced a face to face anything - the MAODE (Masters in Open and Distance Education) is entirely (stubbornly?) online.

It has been with trepidation and fascination that I find myself attending group tutorials or seminars, booking in for a Residential School and having to face an exam.

These are part of an elective, a 30 point module that forms part of the OU Business School MBA (Master of Business Administration).

I can say with complete conviction that there is no competition, though evidentially different, both the online and face-to-face tutorial meet the same objectives, albeit with significant differences. Both should be experienced before you pass judgement.

There are pros and cons to each.

Two face-to-face tutorials of two and a half hours each had me in a group of first 16, then 11. We listened a bit but interacted a good deal. I took notes but am still writing them up. Online you talk with you fingertips; I have met up with fewer at a time, six or less on Elluminate, more asynchronously in a forum. There have been threaded discussions of 100+ posts running to 16,000 words or more.

On the other hand, travelling to a tutorial 63 miles from home last week I lost a good piece of the day, caught in a traffic accident going in and a worse one on the M25 coming back. Then again I've had tutor group forums that have been badly attended by both the tutor and fellow students.

Research (Richardson, 2005-2011) shows that satisfaction rates for online or face-to-face tutorials are now matched: electing for or receiving one or the other, from the OU at least, students are just as satisfied.

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Talking about social media learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 3 Nov 2011, 22:03

A call from a colleague with a major corporate and we talk social media learning for nearly three hours.

During this time I repeatedly search this blog, using the e-portfolio that it has become, sending charts and grabs from Picasa and from the iPad, creating a mind-map in Bubbl.us and balancing how the MA in Open and Distance Learning compares to the OU MBA he completed last year and the MRes he is doing now.

Just a phone call. We could have gone to Skype, Elluminate or even Google+. The phone freed up the laptop. Several photos picked up from workshops, as well as screen grabs, were emailed from the iPad which was also running.

Social Media Learning Bubbl.us Mind Map

Fig.1. Social Media Learning Mind Map

Timely as I am procrastinating over the ECA which will be on the use of Forums and Mobile devices in e-learning.

A reminder of how a synchronous conversation can achieve so much, especially when there were items set before our eyes to discuss.

We also discussed (I hadn't the energy to take many notes. In retrospect I wish I'd recorded it):

  • Belbin Team Roles
  • Activity Theory
  • Management Mindsets
  • Silos
  • Web 2.0
  • Learning on the periphery
  • Vicarious Learning
  • Medical Market Research
  • TV Production
  • The role of an Alumni Board
  • Narrative
  • Research
  • Assessment
  • Blogs as 'electronic paper'

It was invaluable to have the external point of view, someone from a global comany of thousands talking about social media learning. Looking at the devices we now have, such as smartphones and tablets, it was particularly interesting to be reminded of human nature, how devices may be used for things and in ways that they were not designed.

Whilst the iPad permits mobility, we often use it when static: in our favourite chair, recumbant on the sofa, even in bed or in the bath. Is this mobile learning? It's hardly getting out of the house, drawing down data on the run using augmented technology to enhance the environment your in. And simply having content on an iPad so that you can using the touch screen to open and close the text, enlarging text, flipping the screen size between portrait and landscape all the time - the joy of its tactile nature. Unable to sleep I use the light from the iPad as a torch to sneak away from the marital bed and passed the children's bedrooms and to find my way downstairs withouth having to put the landing light on.

It also was clear how both devices and approaches to learning cannot be isolated, we got our joint heads around Engestrom's 'Activity Systems'. The technology is complementary, the move to personalise everything through device and software choices.

I'd played Devil's Adocat a couple of times suggesting that 'nothing had changed' only to come away agreeing that many of my behaviours were/are different as a direct result of Web 2.0. I have gone from learning in private, hunched over my books never showing it to anyone to a situations where, more like someone tending a public garden, or at least one seen from the street, people can see my thinking. Ironically, it is the end result that often fails to appear because I'm not about to post TMAs and ECAs online.

Some authors I quoted/cited during the conversation:

  • Vygotsky
  • Engestrom
  • Richardson
  • Moon
  • Cox
  • John Seely Brown
  • Jonathan Swift

To which I subsequently add as a result of browsing the blog and so re-engaging with my own experience within the chronology of the module; it is this, after all, that is to be examined, rather than my knowledge from this and the preceding modules. A learning design fault?

  • H807 You diddle about with every instrument in the orchestra and several that have just been invented.
  • H808 You learn to conduct, or at least why a conductor is important (even if you can't play an instrument or read music).
  • H800 You learn to play an electronic keyboard

I quoted Swift as saying (paraphrasing) 'I don't know what I mean until I hear myself speak'. If anyone has any idea how to cite this please do offer your thoughts.

More authors to consider in this context (mobile learning, forums, e-learning, web 2.0):

  • Haythornthwaite
  • O'Reilly
  • Weller
  • Traxler
  • Gregory
  • Mason
  • Sharpe
  • Beetham
  • Belshaw
  • Hinchcliffe
  • Bacon and Dillon
  • Siemens
  • Boyer
  • Wenger
  • Bruner

Other topics that we should have discussed:

  • User Generated Content
  • Collective Intelligence
  • Apprenticeships
  • Problem based learning
  • Participation
  • Demand Pull



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H800 WK13+14 Activty 3a Vignettes

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 30 Aug 2011, 04:10

As you read through this part of Weeks 13 and 14 bear the following questions in mind.


How do these students use technology in their studies?

-        It’s real. It was the online labs.

-        program proper CISCO equipment

-        test what you were learning

-        get actual real life work done even though it was still virtual.

-        a proper CISCO router

-        you get to take that away straight away and be able to program real routers.

-        When reading from a book you’ve not got reassurance that you can do it.

Students could use this for a ‘dry run’ offline, before taking the online tests using NetLab, which was much appreciated, as this student’s comment makes clear:

-        Packet Tracer … I’ve got a lot of respect for that – very, very good. Also I like the quick reference of it. You’re reading through something and you want to work out the output for something and you think, oh I’ll check on that and you can fire it up and within 15 seconds you’re logged on.

-        Quizzes will ‘fix in your mind’.

-        The best course I have done with the OU … because there is so much hands-on

-        A good way forward as long as simulations are realistic such as Netlab

Why do this course?

Strategically – to sit the examination for the CCNA qualification.

‘I like the idea of this being a ‘hands-on’ technical industry qualification.

-         encourage frequent practice,

-         reflection on progress

-         study using different media

-         study using different perspectives.


ICT skills are an essential part of the curriculum but not the primary focus

She needs to complete an OU Social Work degree in order to become a registered Social Worker. She is sponsored by her employer and coping with a high workload – two OU courses studied concurrently, plus a job and home responsibilities.

The OU course includes ICT skills activities in all these areas and also skills development in information literacy.

Interviewer: Did you use any of your skills from work to do the exercises?

Student: Yes absolutely … I probably took some stuff from work to be able to do it and I took some stuff from the exercise in order to develop myself in work.

I’ve sort of had to learn a different method of doing things and had to go through it all step by step.

It’s something that will be really useful but at the moment is taking so much time for me to learn how to do it and that’s taken away from time I could be doing other stuff. 'Borrowing time from somewhere else’. Terry O’Sullivan. (2011)

She welcomes the fact that most of her course is available online and it increases the accessibility of it away from her home computer.

(People’s perceptions of how much they can fit in … on the one hand flexible learning allows you to fit it in around other things … but it might encourage some to do additional courses and so have even great pressure on their time. These choices are the students’.)

This student also reported that she used ICT in her personal life, mainly for shopping and booking holidays.

I’ve learned how to do things like – what you call it – screen shots? I remember being really excited about that.

What insights are gained by looking at how students’ experience of technology-enhanced learning is affected by their work practices and vice versa?

Understand their wishes, favoured modus operandi, desire to put learning into practice immediately, desire for support, even acceptance that facts have to be learnt, tried out and put into practice until it becomes second nature.

The modules selected for this research project included two from Technology, two from Social Work, one from Business and one from Computing.

ICT is part of the personal, study and work experience of most students well before they enter a university. As you have seen, students use technologies they already feel confident about to help them study.They may or they may not use the technological tools provided by their university, such as a virtual learning environment (VLE).

Undoubtedly, peer contact, accessing module information and so on are essential for effective study. But you also need to look at how technologies are used in direct support of the learning outcomes for which students are studying.

Richardson’s (2005) account argues that students vary in how they perceive the requirements of the same module, and that, even when this variation in perception is taken into account, they vary also in their approaches to studying.

Six conceptions of learning were identified in these data, and Richardson argues that conceptions of learning are a key influence on approaches to studying, which in turn impacts on learning outcomes.

Learning as:

  • 1 the increase of knowledge
  • 2 memorising
  • 3 the acquisition of facts or procedures
  • 4 the abstraction of meaning
  • 5 an interpretative process aimed at the understanding of reality.
  • 6 a conscious process, fuelled by personal interests and directed at obtaining harmony and happiness or changing society.

As you read each vignette, look out for statements illustrating each of the six themes.

Pay attention to how ICT relates to work experience and vice versa, how (if at all) applying learning to work influences the study process, and so on.

What do these vignettes suggest about the importance of the student’s work when designing modules where ICT plays a key role?

Choice to enable them to fit it around their lives.

Bite-size, in terms of easily isolated activities that can be fitted into a tight period of time … or strung together when a longer study period is possible.

Variety of ways in to accommodate, to some degree, the experiences (or lack of) that they bring with them from their working lives, experience of studying and from home.

As Richardson’s (2005) says students vary in how they perceive the requirements of the same module.

Technologies are used in direct support of the learning outcomes for which students are studying … but are just as readily applied in our daily lives i.e. the boundaries between skills used for work and at home, particularly if computers are used in both locations.

Just because you provide a tool, or put in an activity, or offer additional reading, does not mean students will use them. ‘Students use technologies they already feel confident about to help them study. They may or they may not use the technological tools provided by their university, such as a virtual learning environment (VLE).


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H800: 59 Seeing the wood for the trees - the activity and the module they sit in

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 30 Aug 2011, 04:35

I sit next to a senior learning designer in the Open University Business School - he is wrapping up a new module for the MBA course. I'm in late doing course work - we talk as we return from the kitchen with coffee.

This is clearly way beyond what an online course can deliver in terms of the impromptu face-to-face, one-to-one mini tutorial. I'll just milk it and promise to share insights.

He knows I have struggled with getting into this week's activities; however, late in the day (last night), having finally got through all the reading and made notes and looked back on previous weeks, I told him how important it was, indeed how significant Richardson's set of papers, the reference to the previous work is.

I shall revist this week repeatedly not only as we head towards TMAO2, but for the duration of H800 and beyond.

Perhaps I can hear in the back of my mind the conversations that were had when creating H800 and each academic chose or was allocated a week, or set of weeks. Did they sit down with a learning designer? Did they work it all out from home? I do at least now fully respect and understand why they should and will refer to their own reports, papers, research and books. These are but the published corners of their minds ... and we, after all, are trying to get inside their heads, just they want to tickle the contents of our brains.

Marton, Sfard, Saljo, Richardson ... there is some quality thinking in hear to extract and play with.


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H800: 58 WK 12 ACTIVITY 2

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 30 Aug 2011, 04:55


As you read the paper, think about the ways in which similar ideas were discussed in previous weeks and refer to the relevant module materials:

Do you think the innovations described in Weeks 8 and 9 as ‘learning design’ would induce more desirable approaches to studying on the part of the students?

The student (maturity, experience of education, opportunity, access, support)

But is also depends on the learning designer (as teacher)’s approach, whether deep or surface learning (Marton, 1977); or thinking of the six approaches to learning Saljo (1979) came up with.

The importance here is how much effort is put into creating activities in the learning experience, forcing the student’s hands in some respect by obliging them to go along with the ‘deep’ approach. I would therefore favour, to cover more bases, activities that are also fun and engaging, with a sensible allocation of time to do them. This has to be preferable to shallow, passive learning.

Compare Marton’s idea that some students regard learning as something that just happens to them with Sfard’s account that you read in Week 3.

Marton (1976) doesn’t say that learning is something that ‘just happens to them,’ what he says is that in contrast to deep learning where the students take an active role ‘seeing learning as something they do themselves’ those who adopt surface learning ‘approach learning in a passive role and see learning as something that just happens to them.’

You may not have encountered the literature that Richardson describes. In Week 4, Chris Jones asked you to think about your own definition of ‘learning’. Do the concepts, theories and evidence described in my paper fit your own experience as a learner?

Yes. If you ask a closed question. I hadn’t thought that different disciplines would take or do take a different approach to learning. That between them French, Geography, History, Maths, Physics, Biology, Art and so on were in part enjoyed or loathed depending on whether the engagement was personally driven or dictated to us as passive learners. Teachers in their ways can easily turn a student off or onto a subject. The same can apply at a distance with learning design. A balance has to be struck, with variety, to cover different experiences of learning and their differing expectations of the way to do things. I am therefore interested in Kember (1997) definitions of approaches to teaching.

Interaction between the teacher and student, and facilitating understanding on the part of the student the key motivators and the experience of a number of subjects … even as an adult I find there is too much ‘teaching as imparting information’ which I find takes five or six stabs before it sticks (reluctantly).

Which of Säljö’s five conceptions of learning best fits your own definition?

‘Learning as an interpretative process aimed at the understanding of reality’.

If you have (or have had) a role in teaching or training, do the concepts, theories and evidence described in my paper fit your own experience as a teacher or trainer? If you haven’t had such a role, ask your tutor whether they fit their experience as a teacher.

I could discuss Kimbers (1997) approaches to teaching at length from the point of view of a coach, someone who created distance learning materials (video and course books) and very rarely a teacher with a class of secondary school students for a day. I could also compare teaching practices almost from my first year at school through university and postgraduate courses/training.

The approach to teaching can make or break a course … it can kill a subject you love, or bring to life something you approached with trepidation.

Do you find the argument convincing?

‘Students who hold a reproductive conception of learning through exposure to a subject-based curriculum may simply find it hard to adapt to a more student-centred curriculum.’

I have suffered through some modules of a Swimming Coach course which couldn’t accommodate people who’d loathed school, didn’t want to learn, just wanted to know the answers. It frustrated that better instructors too. It saddened me that their experiences of learning had been so poor.

You may find the similarity between the models in Figure 1 and Figure 2 beguiling, but are the models really justified?

I don’t get the diagrams at all … though I am guilty of doing things just like it. It strikes me that they are slides from a presentation without the attached commentary.


Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Joanne Pratt, Saturday, 7 May 2011, 18:04)
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H800: 57 Week 12. Activity 2+ Richardson

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 31 Aug 2011, 12:46

I admire the way Richardson picks his way through the CIBER/UCL document and then presents his own reports as a model of social science excellence. He has a valid point, even if I find the stats themselves impossible to decipher. I recognise the research methodology and hope to reach this standard eventually - perhaps with the MRes after the MA?

Ciber/UCL presumes that Google generation is a fact for others to disprove.

I don't support the all lower case choices for the contents – as if written on a Blackberry. Upper and Lower case serve a purpose that aids reading, even more than say choosing between serif and sans serif.

‘The untested assumption is that this generation is somehow qualitatively ‘different’ from what went before: that they have different aptitudes, attitudes, expectations and even different communication and information ‘literacies’ and that these will somehow transfer to their use of libraries and information services.’ p5

The longitudinal study sounds like guesswork. p6

Look at a Population Pyramid.

Which part of it is unequivocally Generation X or Y?

Do you look at a ward, a town, a region, a country or a continent?

When ‘Generation X’ or the ‘Google Generation’ is applied to people its said as if it applies to the entire population.

Perhaps there’s a state in California where every child is born with an iPad in their hands.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/03/mind-vs-machine/8386/ Christian, Brian (2011) The Most Human Human


We are told that the ‘Google Generation’ are those born after 1993. Google launched in 1996. It came to prominence, six years later? Who might I ask were the first to exploit Google? Not this age group. And just because they were born in the era of the search engine super powers does not make them ignorant of books (or libraries). Regarding these in relation to learning, here again we should challenge the term. Did we not, as children, learn far more from our mother, and parents, and our immediate family. Even once at school, what fraction of teaching here compares to the great period of time we spend away from school.

The language used, as Richardson advises us, could warn of a weakness in the factual nature of the report, ‘raises enormous issues for information providers’ hints of the scaremongering you get in the press. In any case, this could only be the outcome if nothing changes but a) the technology constantly strains to find a market by serving a valuable purpose and b) people catch up, they learn new things sooner.

‘The fact is, the human race got to where it is by being the most adaptive, flexible, innovative and quick learning species on the planet’ says Brian Christian in his 2011 book ‘The most human human. A defence of humanity in the age of the computer.’

This could be applied equally well in relation to the narrative across the Richardson papers, that the differences and difficulties between face-to-face and online learning have largely been overcome. We’re getting better at it, as his research shows. Online learning is becoming more face-to-face in its nature, but also plays to its strengths and differences with technology that is common place, inexpensive and intuitive.

I wonder how much of this I can relate back to weeks 8 & 9 though ... let's go and take a look.

Also here 'My mind bursts'


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H800: 56 Wk12 Acitivity 2

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A questionnaire is valid if it measures the personal qualities or traits that it purports to measure.

I suppose it frustrates me when opinion, even popular journalism, makes it up.

In terms of what we’ve looked at thus far I keep coming back to Prensky. Though getting into a discussion about ‘the Google Generation’ and ‘the Net Generation’ for the umpteenth time I think I was saved by the trailer for a BBC series (Radio 4 I think) in which they called the people ‘the Jam generation,’ because these people were in their teens when the Jam were big. i.e. Anything ‘Generation’ is a catch-all, conversational, accessible way to get the sense of a group of people, whether or not it has any validity, it has some cultural cache.

I liked the way some people took the two stage of Sfard and offered a third, that of application. Since starting this module I’ve come to work at the Open University Business School where ‘practice based learning’ and the value of something like the MBA programme to the employer and well as the employer is discussed, as the learning, modular, can be applied. When I started the MAODL, the earlier version of the MAODE in 2001 I was sponsored by my employer as we were developing innovative online learning and the language at least I applied in every meeting we had.

• 22 February 2011, 15:06

Re: Sfard (1998)

Sfard’s paper apart from the overcomplicated use of English seemed to miss a vital metaphor that being the ‘Application’ metaphor. What is the use of acquisition and or participation if it is not tied into application? Too often these days I find myself asking the question, “so how do you see that working in practice” only to find this has not been thought through with the any rigour.

Joanne Pratt Post 7 in reply to 5

It’s not in the reading but I was drawn to some work by the Neuroscientist V.J. Ramachandran who suggests that our human ability to think in metaphors is a mistake, but this error permits creative thinking/invention. i.e. it was a mutation that proved advantageous. I believe this too, that the variety of metaphors we come up with guides what could otherwise be a torrent of logical thinking that could not solve problems or change the world.


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H800 53 Block 2 Approaches to learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 12:14

Richardson (2005), ‘Students’ approaches to learning and teachers’ approaches to teaching in higher education’.

This short, clear, bulleted article is the most straightforward and possibly most valuable text I've come across in the 14 months of the Masters in Open and Distance Education that I have thus far done.

No doubt its clarity is in part a product of my improved understanding and more extensive experience gained during this period; it slots into place.

Learning a foreign language (French)  I described fluency being akin to a fog lifting; it became clearer and intuitive. I wonder if I am approaching that point with online learning? Not that certainty is possible,

I'll return to Richardson often.


Richardson, John T. E. (2005). Students’ approaches to learning and teachers’ approaches to teaching in higher education. Educational Psychology, 25(6), pp. 673–680.



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Kindle 3 JV Unwell and Kindling

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 16:06

When your 14 year old daughter is in bed with flu, and running a temperature, you relent when she pops her head up from under the duvet and wants to use your laptop to watch a movie and get in touch with friends.

I think, because I use a keyboard extension that the chances that I will pick up her germs are reduced; I forget that we both use the same mouse. She blows her nose, uses the mouse, goes to sleep for three hours. I pick up the laptop, go online, do stuff like making a sandwhich  ...

That's four out of four now down with the bug, only the dog and the guinea-pigs seem fine (so far).

It doesn't take long before I wind down

An odd sensation, like your battery has gone flat.

If only it were as simply as plugging yourself into the wall or changing a battery sad

I am just grisly and very tired

I had a flu jab in October so I should be avoiding the worst of it.

Sit back from this screen ... you just can't tell how infectious these things can be !


If it is one bonus it is the Kindle

It can be read in bed, your head on a pillow, operated with one finger, one thumb ... and as my brain is mush I can make the text huge and read three words across like a TV autocue. When I fall asleep, so does it. When I wake up it is picks up where I left off. In fact, it will read the book to me ... however, will it tell when I am asleep? That would be clever.

I've gone from one book to several



Between them Amazon and Kindle have their fingers in my wallet.

I'm 46% the way through the Rhona Sharpe book. Here's a new concept ... no pages.

In addition I have samples of six other books, two blogs and a magazine on a 14 day free trial (I will cancel these 7 days in or earlier to be sure I don't continue with anything I don't want)

And new books, and old books.

In the 1990s I bought CDs to get back or replace LPs of my youth. Over the last five years I've got rid of most of these and run with iTunes.

Books, due to lack of storage space, are in really useful Really Useful boxes in a lock up garage we rented to help with a house move ... three years ago. Is there any point of a book in a box? I have over the decades taken a car load of books Haye on Wye and sold them in bulk. A shame. I miss my collection of Anais Nin and Henry Miller; I miss also my collection on movie directors and screenwriters. Was I saying that this part of my life had ended? Or I needed the space (or money). I fear, courtesy of my Kindle and lists of books I have made since I was 13 that I could easily repopulate my mind with the content of these books. Indeed there is no better place to have them, at my finger tips on a device a tasty as a piece of hot toast covered in butter and blueberry jam.

Page Views

I do nothing and the page views I receive doubles to 500. What does this mean? I am saying too much? That the optimum blog is one per day? Or have folks found they can drill through here for H807 and H808? Who knows, I don't the stats provided by the OU are somewhat limited. I'd like the works. Which pages do people enter on, which are most viewed, where do they exit, what's the average pages viewed by an individual and so on. In my experience 500 page views means three people reading 100/150 each with a few others dipping in and out.

How Kindle has changed me in 24 hours

My bedtime reading for anyone following this is 'The Isles' Norman Davies.

I read this in the 1990s when it came out. I felt it deserved a second reading. It is heavier then the Yellow Pages and almost as big. Because of its bulk I may have it open on a pillow as I read; no wonder I fall asleep. (Works for me). Having downloaded it to the Kindle last night in 60 seconds and for less than £9 I may now read more than a couple of pages at a time. I can also annotate and highlight the Kindle version. I have an aversion to doing this to the physical thing ... I am used to selling on my old books. Not something I can do with a Kindle version. Which makes me think, should these digital versions not be far, far, far cheaper? Take 'The Isles.' The dust cover is in perfect nick, I took it off and boxed it rather than get it torn. The damp in the lock-up garage hasn't caused too much harm. I could get £8 for it, maybe £5.

What else?

More on E-learning:

  • Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age. (Rhona Sharpe)
  • Creating with wordpress (blog)
  • Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. (2010) Will Richardson
  • E-Learning by Design (William Horton)
  • How to change the world (blog)
  • SEO Book (Blog)
  • Digitial Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications (2009) Paul Argenti and Courtney Barnes
  • The Online Learning Idea Book (Patti Shank)
  • Using Moodle (Jason Cole and Helen Foster)

Some bought, some simply samples. The blogs on a 14-day free trial. Neither worth £0.99 a month.

Best on Kindle

The big surprise, the book that is so beautifully transmogrified by Kindle, lifted by it, is 'The Swimming Drills Book' (2006) Ruben Guzman.


No! This isn't what happens if your swimmer gets it wrong. This is a drill called 'dead swimmer' in which they float head down, then slowly extended into a streamlined position, kick away and then swim full stroke.

'The Swim Drill Book' is a mixture of text, almost in bullet point form, and line drawings of swimmers in various stages of effort to perform a stroke or drill or exercise.

If an author needs advice on how to write for a Kindle, or for a tablet, I'd point them at this book. This is NOT how it was conceived, but it is how it works on this alternative platform.

You can try it for free

Download Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac then find 'The Swimming Drills Book.' You can then view a sample which takes you beyond the acknowledgements, contents and introduction into the first chapter.

A thing of beauty

By tweaking the layout, text size and orientation, you can place the diagram/drawing full screen. It simply works, just as the stunning black and white engravings and photographs that your Kindle will feature (at random) when 'sleeping.'

Here's an thought: if you're not reading a book it is gathering dust, a dead thing, whereas with a Kindle your books are simply asleep.


Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 12 Feb 2011, 17:25)
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