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Flying, Gliding or Diving

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Succinctly put by Marc Lewis of the School of Communication Arts, London.

You are either 'flying' : in which case, watch out world, your are taking it by storm!

Or 'gliding' : in which case, you are coasting along well inside your comfort zone, happily underachieving and not challenged.

Or you are 'diving' : you are heading towards the bottom. Nothing you do is right and you have no idea how to get out of this mess.

There's been research on this kind of thing for business school students. 

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H818 Activity 1.1 Reflection on how collaboration works and fails

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 4 Dec 2014, 07:47

Collaboration amongst strangers is a tricky one. I've seen it work and I've seen it fail.

either

1) It requires scaffolding in the form of rules, or guidelines, mentor or leaders, and incintives in the form of punishments and rewards i.e. the risk of failure as well as recognition and some kind of reward (which might be a qualification, a monetary award, or part of a completed artefact, or pleasure of participation).

2) It requires people with an obsessive common interest; I don't believe having a common interest is enough. There needs to be an obsession, which means that the level of expertise can be mixed, indeed, thinking of the John Seely Brown concept of 'learning from the periphery' this might be best as invariably the natural human response IS to support those on the edge. The classic example is the young and eager student or junior employee keen to learn from his or her elders.

My concern with the role of collaboration in a module on e-learning is that the above don't fully apply. We are not GCSE or A'Level students. Most are MA ODE students who need this towards their MA, but I'll stick my head out and say the pass mark is, in my opinion, too low. I believe that it matters to be paying for it out of your own pocket or to have a commercil sponor expecting results. I know that some working for the OU do these modules almost on a whim because they are free and they do the minimum to pass - I've seen this on various courses,  seen it myself and have had it corroberated by other students. Anyone who is along for the ride in a module that relieson collaboration is a weak link - of course plenty of OU people do take seriously, but some don't and no line manger is looking over thre shoulder. At Carnegi Melon they ran an MA course where students gave each other, on a rolling basis, a mark for collaboration - those with the lowest mark risked failing that module. In fairness some people are not born collaborators, whereas others go out of their way to be a participant, potenially at the expensive of other parts of their studies.

To my tutor group I've posted too long a piece on a collaborative exercise I have been doing on and off for the best part of twenty years - I'm researching and writing my grandfather's memoir from the First World War. The Internet has exposed me (in a good way) to several sleuths.

I can however give an example of the learning design MOOC earlier this year that whilst having a good deal of scaffolding and human support relied on strangers each coming up with project ideas then joining forces to complete one. In a rush of activity, with some big name e-learning folk and too much formal theorizing, reading and activities to groups formed. I had no takers and joined a group of three that became five, but very quickythis became two of us ... we gamefully pressed on but at some stage felt we were missing out on the real action so eventualy pulled out as active participants.

Then there is a two week exercise in a subgroup of an MA ODE module where circumstances brought a magic bunch of strangers together - this has proved to be the exception rather than the rule.

Amateur dramatics, even volunteer cricket, to take a couple of examples, work because the show is the collective reward. We have bonfire societies here in Lewes that rely on volunteers too - though the complaint will be that it is always the same handful of people who do everything. In a work or academic setting should everyone be rewarded and recognised in the same way? It depends very much on a group dynamic or bond, a common sentiment that comes from working together in the flesh.

I believe that the First World War, now that I am an active member of a society and studying it on a formal course, is largelly of the type 2 participant. We are 'trainsporters' in that nerdy, glazed eye way - with specialists who know everything about uniforms, or tunnelling, or submarines, or dental decay on the Western Front, or a particular general, or like me - a grandfather, or greatgrandfather who was a combatant.

My worry about e-learning as a collaborative arena is that it is the process, so we are a cookery or gardening club. However, there is significant variation in each of these - vegetarian cooks, cupcake bake off specialists and Heston Blomenfal wannabes - amongst the gardens their are PhD research students growing dwark barley and weekenders who've keep an allotment. Whilst we have interst and the module to sustain us, only in a conort of 1000 or more would for some, there be enough likeminds to form a team.

I'm off to the School of Communication Arts in London. It operates from a workshop like open studio. Students are put into pairs to work. There is collaboration here between an art director (visualiser) and copywriter (words). Whether students are forever looking each other's shoulders when they are working on a competitive brief is another matter. I've noticed how one creative brief given to the whole studio has now become three. What is more, the 'collaboration' as such, comes from a couple ofcfull time tutors, principal and then a 'mentors' who go in as a sounding board cum catalyst cum different voice or perspective. What these people are doing is 'creative problem solving'.

Why, historically, does one band stay together while another falls apart? Collaboration is a tricky business - and maybe only in a business setting between employer and employee, or between contractor and client can it be sustained?

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Learning or e-learning?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 2 May 2013, 05:29

If you could study full time at a college where there are only 30 students - all the same year group, and you work in teams of two or three - would you?

This 'college' has 500 mentors - people 'from industry' who come in as volunteers so that several times a week, if not most afternoons, the students have experienced people to listen and learn from how does this benefit the learning process? Is it 'learning from the periphery' when the 'centre' comes to you? It is socially-constructed, and cognitive?

How does this contrast and compare with 'learning at a distance' 'old school' with a box of books and DVDs or here on the MA ODE with everything online?

As a mentor at the School of Communication Arts, London I go in to sit with pairs of students for anything between 15 minutes and an hour. I listen. I try to be a sounding board and catalyst. I try to motivate. I refuse to judge or infect/impose myself, rather helping them to draw their own conclusions.

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B822 Applied creative think for a creative industry

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 7 Mar 2012, 07:44
5.00am reading Book 3 Creativity, Innovation & the Organisation.

8.30am Doctor, My colestrol is too high. I have to take simvastatin and chane my diet.

9.00am Opticians

9.15am Barber

9.48 am Train to London

11.30am Picasso Exhibtion, Tate

1.00pm School of Communication Arts

5.20pm Leave having spent between 30-50 minutes with each six creative teams (art director and copywriter).

7.17pm Train Home.

10.00pm writing it up.
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In tutor mode as a mentor at the SCA

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 22 Feb 2012, 01:24
4 hours with students at my alma mater The School of Communications Arts whete I listen to six teams out of eight share their thinking on current and passed briefs on everything from Vogel's Bread and Nespresso by way of sodastream and tap water. Great that B822 had something to contribute when I was asked what to do if you get 'blocked'. Then a walk from Jonathan Street, Vauxhall to Tower Road, Covent Garden via Westminster and Trafalgar Square to network at a Skillset sponsored event where met Raj, Natasha and Lesley (as well as a producer freshly returned from Ravensbourne course on 3d).
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Serendipity, Creativity, Innovation and Change (B822)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 17 Apr 2012, 07:12

With another 60 credits to achieve the MA in Open & Distance Learning I learnt I could 'stretch my legs' and pull in some points from other fields of study.

B822 is a Faculty of Business and Law School module; its fans, I have learnt are many and vocal.

My fear is the return to books and studying after a too brief interlude; it doesn't half muck up your weekends, what is more it has taken me entirely away from something else that I do (or did): writing fiction.

My fear too is that I am at the Faculty where the module was written and from where it is taught so there is little distance for me with this piece of distance learning.

However, that Muse 'Serendipity' just came to my rescue (during an interlude from sleep where I was busily asking myself 'should I' or 'shouldn't' I?

I stumbled upon the blog of Barbara Wilson, which happens to be my late grandmother's name, she happens to be an OU Lecturer in Creativity and Leadership (living in France) and her latest blog is about a paper from one of the authors of B822 which I promptly download and put into iBooks.

Being playful and smart?

The relations of adult playfulness with psychometric and self-estimated intellegicne and academic performance.

It doesn't take much for me to feel the familiar comfort of reading, contemplating the application of ideas and taking notes. In one respect I spent a year, full-time, studying this at the 'School of Communication Arts'. Let's see.

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SCA 2.0 The best of both worlds - located and 'E'

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

These are the guys to watch

SCA%202.0%20GRAB.JPG

The model for learning is compulsive. It has everything that is great about e-learning and the use of technology, indeed, it is part of this genre and world ... but it is also a school, or college, in the old sense, with a physical presence where people meet to share ideas, grow and participate collaboratively in their development.

Where does studying and work end?

It doesn't. There are no boundaries, nor should there be.

Were that the 115 year old Vygotsky (1926) was here to experiene it ...

'The future world where 'classes' and 'learning' takes place at home and in the workplace as PART of the world, rather than distinct from it'.

'Ultimately, only life educates, and the deeper that life, the real world, burrows into the school, the more dynamic and the more robust will be the educational process. Education is just as meaningless outside the real world as is a fire without oxygen, or as is breathing in a vacuum'.

'Only he who exerts a creative role in real life can aspire to a creative role in pedagogics. It is just for this reason that, in the future, the educator will also be an active participant in society'.

'In the school of the future, these window will be opened as wide as can be, and the teacher will not only lok out, but also actively participate in the ‘duties of life.’


REFERENCE

Vygostsky L.S. (1926) Educational Psychology. (Translated 1997) CRC Press.

 

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My head's like a hedge-hog with its paws on a Van de Graff generator

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Nov 2011, 17:54

Or a guinea-pig chewing an electric cable behind the TV.

Same thing

Strange things are going on with my head.

The synapses are snapping.

This is the state of my mind.

It's exciting. It's exploitable.

The internal goings on of my cerebellum have gone from guinea-pig to hedgehog via a Frankenstein-like jolt of the old juice.

Last like this?

Undergraduate 1983.

(And most of yesterday, and the day before of course).

This is what studying does to my mind. It's taken eleven months in OU Land. The buzz began ... a few weeks ago.

It is like going from clueless first year undergraduate to the second year. Even online, you need to get the lay of the land. Even now that are vast swaves of OU activities, e-tivites, buttons, bolt-holes and affordances to discover, chew over, toy with and adopt, or adapt and move on, or stay with, or who knows what.

Funny. I never use the OU library anymore.

Once signed I just Google. Same thing? Instance ... rather than the time it takes to make a coffee.

Web-entrepreneur 2000. I was buzzing then too, mind and on two postgraduate courses - the OU (a somewhat earlier version of Open and Distance Learning) that in technology terms was like using a hand-pushed lawnmower to cut a path through a waterlogged meadow full of cattle. The mismatch between cutting-edge practice with a leading web agency and the course was the difference between reading an e-book or going into the Bodleian and thumbing through a vast, leather-bound index.

The best place to sthink on the planet. At a desk surrounded by ancient books ... with a lap-top. It's as if you are sitting inside the minds of everyone who has ever thought there before. Now we can get an inkling of this when you feel like minds are listening. Are they?

I feel the desire once more to spill the content of my mind ... to empty every moment I have sought to catch. Why? Not just because I can (although I appreciate there are plenty of people who keep diaries all there lives. But because of the way it wakens up your mind to a version of a moment in your past. These moments flip and change perspective as you revist them. Most odd.

"It's a matter of love; the more you love a memory the stronger that memory becomes."

Nabakov.

Note the time. I have slept in the last 24 hours.

About four hours between 15h30 and midnight in two or three chunks.

Actually I've buzzed a lot over the years. It's who I am, when I'm being me at my best.

Skieasy was an interesting idea.

I still have the chess set I made out of a selection of bottled-waters. Dasani, that Coca-cola flop, is the King of the Black Pieces. I cheated a bit, Copella with their squared off bottles are the Castles and I had to use Fabreze for the Horses.

INSERT PIC HERE

There are currently several voices in my head, people from the past, smiling and asking questions.

I'm being emotive and passionate about some new fangled way to do use video and they're listening. I feel this way about the Internet. My head is firmly back in 2000, with the electricity of an undergraduate and the knowledge of a PhD. (I could have one if the various courses I've done had been or could be validated and LinkedIn). Eventually.

I intend to study for life, life-long learning - literally.

I'm planning a module beyond the MA in Open and Distance Education that I'll complete in October 2011.

Foundations in research probably rather than a different subject, though in good time Modern History (yet again), and Geography (yet again).

E-learning enables this

Fine Art can never happen; I can't hunker down like that. (Unless I can do Fine Art via an A3 sized tablet? If it's good enough for Hockney, it's good enough for art students. Fine Art as a e-learning course. (Now there's a challenge. And an opportunity.)

Never say never when it comes to e-learning. Someone will be running an e-learning Fine Art MA within the year. You could use a Kinex to draw onto a tablet rolled like a piece of Clingfilm onto a pane of glass. Observed at work by your tutor a million miles away (or a few hundred at least). You see it is possible.

Never say never when it comes to e-learning, which is why I propose a new module for the MA in Open and Distance Education. It's called 'The E-learning Entrepreneur.' Any one listening? (Not at 2h05). I'll linkIn with it and see what bubbles up from the digtal hyrdrosphere.

I don't care if it takes six years for each one of these courses, I'll be around for a long while yet.

My grandfather made it to 97 and never lost his marbles. Bless. He died with some thoughts on Newcastle United and a swig of Newcastle Brown Ale (he'd worked in brewing from the age of 14 to retirement).

My mind wanders. Good. It should. So should yours.

New thinking doesn't idle around in one pocket of your subconscious, it dances like a Minx feeding on your the maelstrom of your mind.

And I'm yet to say what I sat down to write. Right.

Doodles on backs of envelopes. I have a lot of envelopes. I must have invested in a large supply a decade ago. Stick down the back and use them for notes. Light, a soft write with a gel-pen. Takes a doodle. A gem. An idea.

This process started 48 hours ago.

One image. A second. (The PDP thermal idea). And since then I've been revisited by an idea I had in .... 1998, I suppose.

ADD SKETCH HERE ... currently on

a) the back of an envelope

b) on a piece of scrap wallpaper (very good for doodles as you can spread wide)

and c) in my head (which should be in bed)

Title, Synopsis, Abstract, Review, Précis, Student Notes, Book, Book + References.

This is a volume control for 'volume' of words rather than sound.

Depending the time you have to engaged with the contents of the author's (or authors' heads) you skate or roll this slider back and forth until you hit on a what you're prepared to take in. You can always expand, if the mind takes you there ... you can always roll into the synopsis if your train comes in or you see an email you're prepared to answer.

(Email, I'm starting to treat it like the old postal service - two deliveries a day, at a time to suit me. So before breakfast and after lunch. If you want me otherwise phone.)

Where was I? So, text volume control thingy.

I was just learning Dreamweaver, on a Mac, probably an LCII or something c.1998.

Maybe or earlier. TBT hadn't been born I was sleeping where he'd shortly be sleeping (actually I was sitting where he was born a few weeks later, at home, caught by me some time before the Midwife made it over from Cheltenham. Another story.)

I won't have a record of it, I was months away from blogging. Unless, which is likely, I was keeping a diary off-line. Would that be 'logging?It'll be just as lost though as it'll be a floppy disc. Or were there CDs by then? Or possibly an IOMEGA Zip drive?

And now we have LCD TVs the size and thickness of a postage stamp.

Re-reading 'Contemporary perspective in E-Learning Research' can't help my sleeplessness.

Far from boring me to sleep, which it did six months ago, I find single words are scorched into my forehead and sentences are like liquid gold being poured down my ear. Oh dear. I think I understand it.

I commit a book crime.

Historically I have always read a book and taken notes at the same time. This goes back to Oxbridge Entrance exam reading lists and beyond.

Get it while it's hot on the first shot.

I did this with Conole et al in August.

I could even read those notes, but those notes WERE WRITTEN BY SOMEONE ELSE.

So I have to start over, this is TAKE TWO.

Anyway.

The sacrilege is the use of coloured Marker Stabilo Market pens on the pages of the book. This is because I'm treating the book as if it isn't there, as if it is in an iPad (I don't have one, I'll give me my address if you feel I should have one).

Yes, I am using a highlighter pen on the paper-based text because I've got so used to doing this in e-journals exported into Word.

Of course, this Stabilo Pen should DOUBLE as a TEXT READER so that said highlighted words could be drawn straight into my laptop and quoted here ... with the link and correct Harvard Reference put in place for me too. Pretty please. Tech person reading.

(Do tech people read? I suspect they call it something else. Scan?)

Oh heck. Not another idea. It's only 1h36. (or was when I started. That was nearly an hour ago. I don't edit, I know not how, I ellaborate.)

I have this fear that having an idea is pointless, because whatever you can think of someone has done it before.

Which makes this a race, catching wave after wave after wave of information as it comes in on the digital ocean, hoping, believing, that from time to time it'll be a big wave, my wave and I'll ride it like a pro-surfer. Enough. I need a coffee. That'll send me to sleep.

Anything's possible.

I look at this, my invention, my interpretation of how Personal Development Planning can lift a life, raise your spirits, send your career into a controled cycle of advancement and I want to sing about it. I want to be on this ride and bringing others along with me.

What can go wrong?

Coffee poisoning.

So, this Microsoft guy who is recording every moment of his day (and night? and ablusions?). You have to be at the head of the team, not the pond fodder. I gave this a momentary go voice recording three one hour swim coaching sessions. I am yet to listen over. Perhaps I'll do it once to see what lessons I learn.

On the other hand, someone interested in coaching swimmers may listen to the lot of it. And with nothing in vision there are no Safeguarding Children issues ... I consciously only used swimmer's names once I had hit pause.

My coffee's cold.

Do I warm it up? I'll not sleep. I haven't exhausted the possibilities.

A swimming pool beacons.

Once was the time I swam every day. I'll do so again. I can subdue my mind only if I sink the body around it.

 

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