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Getting it from Nellie - synchronous vs. asynchronous learning

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We hear today, at a distance, in real time, broadcast on Radio, that TXT has overtaken the spoken word on the phone. I email by preference, though will TXT rather than speak usually because I feel I have time to compose my thoughts, can sometimes duplicate the message or a variation of it to several members of the family and then take stock of the responses as they come through – I don't have time for chat. I avoid chat unless it suits me to chew over a topic, go round in circles and indulge the other speaker and me.

So how does this apply to learning? What is best face–to–face or at a distance, synchronous or asynchronous? The answer I understand is all of these, that interaction by whatever means available helps the learning process compared to working alone. You can think it through with a.n.other; you can share doubts and admit that yiu don't 'get' the most trivial things and have it explained or expressed by somoene that at last makes sense.

'Get it from Nellie' is the expression I got from an 85 year old at the weekend, a long retired senior partrner from PriceWaterhouse. He believes in trainees, in the apprentice, the articled clerk, the junior picking it up from the senior. So simple, so obvious, yet where does this occur in education? I've only come across it between partners where one is a couple of years ahead of the other on an MBA programme and can give all kinds of guidance. We don't see A level students helping those at GCSE, or one year group helping another as undergraduates. The system of a qualified PhD as lecturer or supervisor follows this model though. I found it worked a bit a primary school too with 10 and 11 year olds helping out with the youngest. Is there something of the extended family in this? Is there something of a more traditional, manageable community too of elders and others?

Social learning is about sharing, passing on and explaining. It should be less about indoctrination though, to what degree they can in Germany prevent by law any kind of religious upbringing until the young person has a say or thought on the matter is another things – you bring them up as agnostics or atheaists and that is what they'll be.

There's the need therefore to 'get it out' to express your ideas, to state where you are at, to be corrected or believed, vindicated or shot down. Knowledge doesn't simply aggregate like coral, rather it feeds on the vibrancy of responses from others. 

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Design Museum

Hospitalised

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 6 Sep 2011, 03:58

Being offline for seven hours was the least of the unpleasantness.

Being put straight into one of those back-to-front gowns wasn't encouraging, though it has its compensations, I was seen with two minutes of arriving. The experience of the A & E was fine, it was the need to endure in considerable pain for six hours until the matter could be resolved.

I had the iPad but had no desire to do anything (not permitted in any case).

Behind the curtain I listen in as a distraction, it was the first day for at least two members of staff. (I could name them and run through the symptoms of several of the morning's intake too).

As another distraction I thought about efforts to introduce hand held devices to hospitals in 2000, various case studies from PDAs in 2005 (total failure) as well as Yrjo Engestrom's 'activity systems' studies of hospitals in Helsinki.

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I was politely asked by the Consultant if I could be discussed with his student doctor once she had seen me and come to a diagnosis, so they talked about me, not as if a I wasn't there but the way we parents can talk about our children even when they're sitting in the back of the car. I was humoured politely when I said what fascinated me was the expert/learner relationship and the nature of the conversation (I heard both what they discussed within earshot AND what was said around the hub - everyone was eager to learn and share today).

I desired taking a picture of the poster that shows how to identify staff; I got the all, from the staff assistant, through nurse, matron, doctor and consultant.

In due course I'll reflect on where I came within the activity system, surely as I was mostly the 'subject' or a mediating artefact? NHS Direct website, then a phone call first to them and my GP confirmed my self-diagnosis. Plenty of checks in case of other possibilities were confirmed at hospital. Between being seen by the staff matron and a doctor there was a three hour delay that almost reduced me to tears. Once diagnosed there was another hour.

The procedure itself took half an hour, the hideousness of it endured by concentrating on something else - I relived a gap year of 30 years ago during which I came to know every piste and off-piste ski run at Val d'Isere / Tignes.

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