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Reflections on e-learning - September 2010 to September 2012

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 22 Sep 2012, 06:07

New Software

Things I was starting to get my head around in 2010:

  • Skype (a phone call for free)
  • Delicious (don't get it, yet ... or need it?)
  • Outlook (Never used it 'til last week not being a PC person)
  • Google Docs (Up there and loading docs. Hear good things from all)
  • Compendium (Created a map for an e-tivity based on my H807 ECA. Populating this to share content with a producer).
  • Zoho (signed in but not sure)
  • Mahara (But Google does it for free and has seamless interplay with all your other favourite Google tools)
  • Pebblepad (Mixed reviews)
  • Adobe Share (Been using Adobe products forever so this should get my attention)
  • Internet Explorer (new to this Mac user!)
  • Dropbox (I've always been a box person)

Where I stand in 2012:

  • Skype (use often to friends globally, notably for a job interview with Getty Images, interviewing Dr about Qstream and on an iPad passing my brother and my nephews around a room of cousins between the UK and South Africa at Christmas)
  • Delicious (Still struggle, not least as I have more than one account and because I don't see the need to bookmark anything as to Google is quicker and with cookies enabled takes me into my choices)
  • Outlook (formerly trained at the OU on Outlook - training on a 2010 version while we had a 2011 in our office. Still hate it having been raised on all things Mac. Outlook has the look, feel and functionality of Microsoft DOS c 1992)
  • Google Docs (Use as a store to aggregate content, sometimes to share, wiki-like with fellow OU students who are more ofay with the technology than I am)
  • Compendium (Can't stand it - prefer a variety of free iPad Apps, including SimpleMinds, Bubl.us and several others).
  • Zoho (signed in and gave up)
  • Mahara (signed in a gave up)
  • Pebblepad (signed in and gave up - initially making do with the OU's MyStuff, which has been discontinued. Find it easier to aggregate content, while I'm an OU Student in my OU Blog, then cut and paste into one or more WordPress blogs - I had 16 at the last count)
  • Adobe Share (Don't have the budgets, may be of interest once back in a commercial office)
  • Internet Explorer (Never. Over the period have slowly migrated away from Firefox, like family, use Google Chrome almost exclusively)
  • Dropbox (Not really)
  • PicasaWeb - download for all images from camera, iPhone and iPad. Fix then post to some 50 albums, some with over 1000 images (the Picasa limit), pay for extra space. Uncertain or lack confidence though in degree of privacy, especially if screengrabs and other images are automatically uploaded to Google + images (same PicasaWeb account in a different format)

Where I stood in 2010 compared to 2012:

Old Software

  • Word (Yes, but far less often. I write far more often on the iPad using the AI Writer APP, emailing this to a PC to edit, or uploading into a blog to edit there)
  • Filemaker Pro (No longer. I ran it on Macs and iBooks from its inception but others don't prefering of all things the ghastly Excel). Have Bento, baby FileMaker, on the iPad.
  • AOL (still with AOL, but prefer Gmail and still thinking about changing supplier to BT or Sky)
  • Power Structure (Didn't upgrade, my iBook died and the software is on an rescued harddrive though I doubt it will work with a new operating system)
  • Final Draft (An execellent script writing tool though created for linear output)
  • Adobe Photoshop (Haven't upgraded, making do with Picasa)
  • Dreamweaver (haven't been near it, I never was a programmer type anyway, though cut my teeth in this in 2000)
  • Excell (A very reluctant user - just cannot see how this is used by some to create posters, or run a database that required large quantities of content in a cell. Filemaker Pro is better)

Blogs

  • Diaryland (Quite the thing in 1999). Locked forever. Up forever. Sometimes cut and paste. Always amusing to read posts on developments in web-based learning c. 1999
  • LiveJournal (Preferred by 2002). A stepping stone out of Diaryland.
  • WordPress (Expert) Over a dozen blogs, most notably Mymindbursts, though no longer a diary or journal, but a niche journal largely about e-learning, with subject intersts including creative writing, philosophy, tertiary education, history (First War), online and distance education, theories of education. Also blogs on swim coaching and teaching, on the Machine Gun Corps, on the trials and tribulations of a househusband (from old diaries and blogs), on various fiction themes - but also a number of Books of Condolences, in 2011 for colleagues, but very sadly in 2012 for my mother too.
  • EduBlogs (No more)
  • Blogger (No longer)
  • OuBlog (Extensively for all Masters in Open and Distance Education modules, now on my fifth and final module. Daily reflection, updates, aggregating resources, screen clips, diagrams, images, snips from forums, links to other blogs, tagging to assemble content for assignment, re-blog with re-writes to external blogs. Use it like an e-portfolio with CVs and job descriptions here too.)
  • Blipfoto (A picture a day for four or five months - until I have my iPhone to my son. I make do with an iPad and prefer a cheap phone to have kicking around in my pocket or bag ... and to avoid being online when out on the South Downs walking the dog!)

Social Networking

  • Facebook (Love hate. Great to be in touch with immediate family and trusted friends only. Got some groups going with boys I knew age 8-13 at boarding prep school. Got out of hand when a relation fell very ill and died as to the appropriateness of sharing our concerns and grief online. Inclined to disengage - do so only to find I am still there?)
  • MySpace (Never, though I am there)
  • Friends Reunited (Never since they started to charge, or since they came back)
  • Linkedin (extensive, professional use with several hundred contacts and activity in many groups. Feed blog content into Linkedin automatically, tailor some content for specific groups, particularly relating to e-learning for corporates and tertiary education)
  • Twitter (extensive, professional use. Did use TweetReach and various other tools. URLs shortened from WordPress, will use Bitl.y)

Other

  • Flickr (Used to use extensively - migrated all content to Picasa as Flickr tried to socialise the space and I found my pictures being offered for sale!)
  • Kodak Easyshare (Rescued 500 of 700 uploaded photos and migrated to Picasa before Kodak closed)
  • YouTube (Should be making extensive use of YouTube. Starting to digitise 40 hours of Oxford Undergraduate life 1982-1984. With permissions will migrate clips to the web in due course.)
  • Picasa (my favourite now, the teenagers are on Instagram and Tumnblr)
  • Ancestry.com (Covered every conceivable ancestor as far back as is possible online. Could make use of the 2011 census to track down a great aunt but not inclined to fork out anymore or to deal with spurious requests from people so off the map in terms of the family tree it is verging on trainspotting.)
  • Genes Reunited (as above. Not been near it) Of minor interest at a family funeral to figure out who were the common ancestors - both gentleman born in the 1870s it turned out!

Browsers

  • Firefox (very rarely, probably in erro)
  • AOL (winding up here for the last 18 months, should have got out long ago.)
  • GoogleChrome (Almost exclusively)
  • Internet Explorer (avoided at all costs)

What's new?

For the last 18 months extensive use of an iPad and associated Apps, so much so that it is the replacement laptop and even covers as a mobile phone as people know to email me.

Trying to do my final MAODE module on the iPad.

Proving remarkably easy to do so.

Very versatile, especially where resources can be downloaded as PDFs, even to read in Kindle version. Read from the Kindle, note take on the iPad and post online.

Books. We no longer buy them. Is a garage full of wonderful hardbacks worth anything? Glad I never bothered to put up shelves.

Magazines and newspapers. All redundant. Only kept the Guardian on Saturday to have something to line the guinea-pig hutch, when they went so did the newspaper!

TV. Rarely ever watched live. Prefer BBC iPlayer. Exception being the Olympics and Paralympics.

Pen and paper. I do. An A5 notebook and pen. Though prefer to type up notes as I go along.

Twitter Share. Reading an eBook and sharing a line or two with a note directly into Twitter. This aggregates content in an editable format and alerts 'followers' to a good read - usually on learning, education, e-learning, also on social media, story writing and the First World War. Sometimes some great out of copyright literature.

 

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Gillian Wilkinson, Friday, 21 Sep 2012, 18:04)
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Why do some online forums fly while others never get off the ground?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 20 Nov 2011, 18:52
I was in a ListServ group in 2001 that worked, probably for the novelty factor. A decade later and on my fourth module in 22 months I expect all forums to work, most of the time.

What matters?

Plan for success. The learning design, the planning is crucial. There need to be certain cues, milestones, obligations and opportunities.

Have the right tutor. Training and experience is one thing, personality is another. As in real life they must have the educator's desire to support the right environment, whoever turns up and however it pans out.

Be a team player and whether you are completely new to this or an old hand, play your part.

Clock in regularly, and let people know you are around if only to say 'hi' - especially when you have nothing to say - say so! Tip: no one else can tell if you are or have been present.

Give it a go. Be prepared to make mistakes. Ask a fellow student, the responses you get here are always spot on.

Make friends.

(do a touch typing course! This is talking with your fingertips).

Use email, Skype and Google+ too.

Have a 'water -cooler' to chat in your tutor group away from the cut and thrust of course materials.
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H800 WK21-22 Activity 2d VLE vs. PLE who wins?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:59

H800 WK21-22 Activity 2d VLE vs. PLE who wins?

  • John Petit
  • Martin Weller
  • Niall Sclater

Stephen Downes – Students own education

· How much do they actually differ in their views?

· What is my perspective?

· Freedom is lack of choice

· Parameters work

· Creativity is mistakes

· Have rules, the mischievous or skilled will break them anyway

· The end result counts.

a) This isn’t a debate. Neither takes sides and the chair interjects his own thoughts. A debate, whether at school, university or in a club, or in a court of law or the House of Commons, is purposely adversarial, people take sides, even take a stance on a point of view they may not wholly support, in order to winkle out answers that may stand somewhere between the two combatants.

b) During the MAODE this might be the second such offering as a ‘debate,’ the last being as weak. What is more I have attended a Faculty debate which shilly-shallied around the issues with at times from an audience’s point of view it being hard to know whose side the speakers were on?

c) As well as deploring the lack of rigour regarding what should or should not be defined as a debate, the vacuous nature of the conversations means that you don’t gain one single new piece of evidence either way. Generalities are not arguments, neither side attempts to offer a knock-out blow, indeed Martin Weller seems keen to speak for both sides of the argument throughout.

When Martin Weller implies that a VLE constrains because ‘There are so many fantastic tools out there that are free and robust and easy to use.’ I would like a) example b) research based evidence regarding such tools, which do offer some compelling arguments, these commercial and branded products have to offer something refreshing and valuable.

Unlike some university offering they are therefore not only effective, but vitally, they are fun, tactile, smartly constructed, well-funded, give cache to the user, are easy to share, champion and become evangelical about, explored, exploited and developed further. Here I compare Compendium with the delight of bubbl.us.

Here I compare blogging in the confines of the abandoned cold-frame that is the Victorian OU student blogging platform compared to the Las Vegas experience of WordPress.

I can even compare how WordPress performs externally compared to the shackled version provided by the OU. On the one hand there is a desire to treat students like sheep; there is even a suggestion in this chatty-thing between Niall Sclater and Martin Weller than OU undergraduates ought to offer the most basic environment in which to operate. Access is an important point, but you don’t develop players in an orchestra by shutting everyone in a hall and giving them a kazoo. And if that Kazoo requires instructions then it deserves being ignored. Having lived with it for a year the OU e-portfolio My Stuff might best be described as some kind of organ-grinder with the functionality and fun-factor of Microsoft DOS circa 1991.

Martin Weller makes the point about tools that might be used this before, during and after their university experience. There is a set of ICT tools covering word-processing, databases, number manipulation, calendars and communications that are a vital suite of skills; skills that some might already have, or partially have … or not have at all. The problem is in the accommodation of this widely differing skill set.

JV Exposure to new, or similar, experience of better as well as weaker programmes/tools, fashion, peer group, nature of the subject they are studying, their ambitions, who they are, how much time they have, their kit, connection and inclinations, let alone the context of where they are going online.

In this respect Martin Weller is right to say that ‘some kind of default learning environment’ is required first of all.

Caveat: You are going to need people to use the same kind of things in order to be able to communicate.

· University blog vs. their own bog.

· University e-portfolio vs. their own portfolio.

· Elluminate vs. Skype.

· Mac vs. PC,

· Tablet vs. laptop.

· Desktop vs. smartphone.

· Paper vs. e-Reader.

· University Forum vs. Linked in or others.

· Twitter vs. Yammer.

Swimming analogy: training pool, leisure pool, main pool, diving pool, Jacuzzi.

Niall Sclater makes a point about a student using an external blog that doesn’t have a screen reader. Do browsers not offer this as a default now? Whilst I doubt the quality of translation I’ve been having fun putting everything I normally look at into French or loading content onto an e-reader and having it read to me on long car journeys. The beauty of Web 2.0 and Open Learn is that developers love to solve problems then share their work. Open Learn allows these fixers to crack on at a pace that no institution can match.

Perhaps issues regarding passwords is one such problem which is no longer a problem with management systems. Saving passwords etc.: Other problems we have all see rise and fall might include spam. The next problem will be to filter out spam in the form of ‘Twitter Twaddle’ the overwhelming flack of pre-written RSS grabbed institutional and corporate messages that should without exception be ‘flagged’ by readers as spam until it stops. I never had a conversation with a piece of direct mail shoved at me through my letter box, or spam come to that matter. Here largely the walled, university environment in which to study, is protected from the swelling noise of distraction on the outside,

Niall Sclater talks about the Wiki on OU VLE, in Moodle ‘comprises what we consider is the most useful functionality for students. The OU ‘cut out a lot of the bells and whistles you find in MediaWiki’. New to wikis I enjoyed being eased into their use, but like a keen skier, or swimmer, having found my ‘legs’ I wanted incremental progressions. Being compelled to stay in the training pool, or on the nursery slopes, to return to by Kazoo metaphor, is like having Grade 5 flute, but having to play with six novice recorder players in Kindergarten. We move on and therefore what is offered should move with us.

Universities fail abysmally to sell their products to their captive audiences.

Commercial products are sold, invitingly to everyone who comes within earshot. There is a commercial naivety and intellectual arrogance sometimes over stuff created that must be great, because it is the invention of brilliant minds … and that its brilliance will be self-evident even if it sits their within its highly branded overcoat waiting for some time to take an interest and take it out for a test drive. Creators of these tools forget that a quick search using some of the terms related to the affordances of the product being offered will invariably produce something more appealing from the likes of Google, Adobe, Apple or Microsoft.

Nail Sclater points out that some students can be confused by too much functionality. I agree. If there is a product that has far too much functionality, it is Elluminate. And even for a library search, it ought to be as simple as the real thing … you go to a counter and ask for a title. Google gets it right. Keep it simple. Others are at last following suit. Or is the Google God now omnipresent?

Martin Weller stumbles when he says that Nail ‘hits on two arguments against decentralised PLEs by

a) Giving three arguments

a. Authentication

b. Integration

c. Robustness

b) He is meant to be in favour of PLEs.

i.e. academics are incapable of debate because they are, to use of Martin Weller’s favourite terms ‘contextualised’ to sit on the fence. A debate should be a contest, a bullfight ideally with a clear winner, the other party a convincing looser.

You wouldn’t let a soldier chose his weapons then enter the fray. There has to be a modicum of formal training across a variety of tools, and in a controlled, stepped fashion in order to bring people along, communally, for retention and to engender collaboration and participation and all that benefits that come from that.

Who at a time of change is going to declare their role, or department redundant? Brought into a new role, Social Media Manager, I feel I will have succeed in 12 months if I have handed over the keys to others, spread some of the glory about. That’s how I see it, a little bit of everybody’s lives. You can wordprocess, you can do some aspect of Social Media. There are other functions though that long ago were circumvented by clever software. Web 2.0 deplores the gatekeeper. It wants to put everything ‘out there,’ enabling everyone and anyone to make of it what they need and please.

Personally I’ve been loading content, text and images, in diaryland since Sept 1999 and have never had an issue with access, yet I have repeatedly found my OU e-portfolio failed, or that while composing a response in a forum the system fell-down and I lost what I was doing.

Nial Sclater argues in favour of VLEs to ensure usability, access, extension to students, common ground on terms of tools, opportunity and form an assessment point of view, use of content too.

While Martin Weller wants to ‘Support’ – an argument for VLEs. (I’ve now made the point several times that Martin Weller seemed unsure of which side he was on, and by personality and from experience, will never take a side in any case).

We DO want people going away being able to use package X. Do we turn out Roy Castle types who can play loads of instruments not very well, or a virtuoso performer who can at least play the cello well?

JP stepping in ‘as my confidence grew I got to know that and my confidence grew across the year as I got to know that and one or two other very limited and well-supported tools’

Nial Sclater’s point that the same tool is required for collaboration and assessment. This applies also to reading the materials provided and doing the activities so that these are the points of reference for assessments (as currently practised). How can a Tutor mark an assessment that is based on vegetables from a walled Victorian kitchen garden, when the student offers flowers grown from seed in a tub? To return to my sporting analogy, how might I judge a person’s ability to swim after 12 weeks if they’ve been learning how to sail?

Parameters have a purpose.

The greatest resistance to a writer is having no sense of purpose, no goals, no parameters, no set pieces, no one to be on their case. A free for all, perhaps as the new London Business and Finance School is finding, is that just giving students the lot and telling them to get on with it is not conducive to a viable learning experience. (Nor do I think it’ll deliver someone is able to work with others).

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Steve McGowan, Saturday, 16 Jul 2011, 15:33)
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H800 wk21 activity 2e To what extent are you using web 2.0 technologies?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 13 Jul 2011, 21:36

SEE MINDMAP ABOVE

H800 WK21 Activity 2 ep

How does your representation compare with the tables of tools and functionality described in the Conole chapter you read earlier in Activity 1b?

All of these st some stage and more especially using a tablet and Apps, or laptop away from my desk.

+ e- readers

+ RSS feeds

+Google Docs

+picasa dropbox

+Blog as eportfolio and exercise book

+Blog for presentstion and wiki-like

+flash online shared calender

Intranetmicroblog Yammer

+ Skype

To what extent are you using Web 2.0 technologies?

Extensively

Send notes as email to blog and others

Outlook remotely

Blogs to aggregate and share

RSS feeds aggregating messages

Online Forums frequently

How far are you using Mobile 2.0, as explored in Week 19?

Extensively using a 3g enabled tablet In what ways has your own practice and use of technologies changed in the last five to ten years? An early adopter once more. Professionally necessary to take an interest in everything Blogging since 1999 so used to putting content online

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H800 WK17 Computer Lab to iPad for e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 17 Oct 2012, 04:30

Simply to offer a different insight while acknowledging the above, I was, in 1983, introduced to the wonders of the University Computer Lab.

'Back then' this wasn't an elective, but rather signing up to some additional, extra-curricular training.

It did not appeal one bit; I could imagine to some degree where it was going and its necessity in one of my options (remote sensing from space), but to achieve anything (I am neither computer literate or mechanically minded), it struck me, as was the case, that your required a certain mindset (that of an engineer or mathematician). Because it was in little demand, not networked, bespoke to a project and housed in one place it was akin to joining the stamp club and about as exciting. It was however 'on request,' rather than compulsory and could with ease be ignored.

I wonder if a more laissez-faire approach would work?

More of an internal market in an organisation where choices are offered to individuals so that the decission making could be more bottom up than top down? i.e. you have a budget, you pick the kit you'd like, the software you need rather than being prescribed a piece of kit and software and obliged to learn it.

I imagine the moment I can afford to buy a Mac I'll do so.

The simplest analogy would be is that I feel I've been told I have to use a Rotring pen and a ruler, but I'd prefer to use a soft HB6 pencil and a pad of cartridge paper. The end result, the task or peice of communication I have to deliver will be the same, I just get there 'my way,' rather than 'your way'.

My university experience from the 1980s, to that as student and now insider thirty years on at the OU is different, however, invited to meet a group of Associate Lecturers yesterday to have my mind picked regarding web-conferencing, Elluminate and synchronous learning in general, I was struct not by how things have changed, but how what matters hasn't changed at all - there are educators who are fascinate by and passionate about what they do.

There is a desire to do the best by their students and to get their heads around what tools could be used to improve or enhance this experience. Even speaking with my 85 year old father-in-law, a former prof who still 'teaches' I am struck by this vocational zeal, which is shared whether by email and Skype, by snailmail or a tutorial, collaboration on a book, or giving a talk (still) at a summer school.

The lesson I have learnt therefore is never to let the technology get in the way of this experience, that between educator and student, the knowledgeable and the less knowledgeable, playing on this inhate human desire to share our experience and knowledge whatever that might be.

Increasingly, when discussing the merits of kit or software, I return to this theme, that people have not changed and that the natural relationships that form between people in markets, in villages, in communities, is what we crave and repeatedly recreate online in a multitude of ways.

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Technology Acceptance Model and the Four Pleasures of Patrick Jordan

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 14:48

Fleshing out a visual strategy for social media for the OU Faculty of Business and Law in part from reading 'Inbound Marketing' (2011) David Merman Scott.

Putting Drupal into practice, laying the foundation for three wordpress blogs, hurting my head by watching Twitter feeds on TweetDeck, enjoying getting Linkedin.

Impressed (I'm very impressionable) by paper on the Technology Acceptance Model (Davis, 1989) and how it has been developed since.

I like the idea of Patrick Jordan's (2001) four pleasures related to technology adoption: physio-pleasure, socio-pleasure, psycho-pleasure and ide0pleasure; though I do NOT like the pseudo-science of the terminology.

From this I set:

I wish the OU student e-portfolio was a pleasure; I'm yet to find an e-portfolio that is so instead use a locked wordpress blog for the same functions.

(62777)

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The honest image - who are you or were you?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 4 Feb 2013, 09:32

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What image should we use to portray ourselves?

Is there such as thing as best practice? Ought it to be like joining a gym, we have a snapshot taken on a webcam and this current image, no matter how it comes out, becomes who we are?

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Do so few of us dislike or distrust what we see when we look at our faces in the mirror each morning?

It has been the subject of research, role play in online education; I'd like to do some of my own. I began a year ago with this.

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I liked the picture, felt it was healthy, robust and confident and confident.

I should have looked at the date on it. August 2004. Happy and sunny days. You age under stress and from the mid-40s it doesn't take much to add ten years -all that sun in the past, being unwell. As I write below, his spirit, like mine (I hope) remains that of an enthusiastic twenty-something. The same occurred with the Elluminate session we had in H800 the other day, the tutor on the webcam (initially in a scratchy black and white image) is not the person who goes by in the General Forum. Are we all guilty of this. Men included? We go with something in our late thirties or early to mid-forties?

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I then went with this.

An image I long ago used in my eleven year old blog. I wanted something that was indicative of the content and would last. I'm still inclined to run with this. It is indicative of what I think blogging is all about - the contents of your mind, what you think i.e. you 'mind bursts' as I call them on numerous blogs.

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Facebook personas sees me in a number of guises

While on Skype I use a image taken with the webcam on the day of an online interview - this is a month ago, so as contemporary as it gets.

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I have this image fronting Tumblr taken 21 years ago.

In moments of euphoria having just successfully negotiated a 15m pond of slush on a pair of skis in front of a crowd of early May skiers below the Tignes Glacier, France. The day I proposed to my wife. We'd be 'going out together' for three days ... we've now been together, well 21 years. In my original diary we could create banner ads to publicise what we had to say to fellow writers. One of these has a spread as long as the contents of my diaries and blog: they run from a 13 year old Head Chorister in cassock and ruffs, though gap, undergrad, to add exec, video director, with four woman I didn't marry.

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Increasingly, I am thinking of using a self-portrait, that this attempt to capture myself through my minds eye

is more telling that a photograph.

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I could use the drawing I did of a 14 year old

What amuses me most here is how I superimpose these attachments as if I were in a school play, the beard is clearly on the soft face of a pubescent boy - I should have looked at my grandfather for the face I'd get, with the more bulbous nose and pronounced chin. Talking of which, I find it intriguing that I am the spitting image of my grandfather, that my own children see images of him age 20 and think it has to be me. All that changes as he ages into a 40 and 50 year old is he goes bald, whereas I am thus far limited to a thinning of the crown.

This I'm afraid, if the age of my children in the rest of the picture is something to go by, is some seven years ago sad

My only reason for picking it is that I haven't renewed my contact lenses and am inclined, after twenty years wearing them to give up. Maybe laser surgery when I have the cash? This is contemporary. It doesn't say who I am, just 'what' I am. Wearing a child's hat (he's a dad), the headset to record notes onto a digital recorder (for a podcast), a coat he bought for honeymooning in the Alps (we went skiing) 18 years ago …

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I have of course not changed much since 1977

It takes me back to the original point - who are we? how do we representative ourselves online in a single image when we are all a sum of a complex of parts? Is it any wonder that we present multiple selves online, the more so the longer we've lived? I don't remember my father being around to take this picture. though clearly he did. I do remember the great-big wellies though and the joy of water spilling over the top if I could find a puddle or pond deep enough. And the jumpers knitted by my granny (sleeves always too long). And the trees in the garden I climbed behind. And my sister and brother … How set in were the learning process by then?

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The Dracula Spectacula, People's Theatre, Newcastle.

The teeth were made from dentine and fitted by an orthodontist.I rather foolishly sharpened the fangs and bit through my own lip on the last night. I had to sing while gargling my own blood. The joy of memories.

  • Could a daily snap taken when looking in the bathroom mirror be used to tag memories from that 'era' of your life?
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H800: 27 On Elluminate (must we?)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 1 Mar 2011, 16:50

The settings have the moderator in low resolution Black and White, more like an ultrasound scan. The sound quality was just as bad, not quite womb music, but certainly underwater. A few tweaks and I had a higher resolution colour image of the moderator, though the sound, the only thing that matters, remained broken, distorted and unreliable.

We introduce ourselves. 30 words or ten seconds was enough. I wonder at its relevance. If meeting for business we’d dispense with this small talk, pull out an agenda and get on with it.

Asked to make a comment in a recent Elluminate session I had pre-empted the prompt and written something down, only to lose the point when clicked on the mic. Actually, winging it, as I know from hundreds of interviews ALWAYS produces a better response, than the response that someone has written down in advance. I made an off the cuff comment that H807 was more reading, whereas this just fit in.

I cannot help but think that Skype and a basic Google Docs of Sync.in document work better.

At least this time my mic continued to function, though even here, I could not tell, could not hear, that I was ‘on mic’ once I’d clicked it open. This from someone who has been a sound engineer, who wants a live feed to my headphones so I can hear what others are going to hear …or what is being recorded. Should sessions such as this be necessary? Software should be so intuitive, obvious and like things we’re familiar with that this kind of walk and talk through is unnecessary. Someone hasn’t adhered to the advice ‘Keep it Simple, Stupid.’

The tutor likened the reading the tasks otherwise like waves on the beach … and another and another.

I am sympathetic to anyone with a demanding day job.

When I started the MA in 2001 I was working fulltime and doing a second post-graduate course. I never had a quiet moment. I did the reading on planes and trains and very early in the morning. I came home to a five and three year old. There was no expectation to be around, to say much in the crude threaded discussions or give the technology a go. It was books in a box with a regular essay/assignment and far easier to juggle with no sense that you were missing out, or not contributing if you made an appearance once every ten days.

Concentrate on the core reading and contribute to forums … it’ll count.

The point is made that id can be difficult to contribute if your thoughts had already been articulated. My experience is that a forum thread goes through three distinct phases: each person responds in turn to the question/questions, then once many/most have done this, you comment, contribute and elaborate … and at some stage you decide that you’ve had enough, said enough and can move on … maybe dipping back in as others come forward and either assert the same things, or pick you up on a matter or say something completely new. Often the later arrivals are better able to ‘see the woods from the trees,’ and can summarise, or make a succinct point that says in a few lines what others have deliberated over for hundreds of lines.

I make a note to myself that these forums are ‘A tool FOR thinking … not that you have to get it written down’. People need to write what they think as they think it.

The best outcome for all is that we generate a learning community. We are participants, so look to the readings of others. For example, thinks the same thing as me … so agree, to create a learning discussion, you are responding, someone can grow from where you are responding.

It doesn’t need to be like Chinese whispers: at most people post their thoughts to a task as if they would submit an essay, albeit a very short one.

THEN they look at comments and may respond to one. Would it be that each of us HAD to comment on EVERY thread submitted by others! If only six people are involved on round one you get SIX postings, on round two you get 25 postings … (you don’t comment further on your own initial thoughts – even if you want to) then if everyone responds to these Five that makes 125. We haven’t set a word limit, but in my experience this many postings would already come to some 12500 words. Must everyone comment? For the sake of it? For the marks they may need to assemble at some later stage?

Early contributors, or the most frequent visitors may set a tone, that could facilitate what I’d term ‘loose talk,’ I often wonder what the OU Guidelines are for tutors, but can probably guess that the hours they are paid are extremely limiting.

The tutor makes the point that it is ‘nice when you post something and someone responds.’

My tip to those who enjoy this kind of reward is that the more you respond and comment on others … the more likely you are to receive reciprocal comments, that it is not WHAT you have to say, or how often you say it, or where you say it … but that you are participating at all. i.e. the more you put in,. the more you get back

I like the analogy the US E-learning Prof Marc Wagner calls a ‘pot lunch’, in that you ‘bring something to the table,’ but also consume the produce of others … and comment on the whole thing.

The essence of this course, our Tutor explains, is that we are trying to establish the relationship of technology to the learning: on the one hand this is how we THINK learners learn (the academic community) whilst this is how we learn, this is how teaching should be designed. How can technology enhance distance learning?

My own take on this, from corporate learning and development is very different … that the distribution mechanism might have been a VHS cassette in the post, a satellite uplink or an interactive CD-rom, but the mere ‘book like’ or manual like distribution of content was never our purpose. That engagement was always deemed necessary as candidates would have to prove they knew what they had been taught in an assessment.

The point I made, when asked, regarding the reading, was to do some of the reading, even be guided by the choices made by others, then look to their unique thoughts, the inputs from others whether they started last week, or a year ago.

I liken panic over a TMA as preparing for the first night of a show, of getting up on stage, going onto the pitch … that this forces you to bring your thinking together, indeed the deadlines and parameters literally funnel your thinking.

I reflect on my grandfather who left school at 14. Interviewing him at length before he died there is no doubt that as the ‘office boy’ those around him formally/informally taught him so much ‘in situ,’ from taking a stock sheet, to learning shorthand … then, the height of technology, being given a typewriter to figure out. (This is 1910 by the way)

When a separate conversation starts the tutor wonders about who is talking, some listening, some writing notes … with the moderating trying to hold it all together. I’d unplugged the headphones and was listening from the kitchen while I made a coffee.

‘Like sitting in a meeting wearing a blindfold‘

I put it and another agreed that it is like closing your eyes and concentrating … I’ve been using videoconferencing since the 1980s. This is how North Sea Oil rigs kept in touch. There was never any question that you wouldn’t see everyone in vision. 25 years later Elluminate looks retro.

I like the point one person made that such sessions are ‘Good for class moral’.

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H800: 25 Where does virtual learning begin?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 28 Feb 2011, 06:27

And if real learning occurs, is it no longer 'virtual?'

Where does reality end?

What part of your subconscious is real?

It happens after all, if yo think it or dream it. We distinguish between learning and e-learning; should we ? Did we distinguish a different reality after the train, after the telephone, after television or a man on the moon?

I am often online, I speak to people through Skype and Elluminate.

Yesterday I likened an Elluminate 'tutorial' with seven or eight fellow students as wearing a blindfold in a meeting; yo have to be alert to the presence of others, be sensitive to their interest (or lack of), their hand going up, or not. You are dependent on your only sighted person present - the tutor or moderator.

Over the last month I have been interviewed for a job on Skype. Producers have discussed my work on Skype.

I have been set task to show what I can do, somehow my body of work, the videos and scripts not real enough. Can I still fill a blank sheet of paper with pertinent and persuasive ideas; that's what they want to know.

My blend of learning uses the conscious and subconscious.

I consciously go to bed with a book, now on Kindle, currently reading through my extensive highlights and notes on two books: Education Psychology (Vygotsky 1926) and 'Rethinking Pedagogy for the Digital age (Helen Beetham & Rhona Sharpe eds. 2007). As I drift away I may close the Kindle, may slip it safely to one side .. may not. I matters not a jot. I'tll look after itself.

No wonder I find myself dwelling on all matter of things.

Earlier I woke thinking about one of these job interviews: it may be to work on contrast, it may be to work freelance, there are even a couple of full-time posts. All want to know what I have done recently. What they really need to know is what can I do for them next week or month. Or now.

As I return to consciousness I reflect on the interview that was on my mind, only to realise that it is highly unlikely that my future boss Is Johnny Depp. I've been duped by my own mind. No worries. The thoughts relate to the real opportunities, not this peculiar mash-up in a virtual world.

I have multiple presences in cyberspace with 'faces on' that may be anything from a week to 15 years old. Indeed, I ought to attach an image of the six year old me to a collection of 'earliest memories.'

I have a couple of existences in Second Life too, though I've yet to run with these.

Would I not get more confused over where reality ends?

If it is becoming less easy to distinguish reality from the virtual, how are we supposed to differentiate between learning and e-learning? Is it not the case that both could be going on ... but a student, or the students are doing no learning in either situation? That they are elsewhere? That they are not engaged? Yet hours later, consciously or otherwise, a recollection of a 'lesson' may produce a learning moment, may generate 'stuff' a learning object in that person's consciousness?

 

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H800: 4 The bud opens?

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H807, H808 to H800.

Either it is reflection of my growth through this course, or it is a blossoming of the MA ODE course. Looking at how we students will share contact details: Email, Skype, Blog and Twitter accounts suggests to me that any containment within the OU VLE is now cursory.

I feel this will increase its use, not diminish it.

This will remain the hub from which course materials, resources and context eminated with blogging, Skype and Twitter having their role to play.

All I can suggest to fellow students is to screen grab, cut and paste or download content you create beyond this platform as at some stage it is certainly going to form a significant part of your aggregated knowledge, possibly even evidence of participation.

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Should I be sharing this here?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Jan 2011, 07:09

Nearly three hours after sitting down to work on the ECA I have blogged ONE only of the two ideas in my mind (expressing them takes considerably longer than simply having them). The good news is that this effort has developed my ability to use Artpad and a tablet to do a sketch and share it, to link articles from New Scientist and my entries to various versions of me. I have contributed to the Tutor Group and H808 Course forums, and so no doubt confirmed my approach to the ECA, which is still 9 days away ... and grabbed, cut or loaded five or six items into my OU eportfolio, which I still trust will be successfully transmogrified into something better during the course of 2011 without content being lost. I really do not want to give a week to transferring over 1000 pages ... one at a time. Currently nothing will export by the routes supplied.

I'm not ADHD but I am easily distracted, drawn into a web of my own making as I click here, there and everywhere to achieve some simple goal.

However, I am grinning from ear to ear because my brain is buzzing with ideas; I like it this way. I'll keep the blog on quantum evolution 'til tomorrow. Meanwhile I have to have a haircut, and decorate a wall in my wife's study so that when I am on Skype to New York this evening I don't look as if I've just got out of bed ... which is of course how anyone looks if they work from home and call this work.

The thing is there are relevant voices speaking to me from all kinds of directions.

I relish the LinkedIn E-learning 2.0 forum threads that pop up all day; they are read, some deserve a response, or at least being snatched for future reference. And when I want to achieve something with an image, audio or video, I will stick with the software, or ditch it for something else, until I get the outcome I desire.

So am I learning, even if the contents of my head must wait while my fingers play.

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Which are your Top Ten e-learnering tools?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 10 Jan 2011, 13:22

Clicking through the Top 100 e-learning tools of 2010 it surprises me how many I'm familiar with, and a few on which I am dependent.

 

Top%20100%20eLearning%20Tools%202010.JPG
From Drop Box

 

Looking at this Top 10 we have all surely used these?

 

Having much experience of most of these takes the title 'Jack of all trades' to a new level, but is this not expected, based on every tool having to meet a need and be easy to use, you just give it a go, running with it works for you, ditching it if it doesn't?

 

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Course overlap H807, H808, H800 ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Jul 2012, 13:29

I had thought as I did H807 that it would be good to do again, that it was all happening too fast, not just relearning how to study, but knowing how best to function in this online environment.

Frank Coterell-Boyce reflected on what an advantage he gopt doing year 6 over in primary school because he was too young for Secondary School. It is extraordinary how empowering it is to feel on top of a subject.

As it turns out there is overlap between H807 and H808; for the most part I am grateful. On the other hand I wonder if I couldn't have done this MA in a year and done 20-30 hours a week instead.

Still, this is a chance for me to make choices regarding the plethora of tools and platforms available. This is the problem, having hundreds of software packages and apps that may or may not make a contribution to a piece of work I may, or may not, at some stage prepare (probably not) and deliver.

I'm surprised how on a second or third go with Skype, Google Docs and Skype that you can feel at home with them and share what they do with others. I translated a swimming coach's CV on sports credentials from Catalan to English using Google Docs this morning. Extraordinary.

I already upload to Flickr and Facebook, and YouTube. I blog anything between 1,000 and 10,000 words a day. I walk around with the means to photograph anything, video anything or record notes on anything all of which can be easily uploaded to a myriad of mostly free platforms.

And if people want me on a mobile device that easy for them to set up.

But what is the contents of my mind worth?

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'Does WikiLeaks mark the end of privacy?'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 09:35

Prospect%2520SNIP%25201.JPG

'Yes', says the new editor of Prospect Magazine, Bronwen Maddox.

I have much respect for this journalist having read her in Broadcast Magazine, the FT and Times over a couple of decades.

She adds.

'Yes, I see it, and I refuse to be distressed: the good outweighs the bad, and the change is unstoppable.' Maddox, 2010. Prospect January 2010

Two points I'd like to develop here: privacy and the unstoppable nature of advances caused by e-technology.

Exposure, disclosure and loss of privacy has been discussed in the blogosphere for a decade. I recall the debate starting in 1999 when Ellen Levey (now a director of LinkedIn) had herself featured in the Washington Post. She had spent 1998 blogging about every meeting she had, looking for connections and links and pondering the value of such actions. Since then we've had many people exposed for the things they share online. Facebook and Twitter are simply expressions of the same desire to 'share' with blogs, social networking and twitter different expressions of this.

Are people recording and storing Skype conversations?

Probably.

Especially anyone with an Ego or a mischief in mind.

'Unstoppable'.

There is no going back to a world without e-learning. Though e-mail might be transposed by texting. Though MySpace has been flattened by Facebook (and who remembers FriendsReunited?) Though Google has superseded Netscape - and Amazon no longer only sells books. And at any moment something new will wash over this digital ocean like a Tsunami. (Pinterest? Instagram? StumbleUpon?)

In relation to e-learning I think we've barely started to see or fully consider the profound changes it will make to educaton - those who are e-taught could leave others in the wrong century when it comes to learning and developing potential.

REFERENCE

Maddox, B (2010) Foreword. Prospect. January 2011.

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Skype across the decades

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 10 Sep 2010, 21:29

Just spent the last two hours in conversation with a university contemporary and colleague from the 1980s and 1990s with whom I produced numerous training and information films. I would produce and write, he'd direct and edit. Last job we did together? 1996, the launch of the European Stock Exchange EASDAQ. (Which coinsided with the home birth of my son smile

The match of skills that worked in the past will as a result be renewed - he is highly technical and has been generating video material for smartphones for the last year. We've both approached online learning from different perspectives, but have a child-like curiosity still.

We laughed over a comment, very 80s, that a senior producer in corporate video production made to us as we started out, that people can be put into three categories: maps, taps and chaps.

Maps. Making and fixing stuff.

Taps. Accountants and writing.

Chaps. Selling and getting on with people.

My thinking is that a basic team of three needs one of each, though two would do as long as all bases are covered. He is the map, I'm the tap, so we need a 'chap.'

The language may be arcane, but the thinking is sound.

Now that I am happy on Skype I'm more than happy to use this tool more often.

I have several other tools to use though, e-portfolios, wikis, compendium ...

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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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