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Spot the genius. He or she is riding a bike in a favela in Brazil.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014, 11:18

What has changed in learning each time a transformative tool or technology has come along from a) written language b) papyrus c) codex d) printing and e) the Internet? A neuroscientist will say that the human brain hasn't changed one jot - its innate capacity to learn and to do so at certain developmental stages remains the same. Struggling to see what is new, believing that our latent motivations, drives and inclinations to learn as individuals are as unique to each of us as it has always been I see one change only - the numbers, whether as a percentage in a population or as a gross figure - literacy could only expand as the printed word got into the hands of more people. The Internet will in due course help put primary, secondary and tertiary education into the hands of the disenfranchised.

What has been the frequency of genius revealing itself over the last thousand years?

Even accounting for the billions to chose from in the 21st century compared to the 15th, or 1st, won't exposure too and access to 'an education' by billions give genius a chance to develop and show itself like never before?

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Preparing for blended learning - notes and reflection

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 14:35

 

Fig 1.1 Exponential growth in PC memory

From 'Preparing for blended e-learning' Littlejohn and Pegler, 2007

By 2012 shoulld we show the Amazon Rainforest or the biosphere of the entire planet?

 

Writing before 2007, the authors Alison Littlejohn and Chris Pegler make the concept of blended e-learning sound like anathema to Tertiary Education ywt this is how learning beyond Tertiary Education has always occured - not formal teaching, but learning through participation, through a mixture of books, workshops, and formal or informal passing on of knowledge from those who know to those who don't. From lawyers to accountants, management consultants to marketing managers, further applied career learning and training occurs through professional associations and certification, internal training departments and HR and working with external suppliers - external whether they provide 'external' courses at a bespoke conference centre or because they provide modules or courses online.

'Students are motivated by solving problems based on real-world activities that may be carried out non-sequentially and interactively. Such problems contrast with the sequential orchestration of tasks frequently planned as 'formal' education'. (Littlejohn and Pegler, 2007 Kindle Location 6%)

See Chapter 8 for 'Information Literacy'

The locus of control shifts from the teacher to the learner.

We can achieve this through student analytics. The issue is how to start the process as there are restrictions on just how much, at least in tertiary education, you are allowed to know about your students. In business it should start with thorough, creditable psychometric testing with tailoring of continual professional development to the individual, within the context of their job specification and department.

Towards 'tailored content based on preferences, performance and permissions' (Littlejohn and Pegler, Kindle Location 8%) However, if the learning is tailored, how do you tailor assessment and make it equitable? This sounds like supervision of a D.Phil student.

Chapter 1 What is blended e-learning?

  • choice/access
  • online synchronicity/ or with a tutor, tutor group, cohort or institution - and beyond.
  • downloaded and mobile

NOT the immersion in games that in 1999/2000 companies such as JWM Creative (Worth Media) were creating - bespoke, specialist and expensive one offs.

DIAGRAM

  • Add slider from simple to complex
  • Just in time
  • Blogs
  • in touch with 'study buddies'

 

 

 

 

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Preparing for blended e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 19 Sep 2012, 05:00

Published in 2007, researched and written over the previous 3-5 years, this book intimates the way things are going - or should I say, the way things have gone already?

The world of e-learning is one that moves fast, so fast that the creation of e-learning has become an integrated global industry - companies, often UK based (even with a Brighton bias) span the globe like international management consultancies, law firms or firms of accountants - indeed, the clients are often international law firms, management consultants, accounts and their clients. Does advertising and PR come into this too? Probably. Internal communications? Certainly.

In 'Preparing for blended e-learning' (2007) the authors Alison Littlejohn and Chris Pegler say that the 'integration of our physical world with the digital domain is becoming ubquitous'. At least two decades ago intergration was already occurring, initially internally, through intranets. Leading businesses knew that educating the 'workforce' was vital so they had learning centres, while the likes of Unipart (UGC) had their own 'university' with faculties and a culture of continual learning. Industry was ahead of tertiary education then and feels light years ahead now with learning created collaboratively on wiki platforms, often using Open Source software with colleagues in different time zones. There is a shift to globalisation in tertiary education, with Business Schools such as Insead, but also with integrated, international universities such as Phoenix buying up or buying into universities around the planet - create an undergraduate course in Geography, a blended e-learning package, and put into onto a campus in North America and South, in Europe and the Middle East, the Far East and Australasia ...

'Learners and teachers increasingly are integrating physical and electronic resources, tools and environments within mainstream educational settings. Yet, these new environments are not yet having a major impact on learning. This is partly because the 'blending' of 'real' and 'virtual' domains - or 'blended learning' - is challenging for most teachers, yet it is becoming an essential skill for effective teaching'. (Littlejohn and Pegler, 2006 L287, Kindle Version)

I'd like to see a corporate e-learning agency create blended e-learning for a university - and to blend this in several additional directions courtesy of social learning back into secondary education, forwards into the workplace and sideways into the community and home. Perhaps I should call it 'smudged learning' - it happens anyway, at least in our household. It's surprising how helpful teenagers can be to their parents who work online - and it is us, the parents, who appear to click them in the right direction of for resources and tools for homework. I wanted Adsense on my blog(s) my son was happy to oblige - for a cut, which more than takes care of his pocket money.

'Blending ... centres on the integration of different types of resources and activities within a range of learning environments where learners can interact and build ideas'. (Littlejohn and Pegler, 2006: L341)

We're in it together like a small community in a medieval market town (actually, I live in one of these, Lewes) where the hubbub of the market spills out into the home and schools. All blended e-learning is doing is returning us to a more social, holistic and humanistic way of learning.

Welcome to the blended world.

What new - the drivers for change:

Costs (spreading them, making it count)

Sustainable (shared, flexible resources. In effect, one book can be shared by all)

Methodologies (still about learning outcomes, but treating each student as much as possible as a unique and vulnerable vessel of possibilities - not a cohort, or label)

Complexity (shared through collaboration in a wiki. Academics find this hardest of all, the idea that their mind , or at least parts of it, are open source, to be shared, not held back by barriers of time, tradition and intellectual arrogance. They too are a vessel and in its purest sense their emptying the contents of their heads into the heads of others is what it is all about)

Ethical issues (when is exposure a good thing? How much should we or do we reveal about ourselves? Knowing who your students are should only be seen as a extraordinarily developmental opportunity, not an invasion of privacy).

REFERENCE

Littlejohn, A., and Pegler, C. (2007) 'Preparing for blended e-learning' (2007)

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B822 TMA01 Another 4.00 am start

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 19 Dec 2011, 06:25

 

Orchards.JPG

 

See below for my explanation regarding the orchard, an idea I develop as a metaphor in relation to tertiary education.

I have a Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA) to complete

These early mornings are me, I feel like an undergrad with an essay crisis. But I'm not, and there is no crisis.

I'm on the home straight

The word count at 5,000 is way over but I'm confident that if I treat the entire thing like an exercise in Tweeting that I can make all the same points, and more while being succinct.

I will resort to bullet points

How easy is that to mark?

The frustration for someone who shares so much of his thinking is that I won't share the TMA. I may post notes, mind-maps, charts and images along the way but I'm not about to give others the chance to commit plagiarism, which I understand is a major problem.

Creativity, Innovation and Change (B822) has the potential, for me, of letting me figure out how to apply what I have gained from the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) in an innovative way i.e. how do you get ideas through. My context might be tertiary education, but could also be corporate learning, skills or training where there are bigger budgets, tighter briefs and close measurement of effectiveness.

As often is the case with these TMAs it frustrates me that I cannot demonstrate a fraction of what I have read, watched or listened to. That the block may have had 30 activities, but I can perhaps share four of these. I guess the tutor has to conclude that I could not express my thoughts, with the evidence provided, had I not done the work?

I'd prefer to submit an essay every week, or take part in an activity with the group every week, to know that through interaction I am being nudged along the right path.

Other reasons to get this out of the way: we pack to go on holiday tomorrow and last night I had to be rescued by the AA ten miles from home sad The battery has to be replaced. This, fortuitously, happens before we leave, I wouldn't like to be stuck in a motorway service station with kids, dog and clobber. Thumbs up to the AA who got to us in twenty minutes and fixed the problem in ten.

An orchard is my metaphor for the Open University

I started with a tree, which seemed apt as in 'The Tree of Knowledge' but from a business organisational stance I needed a metaphor that could translate. Metaphors do not have to be overly scrutinised to have the desired effect, but if an individual tree is a module then an orchard is a qualification and the fruit on these trees are the products that students pick. Each season a new presentation. Taking this thinking into the real world I have been spending time at a local Orchard in East Sussex that has had to diversify over the last twenty years and has done so successfully.

What do you think?

a) about the value of metaphor (big in H800)

b) about the metaphor I have chosen about the institution we all love?

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The playing field for education in the UK is both muddled and uneven

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 31 Aug 2011, 04:53

Competition is a good thing, but the playing field is both muddled and uneven.

Remember, funding for higher education isn't simply from the State, but through corporates and research grants. What is more the UK has a long established history of private education at all stages; many parents plan to pay for their children's education, and where able set funds aside for tertiary education too through savings schemes.

Online support for learning, either blended or 100% at a distance, has become viable for ALL in tertiary education, so they are doing it. Even undergraduates on campus expect the kind of online facilities and support that may until recently been the sole domain of the distance learning student.

In the private sector, where I came from, creating commercial product at any stage: primary, tertiary and secondary was difficult for one simple reason - both students and institutions expected the resources to be free. One model therefore was to have content sponsored. Indeed that's how I came to succeed in producing careers materials (video) because it was all financed in advance by sponsors and distributed for free. DVD and online based course materials failed because no one would pay for it.

Ten years ago I prepared a report for my employer regarding the production of commercial learning materials, one offs for specific age groups and subjects. My conclusion was don't, unless it is all paid for upfront. Even the secondary sector is deeply affected by the BBC and their wonderful, free 'bitesize' series to support GCSEs.

There must be research on perceptions of UK universities. The cache of the long-established Oxbridge and Russell Group institutions must be substantial. From an employee point of view there are those who will divide hundreds (or thousands) of applications for a few graduate positions into two piles: Oxbridge or not.

Unsound and unfair, but if faced with ostensibly the same grade, but from different instituions, how do you differentiate short of seeing everyone for a first interview or reading exam papers for yourself?

The answer from the student's point of view used to be the CV thick with extra-curricula activities; I wonder if the future student should pack an e-portfolio, evidence of their worth and potential once away from the student 'desk'.

The last two decades has seen the private secondary sector buy into/ buy up primary sector 'prep' schools even establish pre-prep schools. I wonder to what degree this long-term relationship can be maintained into the tertiary sector?

The Eton Brand, for example, as a University, would be a valid offering in a global market.

 

 

(51495)

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Blogging a dead horse

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 16:44

Dead%2520Horse.JPG

The more I read, the more I research, the more I listen and the more I gush to others about blogging, the more I feel that it is like ...'trying to flog a dead horse to make it pull a load'.

Not the act of blogging, but the actions required to convert people.

People (students) don't see there value; to read a few well written, apposite blogs, fine. A person that in this environment has something to offering pertaining to their course. Or for entertainment. (Stephen Fry's Tweats form a micro-blog after all), micro only in the sense that you are restricted by character count per entry. If these parameters are like a letter-box then Stephen Fry is posting plenty himself and garnering a gargantuan response).

I have infront of me 'Exploring students' understand of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education'. It was a conference item at ALT-C 2007: Beyond Control: Association Technologies Conference, 4-6 September, Nottingham, UK.

One of its Six authors is Grainne Conole, an OU senior academic, a blogging practioner and evangelical online chatter-box and good-egg. She wants us all to blog, and understands the magic of a comment ... she likes to make new friends and understands the reciprocal nature of reading and leaving salient comments. It's T.L.C. online.

I just clicked away and posted this in her blog:

I'm faced with the dilemma of having to split my professional, student and blogging personas; I recently joined the Open University Business School. This three way split has me locking down one diary and 'friends' gathered over a decade and tripping over the other two selves, starting afresh with contacts and what I blog wearing my professional hat. I am certain such possible conflicts of interest occur for anyone working in online media communications - broadcasting on behalf of your employer; indeed, my contacts in senior PR and Media roles of various organisations have the weakest of online profiles, even though two of them are published authors.

On the other hand just as I really got going in Facebook to connect with my brother and his family in South Africa and organise my mother's 80th, I find that living away from home during the week I come online to have some sense of what my own family are up to - just a shame our dog doesn't blog, 'stick chasing across the South Downs' would do it.

Currently reading your 2007 paper 'Exploring students' understanding of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education'. Are Learning Designers (and those who work with them) 'flogging a dead horse?' The analogy I'm about to use in my OU student blog is that I am starting to feel like a Tuba player at a football match - no one is interested, they're watching the game. Maybe if I could network with the other instrument players in the crowd we could have a jam-session. As another paper on blogging discovered 'birds of a feather flock together', we do this and find kindred spirits. The problem in OU student blogging platforms is that we are overly pigoen-holed, not just by course, but by module and tutor group (and sub-groups within these).

I liken the Internet to a digital ocean; currently blogging as an OU student is like blogging in fish tank, in a warehouse full of fish tanks. And every so often someone kindly comes along and divides us up even more, creating barriers, rather than opportunities. Please can we just all be tipped into the same ocean?

I then went off to Facebook, via my external blog My Mind Bursts.

I only sat down to transfer notes from a pad ... and am yet to transcribe a single word of it.

I was going to say, anything short of writing directly into 'the white box' that you are presented with on your chosen blog platform or platforms snacks of something else: a repository, a writer's journal, a student's e-portfolio that they leave open ... keep forgetting in the lecture hall, that they photocopy and leave on benches outside the refrecatory.

Reading 'Everything is miscellaneous' David Weinberger I find a like mind a) the idea of miscellany, that each page, each asset, whether ostensibly part of something (like this) is like an autumn leave scattered on the forest floor. These leaves never compost down and those that are tagged stay on the top of the pile, those that people find or are guided too most often, stay on the top of the pile ... and did it not long ago reach the stage where the leaves on the forest floor are so deep that they have buried the trees?

I put a slightly inept first draft phrase into Yammer the OU Personnel 'Twitter-like' feed about dandelions and pomegranates. I've used the dandelion metaphor many times, the pomegranate too, but had never put them together.

My thinking was this, if the seed is this blog entry, or a Tweat or even a message in Facebook i.e. an idea, thought, asset or message, a seed if you were scattered to the wind to find its own fortune then developing social media for an institution, whilst the asset, these words, are still a seed, they are coming from a pomegranate, not a dandelion. The reason being that understandably if you are expressing the views of others, collectively or individually, you cannot just hold you thoughts up to the wind and blow. The opening of the pomegranate is, as it were, the necessary processes and procedures. This analogy falls apart though if you have an image of Jamie Oliver holding a pomegranate half in one hand while smashing it with a wooden rolling pin with the other ... the OU are not smashing me on the head to extract words like nasla mucus. Rather, at first at least, they will be extracted by me using tweezers.

All this and my 16 pages of notes on blogging handwritten into a Shorthand Pad remain unused.

To overcome my reluctance to write up what I feel I have already expressed I realise I could just photograph my notepad ... in fact, I'll do this and just see how folk manage with my handwriting.

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H800: 26 Guest lists and where you sit at the tutor's table (even if they're not there)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 1 Mar 2011, 07:09

How do you study if you are both a tutor and a student?

I guess if you are a chemistry tutor and you’re studying e-learning the two are complementary but you cannot, be both tutor and student of the same course (though interestingly this has/is occurring in our module with a tutor absent the OU failing to accommodate).

It’s rather making me think that student as tutor is absolutely possible.

Why not? All it requires is leadership and initiative. I don’t see tutors as subject matter experts. Can you cater for everyone? In communications you need to know your audience. Writers are meant to think of their reader as one person, not millions. How should teachers/tutors think? Of student, or students? Does it matter anymore?

Can we, knowing or indulging ourselves, choose from a plethora of ways into a subject?

I have to wonder, thinking in extremes, why we don’t have tutor groups by gender, by generation, even by profession … let alone our current professional status. Would for example all those working for the armed services benefited from being in a group of their own?

And how do we make such a choice?

Too late if you buy a book, even read a sample, only to find the rest of the content doesn’t deliver.

What about a course?

You pay the fees for a module only to feel or realise a week or so on that it is going to disappoint all the way to the end?

Do you choose by Brand?

Do you choose by awarding body?

And what say do we have?

Can we play-act the model online student?

Would it help to have such an image and then be this person?

Can we assume ourselves into a level of comprehension what we haven’t yet reached and as a result of such aspirations and performance become this more informed and ‘educated’ person?

With an interest and some training in sport and developing young elite athletes I’ve studied Long Term Athlete Development. With a sport, let alone studying, we can group children by gender and biological age. When or where do such groupings or any groupings become difficult to create, or politically incorrect to create? Should not institutions go to greater lengths to group people scientifically?

And to mix these groups up as we go along, if only to change and balanced the learning opportunities?

This is the OU’s show, their party. They are hosting an event, or series of events or have we simply taken a few steps beyond getting a box of books and CDs on the doorstep at the start of a module … to the set of railway tracks that is the like a cartoon, are laid before our eyes as each new week approaches? Who ‘owns’ this course? I get know sense of that, or someone leading. The tutors/authors of the course left years ago. Perhaps this is obvious and given the topic and the speed of change in e-learning is detrimental. I wonder, if given time, more ‘natural’ tutor groupings would form in the national forums of ‘General Discussions’ and the Café from which break-out tutor groups could be constructed (or they do?) I wonder if the solution is in the ways resources are presented, that there need to be multiple ways into a topic. That once size never did fit all.

That ideally we would each have a personal tutor, that all learning would be one to one and tailor to our needs, as they are and as they change … and as we are changed by the process and anything else that is going on around us.

Do we all want a take-away, or a pot-lunch?

The set menu and if so as a school dinner, or from a top restaurant? Home cooking or our own cooking?

Might I say with H800 are getting the ‘set menu,’ i.e. the choice is limited. All I’m discussing here is choice; the next point would be the size of helpings. How do we respond to either being hungry as a wolf (read everything) or not hungry at all (graze nonchalantly doing the bare minimum?) The answer, as I found in H808, was to have plenty of moderated activities in the General Discussion, Café and Supplementary Activity Forums … where like minds could meet, where if you found you had time or wanted to make time, you could get involved in a different group and therefore benefit from an alternative dynamic. I have found that with groups, even more so away from the OU, that are global in scope, that you find groupings that are topic specific and where you can, whenever you like, find a conversation to engage with that adds to your knowledge.

It is a vital part of the learning process I believe, where you form opinions and develop ideas as a result of your engagement, the only issue being that your voice comes out of the tips of your fingers rather than your mouth, which rather suggests we’d all have been better off communicating to our parents and siblings at home via a QWERTY keyboard from an early age so we had these surprisingly necessary skills in place.

Perhaps, as there appears to be so much inclination, whether desire or otherwise, to shift towards the Oxbridge tutorial system as a model, (small tutor groups), might not we also have junior, middle and senior common rooms?

Might we not also have a variety of virtual colleges? And taking just one idea from this … ought we not to have more than one tutor, even within a module, perhaps a different module for each TMA?

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