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E-Learning Works

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 1 Jul 2014, 08:14

Fig.1. The remarkable rise of the game-player turned racing car pro.

Successfully translating the experience of the game-world to the real one successfully heralds a tipping point in this kind of e-learning. The Times ran an article yesterday on the progress of Jann Mardenborough, a global-Virtual F1 teen online game-player sensation. Mardenborough has taken what he can do from his bedroom to the race track and by all accounts is demonstrating that enough accurate and useable adaptation has occurred; that the kit, software and download times put at a game-players fingertips an experience that is a simulation, not just a simplified gamification.

I have found that Rosetta Stone works - the gamified language learning App. 

I have studied and tried QStream (used to be Spaced-ed) and know that it works too (more in this blog)

On my third and fourth Future Learn online modules I both enjoy and value what I am learn and wonder at the coming of age of the platform: clear, smart, intuitive, friendly, a partnership of student choices and control, a variety of ways into and around the content (though this requires a degree of digital literacy confidence and experience).

 

 

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V is for Virtual Worlds

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 30 May 2014, 09:33

  • Virginia Woolf

  • Vygotsky

  • Van Gundy

  • Video Arts

  • Video

  • Virtual Worlds

  • Virtual Careers Fair

I add Virginia Woolf as she makes a very good argument for having 'a room of your own'; this can be difficult to achieve, a laptop might help then you can make any space your own. An iPad better still as I will work in the bath. But best of all, a room, even a cupboard-sized room, with a desk and a shelf is what you need. Not an e-learning thing. Just a thought on learning.

Vygotsky should be read from the original translations. He was writing in the 1920s. The translations came out in the 1970s.

Van Gundy is one for creative problem solving.

Video Arts went interactive but kept their roots in drama-reconstruction of business scenarios using top talent from TV and film. It's surprising who you find has done one of these in the post student drama school days. 

Video in e-learning. Of course. But the lessons are that if watching TV worked there'd be more of it. Watching tv is too passive; you have to do something, not least make an effort, if you brain is going to engage. Video is good for variety, for motivation and inspiration, but not all the time. Back to back talking heads bores students. Often a 'how to ... ' video is the only way.

Virtual Worlds have come from gaming. Very expensive. Can become out of date both from the technology and the look and feel. But they engage people. As with video, not all of the time though.

Monk’s House, Rodmell

VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed, Van Norstrand Reinhold. Te hniques 4.01, 4.06, 4.57

 

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Identifying student groupings for legitimate study

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 1 Jun 2013, 05:33

In my quest to understand, who, why and what we are I am fed by the OU Online Library, Google Scholar and Amazon. The paper I am currently writing (Lindroth and Berqusit, Reading 17 in H809) needs me to identify, qualify or reject, as strong or weak, boundaries that define a group of people.

Whilst I can understand the justification for a study of, say the Saami People, also of Hells Angels, and Gamers - those who role play in virtual worlds ... I am struggling with the authors who in this case felt that a decade ago certain students in H.E. could be identified as 'laptopers'. From my point of view if there was any weak culturally identity with a computer those who used Macs might have thought they stood out - or was that 'Think Different' independent mindset just a clever advertising ruse?

TMA03 is proving an enlightening journey that takes me back to an undergraduate module I did on anthropology - then still largelly an historic, geographically definable adventurer into unknown societies. More so than with any other module in the MA ODE family I have taken several steps beyond the confined of the resources. Courtesy of the Web it is with relative ease, and a little damage to my wallet, that I am able not only to pull out papers, but a number of eBooks and second hand paperbacks have also made it to my desk.

Making Knowledge: Explorations of the Indissoluble Relation between Mind, Body and Environment (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute Special Issue Book Series) [Kindle Edition] By: Trevor H. J. Marchand

Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography (School of American Research Advanced Seminar Series) James Clifford and George Marcus

Tales of the Field: On Writing Ethnography, Second Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and) John Van Maanen



 

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H809: Activity 13.2 - Reflections and notes

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 24 May 2013, 11:03

Participation in ...

Observation of ...

What is the Chicago School?

In sociology and later criminology, the Chicago School (sometimes described as the Ecological School) was the first major body of works emerging during the 1920s and 1930s specialising in urban sociology, and the research into the urban environment by combining theory and ethnographic fieldwork in Chicago, now applied elsewhere. While involving scholars at several Chicago area universities, the term is often used interchangeably to refer to the University of Chicago's sociology department—one of the oldest and one of the most prestigious. (Wikipedia)

Requires a chapter, even a book on it. Possibly a block, even a module in its own right.

Does the ethnography depend upon the physical presence of the enthnographer in the midst of the people being studied? (Hammersley, 2006 :08)

Not any more. An ethnographer in a virtual world amongst virtual people is present. Is, however, an ethnographer present where they to observe footage from Big Brother, either in real time, or post-production (literally). Are we ‘kitchen ethnogrpahers’ when we watch a TV series about a group ‘under observation’?

‘With the availability of mobile phones and portable computers, electronic virtuality is now embedded within actuality in a more dispersed and active way than ever before’. (Hammersley, 2006:08)

Is interviewing ethnographic? (Hammersley, 2006:09) How else do you ‘give voice’ to the participants and capture their perspectives?

Witness accounts are flawed.

A witness might lie, but will certainly have a stance, however nuanced, they may even have a false memory. Indeed, over time, the nature of this memory will change other ideas, true or false recollections aggregate to it. And is impacted by the context. (Hammersley, 2006:09)

Rather to record conversations … but who is to set the guidelines? (Hammersley, 2006:10)It can be argued that everything we do or perceive is real. Whether in a virtual world, or dreaming ... or 'the real thing'.

The experience has a form in that an electro-biological process has taken place in all these cases - it's in your head! Science Fiction writers and filmmakers play around with this all the time. My understanding from neuroscience is that typically any memory, or rethinking of a memory or experience, connects with some 15 areas around the brain ... which change (enhance, diminish). The scale and scope amongst our 98 billion neurons is ... well, vast. So much of what we do or experience can and will have only a tiny impact on who we are (genetically decided construction of the brain during foetal development) and what we experience (whether this experience is internal or external). Does the brain even differentiate between conscious and unconsciousness, beyond tagging them one or the other so that, however vivid it was, you know that was a dream where you turned into a flying fish ... or that running around like Conan the Barbarian with the head of a wolf in World of War Craft is not the same as sitting in a Geography class. Neuroscience is trying to see and map fractions of activity in the brain, but this is a long way from offering such human-coloured maps as evidence, say of specific learning having occurred, so short of an objective result we can only rely on the subjective i.e. to ask a lot of probing questions and draw conclusions.

In relation to a face-to-face as virtual, surely there is more in common with a Skype interview 'face to face' and a similar interview over a table ... but there are degrees of virtual and 'real' as an interview when in role play or improvising say as a character in World of Warcraft would surely be more akin to the an exercise that actors do. Or what about role playing real people in order to prepare for a debriefing, or tough interview ... as in media training for managers?

Fascinating ... my curiosity has been re-engaged even if professionally strictly quantitative plays so well into funding mechanisms. You design learning that can be quantified, using  appropriately accommodating learning theories, so that investors can monitor their return.

People in virtual worlds are themselves - but more so.

i.e. in various forms people might either be themselves big time, almost hyping up who they are while others would take a part of themselves and enhance that ... so they roleplay the minor god (in the Greek sense), or swap gender, or role play being a teenager again ... or for that matter being older than they are. i.e. the original person is still at the core of it all.

 

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H809 Activity 6.5: Reading the first part of the paper (30 minutes)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 13 Nov 2014, 11:43

Read the first part of the paper (to the end of page 4).

Note the kinds of changes that the authors describe, and consider the extent to which these apply to your own practices and research interests.

Are there changes that the authors have not considered?

  • The transition to tablets, extensive and preferred use of Smartphone, hot desking in the home, in the home of friends at school so keeping everything online, but also sharing /exposing identities, a 21st openness and frankness in relation to gender, sexuality, individuality, beliefs, bullying, privilege and disadvantage. In my planned context if 'leakage' of content is highly likely then a randomized controlled trial is porbably undoable.

  • The history of informal learning and categories from home, games, clubs, apprenticeship with a social anthropological slant. Is it so different to the way people have always learnt in social groupings, the difference being that if you don’t have someone at your shoulder, you have them at your fingertips and in your head? Take for example the Boy Scout movement of 100 years ago. Even the ‘invention’ of games like football and rugby as a result of informal game-play. What can be learnt from looking at the take up of technologies, or new attitudes to learning in the past?

  • Is a tutorial an informal setting? Socrates in a discussion is preferable to Socrates as a TED lecture? The lessons from the 'Oxbridge Tutorial' of two/three to the workshop-like tutorials of 12+ at the Open University.

  • Is an extracurricular society a self-learn and informal setting?

  • Amateur dramatics (youth theatre), and youth orchestras, teens forming bands, sailing and swimming clubs all show young people learning together, picking up where adults leave off - or taking over as it suits the person rather than the age or cohort - as occurs online. Having something to talk about in the first place encourages its discussion.

  • Virtual worlds are not everyone’s cup of tea, or everyone’s opportunity (Eynon, 2012) 13% excluded, 4% of the remaining choosing NOT to use the Internet.

  • Counter impact of interloper by having participants briefed to undertake research.

  • Are the ways so new? As the Internet is a mirror to human behaviours online, the behaviours are the same though more akin to living in a close-knit community. ‘With brass knobs on’ - people can be rigidly themselves, alter egos, or even a different gender, age or cultural identity. (Kelly, 2011)

My own experience, very dismissive of, even reluctant to bring the classroom into any of these domains, indeed, it is anathema. However, during the Olympics, not surprisingly a few swimmers would say what they’d seen or followed in relation to their stroke or development as competitive athletes - mostly, ‘its not for me!’. A young adult art student, whilst he won’t adhere to his asthma medications, uses the sensation of being breathless in his art.

Observing online activities akin to similar in a boarding school setting - life skills learnt, but rarely to do with class work, my life and team skills, personal identity, coping mechanisms, learning from each other, forming opinions etcsmile Eastbourne College, Mowden Hall School. In contrast to home life football practice, amateur theatre group, dance and so on …

The drivers that see a person transition from child to adult, and the sophistication of the brain makes these impacts of no less or more influence than anything that has occurred for previous generations, indeed, I’d contend that two World Wars, for those caught up in them would have had significantly more effect that anything the Internet can throw at an adolescent.

REFERENCE

Eynon, R (2009) Mapping the digital divide in Britain: implications for learning and education.

Kelly, D (Forthcoming 2011) 'Karaoke’s Coming Home:  Japan’s Empty Orchestras in the United Kingdom', Leisure Studies 30.




 

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H800 WK15 Activity 4 Role-Play - An Avatar

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 14:17

The entertainment and learning continues.

I didn't think playing World of Warcraft would become like a game of Monopoly, kind of.

My wife decided she too should be introduced to our son's world. Her response is to moan about how long he spends online. My reposte is always that he is learning (he is supervised, he does this in the sitting room).

I haven't taken notes (perhaps I should), but I am aware that there are bonds with his closest friends that transcend the screen.

Leaving my Avatar in their safe hands I go off to do some errands.

I return to find this.

valdesire%252520nickers.JPG

I had left her at Level something with oodles of gold and a sack full of weaponry; she was also clothed, I am informed that to buy some vital spell my son had advised my wife (operating the avatar) to sell all her clothes.

My son then delights in showing the she will dance sad

In narrative terms I would say my son is playing the role of the 'Trickster'.

What compensates him for having to teach/shadow his parents in this world is that he will from time to time do this. It isn't difficult to imagine what kind of tricks the highly adapt and experienced Virtual Worlders in a class of young teenagers would (do) behave if given the chance to gain or exploit the upper-hand.

Why female?

As I went through the various characters in the alternative 'camps' my son muttered things about his perceptions of the types of people in the avatar skins. He had no issues with this 'character'. I feel disembodied, primarily because I have entered a world that he has mastered, so like going skiing with someone who does extreme and heli-skiing while I am on the nursery slopes (with a sledge).

As I passed the 'controls' to my wife, and indeed, in my absence my son can be this character anyway, it had me thinking of 'her' in the same way as one of the many pet guinea-pigs we had until recently. Part of the family, but at arms' length.

Jonathan Franzen bemoaned authors who could only write as themselves, indeed at Harvard being part of a writer's group where most people could do little else than invent characters who had been on a gap year or had a difficult term at school.

It is insightful to think yourself into the role of a.n.other, old, young, male, female, different cultures and class. Doing the reading I am impressed and informed by those with series injuries or disabilities who can find a compensatory form of existence when playing in these worlds (exactly like the movie Avatar of course in which the protagonist, paralysed from the waist down, finds legs).

Thinking further, might or could behaviours be like that of controlling a ventriloquist's dummy?

That you let your avatar be your more bold and outspoken alter-ego?

A mindfield for teachers. I wouldn't like to enter such a world with a bunch of young teenagers!

This is why South Korea has it right putting all new teachers through e-learning training.

I learnt that World of Warcraft is far too robust for cheats, indeed that the culture of its creation mean there are none. In one respect, again, like a movie (the narrative theme), the world is consistent even though it is of course 'other wordly'.

I also learn that my wife has bought stuff from other avatars in the belief that these purchases would get our son through a level without him having to spend hours/days on a quest. I think she should appreciate that this thing is never ending.

In a learning context you can't buy yourself a skill or knowledge set.

Plagiarism tools should pick it up if you have bought a paper, but more importantly there will be an assignment at some stage that is robust and designed to test what you know. However, as I have shown with my wife taking over my Avatar, could not, and do not people do this?

As the learning, not the qualificaiton, is that what matters to me in MAODE might I share this entire experience with another? Split the cost and do the work together, but only one of us taking the credit?

We are a devious lot, we humans. If something can be got for free ...

Virginia%252520Woolf%252520and%252520the%252520Dreadnoughts%252520SNIP.JPG

Regarding 'dressing-up' and role play I was reminded as I ran through a list of authors I have read extensively that Virginia Woolf and some friends once dressed up as Middle-Eastern Royalty and were entertained by the officers on a vessel of Her Majesty's Navy.

There is in us, all of us (certainly as children), to dress up and role play as a form of learning (and entertainment). Are virtual worlds not simply playing to this innate trait?

And rock musicians? From Alice Cooper and David Bowie to Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber

Many are acting out a fantasy or role-playing.

Are we not obliged to take silly-names in things like Twitter anyway as most variatons of our own name have gone? Was there not a first-adopter, classroom clown approach to email addresses too that some might regret, certainly change in due course?

As a diarist going online I regret being open simply because I see now how open and revelatory people want to be, which is best achieved by remaining anonymous, the best and apt blogger going by the name of 'Invisabledon' (see below) being one such person who after a decade I can only know as a bloke in his 40s or 50s living in North America. Going in as myself had its compensations from a 'branding' point of view but such first-name 'public' secret diarists are rare. (I locked this diary in 2006 and am slowly migrating some of the 17000 pages to www.mymindbursts.com).

Diaryland%252520Buddies%252520MARCH%2525202011%252520GRAB.JPG

This from Diaryland shows that kinds of names people adopt. Do they then live up to the names they choose? Often they do.

If you are interested in blogging, this platform, launched in 1999, has barely changed though copied a thousand times over. Here a limited list of 'buddies' (75) are revealed in a simply menu that tells the blogger when someone last updated. I've long ago abandoned blogging here, but you would edit out those who didn't update, certainly once they'd got the the 3 month mark. I can't think of any blog platform that gives you this kind of insight into a selection of fellow participants.

Parameters, as here, have their virtues.

(Like learning music, you don't start with a cathedral organ, but a piano and Grades 1-3. Being given the full orchestra may be overwhelming).

Something else they have are 'Diary Rings', sets of like-minds who opt in to a huge variety of 'circles of friends' which sounds like (and is like) Google + Circles.

The problem/issue Diaryland has, and they have stuck with this, is to refuse ALL advertising anywhere so leaving it, clearly, underfinanced so unable to modernise.

For a blog coach looking for a 'training pool' to put novices testing the water I can think of no better place. You even have to learn or remember some Basic HTML.

 

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H800 WK25 Activity 4 Role-play and learning in virtual and made-up worlds

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 24 Feb 2013, 07:23

We role-play as children to make sense of the world, we take on multiple personas to some degree in real-life as well.

I am particularly taken by the way people with a disability can walk in a virtual world (Peachey 2010) or indeed how any of us can fly and do much more in these environments (die and repeatedly come back to life of course.)

Dracula%252520Spectacula%2525201979.JPG

At no cost my dentist, or rather our family dentist, made a set of dentures for me out of dentine that fitted over my teeth. This allowed me to sing. I foolishly sharpened the fangs and promptly punctured my lower lip. I learnt by the way that unless I could have dislocated my jaw biting someone's neck is impossible. Vampires should bite the wrist or leg, but then all, or at least the obvious sexual innuendos are lost.

Was I living out a fantasy when I played Dracula in my teens?

I kept acting into my twenties until I decided that my mental state couldn't handle the selection process (rejection) and my experience in front of camera and on stage left me bored senseless (I had minor roles).

Do actors, as in role-play, have to overcome or compensate for who they are?

Peachy raises all the points in a common- sense and everyday way. I can imagine or should research where stepping into the role of an avatar has life- saving qualities, for example is not learning to fly a commercial jet-airliner in a simulator not a form of virtual role-play? I believe firemen are trained in virtual set-ups too and believe the nuclear power industry do so too.

The trouble with doing this in a learning context is the huge development costs. i.e. It has to be better to use a ready made platform. I then ask though, what is wrong with using our imaginations, that improvising and role-play doesn't require the disguises?

REFERENCE

Peachey, A. (2010) ‘Living in immaterial worlds: who are we when we learn and teach in virtual worlds?’ in Sheehy, K., Ferguson, R. and Clough, G. (eds) Virtual Worlds: Controversies at the Frontier of Education (Education in a Competitive and Globalizing World), New York, NY, Nova Science.

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