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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: 22 Reflecting on H800

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 10 Mar 2013, 00:26

How goes it?

Like a roller-coaster, merrily going along, like the C4 ident:through the loops of a roller-coaster though the shapes I see are 'H' and '800' and '807' and '808' as I pass by.

Then I switch track and venue and find myself on the Mouse-Trap. Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Here there is a rise and dip where you are convinced you will hit a girder. I just did, metaphorically speaking. (Diary entry, August 1980)

Ilness changes things

Nothing more than a rubbish cold made uncomfortable by asthma.

It is a set back of sorts. I can sleep and read. But the spark has gone (for now).

To use a different analogy, if I often think of my mind as a Catherine-wheel, this one has come off and landed in a muddy-puddle.

We're in the week of metaphors for learning.

I can draw on any notes I've taken on this here and in my eportfolio. This is more than an aide-memoire, it favours the choices I made before at the expense of anything new. So I widen my search. The OU Library offers hundreds of thousands of references in relation to 'Education' and 'Metaphor' going back to 1643.

Gathering my thoughts will take time.

There are 26 pages (nearly 12,000 words) to read (course intro, resources). Far, far more if I even start to consider ANY of the additional references or reading.

Give me three months. We have, or I have left, three days.

My approach is simple. Tackle it on the surface, drill into an author or topic that is of interest and expect to pick up on and pick through this again later this module, later this year ... or next existence. (I believe in multiple existences and flux. We are transitory and changing)

As well as tapping into the OU Blog and e-portfolio the blog I've kept since 1999 might have something to say on metaphor. If I care to I might even rummage through A'Level English Literature folders from the 1970s, just to trigger something. Engaged and enabled by Vygotsky and others in relation to memory and learning I value this ability to tap into past thoughts/studying with ease.

(Ought others to be sold the idea of a life-long blog?)

Otherwise I have gone from learn to swim in the training pool, to swimming lengths in the main pool ... to observer/coach who will participate, but has a towel over his shoulders and is looking around.

The next pool? Where is that?

I'm not the same person who set out on this journey 12 months ago.

On the other hand, having a Kindle makes me feel more like a teenager swotting for an Oxbridge examination; I like having several books on the go. I'll be through 'Educational Psychology (Vygotsky) by the end of the day and am already picking through and adding to copious notes.

Piaget next?

Then a little kite-boarding as I head away from the swimming pool that has been an MA with the OU?!

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Take me I'm e-free!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 21 Sep 2010, 15:25

Software providers and platforms are tumbling over each other to offer us something for free.

  • Facebook
  • Google Docs
  • The BBC
  • KodakEasy Share
  • Apps for smartphones
  • Dropbox

the list is long ...

One hundred years ago or so, what could have been the outcome had the development of the horseless-carriage/ automobile been based on giving them away for free?

What about the development of photography?

Or of flight (the Wright-Brohters got into a right hoohah over people using what they claimed to be patented technlogy).

Why, if I have thought it through correctly, am planning therefore to purchase Filemaker Pro for £250 or so?

What are these providers of 'free software' and 'storage' doing if not mining your soul and making you dependent on their services so that you are eventually compelled to take out a subscription for the rest of your life, possibly to store stuff that once went into the attic, shed or garage .... for free, for ever.

What is they model to 'monetise' their products and services?

Or will your every thought, oir message to Mum be tagged wit han ad or hit with a pop up advert?

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