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A is for Apps

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 28 May 2014, 16:21
  • A List Apart
  • Academic Writing
  • A room of my own
  • Accessibility
  • Activity Theory
  • Applied Learning
  • Amazon
  • Ackoff
  • Action Research
  • Assessment
  • Assignment
  • Assistive technology
  • Augmented Learning
  • Asynchronous
  • Auto-ethnography
  • Alt-C
  • Analytics
  • Apps
  • Terry Anderson

I continual scramble learning and e-learning as separating the too seems so foolish - we learn and use whatever tools we have to hand and society and our moment in history makes available to us. The age of the printed book is not over, it has simply found over forms of expression, both linear and interactive, with moving images and sound. 

This is to be an A to Z of E-learning though so 'Apps' must head my list as I have come to rely and love so many. Having various apps on your tablet or smart phone supports learning in all kinds of ways, whether you are organising your time, drawing a mind map, or simple drawing and manipulating images and charts. Then there are apps that offer insights and support learning 'in the field' ... and the many thousands of choices too.

I have lived either side of Rodmell for the last 14 years so Virginia Woolf's life, work and death are forever present, not least as I often walk our dog along the River Ouse between Rodmell and Piddinghoe where the writer drowned herself by filling the pockets of an overcoat with rocks. The point, relevant to all learning, is to have 'a room of your own' - though a space will do and I dare so we can all make head-space with a pair of headphones and then work on a smartphone or iPad. Having space, the time and geographical kind, matters in all learning. 

Accessibility in e-learning, like all things, needs to be in the design, like inclusivity as the MAODE module H810 spells out. E-learning's strongest card is the ability to use technology to assist and augment experiences for students who may have struggled with traditional modes and methods of learning. Now font and text sizes and contrasts can be adjusted, the page can be read to you and various inputting devices attached.

Activity Theory is one of those vital models that help explain the world and how we behave in groups or between institutions. 

Applied Learning, from an apprenticeship to an MBA, to any learning that is situated in and of the workplace means that the constructed part of the learning process is actively putting the learning into practice. 

Amazon comes ahead of Apps in my personal experience. Whilst I have a number of Apps I love to use, the support my learning, from iWriter on the iPad, to SimpleMinds and Studio, it is the ease by which I can track down books and eBooks that makes Amazon like the Bodleian Library I knew as an undergraduate. I feel I can get, beneath my gaze, just about any book, in days, if not in moments. I wish to chase up a reference I can find the book and have it on my Kindle in minutes. I find an out of print book that has not been digitised and it arrives in a day or two - often old stock from an university library. And then there are quite special texts that organisations such as the Library of Congress have digitised and print on demand and send over. These are just the books, then there are the forum like reviews where readers tussle over the strengths and weaknesses of a publication.

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Design Museum

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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