OU blog

Personal Blogs

Design Museum

What are MOOCs doing for learning?

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 17 Nov 2014, 08:24

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are new and FutureLearn, a wholly owned subsidiary of The OU is itself adapting as traditional institutions embrace e-learning, respond to feedback and results and improve.

MOOCs will be new for a decade.

E-learning like this is not a lecture series online, TV online, a book online, quiz or a tutorial online. Whilst this is invariably the starting place for 'ground based' educators, the academics working with instructional designers, not in isolation, need increasingly to begin with a blank sheet rather than looking at the physical assets of academics, books, lectures and papers around them.

What we are witnessing today is that transition from the Wright Brothers to the World War One fighter planes. We are seeing hints of the jets to come. We are a long way from drones. I use the analogy having just completed a wonderful three-week MOOC 'World War 1: Aviation Comes of Age'.

Innovations go through recognisable phases.

E-learning in the forms of MOOCs is still at the stage of 'early adoption' - rest-assured they will become commonplace, though surely with a different name. MOOCs can be a hybrid during a transitional phase so long as this is seen as the first step in many away from traditional approaches, embracing what works online.

Academics need to come out of their cupboard, come away of their studies and welcome into their midst those of us seeking to understand and to integrate the processes involved - that combination of learning and e-learning: how and why we learn and how then scale (massiveness), interactivity (digital) and connectivity (openness) changes things. In time, when the academics themselves have reached their status of 'doctor' and 'professor' through e-learning, when we can call all them 'digital scholars' rather than simply 'scholars', then we'll be able to look down from the clouds and smile at how much things have changed.

Think evolution not revolution.

Think how long it will take to see out the current generation of academics - thirty to fifty years?

Ultimately MOOCs are about a combination of sequential activities and 'interactivities', collaboration and connection.

Gilly Salmon coined the term 'e-tivities': sadly not in common usage, it nonetheless captures beautifully what is required for students to learn online - doing stuff, alone, with other students and with the academics.

Collaboration is a long held view of a kind of learning in 'communities of practice' most associated with the academics Lave and Wenger: how working together is a more effective for of constructed learning.

While 'connectivity', often associated with the academic George Siemens, is the new kid on the 'learning theories' block. Connectedness as a way of learning is dependent on a few things: the affordances of the platform to permit this with ease: if you have the opportunity compare current student messaging and blogging platforms at your institution with those at FutureLearn which has stripped back the unnecessary and concentrated on this 'connectivity'; the number and mix of participants: massive helps as a small percentage of a group will be the front runners and conversationalists with others benefiting from listening in, out of choice not pressure and the 'quality' of the participants in that they need to have both basic 'digital literacy' skills and reliable access based on their kit and connection.

Embrace the pace of change

A lean and smart organisation will tumble over itself, re-inventing and experimenting with ways things are done until clear methodologies present themselves for specific types of learning experience: 'head work' is different to' handiwork' - academic study is different from applied practice. Subjects freed from books and formal lectures, like the genii released from the bottle will, in the cloud, form into shapes that are most suited to their learners and what is being taught: blended and 'traditional' learning most certainly have their place.

Academic snobbery is a barrier to e-learning

John Seely Brown, working out of the Palo Alto Research Centre, famous for coming up with the WYSIWYG interface between us and computers and a 'learning guru' is passionate about the idea of 'learning from the periphery' - this is how and when someone new to a subject, or team, hangs around at the edges, learning and absorbing what is going on at the heart. The wonder of open learning is the participation of equally brilliant and curious minds, some who know a good deal on a subject while others are just starting out, eager to listen, willing to ask questions that may be naïve but are usually insightful; in the two-way exchange both the die-hard academic and the newbie change for the better. Learning feeds of this new fluidity.

It is evidence of the 'democratisation' of learning.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Pen and ink drawing class

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 2 Aug 2014, 11:44

 

Fig.1 Chair and shade

It was like being back at school: though the ratio of 15 women to 3 men felt like I'd gatecrashed the girl school's class down the road; I was educated in all male schools from 4 to 19. Of the 15 two were under 20, two were under 30 and the others above 60 and 70. No difference. Just like school. I recognised this swimming with Masters that given any opportunity to be the child that we were we are.

My relationship with art is an odd one: a mother who taught art, had an MA from Durham University in Fine Art, but who discounted at as a career for any of her children. I took it as far as A'levels (under her tutelage).

In 90 minutes we has some history, so thoughts on kit, then we got on with it. I found a secluded spot in the central courtyard (Jerwood Gallery, Hastings). And picked first on the climbing plants on a wall, and then the chair I'd taken out of the class. My challenge was to look at different ways of adding shade. Eventually I found that changing from pen to cotton balls and ink would differentiate between the object and the shadow. This'll take further work.

Other learning opportunities over the last few days have included:

Power Boat II (Refresher)

It is eight or more years since I did the course and seven years since I've been in a power boat. A bit of it came back. And new stuff was added. I need this so that I can operate a 'rib' during 'racing week' at the local sailing club: laying the course, keeping an eye on the fleet to rescue and assist. The sea can be choppy, the winds strong. Dinghies go over and their mast can pin them to the shallow sand and grit of Seaford Bay.

How to train a pigeon

In her wisdom my daughter has rescued a pigeon with a broken wing. The RSPB and animal sanctuaries aren't interest. 'Ralph' is now accommodated in a garden shed; shits everywhere but is eating from my daughter's hand. Muggins will be looking after it shortly of course. The volume of pebble-dash shit is impressive as every shit is onto a fresh patch of shed floor - it will be one shit deep, like a carpet by the weekend.

Graphic Design

The exhibition on the designer Ivan Chermeoff at the De La Warr is so good I've been back three times. There is no book on this exhibition, though many of his books are nailed to a table to admire (the page it has been opened at), with a few books you can browse. There is an insightful video too - an interview with the designer talking about how he got into fine art and graphic design from an inspiration father. One of the things he talks about is 'learning to see'. Had photography not been banned I would not have got out a pad of paper and looked more closely at his collages. Had I not taken such a close look I wouldn't have seen, with magical surprise, that one was made from ephemera collected at the inauguration of JFKennedy as US President on January 20 1961. 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Learning on the job

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 22 Jun 2014, 07:18

Fig. 1. Working in the Alps

Five months up a mountain working hard transports the gap-year student from school or college-kid into 'worker'. Long hours, responsibility, a foreign country and environment. The above typifies the roles on offer, the only other being the elusive ski or snowboard instructor that is only achieved with 12 weeks of intensive on the slope training.

Thirty-five years ago you were dropped into a position where few if any spoke English. My French was ropey and I'd only been driving for a few months but I was expected to park guest cars, always negotiating snow and ice and a very tight fit. The pressure and challenge of applied learning is radically different to learning through books and classes.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Speedy access to and consumption of the right information when you need it

Visible to anyone in the world

Fig.1. NHS Choices 

In 1999 Jakob Nielsen wrote a book on 'Web Design'; his principles hold true over a decade later, indeed, NHS Choices could have been designed by a team with this web design bible on their desks.

We read differently when faced with a screen. We read differently when there is a urgency to pin something down. This is learning as consumption, and learning 'just in time'. It is also applied learning. Simply returning to these pages does, in time, enhance the likelihood that you'll recall the content, but what improves further on this are the patient comments - or any other, subtle, incremental adjustments that refresh the viewing.

The problem, by way of comparison, with Wikipedia, is that the content has become overworked and the more the experts get involved the more impenetrable it becomes. A filter is required that personalises the experience so that the content that you are exposed to develops alongside your understand of what it says. Are their pages that know that you are still at primary school, secondary school or an undergraduate for example. This too would be too crude based on subject specialism. Or does this come down to your choices from those offered by the browser? If you are in higher education that you automatically use Google Scholar and read peer-reviewed papers rather than webpages aimed at the general public.

This isn't aimed at medical students.

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Near Field Communication

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 17:14

Where have I been the last coupld of years to miss Near Field Communication ?

Certainly over the last six months I've been reflecting on the desire for some kind of situation-based, intuative, just-in time information-tailored system for applied learning ... and more recently for use in museums anf galleries. I have kids. I go to museums and galleries. The last time I looked we were still being invited to buy audio-guides.

Maybe that explains it. Does a museum or gallery want to diminish the value of its own paid-for services, even to reduce the likelihood of the purchase of a guide or any other sundry books or postcards if you're getting a suitably rich record of your visit for free?

NFC, QR codes and the ubiquitous Smart Phone must in time give way to wearable technology, the wrist band with a chip in it that I got at the 'In Flanders Fields' museum Ypres is the first step towards something bigger and brainier. The wrist band with a memory stick embedded in it from the University of Birmingham was a lost opportunity too - it should have been loaded with a 'good bag' some software, a piece to camera from the head of department and maybe an eBook to get us going. 

In the past, and still, pen on paper, sometimes with coloured felttips, is the main form of 'user generated content' for students - apt as they will be assessed by writing and colouring in. This needs to be replaced by UGC that uses the devices they have in their hands - their images, typed in text (or voiced) with annotations and mash-ups. 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Should we call it e-learning anymore?

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 7 Oct 2012, 06:18

IMG_1089.jpg

It is learning whether you prefix with an 'e', 'm' or 'b' as in - electronic, mobile or blended.

Increasingly the opportunities, particularly with learning on a hand-held computer - 20th century terms for the 21st century smart phone or table - are for 'a' or 's' learning - standing for applied or 'action learning' that is 'situated'.

For example, I use a combination of an iPad or Kindle when coaching swimmers - not just for registers, but to show images from a swim drills book.

I am waiting for the wrist or lapel badge computer - an iPad the size of a Nano or ring. Will these come to be known as 'w' learning or 'r' learning or has 'e-learning' become generic? The Google display will be one to watch.😳

Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 6 Oct 2012, 15:42)
Share post
Design Museum

A tonic for TMA blues

Visible to anyone in the world
To fill the void I have read 'Goodbye to all that' the Robert Graves biography cover to cover. A book, not on a Kindle or iPad. As I read it twenty years ago and doodled notes in it I repeated the exercise. Nothing I read was familiar until I got to the end which says something of my mind's ability to forget everything very quickly indeed unless it is applied. Applied learning sticks in the learning and stays there through further application.
Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Hospitalised

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 6 Sep 2011, 03:58

Being offline for seven hours was the least of the unpleasantness.

Being put straight into one of those back-to-front gowns wasn't encouraging, though it has its compensations, I was seen with two minutes of arriving. The experience of the A & E was fine, it was the need to endure in considerable pain for six hours until the matter could be resolved.

I had the iPad but had no desire to do anything (not permitted in any case).

Behind the curtain I listen in as a distraction, it was the first day for at least two members of staff. (I could name them and run through the symptoms of several of the morning's intake too).

As another distraction I thought about efforts to introduce hand held devices to hospitals in 2000, various case studies from PDAs in 2005 (total failure) as well as Yrjo Engestrom's 'activity systems' studies of hospitals in Helsinki.

Engestroms%252520Triangle%252520Fig%2525202%252520%252520GRAB.JPG

I was politely asked by the Consultant if I could be discussed with his student doctor once she had seen me and come to a diagnosis, so they talked about me, not as if a I wasn't there but the way we parents can talk about our children even when they're sitting in the back of the car. I was humoured politely when I said what fascinated me was the expert/learner relationship and the nature of the conversation (I heard both what they discussed within earshot AND what was said around the hub - everyone was eager to learn and share today).

I desired taking a picture of the poster that shows how to identify staff; I got the all, from the staff assistant, through nurse, matron, doctor and consultant.

In due course I'll reflect on where I came within the activity system, surely as I was mostly the 'subject' or a mediating artefact? NHS Direct website, then a phone call first to them and my GP confirmed my self-diagnosis. Plenty of checks in case of other possibilities were confirmed at hospital. Between being seen by the staff matron and a doctor there was a three hour delay that almost reduced me to tears. Once diagnosed there was another hour.

The procedure itself took half an hour, the hideousness of it endured by concentrating on something else - I relived a gap year of 30 years ago during which I came to know every piste and off-piste ski run at Val d'Isere / Tignes.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

You don't learn to swim by reading a book ... An applied degree must therefore be situated in the workplace?

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:17

Too much theory without practice was described by the owner of a successful specialist engineering firm in Germany today as 'like trying to learn to swim from a book.'

Apprenticeship in Germany run for 3 1/2 years of which 8 months a year is practical. The remainder of the year they go to a special school. 'If you  only learn theory it is like learning swimming from reading a book so you need both.' Leonardo  Duritchich, Chief Technial Water, Sief Steiner Pianos.   The Today Programme, 27h36, Wednesday 17th  August.

I agree, though when it comes to swimming, there are some great books made all the better in electronic form. This is 'The Swim Drill Book.'

Putting into practice what you learn, learning construction rather than simply knowledge acquisition; I believe this to be the case with something like The OU Business School MBA, something I needed each time I started businesses in the 2980s and 1990s.
As a swimming coach it matters that you swam competitively and/or still swim. A flightless bird cannot teach a bird to fly. So engineers learn through doing, often from apprenticeship. Junior Doctors need to put in the hours, solicitors start as trainees, the list goes on. It is particularly the case in the TV business where after starting as a trainee producer I was happier with kit, shooting, editing and drafting scripts, learning my trade, something that an a degree had not prepared me for.

Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Tom Roberts, Wednesday, 17 Aug 2011, 23:26)
Share post
Design Museum

Social Media Matters for communications and education

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 08:21
I have drifted over to my mind bursts - just Google it and take your pick. I have in effect for the last three months been doing a second module in parallel while also starting a new job. One naturally feeds into the other. Applied learning works. There is no formal course of action; though there is naturally a significant amoint of activity; I like to scramble up any new learning curve, especially this one because it fascinates me. I've always been a natural networker, not working the crowd, but genuinely enjoying the company of people, listening to their ideas, woes, beliefs, their enthusiams too. If something is being said about Social Media I am reading about it online, joining groups on it (join me in Linkedin), and getting books on it- everyone an e-book with each one treated as if it belongs to a compulsory reading list. Ask about these, or spin through this blog; in most cases I start the entry with a picture of the book. I've reviewed them too which amuses me becuase by Googling my name several of this reviews are top ranked. (69133)
Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Applied Learning

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:18

Odd how I can treat a TMA like an essay, research it to death and build towards an essay crisis. Having to write the TMA equivalent, a strategy paper on Social Media, I find I am a couple of days ahead with the first draft written, expectations of a meeting where expert colleagues will have input before finalising and presenting in a week.

Applied learning, or practice-based learning ... action learning, they're all the same idea that attracts a good deal of interest; it increasingly makes sense for people, especially if they are settled in a position that they enjoy and need, to study as the work, the learning occuring alongside what they do, rather than separetely from it.

In some respects this is the immersive learning that game-like learning environments are supposed to re-created; but why do that when you can have the real thing?

I had thought of creating it as a wiki, password protected for contributing stakeholders. As long as we're on the same wavelength from experience of doing this in the MAODE I'd trust the end result to be better as a result, the equivalent of lifting something from the 70% mark towards 85% and beyond.

Blogging here My Mind Bursts more than here, where the audiences have far more choice and haven't the focus of hear of learning with the OU.

Its been an interesting environment to hone some more advanced blogging habits and skills, not simply the generation of regular content, but how it is linked, where it is linked and the important of tags which I've used simply to identify content, but of course of seach engine optimisation purposes too.

If you have a moment and can put the right hat on, perhaps you're an Open University Faculty of Business and Law student anyway, then do please visit our website as I will be listening to all comers on valuable enhancements we can make here.

To 'blogify' is my mission.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.

Total visits to this blog: 5334336