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This is sooooo out of character

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Evidence of Module 1 Hand In

Historically, as anyone might recall from the MAODE days, I was always the student how tried to handin a piece of work 5 minutes before the due date - at midnight of course. And then things would go wrong. Or I'd be the student asking for an extension days before. 

I am a changed man! I am three days ahead here and feel confident I've not missed anything that matters to the module assignment. It could always be better, but I'm not going to fret about that. I've given it my best shot under the circumstances and in the time  could give it.

I have to say, that this blog has been an indispensbile resource. I can search a word or academic and up comes what I know about that thing or person from notes I have taken over the last ten years; it is surprising how much comes back to me and even more of a delight the way this knowledge has embedded itself in my thinking. I feel moire fluid and confident about it then I ever did ten years ago.

I also matters hugel that for the last two and a half years I have been in a teaching environment where the theory of education is tested daily - and in an FE college, that means being 'tested to destruction'.


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Tools worth sharing

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Nov 2014, 10:12

Fig.1 Word and Tiki-Toki

Constructing a length piece of writing - over 50,000 words and need to stick to the chronology of events, at least in the first draft, I have found using the timeline creation tool Tiki-Toki invaluable. You can create one of these for FREE.

Over the last few months I've been adding 'episodes' to a timeline that stretches between 1914 and 1919. You get various views, including the traditional timeline of events stretched along an unfurling panorama. However, if you want to work with two screen side by side the 3D view allows you to scroll back and forth through the timeline within the modest confines of its window.

 

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FutureLearn

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 2 Nov 2014, 09:17
From Jack Wilson MM

Fig.1. Lieutenant Munday and Flight Cadet Green - Killed 23rd November 1918 during training, RAF Crail - photograph taken by my late grandfather, flight cadet J A Wilson MM

Especially if you are on an MAODE module you need to take a course on FutureLearn to experience for yourself how 'connected' and 'collaborative' learning works. The specialist MOOC I am doing on the development of aviation during the First World War has over 9,000 participants, the 'Start Writing Fiction' course has over 20,000. Things happen when the number of this high.

Looking at these it is some trick to find the middle path between 'lite' TV style for people sitting back on the sofa expecting some kind of introductory 'edutainment' from Channel 5, to full-on academic sitting forward activity at your desk and keyboard.

For the first time I see how this is like no other platform or medium that has gone before, so everyone, The OU and FutureLearn included, is having an enthusiastic stab at it and learning massively as a result: how to do it better, how to fix weaknesses in the pedagogy and content and where to go next - repeat, fragment, enhance ... 

Keeping it simply is key, a fabulously intuitive and well designed interface is vital, and, unlike US equivalents, not shoving the begging bowl and adverts in your face at every opportunity.

The quizzes need to become smart multiple-choice activities - though these are exceedingly hard to write well as other FutureLearn courses are finding. It is was of the areas that receives most feedback from those who hate them, those who get irritated at getting an answer wrong and wanting to blame someone and those offering ways to do it better.

And tougher 'assignments' could be offered, but this requires close scrutiny and marking by those who are academically qualified to do so and has to come with a proper fee. These produced issues of their own. If 1% of those on the First World War Aviation course decided to submit an assignment and pay a fee of £400 where would the university find the academics to do the marking of 900 essays, however good the money. I did complete an assignment for a MOOC provided by Oxford Brookes because I wanted postgraduate credits and a certificate - so that's 10 credits towards something. 

A fascinating time to be taking part in a way of learning that is in its fledgling stages ...

As it is an 'open' platform there's no stopping those of us with an interest from coming back as we do the extra reading and sharing what we find. 

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Extensions

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From E-Learning V

In my experience if you ask for an extension for a TMA you will always get one; I've occasionally asked for a couple of days and got a week. With EMAs the deadline is sacrosanct. I've asked on the day and a week back; I guess the earlier you see the problem the better. It depends on the problem. Never really meeting my online tutor it took me too many modules before I'd pick up the phone, yet nothing has ever worked better than a short chat. If your request for an extension is genuine, like the kind made of hair, you'll want and probably need a helping hand so take what is on offer. 

The problem with an extension is that it could simply be delaying the pain ... you continue in the same vein, blocked, muddled, reluctant to start, or finish or submit; or you haven't done the work and know it.

If you've done the work but are having a mental or academic block then ask here, ask in your student forum (too often quiet) and most certainly talk to your tutor. Often some focused advice will say you are on the right track, press on, talk it through, now write it down and send it in, or that you are trying to write a chapter rather than an essay, to narrow it down, to think strategically.

If you haven't done the work then use the extension to figure out how you can put in enough hours, strategically, to cover enough of the ground and do it. If that means a few late nights or early mornings that so be it.

And shit happens - I've lost parents. The worst. And I've been made redundant. In fact both happened together in my first module and I quit ... I sulked instead of talking to someone. The OU would have been understanding. Anyway, you may have to drop everything for a week or more. Everyone will he hugely sympathetic.

Otherwise, like teachers with decades of experience, the tutors will smell a rat if you simply haven't done the work and don't intend to. If this is the case then personally I'd just knock off a submission and send it in. You may still pass. You may be asked to resubmit. The assumption will be that you've done your best even if you haven't. Or perhaps you have? Honesty is always heard with sympathy.

I'm reminding myself that however distant distance learning might be you are always a phone call away from your tutor. I always regret not taking up the offer of talking it through. They won't think you're an idiot; they'll admire you for caring about wanting to try to get it right. In seven modules I think only once did our tutor group have such an active online presence that we could sort out each others' problems, another the tutor didn't just say they were available, but they proved it by being online moderating and 'seeding' conversations rather than waiting in the background (or just absent). And then a time when I kind of buddied up: she was great at one kind of thing, I could help with another - she was an 'adapter' I was the 'innovator' I guess. 

Have I had a reprieve? Not exactly. I have, or thought I had a 10th September deadline - actually thats for resubmissions for April !? So I have until the 24th September. I have worked my way into a corner so will take a day off, then see what I can write in exam conditions, see if a fresh approach can produce something more fluid. It's a relief to be able to step away from a disaster. 

I am so envious of people who turn mountains into molehills. I turn mountains into a range of mountains and usually get lost until someone drags me out. TMAs are foothills, EMAs the one mountain. They all count, so press on.

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Too much coffee? Its a product of too many TMAs

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 6 Sep 2014, 13:45
From E-Learning V

 Fig.1 The effect of drinking too much coffee

With an assignment, TMA or EMA or exam deadline comes the inclination to get up earlier and drink stronger coffee, in larger doses over longer periods. Easing off the caffeine in take comes at a price: headaches. This isn't a drug you can come off in an instant ... or in my case, at all. 

I'm trying to stick to water after breakfast; the problem is that I may have had a jug of expresso by then. If I get a headache later in the day what do I need? Paracetamol and caffeine. 

My symptoms:

  • Ringing in ears
  • Heart palpitations
  • Gut rot
  • Dehydration
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Restlessness

NONE of this is conducive to getting much done. I need to put in a couple of hours a day for the next four days at least. 

Quitting coffee is on the cards. Done with alcohol, meat might be cut back to the weekend or cut out entirely. Quit Facebook. Cut back on Linkedin. Off on retreat in a couple of weeks when I plan to leave all gadgets behind - let's see or prove how productive that can be. Five days with pen and paper.

 

 

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A terrifying realistion

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 5 Sep 2014, 06:37
From E-Learning V

Writing an assignment takes time and requires focus.

Not rocket science, but never before have I been quite so aware of the time it takes to achieve something. Prep over the writing has begun. I use an hour glass to hold my focus, but what do I achieve in an hour? 400 words.

At this rate it'll take another ten hours just to complete the first draft. My only hope is that the preparation will have paid off and that these 4000 words with some spit and polish will do the job.

We'll see.

Suddenly time feels finite and the deadline like 'The Wall' in Game of Thrones looms on the horizon. Just so long as the next series isn't released in the next few days. When is it due out by the way?!

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This will not do!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014, 09:49

Fig. 1 My A' level Geography exercise book

Somehow a handful of exercise books and files from my A'level years have survived three+ decades. On very rare occasions on stumbling across these in a box, in a garage or shed, or attic I've glanced at a few carefully drawn diagrams or maps, smiled proudly at the grades achieved in the final pages, but never stopped to take a careful look at the truth.

The truth when I read it made me faint. Was I that bad? Was the teacher so blunt? How come I didn't go ape-shit and promptly quit the course? 

If I wish to I could seek enlightenment in the diary I kept at the time; I have little doubt that on a teen quest for 'love' there were other priorities in my life. 

Reading this I fear my brain has buried my feelings; it's as if I am reading it for the first time. Every page, 'only twelve', are lightly scored through. In all credit to a brilliant teacher - I believe, ultimately that all but one or two in the class got an A grade 18 or so months later, he offers a bullet-pointed suggestion of an essay plan. The 'half-term' reply to this gets a C-- and a middling response that clearly indicates that only an 'A' will do. All of this experience is new to me in my schooling to date. Threats usually failed, seven years previously having done badly in a French Test I was threatened with a caning if I didn't get x% minimum in a retake ... after half-term. My arse was saved; I suspect my response could have been as violent as the teacher's had he come near me ... 

When it comes to the 'carrot and stick', my experience is that I need both applied and given firmly. 

Four essays and as many weeks later this teacher's response is somewhat different: 

 Fig. 2. Same Geography exercise book, four to five weeks later.

It is odd, though invaluable to be reflecting on this some 35 years after the event. It relates to learning; I'm not teacher-trained. It relates to e-learning too, at all the levels where it is offered. How does or can the technology be used so that a teacher or tutor can provide blunt, constructive feedback in a way that achieves its aims for the individual student? How did this teacher get extraordinary results out of a class, many of whom I knew well and would have rated themselves at the D/E level of likely attainment?

Fundamentally, I feel, is that he, and most others I had during these years were a) vocational educators b) brilliant at their subject c) practitioners.

This teacher was cold, but hugely enthusiastic and knew the subject down to the tiniest detail. He knew his art and gave classroom presentations that came from his soul, not from an Edexcel textbook on his desk. A year later he frankly said that he would teach us what we'd get in our first year at university to maintain our interest ... to keep us simmering as exams approached. And as the 'Physical Geographer' he would often start a lesson with photographs of a climbing trip in Scotland or flying a glider over Northumberland.

 Fig.3. What kind if daisy is your essay?

At the end of this particular exercise book the teachers fills half a side of A4, in red biro, doing his best, now for the umpteenth time, to get me to understand what an essay at this level requires; it is here that he draws takes up drawing a flower, a daisy, suggesting that the perfect essay has five or six petals and a simple step, not the twelve petals, or lopsided, or trunk of an essay that I could produce. 

The purpose of the essay, especially assignments that are not graded, are multiple but never, from I can see, used in the e-learning produce by the Open University. Where is the chance to find your feet, to have a go and fail, to learn through trial and error how to get it write? What role, in any case, would a tutor play to improve an essay style, or to simply help a student get their approach right? And what is the value in assessing a student in a modular form when they cannot expect to be anywhere near to mastering their subject until they've been studying for a year?

How can this vital, human component, make its mark in e-learning? 

Artificial Intelligence must surely offer a smart answer; how else can the many millions who are denied an education at this level have a chance at the experience?

Tellingly, I see that there are comments made in these text books that I struggle with still. I write too much, but in the essay where the purpose is to gather in and focus multiple ideas from several sources in order, at a later date, to refine and prioritise what YOU personally think matters, then more is far, far preferable and necessary then the essay with the limited word count. What happens otherwise is that too early in the learning process the student is expected to reduce down a substance, their research and thoughts, which in the early stages are bound to be on the thin side. From this 'thin; input a thinner essay is meant to be the basis on which the student takes their learning forward. 

There has to be a better way.

Or alternatives.

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The right way and wrong way to assess

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:46

Looking back over four years can be revealing. In 2010 I was struggling with my third Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA03)  in the Master of Arts Open and Distance Education (MAODE). I queried the assignment process. In particular I felt as if it was akin to making a tapestry. Three years on I feel my last couple of TMAs and EMAs weren't simply making a tapestry - but doing so wearing roller-skates on a ship in a heavy sea.

Nothing would stitch together. I had far too much wool. 

The criteria, meant to be helpful, detailing paragraph, by paragraph if not sentence by sentence what the examiner is looking for ties my head in knots. 

I contrast this, favourably, with the MA I am doing with the University of Birmingham. Clunky but effective. I have a reading list. We attend lectures and take part in seminars and I write a 4000 word essay drawn from a list of 12 to 16 titles.

This allows me to be fluid, rather than the ground beneath my feet.

Throughout the MAODE I think the only module the regularly had this 'essay writing' approach was H809: Research practices in educational technology. 

I can be accused of over thinking and over preparing a TMA or EMA - yet this, too often, is how the things have been designed. Less would be more. Simpler would not be easier, writing is hard enough without having to second guess what a third party will be thinking as they read while running down a check list to give you a tick and therefore a mark and ultimately a grade.

Reflecting on four years I can see marks in TMAs, and EMAs especially, improve. I think TMAs in 60s, and 70s and the odd EMA in the 40s, then 50s give rise to TMAs of 80s, even in the 90s, though my best EMA was a 76. Of course, in their wisdom, my student grades for each module simply reads 'PASS'. I feel this rather diminishes the effort and evidence. There is certainly a different between a candidate scoring in the 40s and 50s between one scoring in the 60s and 70s and 80s. 

I met an MBA student who had achieved a distinction in every module. I was in awe. Not your usual OU student (are any from the Business School). She had a first in her first degree from Oxford: Classics. Some people have a mind for these things. Perhaps it is my head that sloshes around like the proverbial storm, rather than the system I have been part of?

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Preparation, preparation, preparation ...

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And breathing space.

How I prepare a TMA or EMA is completely unlike anything I did in the early days, even in the first couple of years or more of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MA ODE). It is far more like designing an Airfix model, making the parts, then constructing the thing. At this stage, having thought about and written up all the component parts I did a rough assembly and came up with 3437 words for a 4000 word assignment.

Actually this is too many words - not a problem as I know where the fat lies, ideas expressed in too large a chunk. After that it's a case of getting the prose to flow.

Prioritise and give it time to breathe. I've pretty much given up on social media too - this is study journal and a moment to reflect. 'Blogging' and writing an academic paper are very different things - even journalism doesn't get close. Blogging is playing in the sand, journalism is a papier-mache self-indulgent sculpture, whereas academic writing is gathering together a complete set of artefacts, carefully arranging them in a cabinet and including all the labels.

 

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What a noggin ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 9 Oct 2012, 11:56

Bronze%2520SNIP.JPG

Fig. 1. Benzi, after Gianlorenzo Bernini. 'Damned Soul', 1705-07

It has taken me 33 months, my fifth module and x assignments ... 12-16 ? and for the first time three things have happened:

  • The first draft is written with two days to go.
  • The word count is only 100 or so over the limit.
  • I stuck to the treatment.
  • Its a tad journalistic at this stage, but I enjoyed it.

On top of the MA the OU has given me the tools and confidence, and in this case, the knowledge, to write.

Thanks OU!

Off to London for the day.

RA this afternoon for the 'Bronzes' Exhibition, then a presentation in the evening - me talking, 'Use of video in e-learning' at an IVCA meeting.


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How to write the perfect essay every time

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A 30 second video says it tall:

DSC00351.JPG

 

CLICK HERE The perfect essay (or not).

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Reflecting on the exam process

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The MAODE has no exams, it is all done through assignments. The MBA module I am doing, 'Creativity, Innovation & Change' has three two TMAs and ECA and an exam. The exam is the clincher.

An exam obliges you to do things in a very different way. You not only have to be able to tap into your memory banks, but you need to be able to drill deep enough for substance and then wrap this around the exam questions.

With a TMA all you have to do is wrap what you can pick out of the course books, notes and resources (on the basis that you have read the materials and know where it all is).

Surely as a form of assessment the exam is a crucial form of judging how mauch a person has taken in? Whether they have engaged extensively, iteratively and collaboratively with their student cohort and tutor during the module or whether they have confined themselves to a room with the resources and picked their way through them (or a bit of both).

In addition to the exam and assignment I rather like the idea of the viva, though I have never faced one. This suits my mind set and probably my way of learning, I like to hear what I have to say and respond to others. And I write the way I think, as stream of consciousness.

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How to use your blog for Tutor Marked Assignments

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 May 2014, 06:58

This is my approach, it works for me.

Everything goes in here: notes from what I read or come across, sometimes so I didn't lose track of them, course related comments I post on people's blogs too.

A good deal of this remains hidden (private), however I will sometimes 'expose' notes and cryptic thoughts in case someone can make sense of it for me, or chivvy me along to construct some rounded thoughts and sentences with the stuff.

There's some random stuff too.

Tagging matters immensely.

'Search' leaves it to chance, which might help you serendipitously to come across a thought or note you had, but is scrappy and can be time wasting, rather be tag happy and have a system.

Everything gets the module reference, if there is an activity reference this is added as a single word such as 'h807activity3.4' or some such so that it can be searched for and found with ease.

Come TMA time I revisit all the content from that block and start adding the tag, for example, 'h807tma2', or as I'm currently doing 'b822tma3'.

Gathered in one search list I then go through each relevant post refining my thinking.

At some stage I may add further tags to identify arguments or to give it a chronology if that isn't apparent. I then cut and paste to a word document.

I MAY assemble in PowerPoint simply to help shuffle ideas around.

A system?

Hardly. Each to their own. I panic like anyone else over an assignment but know the stuff is here and having done the reading and activities and having shared my thinking and had this coloured and shaped by others that I ought to be able to assemble a cogent case.


Tags are strategic, Search is more random.

I switch between the two when revisiting note

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The last of the bunch: daisies that think they are assignments gone wrong

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 14:22

The exotic essay. What happens if you choose an elective that isn't your cup of tea. So you write about what interests you hoping that you'll get marks for being obtuse.

I think I'm losing the plot now or getting into my flow: Olympics, Wimbledon, Grand National, Grand Prix. There are many occassions when NOT to write an assignment.

 

A podcast. Who needs the written word when you can say it with a smiley voice?

Lost the plot. Bitty. Random notes with. No beginning, middle or end.

An odd thing. A poem perhaps? Or an essay with a split personality that wasn't much improved by putting bells on it.

 

 

 

Any excuse will do: gone fishing, got a cold, computer ate it, dog ate it, parents unwell, children unwell, busy at work, made redundant (again) ...

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Further mistakes I have made writing assignments and essays expressed as cartoon daisies

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 19 Apr 2012, 08:24

DSC00352.JPG

I wrote one of these for an end of Module Assignment.

I got carried away with a single thesis. Not only did I stick to the topic, but I illustrated it. It was the image of a thermal on which career development was built. Problem was I hadn't given myself time to qualify my thinking, indeed, despite a heap of work I barely mentioned it (and barely got any marks). DSC00355.JPG

Here the essay has been bought online.

Sometimes it is easy to spot the pot. These days software does it for educational institutions.

 

DSC00358.JPG

To the right or to the left; if the essay shows any political bias it is going to score less well.

DSC00359.JPG

 

The essay that's going nowhere.

No idea, no essay plan, contemplates where it would like to go then reflects on where is would like to have been without saying very much at all.

 

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An abundance of e-learning riches ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 13 Aug 2011, 13:53

Reflecting on H800 Week 27 or something.

I live breathe and certainly dream social media and e-learning. They are my being, for now at least.

About to go on holiday to Cornwall I plan to have a wetsuit, a pad of A3 cartridge paper, a sketch pad, soft pencils and pastels. I may take the guitar (though I may feel I need the indispensable MusicNotes and Guitar APP).

Is it wise to go gadget free?

Change refreshes the mind. A total break, refreshes the mind. I will do more (and it will make more sense in the long term), by doing nothing (for a while).

There is a reason why God made the seventh day day of rest.

We're rubbish at that in 2011. It is relentless, continual, not a landscape but a fluid river of activity. No wonder I am never certain what day of the week it is.

Or is it a case of self-discipline regarding gadgets?

People would say a mobile phone at least is essential to keep in touch with family and friends as they scatter across the beaches. Lack of signal will hopefully be the decided.

Sitting down to study at 06h00 I am yet to engage with the papers I am meant to report on or get beyond bullet points for the 3,000 word essay.

The problem is the blog, the habit of writing it up as I go along.

The problem, or virtue, of playing with Google+ with some fellow MAODERs which has sent my mind into a jitter. It's relevant anyway, I have an ECA that includes the use of forum discussion groups in e-learning.

My interest in the MAODE has gone from all-consuming, to complementing work, so associated with and thought of as work.

Being on holiday I therefore feel I ought to keep away from it.

However, if I think of it as my hobby, an interest, then it is easier to handle. Indeed it may be more conducive to my enjoying the experience.

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On using Twitter in Education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 12:05

My concern, as I'm guilty of it as a blogger, is that it changes how you 'talk.'

My blogging voice is light and journalistic - it is difficult to escape this in an assignment, however many references I put on or re-writes I do.

A different mindset is required, literally wearing a different hat and taking a different approach from the start.

As a professional writer I ought to be able to write for different audiences. I'm not sure I can, indeed my voice has always bee the 'spoken word' for TV and Video with scripts design to visualise rather than say anything at all.

I find and consider Twitter to be an invaluable exercise in being succinct; stylistically this has to be a good thing.

However, as I found myself doing recently, something I wrote, after an edit, looked and read like x16 140 character Tweats strung together.

Surely engagement of any kind, a conversation over coffee, over lunch, Tweating or blogs, helps internalise and sought out issues and confusion in the student's mind. It is an activity even if it is being measured?

I wonder if a 'viva voce' in a video conference (Skype, Elluminate) wouldn't demonstrate the value of social networks in education, that it would be apparent that those who are talking about their topic in cyberspace are more likely to have formed some points of view of their own.

(49002)

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Where old meets new: paper and handwriting vs e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Nov 2014, 06:53

Paper Assignments

I have in-front of me an Amateur Swimming Associations (ASA) paper for the Level III Senior Club Coach certificate. There are 12 sheets, facing side only. The paper is waxed, copyrighted and stamped with the ASA logo. Having attended a day long workshop on the topic, done some reading and from my own experience I complete these assignment and submit. It ought to be submitted as is; this is in part a test of authenticity. I have handwritten my responses. My habit and way of doing things is to have it in a word document, so I load the text and tables, complete the required questions/tasks, print off and submit both parts. Invariably I get a note about the typed up/printed off version being so much better ... it takes skills that even I lack to write something in some of the minuscule boxes.

I was discussing on Monday with the ASA how to avoid plagiarism with e-assessments.

I mentioned Nottingham University medical students attening a computer-based assessment. I mentioned software that can spot plagiarism. I struggled however with the kind of forms the ASA uses as these tests seem to be have written with the EXAMINER in mind ... i.e. to make them easy to mark. Which also makes it easy to cheat. The answer is the same, not open to interpretation. More or less. This isn't strictly fair ... papers are returned covered in red ink - I have redone one paper.

There has to be a sign in process that is used to identify a person.

How many people cheat? Is it such a problem?

Apparently so. Even with certificates and qualifications it appears easy to falsify documents. And often, these determined people are excellent teachers/coaches who have learn their trade as competitive swimmers and/or on the job, so they know what they are doing, they simply don't have the piece of paper.

Memory Cards

I also have in front of me a set of handwritten cards given to me by a colleague who has just taken her Level II Coaching certificate. She failed the written paper. She used these cards to test herself. My intention is to put these into Spaced-Ed, as an exercise, possibly to create or to begin to create a useful learning tool.

I like the way Space-Ed prompts you over the week, tests you on a few things, then leaves you alone. You have time to assimilate the information. Is it easy learning? It is easier learning ... nothing beats a period of concerted effort and self-testing to verify that you know something or not.

Whether electronic, or paper ... or the spoken word, there is always a bridge to gap, a translation, as it were, of the information a person wants or needs to assimilate and this assimilation process.

Common to all is EFFORT.

Do you work hard at it for longer periods of time ... or divide the task up into smaller chunks? Which works best? For you, or anyone? Is there a definitive answer? No. It will vary for you, as with anyone else. It will vary by motivation, inclination, time available, the nature and importance of the topic, the degree to which this topic is covered in print or online, or in workshops and in the workplace. In deed, my contention, would be that the greater the variety of ways to engage with the information the better it will be retained and the more useful it will be when required in a myriad of ways to be applied or is called upon.

On reflection

I learn from writing somethign out by hand. I learn again when I type it up. I may not be engaging with it 'in the workpale;' but there is engagement non the less through my eyes, hands and fingers. Similarly the person who wrote out this pack of 71 cards (both sides written up) was preparng themselves, afterall, for a written exam. She knows her stuff poolside, her struggle (as I know is the case for many) is translating this into exam-like responses in a highly false setting, away from a pool, from swimmers, having to read words to respond in text, rather than reading an athlete (observation) and responding with a fixing drill or exercise.

 

 

 

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I've learnt something!

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You'd hope after 19 weeks!

TMA01 the first draft of this 3000 word report was somewhere around 12000 words, too over 20 draft to cut down and looked dreadful in what might have been the final version.

Then I started again, off the top of my head, as if writing under exam conditions.

Success after much pain.

TMA02 the first draft was around 8000 words. Adopting the same process of putting everything in, then precising, prioritising, was still the approach. i.e. why use one quote when six will do sad

Before submitting I felt there was a misalignment between the question and what I had written. Trying to weave a tapestry to someone else's design isn't my style. Six re-writes to the final version. Happy.

TMA03 got me to the stage where I thought I was writing like an academic - I had nailed an 80% score on a thoroughly researched, well researched and justified piece. It needed a day or two to subtle, and someone else's eyes to point out that I had forked away from the question in the second part. Unspotted, the TMA went in. Disaster. From my perspective. And major disillusionment. In the 'real world' this doesn't happen because you are working with colleagues and collectively you are far more likely to stay on brief.

ECA. Still to complete, but the huge suprise was when I broke it into three parts having assembled it over the last month or so ... I came in several hundred words UNDER the required word count. i.e. I am now building something, rather than taking away.

Perhaps I should adopt the Graham Greene approach to writing. 500 carefully chosen words a day, rather than my preferred approach of the last decade, which is, as here, to write a stream of consciousness, at a jog, never looking back, except to spellcheck.

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Oxbridge History Exam 1980

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 07:03

The journey I set out on to get to Oxford or Cambridge took two years.

Not getting along with Economics I switched to History after a term in the Lower Sixth. (Not getting on with Sedbergh School, Cumbria, I left smile !)

My essays, though long (always, my habit, then, as now - why say something in six words when eighteen will do?) Tell Proust to write in sentences of less than six words, in paragraphs that don't flow from one page to the next (ditto Henry Miller).

Where was I?

See how a stream of consciousness turns into a cascade?

I digress.

My essays (I still have them. Sad. Very sad). Were on the whole terrible. A 'C' grade is typical, a 'D' not unknown. So what happened to get me to straight As, an Oxbridge exam and a place to study Modern History at Balliol College, Oxford?

Composting

I was bedding down. Putting things in a stack. And working my pile. Perhaps my history tutors detailed notes and bullet points fed on my poor essays? Perhaps the seeds that took root were carefully tendered?

Repeated testing (my self) and learning how to retain then regurgitate great long lists of pertinent facts helped.

Having an essay style I could visualise courtesy of my Geography Teacher helped. (Think of a flower with six or so petals. Each petal is a theme. The stamen is the essay title, the step the introduction and conclusion).

Writing essays over and over again helped. Eventually I got the idea.

Try doing this for an Assignment. You can't. Yet this process, that took 24+ months to complete can be achieved over a few weeks. Perhaps a blank sheet of paper and exam conditions would be one way of treating it, instead I've coming to think of these as an 'open book' assessment. There is a deadline, and a time limit, though you're going to get far longer than the 45 minutes per essay (or was it 23 minutes) while sitting an exam.

Personally, I have to get my head to the stage where I've done the e, d, c, and b grade stuff. When I've had a chance to sieve and grade and filter and shake ... until, perhaps, I reach the stage where if called to do so I could sit this as an exam - or at least take it as a viva.

Not a convert to online learning as an exclusive platform though.

Passion for your tutor, your fellow students ... as well as the subject, is better catered for in the flesh.

The way ahead is for 'traditional' universities to buy big time into blended learning, double their intake and have a single year group rotating in and out during a SIX term year (three on campus, three on holiday or working online.)

P.S. Did I mention teachers?

Have a very good teacher, it helps. The Royal Grammar School, Newcastle where I transferred to take A' Levels delivers.

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H807 TMA01 The Word Count

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 14:44

TMA01 in its current draft/s is stubbornly refusing to accommodate all the requirements and get close to the required word count.

They say 1300 words, I'm forever at 1800 or more sad

Some edits then get close but appear so spartan I feel I'm looking into an empty basin.

My process might get the word count down to five - a title.Or just a single word.

e.yes.

I feel like Jack Nicholson's character from the Stanley Kubrick film of Stephen King's novel 'Shining.'

I feel stuck in a loop and beg for what my school and undergraduate years prepared me for - an exam. And in this case one essay of six to be written in the space of three hours. From six to eight point plan. Wherein I see my solution - I do just this.

Or not.

On verra.

How are you guys doing?

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A necessary first

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 17 Jun 2012, 09:16

I've just printed something off for this H807 Course on 'Innovations in e.learning.'

I've printed of the Assignment Guide ahead of putting TMA 1 togethe

Until now I've baulked at the cost of printer ink ... indeed I 've only had ink for the last week anyway.

It wasn't just that, with no shelves up and stacks of files I have been finding that anything that does get printed off gets lost.

So it gets filed offline & backed up.

In the last 24 hours I have been telescoped back to 1982 and my many adventures at university. I had a video production 'business' called Last Stand Video. I have a dozen Betamax tapes from this period which I have been meaning to transfer for decades. I will now see if I can view & log them, then transfer (i.e digitise) the juiciest bits.

There's a copy of  production of Romeo & Juliet in which I played Mercutio. During this particular fight with Tibalt the nappy-pin holding up my pantaloons broke so I cutched them as well as my 'wound' as I died to hysterical laughter on the marble floor of Magdalen Chapel.

 

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