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All change for a new academic year

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I'm left looking like a bit of a miserable git. And what's with the eye-liner. And there's another falsehood here - I stand at my desk and have two screens. [Five if you include the iphone, ipad and imac also scattered around my desk].

The new normal? More like 'same as before'. I've been working at home since 17th March and long may it last. I have a better setup than they have ever been able to provide at college. 

Will Covid-19 really be seen as the watershed that at last sets us apart from the 20th century? You you have to have lived some of the 20th century to know the difference - at least 20, if not 25 or 30 years of it.

It's odd to feel in demand, even to have head-hunters calling. I am biding my time though. And in truth, do I want the anxiety that comes with a job change? There's a job going at the Open University; that would be an odd one. Back after 10 years. I should never have left?!



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What will you look and sound like twenty years from now?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Jan 2015, 14:08

Fig.1 JV 2013-2033 - from one niece's wedding.

We'll see. My father died young age 71 so I'm less sure I'll make it to 73. Then again my grandfather made it to 96 ... the other to 61 or something. 

I stumbled upon this link courtesy of a fellow OU Student on my very first MAODE module way back in 2010. We're still in touch. It's a fun App from Orange. Take a current grab using a webcam or use an old photo. It generates an Avatar that will then respond to your talking to texting it. Weird.

I've found that if it 'grabs' the image first time it works. What does not work is massively adjusting the settings with an image that gave a bad fit in the first place.

 

 Fig.2. JFV 2014 - 2013 from another niece's wedding. 

And yes, I've already tried old photos of me in my twenties to see how accurate it is and put in friends to see what it does to them. I've had me speaking fluent French too - easier than continuing with L120.

In 20 years time

http://oran.ge/1I4Vjs0 

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H810 Accessibility and equality

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 6 Sep 2012, 14:55

Given the start of the Paralympic Games last night it is hardly surprising that disability is a topic or theme on TV, the radio and in the press. Even the Simpsons' satire yesterday evening - the one where the school is split into girls and boys and Liza dresses up as a boy and becomes the object of bullies - had a powerful message regarding equality. It should be about seeing the strength while not ignoring the 'weakness', but accommodating or compensating for it, that it is the lack of x, y or z that makes the disability more of an issue that it needs to be.

Is it just about money?

It took a Paralympian wheelchair basketball player to point out how countries that hadn't the provision of the richer economies had older, clunkier, heavier wheelchairs.

I watched a piece of theatre for deaf people by deaf people. It reminded me of comia del arte - highly physical and rumbustious. I hadn't the slightest clue what was going on, certainly no idea what was being said. Had I someone twlking it through how different would the experience have been.

How do the movies portray disability? From Richard III and Frankenstein, to Finding Nemo, Slum Dog Millionaire and Avatar. Even Dr Who where Darleks, and certainly Davros, are disabled beings in wheelchairs with a wheelie bin, plunger and egg- whisk for limbs.

It takes being ill, of confined to a bed or wheelchair to get some sense if it, or having a close relation, infant or elderly in a state, or phase of amelioration or deterioration to feel it personally. I broke a leg badly enough and far enough away from home to require amabulances and special flights, hospitalisation then a wheelchair. For some months in order to get into the garden I pulled myself about quite happily on a large wooden tea-tray. We knew it was temporary, indeed within six months I was riding a bike and walking with a stick and six months after that competing in the swimming pool and on the rugby pitch - wherein lies a stark difference, the disabled person is very likely to be set inspite or despite of treatment and how the disability came about, indeed their situation is likely to be more complex with medications, care, a deteriorating prognosis even.

There is mental illness and disability in the family too - depression, learning difficulties, aspergers and autism. I'd even dare to say that being exceptionally bright or that ridiculously isolating term 'gifted' in the case of my late father isolated him.

If we wish for inclusivity when will the Olympics and Paralympics play out simultaneously?

Perhaps at a club level I should suggest that once a year we do this - having an inclusive event in contrast to the other exclusive events we run or take part in.

As I reflect I need of course to bring it back to H810.

The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) runs a workshop for coaches who work with disabled athletes - there is an online module too which I will sign up for. Annually we apply for a national award called Swim21 which includes an audit in relation to disabled swimmers - we ticked every box without question with qualified personal, watertime set aside, entry into internal and external galas and working with our local leisure providers but is this enough? If the bar isn't that high no wonder it is easy to get over.

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Scrambulation

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 24 Feb 2013, 07:46

I think I did the equivalent of throwing the files out of the window yesterday afternoon and no doubt the TMA grade will reflect this.

I reached a stage of total scrambulation.

Currently doing a 24 hour spring clean, pack the car, find wetsuits that no one can get into, fix the box on car roof, get keys that work for the car ... listen to Pepys dramatised on the radio (see the blog) ... while feeding teenagers and accommodating my wife whose computer died when it was purloined for World of Warcraft duties sad

(P.S. I am advised that my avatar remains wondering this world in her underwear. Meanwhile, after three weeks of doing a paper round my son has purchased a virtual motorbike for his World of Warcraft avatar - think Harley Davidson - he also has an upgrade on his pet -  an Elephant.

Both impress I am told.

Educators enter here at their own peril.

valdesire%252520nickers.JPG

My advice would be to so so with an experienced 13 year old to assist and you may end up like me, female, in your underwear, doing dances for your living. Seriously, this is my experimental taste of virtual worlds.

I learned that my son has several characters online, somehow, and each has a distinct personality and I suspect gender. I am 'Val Desire' her twin - is creation - is 'Not Val Desire'.)

And the dog is on heat sad

And my 15 year old daughter has decided the contents of her attic room are childish and is currently bagging it (while my wife is going through said bag convinced that everything has a value and ought to be put in our lock up garage for the next decade or two. A garage that is 11 miles away and we took possession of temporarily when we moved house ... four years ago.)

Otherwise a normal day.

Pencils and pastels I have, but I need cartridge paper and a new drawing board.

I'm disinclined to over use the digital camera as it will require immediate downloading to a laptop then editing, then uploading and all that eJazz. Do I go with the flow, indluge this? Maybe I should, passing on some basic craft skills along the way in relation to shot size, editing, action cuts and so on.

I realise too that this desire to go off and draw is akin to being behind a computer screen.

A sort of hunkering down escape into my own head. Though drawing is likely to be less distracting than being online.

Basically, what I crave, and did for decades with my Dad is a boat, to sea with all those challenges and absolutely NO contact with the outside world.

On these trips I took books, paper, guitar. I am inclined therefore to need the iPad that now is the books, the paper and all the sheet music my heart could desire.

Impossible of course because he is long dead and the boat sold.

 

 

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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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What do you call your Avatar?

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In 2001 I attended a meeting in which a company who had imported avatar software from the US wanted us as intermediaries to sell 'the' into our clients.

On Avatar names I found they are/where led by username software, so increasingly every realish name under the sun was taken. Being an early adopter I nabbed Jonathan in one domain, otherwise you end up with something like jj27vv. The othet day I had a go with the names of all 16 moons of Saturn - not one was available.

Having 'Jonathan' is of course hopeless when I wanted to be anonymous so I have since locked that website.

I have no idea what names I adopted in the couple of Second Life domains I tried out for all of five minutes. Being invited to take on a name that sounded like a Norse god would not be conducive to good behaviour.. There's a study on this which I came across in which a shigh student took on the persona of a beligerent thug and remained in character whenever on line.

There is value though in visualisation and role play.

The answer is to do as JKRowling; collect words and names viraciously, make them up to. It will always be possible to say something original.

Thinking of which, the most crass term I've ever heard is 'unobtanium' in Avatar.
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H800:9 The script, the script and the script.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 28 May 2012, 17:46

'To make a great film you need three things - the script, the script and the script.' Said Alfred Hitchcock.

If I've written below about the demise of the written word, then I take it back.

OK, love letters have had their day. I don't even suppose that boarding Prep School Boys are writing home religiously every Sunday either; though we did.

086e940cd5f38867f911c3b649643514.jpg

My mother's collection of letters written by my brother and I from aqe eight years make quixotic reading.

Avatar started with a script.

The three CD edition is worth it for the documentary on the creation of the film. It started with an idea expressed as a 'scriptment' (sic) i.e. not even a script, but words on sheets of paper nonetheless.

A Learning Designer starts with a script, as does an Account Manager.

A client wants to see it in writing. You can edit words. You can share words. You can hold, copy and digest them in written form.

An idea (or problem), a brief, a synopsis and treatment ... that leads to a script. And once this is nailed down the costly business of production begins. Why should e-learning be any different to the production of a mega million Hollywood movie, or the Christmas Pantomime in Ambridge Village Hall.

I get paid to write because I'm able to fill a blank space with bright ideas in a sequence that makes sense (linear) or does not (non-linear).

But ultimately says something.

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Deep thoughts on e-portfolios, the meaning of life, minds, like-minds and Avatar, via Nottingham university and GCSE hydrology.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 21 Nov 2013, 10:58

Does your e-portfolio get in the way or support what you do?

Whoever you are?

Whoever has a stake in it.

Thinking out loud, started on 12th October 2010, picked up again and rolled around my mind on 13th January 2011.

Wherein lies the beauty of a blog, or in this case an ECA that requires reflection on the mind games of the past four months.

There’s a picture in the New Scientist of how ants, in their hunger for a sweet that has been dropped in the gutter have gathered in, or moved away some forty or more leaves which now form a circle around the fallen sweet.

This is what I am doing as I reflect on the activities of H808, each e-tivity, each note, paper, report, forum entry, blog or e-portfolio asset is a leaf that until now has been scattered somewhere, online, offline, some in a heap, some laid out, some yet to blow down from a tree.

My mind, its little and large pathways, the synapses that run between the left and the right hemispheres, are busy with a thousand ants moving these leaves aside, while gathering some of them up to make a pattern.

From Essay Style Visualised

And then, for a moment I saw that six petalled flower I have drawn before, the shape of the A’ Level essay, but somehow I see also a podcast and the analogy fails and without even the politeness of animated transformation my flower becomes a Christmas Tree.

From Essay Style Visualised

On this tree, the structure of the ECA, I will hand 10 or more ‘things.’ No good my just thinking about it though.

Time to move on.

I recommend the use of eportfolios, whether or not they are packaged as such. Often the affordances are there anyway. I’d like digital building blogs as simple and as versatile as Lego bricks so that I could have a button away, on my homepage, depositories and repositories, that do the jobs of blogs, wikis and eportfolios without any need to feel they are separate entities, rather the words I think, and images I take or draw, or recordings I make are like a rain shower (with the occasional deluge or drought) that is taken care by the system, MySystem.

Is this a homepage? All those toolbars? Mine's a mess. I dream of a computer screen A1 size, two of them preferably and a homepage as busy as a photomosaic coverpop.

Currently it looks like this. Could someone offer some advice on how to get my head around this before my entire home page is a Venetian Blind of unwanted toolbars and browsers?

From Drop Box

MySystem would be an assemblage of tools and services to store, collate, elaborate upon, develop, select and share all that can be digitised. Text for the most part, but images too, still and moving. And numbers, as stats or formulae. Assets in polite society, 'stuff’; for a Saxon word and something in Latin for anyone trying to pull rank.

Whatever definition we come up with for ‘e-portfolios’, someone else has another one.

And why not, this is but functional flotsam-and-jetsam on the Digital Ocean?

My first blog in September 1999 covered this. Perhaps I should shift my thinking and take in ideas of both oceans and clouds, the binary code the water molecules the form the water cycle? Now there’s an idea: the Internet as something fluid, changing, responsive ... predictable to a degree ... its shifting patterns advancing relentlessly rather than recycling, the apocryphal butterfly in one part of the system beating its wings and having a profound effect elsewhere, the Twitter-effect. This analogy of oceans and clouds hasn’t changed in a decade, perhaps it is the Geographer in me?

 

From Drop Box

 

I am still looking at a year 8 geography exercise book featuring the water cycle.

‘Analogies taught man to think.’

Now who said this?

I have it on a sheet of motivational quotes given out at the School of Communication Arts by John Gillard. This sheet and some other papers, a portfolio of ideas, is in a portfolio (the physical kind). There’s a storyboard for a couple of commercials: I could shoot these on my phone. Indeed, given that one takes place up a cliff face the phone might be the best camera for the job. No amount of Googling has located it for me. Proust perhaps? Shakespeare … or a commentator on Shakespeare?

All e-portfolios are squirts of ink into this ocean.

All content is drips, drops and an occasional multi-coloured deluge. Though pre-empting bespoke consultative decision making on behalf of a client, real or imaginary, my simple advice regarding e-portfolios is - do it all.

1) Your own - that does the business and ought to be the final repository for e-materials that are being shared or assessed, that is easy-peasy to link or upload for those who are expert in these things or have a system that they play well and with which they can 'sing.'

2) A smorgasbord of off the shelf e-portfolios that people may get free, or as part of their trade or other association, or be happy to subscribe for (after all, there's a good deal that can be done with them that is personal, off-campus and away from work).

3) Their own. The end result, the content and where and how it is finally presented is all that matters. In any case, there is every chance that your students are more e-literate than you are, speak the code like their Mother Tongue and will do what so many students have done before them and re-invent the digital wheel. The content is its own subject matter expert – it is out there being freely exchanged and wikified to the ‘nth’ degree of finality.

4) With institutional, administrative, management and support from academics and tutors that also encourages peer support and so enables 1, 2 & 3.

Everyone will have their own idea of what an e-portfolio is … if it ‘is’ anything at all in the physical sense, because of course it isn’t until you print it off, or play the asset. It isn’t a trunk, it isn’t a filing system.

Perhaps in truth it would look as bland as the grey matter of your brain?

Why and how does this help anyone?

By visualising something you give it powers.

The problem lies where your visualisation doesn’t match with mine, but as the designer it is my world that you have to live within in. I suppose we each of us require a bespoke website and a team of people working on it to forge this link between what enters and leaves our heads.

So why do I hear the voice of Dr Angela Smallwood?

It was the JISC conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Hall of Parliament Square.

It was a workshop on e-portfolios. ‘I was a baby’ (quoting Neytiri from Avatar talking to Jake).

But I bought into the idea of ‘deeper thinking’ and how it is achieved. Wasn’t the computer in Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy called ‘Deep Thought’ ?

Food for thought?

Breakfast.

Bacon, toast and a fried-egg.

Only blog for the day, I promise.

Work to do!

 

 

 

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Is this more Microsoft Encarta CD than a Brave New world of learning and education?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 30 May 2014, 09:22

When you take a set of encyclopedias and ask, 'how do I make this digital?' you get a Microsoft Encarta CD. When you take the philosophy of an encyclopedia and ask, 'how does digital change our engagement with this?' you get Wikipedia.

How does this relate to e-learning?

It strikes me that much of that learning online has a considerable distance to go in terms of realising the potential of 'electronically enhanced' learning, that we are 'reading' for subjects and supervised by the institution and tutors very much in the style of a Microsoft Encarta CD.

Perhaps a virtual world is the way forward?

Perhaps just as people job share, you could share your learning too?

Perhaps there is more to educational social networking through the likes of Facebook than institutions are willing to accept.

And if you have an e-portfolio of work why not flit from one supplier to another, accumulating micromodules of a unit at a time from wherever you choose and have your aggregated qualification assessed by a third party?

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