OU blog

Personal Blogs

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Design Museum

Why I still blog here

Visible to anyone in the world

You blog a learning journal, dump stuff and notes for no one to see, and post other thoughts to share, even do tasks and socialise with fellow students for the duration of your course and you have then a resource that enables you to tap into what you studied, came across and learnt.

Ten years on I am looking back at what I learnt about MOOCs: Coursera and FutureLearn in particular, but other platforms too. Why? Because we have an urgent desire to partner up with a platform and get our learning out the world. Who do we go with? Who will want us? Coursera or FutureLearn? Udex or Udacity/ VirtualCollege or others?

Ten years on I am creating a Top 10 (or top 7) for digital skills. This is my starting point.

I did for a long time migrate content over to my external blog 'Mindbursts.com' but it has become where I have consolidated all kinds of content from different sources and platforms and something of a muddle as a result between elearning, first world war history, swim teaching and coaching and my teen/twenty-something diaries.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Why blog?

Visible to anyone in the world

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Five Years blogging here : time to reflect

Visible to anyone in the world

Why is Oxford, with the Oxford Internet Institute and a renowned Education Department not joining the e-learning revolution?

700 years of taking things at their own pace? Their research shows that it adds nothing to their successful and 'elite' model of teaching and research? They don't need to attract students. There can be over 100 applying for every available place.

They do however need to diversify.

It's taken 30 years to tip the profile of the Oxford student from 72% privately educated public school boy to around 49% privately educated and a 50/50 male/female split. By not joining in will they perpetuate the 'Ivory Towers' impression?

There are other reasons to develop massive open online courses, not least to appear open and accessible. The University of Southampton, by contrast, home to Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the only PhD programme on WebScience, have produced nearly a dozen 'massive open online courses' (MOOCs) over the last 18 months. I believe all, or most are on the FutureLearn platform; all are also embedded on the Southampton virtual learning environment (VLE) for students to do to supplement their course work. This I see as an important, valuable and better way to blend the learning experience. It would have been my prefered way of learning, offering some flexibility on the traditional course of lectures.

Is the Open University the only one to have entire degree courses online?

Not a book, not a residential, no face-to-face tutorials either.

By the time I had completed the MAODE, five modules over 3 1/2 years I assumed many other entire degrees, let alone individual courses would be offered in this way. They are not. A MOOC delivering two/three hours of crafted, scaffolded learning a week over a few weeks is demanding enough ... but a module that runs for six months, with 12/16 hours, even 22 hours a week? Though a 'prestige' course the OU MBA programme will spend, I believe, around £3m and three years creating a single one of its modules. These are expected to run for eight to ten years.

How much therefore to design, write and produce five of these, let alone the running and administrative costs?

Is it the right thing to do? E-learning is not a feature film. It is more like a garden; it must change and adapt to the seasons and climate change.

There was no e-learning climate two decades ago; it's the ozone of learning.

FutureLearn prides itself on responding to feedback. I've seen many subtle, responsive changes: several ways through discussion threads like this one which often run to several THOUSAND comments, pooling of creation skills amongst those producing the courses and greatly improving the forms of assessment: quizzes that are masterfully written to teach and to test, tasks for peer review that are part of the learning experience and now opportunities to sign up for a written exam - you pay a fee to attend a test centre, take the exam, and submit your paper. Of course, at this stage the idea of 'Open' is greatly weakened because once again their are parameters and barriers caused by geography and cost, probably also of confidence and familiarity with the formal written exam away from the keyboard and screen.

I reflect, today, on FIVE YEARS of formally studying Open and Distance Education. My blog runs to over 2,500 posts. What next? The same again? I've neither found a home in academia, or in corporate learning and development. Have I studied the wrong subject? I hanker forever to be telling stories. I thought I would successfully make the transition from linear-based video learning and development where I'd worked for some  twenty years, but have not and to rub my face in it the demand for video is finally increasing. Though never again the broadcast like budges we had for multiple cameras and live shoots, for a mini-bus of actors and a director from 'The Bill,' and special effects from The Mill.

I have had my eye on the Creative Writing Course for at least four of the last five years, but felt, for a change, I'd finish something. Instead, I find I am back in March 2006 going through two large 'Really Useful Boxes' which contain the printed off manuscripts of two novels, a couple of screenplays, a TV play and assorted short stories. 

Is this my life? Dominated by a history of making the wrong choices?

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

Review, Reflect, Repeat ...

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 Jan 2015, 09:05

Fig.1. My mash-up from the Start Writing Fiction, OU and FutureLearn MOOC. 

Many weeks after the Open University MOOC on Future Learn closed 'Start Writing Fiction' I find I am returning to the many activities across the eight weeks to refresh, reflect, and build on my knowledge. As well as doing my bit for that 'community' by doing a few reviews (all assignments are peer reviewed). I completed the course in early December.

I return to reflect, to develop ideas, to be reminded of the excellent lessons I have learnt there, and in particular on how we use fact and fiction, whether consciously or not. In pure fantasy writing I find, inevitably, that I ground events in places I know from my youth, or have since researched. I use the hook of reality and my experiences on which to build the fiction. While currently I am embedded in what started as 90/10 fiction to fact I find it is increasingly looking like 95/5 in favour of fact as my imagination is close to the truth about a particular character and his experience of the First World War. All this from a simple exercise in week one called 'Fact or Fiction?' where we are asked first of all two write something that contains three factual elements and one fiction, and then to write something that contains three fictional elements and one factual. There are thousands of these now, many very funny, original or captivating. In week one, I'm guessing that around 10,000 got through the week. How many posted? There are 967 comments. This happens. It is an open course. The same applies for most web content: 95:5 is the ratio of readers to writers. Many people prefer not to do what they feel is 'exposing themselves' online. Why should they.

Anyway, this gives me reason to argue that it is an excellent idea to keep a blog of your OU studies. All of this can remain private, but at least, as I know have in this blog, when the doors close behind a module you can, months, even years later, return to key activities and assignments and build on the lessons you learnt. More importantly, as we all forget with such ease, we can keep the memory of the lessons fresh.

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

Recollections and connections with Chinese Management Students

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 31 Dec 2014, 10:26

Fig.1 A lumpsucker fish

My fellow student Sian Lovegrove on the MAODE is an educator at a Chinese Management School.

Last year we did on a module on networking and connectivity related to e-learning - how collaboration and ‘connectedness’ is such a good thing. Some 30 of her students have since started blog. It was with trepidation that I have started to read these and what I find is a wonderfully eclectic mix of Chinese voices, always quirky in their use of English and as varied in what they write about as you’d expect from any group: food, western ways, movies and musicians, immigration, recently local ways, on being a student … often familiar, always insightful.

Air Pollution in Shanghai

I have often  thought how much I'd like to live and work in China for a few years, unfortunately my breathing is very sensitive to poor air. I have asthma. I am fit. I sail, I swim, but I also take medication all the time so that I don't have an asthma attack which can easily be set off by car fumes, smoke from fires, even cigarette smoke, some perfumes ... and very odd, the smell and chemicals that comes from autumn leaves. This is why I like to live by the sea facing the wind. I am fascinated to read about life in different country, especially one as fascinating as China. Reading this blog I am reminded also how much we have in common - people who love life and love our planet too. 

There were several posts on:

Christmas seen for Chinese eyes, on Chinese compared to Western Food and on student life.

I was inspired to settled down to an hour of writing thanks to a delightful post on 'Maternal Love' where a student's Mom sends a 'nanny' - aunt or family friend, to live with her student daughter and cook meals and clean for her. 

I found myself reflecting on our own few days in Northumberland and remembering how I once pulled a lumpsucker fish out of a tidal pool: I was seven or eight and didn't know better to leave these things where they were. I pulled out a large eating crab another time, even a lobster. 

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

Time to reflect on 'Start Writing Fiction' with the OU and FutureLearn

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 19 Dec 2014, 09:33
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. The writer's path ...

The eight week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) I have just completed 'Start Writing Fiction', with the OU, through FutureLearn merits, like all learning experiences, a period of reflection. How do you look through posts across some 80-100 'threads' with anything from 143 posts (final thread, final week) to over 7,500 posts (fourth thread, first week) ? You have to filter, but these filters are dependent on your participation throughout because the key filters are: 'my comments' and 'following'. These in turn, isolate from a massive thread, the comments you have left, starting a thread to the main discussion or commenting on points made by others. While 'following' picks out those, all of them, whose thoughts and contributions you have enjoyed. You can also pick out 'most liked' - though with likes ranging from 0-4 with 1 like the median, this sift hasn't anything to offer. And you can prioritise 'Activity' i.e. select in reverse order across all posts in an activity those that are most recent.

Thus armed, if you can give it the time, you can work back over the battlefield of minds that has been this last two months; it feels like a 60 degree credits 7-8 month slog packed into a very, very long weekend - it has been that intense (I've let it be so).

Whilst the activities could be done in three hours a week at a fast jog, what takes far longer is a) writing a piece for peer review - 300, 500 and 1000 words were the lengths of submission and b) reading, replying, following and learning from the mass off comments in what are sometimes huge discussion threads with thousands of responses where some of have skipped through the entire 8 weeks course in a few weeks, and others, like climbing onto a moving walkway, are still, just joining. 

I can write 1,500 words in an hour. However, 500 from a day of writing, takes ... all day. And it is generally this 500 which is worthy of keeping and could lead to publication.  I have learnt the value of reviewing the work of others - all standards (I've been at all standards and can migrate with ease between them). I am reading fiction strategically -I did this with efforts to write TV series and Film scripts (I have a writer/director credit for a short film on Channel 4). It is so useful, as you get a feel for the genre you are writing, to read some of the very best in that genre. It makes sense really. How have other authors successfully tackled time-travel, war, fairies ... horror, romance or sex. And then writing itself. Setting time aside, focusing on that for hours uninterrupted to give you creative side a chance to come out. And then, from that, edit ruthless to those ideas, phrases, descriptions and characters that meet a set of criteria. It's tough. If it wasn't everyone would be a published author.

I may forget to take my phone with me, but when I go anywhere I have an A6 size notebook and pen. Like Louis de Bernieres I take a bath and use this time to read fiction! No iPad. Fewer showers. Currently reading 'The Time Traveller's Wife' and 'Never Ending Story'. 

When I get up, very early, I flick over two hourglasses: one is 30 minutes, the other an hour. I like the 'reward' of getting 30 minutes in. I may forget where time is going after an hour or so. 2,000 words a day ought to be about right. Less happens. More happens. Then the rest of the day takes over - often until the early hours of the following morning. I read over a few pages before I go to sleep and sometimes the Muse rewards me in the early hours ... or torments, or deserts me. 

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

Girls are of significant importance

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 2 Dec 2014, 17:43

Age 14 1/2 having kept a diary for a year this heading to a daily entry just caught my eye - that was rather the theme for the next 14 1/2 years until I was suitably swept off my feet, she said yes and we've lived hoppily ever after. 

You keep a diary and there can be only one thing of lasting interest - relationships. 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Oh cripes! 'Our' blog goes social

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 2 Dec 2014, 17:38
From E-Learning V

Fig.1 Great North Road, Melton Park. 45/49 to Newcastle

As I reach towards FIVE years on this OU Student Blog platform I have seen a number of tweaks and 'improvements'. This addition of social tabs: Facebook, Google and Twitter will add fuel to rich content that has bubbled away here for a long time. The massive public voice this brings will add a dynamism that is latent. A link to WordPress would save me cutting and pasting over there.

It has to be a case of one careful step after another, though if FutureLearn is anything to go by there are a few more tabs and tools to add in due course to help those in this environment, rather than beyond it, to filter and follow the conversations that have most relevance and resonance to them.

For the last five years I felt that this blog platform at best was like hanging around in a bus stop chatting to a few other travellers, some in passing as they got off or made a run for it, a few of us hanging about like teenagers, others simply arriving at the same spot on a regular basis between classes.

Makes me think of going to school. There was a social side to getting the bus that I lost when I got a moped smile 

How this translates into a connected and collaborative sharing and learning experience should be interesting.

The Open University was made for the Internet; though it is yet to show its deserved dominance globally. Nothing I've seen from potential interlopers get close. It is like comparing other broadcasters to the BBC: none get close. Many universities do different things than The OU, but none yet have the opportunity to dominate global e-learning.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Who gets my things after I've taken my life?

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:06
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. FutureLearn Start Writing Fiction

As a Master of Arts: Open and Distance Education I will give all kinds of things a go. I've done a few FutureLearn MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). This eight week course on writing fiction from the OU looks like being one of the biggest; the OU pedigree also shows - the thinking and 'broadcast quality' of the video pieces shows compared to material put up by some universities.

Activities, activities, activities I remember someone saying from the OU when it came to designing learning online. This course is a little bit of telling, a bit of doing, that a lot of sharing. You can be thinking up a comment and before you post there can be five or six posts 'land' ahead of you. There are 1000+ responses to a thread. To some this is daunting. To those not used to these environments it may be off-putting. When you get used to it its fine, like going to a huge nightclub in London that's on several floors rather than a mate's part in their front lounge.

In this exercise we watched a clip of a dozen folk going about the daily business; all had feature in the opening piece about writing, so most are 'at it' pen on paper, into the laptop or onto an iPad. We are invited to take a person or moment and invent a story from it. I had never consciously done this before and was delighted with the effect, not trying to figure out what people really are doing, but rather inventing something for them.

From E-Learning V

Fig. 2. From an activity in 'Start Writing Fiction' from FutureLearn

I have a young woman innocently keeping a 'writer's journal' who I decide is writing suicide notes to five or six people; she puts a key from the bunch in each envelope, posts off the letters then kills herself. A bit morbid. I suppose I should now figure out why, and reveal what is behind each key.

Go see.

FutureLearn Start Writing Fiction

See also how a shared, threaded forum such as this can be used to create a vibrant asynchronous conversation with several hundred, even thousands of people. Several things FutureLearn do which would work well here: word count limited to 1200 characters, 16 minutes timed out having posted to edit - then its done. A 'like' button and an easy way to keep abreast of comments left in a discussion you have started or joined without having to try to find it.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

The value to you of keeping a diary or learning journal

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:32
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. March 1975 ....

I kept a diary for twenty years: age 13 1/2 to my forties ... with a few months off from decade to decade. It is self-indulgent navel gazing to look back at its contents which I do extremely rarely. An indulgent scrapbook thing covering a teen exchange to France is fun; did a Mars Bar really once cost 3p !! And a photo journal of a five month gap year job working my arse off in a hotel in France too. And have a vibrant record of children from birth to walking and talking too. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.2. A reading list from 1978

It always amazes me should I stumble upon an old school text book or any of the above as my mind is instantly taken back and I am flooded with boyish ideas.

This blog is something else.

This is a Learning Journal and Portfolio and I've kept it since February 2010. Just about all a module's activities go in here (40% hidden). I know where to find stuff because I've tagged it all. Needing to assess how far I have come, and what themes I can see, what I know and can apply from the seven MAODE modules I have completed - five completed the MAODE, the following two could go towards a M.Ed or MSc.

It is fulfilling in itself as an aide memoire to be reminded of how much I have covered, what therefore I should know, how I learn this and in the context of the changing technology how rapidly things are moving. Learning is evolving fast and in due course we'll look back at what has happened and compare it to how we no buy books online, how we book holidays online, and how we communicate with each other. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.3. The wonders of FutureLearn

At the minute e-learning is like a firework that has just exploded; we are watching it in awe. At some moment a thousand fireballs will light up the clouds and we'll take in the whole picture and conclude that things have changed forever.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Without tagging this is your blog

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:53
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. The contents of your learning journal, or e-portfolio or blog could look like this

As I'm prompted to do so, or is this just a MAC thing? I now tag documents downloaded to my desktop. They can be found wherever I or the operating system has buried them.

I tag religiously here (except, since a month ago, when writing from my iPad as it crashes the page and the iPad ?!).

I tag for a number of reasons:

I jot down ideas and thoughts, facts, even grab, cut and paste stuff that may be of use later so tag it so that I can tickle it out later as the mood or need fancies.

By tagging by module, and by activity you can then regularly go back and add a further tag as you plan a TMA (tutor marked assignment) or EMA (end of module assignment). For example, L120 is my current module. I will (or should) add L120A1 perhaps or L120S1 to identify an activity or session (NOT necessarily shared at all if I am giving away answers potentially or breaching copyright too blatantly by privately 'curating' content). Potentially L120TMA1 obviously helps me pull out content pertinent to this. That's the idea anyhow. The OU used to have an e-portfolio called MyStuff, a bit clunky, but it did this and then allowed you to re-shuffled the deck as it were, to give order to the things you picked. In theory you then have a running order for an assignment.

Tag clouds, number of tags or simply the weight and size of the font, indicates the strength and frequency of certain themes and ideas. When playing with the idea of an 'A-to-Z of e-learning' it was easier for me to see, under each letter, what I ought to select ... and then immediately have a load of examples, some academic, some anecdotal, all personal to me, at hand.

I come here to find things I've lost! Amongst 20,000 saved images I know I have a set from early training as a Games Volunteer for the London Olympics. I searched here, clicked on the image and thus found the album in Picasa Web (now Google Pics). Why can't I do that in my picture/photo pages? Because I never tagged the stuff. There is no reliable search based on a visual - yet.

No one can or should do this for you.

My blog and e-portfolio is fundamentally and absolutely of greatest value to me alone. So why allow or encourage others to rummage in the cupboards of my brain? Because it tickles and stimulates me to share views, find common or opposing views and to believe that others are getting something from it.

 

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Cathy Lewis, Wednesday, 8 Oct 2014, 12:46)
Share post
Design Museum

L120: Session 1 - Activité 1

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 6 Oct 2014, 07:56
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. L120. Ouverture. Intermediate French

Revelations and reflection. Activité 1

Whilst my comprehension is 90% correct the mistakes I make could be and were/are a significant problem if or when working in France. I get dates like 1936, but can too easily mistake 17h00 for 19:00 i.e. 'dix sept heure' is NOT seven O'clock of course, but by the 24 hour clock it is 7. I'm also lazy: I chance my response where I could have listened a second time and got something correct. 

It is far too easy, when only listening, to make up a meaning for a new word and therefore make major mistakes.

Translating, as if literally to English is a huge mistake. A couple of examples include the use of the word 'profiter' in French which as nothing to do with 'making a profit', but rather, a nuanced English use, 'to take advantage of ...' in this instance, the sun and sea on a holiday by the coast in the summer. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.2. Learning where, what and why 'Pondichéry' is. A bit of history and geography with L120

Lack of adequate understanding of how France has retained some of its tiniest colonies around the globe as 'French departments' had me wondering why an indian looking gentleman could possibly come from a small island in the south atlantic, actually he was taking about the south of india. And I neither knew where, nor can I still pronounce this one:

From E-Learning V

Fig.3. La Ciotat

It would be brilliant if when listening to a French person you could have their words as subtitles ... maybe this is a trick that Google glass will deliver in due course. Not a translation, but the words as text to help with comprehension until you can hear and see for yourself the words that are being used without making it up or guessing. 

I jotted down a few linking phrases, those fillers too that we use that add colour and credibility to any spoken language:

  • car
  • bonne
  • ailliers
  • plutôt 
  • ça depends

Checking the spelling was vital too, and not just figuring out how to get the French accents on the QWERTY keyboard but doing so. I had 'ailleurs' as 'yiers' or some such. 

And also a few terms and phrases that I liked, possibly because of the English derivations or equivalents and will use:

  • le rush d'été
  • tourisme en masse
  • idéale

Pronounce a word like 'idéale' correctly and you can fool them that you are French ... you can even take French words we use in English and add a French accent, though saying 'amelioration' is equally pretentious in both languages. Many French people when speaking English will trip on the word 'Idea' and pronounce it 'Idéa' even if they've lived here for decades; who'd correct them though?

A few hours into L120 and of course I crave to be back in France

I must also reflect on the learning design and platform. I've done a year of Rosetta Stone - the ultimate 'gamified' language learning platform. L120 does, understandably, feel more like being back at school. But that's what I need; it shouldn't be easy to learn anything, or how else can you learn? Rosetta Stone becomes very repetitive. You learn through tireless repetition, through immersion and ultimately by default. You won't ever be able to say why a thing is done one way or another, just that it is ... that it sounds or feels right. i.e. how an infant learns a language.

As a adult learner I think we need to be told why a thing is too i.e. have a variety of ways, even if it takes a few moments to think about it, to get something right.

A very, very different way to learn that taking a humanities module, but also exploiting many e-learning tools and methodologies in a different way. I have to wonder how such practices could translate into other subjects, that learning some things 'parrot fashion' could be beneficial whether learning history, geography or medicine: that you have to have the accurate facts and figure in your brain before you can use these facts. 

On verra.

Why blog this?

There are a number of ways to look at this: the value to me, and as I perceive it the value to others ... playing the game and my belief and understanding of how learning online in a 'connected' world works.

The value to me: as a learning journal. A record, tagged liked this, is a fabulous aide memoir. I could and nearly did do this on paper, but these get lost. I couldn't find a new exercise book anyway.

The value to others: the spirit of learning in the OU community, particularly in the student forums for your own module, is to share your thinking in order to stimulate and engage in an asynchronous conversation: had I been on a residential course much of the above would have come out over coffees and meals.

So why blog 'to the world', and in my case copy this or some if it, in due course to my external blog 'my mind bursts'?

Pride in the Open University is part of it. Why not plug something I love and would recommend to others?

Comments and contact: The stats say and I know that comments form a tiny fraction of viewers to a page, perhaps as low as 1%. Just this 1% I find of huge value; by finding a common interest, often beyond the confines of the module and this intake of students, I find the information begins to embed in my longterm memory. I know no other way of doing it as my brain is my sieve than sponge - everything gets filtered out and transformed unless I engage with it in a variety of ways.

And I am as interest in the e-learning and learning design of a module as I am in the content that I wish to learn. I have those interested in e-learning too to share with. 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

memory

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014, 04:11

My starting point if I am to think threw what I understand, misunderstand and don't know about memory is to flick through this blog. What I get therefore are triggers into previous ideas, notes, articles and thoughts. These are of far greater worth than simply doing a Google search or using wikipedia as there is already some association here. By going back to these pages a multitude of catalysts and sparked into action in my brain. All I then have to do is synthesise my ideas and form a new, or refined view. 

Memory 55 tags
Life logging 3 tags
Forgetting 5 tags
Forgetting curve 1 tag
Sensecam 2 tags
Memory making 1 tag
Neuroscience 36 tags
OII (Oxford Internet Institute) 36 tags
Journal 36 tags
Ebbinghaus 7 posts
Qstream 7 posts
Kerfoot 7 posts
Dementia 1 post
Parkinsons 1 post

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Beware of Phishing ...

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 15 Aug 2014, 12:33

You'd think I'd be more savvy. Recently I've had an authentic looking email and webpage link from the Inland Revenue suggesting I had a small tax rebate ... only on clicking on links from this that looped back to the same page did I realise something fishy was going on. The recent scam of emails from 'me' came about as I succumbed to what appeared to be an email from AOL saying the storage on my account had reached capacity - plausible having had an AOL account since they took over Compuserve in 1996. WRONG! This was the breach which has seen several hundred emails going to my contact list. AOL have now blocked this. If in doubt phone or text me and judge for yourself. Asking some question like, 'what did we call strawberry sauce on an ice-cream in Beadnell in the 1960s might do it!!'

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 17 Aug 2014, 10:25)
Share post
Design Museum

Touch Typing Basics

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 19 Jul 2014, 08:09

Fig. 1. Touch Typing Basics

Thank you Ourania Kuomi for pointing me towards this; I have a few foibles to fix with my touch typing. I also need a larger keyboard.

She's writing a comprehensive blog on her MBA experiences too. Worth a read. 

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Is falling in love linear?

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 21 Jun 2014, 08:09

 Fig.1 A teenager on a quest for love

As a sixteen year old virgin the feelings I had for a girl had me indulging the sensations and plotting where it would go. It ended in tears - she took a fancy to my older brother. If anything happened, it was all in my head. She said I was in love with the idea of being in love. True. I wanted to record and reflect on all that I was going through, attempting to find a pattern in it. Any pattern, any model, is a crude simplification of reality. Learning above love or learning about learning as I've been doing these last four years is just as messy. 

There's a dangerous interface between the academic and the popular, the scholarly paper and the journalist, where a plausible hypothesis passes for the truth. In the New York Times earlier last week a reporter interpreted the entry in a blog where the author suggests that learning isn't linear, but logarithmic. There's a ring of truth to it: achieving a grade, for example, above a certain figure (it differs by person, subject, module, stage in learning, proficiency and aptitude for the subject). There's also a ring of truth in the suggestion that some things are toughest at the beginning, while others are toughest at the end. The mistake is to think that such a model can be applied universally.

Any linearity is a model, an interpretation of reality, not reality itself. Several models I would refer to as alternatives to logarithmic and exponential, offered by this author and the NY Times journalist's misinterpretation would be:

 Fig.2 In the flow

a) a straight diagonal line at 45 degrees with 'In the flow' as the title to illustrate the theory of getting 'in the flow' as a product of responding to stress on the one hand and learning or coaching to meet the challenge on the other as developed over decades by Miihaly Csikszentmihalyi

 

Fig. 3. The Forgetting Curve

b) the 'forgetting curve' developed over a century ago by Hermann Ebbinghaus

Fig.4. The Learning Cycle

c) the learning cycle, so a circle, developed by David Kolb.

 

Fig. 5 The learning thermal

d) My take on this is of an ascending spiral - which assumes constant progress. The reality is that we often hit turbulence, change or minds, come back to ground, gain a propeller, lose a leg ... Enough. I'll work this up when I can in a separate 'paper' and post in due course.

Oh heck. There are another two models I need to add to this:

 

Fig. 6 Activity Theory

e) Activity Theory, which is a triangle with six interconnected nodes (Yrjo Engestrom) and 

 

Fig. 7. Network Theory

f) 'connectedness' (George Siemens claims credit) which is the 21st century take on an ever-present vision of how we learn ... which is related increasingly to 'network theory' which is complemented by current thinking on neuroscience - put crudely that all thoughts and ideas, their creation and memory are the product of the brain connecting at least seven now recognised clusters in different parts of the brain. Is 'network theory' the science behind the assumption of connectedness though?

 

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 21 Jun 2014, 13:36)
Share post
Design Museum

New blog post

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 9 Jun 2014, 00:08

 

Perhaps these could be the guidelines for contributing to a community blog such as this?! 

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 10 Jun 2014, 08:24)
Share post
Design Museum

B is for Blogging

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 09:15

For an A to Z of E-learning this is the easiest letter to fulfil. I could write a book on blogging alone. Indeed it's about time I stopped accumulating and writing on blogging and instead my bit to push it as a platform for education good.

Why blog?

  • As a learning journal or e-portfolio
  • To share research
  • To build and retain an audience
  • For professional credibility
  • For a personal and professional to create and keep a social media presence
  • To connect with others.
  • To find 'like minds'

I did a Mindmap too, some 24 reasons why an academic should blog, and another one for students. Even if you post privately there is value, that grows over the weeks and years, to have so much content logged, tagged and in one place. 

If you have some other 'Bs' to add to an 'A to Z of e-learning' please offer them. 

  • Helen Beetham
  • Blook (this is what a publisher thought a book from a blog should be called in 2006)

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Tony Benn - on keeping a diary for 50 years

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 15 Mar 2014, 07:04


20140314-203401.jpg

 

I am apolitical. My in-laws used to laugh, saying they cancelled each other out: Tory, Labour and Liberal. (That's, mother, father and grandmother). I never asked and could never figure who voted which way; they kept their politics to themselves. I have voted in all directions from green through blue to yellow and red - I cancel myself out. I often vote different ways in local and national elections only voting for the person, not their party. In fact I wish political parties could be banned, so, I guess like Tony Benn, you can be your own person rather than being forever held to and subjugated by the party thinking.

That's me on politics - an agnostic in religion, indifferent in politics.

Here though to pick up on a phrase used on the BBC obituary yesterday regarding his fifty years of keeping a diary (written, then audio). His view, probably expressed to a journalist to keep things short, was that 'something happens, you write it down, you re-read it, then realise that you were wrong'.

In the aggregation of events, and musings, self-analysis is surely just as capable of creating such an aggregating of similar events and thoughts that you become entrenched, rather than transformed? Surely a bit of both is the reality. Or does it make any difference at all. 

I've kept a diary and blog and relate to several others who do the same - the diary/blogging thing is part of who you are or have become, you do it out of habit, like saying your prayers at night. I cannot see across any of these people, especially those published diarists, that suggests that in any way the act of keeping the diary changed them. I rather think the opposite, that those who keep a diary are very set in their ways.

There's barely been a module across the Master of Arts Open and Distance Education (MAODE) that hasn't expected students to blog. I wonder if this though isn't for purposes of reflection, but is a learning journal or portfolio of work, a accumulation and aggregation of course work and themes upon which you build you knowledge. In these instances reading over does adjust your thinking, you become fluent in the language of your subject and wise to the ideas rather than ignorant of them. That should be self-evident in the diary I have kept here for four years.  

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Matt Hobbs, Friday, 14 Mar 2014, 21:30)
Share post
Design Museum

On blogging. It isn't for the most part. Thoughts on my own future tracks

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 6 Mar 2014, 12:18

I posted my first content to an 'online journal' - no one called them blogs way back then, on the 24th September 1999. I've been at it ever since - every day for at least the first four years then I reviewed my practice, split into a number of parts and specialised. I also took an MA in the next best thing 'Open and Distance Education' (MAODE). So, yes, blogging fascinates me. Twitter as a 'microblog' is not - it is chatting. And many so called blogs are actually something else too - corporate marketing brochures, magazines, radio shows, TV channels, photo dumps and galleries. For me, and those of us writing in 'Diaryland' over a decade ago a blog, like a diary, is something you kept up every day, reflected your daily life and was largely secret: you wrote amongst friends rather than to an audience. This meant that they remained authentic, deep, even 'in confidence'. Has all of that been lost? I wonder. 

What we have here is either a 'learning journal' or 'an e-portfolio' - that's if you want to attach it directly to your studies. Because of it's odd nature and history it is also what was once called a 'Bulletin Board', indeed, I had a go of an early one right here - sort of, that as on a Masters in Open and Distance Learning module in 2001. It really was posting to a bulletin board, a sentence or two attached to any others that were going up. More like an early version of a Student Forum.

Having said all of this, as a direct result of just completing H818: The Networked Practitioner  (EMA away last night). I plan to review, refine and redirect my blogging behaviour. Here it will be business as usual, though only if my relationship with the Open University is continued in some capacity or other (I got up early to do some application forms). Beyond these 'walls' I will professionalise my blog on e-learning and post continent aimed squarely at practitioners - for educators, on learning. I do think the 'e' is redundant regarding e-learning, indeed the 'm' from mobile learning is redundant too. Currently at 'My Mind Bursts' this will go into the fledgling 'Mind Bursts' which will go live once I've got 100 of my choicest posts in there. Or, 25 ... my 'A to Y' of learning, named so courtesy of the Open University where you will find the Computer Help Desk has no 'Z', so don't think you can look up 'zipping files' as I did while struggling to post an EMA. The response I got back was characteristically obtuse. 

The blog I stopped posting to on swimming teaching and coaching (I did for ten years as a direct consequence of taking my kids down to the pool eleven years ago) gets more views per day than any of my other blogs - go figure! It is useful. I answer direct daily questions. The biggest 'seller' is the 45 minute lesson plan for teaching or coaching swimming - I have all strokes, all stages and all problems addressed. That should tell me something. More at the catchily named 'Coaching and Teaching Swimming'.

This by the way is called 'reflection'. I should have Kolb's Learning Cycle spinning through my head right now. I don't. My head is fudge and I need the coffee that is brewing on my desk,

The other blog, 'That's Nothing Compared to Passchendaele', which requires and deserves tidying up started out as the memoir of my late grandfather, a machine gunner in the First World War - the only one who survived it would appear. Actually, in 1992 there was a 75th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Ypres) and there were four of them. One was an ammunition carrier. The other two were machine gunners, you could tell from their thumbs - like the beak of a spoonbill, squished flat from periods of anxiety pressed against the triggers of a Vicker's MKII Machine Gun. Like the swimming thing I need to hone this down to a resource of value - just his story, his words (over three hours of interviews) and photographs with references which would do the historian in me proud.

There will be a lot of 'ditching of babies' - there will be a good deal of painful unknitting of layouts and extraction. 

Are these blogs? Actually no. I ought to think of them as books and give them the professional focus that is required before you can go to print.

And finally, a blog on the use of Quick Response codes in education. This as a consequence of H818 and the ten minute presentations we gave a couple of weeks ago.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Blogging here for four years

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 6 Feb 2014, 08:26

A year ago OU Computer Services undid my hard work and the tagging of some 2000 posts here was lost - all attempts to get an explanation, or apology or a fix have failed. This is what I find the OU can do - silence when it suits them. No one will answer because to apologise would be to admit fault. Having invested so much time in what is a record, learning journal and eportfolio it is galling. At least I was well down the line of cutting and pasting it all into an external blog, but this still does not change the fact that I was using the blog to aggregate themes and ideas which they destroyed. A blog that we are encouraged to use and we have access to for three further years beyond graduation. I am a student first, but also a customer who had no forked out £x,000 to be here. If I press hard enough I will get some legalease that will point out that the OU can do as they please.

So much for the power of the digital - I should have hand written it all into notebooks.

Four years ago I decided to complete a learning journey I started in 2001 - redundancy and the loss of a parent tripped me up that time. Over the last four years I have lost a second parent, a mother in law and changed jobs twice, though I am yet to fulfil the promise that I thought eLearning offered. There is no doubt that graduating in 2003 rather than 2013 would have made me stand out whereas now I am just one of many. Then to have the MAODE still requires a subject specialism ...

There is a risk that my being here could continue as MSc and PhD look attractive as does Higher Education rather than L&D. I will blog, on my terms, in WordPress and keep a presence here as long as I am doing an OU module - which currently stretches to my seventh.

Something I never contemplated and will challenge me for another five months is to find myself a masters student of three universities - Open, Birmingham and Brookes. You could say that I have caught this learning bug, or am reverting to type - an insatiable curiosity that no book or TV programme alone can satisfy. There is an urge to do a further MA in Environmental Change when an MA in First World War studies ends in 2015. To what end? The intention has always been to apply my learning rather than to wallow in it, for the experience to be a catalyst for output.

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 6 Feb 2014, 14:55)
Share post
Design Museum

Too busy to blog?

Visible to anyone in the world

Too busy to reflect or to remember? Your brain is like Gouda - a blog can fill in some of the holes. 

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

Four Years Blogging here

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014, 13:02

It just dawned on me that I am two weeks short of blogging here for four years. Recently, and for this module in particular, my blogging has greatly diminished. This is a shame as it is an invaluable resource for me: it is an open eportfolio where notes and activities from the modules, usually with adequate referencing, allows me to search for and quickly make fully cited points in assignment. 

Two parents have died over this time: my mother and my mother-in-law. My step-father was within hours of passing away but somehow survived pneumonia and is out of intensive care and feelingsorry for himself that he is still around sad

Teens are passing through A' Levels and GCSEs.

Interviews to undertake PhD research just fell short last year. The applications start going in again this week though in truth and out of necessity, as had always been the plan, the corporate world of learning and development (L&D) beckons me back.

My step brother found my grandfather's ashes in the bottom of an old cupboard in the barn. I have him with me. The temptation is to chat with him about all that I am coming to understand about the First World War in which in served first as a machine gunner, then in RFC/RAF as a flight cadet and fighter pilot. Having left school at 14 to work his education never had the chance to develop as he would have liked. I'll fill him in. He'd be fascinated to know why the things that happened happened that way: the Somme and Paschendaele in particular. He'd have an iPod too. The technological advances would have thrilled him - this from a boy who remebered the first car and going to an exhibition of flying to see an aeroplane.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Blogging as an acdemic and scholarly acitivty

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014, 13:00

What's going on in there? How do bloggers react, respond and coalesce?

Anjewierden, A. (2006) Understanding Weblog Communities Through Digital Traces: A Framework, a Tool and an Example.

My own interest was sparked by an article in the Washington Post on Ellen Levy who had spent 1998 keeping a journal and putting it online.

Druckerman, P (1999) Ellen Levy Has Got The Write Project For the Internet Age --- It's a Year of Scribbling Down Almost Everything; Ah, Yes, It Was a Raisin Bagel

This ‘user generated content’ has value to its author and the community that reads it. This is a key outcome of open, collaborative and connected learning, where the blogger is a ‘produser’.

Efimova, Lilia (2008) Bloggers and 'produsers'

Having blogged consistently since this period it is interesting to understand that as it encroached upon student and academic practice, as it was impinging on journalism, that it was considered disruptive.

Fiedler, S. (2004) Introducing disruptive technologies for learning: Personal Webpublishing and Weblogs, Part I

While my passion felt like a niche practice it has been of value to see blogging recognised.

Kaiser, S. (2007) Weblog-technology as a trigger to elicit passion for knowledge 

Why MAODE students blog (Kerewella et al, 2009) depends on their perceptions of, and for:

  • an audience
  • community
  • the utility of and need for comments
  • presentational style of the blog content
  • overarching factors related to the technological context
  • the pedagogical context of the course 

Kerawalla, L, Minocha, S, Kirkup, G, & Conole, G  (2009) An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging in higher education

Knowing the practice to be of value personally as part of a number of specialist groups made research on blogs as wikis, Sauer (2005) or as e-portfolios of interest.

Sauer, Igor M. (2005) “ Blogs” and“ Wikis” Are Valuable Software Tools for Communication Within Research Groups

As Smolkin (2007) points out it is about creating or finding and then sharing your niche - in this case the niche being personal stories of participants, witnesses and combatants in the First World War.

Smolkin, Rachel (2007) Finding a Niche. (cover story)

This is a key outcome of open, collaborative and connected learning, where the blogger is a ‘produser’. Efimova (2008) It has taken over a decade, but blogging is now considered to be a valid, scholarl acitivity. Weller (2012).

Weller, Martin (2012) The virtues of blogging as scholarly activity

 Bishop, D. (2013) ‘Blogging as post-publication peer review: reasonable or unfair?’ LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog. 21 March.

Available at:http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/

impactofsocialsciences/ 2013/ 04/ 15/ blogging-as-post-publication-peer-review-reasonable-or-unfair/

 

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

H818 Activity 1.1 Reflection on how collaboration works and fails

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 4 Dec 2014, 07:47

Collaboration amongst strangers is a tricky one. I've seen it work and I've seen it fail.

either

1) It requires scaffolding in the form of rules, or guidelines, mentor or leaders, and incintives in the form of punishments and rewards i.e. the risk of failure as well as recognition and some kind of reward (which might be a qualification, a monetary award, or part of a completed artefact, or pleasure of participation).

2) It requires people with an obsessive common interest; I don't believe having a common interest is enough. There needs to be an obsession, which means that the level of expertise can be mixed, indeed, thinking of the John Seely Brown concept of 'learning from the periphery' this might be best as invariably the natural human response IS to support those on the edge. The classic example is the young and eager student or junior employee keen to learn from his or her elders.

My concern with the role of collaboration in a module on e-learning is that the above don't fully apply. We are not GCSE or A'Level students. Most are MA ODE students who need this towards their MA, but I'll stick my head out and say the pass mark is, in my opinion, too low. I believe that it matters to be paying for it out of your own pocket or to have a commercil sponor expecting results. I know that some working for the OU do these modules almost on a whim because they are free and they do the minimum to pass - I've seen this on various courses,  seen it myself and have had it corroberated by other students. Anyone who is along for the ride in a module that relieson collaboration is a weak link - of course plenty of OU people do take seriously, but some don't and no line manger is looking over thre shoulder. At Carnegi Melon they ran an MA course where students gave each other, on a rolling basis, a mark for collaboration - those with the lowest mark risked failing that module. In fairness some people are not born collaborators, whereas others go out of their way to be a participant, potenially at the expensive of other parts of their studies.

To my tutor group I've posted too long a piece on a collaborative exercise I have been doing on and off for the best part of twenty years - I'm researching and writing my grandfather's memoir from the First World War. The Internet has exposed me (in a good way) to several sleuths.

I can however give an example of the learning design MOOC earlier this year that whilst having a good deal of scaffolding and human support relied on strangers each coming up with project ideas then joining forces to complete one. In a rush of activity, with some big name e-learning folk and too much formal theorizing, reading and activities to groups formed. I had no takers and joined a group of three that became five, but very quickythis became two of us ... we gamefully pressed on but at some stage felt we were missing out on the real action so eventualy pulled out as active participants.

Then there is a two week exercise in a subgroup of an MA ODE module where circumstances brought a magic bunch of strangers together - this has proved to be the exception rather than the rule.

Amateur dramatics, even volunteer cricket, to take a couple of examples, work because the show is the collective reward. We have bonfire societies here in Lewes that rely on volunteers too - though the complaint will be that it is always the same handful of people who do everything. In a work or academic setting should everyone be rewarded and recognised in the same way? It depends very much on a group dynamic or bond, a common sentiment that comes from working together in the flesh.

I believe that the First World War, now that I am an active member of a society and studying it on a formal course, is largelly of the type 2 participant. We are 'trainsporters' in that nerdy, glazed eye way - with specialists who know everything about uniforms, or tunnelling, or submarines, or dental decay on the Western Front, or a particular general, or like me - a grandfather, or greatgrandfather who was a combatant.

My worry about e-learning as a collaborative arena is that it is the process, so we are a cookery or gardening club. However, there is significant variation in each of these - vegetarian cooks, cupcake bake off specialists and Heston Blomenfal wannabes - amongst the gardens their are PhD research students growing dwark barley and weekenders who've keep an allotment. Whilst we have interst and the module to sustain us, only in a conort of 1000 or more would for some, there be enough likeminds to form a team.

I'm off to the School of Communication Arts in London. It operates from a workshop like open studio. Students are put into pairs to work. There is collaboration here between an art director (visualiser) and copywriter (words). Whether students are forever looking each other's shoulders when they are working on a competitive brief is another matter. I've noticed how one creative brief given to the whole studio has now become three. What is more, the 'collaboration' as such, comes from a couple ofcfull time tutors, principal and then a 'mentors' who go in as a sounding board cum catalyst cum different voice or perspective. What these people are doing is 'creative problem solving'.

Why, historically, does one band stay together while another falls apart? Collaboration is a tricky business - and maybe only in a business setting between employer and employee, or between contractor and client can it be sustained?

Permalink
Share post
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

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: 5190422