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Why the world wide web 2.0 changes learning forever.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 22 Dec 2020, 20:51

A pedagogy of abundance explains a good deal and changes everything



From Dion Hinchcliffe

A pedagogy of abundance

This forms a chapter in Martin Well's new book.

If you are studying the Masters in Open and Distance Education MAODE (any module) with The OU you need to read this.

Weller takes us through a series of clearly expressed, persuasive steps, a brief history about the more recent shifts in education and how Web 2.0 changes everything.

I conclude that the nature of learning is reverting to its natural, un-institutionalised and a pre-formal classroom based model, whereby you learn on the fly vicariously, turning to groups and individuals of your own choosing, exploiting the abundance of the web to inform and connect, an apprentice of anything, perhaps even at times with a tutor or fellow students, in an experience that is more akin to that of a governess to child, or tutor to older student or expert and scholar.

Boyer (1990) established what scholars do

1) Discovery

2) Integration

3) Application

4) Teaching

It intrigues me that this set of activities or practices is precisely what one does in social media:

1) Seeking out through research those 'spheres of influence' where the discussions are generating something fresh and pertinent, that is informed, even scholarly and that you proactively integrate this 'sphere of influence' which might be an individual (blog, podcast, video) or a social media platform group, into your own online 'realm of thinking' through bookmarks, joining a group (and engaging in its vortex).

2) Engaging tentatively in some forums.

3) From observation on the periphery (Seely-Brown) to growing levels of participation you gain the confidence to apply what you understand to the degree that you too in turn not only express your thoughts in blogs, forums and discussion groups, but

4) find yourself teaching others, itself a learning experience. Weller implies that to understand what could happen in education we ought to consider the shift in the way in which we purchase digital artifacts compared to the physical object, that just as the abundance of music, movies and books in digital form has altered our behaviours regarding shops and shopping, so the ready availability of digitised learning materials is inevitably altering the way students view and purchase education.

We are moving from a model based on the economics of scarcity to an economics of abundance.

Here, though Weller doesn't offer it, a brief consideration of how centres of learning formed in the distant past is of value. How students gathered around a scholar, then as the technology made possible, books containing information and scholarly thought were gathered into collections.

The student and educators had to be physically present and thus our university towns were formed.

The formation of and subsequent success of establishments such as the Open University (begun 42 years ago) shows that separation of student and campus was possible where the technology and logistics meant that through books, TV, radio, tapes, and subsequently DVDs and the Internet the learning experience could be divorced from the campus. This dependence on the physical artifact is now dissolving too, the expense is no longer represented in the book, indeed the idea of a collection of many chapters in one place is challenged as the Internet allows far greater tailoring of content to the learning object.

Is this not a return to a more natural way of doing things?

Should we be turning for input here from to the social anthropologist and educational psychologist here?

Have we ever learnt in units of engagement that endure through the entire contents of a book in one sitting?

I wonder if the cook book as a model for e-learning is an apt one?

Chris Anderson (2008)

The future modus operandi might be to give away '90% of a product to earn 1 %'. The logic of accepting the way in which digital stuff is created, marketed and sold implies that the 'long tail of higher education' (let's keep kids at school for now), will give much more control to the student purchasing their education; that niche and tailored learning will be desired.

Of far greater worry, unless you and your institution are readily able to embrace change as an early adopter, is that modules themselves, like a set of wikipaedia pages offered in a myriad of personalised sequences, can be assembled like a set of smart Lego bricks by the learner themselves making substantial parts of an institution's functions redundant. Indeed, being able to slot in up-to-date content, easily achieved beyond the confines of a module, is indicative of a weakening in the relationship between institution and student.

There is less dependence on specific course materials when most references can be sourced with ease.

Even the social aspect of the campus based education is challenged

Think of it as a form of tourism, education as an opportunity to socialise, be entertained and to entertain, then this can be done online. (Don't we all go to university as undergraduates for the 'crack'?)

The gap between the physical and the virtual experience has closed

Can learning be purchased, consumed and certified like an eBook from Amazon?

Should the Milton Keynes Campus of the Open University be taking greater head of the vast distribution warehouses of Amazon on the other side of the M1?

Do you need the expert if their insights can be purchased through various forms of asynchronous communication? (a book) Or their synchronous insights and expertise supported by the hour through a webinar or Skype-enabled tutorial? If the sphere of influence is reduced to that of professor and scholar, as that between a piano teacher and pianist do we need the institution at all?

And in a world where all qualifications are not the same even if they have the same name, is the only outcome that matters for the individual, their job and how they consequently perform (or if it is an MBA how their business performs)?

If the same learning outcomes are offered, using largely the same set of materials in a sequence that is logical and engaging and will in any case be far more challenged or enabled by the context in which the student is learning, then surely the deciding factor is price and the only way to decide on which price to pay has to be a combination of the depths of your pockets and the perceived and actual desirability of the brand.

If Harvard Business School, for example, as the Mercedes of business schools, can now offer, like the car manufacturer, a range of products to suit different pockets, all with the same brand values and distributed with ease over the Internet, then how do others compete?

Or what if its star product, once limited by the physical limitations of a campus and the manageability of a cohort can be purchased by thousands?

Perhaps in a growing market, with significant demand, space remains for many players and new players. However, as any Internet search shows, if you are learning online the deciding point, exactly as a purchase of a packet of Cornflakes, comes as you reach up to the shelf and select product B rather than product A.

Might it be, that having been the only product for several decades, the Open University's 'product A' is competing with a rich alphabet of alternatives, many written and supported without doubt if you look at the lists of academics and personal by people who were originally taught by or taught at The OU.

If the model is to give away the digital object and make money on the physical then Oxbridge, Ivy League and other campus based institutions could potentially increase their intake 12 fold by running all courses online, with physical presence limited to three one week long residential sessions.

The College turns into a B&B with the residents changing every week, rather like the turn around days you have at a resort.

At no stage is contact with fellow students, tutors or the college itself ever diminished, as everyone is readily contactable thanks to a smartphone and a laptop. Likewise distance learning Institutions such as The OU to compete with these upstarts should offer a campus based experience by creating permanent bases strategically all over the world.

  • Freemium
  • The Long Tail

If we think of education as music, then we have two forms, the folk form inexpensively delivered in homes and community spaces and the elite form of the expert or most popular performer in access-restricted palaces and assembly halls. Whilst historically we have seen the music industry of the last century as the democratisation music, in hindsight, with the Internet, even this looks like a restrictive practice, holding purchasers back by the schedule of production, distribution and sales. Books are going the same way as CDs; as both are formats for learning materials, is it not simply the case that with lectures, tutorials and assessment online, that there is an expectation from all quarters that we can have it all, anywhere, any time? And that this can be achieved by any institution. It isn't difficult to digitise content, you simply don't go to print. Brand, like purchasing Cornflakes, the price and what you can afford is the only differentiator.


An activist model.

While access to expertise remains rare, we have access to journals, videos, blogs, podcasts, slidecasts, also discussion forums, comments, and blogs. Weller (2011)

And these experts, certainly in distance learning institutions, are often bound only, like the students, by lengthy threads to remote locations. Their reputation, the weight of their knowledge a product of those parts of their thinking that has been published for public consumption. It then comes down to the quality of learning experience through tutors, online and other support. We should think of each online module as a virtual game, with all those ins and outs and possibilities thoroughly tested for the experience; exactly, in fact, as occurs in the Institute of Educational Technology at The OU.

Siemens (2005) considers the shift to greater control by the learner rather than the institution.

Constructivism, social constructivism and now connectivism are the learning paradigms. If education at close quarters in the Oxbrdige tutorial, involves dialogue, reflection and critical analysis, these are the same qualities that can be achieved online at less cost and at greater convenience.

The essence of learning

Conole (2008) Web 2.0 the collective and the network.

As in the physical world with its cliques and networks, from old school-tie to Free Masons, so online, despite our desire to exploit the ability to connect, there are controls and limits. You cannot wade in and exchange with much authority, the hero expert author of the books or papers yiu have come to admire. Seely-Brown and others are right to consider how all of us, unwittingly or deliberately, first engage as an apprentice of some sort. We must begin on the periphery. If dropped into the heart of things too soon our ignorance will mean we have no purchase at the centre and centrifugal forces will cast us aside.

As one commentator is right to point out, the Internet is the real world. A movie, or novel is fiction, but online with increasing ease, we behave in just the same way with someone a thousand miles away as someone sitting opposite us.

Web 2.0 = niche communities, social purposes, collective political action, amateur journalism, social commentary.

Just as we can have the successful, recognised and respected amateur journalist and amateur sports coach, so surely can we have the amateur academic, if only in the sense that none of these people are paid. We can all surely think of professional journalists, coaches and academics who are amateurish in their words, actions and thoughts. Just as there are successful 'citizen journalists' even the 'amateur novelist' who self-publish are there not likely to be 'amateur scholars' even tutors, anyone with that vocational desire to share their thinking in order to develop the knowledge of others?

Have we not reached a stage with the plethora of quality content online and the multitude of groups that you could join, that you could learn a great deal to a high academic standard or level of performance, entirely for free both in cost terms and the constructs of an educational institution. You may not have the piece of paper at the end of it or the letters after your name, or indeed the title before your name, but when did any qualification qualify you to do something with it?


Seely-Brown and Adler (2008) talk of this shift to participation and demand-pull.

They talk of education being:

  • Free
  • Abundant
  • Varied
  • Easy
  • Socially based Connections light

Shirky (2008) Organisations

User generated content

In a world of abundance the emphasis is less on the creation of new learning materials than on the selection, aggregation and interpretation of existing materials. We don't need more, we need systems that let us draw in the freshest and most significant content on the fly. Dare I also suggest that just as music is easily copied and shared for free, that course content, and the learning design can just as easily be lifted and reconstituted? Weller 2011 i.e. New learning content becomes the remit of students who through the abundance of stuff and connectivity generate new content. The trick is to isolate those places where people of a like-minds gather. You cannot join more than a handful of groups and take part and so contribute or gain anything. The tasks therefore becomes to find or form such groups.

Barrows and Tamblyn (1980) problem based learning. Is identified as the old way of learning.

That you present a problem then teach a way to solve it.

Wenger (1998) the social role of learning and apprenticeship as 'legitimate peripheral learning'

Bacon and Dillon (2006) Communities of practice.

Siemens and connectivism.

The real issue is user-based content. Eric Schmidt, CEO Google. More content is generated and put online in any two days in 2011 than was created, published or broadcast between the development of the first means of mass distribution, the printing press and the coming of the Internet. We do in our millions, with extraordinary ease, in 48 hours what had taken some 600 years to do.


Weller, M. (2011) in Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, 249 pp223-236


Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 26 Jun 2011, 03:15)
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H800 Wk13 Activity 4b Frankly, Prensky and his lot deserve to be lampooned and satirised

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 4 Oct 2012, 11:41

W 13+14: Activity 4b: Making sense of the student experience

Read Bennett et al. (2008) ‘The “digital natives” debate: a critical review of the evidence’.

As you read consider the following questions:


What do you understand by the use of the term ‘moral panic’?

Or the ‘immoral panic’, or the lunacy that has academics and politicians jumping on catch-phrases like ‘the Net Generation’ that are totally sensationalist, eye-catching, worthless, unfounded, claptrap.

In fact they are pandering to our base desires, the belief or wish that there is a narrative to our existence that says it is always rubbish now and can be fixed by reading their book, with its oh too neat title.

Here's another soap-box wonder who believed she had the answer to everything:


Moral panic (Cohen, 1976) … Mary Whitehouse caused many in relation to smut on TV.

There is a pressing need for theoretically informed research – the concept of ‘Digital Natives; is popularist and designed to sell a book(s) and the lecture/consultancy services of the person who coined the phrase, ‘Marc Prensky.’

So what is a ‘moral panic’?

Anything that gets JPF (just plain folk, a John Seely Brown expression I love) feeling anxious, that things on right in their world and the false prophet spouting doom and gloom is also the one with the answers - just follow them! Converts then to rant about this High Priest of the quick fix - Prensky is of course right about everything (just read the pages of gushing enthusiasm that he puts in his books. Try reading them; for a different product much of this would be professionally written to go on the back of a Cornflakes packet). The educational world will be saved from the horrors of the natives gone digital, if we only listen to him (then praise him to the hilt).

The research from Bennett says this about Prensky's thesis:

- Little critical scrutiny

- Undertheorised

- Lack of sound empirical basis

Dangerously Bennett reportsto address this proclaimed challenge, some high-profile commentators are arguing for radical changes in curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and professional in education.’


Prensky and his lot deserve to be lampooned and satirised

Worse, they are given genuine educators working with technology a bad name. Professional educators are on the side of teachers and lecturers creating tools that are convenient, easy, transportable, and hopefully engaging, best of all permitting a large class, or cohort to have some sense of ‘student-centred’ learning through tools that enable a taste of the that priviledged Oxbridge one-to-one tutorial that 800 years on is far from threatened by e-learning and digital everything, indeed it thrives and has become even more precious and valued.

I was suckered into believing Marc Prensky as a naive MAODE student in my first module, H807.

I wanted to believe that Prensky had the answers to everything because I was working in a business in 2000/2001 that wanted clients to believe that if we created immersive, game-like learning online for them their students would teach themselves. Prensky pushed the problem, we offered a response.

This 'Digital Natives' thing is as vacuous as airfreshening devices in the home; it is a marketing gimmic designed to sell a product.

Prensky has no answers, and befuddles it all for us, worse academics have initially picked up his thread and have been terribly slow to get the research done that quite frankly demonstrates the nonsense that has been used to sell Prensky’s books and lecture series.

'Claims are put forward with limited empirical evidence' ( e.g. Tapscott, 1998) or 'supported by anecdotes and appeals to common-sense beliefs' (e.g. Prensky, 2001), who also cites Captain James T Kirk form Star Trek (sic) … as if a fictional character, or the show (rather than its author) should be the one to cite at all.

Were 'Digital Natives' presented as an ECA it might pass, but the feedback would call it 'light' and poorly referenced.

'The reality is complex and diverse', says Bennett not just across a nation, but probably in many classes themselves. It’s as if Prensky and his crew are suggesting that this generation were born with a third eye or six fingers.

(Actually, they are ‘The Simpson’ Generation and we need to worry that they’ll all turn yellow and chop of a finger from each hand).

Can we take seriously an academic writer who cites Star Trek? And references quotes like this? Prenksy says he studied at Princeton and Harvard? What did he study?

Prensky could be, making it up.There is no means to check most of the references, if you can call them that.

I bought 'Educating Digital Natives' it is unacademic twaddle from beginning to end.

It's no better than one of those self-help books you can pick up in an airport.


So what is a ‘moral panic’

Anything that gets JPF (just plain folk, a John Seely Brown expression I love) to have a rant … ideally to rant about how this prophet Prensky is right about everything and the educational world will be saved if we only listen to him (then praise him to the hilt).

What does this article suggest to you about the technological determinist thrust of the Net Generation argument?

Academic writers and current research, writing in calm, objective tones (Kennedy, Conole and others) knock flat every piece of ‘hear say’ from these authors for what it is – journalistic, sensationalist nonsense.

I have to question Marc Prensky’s credentials; I simply cannot believe an academic with a Harvard MA could possibly write like this, indeed I want to ask Harvard to confirm that this is the case.

‘The researchers found that only a minority of the students (around 21%) were engaged in creating their own content and multimedia for the Web, and that a significant proportion of students had lower level skills than might be expected of digital natives.’ (Bennett 2008:02)

Kennedy’s research in Australia says it all.

Emerging technologies are NOT the lifeblood of a generation, far from it. Research amongst students in three Australian universities showed that:

  • 21% blog
  • 24% used social networking
  • 21.5% used podcasts

i.e. far from universal in this generation as the self-publicists of ‘Net Generation’, ‘Digital Natives’ or ‘Millennials’ would have us think.

Is there a theoretical or empirical basis to the arguments that are presented using the terms, Net Generation, Digital Natives or Millennials?

None whatsoever.

As Bennett said, we had a go at kids watching too much TV in the past. This is their lives and ours; it is the world as it is today. Nothing whatsoever has changed physiologically or psychologically about us humans, how we develop and grow.

The concept of any generation been universally similar fails to recognise differences related to:

  • Socio-economic status
  • Cultural/ethnic background
  • Gender
  • Discipline specialisation

Internet use by teenagers is far from uniform

  • Widely varying experiences according to children’s school and home backgrounds (Lee, 2005)
  • Family dynamics
  • Level of domestic affluence

Multiskilling claims … are facts that equate to young people at this stage in their developmental processes and is the same today as it was a thousand or ten thousand years ago – ability to work in fine detail, to work on several tasks at the same time.

‘A significant proportion of young people do not have the levels of access or technology skills predicted by proponents of the digital native idea. Such generalisation about a whole generation of young people thereby focuses attention on technically adept students. With this comes the danger that those less ale will be neglected and that the potential impact of socio-economic and cultural factors will be overlooked’. (Bennett, 2008:02)

Although such claims may appeal to our common-sense perceptions of a rapidly changing world, there is no evidence that multi-tasking is a new phenomenon exclusive to digital natives’, (Bennett, 2008:02)

Just because something resonates with our personal observations doesn’t make it so. Frankly, Prensky et al should be stand-up comics – you have to laugh, at their nonsense and how gullible we are to want to believe them.

‘Generalisations about the ways in which digital natives learn also fail to recognise cognitive differences in young people of different ages and variation within age groups.’ (Bennett, 2008:02)

People change their approach according to their perceptions of the task.

  • ‘It is apparent that there is scant evidence to support this idea, and that emerging research challenges notions of a homogenous generation with technical expertise and a distinctive learning style’. (Bennett, 2008:03)
  • ‘Our analysis of the digital native literature demonstrates a clear mismatch between the confidence with which claims are made and the evidence for such claims.’
  • ‘Arguments are often couched in dramatic language, proclaim a profound change in the world, and pronounce stark generational differences’ (Bennett, 2008:03)
  • ‘Such claims with appeals to sense and recognisable anecdotes are used to declare an emergency situation, and call for urgent and fundamental change.’ (Bennett, 2008:04)

The problem is that Prensky is an easy read.

Too many people prefer this than wading through dry, hard-nosed analysis of the truth. The truth? Business as usual. E-learning to education is what a whole raft of tools were to the housewife in the 1950s and 1960s … they make it easier to get the job done. They make life more convenient.

In the case of education it makes realisation, for some, the dream of more student-centred learning, possible.

If there is a generational shift it ought to be that more people are gaining access to an education on their terms. We have moved from a teacher-centred model of teaching (Kember, 1997) … which only existed/exists of necessity (not everyone has ever been wealthy to give their children a personal governess then tutor) … to supporting students’ active learning, the student-centred model (Gibbs, 1995).

If there is, what do you think are the key features of this change in generations?

How might these changes affect education?

Did serendipity bring me to this?

'An evaluation of students' perceptions and engagement with e-learning components in a campus based university'. (2011) Afam Ituma

All your answers to the MAODE in eight pages.




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H800:61 Wk13 Activity 2a

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 25 Nov 2011, 14:02

There’s far more going on than simply technology and it’s a moot point to know when the technology is changing society or responding to society, the two are in a spiralling dance we see, hear and know more – our close relationships are even closer and then those we have kept at arm’s length are drawn in too.

This might make an interesting debate in Cloudworks. It is one of Grainne Conole’s.

‘The old labels of primary, second and tertiary education and work-based learning perhaps have no meaning now in the complex, changing environment’. (Conole, 2007.02)

And this might be interesting to answer:

What does it mean to be a learner in a modern complex environment?

This is valuable, the set of progressions Conole picks out: monitoring, recording, sharing, aggregating information, synthesising, providing evidence, assessing in from form, validating.

And a reminder of the team behind and beside the student as they learn: ‘the student themselves, of course, is the most important one, but also the peers that they work with the tutors who support them, the course developers who provide the course and the environment for them to work in, the senior managers and other support staff who provide the enabling framework, the quality assurance body and validating bodies, as well as professional bodies and, of course, employers’. (Conole, 2007.03)

And there’s more:

‘Education is no longer simple and classified into different boxes and boundaries, for the wider, societal environment in which students are now working and learning is different and constantly changing’. (Conole, 2007.03)

And interesting take on blogging:

Personal blogs both have the ability to provide personal reflective journal but also as a means of experts providing a filter on a complex changing environment.

But has anything changed?

‘It begs the question of does this offer a whole new dimension of learning or again is it more of the same?’ Conole asks and continues later, suggesting that Web2.0 technology ‘is just an integral part of their toolkit that they use to provide support for their learning. They’re also very critically aware now of the pros and cons of different things and they vote with their feet. If they can’t see the benefit they won’t use it’.

And further thoughts on which to dwell:

‘Because so much content is freely available and easily accessible they view it very differently. It has low intrinsic value. They expect high degrees of interactivity. They expect to be able to mix and match and interact and change’. (Conole, 2007)

And future research?

We’re particularly interested in looking at how students are learning across different boundaries and I think this related very much to progression in terms of breaking down those boundaries or silos I talked about before.

We no longer have primary, secondary, tertiary and work-based learning. The whole thing is mixing and changing and interconnecting.


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H800: 67 WK13 Three presentations on the 'Net Generation'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Sep 2011, 13:09

The Smith and Caruso (2010) ‘The ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology, 2010’ is on objective report, a snap shot in time, professionally executed and commented upon objectively.

Kennedy's survey (2006) ‘Questioning the net generation: a collaborative project in Australian higher education’of the same cohort of undergraduate students from three Australian Universities had an objective, a problem to solve i.e. is there any foundation for the idea of a 'Net Generation', or 'Digital Natives'.

The third type of presentation Conole et al. (2008) ‘“Disruptive technologies”, “pedagogical innovation”: What’s new? is an easy read the style is lucid, persuasive and conversational, as you'd expect from a seasoned speaker.

Each is different and ought to be commented upon for what it purports to be.

The insight here is three fold:

  1. the different ways information is presented,
  2. how all three approaches offer valid course materials or assets
  3. and because of their differences will evoke and expect a correspondingly different kind of comment.

You could say that with each of these in turn presentation style, and the skills at the presentation technique increase, while the academic content becomes diluted, more fluid and conversational. When in comes to comment or critique this should be born in mind; Grainne Conole's presentation would not warrant the kind of scrutiny you'd give a report.

The final step would be an eight minute professional video, or covering all three, drawing in further reports and interviews with the experts and students, a documentary.

Though informative, I'd consider the first and second papers to offer the most calories to a student. The choice is down to the academic team: dean, academic expert and learning designer.


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H800: 60 Week 13*14 Activity 1a Attitudes to and integration of technology into the classroom and lecture hall

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 May 2011, 16:37

As you watch the video consider and make notes on how it relates to the more general findings from the broader research literature discussed earlier.

Also consider the following questions:

  1. Is the message being presented in this visual way any different from the primarily text-based presentation of findings used so far this week?
  2. How important is the medium and the technologies themselves in terms of conveying messages about this research area?
  3. What are the implications for your own practice?

Catchy music. Well exectued. Memorable. Viral.4.5 million views to date.

The execution is persuasive; this is how advertisers do it. You have a message, you find a director who knows how to put it over in way that works.

I've done this myself a few times.

The music is crucial and often not considered in the budget.

Library music might, but rarely works.

Far better to pay for a peice to be composed; I have worked with plenty of student composers who've created a terrifc mood, what I wanted, cued to a click track and the images on the screen. I've also used copyright music and begged persmission from composers, such as some Michael Nyman music I wanted to use.

As a teaser or catalyst at the start of a week (or module,or course) this kind of thing is fantastic, but it is a trailer ... it is not an objective report. The music dictates how the director wants us to think.


These underviewed clips could do with a bit of TLC.

I also need to afford to have them transferred to a higher defintion.

Here's a simply exercise to demonstrate who the music skews the mood, impact and desire outcome; turn off the sound and play the video to 'Anarchy in the UK' the Sex Pistols, or 'She's Like a Rainbow' Rolling Stones. Do you feel so sympathetic now?

Is not this the kind of music played to claw at our heart strings when our charity is being requested to house the homeless and feed the poor?

If you think you can turn a report or piece of research into an objective and compelling piece of TV you are wrong

a) There must be a narrative

b) There is a need for conflict

c) Controversy helps

A polite debate to a live audience that gets out of hand does the trick, but this is hardly the Jeremy Kyle show.

Increasingly, though my background is the spin of advertising and stakeholder communications, I want to learn how to research and present sound, objective facts - the kind of evidence upon which people can act on the basis that the thoroughness and professionalism of the approach has isolated the problems which others can then address.

The nonsense spoken about 'The Net Generation' et al. implies that arming one cohort with laptops (a 1999s thing), now with tablets (preferably an iPad) will deliver.

This ain't how it happens. Never has with technology and never will.

Were I the Headmaster of a school I'd want to see technology used to play to the strengths of the subject being taught.

In art classes and music they are going to get a pad of A3 cartridge paper, some soft pencils, putty rubber and a knife; in music they're going to get an 'unplugged' music instrument to master.

In Chemistry they can have a white board that shows interactive animations of chemical processes taking place in what would otherwise be dangerous experiments.

In H807 I bemoaned the fact that I wasn't being hit with the kind of gizmo-worlds I'd been brought up to create for corporate clients - they want to see their money on the screen. We 'read' for the Masters in Open and Distance Education. When faced with a video, if a transcript isn't provided, I have to take notes verbatim ditto podcasts.

Reading and the technical demands of typing and word-processing might be as far as it needs to go.

Where any technology is less intuitive or easy that word-processing then don't bother. Nor assume people have the 'right' skills - having had a Mac since the early 90s I find some Microsoft software like being presented with a unicycle with a square wheel.

I like the phrases 'disruptive technologies', 'catalysts for change' and 'pedagogical innovation'.

The thing to remember is that one size does not fit all, indeed the technology ought to offer additional variety, not replace what has gone before.

Some 'services' I am so familiar with, as well all, that I wouldn't have thought to suggest they had a role in education; mobile phones, laptops are put of the landscape in work, school and the home. Not all, but many. We must remember the notable exceptions to owning or becoming familiar with these tools.

As for PDAs and memory sticks are these not history? PDAs replaced by SmartPhones and memory sticks replaced by portable hard-drives and the 'cloud'. And thus the demise of Pagers, floppy discs and zip drives.

I still crave a Psion.

Will an iPad fill that gap? Or a Nokia E7? I'm looking for a keyboard and screen that I can treat like a spec case with the power to put people on Mars.

Any suggestions?





Meanwhile, but to the activity at my fingertips:

(We mustn't call them tasks I'm told, sets the wrong tone. So why not e-tivities? Do I need to ask?! I came across someone referring to e-quality and wanted to report them to the abuse of the English Language through the prefixing of 'e.')

The dichotomy between students and staff is slowly disappearing - perhaps it has gone.

There never was a Net Generation in my book, often if is (as we would expect) the teacher who is the master of the technology ... they should be. This is the role we adults have before our children. We teach and nurture them, not the other way around. They generally learn from us, we have to crack it, add and embellish.

Were the students of the 'Pill' Generation in the 1960s not more rebellious then this lot?

Taught by teachers born between two World Wars, the differences must have been extreme. There are of course some biological reasons why until the students are adults, there will be significant barriers and differences. And whose to say, person by person, when intellectually maturity sets in. I'd say that I've only got there in my 50th year - I've enjoyed being a boy too much, until recently I could only be taught like a first year A' Level Student (spoon fed).

Sharpe et al (2005) is a must read for the Masters in Open and Distance Education.

I don't know why it and a couple of other books are boxed up and sent out to anyone who registers early. It is reassuring to return to authors whose voices you come to trust over the 18 or so months.

We learn that students have:

  • A mixed view about technologies
  • Feel pressured to do more (there's little faster or more efficient that simply reading a paper)
  • Have mixed experiences and expectations of their tutor (someone remind us, we are POSTGRADUATES)

Pedagogy (does it work?)

Learner differences (which can be extraordinarily diverse compared to a cohort of undergraduates terming up on campus with the same accent, same outlook, same educational background ... and not that long ago in some Oxford Colleges, the same gender too).

Beetham et al (2005) should be another set book.

By reading MAODE blogs I've spotted in advance the books that are most often refereed to and bought them. I have around a dozen now and had I a hand in reinventing the MAODE far from spending £100k with some of the top video production companies and web agencies in the land to 'pimp it up,' I'd been handing out these books and e-books.

'Distributed collaboration' here we come.

I've often likened the experience of MAODE, or is it just postgraduate learning with the OU, as my head being like the chocolate shaker at Cafe Nero. I've had chocolate pixie dust tipped into my head and someone keeps lifting me up by the ankles like a new born baby and giving me a good shake. My ideas have been turned on their head, not least the desire and interest in sharing whatever I think. It serves a purpose not to be previous about what you think. Not quite like getting it wrong on National Radio and being correctly by a few thousand emails, but you are often set right, or put on the right path, by hearing what your fellow students think.

Find me on Linkedin. I'm forever joining groups and discussions and find the feeds from the busiest groups

Oblinger and Oblinger (2005) Educating the Net Generation sounds like a must read. What are the reviews? I couldn't find it. Or is it a paper? There are plenty of texts written on the theme - most I'd give a wide birth.

Their points are:

  • weaving in the technology to current practice
  • kids who've grown up with it
  • its becoming ubiquitous
  • they use the web for homework (so what, we use it for work and pleasure too don't we ... and did from the start. The kids are copying Mum and Dad when they learn to touch type by the age of 6, NOT the other way round. They crave to get online because their parents do; it was ever thus.)
  • there is more surface level learning (right through to university ... and at the BA level too often, students learn what they are told to learn, from the surface, whether from the web, a text book or print out ... whatever it takes to pass the exam. Why I am told the Oxbridge BA sees itself as an MA programmer for undergraduates.
  • More visual. I would love papers to be illustrated, just a photo or apt cartoon above the abstract. Why shouldn't academic writers hook their readers too. Randy Pausch did in a paper he wrote while at Disney working and researching the skills of an 'imagineer'.
  • they want 'just in time' answers and it needs to be experiential (Conole & Dyke 2004; Gibson, 1979). We should celebrate this achievement ... its what managers in business have been trying to incorporate into business practice for decades.






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Blogging a dead horse

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 16:44


The more I read, the more I research, the more I listen and the more I gush to others about blogging, the more I feel that it is like ...'trying to flog a dead horse to make it pull a load'.

Not the act of blogging, but the actions required to convert people.

People (students) don't see there value; to read a few well written, apposite blogs, fine. A person that in this environment has something to offering pertaining to their course. Or for entertainment. (Stephen Fry's Tweats form a micro-blog after all), micro only in the sense that you are restricted by character count per entry. If these parameters are like a letter-box then Stephen Fry is posting plenty himself and garnering a gargantuan response).

I have infront of me 'Exploring students' understand of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education'. It was a conference item at ALT-C 2007: Beyond Control: Association Technologies Conference, 4-6 September, Nottingham, UK.

One of its Six authors is Grainne Conole, an OU senior academic, a blogging practioner and evangelical online chatter-box and good-egg. She wants us all to blog, and understands the magic of a comment ... she likes to make new friends and understands the reciprocal nature of reading and leaving salient comments. It's T.L.C. online.

I just clicked away and posted this in her blog:

I'm faced with the dilemma of having to split my professional, student and blogging personas; I recently joined the Open University Business School. This three way split has me locking down one diary and 'friends' gathered over a decade and tripping over the other two selves, starting afresh with contacts and what I blog wearing my professional hat. I am certain such possible conflicts of interest occur for anyone working in online media communications - broadcasting on behalf of your employer; indeed, my contacts in senior PR and Media roles of various organisations have the weakest of online profiles, even though two of them are published authors.

On the other hand just as I really got going in Facebook to connect with my brother and his family in South Africa and organise my mother's 80th, I find that living away from home during the week I come online to have some sense of what my own family are up to - just a shame our dog doesn't blog, 'stick chasing across the South Downs' would do it.

Currently reading your 2007 paper 'Exploring students' understanding of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education'. Are Learning Designers (and those who work with them) 'flogging a dead horse?' The analogy I'm about to use in my OU student blog is that I am starting to feel like a Tuba player at a football match - no one is interested, they're watching the game. Maybe if I could network with the other instrument players in the crowd we could have a jam-session. As another paper on blogging discovered 'birds of a feather flock together', we do this and find kindred spirits. The problem in OU student blogging platforms is that we are overly pigoen-holed, not just by course, but by module and tutor group (and sub-groups within these).

I liken the Internet to a digital ocean; currently blogging as an OU student is like blogging in fish tank, in a warehouse full of fish tanks. And every so often someone kindly comes along and divides us up even more, creating barriers, rather than opportunities. Please can we just all be tipped into the same ocean?

I then went off to Facebook, via my external blog My Mind Bursts.

I only sat down to transfer notes from a pad ... and am yet to transcribe a single word of it.

I was going to say, anything short of writing directly into 'the white box' that you are presented with on your chosen blog platform or platforms snacks of something else: a repository, a writer's journal, a student's e-portfolio that they leave open ... keep forgetting in the lecture hall, that they photocopy and leave on benches outside the refrecatory.

Reading 'Everything is miscellaneous' David Weinberger I find a like mind a) the idea of miscellany, that each page, each asset, whether ostensibly part of something (like this) is like an autumn leave scattered on the forest floor. These leaves never compost down and those that are tagged stay on the top of the pile, those that people find or are guided too most often, stay on the top of the pile ... and did it not long ago reach the stage where the leaves on the forest floor are so deep that they have buried the trees?

I put a slightly inept first draft phrase into Yammer the OU Personnel 'Twitter-like' feed about dandelions and pomegranates. I've used the dandelion metaphor many times, the pomegranate too, but had never put them together.

My thinking was this, if the seed is this blog entry, or a Tweat or even a message in Facebook i.e. an idea, thought, asset or message, a seed if you were scattered to the wind to find its own fortune then developing social media for an institution, whilst the asset, these words, are still a seed, they are coming from a pomegranate, not a dandelion. The reason being that understandably if you are expressing the views of others, collectively or individually, you cannot just hold you thoughts up to the wind and blow. The opening of the pomegranate is, as it were, the necessary processes and procedures. This analogy falls apart though if you have an image of Jamie Oliver holding a pomegranate half in one hand while smashing it with a wooden rolling pin with the other ... the OU are not smashing me on the head to extract words like nasla mucus. Rather, at first at least, they will be extracted by me using tweezers.

All this and my 16 pages of notes on blogging handwritten into a Shorthand Pad remain unused.

To overcome my reluctance to write up what I feel I have already expressed I realise I could just photograph my notepad ... in fact, I'll do this and just see how folk manage with my handwriting.

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What is a learning activty? Grainne Conole

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Sep 2011, 09:40

Beetham provides a simple definition

"an interaction between a learner or learners and an environment (optionally including content resources, tools and instruments, computer systems and services, 'real world' events and objects) that is carried out in response to a task with an intended learning outcome." (Beetham, 2004)

Conole has developed a learning activity taxonomy (Conole, 2007; Conole, 2008) that attempts to consider all aspects and factors involved in developing a learning activity, from the pedagogical context in which the activity occurs through to the nature and types of tasks undertaken by the learner. The taxonomy is based on the premise that learning activities are achieved through completion of a series of tasks in order to achieve intended learning outcomes. The taxonomy was derived by working with practitioners to elicit the stages involved in the design process and consists of three main components:

  • The context within which the activity occurs; this includes the subject, level of difficulty, the intended learning outcomes and the environment within which the activity takes place.
  • The pedagogy (learning and teaching approaches) adopted. These are grouped into three categories – associative (acquisition of skills through sequences of concepts/tasks and feedback), cognitive (construction of meaning based on prior experience and context) and situative (learning in social and/or authentic settings).
  • The tasks undertaken, which specifies the type of task, the (teaching) techniques used to support the task, any associated tools and resources, the interaction and roles of those involved and the assessments associated with the learning activity. In particular the types of tasks which a student might do as part of the learning activity are described in detail and grouped into six categories; assimilative (attending and understanding content), information handling (e.g. gathering and classifying resources or manipulating data), adaptive (use of modelling or simulation software), communicative (dialogic activities, e.g. pair dialogues or group-based discussions), productive (construction of an artefact such as a written essay, new chemical compound or a sculpture) and experiential (practising skills in a particular context or undertaking an investigation).
  • http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloud/view/2473 (Accessed 4/4/11)
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My head's like a hedge-hog with its paws on a Van de Graff generator

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Nov 2011, 17:54

Or a guinea-pig chewing an electric cable behind the TV.

Same thing

Strange things are going on with my head.

The synapses are snapping.

This is the state of my mind.

It's exciting. It's exploitable.

The internal goings on of my cerebellum have gone from guinea-pig to hedgehog via a Frankenstein-like jolt of the old juice.

Last like this?

Undergraduate 1983.

(And most of yesterday, and the day before of course).

This is what studying does to my mind. It's taken eleven months in OU Land. The buzz began ... a few weeks ago.

It is like going from clueless first year undergraduate to the second year. Even online, you need to get the lay of the land. Even now that are vast swaves of OU activities, e-tivites, buttons, bolt-holes and affordances to discover, chew over, toy with and adopt, or adapt and move on, or stay with, or who knows what.

Funny. I never use the OU library anymore.

Once signed I just Google. Same thing? Instance ... rather than the time it takes to make a coffee.

Web-entrepreneur 2000. I was buzzing then too, mind and on two postgraduate courses - the OU (a somewhat earlier version of Open and Distance Learning) that in technology terms was like using a hand-pushed lawnmower to cut a path through a waterlogged meadow full of cattle. The mismatch between cutting-edge practice with a leading web agency and the course was the difference between reading an e-book or going into the Bodleian and thumbing through a vast, leather-bound index.

The best place to sthink on the planet. At a desk surrounded by ancient books ... with a lap-top. It's as if you are sitting inside the minds of everyone who has ever thought there before. Now we can get an inkling of this when you feel like minds are listening. Are they?

I feel the desire once more to spill the content of my mind ... to empty every moment I have sought to catch. Why? Not just because I can (although I appreciate there are plenty of people who keep diaries all there lives. But because of the way it wakens up your mind to a version of a moment in your past. These moments flip and change perspective as you revist them. Most odd.

"It's a matter of love; the more you love a memory the stronger that memory becomes."


Note the time. I have slept in the last 24 hours.

About four hours between 15h30 and midnight in two or three chunks.

Actually I've buzzed a lot over the years. It's who I am, when I'm being me at my best.

Skieasy was an interesting idea.

I still have the chess set I made out of a selection of bottled-waters. Dasani, that Coca-cola flop, is the King of the Black Pieces. I cheated a bit, Copella with their squared off bottles are the Castles and I had to use Fabreze for the Horses.


There are currently several voices in my head, people from the past, smiling and asking questions.

I'm being emotive and passionate about some new fangled way to do use video and they're listening. I feel this way about the Internet. My head is firmly back in 2000, with the electricity of an undergraduate and the knowledge of a PhD. (I could have one if the various courses I've done had been or could be validated and LinkedIn). Eventually.

I intend to study for life, life-long learning - literally.

I'm planning a module beyond the MA in Open and Distance Education that I'll complete in October 2011.

Foundations in research probably rather than a different subject, though in good time Modern History (yet again), and Geography (yet again).

E-learning enables this

Fine Art can never happen; I can't hunker down like that. (Unless I can do Fine Art via an A3 sized tablet? If it's good enough for Hockney, it's good enough for art students. Fine Art as a e-learning course. (Now there's a challenge. And an opportunity.)

Never say never when it comes to e-learning. Someone will be running an e-learning Fine Art MA within the year. You could use a Kinex to draw onto a tablet rolled like a piece of Clingfilm onto a pane of glass. Observed at work by your tutor a million miles away (or a few hundred at least). You see it is possible.

Never say never when it comes to e-learning, which is why I propose a new module for the MA in Open and Distance Education. It's called 'The E-learning Entrepreneur.' Any one listening? (Not at 2h05). I'll linkIn with it and see what bubbles up from the digtal hyrdrosphere.

I don't care if it takes six years for each one of these courses, I'll be around for a long while yet.

My grandfather made it to 97 and never lost his marbles. Bless. He died with some thoughts on Newcastle United and a swig of Newcastle Brown Ale (he'd worked in brewing from the age of 14 to retirement).

My mind wanders. Good. It should. So should yours.

New thinking doesn't idle around in one pocket of your subconscious, it dances like a Minx feeding on your the maelstrom of your mind.

And I'm yet to say what I sat down to write. Right.

Doodles on backs of envelopes. I have a lot of envelopes. I must have invested in a large supply a decade ago. Stick down the back and use them for notes. Light, a soft write with a gel-pen. Takes a doodle. A gem. An idea.

This process started 48 hours ago.

One image. A second. (The PDP thermal idea). And since then I've been revisited by an idea I had in .... 1998, I suppose.

ADD SKETCH HERE ... currently on

a) the back of an envelope

b) on a piece of scrap wallpaper (very good for doodles as you can spread wide)

and c) in my head (which should be in bed)

Title, Synopsis, Abstract, Review, Précis, Student Notes, Book, Book + References.

This is a volume control for 'volume' of words rather than sound.

Depending the time you have to engaged with the contents of the author's (or authors' heads) you skate or roll this slider back and forth until you hit on a what you're prepared to take in. You can always expand, if the mind takes you there ... you can always roll into the synopsis if your train comes in or you see an email you're prepared to answer.

(Email, I'm starting to treat it like the old postal service - two deliveries a day, at a time to suit me. So before breakfast and after lunch. If you want me otherwise phone.)

Where was I? So, text volume control thingy.

I was just learning Dreamweaver, on a Mac, probably an LCII or something c.1998.

Maybe or earlier. TBT hadn't been born I was sleeping where he'd shortly be sleeping (actually I was sitting where he was born a few weeks later, at home, caught by me some time before the Midwife made it over from Cheltenham. Another story.)

I won't have a record of it, I was months away from blogging. Unless, which is likely, I was keeping a diary off-line. Would that be 'logging?It'll be just as lost though as it'll be a floppy disc. Or were there CDs by then? Or possibly an IOMEGA Zip drive?

And now we have LCD TVs the size and thickness of a postage stamp.

Re-reading 'Contemporary perspective in E-Learning Research' can't help my sleeplessness.

Far from boring me to sleep, which it did six months ago, I find single words are scorched into my forehead and sentences are like liquid gold being poured down my ear. Oh dear. I think I understand it.

I commit a book crime.

Historically I have always read a book and taken notes at the same time. This goes back to Oxbridge Entrance exam reading lists and beyond.

Get it while it's hot on the first shot.

I did this with Conole et al in August.

I could even read those notes, but those notes WERE WRITTEN BY SOMEONE ELSE.

So I have to start over, this is TAKE TWO.


The sacrilege is the use of coloured Marker Stabilo Market pens on the pages of the book. This is because I'm treating the book as if it isn't there, as if it is in an iPad (I don't have one, I'll give me my address if you feel I should have one).

Yes, I am using a highlighter pen on the paper-based text because I've got so used to doing this in e-journals exported into Word.

Of course, this Stabilo Pen should DOUBLE as a TEXT READER so that said highlighted words could be drawn straight into my laptop and quoted here ... with the link and correct Harvard Reference put in place for me too. Pretty please. Tech person reading.

(Do tech people read? I suspect they call it something else. Scan?)

Oh heck. Not another idea. It's only 1h36. (or was when I started. That was nearly an hour ago. I don't edit, I know not how, I ellaborate.)

I have this fear that having an idea is pointless, because whatever you can think of someone has done it before.

Which makes this a race, catching wave after wave after wave of information as it comes in on the digital ocean, hoping, believing, that from time to time it'll be a big wave, my wave and I'll ride it like a pro-surfer. Enough. I need a coffee. That'll send me to sleep.

Anything's possible.

I look at this, my invention, my interpretation of how Personal Development Planning can lift a life, raise your spirits, send your career into a controled cycle of advancement and I want to sing about it. I want to be on this ride and bringing others along with me.

What can go wrong?

Coffee poisoning.

So, this Microsoft guy who is recording every moment of his day (and night? and ablusions?). You have to be at the head of the team, not the pond fodder. I gave this a momentary go voice recording three one hour swim coaching sessions. I am yet to listen over. Perhaps I'll do it once to see what lessons I learn.

On the other hand, someone interested in coaching swimmers may listen to the lot of it. And with nothing in vision there are no Safeguarding Children issues ... I consciously only used swimmer's names once I had hit pause.

My coffee's cold.

Do I warm it up? I'll not sleep. I haven't exhausted the possibilities.

A swimming pool beacons.

Once was the time I swam every day. I'll do so again. I can subdue my mind only if I sink the body around it.


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e-learning is a term compromising one letter representing a physical property of technology (e for electronic)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 25 Nov 2011, 14:08

I wonder of e-learning as a term will last, like email?

What's happened to 'new media?' I guess it's no longer new. What's happend to 'web-based learning?' I guess the web is there, like air, so we don't need to refer to its existance, it just is. And so on to 'online learning' which at the OU has usrped 'open learning.'

I like this thought:

‘Whereas education is by definition a multi-faceted activity understood to involve a variety of players and activities – teachers and teaching; students and studying; institutions and structures, information, knowledge and, it is hoped, learning.

e-learning is a term compromising one letter representing a physical property of technology (e for electronic) and the hoped-for outcome (learning) for one participant in the interaction.

Given the power of language to constrain our thinking, is our current circumscribed terminology making it increasingly difficult to keep in mind and focus on elements of this expanding activity that, while not readily apparent in the term ‘e-learning’ itself, must be understood and included when establishing policy and researching the phenomenon?’

(Melody Thompson, 2007 in Conole and Oliver, 2007:187)


Conole, G and Oliver, M (2007) Research in E-Learning

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H808 First Impressions. Week 1.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 13:16

H808 First Impressions

Someone’s been busy over the summer recess. smile

There are several noticeable differences:

In addition to the tutor there is a technical expert (Hi Helen) ‘embedded’ in the course to take a proactive role ensuring that none of us get the hebegebes with the technology. Even the basic functioning of the OU platform and its myriad of tools, attributes, quirks and foibles, can be daunting or at least irksome for the IT proficient. I doubt I am alone when I find at times I ‘just don’t get it’ when all it needs is someone to look over my shoulder and say, ‘try pressing that,’ or you’ve missed out a letter, or ‘there’s a really easy way to do that.’ I am at that stage where I am tripped up by a single letter of HTML code ... only to find that I don't need to be reading or trying to read code, if I understood how to use the e-tools being offered. Curiously this role may do more to bring students from the different tutor groups together than the mere offering of forums for this purpose ... a cafe where there is no coffee. mixed

The tutor is around a lot. (Hi Trevor).

(I have not lurked around other tutor groups to see what is going on, so perhaps we can have a pow-wow on this or what I read in an article on e-learning, a 'tribal meeting; which I suppose is a meeting of department heads, or vice-chancellors i.e. the chiefs?).

This may just be a start of course thing, but I sense a wind change that is going beyond the basic set-up to support collaboration elucidated by Salmon regarding e-moderating. My prediction is that the call-centre like support, online and on the phone, that is offered corporate e-learners and e-trainers may become something that H.E. institutions need to provide, populated by undergraduates (2nd years as it were), as well as graduates, not just the traditional PhD student as part time tutor and lecturer ... as well as Senior Tutors.

I’d like the occasional host guest or a heavy hitter too, the participation of those who wrote the module, designed the course or whose work is most often cited.

The title 'H808 Environment Map' is an unnecessarily disingenuous term for a fantastic, indispensable guide. This isn't a map, it is 'The Lonely Planets' map, plan and guide pocket book for H808. It should be on the inside cover of what is the H808 Course Book. It should be wall-paper on the homepage i.e. you go nowhere and try nothing until you have consumed it. I'm going to print it off, laminate it and put it on my desktop, the tabletop wooden one i.e. extract it from its binary code and give it form on paper.

Something’s been refreshed in the OU Library.

My first impression would be to say from a design point of viewit has been ‘Google-ised,’ i.e, its appearance has been cleared up and simplified. Is it that designers and programmers in time can prioritise their choice of tools and offer in a more clinical way the tools they know users will need as they progress through their search rather than offering a High Street DIY store cornucopia of e-tic-tacs and e-tools that may or may not be required and probably do little more than scare and confuse in equal measure.

The resources and supplementary reading have all been accessed within the last couple of months and the links work.

In H807 it was a bugbear, not overly regular, but frequent enough, to find that links did not work so documents were not found speedily. The sifting out of redundant papers and reports (their points of view have been superseded by the technology and actual practice rather than the conjecture and hyperbole of some academics and commentators) as well as the checking and fixing of links is important. It is a considerable frustration, though understandable, that published version of books.

Not overly burdensom or keen to read two study-related books over the summer (July/August) Weller’s Virtual Learning Environments(2007) and Conole and Oliver's (eds) Contemporary perspectives in e-learning Research (2007), that very few of the links to URLS given to follow up references work (very few, may be none!) and then seeking them through the OU library doesn’t always prove successful either, no fault of the library, but links into this amorphous universe that is Cyberspace leaves some e-references wanting. And being who I am I want these references as qualifying and verifying is part of the ‘bonding process’ that this student requires to feel thoroughly engaged with the material.

Might I suggest that putting an URL for an article or blog comment into a print-published book is about as lasting as putting a sparkler in a birthday cake - by the time you want to eat the cake the sparkler has burnt out.

I like the new 'tick box' alongside the study planner to help mark off your progress.

Happy Days, Exciting Days in OU Land

P.S. Did you know you have access to the Oxford English Dictionaryonline as an OU Student. This is like being invited to Versailles during the reign of the Sun King. Brilliant. Except it can't help me with 'hebe-gebe.' A term used by my family, or a Geordie term for feeling a bit nervous, gets the goose-bumps up, a tad scary in a Ghost Train ride kind of way?

P.P.S. Just learnt a few tricks to search for a word in the OED and found 'heebie-jeebie.'  A feeling of discomfort, apprehension, or depression; the ‘jitters’; delirium tremens; also, formerly, a type of dance. (OED) Far from being my native Geordie, it is 1920s New York American.

6.00am and I've learnt something new already! approve

9/9/10 is going to be a fun day.

8/9/10 was magic.

I wonder why? thoughtful

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The value of electronic literacy in the Internet Age

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 06:32

Did serendipity bring me to ‘Contemporary Perspectives in E-learning Research.’ Conole and Oliver (2007) or did I notice that H808 students were reading and critting it?

Either way I bought it as I’m yet to get my head around e-Reader.

Can you recommend an e-Reader?

A kindle or the Sony Reader perhaps? I can’t see the point in an iPad for reading academic journals and books. I don’t want to be printing off a forest and filing on shelves I don’t have either.

Chapter 11 of ‘Contemporary Perspectives in E-learning Research’ looks at ‘Academic literacy in the 21st century’

E-literacy is an irresistible term of course.

‘Electronic Literacy’ or ‘E-literacy’

‘Involving the capacity to locate, organise, interpret and use digital information.’ Conole (2007:160)

Martin (2003) appears to get the credit for coining the term.

There are many forms of literacy, all have their place:

  • information literacy
  • digital literacy
  • electronic communication
  • computer literacy
  • transliteracy
  • information/IT skills
  • computer-mediated communications
  • knowledge construction
  • research

Shetzer and Warshauer (2000), McKenna (2002), ‘Writing as a social practice’ (Ivonic et al, 1999)

These literacies are:

  • shaped by disciplinary norms
  • institutional power dynamics
  • impact of audience
  • notions of identity

‘What we choose to read and how we read may lead to fundamental changes in our understanding of authoritative scholarship.’ Conole (2007:160)

It interesting that Google is often the preferred means of locating academic information (Borphy et al, 2004). Does this apply to undergraduates and graduates? At times frustrated with the OU Library Services I ended up in Google Scholastic but no longer had the access privileges so had to back pedal. Too often links given in text, journals and book are out of date. By way of example of the three links I wished to follow up in this chapter I found only one and that was at a different URL I am yet to find the SCONUL or SCORM articles.

SCONUL (1999) ‘information skills in higher education’, SCONUL position paper. Available online at: www.sconul.ac.uk/activities/inf-lit/papers/seven-pillars.html (CAN’T FIND)

SCORM (2004) Shareable content object reference model. http://www.adlnet.org/scorm/history/2004/index.cfm (ERROR PAGE)

Ingraham (2005b) Filmic and even melodramatic narrative ... used purposefully.

Ingraham (2005b) Exploring the Frontiers of E-learning: border, outposts and migration. ALT-j, 2005. 6-8 Sept 2005.

Beyond the ‘essentially medieval apprenticeship system’ (Ingraham and Ingraham, 2006) ‘E-Quality: a dialogue between quality and academia’, E-learning, 31) http://www.wwwords.co.uk/elea/content/pdfs/3/issue3_1.asp

(ACCESSED 16 AUG 2010. But not at this address, but at this onesmile


I have a problem with some PDF files too, but that’s down to an eight year old iBook not being able to upgrade to the latest ADOBE PDF software. A new iBook beckons.

This theme of literacy given a book in its own right. How though do institutions recognise the many different ways students may wish to pursue and assemble content and information in future?

Literacy and multiple literacies (Kress, 1997)

‘It is a normal and fundamental characteristic of language and literacy to be constantly remade in relation to the needs of the moment.’ Conole (2007:169)

Kress, G (1997) Before writing: rethinking the paths to literacy.

‘The are many ways of making and communicating meaning in the world today.’ Conole (2007:169)

The goals of education

The development of ‘concrete-operational skills of technical reason coupled with functional, utilitarian language skill.’ (Jones, 1991)

Two conflicting directions for education

‘The desire to stimulate the growth of autonomous, entrepreneurial, IT-literate, multi-skilled individuals’ or ‘the desire to create a compliant, low-expectation labour force inured to the demands of flexibilisation.’ Conole (2007:171)

Surely this isn’t a case of either or, and surely both ends of the scale can be viewed positively – society needs a community of people working at different jobs to remain viable and coherent. Conole should be quoting Government policy here but prefer to suggest that there is a choice while clearly favouring one over the other.

Prison Officers, we are told, don’t need a university degree; they aren’t the only ones. Unless you want people to endure their necessary jobs like Marvin the Paranoid Android. Adams. (1979)

REF Kress, G (2003) Literacy in the new media age.


Adams, D (1979) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Conole, G and Oliver, M (eds)  2007. Contemporary perspectives in E-Learning Research. Themes, methods and impact on practice.

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Quote yourself happy

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 16:07

I was judgmental on Martin Weller quoting himself in H807 ... but I have just bought the book and buy into.

So why do I feel so uncomfortable about Weller or any other 'academic' quoting themselves.

Surely there are standards and expectations?

Who are we to quote ourselves, just because we got into print or had our words used in a piece of academic study to then cite ourselves and in so doing award ourselves additional recognition?

Imagine Simon Cowell deciding to get up and sing ... and then judging his own performance and deciding to award himself credibility?

Is there some etiquette regarding this kind of thing?

(Must be, academia has rules for everything, no wonder it's so dull)

Academically stimulating, but hardly a Caravagio.

At what point do you become 'self-quotable?

Did Churchill quote himself?

As Churchill said ... (he says) ...

(Or by writing your own speeches you are quoting yourself? Ditto lectures)

Can I quote myself as if this has some value ... things I posted online in 1999? Or put in a dairy in 1985? Or even wrote in a History essay on the Reformation in 1977? (Files saved, in a trunk, in an attic, in a room, in a building ... and could just as well be scanned and banged up online

Or is this lacks credibility then short films broadcast on mainstream TV?

Or things I said to important people ?

Look up the correct use of disinterested Mr Weller – (do you have an editor or proof reader?) It does NOT mean ‘no interested it means ‘not committed to one or other point of view, rather as a judge should be in a trial i.e. interested, but not taking sides.’

Odd how the pinnacle of my irritation is indicative of my reaching a tipping point

This is a watershed, where my opinions are expressed in increasingly frustrated ways until I find myself screwing up my face, then edging down the other side, won over to the opposing view, having convinced myself that black is now white. That ‘they’ are right and I am wrong ... I become evangelical on their behalf, whether they want it or not, before coming to some grey compromise.

I’ve just about read enough on learning theory to be able to categorise my approach to learning.

It is ?

This comes from reading ‘Contemporary Perspectives in E-Learning Research. 2007. Edited by Grainne Conole and Martin Oliver.

The turning point, the ‘flip’ came with looking up a reference for Martin Oliver ... and deciding that I needed to see fourteen points of reference. His book, his privilege. He’d wrong-foot himself did he not refer back to previously published papers.

I've got Martin Weller in box too, bought the book.

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No longer a passing interest ... (EDU)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 10 Aug 2010, 17:22

Happier with a stack of books to get through than anything else, so chasing texts I didn't get through for H807 'Innovations in E-Learning' that I will need for H808 'The E-learning Professional.'

Some ideas, themes and authors are starting to leave impressions across the shifting sands that I wash every week with novels, biographies, books on history, art and learning.

August will be the month of Camus, Andrew Marr, Simon Schama, Conole and Oliver, alongside historical novels and applied psychology. To what end?

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