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Enriching stereotypes: FutureLearn 'Start Writing Fiction' with The OU

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 2 Dec 2014, 17:42
From Writing

Fig.1. No my usual spot for writing - on a retreat in Devon

Invited by the OU moderator for comments on week long series of exercise on 'enriching character; I write:

"Extraordinary. I'm on my second pass. I came through early, and now return not wanting to get ahead of the conversation. Particularly useful as I am actively writing at the moment, so this is the best of all learning because it is applied. Regarding character it about giving them shape, depth and 'points of interest' - more 6D than even the 2D we are asked to get away from. I visualise characters as hedgehogs with many prickles, but only a few of these matter to the story - though all of them matter to the notebook which I'm gradually coming to care about more and more, cursing the times I 'have a thought' and don't get it down somewhere safely. I am hugely pleased to be here and very proud to be an OU graduate already - not, sadly, from this faculty: yet!"

I'm finding the oddest of balances in my life too: writing for myself from 4.00am to 8.00am. Picking up work from 10.00am to 1.00pm. Then a siesta. I live in the wrong country for this, I'd prefer to be in a hammock in the shade by a pool. Dream on. Evenings from 5.00pm to 9.00pm I am usually 'poolside' teaching or coaching swimmers. Delighting yesterday evening to be back with some squad swimmers I last saw four years ago - now in the mid teens, some achieving amazing things in the water, all at that gangly stage of youth development my own children have come through in the last year. 

The issue then is how or where or why I fit in the OU module <<L120 L'Ouverture. Intermediate French >> I committed to. Learning a language is daunting and outside my comfort zone. What I do know now, not surprisingly, is that all learning comes about as a result of concerted and consistent effort over a long period of time. 

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E-learning design and development process @ Brightwave

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 24 May 2012, 12:49

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Brightwave's e-learning production process

 

Great to have a few months between modules as it gives me the opportunity to look beyond the MAODE modules at what interests me most: learnign and development in a corporate setting, the practicalities of enhancing the skills and building on the motivations and interests of people in their daily working lives.

The above chart adds detail to a familiar productoin process.

The benefit of turning to an outside supplier for such services (and for the the supplier to call upon the specialist skills of freelancers), is the accountability, the clarity of the stages, the parameters set by budgets and schedules and the lack of politics, as well as the engagement with a diversity of cultures, experiences and background which you simply do no get when everything is carried out in-house, the biggest bugbear of most providers in the the tertiary sector who insist on doing it all themselves.

Watch some of their videos

Particularly impressed with Laura Overton who I have heard speak at Learning Technologies in the past.

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Laura Overton

Brightwave, quite rightly, include a transcript with these face paced, tightly edited, packed interviews.

This doesn't preclude the benefit of taking notes. I also cut and paste the transcript then go through highlighting, re-arranging the text and doing what Jakob Neilsen would call making it 'web friendly'.

Even if I don't share this online, the act of doing this is a vital way to engage and memorise the information.

I've come to understand in the last few days (B822 End of Module Exam) that a 'mnemonic' is any devise or technique that aids memory, so reading this start the mylenations process, comment and those tracks become established. Cut and paste, doing something of your own with the content, go follow the links, add links of your own, cut and paste into a blog (here or externally), then share it into Facebook or Twitter and pick up others who know more or less and can contribute.

All of this is a very human way og aggregating and securing knowledge.

Ideally everyone would be milling around my garden right now, we'd pick up the conversation, then drift away to other things.

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B822 WK 1 Creativity, Cognition & Development (Activities 1.1 to 1.4)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 21 Feb 2014, 17:52

CHAPTER 1 CREATIVITY (pp13-30)

 

What a fool. I always thought of business as boring.

I was a creative, an actor or performer, a writer or director, a visualiser. Yet beyond the antics of the undergraduate each of these can only happen in the context of a business: they have to be financed.   Perhaps for too long I toyed unsuccessfully with the idea of being alone in a space with paints or pens (actually a MAC and a Wacom board).


I take notes, pen onto paper, while reading from an iPad. I will get home and find a box of books and will then read from paper and take notes on the iPad. My inclination is to have TWO tablets, one in my left hand to read (a Kindle if it will take the PDFs) the iPad under my right hand so that I can type in notes as I go along.


MY NOTES:

 


* developments so fast that they are unpredictable.

* expect the unexpected (Handy, 1991)

* increasing competition

* increasing pace of change

* need to add value through continual innovation

* globalisation

* creativity, knowledge & innovation over capital, labour & land

*growth in value of intangible assets

*

I can see that B822 complements H807 'Innovations in E-learning'.

In truth this already is closer to what I perceived H807 would be as there is substantial use of audio and video.


Table 1.0 Innovations with major impact on human history
I want to return to this, add to it and include images.

Plenty will be available under Creative Commons and Google Images.


ACTIVITY 1.1 How would I define creativity?
Innovative problem solving (business, technical, communications, aesthetic) with the outcome a product or artefact that is unique and possibly challenging or controversial.
WHAT ASSOCIATIONS DOES CREATIVITY HAVE FOR YOU?
The arts and media, from TV to film and music, theatre, art, books, ceramics and sculpture to creativity in commerce with advertising and architecture. Even putting up a pedestrian bridge can be a creative endeavour. Or making a sandcastle.
WRITE DOWN WORDS AND PHRASES THAT IT SUGGESTS TO YOU
illustration  Design Copywriting Inventiveness Innovative Clever Head turning Memorable Unique Controversial Skilled
ALSO THINK OF:
Problem solving (appropriate) New Novelty is relative Lasting impact
ACTIVITY 2.1
WHAT DO YO THINK CAUSES CREATIVITY, AND WHERE DO NEW IDEAS COME FROM?
In adverting a creative team, a copywriter and art doctor sit together to come up with ideas to sell a product based on a Creative Brief that answers the question 'what is the problem?' in this respect creativity is about solving problems, indeed movie producers and directors define film making as solving problems. Greyson Perry, the ceramicist, argues that 'creativity is mistakes', indeed creativity needs to be a challenge and a risk if the requisite innovation is to occur. For me creativity therefore comes from the desire to overcome a problem, which applies as much to composing a new song, writing copy or a book, designing a new machine, simplifying source code, drawing a sel-portrait, even making a meal with left-overs from the cupboard.
Creativity can be taught and engendered in everyone. The 'genius' is rarely born with a god-given gift, often a parent has pushed them to acquire and practice skills from a very early age. The successful 'creative' may well put in far more hours than Others, even possess a keener, more urgent desire and curiosity. 
1950s an ability  1960s mental flexibility 1970s relevant experience 1980s intrinsic motivation 1990s work culture
(Engestrom's ideas of activity systems are worth bringing in here).
ACTIVITY 1.3
Think about two or three people fro the worlds of: Science: Prof. Brian Cox - his ability to communicate the complex in a clear and memorable way. Art:  Stephen Appleby - transvestite cartoonist. Caravagio, but perhaps not the Pre-Raphaelites. Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dali and Picaso. Music: Bjork - weird and wonderful, Gary Neuman, David Bowie ...  Business: Dyson - from the cyclone vacuum cleaner to the air-blade. Sport: George Best - I don't even follow football but at times his skill looks inventive, playful and in control. Some skiers and skaters. Literature: Haruki Murakami - he has a voice of his own. Henry Miller, Will Self ...  And any others: The Saatchis for their advertising in the 1980s; Terry Gilliam and the Monty Python Team. Fashion: Jean-Paul Gaultier - how he dresses, what he design. Architects such as Richard Rogers and Zaha Hadid.
QQ. What do I think is creative about them or what they produce?
It can be outrageous, it works, it solves a problem, it leaves a lasting impression. They may be extrovert, outrageous self-publicists or introvert, even quite 'normal' like James Dyson, Terrance Conran or John Hegarty (Bartle Bogle, Hegarty). They persevere, they are confident or know no better than to be themselves writ large. They learnt their trade from the bottom up and stuck with it.
ACTIVITY 1.4
Think of someone creative people you know, and from work: a friend, relative or child. 
What sort of people are they and how do they do thing?
They are observers and can be set apart. They can be egotistical and rubbish at time keeping and the everyday and mundane. They think a lot. They draw upon multiple references. They are highly intelligent. They may be troubled souls in conflict with themselves and the world. They care about their craft skills. Are they performers of sorts seeking cognition as well as reward for what they do? They are the first to do it? They are focused and goal driven.
But the truth, in a business setting might be quite different, with the 'creative' in this setting the good listener and team player?
REFERENCE


Handy, C. (1991) 'The Age of Unreason' in Henry (1991)


Henry, J., Mayles, D., Bell, R., et al (2010) Book 1, Creativity, Cognition and Development.

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Risk more to succeed

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 14:15

The mistake risk takers make is to take too few risks

The dot com or e-learning mistake is to have only one ball in the air.

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Like Cirque du Soleil they should juggle a dozen items, who even notices if one drops to the ground and breaks, there's enough going on to amaze.

TV production companies, docs and drama, film companies too, have to have many ideas in development if any are to succeed; when will web producers take the same approach?

28 projects on the go I understand is the figure

I've got four ideas, so seven other people with four ideas each and we're in business as imagicians.

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Kindle 3 JV Unwell and Kindling

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 16:06

When your 14 year old daughter is in bed with flu, and running a temperature, you relent when she pops her head up from under the duvet and wants to use your laptop to watch a movie and get in touch with friends.

I think, because I use a keyboard extension that the chances that I will pick up her germs are reduced; I forget that we both use the same mouse. She blows her nose, uses the mouse, goes to sleep for three hours. I pick up the laptop, go online, do stuff like making a sandwhich  ...

That's four out of four now down with the bug, only the dog and the guinea-pigs seem fine (so far).

It doesn't take long before I wind down

An odd sensation, like your battery has gone flat.

If only it were as simply as plugging yourself into the wall or changing a battery sad

I am just grisly and very tired

I had a flu jab in October so I should be avoiding the worst of it.

Sit back from this screen ... you just can't tell how infectious these things can be !

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If it is one bonus it is the Kindle

It can be read in bed, your head on a pillow, operated with one finger, one thumb ... and as my brain is mush I can make the text huge and read three words across like a TV autocue. When I fall asleep, so does it. When I wake up it is picks up where I left off. In fact, it will read the book to me ... however, will it tell when I am asleep? That would be clever.

I've gone from one book to several

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Between them Amazon and Kindle have their fingers in my wallet.

I'm 46% the way through the Rhona Sharpe book. Here's a new concept ... no pages.

In addition I have samples of six other books, two blogs and a magazine on a 14 day free trial (I will cancel these 7 days in or earlier to be sure I don't continue with anything I don't want)

And new books, and old books.

In the 1990s I bought CDs to get back or replace LPs of my youth. Over the last five years I've got rid of most of these and run with iTunes.

Books, due to lack of storage space, are in really useful Really Useful boxes in a lock up garage we rented to help with a house move ... three years ago. Is there any point of a book in a box? I have over the decades taken a car load of books Haye on Wye and sold them in bulk. A shame. I miss my collection of Anais Nin and Henry Miller; I miss also my collection on movie directors and screenwriters. Was I saying that this part of my life had ended? Or I needed the space (or money). I fear, courtesy of my Kindle and lists of books I have made since I was 13 that I could easily repopulate my mind with the content of these books. Indeed there is no better place to have them, at my finger tips on a device a tasty as a piece of hot toast covered in butter and blueberry jam.

Page Views

I do nothing and the page views I receive doubles to 500. What does this mean? I am saying too much? That the optimum blog is one per day? Or have folks found they can drill through here for H807 and H808? Who knows, I don't the stats provided by the OU are somewhat limited. I'd like the works. Which pages do people enter on, which are most viewed, where do they exit, what's the average pages viewed by an individual and so on. In my experience 500 page views means three people reading 100/150 each with a few others dipping in and out.

How Kindle has changed me in 24 hours

My bedtime reading for anyone following this is 'The Isles' Norman Davies.

I read this in the 1990s when it came out. I felt it deserved a second reading. It is heavier then the Yellow Pages and almost as big. Because of its bulk I may have it open on a pillow as I read; no wonder I fall asleep. (Works for me). Having downloaded it to the Kindle last night in 60 seconds and for less than £9 I may now read more than a couple of pages at a time. I can also annotate and highlight the Kindle version. I have an aversion to doing this to the physical thing ... I am used to selling on my old books. Not something I can do with a Kindle version. Which makes me think, should these digital versions not be far, far, far cheaper? Take 'The Isles.' The dust cover is in perfect nick, I took it off and boxed it rather than get it torn. The damp in the lock-up garage hasn't caused too much harm. I could get £8 for it, maybe £5.

What else?

More on E-learning:

  • Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age. (Rhona Sharpe)
  • Creating with wordpress (blog)
  • Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. (2010) Will Richardson
  • E-Learning by Design (William Horton)
  • How to change the world (blog)
  • SEO Book (Blog)
  • Digitial Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications (2009) Paul Argenti and Courtney Barnes
  • The Online Learning Idea Book (Patti Shank)
  • Using Moodle (Jason Cole and Helen Foster)

Some bought, some simply samples. The blogs on a 14-day free trial. Neither worth £0.99 a month.

Best on Kindle

The big surprise, the book that is so beautifully transmogrified by Kindle, lifted by it, is 'The Swimming Drills Book' (2006) Ruben Guzman.

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No! This isn't what happens if your swimmer gets it wrong. This is a drill called 'dead swimmer' in which they float head down, then slowly extended into a streamlined position, kick away and then swim full stroke.

'The Swim Drill Book' is a mixture of text, almost in bullet point form, and line drawings of swimmers in various stages of effort to perform a stroke or drill or exercise.

If an author needs advice on how to write for a Kindle, or for a tablet, I'd point them at this book. This is NOT how it was conceived, but it is how it works on this alternative platform.

You can try it for free

Download Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac then find 'The Swimming Drills Book.' You can then view a sample which takes you beyond the acknowledgements, contents and introduction into the first chapter.

A thing of beauty

By tweaking the layout, text size and orientation, you can place the diagram/drawing full screen. It simply works, just as the stunning black and white engravings and photographs that your Kindle will feature (at random) when 'sleeping.'

Here's an thought: if you're not reading a book it is gathering dust, a dead thing, whereas with a Kindle your books are simply asleep.

 

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I'm only as good as what others make of me

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 16:07
This is an interesting concept. In time as students create an online profile that over decades becomes populated with the content of their lives (and mind), then who or what they become is not simply their responsiblity ... if it is disclosed and exposed to others, then these others have a duty to poke, jolt and guide this person in the best direction.
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A variety of e-learning journeys

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 13:43

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The point being that people learn a great deal that improves their knowledge and ability to carry out tasks, however this does not receive formal recognition so is not able to contribute to any professionalisation of their occupation.

Daft. The paradigm must shift. Or be ignored.

I'm spending time with a mate and colleague next week (weather permitting) who has put mobile learning into the Middle East and now has the financing to do more in 3D.

His qualifications?

A great mind and practical delivery of learning as linear, then interactive video and CD, to websites with a good deal of programming in between over the last twenty years.

There is a time to ditch the gaining of a further qualification.

Indeed, when I took up a version of this MA course in February 2001 it was for me nothing more than a piece of CPD on top of another post-graduate course I was doing in the production of cross-platform multimedia, the only person to be doing this through the EU funded programme EAVE ... all of this to feed into a full-time job producing innovative, cutting edge and online learning. I was studying at my expense to improve or tweak my practical application of all of this.

Surely the collobartive exercises of the last two weeks have shown that several people can do more than one person on their own? Why do teachers and educators operate in isolation trying to re-invent the wheel for the thousandth time when a learning experience or product shared is going to deliver something effective and fantastic?

CPD, which is the OU's MAODE, does not turn me into an e-learning professional.

I'm not interested in letters after my name; I have the M.A. and have put a couple of other post-graduate courses under my belt too.

The ONLY thing that counts is how I apply this learning.

The letters or professional tag mean diddly-squat.

All us of should be willing to be judged by our peers as to our professional status ... are we employed in this capacity? Do with have clients to serve or clients to win?

Don't get me wrong, for me this course is invaluable, a treat and indulgence, like grated Truffle on pasta.

I guess my mate and I will be back on Skype if the roads look poor. I'm not going to waste a hour of my life, let alone a day stuck in traffic on the M23, M20 or M40 trying to get to Bath on Tuesday.

My motivation? A good idea, a sponsor ... then do it.

Then pick up from what I've learnt in TV, have 26 ideas on the go with various grants, sponsors and clients supporting further development.

My next course, or refresher course?

Sales

REFERENCE. Professional Development fo Elearning. A Framework for the NEw Zealand Tertiary Education Sector. 2009.

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Web-Based Training (Part One)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 07:19

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Web-Based Training (WBT) (2000)

Margaret Driscoll

I bought this book in 2001. Nearly a decade on I am delighted how apt it remains, even if the term may now have been superseded by e-learning - while cyberlearning had currency for a few years too and before this we had 'interactive learning'.

Even a decade on I recommend the book.

Training and learning are in different camps, one supposing a component of applied engagement (health and safety, fixing photocopiers, burying uranium trioxide, driving a delivery van, making cars, selling phones, employee induction) while the other is essentially cognitive (though with its physicality in this kind of prestidigitation).

Yet we made ‘training programmes’ on things like cognitive behavioural therapy. Corporate and government clients had the money to do these things.

Driscoll’s definition of WBT is somewhat longer than Weller’s definition (2007) of e-learning (electronically enhanced learning with a large component of engagement on the Internet). A bit ‘wishy-washy’ my exacting Geography A’ Level teacher would have said.

Hardly a clear definition if it has a let out clause. But when was anything clear about what e-learning is or is not, or should be? The term remains a pig in a poke; its most redeeming factor being that it is a word, not a sentence, and fits that cluster of words that includes e-mail.

Web-based training Driscoll (2000) says should be:

  • Interactive
  • Non-linear
  • Easy to use graphic interface
  • Structured lessons
  • Effective use of multimedia
  • Attention to educational details
  • Attention to technical details
  • Learner control

I like that. I can apply it in 2011. I did.

I was reading ‘Web-Based Training’ (and using the accompanying CD-rom) in 2001 and then active in the development of learning, or knowledge distribution and communication websites for the NHS, FT Knowledge ... and best of all, Ragdoll, the home of Pob, Rosie and Jim, Teletubbies and the addictive pleasures of ‘The Night Garden.’

We may call ourselves students, mature students even, or simply post-graduates, but would we call ourselves ‘Adult Learners.’

It’s never a way I would have defined my clients, or rather their audiences/colleagues, when developing learning materials for them in the 1980s and 1990s. Too often they were defined as ‘stakeholders,’ just as well I saw them as people and wrote scripts per-the-script, as if for only one person.

That worked, producing for an umbrella term does not.

Adult Learning doesn’t conjure up innovative e-learning, perhaps because of the connotations Adult Learning has inelation to the catalogue of F.E. courses then comes through the door every July or August.

This definition of an ‘adult learner’ would apply to everyone doing an OU course surely?

The special characteristics of adult learners Driscoll (2000:14)

  • Have real-life experience
  • Prefer problem-centred learning
  • Are continuous learners
  • Have varied learning styles
  • Have responsibilities beyond the training situation
  • Expect learning to be meaningful
  • Prefer to manage their own learning

With some of these definitions baring more weight than others, don’t you think?

REFERENCE

And additional references used by Driscoll but not cited above:

References (Adult Learning)

Knowles (1994) Andragogy in action. Applying modern principles of adult learning.

Brookfield (1991) Understanding and facilitating adult learning

Cross (1992) Adults as learns: increasing participation and facilitating learning.

Freire (1970) A cultural action for freedom

Merriam and Caffarella (1991) Learning in adulthood

Kidd (1973) How adults learn

 

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