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H800 WK21 Activity 1c. Web 2.0 Tools for Learning - what I recommend

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 4 Oct 2012, 12:48

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It isn't for lack of overwhelming, immersive and engaging content online, especially 'how to' movies and 'clips' in YouTube, its how you as an individual cope with this inexhaustible choice.

Armed with an 3G tablet and sim card will we find we are learning more on the fly, taking it with us, much of it free, some of it guided and paid for?

Taking advantage of participation (John Seely-Brown), learning on the periphery (John Seely-Brown), vicarious learning (Cox) and if you can get your tongue around it 'serendipitous learning.' (me I think).

I'm finding that 18 months in, and having really started this gig in 1998 when from the agency end we were migrating interactive DVD based learning to the Web, that I of necessity must balance the tools I can play (musical instrument metaphor), compared to those I play with (sandpit, training pool metaphor) ... and I suppose those ones I am obliged to master whether I like it or not (prescriptive tools for work and study - in at the deep end metaphor?!).

Conole (2011) invites us to use 'metaphors for meaning making'.

I always have, often visualising these metaphors. Just search this diary on 'Metaphor' to see what comes up. Also try words or phrases such as 'traffic light', 'nurture', 'gardening', 'swimming', 'spheres of influence', 'hub', 'serendipity' as well as 'water' and 'water-cycle'.

I therefore offer the following:

Linkedin (For Forums, like this, in groups and networks)

Wordpress (for blogging, sharing, wiki like affordances, training, updates)

iPad (or Tablet) (Whilst PCs and Laptops have considerable power and versatility

Twitter (only for niche/target live discussions or quasi-synchronous conversations.

The rest of it is 'Twitter Twaddle'

Spam of the worst kind being pumped out by pre-assigned links as CoTweets or random disconnected thoughts. This is killing some forums where RSS feeds of this stuff overwhelms any chance of a conversation).

I've seen two Forums killed, temporarily I hope, by this stuff, the largest victim being the Oxford University Alumni group.

I believe it is simply the case of a new moderator niavely permitting Twitter feeds in on a discussion, ie. having the conversations between 30 disrupted by the disconnected chattering of 300.

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H800 WK21 Activity 1 Comments on Conole regarding Web 2.0 and education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 12:26

In her chapter, Conole argues that a number of catalytic triggers can be identified in terms of the impact of technology on organisations.

Is this your experience?

That the catalytic triggers themselves influence the outcome?

If a problem or problems are the catalyst then yes the nature of and the implementation itself ought to be in direct correlation. However it is often the case that technologies, indeed innovations, go looking for a problem to fix or that the possibilities of a technology cast a shadow on current practice oblinging change.

Eddison did it both ways, solving problems but also trying to foist gadgets on people, both routes having to find their way to success or failure.

This discounts the impact of people, personalities or champions, CEOs and business owners who will carry the day sticking with or tearing out old technologies seemingly on a whim to replace something.

Can you think of examples of when technologies have had a radical impact on your own practice - either personally or professionally?

Over 25 years I have seen TV production change from big teams with office support to teams of one doing it all themselves, from the introduction of wordprocessing and spreadsheets, to the shift from tape or film to digital, from unionised crews and roles in both the UK and France, to a kind of D.I.Y. TV.

What do you think are some of the key barriers to the uptake of new technologies?

Cost, people, time, disruption, training, transition. From your own experience, can you think of change processes you have been involved with - a new technical system, restructuring of your department, a change in job functionality?

There's a new phone system going in now where the call comes through the PC and calls are taken using a headset or handset. How was the change process managed? A hint at what was coming, followed by decisions on the choices regarding the handset or headset then a whirlwind of activity on coming in Monday morning to find new phones that are so light to handle it's as if they're made of card. A team of eager and helpful people, some strangers, some regulars from the IT department, buzzed about. There has yet to be training on the newsoftware, but I suspect that it is intuative and 'just happens.'

(A few hours later my laptop starts talking to me. I realise it is a supplier. I hastlily plug in the headset. Moments later, by default I find through OUTLOOK I have called someone and leave a message).

Intuitive? Seems so.

What was the impact on individuals?

Acceptance, interest, more for our fingers to do, a step away from having video, an abundance of technical possibility that will trip us up. I'm starting to wonder if having filled our day with kit that means we are on call every moment of the day, carrying the office about with us and now doing two things simultaneously, taking calls while completing spreadsheets, for example.

What was the impact on day-to-day operations?

In this instance it has been fairly seemless, however, we were temporarily tripped up with the wi-fi going down and calls going to the wrong phones. Are calls, like emails, going to be recorded and logged?

Thus adding to the volume of email?

As Mayes, Puttnam and others have argued, education seems to have been slower than other industries in embracing the potential of technologies. Can you think of reasons why this might be the case?

We're dealing with cohorts of people coming through the gates (whether virtual or real, online or campus based learning) not components from China to be assembled. Education has a history of making radical shifts in both practice and use of technology and getting it wrong, which would impact on a generation, year group or cohort going through. I am struck how much that is 'teaching' is a highly human activity, that between student and teacher, not simply between people and course materials.

The person who can learn in isolation is the exception. Whilst e-learning promises so much, my fear is that a significant promise perceived by some is to make money. Whilst accepting the need for funding, education should be run as a business too, the idea that a 'quick buck' can be made by sticking modules online and taking payment up front will lead to many disappointments and poor retention.

Old ways, even if dressed in new clothes, such as pastorlal care and one-to-one guidance is just as necessary, perhaps more so for part-time and distance learners who have significantly more impacts on their day than the 'captive' campus-based student.

Is there anything significantly different about the nature or culture of education that has had an impact?

Hopefully the globalisation of education, made possible by the Internet and suppliers able to serve international audiences, the Western model of education will be diluted, infused with other practices and improved as a consequence. Despite Web 2.0 and its promise of participation and experiential learning we are still bound often to practices of the last 500 years; I would say that I am largely 'reading' for a degree, what is more, the assessment process is equally anachronistic, as it is based on assignments and papers being submitted so that markers can do just as they would have done had I been closed into an examination hall for 3 hours each time.

Do you think this is also true for Web 2.0 technologies?

We do as we have always done and become habitualised by it. Taking notes, writing essays, revision and testing follows an old pattern that never suited or was appropriate to everyone. Web 2.0 allows you to study with a crowd, to turn to fellow students, alumni, anyone online (even different institutions where they are putting content out in Open Form). Those of us already embedded in these technologies and practices expect to see it as we study and work, to have conversations 'on the record' all the time, to capture thoughts and ideas from the digital wind and allocate them a place in our burgeoning knowledge banks.

Do you think that the hype about Web 2.0 tools is justified?

Neither hype, nor those who decry the potential should be given credence unless one is used to balance the other. All that should count is the empircal evidence that in a snapshot of time states the positon. From such studies, repeated, and longitudinal, it becomes feasible that we can see trends and plan/act accordingly.

Do you think there is any evidence yet that Web 2.0 tools are having a significant and increasing impact on how teachers teach and learners learn?

Very much so. At times, from my experience, course materials are the jumping off spot, a catalyst and guide rather than an absolute. I will often seek out what an author thinks or says now, rather than relying on 'frozen' papers and texts that were assembled for a virtual box of books some years before. If conversations dry up or don't pick up in tutor or other groups I will decamp to a subject specific social network group.

Are we on another 'groundhog day' cycle or is there something significantly different this time?

There is something different that in some respects is a huge loop back thousands of years where like-minds gathered or those eager to learn would listen in then join in. This is made possible by the global reach of the Internet and increasingly affordable, reliable an easy to use kit.

If your conclusion is broadly that each technology is just another cycle of change, with promises not matching reality, is the perspective any different if the lens on this is over a longer time frame?

No and yes. What matters is the perspective of the person behind the lens, their beliefs, knowledge, experience, attitudes, ambitions, influence, power and voice. In other words, has there been a significant change in practice when you take a longer-term, cumulative account of a range of technologies?

It depends, the car caused rapid change, especially for those hit by one.

The Internet feels more like the air we breathe, certainly in Western and Developed Nations (if such distinctions even have any validity)

i.e. Incidents can't be so readily isolated.

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Some mind enriching blogs on the arts, politics, law and business

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 14:52

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Wordpress Showcase

Dan Ariely

Dan Ariely does research in behavioral economics and tries to describe it in plain language. These findings have enriched my life, and my hope is that they will do the same for you.

Timothy B.Lee

Timothy B. Lee writes about technology, public policy, and the intersection of the two.

UK Student Bloggers

Belgravia Dispatch

Gregory Djerejian, an international lawyer and business executive, comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site.

Stephen Bainbridge

Stephen Bainbridge is the William D. Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law in Los Angeles, where he currently teaches Business Associations, Advanced Corporation Law and a seminar on corporate governance.

Ann Althouse

Ann Althouse. blogging about legal matters since 2004.

3 Quarks

A one-stop intellectual surfing experience that culls good stuff from all over and puts it in one place i.e what has come to be known as a "filter blog". 3 Quarks is not to be afraid of challenging material.

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Tablet technology - From 1988

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Apple started this journey in 1988

See pics and videos of the iPad Ancestors

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If a blogger blogs, what do you do if you are forever engaged in other social media such as Linkedin or Facebook?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 07:45

Whilst embracing 'Activity Theory' I cannot always use the argument lucidly.

Engestrom presents an idea of how people or communities/groups communicate and learn from each other; when two people start to agree with gushing enthusiasm I'd worry, something else is going on.

(Power play of some kind, or love?)

[These ideas developed further here 'My Mind Bursts']

It is the very act of coming from a different stance that we as individuals begin to form ideas that are in effect beyond our current understanding, and when these 'objects' of understanding collide fresh thinking for both parties occurs.

There is a reason why in advertising (still I hope) a copywriter sits with an art director; this is how ideas form. Sitting in with 'creatives' and becoming one myself I came to appreciate this partnership ... though it has taken me 30 years to understand what is going in.

It has taken the last year with The OU to have my own thinking turned inside out, to let go, to share, to collaborate, rather than try to be that lone author in a garret, hunched shoulders over my work, never sharing it and rarely letting go.

What I have always needed and thrive on are collaborators in the form of agents, producers, editors, publishers, fellow writers and directors, colleagues who facilitate and enable, fellow bloggers too ...

If a blogger blogs, what do you do if you are forever engaged in other social media such as Linkedin or Facebook?

'e-Commentator' already feels like a naff 'noughties' way to express it.

We've had our fill of 'e-tivities' and 'e-learning' haven't we? It is just learning; they are just activities.

I've return to Engestrom often.

My ability to trace my love hate acceptance path through his thinking attests to the value of doing this, my 'learning journal'.

This is what initially had me befuddled and angry:

Two people are the easy part.

The interplay between SIX people because yet more complex.

At arm's length, the objects, the ideas, views or knowledge that they have begins to take on an identity of its own.

'Expansive learning is based on Vygotsky, though three times removed; it implies that we learn within activity pockets as individuals and groups. The interplay between these groups are the consequential objects of learning that in turn transmogrify in the presence of other objects. Solving problems, dealing with contradictions, may come about as these learning systems slide or shift'. Vernon (2011)

Am allowed to do that? Quote myself? It is my 'object 3' moment when it comes to this.

Anyone care to comment?

The challenge when reading papers such as those below is how to make the subject matter comprehensible to the non-academic. Some turn to diagrams, others to metaphors, yet others to cartoons.

I favour the lone speaker free of PowerPoint or even FlipChart.

If they can hold their argument and look into your eyes their conviction can be convincing.

My goal must remain making the complex comprehensible. Academics have a tendency to tie themselves in knots. If they only talk to fellow academics no wonder. I recognise the value of visualising, of animated explanation, of the power of persuasive through discourse, of metaphors, and analogies, of ideas rising out of the confusion to present themselves.

The problem with all things WWW is that it is just trillions of binary Ones and Zeros in the cloud (which is why I like to use the water-cycle as an analogy).

REFERENCE

Engeström (2001) article, Expansive learning at work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualisation

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Are you a Tablet Agnostic, Atheist, or Evangelist?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 2 Jul 2011, 05:16

Or is that device agnostic?

Quite right too, though my life was easier when it was all Mac. I'm working on some ideas in relation to Martini-learning.

You know the thing, having a Smartphone or iPad that you can use (cue the music) 'anytime, anyplace, anywhere.'

It's just learning folks.

Whether you add an i, an e or an o, as in iLearning (interactive), eLearning (electronic) or online learning. Not forgeting web-based learning which it was called c1998 to 2005?

I am reflecting on how best to introduce new anything to people.

As a professional swimming coach I think a good metaphor is teaching adults to swim. I can get the motivated person to a full Triathlon in 18 months and an Iron Man in Five Years.

It all starts in what used to be called the 'baby pool' or training pool. Just get into your costume and get your toes wet might be a start. I am ok with many blogging platforms, I've observed their progress with a rye smile for over 12 years and have a habit of giving them all a go.

I am getting used to Linkedin.

Next stop a master class in Twitter and Facebook (where all three Jonathan Vernons are I regret to say me ... Getting unstuck, not feeling comfortable with the 'collective' me.

A simple exercise with a tablet I feel has been to have had access to an iPad for three weeks but only used the wifi connection. I now have the sim card in.

So work doesn't just come home, it can be 'enjoyed' 'indulged' or 'executed' from a Wendy House at the bottom of my mother's garden.

Here's the rub.

I have to be indoors because the reflection on the icey glass surface of an ipad gives me more cloudworks on the keyboard and screen than I need. For reading at least it is back to the Kindle.

P.S. Having not used my mobile phone for a week, and not missed it, this like Television, might be a piece of technology that like my Psion and Palm One before, have had their day.

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Just a minute sound-bites to make your toes curl ... Ten times

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:21

Just search 'English language' and there are dozen of references to the use of words. I'm used to massive tomes on the subject, from the Cambridge Encyclopeadie of the English Language to the heft books by Henry Hitchings.

This therefore is a wonder, the whole thing in ten, one minute pieces.

The History of English…in just a minute x10

Could lectures be reduced to 45 single miunte pieces too?

A bite-sized comedic though academically sound-bite sized approach to learning – think “Just A Minute (BBC Radio 4) meets ‘The Reduced Shakespeare Company.’ Think Dr Who having to explain his prefernce for these Isles in a 60 second count down to the end of the universe. Which words we leave you discombobulated? Which ones tickled pink?

‘The History of English…in ten minutes’

Voiced by Clive Anderson, Scripted by Jon Hunter (R4 Mock the Week/The News Quiz)

“When did English speaking scientists get round to naming the  most intimate of the sexual body parts?

Voiced by Clive Anderson, this entertaining romp through 'The History of English' squeezes 1600 years of history into 10 one-minute bites, uncovering the sources of English words and phrases from Shakespeare and the King James Bible to America and the Internet.

Bursting with fascinating facts, the series looks at how English grew from a small tongue into a major global language before reflecting on the future of English in the 21st century. “

Philip Sergeant (FELS) was the academic consultant.

The idea is based on the Open University course 'Worlds of English'.

The History of English
Jon Hunter


Dr Phil Searegeant
Phil has contributed to U211 Exploring the English Language, A150 Voices and Texts, EA300 Children's Literature, and E854 Investigating Language in Action.

Phil is currently working on the production of U214 Worlds of English and am on the presentation team of A150 Voices and Texts.

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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

 

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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.

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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?

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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.

REFERENCE

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

 

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21 good reasons to blog a lot

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 15:42

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'It seems to me that I follow only the most accessible thread. Three or four threads may be agitated, like telegraph wires, at the same time, and if I were to tap them all I would reveal such a mixture of innocence and duplicity, generosity and calculation, fear and courage. I cannot tell the whole truth simply because I would have to write four journals at once. I often would have to retrace my steps, because of my vice for embellishment'.

Anais Nin

(Henry & June, Journals, July 1932)


A diary can be  many things:

1) a record of what happens to me and around me each day

2) a notebook for whatever I’m reading

3) a record and analysis of dreams

4) a place to try my hand at exposure

5) a place to describe how it is, or isn’t;

6)a place to practise lies

7) a place to drill, thrill and hone my skill

8) a place to underplay, exaggerate or avoid

9) a place to lose myself in Truth

10) a place to play

11) a place where a blank pages means something as a day missed is a day when I’m too ill, too depressed, too drunk or too bored with it writers keep diaries to record events -a writer’s journal I do this; working up events until they have become more real that reality as I obscure what happened with scene setting detail and by bringing narrative order to the muddle of a daily life.

12)  At times I write as a drill, to practice, at others because I feel an obligation, it is what I do most days, every day.

13) I use these pages to extract a writing style and extricate myself from the bland.

Lately a form has emerged as I tripped and stumbled over a keyboard I’ve been hacking at the undergrowth until I have found my way, happily pursing forest paths and following streams back to their source.

14) I keep a diary as a record of events: what I did, where, with whom.

At times I reduce the diary to bullet points, satisfied that I've not lost the day forever to obscurity.

As a painter I had to draw what I saw, from reality, not straight out of the mind or by copying.

As a writer I hoped at first that I could write candidly about reality and once I had established that I could progress to fiction.

Do I want to put my life under the microscope?

Am I writing postcards to myself?

It all counts. It all mounts This writing is never supposed to be a draft of anything Francois Truffaut said he felt it was necessary to read everything to give the mind food and things to smart against. It is worth reading all kinds of things.

So how many diaries or journals do I need?

15) a dream book

16) a diary for a straight log of what I did during the day

17) a journal as a notebook (as here)

18) a memory jogger

19) something for assessment/analysis of what I am thinking and reading

20) a scrapbook.

How many is that? Would four do the trick?

You should try it for a year

There comes that moment when you can reflect on what you were doing exactly a year ago amd to feel the same every time another entry is composed.

I kept a five year day for eight years in my early teens: the five lines per day are hopeless unrevealing.

I washed my hair, cleaned out the rabbit kind of thing. Some rare moments bring back the day or event. I began to record dreams in my mid-teens, tiring off it when I found I could recall four or more dreams each night taking several hours to write them up the following day.

I kept a scrapbook and dairy in a ring-bind folder when I went on an exchange with a French boy and repeated this around my 17th birthday, filling a folder in one month and so realising I needed a different approach.

Then I settled for a page of A4 per day every day, not less and rarely more.

21) Write as much or as little as you like.

Being able to write as much as I liked I found myself filling a dozen pages plus and so quickly lost the detail that would have otherwise identified the day, month and year. I wanted to buy a scrapbook again for ages.

Then along came the Web.

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H800 80 Week 19: Mobile devices, mobile learners & Web 2.0

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 5 Oct 2012, 06:28

From materials and commentary prepared by John Pettit (2008)

Of courses it is learning if it is on a mobile phone or any other device. Do we mean informal or formal learning? Vicarious learning or didactic? Stumbling across knowledge, or reading formerly to pass an exam? Does it matter? These devices blur the distinction between a means of educating that may eventually look dated and specific to an era.

Do we need campus based universities?

Kids can have their kicks in Ibiza then study online while holding down their first job.

Give the campus over to the retired and unemployed.

Do we need schools?

And if so, instead of being at the centre of a child's education, perhaps they become as tangential as a visit to the leisure centre of supermarket because you are better linkedin to the educators and the content when you're away from the place and all its distractions.

When do you ever not learn even if you don’t know it?

It depends entirely on what the device is being used for. Apps have shown how versatile we are at throwing activities and qualities at these devices. People want this stuff.

Is a laptop mobile? What about the old Apple Classic? I used to take it out into the garden on an extension cable and view it inside a cardboard box while sunbathing. Was that mobile? I can read in the bath on a Kindle and click through RSS feeds on the iPad while the Kettle boils. Might it simply feel as if all these people are following me around?

There are degress of mobility. Working in TV we carried around with us monitors to watch content back during a shoot. The thing was no more portable than a hod stacked with bricks.

When I read formal and informal learning I wonder if this equates to whether the learning is hard or easy. I have acquired knowledge in a formal setting and had a laugh, equally in an informal context without the self-motivation and will I have found informal learning very hard to do.

It is sometimes claimed that handheld digital devices allow students to learn at anytime, anywhere. A more nuanced position argues that the devices have the potential for ‘any time anywhere’ learning but that many other factors come into play.

For example, some devices may be easy to handle but have small screens that don’t allow easy reading.

Far from being hard to read the small screen is better suited to the narrow field of close vision that we have. So what if it is like looking through a letter box. If you want to concentrate why look at more?

A device can become too small. Too portable. As a video producer I have seen kit shrink so much that a device the size of a child’s shoe will generate a HD image and for $75 a day you could hire a camera that delivers 35mm quality. Making a film though with a device so small creates instability, you need some weight on your shoulder if you want to keep the image steady.

The portability and size of screen is less relevant than the affordances of the device, the fact that an iPad doesn’t support Flash, or Android is having problems with Google Apps, that is, if you are using learning materials that require specific functionality that isn’t working.

As for screen size, people may watch a blockbuster movie on a giant screen at the Odeon Leicester Square or on a Smartphone or palm-sized gaming device that is no bigger than a spectacle case; here what matters as with any movie, is the quality of the narrative, not the size of the screen.

Where a device’s portability comes into its own, as the person who recently made a phone call from the top of Everest, is the portability. Another extreme might be a cave diver with a device the plots the route for a cave system, or a glaciologists relaying pictures of a feature in a Greenland ice-sheet to colleagues thousands of miles away that informs the research.

‘Patterns of usage differ widely, and the fit between people’s lives and the devices they use can be very close.’ (Pettit and Kukulska-Hulme, 2007, p.28)

Is an apt way to express a new term being used in the Open University Business School to describe applied or practice-based learning that gets away from the ‘distance’ tag, that is to call it ‘nearness’ learning. (Fleck, 2011). I also like the idea of ‘intense but provisional,’ people’s attitudes are brand specific, with the Mac vs. PC split of computing now a split between Windows, Mac and Android (and others).

People chose brands to simplify the choices that have to be made between a plethora of devices, between Sony, Nokia, Goole and Windows, as well as between network suppliers, be that O2, Vodafone or others.

There is another way of looking at it though, if you come to see that all these devices offer the same sets of services and tools, from QWERTY keyboards, to a camera, from messaging to phone calls, to the hundreds of thousands of Apps, and in the case of the latest Windows phone … Windows software from Outlook to Docs, PPT to Excel.

Is size such an issue?

People have managed needlepoint for centuries and once painted miniatures. There is an appeal for the tiny sometimes, just as there is for the massive. In this respect the device becomes a reflection of the person’s personality, as well as the depth of their pockets, the availability of others services, from a signal to 3G (or not), even to the power to charge batteries.

Personal choice, celebration of variety, offering a smorgasbord rather than the continental breakfast.

‘That well-known random-access device consisting of ink on bound sheets of paper may still have plenty of life in it yet!’ (Pettit and Kukulska-Hulme, 2007, p.28) expressed in 2007 is how in 2011 writers in the e-magazine Reconstruction 6.4 describe the ‘long-tail’ of the blog, that definitions have become meaningless, suggesting that the varieties of ways to do or have what we have continued to call a ‘blog’ is as varied as the ways we have over many centuries come to use paper.

Drawing on a paper written in 2007 on research presumably undertaken a couple of years previously, it strikes me that ‘the world has moved on’, to say the least – though not enough. This exercise is looking at the extraordinary capabilities and uses for a device that in 2011 can offer somewhat more than was possible four years ago. This doesn’t mean to say we have the things.

From my own perspective I came into the MAODE (this time round) with an eight year old iBook that had trouble with some software, things as simple as PDFs and the latest versions of Flash as I was unable to upgrade the operating system. Working from a smallish screen I found myself printing off too. For the second module I had access to a better laptop and plugged it into a good-sized screen that allowed me to see a page of A4 at a time or to swivel the screen and have two windows open side by side. During the course of my third module (this one) I found myself without a particular device, but with access to a desktop, a laptop, even an iPad (and have used a Kindle to read some 16 books). Here I found myself putting everything online, into a blog and e-portfolio so I could access whatever I wanted wherever I was (or whichever device was available), as well as having the cataloguing, aggregating, sharing affordances that this has given. Any device, however mobile, and whatever size, can tap into this content.

The problem now, isn’t simply, for me at least, is the overwhelming volume of content I have put online, which despite adopting various approaches to keep track of it, has split into a number of blogs (OU, Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr), a number of cloud galleries/warehouses in the sky (Flick, Dropbox, Kodak and Picasa Galleries, My Stuff, Pebblepad).

It is apt that I blog under the name ‘my mind bursts’, because it has, and is.

Like having a thought, or recalling some event or fact seemingly on a whim, I find I stumble across these ‘mind bursts’ quite by accident, forgetting the number of blogs, for example, that I for a period started only to abandon so that ‘serendipity’ has a role to play through the myriad of links I’ve also made. None of this has helped by finding myself with three Facebook accounts and unsure how to delete the ‘right’ one.

The attitude can only be to ride this like the web surfer of a decade ago – to run with it, rather than try and control it. You meet friends coming off a training a Liverpool Station, you do not need to know who else is on the concourse, the timetables for every train that day, week or year. To cope with the overwhelming quantity of stuff tools to filter out what matters to you at that moment is coming to matter most.

Currently I find myself repeatedly drawn to the activities of Hugo Dixon, a former Economist and FT journalist, who set up a business he called ‘Breaking Views’ to counter what he already by then perceived as a deluge of online information and the old print-based expression ‘Breaking News’; we would come to need as some pundits predicted fifteen years ago, ‘information managers’ or ‘information management systems’.

I wish I could reference the expression properly but ‘Freedom is lack of choice’ is one of my favourites; sometimes filters and parameters have their place. I enjoy using a Kindle as much for its limitations; it is something I can take to bed knowing that it’ll send me to sleep, while an iPad keeps me up all night.

REFERENCES

Fleck, J (2011) Association of MBAs Conference Video 2011

Pettit, John and Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes (2007). Going with the grain: mobile devices in practice. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 23(1), pp. 17–33.

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The value or otherwise of 'User Generated Content' in education and corporate communications

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 15:53

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From Wikipedia with commentary.

Aggregated here though shared for the value of thinking about the myriad of ways we now generate content and the way user generated content has value that is different from content produced or published by institutions or corporations.

You see a programme and talk about it at a party. Or you talk about an event which a writer picks up and puts into a novel that is made into a film. Where does the conversational like disembodiment of the idea from a person's head 'find legs' and get a life of its own. How should we use and value all of this 'stuff?' Perhaps in exactly the same way that we differentiate between journalism and scholarly writing, between chat (even if on topic) around the 'water-cooler' compared to a more formal teasing out of ideas in a tutorial.

It all matters, you just have to navigate around the choices with some sense of their different meanings and values.

What I favour about user generated content is how authentic and immediate it is. Think of the footage from smartphone of the Tsunami in Japan this March. The user generated content not only trumped the TV networks, but is already being applied in academic reseach by placing scholars at the point the footage was shot so that further analysis can be undertaken on what happened and the lessons to be learnt.

We live in interesting times.

For other uses, see UGC (disambiguation). User generated content (UGC) covers a range of media content available in a range of modern communications technologies.

It entered mainstream usage during 2005 having arisen in web publishing and new media content production circles.

Its use for a wide range of applications, including problem processing, news, gossip and research, reflects the expansion of media production through new technologies that are accessible and affordable to the general public.

All digital media technologies are included, such as question-answer databases, digital video, blogging, podcasting, forums, review-sites, social networking, mobile phone photography and wikis.

In addition to these technologies, user generated content may also employ a combination of open source, free software, and flexible licensing or related agreements to further reduce the barriers to collaboration, skill-building and discovery.

Sometimes UGC can constitute only a portion of a website.

For example on Amazon.com the majority of content is prepared by administrators, but numerous user reviews of the products being sold are submitted by regular users of the site.

Often UGC is partially or totally monitored by website administrators to avoid offensive content or language, copyright infringement issues, or simply to determine if the content posted is relevant to the site's general theme.

Just because you 'generate' stuff doesn't mean it will be permitted. How does a business or institution manage often valuable input from stakeholders? Do you 'cut your face off to spite yourself'by disallowing such stuff? An organisation that shuts down the voices that sing its praises are surely shooting themselves in the foot.

The very nature of the networked, online, switched-on world in which we now leave favours those, like Cisco Systems with its 1300 employee blogs, that embrace what is going on. Indeed, this number of activity would and does quickly drown out the detractors. Use the power of the crowd to police your message, because you never can.

Think of it as having an Open Day every day. People come and go. But the crowds swell. Do you issue edicts then send trained staff off to tell people they can or annot talk about x or y, or talk at all? And if they are going to talk, it can only be in a specific location where everything you say will be recorded, delayed for moderation, and only then shared with a myriad of additional tags attached ot it that are not of your choice. Might this be like talking through a gas-mask.

I do wonder.

To fail to engage is to disappear. Institutions will be noticeable for their absence. The advantage the OU has are the numbers of students and alumni. If research suggests that only 1% of those active online blog, then the OU should expect 3,000 to be out there. If we add in alumni groups this figure might rise to 30,000?

(And don't give me the generational thing ... research, take that by Richardson 2003,2005,2007,2011 at the OU knocks that nonsense on the head). IT has nothing to do with when you were born, and everything to do with personality, education, having the kit and making the time.

Here's a thought, if you want to police content who should do so? The publisher, editor or print unions? Does it not have to come down to the audience deciding what they consider acceptable or of interest to them or not?

Just let 'em have it.

There's enough out there for the dross to get lost and enough like-minded people on your side to drown out the miscreants or the negativity as it inevitably, occasionally, occurs.

Trust them.

If someone is proud of who they are and where they work and what they do, let them sing its praises, let them create supportive content. Encourage, enable, even reward and from time to time offer additional resources if they are on a roll and readers are flocking to their banner.

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H800 WK19 Twitter

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 1 Jul 2012, 17:52

I feel like a Kaizoo player in front of the Great Whirlitzer organ.

Reading 'Twitter for Dummies' doesn't help, but I am trying to master Linkedin, WordPress and Facebook at the same time. Which strikes me as trying to learn to play the violin, obeo and piano at the same time as having to conduct.

Thus far I manage the following:

  • Compose blog in Wordpress.
  • Tweet.
  • If it is OU related add the appropriate #.
  • May also add ^JV

I've been doing this for the 'Made in Britain' series with Evan Davies which starts on Monday with Business School input.

My handle in Twitter is JJ27VV. Someone had my name. This has stuck for a few years.

As I get my head around the OUBS website and this content is refreshed I and others authorised/enabled to do so, will Tweet pertinent content too.

Adding to the noise? Or or value? A must have ... because everyone esle is doing it?

I may Tweet things I find of interest, adding the hashtag or not. I am just as likely to 'Share' by sending the content to one of several WordPress blogs first.

There IS an educational value to this constant chattering, and that is to listen in and join conversations on something that is current.

So this week it might be conversatons on m-learning. (A suffix that is likely to become more quickly redundant than e-learning).

I wish I had the details to quote the person properly but in an interview a few weeks ago someone said 'research into a subject until the narrative reveals itself'.

I feel I have reached a stage where conversations that made no sense to me a year ago, now make sense and I can pick out threads, create my own narrative from it, even place the 'level' of conversation somewhere along that person's learning journey so that I can compare it to mine.

This in turn, again, there is a person to quote ... makes learning with this technology more akin to direct, face-to-face conversations that in the past would only be picked up by physically being on campus, in a student common room, lecture hall or tutor group.

The 'democratization' of education that I dismissed a year ago occurs because more often or not, the undergraduate gets to listen in and even join in discussion in the 'senior common room,' as it were.

This in turn picks up John Seely Brown's idea of learning through participation, starting on the periphery whoever you are and through listening and engagement slowly being enrolled and brought into the group.

Off hand I can think of my brother who develop his passion for all things mechanical buy watching his grandfather, then hanging around competent hobbyist mechanics, or pestering people who were servicing Mums car. He read the magazine, watch the TV shows, 'listen in' to the conversations and goings on around go-kart race tracks. He never had a lesson but is more than capable of rebuilding any car under the sun today.

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H800 WK17 Computer Lab to iPad for e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 17 Oct 2012, 04:30

Simply to offer a different insight while acknowledging the above, I was, in 1983, introduced to the wonders of the University Computer Lab.

'Back then' this wasn't an elective, but rather signing up to some additional, extra-curricular training.

It did not appeal one bit; I could imagine to some degree where it was going and its necessity in one of my options (remote sensing from space), but to achieve anything (I am neither computer literate or mechanically minded), it struck me, as was the case, that your required a certain mindset (that of an engineer or mathematician). Because it was in little demand, not networked, bespoke to a project and housed in one place it was akin to joining the stamp club and about as exciting. It was however 'on request,' rather than compulsory and could with ease be ignored.

I wonder if a more laissez-faire approach would work?

More of an internal market in an organisation where choices are offered to individuals so that the decission making could be more bottom up than top down? i.e. you have a budget, you pick the kit you'd like, the software you need rather than being prescribed a piece of kit and software and obliged to learn it.

I imagine the moment I can afford to buy a Mac I'll do so.

The simplest analogy would be is that I feel I've been told I have to use a Rotring pen and a ruler, but I'd prefer to use a soft HB6 pencil and a pad of cartridge paper. The end result, the task or peice of communication I have to deliver will be the same, I just get there 'my way,' rather than 'your way'.

My university experience from the 1980s, to that as student and now insider thirty years on at the OU is different, however, invited to meet a group of Associate Lecturers yesterday to have my mind picked regarding web-conferencing, Elluminate and synchronous learning in general, I was struct not by how things have changed, but how what matters hasn't changed at all - there are educators who are fascinate by and passionate about what they do.

There is a desire to do the best by their students and to get their heads around what tools could be used to improve or enhance this experience. Even speaking with my 85 year old father-in-law, a former prof who still 'teaches' I am struck by this vocational zeal, which is shared whether by email and Skype, by snailmail or a tutorial, collaboration on a book, or giving a talk (still) at a summer school.

The lesson I have learnt therefore is never to let the technology get in the way of this experience, that between educator and student, the knowledgeable and the less knowledgeable, playing on this inhate human desire to share our experience and knowledge whatever that might be.

Increasingly, when discussing the merits of kit or software, I return to this theme, that people have not changed and that the natural relationships that form between people in markets, in villages, in communities, is what we crave and repeatedly recreate online in a multitude of ways.

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ELizabeth 1st to e-learning - four centuries on are we trying to treat everyone like a little princess?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 09:04

The view I have formed during the course of MAODE and now that I am immersed in the perfect pool for e-learning I find that the vastness, and the complexity of the issues, from learning design, to the technology, from course materials to access, the whole gamut of what should or could be done, has been done, rightly or wrongly, and how we respond to current changes (student funding, Internet, global demand for higher education/life-long learning to the highest level) boils down to understanding people.

How and why do people learn?

How is this best achieved?

Always see it, whatever the scale (and there are student cohorts in their thousands on some OU modules), from the perspective of one person and their unique and shifting circumstances, abilities, weaknesses, desires, hopes, technical ability, financial and family situation, geographical location, employment status, mental and health well-being.

It still strikes me that the basic student profile is so limiting in what we are asked to provide, and yet I suspect a few clicks on a drop-down box does influence where we are placed. I know that being on my third and final module is a key reason to allocate me to one group over another, that the desire for this mix of those new to the course and those with more experience is deliberate.

It may suite the OU to have in a group of 16 a split three ways between those on their first, second or third module. Selfishly, it would suit me to be in a tutor group of 'module threes'. We are more alike because of our shared experienced; as like minds we would achieve more. Indeed, I wonder if the needs especially of those on their first module would be better catered for?

A crude marker that assumes mistakenly something about this individuals character and disposition.

I appreciate too, on the other hand, that it could be invasive to go through a heftier profiling process, however, I think such effort would be rewarded and probably show up as improved retention as people's individual circumstances, whether trivial or massive, would be, to some degree at least, accommodated.

An idealist?

Princesses Elizabeth had, in the 16th century, one-to-one tuition, specialists, the best in their field. What she'd learnt dicated by others, preparing her from an early age for what might be expected of her. Four centuries later can something like this not be made possible for many more? All it takes is for someone who knows stuff to spend time with someone who does not.

Above I suggest we need to think harder about the student, as a person, in all their glorious uniqueness.

Perhaps I am saying there are two people in this relationship and it is this failure to respect the importance of them both that is often not met when technology is put between them, not to make this ideal learning relationship possible, but to make any learning at all possible.

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H800 WK17

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I interviewed our Dean, Prof. James Fleck a couple of weeks ago (soon to appear on the Association of MBAs website as it was featured at their 2011 Conference).

Here he tells a story of what he calls 'distance' learning (used negatively); it is exactly what we saw in this Kansas University video; they were 'distant' said Prof. Fleck, because he couldn't make out the colour of the person's top in the back row. He compared this to what he said the Faculty of Business and Law achieves through 'nearness' or 'closeness' learning, using platforms such as this, web-conferences too, to support learning. The 'd' word has been banned because of its negative connotations, which include the idea that students have little contact with tutors or fellow students, which in most cases is never the situation as there are regular tutor meetings and other get-togethers. I had to be put right on this score (there are 330 regional centres globally).

In its blended form using a laptop or ipad during a lecture, to Twitter on topic to colleagues, or to see fullscreen or closeups of what the lecturer is delivering live, may enhance the experience, even bring people closer? JISC 2011 this year was attended by nearly 400 on Twitter watching and listening online with under 150 in the lecture hall.

The technology should enable, enhance and support, never to the exclusion of people how don't have the kit or reliable access. Talking of which, I interviewed an Visiting International Fellow from Ghana for the Faculty and couldn't help but ask a question relating to our MAODE; he gave permission to use this so I ought to offer it somewhere. This was on technolgy and the way mobile phones have 70% penetration in Ghana and are therefore crucial to overcome a list of other problems offering a real way forward to be able to exploit learning content, in this case Open Resources for training Civil Servants to MBA level.

And what I take from this?

The best lessons I ever had were from my grandfather; sitting with him learning about his experiences as a machine-gunner and then a fighter pilot in the RFC then taking him to the Imperial War Museum where they welcomed him like Royalty and even had a machine gun out for him! In a moment this 95 year old was crouched behind the thing ... anyway, the point it, one-to-one and face-to-face, an expert passing on knowledge to someone who is motivated is the ideal; how technology can facilitate a component of this is what appeals to me, playing on what we do best as humans in the anthropological sense.

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Applied Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:18

Odd how I can treat a TMA like an essay, research it to death and build towards an essay crisis. Having to write the TMA equivalent, a strategy paper on Social Media, I find I am a couple of days ahead with the first draft written, expectations of a meeting where expert colleagues will have input before finalising and presenting in a week.

Applied learning, or practice-based learning ... action learning, they're all the same idea that attracts a good deal of interest; it increasingly makes sense for people, especially if they are settled in a position that they enjoy and need, to study as the work, the learning occuring alongside what they do, rather than separetely from it.

In some respects this is the immersive learning that game-like learning environments are supposed to re-created; but why do that when you can have the real thing?

I had thought of creating it as a wiki, password protected for contributing stakeholders. As long as we're on the same wavelength from experience of doing this in the MAODE I'd trust the end result to be better as a result, the equivalent of lifting something from the 70% mark towards 85% and beyond.

Blogging here My Mind Bursts more than here, where the audiences have far more choice and haven't the focus of hear of learning with the OU.

Its been an interesting environment to hone some more advanced blogging habits and skills, not simply the generation of regular content, but how it is linked, where it is linked and the important of tags which I've used simply to identify content, but of course of seach engine optimisation purposes too.

If you have a moment and can put the right hat on, perhaps you're an Open University Faculty of Business and Law student anyway, then do please visit our website as I will be listening to all comers on valuable enhancements we can make here.

To 'blogify' is my mission.

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Blogging works – you too should keep a diary. You can always go private.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 16:10

Blogging works – you too should keep a diary.

Don't think its anything new, this one dates to the 16th century. Lady Anne Clifford would know how to build a website and keep a blog. She did.

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You can always go private.

Edit, then publish later. Or password protect so only a few get to read.

To give you confidence.

To become emboldened.

Start small. 50 years before Twitter there was the Five Year Diary. This is mine. I think the entries here are around 140 character.

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‘Maketh up a quote at ye beginning of thy book; it will make people think thou art clever.’

Christopher Marlowe ‘The Obscure Tragedie’ Act II, Scene ii.

The following comes from a seminal book on diary keeping by Tristine Rainer.

Here are some key thoughts:

Some of this thinking can be brought up to date in the context of keeping a diary online; the essential principals remain the same.

A dairy is many things:

‘Everything and anything goes. You cannot do it wrong. There are no mistakes. At any time you can change your point of view, your style, your book, the pen you write with, the direction you write on the pages, the language in which you write, the subjects you include, or the audience you write to. You can misspell, write ungrammatically, enter incorrect dates, exaggerate, curse, pray, write poetically, eloquently, angrily, lovingly. You can past in photographs, newspaper clippings, cancelled checks, letters, quotes, drawings, doodles, dried flowers, business cards, or labels. You can write on lined paper or blank paper, violet paper or yellow, expensive bond or newsprint.’

Tristine Rainer, ‘The New Diary’ 1976.

Is this so different to blogging 25 years on?

Not at all. I go with the view of Reconstruction 6.4 that a blog is like paper, as versatile, but online.

Think about. I have and academic 'papers' have been written on the theme.

‘Flow, spontaneity and intuition are the key words. You don’t have to plan what you are going to do. You discover what you have done once you have set it down.’Tristine Rainer.

Keep it all in one place

‘When the dreams like next to the fantasies, and political thoughts next to personal complaints, they all seem to learn from each other.’

  • This works for blogging:
  • Write Spontaneously
  • Write quickly
  • This is so that you don’t know what will come next.
  • How the unexpected can happen.
  • Surprise yourself.
  • Write Honestly

Be open about what you really feel.

Few diaries actually lie to themselves in a dairy, but many out of shyness with themselves avoid writing about the most intimate aspects of a situation.

Write Deeply

Anais Nin, disappointed with her childhood diaries, developed the practice of sitting quietly for a few minutes before beginning to write. She would close her eyes and allow the most important incident or feeling of the day or of the period of time since she last wrote to surface in her mind.

That incident or feeling became her first sentence.

Write Correctly

  • Expressive language is not a science.
  • There are no rules.
  • You are writing for yourself, so self-expression is the key.
  • Test the range of your natural voice – it will develop.
  • Errors are part of the form of the diary, as they are part of life.

Blogging for Dummies claims this thinking for itself, treating the ideas of others like a tumble-dryer of ideas from which you can pick willy-nilly.

Choose your audience Your best audience is your future self.

In ten years time you won’t remember the situation unless you capture all its sensual vitality now.

My frustration is with the new comers jumping on the blogging bandwagon professing to know all about social media (including blogging). They don't unless they have done it; I have. I do.

Value contradictions

In time they will develop towards a larger truth; leave them in.

‘Some diarists find when they go several weeks without writing they begin to feel off balance and take it as a signal that they are avoiding the inner self.’

Those of us who keep a diary regularly are stuck with it; whether it appears online, and which bits of appear online is another matter.

‘We taught the diary as an exercise in creative will; as an exercise in synthesis; as a means to create a world according to our wishes, not those of others; as a means of creating the self, of giving birth to ourselves.’

Anais Nin, December 1976.

There’s more to follow from Tristine Rainer on basic diary devices and special techniques.

The Marlowe quote is John O’Farrel’s invention and appears in ‘I blame the scapegoats.’ A diary cannot be ghost written, I’m sure some blogs.

A corporate blog isn'nt a blog it's a online brochure.

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What generation are you? I was brought up with a remote control for the telly; I must be different

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 1 Jun 2011, 21:14

Prensky claimed in 2001 that computer use had changed children's brains. So quick? I thought evolution took longer than a week. They sliced Einstein's brain up and found that despite a lifetime of brilliance it was no different to any other lump of grey matter. Prensky could have learnt this from a primer on neuroscience.

This scarmonger had only one goal, to have yet another generation of tired and receptive teachers nod in agreement and blame kit they didn't understand or couldn't use and then the kids themselves. Nonsense. Is it really likely that 'our students' brains have physically changed - and are different from ours?'

Selwyn's 2008 research concludes that Prensky's Generation is no more homogenous than any other, with ample variation in attitudes and exposure to technologies and that in some instances, as in Belgium 'internet use often clashes with rather than complements students progress.'

Don't you find that face-to-face conversations with like minds or planning out an essay on sheets of paper in a quiet room is more effective than having all this yammering and incesant twittering going on around you?

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If knowledge acqusition changes behaviour, then here is evidence of how it changes the person, their working life and no doubt their levels of contentment

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 29 May 2011, 13:21

OU MBA Leads Civil Servant To Teaching And Consulting

A few hours ago I thought I'd delve into the Open University Business School Linkedin community to find some interesting stories and was offered this.

The reward, given that this is a Sunday Bank Holiday, is to find these stories.

I suppose were this online 'village' an actual community I'd say come down to the beach for this afternoons BBQ.

I should add that my own personal 'lift' through the OU only makes me wish I'd done an OU course two decades ago. I find that my life-style balance requires: family, work and curiosity indulged with an applied skew'.

Sure it can be put better, but I'm certain you get my meaning. I'm signed up to another MAODE module in 2012 despite having enough for the Masters ... this isn't the point (and has never been my raison d'etre behind CPD).

I wonder if an anthropologist would conclude that there are many of us who hanker after constant learning, as if from parents, uncles, relations, community members and the 'village elders'.

Personally, when my curiosity dries up and can no longer be fed, then I'll have one foot in the grave.

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H800 80 Use of mobile devices in e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 15:44

Where do we strand with the use of mobile devices in learning?

The Kukulska-Hulme et al 2011 report 'Mature Students using mobile devices in life and learning' may be a recent publication (International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning Jan-march 2001) but draws its conclusions on research undertaken in between May 2008 and April 2009.

Technologically, in relation to the potential for e-learning, has move on a great deal. In industry would we not expect a report, say from Nielsen or Monitor, to have been done in the last six months?

As Kukulskha-Hulme and her colleagues point out by 2009 PDAs were virtually extinct and we were about to experience the launch of the iPad. Since 2009 smart phones have graduated - they're bright in many ways.

Like their users?

Bright people with the means quickly find ways to put these tools to work, extending their reach to their online course, for materials, forums and assessment alerts, to organise their study time around their diary.

'In today’s global marketplace, educators must know the technology habits and expectations of their students, including those from other countries.' (Kukulska-Hulme et al, 2001:18)

A growing body of students expect a component of their course to be managed using mobile devices.

I like this point from JISC. It supports the constructive view of learning

"Learners can be active makers and shapers of their own learning. They should be supported in using technologies of their own choice where appropriate". (JISC, 2009, p.51)

It is interesting that the report notes that ‘mobile will not necessarily be readily adapted for learning’ (a 2008/2009 perspective) with reasons given as: ‘Ergonomic, pedagogical, psychological and environmental facts and the issue of cost’. (Stockwell, 2008)

Much more is possible today, and expected.

They do suggest that, ‘more widespread adoption by students and teachers is likely to follow’. (ibid 2011:19)

The report notes ‘notable minorities’

A notable major minority who ‘use the internet to download or upload materials.’ (major minority)

And a lesser minority, minority who ‘contribute to blogs and wiki and engage with virtual worlds.’ (ibid p.21) (minor minority)

‘Their age seems less important than their position as early adopters and instigators of change through their influence among their peers and through their networks'. (2011:19)

Which debunks Prensky and favour diffusion of innovations as a mode of study.

'We were interested in gathering data that might challenge the still widespread opinion amongst educators that mobile devices are of little use for academic study. Activities such as web browsing, reading e-news, article reading, book reading, and note taking are valued in the academic world but often considered implausible on handheld devices.' (2011:20)

Which has indeed happened with smarter phones and the proliferation of the tablet (or slate) or iPad … whatever the term might be that we settle on.

‘Since the survey was developed, other devices including notebook computers and e-book readers have become popular, making it even more difficult to draw boundaries between 'handheld learning', laptop learning' and 'desktop learning'. (2011:21)

As if such a distinction was ever necessary? They are all computers, just different sizes, affordances and capabilities.

I liken this loss of boundaries, or the blurring, to drops of ink in a tank of water that gradually swirl about each other and merge.

MOBILE DEVICES ARE USED IN LEARNING FOR:

- Contact with others

- Access to information and answers

- Reading e-Books

- Listening to Podcasts

- Scheduling

Producers and consumers become 'produsers'

One survey shows that mobile devices are enabling users to create resources for teaching purposes, write blogs to keep their friends up to date with events, take and distribute photos and videos, and make and take notes and recordings'. (2011.31)

What is interesting is that there appear to be many ways in which users are employing technologies to generate products.

Bruns (2005) coined the term 'produsers' to denote both of these approaches.

‘Our findings indicate that institutions planning to offer mobile apps should build on the existing preferences of students for social communication. Listening to audio, watching video and reading short texts if the apps are successfully to enhance the learning experience’. (Kukulska-HUlme 2011:32)

When students are offered appropriate mobile resources then they will use them. (2011:32)

‘Since the use of a mobile device represents a new technological means of reading books, articles and news, this might have an impact on how, and how much, students read, however further research would be needed’. (2011:33)

More research is always needed ... in deed, with a longitidunal study this research would and should undertake to look at a cohort or students EVERY year.

REFERENCE

Bruns, A. (2005) 'Anyone can edit': understanding the produser. Retrieved from http;//snurb.info/index. php?q=node/s86

Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes, John Pettit, Linda Bradley, Ana A. Carvalho, Anthony Herrington, David M. Kennedy, and Aisha Walker. "Mature Students Using Mobile Devices in Life and Learning." IJMBL 3.1 (2011): 18-52. Accessed (May 22, 2011)

Rogers, E.M. (2005) Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.) New York, NY: Free Press

Jones, C.R., Ramanau, R., Cross, S., & Healing, G. (2010) Net generation or Digital Natives: Is there a distinct new generation entering university? Computers & Education, 54(3), 722-732. doi. 10.1016/j.compendu.2009.09.022

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H800 80 Use of mobile devices in e-learning TMA02

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 21 Dec 2020, 10:36

There must be industry reports that can give a more current 'state of play' for use of mobile devices (smart phones and tablets in particular) ... though not necessarily confined to use in education.

The Kukulska-Hulme et al 2011 report 'Mature Students using mobile devices in life and learning' may be a recent publication (International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning Jan-march 2001) but draws its conclusions on research undertaken in between May 2008 and April 2009.

Technologically and in relation to the potential for e-learning a great deal has happened since then.

In industry would we not expect a report, say from Nielsen or Monitor, to have been done in the last six months?

In the technology sector old news is redundant.

By 2009 PDAs were virtually extinct and we were about to experience the launch of the iPad. Since 2009 smart phones have graduated - they're bright in many ways.

Like their users?

Bright people with the means quickly find ways to put these tools to work, extending their reach to their online course, for materials, forums and assessment alerts, to organise their study time around their diary.

FROM THE ABSTRACT

'In today’s global marketplace, educators must know the technology habits and expectations of their students, including those from other countries.' (Kukulska-Hulme et al, 200x1:18)

FROM THE INTRODUCTION

"Learners can be active makers and shapers of their own learning. They should be supported in using technologies of their own choice where appropriate". (JISC, 2009, p.51)

Mobile (as they were) will not necessarily be readily adapted for learning.

Ergonomic, pedagogical, psychological and environmental facts and the issue of cost (Stockwell, 2008)

More widespread adoption by students and teachers is likely to follow. (ibid 2011:19)

A convenient and powerful tool for learning.

In an age when "communities are jumping across technologies" as needs and trends evolve (Wenger, 2010), educators and researchers also have to stay informed about how learners use personal technologies as members of communities that may be social, work-related or educational'.

Decreasing institutional control

Jones, Ramanau, Cross and Healing (2010) have critiqued the 'new generation' arguments, concluding that "overall there is growing theoretical and empirical evidence that casts doubt on the idea that there is a defined new generation of young people with common characteristics related to their exposure to digital technologies through-out their life (p.6)

Notable minorities

- Internet to download or upload materials (major minority)

- Contribute to blogs and wiki and engage with virtual worlds (ibid p.21) (minor minority)

'We consider that learners who use handheld mobile devices (e.g., their phones and mp3-players) to support their learning constitute a minority at the present time. We agree that their age seems less important than their position as early adopters and instigators of change through their influence among their peers and through their networks'. (2011:19)

Students registered on such programmes would be particularly strong. (Distance learning).

The sample was purposive.

For key areas:

- Learning

- Social Interaction

- Entertainment

- Work

- Interplay between them (Kukulska-Hulme & Pettit, 2009)

'Learning' is not an unambiguous term ... instead of the double negative why not 'learning is an ambiguous term'.

Does the rhetorical device of the double negative make the statement less assailable?

'We were interested in gathering data that might challenge the still widespread opinion amongst educators that mobile devices are of little use for academic study. Activities such as web browsing, reading e-news, article reading, book reading, and note taking are valued in the academic world but often considered implausible on handheld devices.' (2011:20)

Until more recently that his study which was carried it 2009.

Since the survey was developed, other devices including notebook computers and e-book readers have become popular, making it even more difficult to draw boundaries between 'handheld learning', laptop learning' and 'desktop learning'. (2011:21)

As if such a distinction was ever necessary? They are all computers, just different sizes, affordances and capabilities.

I liken this loss of boundaries, or the blurring, to drops of ink in a tank of water that gradually swirl about each other and merge.

We are able to highlight some differences that became apparent

Conversations with their students

Students do not always realise the potential of new tools and this is an aspect where educators can help (Trinder, Guiller, Margaryan, Littlejohn & Nicol, 2008)

Questions covered:

- About yourself

- Use of mobile devices

- Being part of groups and communities

- Specific uses for mobile devices

- Mobile devices for learning

- Open questions enabled participants to write a response in their own terms.

A total of 270 students complete the questionnaire.

Over all the report notes that:

- There are receptive, productive and communicative uses

- Respondents are using mobile devices to capture ideas and experiences

- Mobile devices have a useful function as tools that remind he user about what she/he has to do.

- Respondents make use of a range of applications for informal learning.

- One function of games is to fill gaps in the day.

- Some respondents appear to be drawing boundaries around disparate uses

- The mobile phone features as an alternative means of communications and to sport physical mobility, e.g. as an alternative to having a land line or when work involves travelling.

RE: LEARNING

- Contact with others

- Access to information and answers

- Reading e-Books

- Listening to Podcasts

- Scheduling

RE: MORE UNUSUAL USES:

- Recording one's voice

- Replay on iPod

- Taking photos

- Contacting experts in other fields

- Uploading notes to blog

- Facebook

- Windows Live Messenger

- MSN

- Skype

- Language learning

- Finding information

- Headphones to shut out distractions

- Productive activities

'Reported benefits of using mobile devices to be part of groups or communities include spontaneous communications, flexibility, speed, stimulation and use of technology to cope with changing arrangement'. (2011:27)

27 Distinct uses of mobile devices (ibid, 2011:28)

The three most intensive uses are very clearly sending text messages, browsing websites and listening to music ... and reading e-news. (2011:28)

Responses included well established advantages such as convenient access to information or to the Internet and the ability to contact people whenever needed. Specific new/innovative aspects notes by respondents included (2011:29):

- Permanency of taking notes: paper is easily lost

- Multipurpose; you can take your work/entertainment with you

- Can combine work with a run with listening to a podcast

- Podcasts give access to unique historical/scientific content

- Suits auditory learners

- Closer relationship between students and teacher

- Multimedia in one small device is a timesaver for teachers

- Instant documentation of whiteboard notes

- Taking photos of overhead slides

- Help with learning disabilities

- Alternative news source/breaking news/immediate first hand reports

- Helps maintain a public diary with a community dimension

- Quick way to learn

- Gets you outdoors

- Field trips become more fruitful and challenging

DISCUSSION AND REFLECTIONS

Mobile devices are shown to support informal; and community learning

While the predominant se for mobile devices is communication, it seems that other aspects of social interaction can benefit, such as the ability to share media between mobile devices directly or blended across other social networking technologies like Facebook.

The research confirms the global popularity of SMS, browsing websites, listening to music, taking photographs and making notes. It also highlights that reading e-news and listening to podcasts are relatively frequent activities among some students, and that article- and book-reading, once considered implausible on handheld devices, are popular among a minority. (2011:30)

What is interesting is that there appear to be many ways in which users are employing technologies to generate products. Bruns (2005) coined the term 'produsers' to denote both of these approaches. One survey shows that mobile devices are enabling users to create resources for teaching purposes, write blogs to keep their friends up to date with events, take and distribute photos and videos, and make and take notes and recordings'. (2011.31)

New practices compared to old studies (2007/2009) include:

- Using apps on the phone including Facebook and MSN

- Using GPS to find places

- Watching movies, TV, shows, vodcasts

- Listening to audio books, podcasts

- Being part of microblogging communities e.g. Twitter

- Browsing websites

- Using location-based services, e.g. to find nearby taxis, banks, restaurants, etc.

- No longer having a land line.

- Mobile device use is a fast-changing field that reflects rapid social changes as well as the increasing availability and smarter marketing of new devices. (ibid, 2011:32)

Micro-blog - are becoming more widespread, and we would expect these uses to figure more prominently in the future. (2011:32)

Slate devices Apple iPad.

Several universities now offer 'apps' for smartphones using platforms such as Campus M.

‘Our findings indicate that institutions planning to offer mobile apps should build on the existing preferences of students for social communication. Listening to audio, watching video and reading short texts if the apps are successfully to enhance the learning experience’. (2011:32)

When students are offered appropriate mobile resources then they will use them. (2011:32)

We agree with Kennedy et al (2008) that 'an evidence-based understanding of students' technological experiences is vital in informing higher education policy and practice.' (p. 109)

Pressures of study and assignment deadlines lead them to seek effective solutions to immediate needs on the go. (2011:33)

Avoid a 'proadoption bias'

‘Furthermore, since the use of a mobile device represents a new technological means of reading books, articles and news, this might have an impact on how, and how much, students read, however further research would be needed’. (2011:33)

The landscape of mobile devices has changed since our survey with some devices (standalone PDAs) becoming almost extinct and others (handheld GPS) endangered. (2011:33)

In favour of smart mobile phones and tablet devices.

REFERENCE

Bruns, A. (2005) 'Anyone can edit': understanding the produser. Retrieved from http;//snurb.info/index. php?q=node/s86

Conole, G (2007) Describing learning activities: Tools and resources to guide practice. In Beetham, H, & Sharpe, R (eds.), Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing and delivering e-learning (pp.81-91) London, UK: Routledge

Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes, John Pettit, Linda Bradley, Ana A. Carvalho, Anthony Herrington, David M. Kennedy, and Aisha Walker. "Mature Students Using Mobile Devices in Life and Learning." IJMBL 3.1 (2011): 18-52. Accessed (May 22, 2011)

JISC. (2009). Effective Practice in a Digital Age: A guide to technology-enhanced learning and teaching. Retrieved from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/programmerelated/2009/effectivedigital-age.aspx

Rogers, E.M. (2005) Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.) New York, NY: Free Press

Jones, C.R., Ramanau, R., Cross, S., & Healing, G. (2010) Net generation or Digital Natives: Is there a distinct new generation entering university? Computers & Education, 54(3), 722-732. doi. 10.1016/j.compendu.2009.09.022

Stockwell, G (2008) Investigation learner preparedness for and usage patterns of mobile learning. ReCALL, 20(3), 253-270. doi.10.1017/S058344008000232.

Trinder, K., Guiller, J., Margaryan, A., Littlejohn, A., & Nicol, D. (2008). Learning from digital natives: bridging formal and informal learning. Retrieved from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents?LDN%20FINAL%eport.pdf

Wenger, E (2010). SIKM community presentation online. Theme: Rethinking Ourselves (KM People) as Technology Stewards. Retrieved from http://technologyforcommunities.com

 

 

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H800 Reflection on e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 21 May 2011, 14:29

A rare moment to stop and take stock.

Does learning something new enter a phase of such frenzy that the formal aspect of the process is irrelevant.

To say I live, breathe and eat e-learning would be an exaggeration, but the mix of social media (my professional responsibility) and e-learning (my passion as an educator) on top of a foundation of 32 years of 'educational inclinations' means that I find myself in a self-constructed maelstrom of activity.

32 years ago, a 17 year old, we lived 'above the shop,' as it were, a training centre for a PLC in Cumbria. I listened eagerly to the Training Director and I was allowed to use first 1 inch reel to reel black and white Sony kit used for interview training ... and then a hefty VHS camera. I created my first 'training film' - ironically titled 'How to give a slide presentation.

A desire to taken in, and then share, what I think and understand, with others has informed my career.

Meanwhile, whilst reliving and reinventing and/or returning to my video production roots, my current interest is mobile learning - not that it is should be called 'm-learning,' just that it is 'stuff' with a learning twist, that you can have with you, connect with and use, wherever, whenever and whatever you are.

With a bit of skiing, sailing and swimming

Each in various ways as an educator, and participant: guided skiing, but never the BASI qualification, Offshore Sailing RYA qualification while instructing at RYA Level II and swimming a few weeks of effort of the most senior ASA Certification that is current (Senior Club Coach).

Everything can be taught

My turn around moment on this was a presentation I was linked to when Max Clifford, self-taught PR guru, spoke lucidly and with enthusiasm for students studying PR.

Why?

If nothing else, it showed they were passionate about the subject to study it for three years.

(Note to Max, the passionate ones might be 20% of the cohort).

And cooking?

Greek Fish Soup.

I'm yet to reach the position that I can call myself a professional academic, but is it the case the some academics (or is it just mathematicians and philosophers) are also very good cooks?.

My theory is, that they use the period of cooking, to be engaged with one activity ... while thinking of something else entirely???

 

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H800 WK12 Activity 5 Technology

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 17:06

Identify a form of technology used in an educational context.

Mobile

What do you think is the likely impact of this technology on the students’ perceptions of the quality of their modules, their approaches to studying and their academic performance?

The OU has seen in the last quarter a 13% rise in the use of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). I think this is some 3,500 OU students now accessing the OU VLE in a mobile form. This has come about as a process of responding to students' requests ... some had been tinkering with code to get it on the mobile devices and the OU response has been to configure the new version of the VLE on a new version of Moodle to accommodate this. By responding to the wishes of the students the OU will be perceived as progressive and responsive, appreciating the wishes, circumstances and opportunities that these devices provide a group of people. The immediate request was for alerts of assessment scores and to receive these to mobile devices. With EVERY module now offered in a mobile format you can check off activities as they are completed and keep this track record of what you are getting through in your pocket.

It plays into the hands of the 'innovators', those who are early adopters ... at the expense of the 'laggards?' We've seen the death of the Academic Journal in favour of the e-Journal, and we're seeing modules delivered entirely online ... which kisses good buy to books and folders of paper too. This is the new paper.

No technology results in a clean slate, nor should it. The needs, wishes, desires, hopes and expectations of students have to be met. The next struggle will be for tutor or tutor-like time. We demand so much in this instant world and can often nail the precise person to whom we put questions.

What do you think is the likely impact of this technology on the teachers’ perceptions of their teaching context and their approaches to teaching?

Those in distance learning are already conscious that they are developing a quality product that will be used by hundreds, perhaps thousands of students at a time. They are, like the anonymous authors they are, just pleased that more people can get their fingers onto the content that has been created for them. From a tutor or associate lecturer's point of view, already hamstrung by time constraints, they may feel students have the means to contact them 24/7 from these devices and expect feedback as quickly.

Do you think this technology embodies particular assumptions about the nature of teaching and learning in higher education?

That is it is becoming more student-centred and individualised?

The people can be anywhere and study at any time in a formal manner guided by their course content that is expressed in the same way whether on a mobile device or on their desktop. There's an assumption that enough people have these devices. The OUs policy is to be platform agnostic, all devices can receive or need to be able to receive these data feeds. At the same time, those who do not have or use or want to use mobile devices in this way should never feel left out, in other words you cannot abandon one platform or approach in favour of another when students want to learn or can only learn in such a variety of ways ... except that a box of books and DVDs is understandably dropping out of favour.

Are these assumptions likely to promote more positive perceptions, more desirable approaches to studying and better performance on the part of the students?

On the basis that we all must 'borrow time' from somewhere else to study at all, do mobile devices simply mean that people will try to walk the dog ... and study, go to the football match and do some course work? Travel and work (back of car, on a train or bus, yes), but in micro-moments at other times of the day? I wonder. Though have to confess that I find I concentrate best when on a headland looking out to sea ... tablet in hand? I'm yet to have one of these devices but wonder if it will allow or encourage me to keep topics at the front of my mind, as I could and perhaps would steal moments while a kettle boils, or I eat a sandwich to read and respond to a Forum Thread?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Sep 2011, 13:38

I joined the Open University on 11th April 2011 and now live in Milton Keynes during the week a fifteen minute walk from the campus. If I take the car it is a three minute run and door to door in ten minutes. This compares rather nicely to horror commutes in my past: South Coast to Hammersmith, 2 1/2 to 3 hours each way. Drive from Chipping Norton to Bristol, 77 miles, half on Cotswold Country Roads - all weathers.

To say I am now 'immersed' hardly does credit to the term.

The family I am staying with have several PHD students/academics staying in two houses (side by side) and three of the family work here too.(We walk in together)

I'm at the OU Business School (Faculty of Business and School of law).

My role is 'Social Media'  - ostensibly for external communications, but embracing to some degree internal communications and education.

Internal communications because the content/ideas and discussions generated internally feed the external content (to some degree) - certainly it informs me about what is going on.

Education because of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) link ... although a student I am embedded in the Deanery in an open plan office so people can ask questions and I can offer a point of view or indicate who, in my humble opinion, on campus might offer a more informed/expert point of view, which might come down to a paper or talk they have recently given.

A background in corporate communications using video, web and live-events brought me first to the MAODE and now to the OU, so there is a close correlation and logic to all of this.

On campus I meet regularly with people from other faculties, though I'm yet to bump into the glitterati of E-learning - a lunch-time lecture from Martin Weller that suggests that the scholarly blog is on its way should be of interest and I'll do what I can to share that here.

There are some extraordinary developments afoot, indeed they are up and running.

I think OU Platform is about to get a blast of publicity as a Social Media Zone for future, current and alumni students to stimulate their intellectual curiosity and create discussions and groups that may last for many years.

As part of a cross-faculty group that meets each week I am linking in face-to-face with those active in developing social media like tools on the OU VLE.

I am also able to tap into latest developments with extraordinary ease, meeting people in 'The Hub' a central refectory on the campus that is very close to the Institute of Educational Technology.

Yesterday was 'Learning at Work Day' at the OU.

Internal and external suppliers presenting their skills to the 4,500 or so on the campus.

I must have spent around 20-30 minutes at each of four or five stands. Of particular interest is the rapidity of desire for VLE content and course materials on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) ... or the more ubiquitous iPhone and iPad.

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Design Museum

H800; 70 Activities, activities, activities

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 17 May 2011, 17:50

I came from an industry in 2000/2001 that put bells and whistles on websitess and clients lined up to spend money on a future no one could predict but were desperate to 'be there.'

How sober, academic institutions can throw money at some platforms like Second Life I can't fathom, to try these things yes, but not at the expense of other tools.

Better to be the 'late adopter' in this case, to pick up tools once others have shown they work. What's the inordinate hurry? The technology can only develop in one direction. It isn't going away.

Students, indeed any of us, will drop technology that doesn't work or meet expectations.

It has to be easy, obvious, accessible, cheap (ideally free), for whichever platform you wish to use it on: desktop, laptop ... even tablet and smart-phone.

I'm also reminded what I hear all about me .... 'acitivities, activities, activities.'

This does not need hi-tech (though it can). As I noticed in the General Forum someone is asking if text is more interactive than video.

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