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Filemaker Pro

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 18:00

In an effort to bring myself into the 21st century technologically I am revisiting Filemaker Pro as a piece of software I have used since it was developed in 1994, though not upgraded in eight years.

Whilst it is a relief to find current versions are familiar in terms of the way fields are created and popualted with 'assets' it is a pain that to transfer material I am going to have to retrofit an earlier version of Filemaker and use this as a electronic stepping stone.

The reward will be to have data that I am familiar with that I can then manipulate and share in a Web 2.0 way. The intention is then to populate this with a substantial number of documents to familiarise myself with how it operates with text. It used to be the case that files could not contain much more than 150 words.

Then I will use Filemaker Pro to build by OU e-portfolio for H808.

The problem no doubt remains of 'interoperability.' Does my using Filemaker Pro necessitate others to have the same software? To use its extensive functionality, probably so ... however, on a 31 day free trial I  think much could covered and from this user's point of view, the investment in a light version of Filemaker Pro may be more beneficial that going down to the route of a customised PLE of various recommended software tools, or going for Google Docs.

Meanwhile my OU Blog and MyStuff get the lot! (Just to be safe)

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

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

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

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

I like this thought:

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

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

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

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

REFERENCE

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

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How to keep the relentless deluge of information at bay?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 14:46

'The challenge is not how to get at the news, but how to keep the relentless deluge of information at bay'.

BBC Radio 4. 11.55am 17 September 2010.

And the last thing we should be doing with this deluge of information (generated by ourselves and/or others) is to worry about how to store it.

The last thing on Noah's mind was, 'I need to build a dam to store all this rain'. He wanted to save humanity (and all animal kind) from the deluge, so he made a big boat.

We don't need more repositories and storage devices we need boats that can keep us afloat on this digital ocean, rather than being sunk by it.

From Our Own Correspondent. BBC Radio 4. 11.55.52 am

Annual Summit of 150 World Leaders. Special Gathering to look at the state of world poverty. $100b still needed.

Bridget Kendal reflects on where she was on 6th September of the year 2000.

She was at the UN where the UN Secretary opened the Millennium Summit of the United Nations, there were 100 Heads of State, three Crown Princes  and getting on for 50 Prime Ministers  ... all gathered  to consider the challenges of the year ahead.

'I can tell you where journalists like me were', she says, sounding like Joanna Lumely c 1977, 'burrowing through tapes and tangled wires, struggling to find out about speeches being made in the assembly above, at the time the largest gathering of head of states, computer connections not working, no wireless hand-held devices to help you out, it makes you feel quite hot and anxious just to think about it ...

A decade later', says Bridget Kendal, 'covering UN summits is less of a technological battle, the challenge is not how to get at the news, but how to keep the relentless deluge of information at bay.

If you are looking at ways to store 'the deluge of information' you or others are creating, if you horde every picture taken, every word written then you are trying to build a dam.

Like Noah, you need a boat.

An e-boat.

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Compendium

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 12 Sep 2010, 15:00

I'm keeping a 'log' of my progress into Compendium private for now. I may in due course edit this down into some succinct steps picking out anything that may trip up the unwary or some new take on how it can be used.

Meanwhile, bouyant as a result of advice and suggestions given by other OU students I am going to do some housekeeping on usernames and passwords then give some other software a go if only to have a break from Compendium.

If you are looking at Compendium for the first time do get in touch, we could get our heads around this together.

Yes, two heads are better than one.

 

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Author Steven Pressfield on overcoming resistance by being professional

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 10 Sep 2010, 23:31

The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle

by Steven Pressfield

The key word through-out ‘The War of Art’ is ‘Resistance’ – i.e. that which prevents us from doing.

Steven Pressfield’s advice is to sit down and do it like a pro.

That’s the book in two lines.

Professionals and amateurs

‘The word amateur from the Latin root meaning 'to love'.

The conventional interpretation is that the amateur pursues his calling out of love, while the pro does if for money.

Not the way I see it. In my view, the amateur does not love the game enough. If he did, he would pursue it as a sideline, distinct from his real vocation. The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time’. Pressfield (2002)

This is familiar territory.

I heard it first from Richard Nelson E Bolles in ‘What Color’s Your Parachute?’ (New editions most years 1970-2011)

His advice is:

‘You become a professional by behaving like one.’ Bolles (1970)

Pressfield is derogatory about amateurs who toy with their art and blame the way they toy around for their failure.

‘We're all Pros already’ he encourages us to believe.

‘Resistance knows that the amateur composer will never write his symphony because he is overly invested in its success and over terrified of its failure. The amateur takes it so seriously it paralyses him’.
Pressfield (2002)

A Professional is patient

Resistance outwits the amateur with the oldest trick in the book: It uses his own enthusiasm against him. Resistance gets us to plunge into a project with an over ambitious and unrealistic timetable for its completion. It knows we can't sustain that level of intensity.

We will hit the wall. We will crash.

‘A professional accepts no excuses’
Pressfield (2002)

He knows if he caves in today, no matter how plausible the pretext, he'll be twice as likely to cave in tomorrow.

‘A professional does not take failure (or success) personally’ Pressfield (2002)

Resistance uses fear of rejection to paralyse us and prevent us, if not from doing our work, then from exposing it to public evaluation.

‘Starting is not my problem.' Pressfield (2002)

Starting something else is my problem. Being distracted is my problem.

I need to be behave like a professional BECAUSE I am not paid ... and then I will be.

REFERENCE

Pressfield, S (2002) The War of Art.

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Skype across the decades

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 10 Sep 2010, 21:29

Just spent the last two hours in conversation with a university contemporary and colleague from the 1980s and 1990s with whom I produced numerous training and information films. I would produce and write, he'd direct and edit. Last job we did together? 1996, the launch of the European Stock Exchange EASDAQ. (Which coinsided with the home birth of my son smile

The match of skills that worked in the past will as a result be renewed - he is highly technical and has been generating video material for smartphones for the last year. We've both approached online learning from different perspectives, but have a child-like curiosity still.

We laughed over a comment, very 80s, that a senior producer in corporate video production made to us as we started out, that people can be put into three categories: maps, taps and chaps.

Maps. Making and fixing stuff.

Taps. Accountants and writing.

Chaps. Selling and getting on with people.

My thinking is that a basic team of three needs one of each, though two would do as long as all bases are covered. He is the map, I'm the tap, so we need a 'chap.'

The language may be arcane, but the thinking is sound.

Now that I am happy on Skype I'm more than happy to use this tool more often.

I have several other tools to use though, e-portfolios, wikis, compendium ...

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Learning new software tools

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 8 Oct 2011, 14:56

I wonder if I'm weary of learning to use yet another software tool? Those that intuitively add to what I know already are easy, whereas new platforms are not.

A Mac user since the days of the 'Classic' I find common tools such as Outlook quite foreign, plenty of functionality, but very mathematical, boxy and dry. I need to use it to tie in with the work I do with a swimming club.

I'm not even great with Excel having only used it for basic accounts. When it comes to creating and managing a database I have always used FileMaker Pro - I prefer the flexibility of layouts as I like to have bespoke pages depending on what information is being collated.

Any tips on merging contact data from Excell to Outlook would be appreciated.

Meanwhile I'm beginning to use Google Docs and Compendium, but rather than 'playing' I need a specific task to undertake that will require their use. Anyone have some suggestions?

  • Share the writing of a short story?
  • Collaborate on an article related to e-learning?
  • Design a piece of e-Learning on spec?

(I actually would like some collaborators to consider how to share some of the work of a soon to be 85 Oxford Don. Politics, Philosophy and since retiring 'Leadership')

 

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Google Docs

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 9 Sep 2010, 07:08

Prompted to give Google Docs a go I find within a couple of minutes I am Google-smacked!

Overwhelmingly impressive.

e-Life transforming. e-Things will never be the same.

I've only just crept on from Word 2002 in the last few weeks, so to be hit with so much more I feel like someone who has been trying to ski on a dry-slope strapped to planks of wood who has just been let loose on an Olympic Piste in the latest Salamon gear!

My 'MyStuff' days (six months actually) are also numbered. I knew that I had to 'populate' such a resource with material to give myself something to play with, but Google Docs without any doubt, on first impressions takes what MyStuff could have been in the commercial arena and realises it.

Google Docs has translated the desiress, hopes and expectations I had for MyStuff into a user-friendly and intuitive interface.

All I want to do now is share, share, share ... and go and compare.

And write more and read more and never leave my desk again.

In fact, I may re-instigate my exercise-bike as work-station. This is a standard exercisebike with the handle bars removed. Instead I have a lectern of sorts with a keyboard sensibly covered in a plastic skin. In this way I can type and bike!

Yee-ha!

(The second term of the day, did it with heebie-jeebies an hour ago, that I have put through the OED online)

Between them, the OED online and Google Docs leave me feeling like a kid on Christmas Morning with two brilliant but quite unexpected gifts!

Yee-hoo-oo-o!

And then I put a document into Google Docs, my piece on H808 First Impressions (below) and out of curiosity had it translated into French.

OMG

Though I understand French well enough to work in the country and can speak it OK, my written French is attrocious. Has this just given me the facility to communicate at a reasonable level with written French? Its an incredible, by default personalised language learning tool if nothing else.

Perhaps I could head for France in the next couple of months after all?

On verra.

I've regained the will to live.

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H808 Activity 1.1. The e-learning professional Professional

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 12:08

The following bullet points list the views of the Senior Tutors regarding professionalism. There were speaking in the introductory podcast to the module ‘The E-learning Professional.’ (H808)

What does it mean to be a Professional (or simply professional)?

Robin Mason

* Has been doing it for a long time or hasn’t.
* PhD vs. Undergraduate.
* Has put in the hours or hasn’t.
* Mature or not.
* Experienced or not yet.

Gill Kirkup

* An established field vs. new field.
* Follows standards. vs. No standards followed.
* Part of a professional association. vs. not.
* Part of the UK Higher Education Academy or not.
* Part of a legitimate community or not.
* Committed or not.
* Respectful of learners or not.
* Licensed or not.

Robin Goodfellow

* Genuine vs. not.
* Recognised vs. unrecognised.
* Experienced vs. Inexperienced.
* Independent or not.
* Has a technical foundation or doesn’t.

Chris Jones

* Takes time or doesn’t.
* Specialist (secretive) vs. Part of the mainstream.
* Enthusiast or not interested enough.
* The professional sports person vs. amateurs.
* Autonomous vs. dependent
* Independent vs. not objective or balanced.
* Part of such a trade association or not.
* Specialist vs. generalist.
* Part of something vs. an outsider.
* Formalised standards vs. none
* Monitored vs. Unmonitored
* Little ‘p’ pr big ‘P.’

To these I would add:

* A Professional had form whereas a non-professional does not.
* Self-taught or received a formal education (HE and beyond)?

I disagree with Gill Kirkup suggestion that only in an established field is something professional. I agree however, with Gill Kirkup’s views regarding ‘respect’.

I disagree with Robin Goodfellow’s view that a professional must be independent. Being Professional doesn’t mean you can’t also be biased or bigoted.

‘Big P, little p’ is an interesting idea.

Depending on how your measure up, by Chris Jones’s definition, you are either Big P or Little p. Is it the case that a practising lawyer is a Professional, while a painter and decorator can be professional? Is a good lawyer a professional Professional, while a good decorator is simple a professional painter?

The term ‘professional’ is an adjective and a noun.

Anyone can be described as ‘professional,’ (adjective) by dint of their behaviour and experience, however to be a ‘professional’, (noun), various criteria should be met.

Might a professional be defined as someone with ‘qualified confidence in their field?’

Professionals put in the time and effort, and follow rather than ignore guidelines for the community in which they operate. It matters that you are paid for something you are good at; being a Professional implies that you are paid.

A final thought

What’s a professional Professional? The opposite of an amateur Amateur.

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The e-learning professional. (v. long)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 31 Jan 2013, 06:23

The podcast H808 e-learning SMEs.

(Makes them sound like a prog rock band of the 1960s. Perhaps they were?)

[V. Long version here. 4,000 words +. 1,000 or under in H808 Tutor Forum.

Edited versions in the next 24 hours/couple of days in EduBlogs at www.mindbursts.edublogs.org]

Week One

I may be a professional swimming coach (amongst several things), but my head coach told me ‘I think too much.’ Think less and get the athletes to do more. Keep it simple. If there is any context however where thinking is the currency, literally if we are talking professionalism, then the more I think the more professional I become.

(Or not).

Many would say that a 3,000 word blog entry is 'unprofessional.'

I call it shared reflection, the 'uncut version.' It is the outcome of over five hours thinking on the topic. Hours banked. Ideas turned into cash. By definition when I have made two years worth of regular deposits I may call myself and even be defined as an 'e-learning professional' with the MA to suggest I have joined that club, and a job that for the remuneration I receive makes me a professional rather than a wishful thinking wannabe.

It is unprofessional as a post-graduate student to be flippant and/or verbose.

A professional would keep this down to 500 words, yet I am stretching it to 3,000. The uncut version. Reflection in action. My mind at work. Not the athlete sharing a few ‘mots justes’ after a successful race, but the race itself and all the training before hand. The choice words, bullet point form only with an abridged commentary goes into my Tutor Group Forum. Under 250 words there, is my targert. Under 1,000 words per OU blog had been my thinking too. Blown that then.

Watching the TV I fall asleep.

Listening to the radio (i.e. any audio) I do something else - I’d be distracted anyway, I have to.

In an effort to get into my head the points being made by OUr E-learning Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) I first read the transcripts provided and then listened to the podcast while reading the text.

What shocked me was how much I had missed.

I do less than skim read it appears, all I must do is to look at patterns and shapes. No wonder I learn so little when I do nothing more than read.

Lesson learnt?

This isn’t an 'airport thriller' I can read at break-neck speed chaisng the protagonist as he is in turn chased; this requires a different kind of reading.

It requires effort.

I must work with the text, make notes. Just highlighting choices words and sentences isn’t enough either. Effort I can do. It is consistent effort unless I am working under exam conditions where I struggle. There is always something more interesting to read.

Historically, when successful academically, it has been a huge effort and very time consuming for me. I have to take notes (long hand). Then I have to take notes on the notes. I have to make lists, take quotes and re-order the material. I may still not make sense of it. I need to chase up a few references. I need to find my own patterns. I need to discuss it. Argue about it, agree and disagree. And then, gathering up a wad of papers and scraps of paper the whole lot needs to compost for a few months. Then, and only then, might I start to ‘get it,’ and have something constructive and original to say.

Do any of us have this kind of time anymore? Did we ever?

(My late father, my daughter and a friend, a partner in one of the world's leading law firms, all have/had photographic memories. They would have read the transcript and been able to pick out its salient points after the first swift reading. Not so me, not so us?)

The process you see playing out here is an attempt to mulch the content, slow cook it and hope that I can achieve something in five hours that would normall require five months.

Keep cooking.

The second time round with the SME podcast I first worked with the text, highlighting points and generally trying to get my head around it. If you’ve come across Jakob Nielsen’s ‘Writing for the Web,’ this is what I did – isolating sentences and ideas, creating headings, sub-headings and bullet points, in a word ‘chunking. In fact, I begin to get close to doing what Richard Northridge recommends in the ‘OU Guide to Studying’ (1990) note taking, creating concept cards and then even looking for links and patterns in the text itself.

Lesson learnt?

This takes time and requires effort. I’m not great on effort. My modus operandi is (or has been) to take in volumes of material, but if this is only at a surface level no wonder I am often more frustrated than informed.

Lesson learnt?

Less is more. Rather than chasing a reference, another report or book, I need, at first, to ensure that the text I have in front of me has been dissected, not consumed, not afforded nothing more than a passing glance, but pulled apart, then reconstructed.

Lesson learnt?

Effort

Not the expected outcome of this simple task – my faltering approach to learning laid bare, but a valuable lesson at the start of the module.

At last I’m listening to the podcast.

I made myself think, made myself listen, I 'sat forward' (the technical term for interacting, for engagement.) I made myself read and take notes, made me list the contrasting ideas, the arguments for and against, the justifications ... and to cluster these ideas and adjust my own thoughts accordingly based on my experience.

I had something to think about as I listened.

Do I have anything in common with these e-learning professionals in relation to assumptions and aims?

  • Do I have different understandings of what it means to be an ‘elearning professional’?
  • Is there a distinct elearning profession, or is elearning simply an aspect of other professions?
  • The profession of teacher?
  • The profession of a university lecturer or academic?
  • The profession of a trainer or staff developer or a human resources developer in private corporate bodies?
  • Is there an elearning professional?
  • And should I be describing my job as that of an elearning professional?

My short reply, given my background in sports coaching, is simple.

  • If you are paid you are a professional.
  • If you are the athlete and not paid you are an amateur.
  • If you’re the coach and not paid you are a volunteer.

Therefore, if someone is good enough and experienced enough (or simply good at selling themselves and their ideas) – and they are remunerated for their efforts, then they are a professional.

Rebecca Addlington is a professional athlete. Bill Furness, her coach, is a professional too.

At my swimming club all the swimmers are amateur, though some through bursaries to pay for County and Regional development training are by definition quasi-professional as they are receiving benefits if not in cash, then in kind. Some of the coaches and I do not define myself as a swimming coach; it’s a hobby that’s got out of hand.

I have ‘put in the hours.’

(Which I can qualify by saying I have put in the appropriate hours. i.e. time will not make you a professional, the enduring focus of your efforts will)

One of the key themes of the podcast made by each of the speakers is that a professional has put in the time.

They have put in the effort, gained experience that is directly or indirectly relevant to their e-learning expertise – and by dint of this expertise (and being paid by the OU, for books and reports, lectures and workshops too perhaps) they are all professionals.

At the swimming club many of us (its the biggest club in the South of England) have earned our places through years of experience, gaining qualifications and attending regular courses (CPD) to retain a licence to teach or coach aquatics. Many of us, paid or not, can call ourselves 'professionals.'

Just as I’ve reduced my core thought to that of the contract between a professional and an amateur, by picking out the ideas of each speaker and doing something similar a number of interesting points regarding what it means to be an ‘e-learning professional’ emerge.

In this see-saw of ideas the protagonists have a habit of changing places.

By defining professional we should also think what it means to be unprofessional.

I’ve allowed this dance to play out as it leaves me with an image of a professional being circled by the professional wannabe, the unprofessional (as yet), the layperson, the naive, virgin student. A mass of non-professionals clamoring around the few.

The points and arguments frequently fall into another diametrically opposed set: the qualitative vs. quantitative, an objective point vs. the subjective, a value judgment vs. the facts. Everything overlaps - a Venn Diagram of the points would show sets within sets.

Adrian Kirkup

· Amateur vs. Professional (there are many highly ‘professional’ amateurs)

· Ineffective vs. effective.

Robin Mason

· Hasn’t done it for long vs. been doing it for a long time

· Undergraduate vs. PhD (A sub-set of the above)

· Hasn’t put in the hours vs. has put in the hours (more of the same)

· Immature vs. Mature (a variation of the same. Though professionalism is not a consequence of maturity)

· Inexperienced vs. Experienced.(Experience that takes time to acquire, and a certain manner to be effective)

Gill Kirkup

· A new field vs. an established field. (Disagree. Though a new field of subset of a professional activity would be definably professional).

· New vs. Established. (as above)

· No established standards vs. abides by general and specific received standards.

· Acting alone or part of a professional association.

· Part of the UK Higher Education Academy or not. (a subset of the above)

· Part of a legitimate community or not. (as above)

· Committed vs. Uncommitted.

· Respectful vs. Disrespectful.

· Respect for the individual learner, incorporating research and scholarship, the development of learning communities online is a hugely strong component in professional elearning practice. (successfully combines the subjective and unquantifiable with the quantifiable and objective)

· Juvenile and professional vs. professional only if matured. (as Robin Mason)

· Unlicensed vs. Licensed.

Robin Goodfellow

· Genuine vs. not genuine.

· Unrecognised vs. Recognised.

· Inexperienced vs. Experienced.

· Independent vs. tied (to government or a business).(disagree)

· Technical foundation vs. no technical foundation

· No need for a label, e-learning professional vs. professional enhancer. (strongly agree)

Chris Jones

· Takes time vs. no time.(as Robin Mason and Robin Goodfellow. You have to put in the time to become a professional. Which I guess applies as much to the professional criminal, as the Professional lawyer. Little p, Big P- see below)

· Part of the mainstream vs. Specialist. (disagree)

· ‘Lone Ranger’ and early stages of innovation ... vs. early majority and established (themes of Rogers)

· Enthusiasts vs. the not interested. (strongly agree)

· Society and the professionalisation of modern life (quotable)

· Sport in the 20th century and professional vs. amateurs in sport

· Traditional and modern professionals

· Autonomous vs. dependent

· Trustworthy vs. (spin/PR/Branding/Agenda)

· Not part of a trade association or governing body vs. part of such an association

· Generalist vs. specialist

· An outside vs. part of something

· Formalised standards vs. none

· Unmonitored vs. monitored

· Is there a distinct elearning profession, or is elearning simply an aspect of other professions?

· Little ‘p’ pr big ‘P.’

Jonathan Vernon (moi)

· Doesn’t look the part vs. looks the part.

· Lacks form vs. has form.

· Self-taught vs. ‘done a course.’

· Qualified (with the piece of paper to prove it) vs. Unqualified (however expert they may be).

Some thoughts on the points identified above

It is worth reflecting on Robin Mason’s point about ‘putting in the hours.’

The suggestion that genius and expertise requires 10,000 hours of effort is no urban myth. A study carried out at the Berlin Music Conservatoire identified three groups of graduates. Asked to estimate how many hours of practice and playing each student had put in since picking up an instrument they were then divided into three distinct categories: up to 4,000 hours, up to 8,000 hours and up to 10,000 hours. The first became teachers, the second category got places in orchestras whilst the tiny number who had put in 10,000 hours (takes around 10 years to do this) were most likely to be the solo artists, the concert pianists, the mavericks, the Vanessa Maes and Mozarts. Whilst all these categories are professionals, they are paid for their skills, the use of the word ‘professional’ to distinguish those who are expert, who have attained a certain standard, would in my view apply to the musicians who have made it into a top orchestra – with the soloists in a category beyond the ‘professional.’ Our ‘OU H808 E-learning SME professionals', given the decades of thought they have put into what we now define as ‘e-learning’, have been part of this ‘orchestra’ of professionals for some time, and who knows, we may have a Mozart amongst them. Personally, I've not read enough from any of them yet to know any better. I look forward to hearing what they have to say and how they say it.

Interestingly, Robin Mason returns repeatedly to a theme of time passing, of gaining, requiring or acquiring maturity of thought. Though I feel as if I am clutching at ideas in an amorphous cloud here, my sense is that whether it is professional with a big P or a little p, that the word ‘maturity'; might say it all.

What does maturity imply?

Growing up, lessons learnt, age, growth, adult hood, a way of behaving, able to fit in and contribute to a community and so on.

I disagree with Gill Kirkup

If I have understood her correctly regarding her suggesting that only in an established field is something professional whilst in a new field this is not possible. We can all think of (or at least imagine) an unprofessional ‘professional.’ The corrupt lawyer, the doctor struck off the medical register, the TV food expert who is not a doctor at all (and so a sham professional).

In 2000 I would have defined myself, as some of the panel here would have done, as what is now termed an ‘e-learning’ professional. After fifteen years in corporate communications, training and learning, creating linear, then non-linear and ultimately web-based materials the companies and government department for whom I worked through various production companies had to see me as ‘professional.’ I hadn’t done the post-graduate studying, but I’d learnt through observation and experience (first carrying video kit into the changing rooms of a nuclear power plant age 17 assisting with a training film for BNFL at Sellafield).

Interestingly, I don’t currently consider myself to be an e-learning or a learning professional and even with the MA I hope to gain in 2011 I will by my own definition not be a professional until I am being paid for my expertise.

To use a horse-racing term I lack 'form.'

I'm literally out of the race (for now).

Being studious here and building my confidence is part of the plan to regain the 'professional' tag.

Does a barrister on retirement cease to be a professional lawyer?

Socio-econonmically he/she would still be defined as a 'professional' would they not?

I agree however, very much, with Gill Kirkup’s views regarding ‘respect’ and her definition of an e-learning professional within the academic community.

Respect for the individual learner, incorporating research and scholarship, the development of learning communities online is a hugely strong component in professional elearning practice.’

(This, for me, successfully combines the subjective and unquantifiable with the quantifiable and objective. i.e. you can be a professional Professional).

I disagree with Robin Goodfellow’s view that a professional must be independent vs. tied (to government or a business). If we look beyond e-learning professionals and academia it would be quite wrong to say that someone is not professional simply because they represent the interests of an organisation or government department, let alone are being paid to take a certain stance or have a strongly held view (left or right wing politically, religious or atheist and so on).

If nothing else, I believe I have shown above that there is a natural dichotomy, if not a debate even an implicit conflict, between views on whether a person, or institution, or field of study, can be defined as professional or not, worthy of study or not.

It is engagement in such a debate where a professional proves their credentials.

A professional is a match for anyone, whilst the unprofessional would not play by the rules, make excuses, bow out...

Dare I imply that all the above are differentiating between the educated and uneducated?

Is it so black and white? Students at school, scholars as Edwardian’s would have defined them, and undergraduates, graduates too, in terms of education can never be defined as ‘professional.’

Or can they?

The government pays students to go to college, to stay on in secondary school after the age of 16 – does not this make them pros, like a boy of a similar age getting paid to play football in an academy, they literally ‘turn pro.’

I agree with Robin Goodfellow that there is ‘need for a label’, that what is currently the e-learning professional may be the ‘professional enhancer ‘of the future if the UK HE Academy has their way (though I doubt the term will stick). Just as Robin was (we were) once web-based learning professionals, or learning professionals, or professionals in education...

Big P, little p (Chris Jones) is the most memorable expression of an idea in relation to the professional Professional that I take from this and a worthy talking point. And 2,500 words in I could sum it up with a Twitter count.

Professional is an adjective and a noun.

Anyone can be described as ‘professional,’ (adjective) by dint of their behaviour and experience, however to be a ‘professional’, (noun), various criteria should be met. Depending on how your measure up, by Chris Jones’s definition, you are either Big or Little P.

(I can think of other categories where a similar way of looking at things could be applied, for example, ‘engineer’. The person who fixes my washing machine may call himself an ‘engineer,’ but Isambard Kingdom Brunel was an ‘Engineer’. A sports psychologist is no longer allowed to call themselves such, they are sports scientists. So Psychologist, if not professional, not has a legally binding form of expression and use).

I disagree however with Chris Jone’s view that Professionals (big P you notice) have to be specialists whilst implicitly, if they are professional at all (little p) they are not, or unlikely to be so if they are part of the mainstream.

Or do I?

(I'm changing my mind as I write this, reflecting on a matter tends to do this. You twist yourself in so many knots and then find you are looking in the opposite direction - and happy to do so)

Onwards

Is there an implicit elitism here that makes me uncomfortable, an obvious them and us?

As a Professional I am not ‘part of the mainstream’ ?

Yes, that’s it.

You see the ‘mainstream’ is the population, everyone, in the universe that we are discussing. Professionals are of the mainstream, of society, even if they are a subset community within the broader community.

The likes of Richard Dawkin and Stephen Hawkings are 'professional Professionals' by their engagement with the world, not because of an elitist, hide-themselves away hermit like attitude to knowledge acquisition. Do Simon Schama and Neil Ferguson fall into the same category of professionalism?

Be published and damned, broadcast and be damned even more?

But you don't have to be famous to be Professional (though I dare say you'd cease to be professional if you became infamous).

Or have I been making a mistake through-out this internal debate ... this reflection – that we have always only been discussing Big P professionalism ONLY as part of ‘the whole thing,’ i.e. the specific category of the ‘e-learning Professional’ and just as this time round I haven’t given a moment’s thought to ‘e-learning’ as a term, I have nonetheless unnecessarily dissected the term ‘professional.’

I’m yet to click through the OED online.

I daren’t. It may be my undoing.

Back to my idea of a Venn Diagram.

If ‘professionals’ is the universe then we have two subsets, Professionals (Big P) and professionals (little p) (the noun only). Far smaller, and intersecting both these sets, we have ‘e-learning.’ There are in e-learning little P and Big P professionals.

Still with me?

But there are also non-professionals, and even  the unprofessional to consider. Can they also be defined as Non-professionals (Big N) and Unprofessionals (Big U).

Final thoughts

Might a professional be defined as someone with 'qualified confidence in their field?'

Not finished yet

I've got a Venn Diagram to draw, some visualising to do.

Can a loner be a professional?

I enjoyed Chris Jones's point about the ‘Lone Ranger’ that in early stages of innovation there are maverick, loners having a go at something new way ahead of anyone else - think Dr Emmett Brown in 'Back to the Future' tinkering away at the construction of a time-travelling automobile. Are such people professionals or even professional? Does this 'odd-ball' behaviour disenfranchise you from the professional community, even if you have the mind the size of a planet?

A consultant escapes the hospital ward for a couple of years to undertake research. Just because they are beavering away on their own, being a 'Lone Ranger' doesn't disqualify them from the category of 'Professional,' (Big P), or even 'professional Professional' (little p, Big P).

Dare I suggest that our panel of e-learning experts are 'professional e-Professionals' ?

I don't even begin to delve into the thinking behind innovation diffusion. This is an entire module in its own right. It is called 'Innovations in E-learning', or H807 for short.

For more read 'Diffusion of Innovations' E.M.Rogers. (2005) 5th edition.

Nor am I going to teach the definition 'e-learning.'

Is there a professional 'look.'

Forgive me if I make a comparison here between the need for barristers to put on the appropriate garb in court and so look Professional with a big p, compared to those wishing to be called professional and seen as Professional who don't look the part. Poolside as coaches it is expected that all teachers are appropriately dressed in the club colours and well groomed - this looks professional. There was once a time when teachers wore a jacket and tie, so looked professional like fellow professionals such as lawyers and doctors. Don't academic look the part, 'look professional' in their gowns and mortar-boards?

And having addressed 'looks' can someone sound 'professional?

Think how a director chooses actors to play a role. Look at Michael Cane in 'Educating Rita,' is this the stereotypical professional Professor?

Another discussion, but coming from corporate communications we have been through exercises of using authentic presenters (people who work at the place) compared to buying in 'professional' presenters. To do justice to the message in the TV medium the professional broadcasters were far better at putting over the points the client wanted to make.

As I said, another discussion, a different thread.

P.S. It would be unprofessional to post such a long entry into a tutor forum, where a 500 word, even a 250 word version will be posted (the bullet points, or just my thoughts on the key bullet points ... or just where I strongly agree or disagree).

Lesson Learnt ?

Professionals put in the time and effort, and follow rather than ignore guidelines for the community in which they operate.

It strikes me that academics, like creatives, are more interested in reputation and recognition than money.

Is it not striking that not one of our panel mention it?

Can you be a professional without it?

And what about spelling and grammar?

The ability to communicate. Have I mentioned that. Can the professional spell?

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Up and running. H808

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An hour in the middle of the night has been spent reading through the first task and all the various forum entries in H808 'The E-Learning Professional.'

This and applying for a job. Stymied by the need for three references. I've been such a hermit these last few years I worry that beyond family and friends the only reference I could get would be from my hairdresser and she might say something like 'he may be on time but I know he's seeing the barber down the road as well.'

Three dreams over the last ten days are bugging me - my lengthy reflection on these will go into the WordPress Blog (unless they prove to have something to do with the OU). I use a 27 point survey that usually reduces the dream to some mundane conclusion, though occasionally offers something more profound.

Ever on the look out for 'e-' words I spotted 'e-nose' in last week's New Scientist.

The e-nose refers to an 'electronic nose' rather than an 'electronically enhanced and largely online nose' that is the 'e-' of e-learning. The e-nose can identify certain scents electronically, it transpires ... (though not across, the Internet) ... yet. It wouldn't surprise me if a Google-e-nose were developed that could be used to search for and then offer recipes for food from your fridge that has escaped its packaging. Hold it up to your webcam and Google will advise.

The following was written out long hand with an ink pen.

I wonder if there is a stylistic difference, greater fluidity? (My son had squirreled the lap-top away and being the dead of night I didn't want to disturb him).

Is there software that can spot the stylistic difference of something written directly into a word-processor, like this ... or written out long hand, like this:

Reflection

Whilst reflection is meant to help tackle complex problems, what if the issues are so chaotic, long term and intractable that far from helping to resolve a problem the act and habit of reflection simply re-enforces the mess?!

E-Learning

How much of it is online?

And how much of it is even electronic and/or enhanced?

This happens to be a reflective note being written long-hand onto a recyled A4 ruled pad of paper. It is anything but electronic, or digital. Nor, as yet, is it shared or offers any chance of interaction, let alone collaboration with a group of friends, community of fellow students or the wider world.

The most important part of this experience is taking place in my head and is either one step behind, or one step ahead of this writing process. It is stream of consciousness. It is a singular, lonely and individual occurrence from which little will be gained by sharing it.

This is it: learning in which the 'e' is highly tangential.

Indeed, I'd go as far as to say that the 'e' component of my online learning, or web-based learning, or iLearning experience with the OU thus far is one in which the online quality of the process can be as discretely packaged as you would a book, a lecture or a face-to-face chat with a fellow traveller - it is one part, even a distinct part, an entity with barriers, parameters and a physical presence.

It is a part, not even a large part. But a catylst. A resource. A tool. A track. (a word-processed addition here)

An audit of how this learner spends his time studying shows that half is off-line doing that all too traditional act of reading and taking notes; that of the remaining half another 50% is spent at a computer keyboard sometimes not fully aware or bothered about whether I am working online or off, using software on my hard-drive or the OU server.

(a hand-written omission here replaced with the following while typing online)

And if I continue this fractal-like halving of time spent studying, at what point do I reach 'e-'

And does it matter?

The 'e-' is the fleck of saffron in a risotto.

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Making up e-words

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 31 Aug 2011, 04:11

Why is it so easy for English speakers to create words if one doesn’t exist.

‘Web-based learning’ or ‘e-learning’ ?

Which do you prefer?

Does it matter so long as we have a good idea of what it means and entails.  ‘e-tyres’, which I saw ten minutes ago on a van, confounds the logic of 'e-mail' or 'e-forum', it is easy to understand its meaning - ‘buy tyres here online’ (rather than ‘electronically enhanced tyres.’) But when was English ever logical?

The ‘Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language’ talks about word-building or ‘compounding’. This is possible we are told because of the way the Old English vocabulary builds up through the process of affixation and compounding.

A prefix I wasn’t aware was one is ‘to’ as on the English prefix we see in ‘today, towards and together.’

One from my home town, so clearly embedded in its Danish roots is ‘gan’ as in ‘go’ which is used on Tyneside as in the Geordie for go home ‘gan yem’.

The readiness to build up words from a number of parts is a feature that has stayed with English ever since.

In English we tend to concertina words, to simply them. If it can be understood in one syllable, then this works best of all.

Most English vocabulary arises by making new words out of old ones – either by adding an affix to previously existing forms, altering their word class, or combining them to produce compounds. Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language. (1995:128)

Common affixes are:

un-
de-
hyper-

I think there has to be something poetic, something logical, simple, immediately understood and that rolls naturally off the tongue. Web-based learning, web-based training, web-based virtual asynchronous communication ‘Web/VAC’ have had their day (a decade even, 1995-2005). We will ‘google’ forever – no need here for e-search (was that ever used?) and 'to yahoo; would not do. Or e-encyclopaedia when we had Britannica Online and now have Wikipedia.

Never hyper-learning, though if we create the holy grail of game-like learning for the current generation of net-savvy, game-savvy, texting, blogging, social-networking kids then ‘hyper-tivity’ could be exactly what would describe their engagement. I watch and listen in to my son’s antics on the X-box, using Skype, online to the world, organising games, while clicking through web-pages for the latest ‘cheat’ and viewing YouTube ‘how to ...’ Training or Learning?

Terms can be made to change their word class without the addition of an affix – a process known as conversion nouns from verbs – verbs from nouns.

‘e’ isn’t a prefix, it’s a compound of ‘electronic and/or enhanced’, that has been abbreviated to ‘e-‘.

Does it matter?

If it is in common usage and it is understood then whether it follows a rule or a former pattern or not means nada. The great thing with English is that anything goes. What counts is whether people adopt a word and if it sticks. and gets into everyday usage.

‘A compound is a unit of vocabulary which consists of more than one lexical stem. The parts are functioning as a single item which has its own meaning and grammar.' (Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language. (1995:120)


REFERENCE

Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language. 1995

 

 

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How hot are we?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 30 Aug 2010, 12:33

'By looking at written words, and especially those that have been highly valued, we can take the temperature of the society in which they were produced.' Hitchings (2009:124)

Many new words are coined working and existing online.

If they guage the temperature of society then who are we to:

  • google
  • e-stalk
  • e-learn
  • ping
  • podcast
  • twit and twitter

e-mail(my British born and raised 12 year old son calls the 'post,' calls 'letters through the door,' 'Mail.'

Who am I to correct him.

As Hitchings points out, all words assimilated into American become words used by us Brits and English eventually.

The very fact that more people speak English on the Indian sub-content than in/on or around the British Isles implies that the English language is secondary to culture and nation-hood.

It amuses me to learn that'gotten'is of these isles 200 years ago, so not an Americanism, but olde English in every day use. Alongside words such as 'trash.'

Indeed, reading Hitchings, alongside some Norman Davies (The Isles) you come to wonder for how long an English  language was set, culturally or by national or cultural boundaries.

The more I understand about how these 'Isles'were populated the less I feel we have had a settled language, let alone a 'people.'

We are everything and everyone who settles in these islands; I welcome them. As South Africa falters perhaps this mutli-lingual, mixed-race, compost heap of folk should adopt the 'Rainbow Nation' tag?

As Hitchings point out, in a study of London primary schools they found that 300 different languages are spoken. A dear friend is the Head Teacher of school where she can run off the 27 languages spoken in a single class of Year 5s.

A good thing. A positive thing. To embrace, to celebrate and engage.

 REFERENCE

The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English. Henry Hitchings. 2008

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Fingerspitzengefuhl

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 18:50

'A feeling in the tips of one's fingers.' Courtesy of Henry Hitchings (2009)

My journey through the English language courtesy of Henry Hitchings has come to an end. I have read his ‘The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English’ from cover to cover. I’ll have to read his book on Dr Johnson’s Dictionary next – unless I have something better to do in OU Land. Or get my hands on Mencken’s book on ‘The American Language’ which the late Alistair Cook would often quote.

I feel better armed to deal with concerns for the veracity of such words as ‘enculturated’ and ‘e-lapsed’ time that those of studying Online and Distance Learning (e-learning) must get used to.

I’ve learnt about loan words, calques and coinage; words taken straight from a foreign language, expressions that are literal translations of a foreign language and invented words.

English is a language of constant invention.


I have a put down from the 16th century for any new fangled multiple-syllable techno babble I come across. I can call the author a 'Controversialist  - a writer who spurts out horrid polysyllables; and I might use the line, ‘such addicts of exotic terms would rarely use a short word where a long alternative could be found.' From John Florio's A Worlde of Wordes (1598)

I love the French loan word 'Escargatoire' which is 'a nursery of snails'. I am sure I can find a way to use it.

It amuses me that William Fox Talbot wanted to call photography ‘photogenic drawing while after Louis Daguerre we have ‘daguerreotype’ but pushed by Sir John Hersche ‘photography’ and ‘photo’ caught on. (Queen Victoria asked a grand-daughter for a 'photo' in a letter).

I thought of ‘stakeholder’ as a word that had to be 1970s corporate speak, only to learn that it was first used in 1850, along with entrepreneur and capitalist

Etiquette has become ‘netiquette’ in OU Land

This is a Georgian notion and appears in Johnson's dictionary of 1818. One piece of advice given regarding etiquette is to 'be discreet and sparing of your words.'

With is in mind, as I begin a new module my self-imposed rules will be:

  • Messages under 50 words
  • Forum replies and entries under 250 words
  • OU Blog global entries under 250 words, OU entries under 500 and private entries as long as I wish, but probably under 2,000 words
  • MyStuff under 1,000 (though I plan to break these entries into more manageable ‘learning objects,’ like the paper equivalent of waht in 1990 the OU called a ‘Concept Card.’

(I have also broken this entry into four parts to keep the wordage down per entry. More to follow.)

Hitchings leaves mention of the Internet to the last pages of the final paragraph

'Online communities, which are nothing if not eclectic, prove an especially rich breeding ground for new words.'

* extremes
* deliriously ludic (sic)
* personalised
* localised

REFERENCE

The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English. Henry Hitchings. 2008

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Face-to-face learning versus e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:53

Crucial to my development and understanding of e-learning is to have some one or two people I can discuss issues with face-to-face.

One an multiple MA graduate now with a Diploma in E-learning, the second a PhD Tutor in Environmental Law and the third someone who commissions e-learning projects (though he sticks with 'online learning' as the only term that is understood by lay-people).

A fourth person is a giant in education who in his 85th year just wonders if I can help put the papers he is still writing online to share with students. All he has in mind are a few dozen papers on a platform such as EduBlogs, which I can do.

My goal is to 'map' the many thousands of papers and books that are stacked three layers deep, to the ceiling, in his three-storey 15th century Cotswold home! i.e. The Contents of his Brain.

On verra

P.S. We've jsut had an hour long power-cut. The panic as two adults and three kids scramble around not knowing what to do is notable. I got my hands on the laptop so could press on under battery (but no internet connection as the router was down). My wife took a break from a mega pharmaceutical report she is writing to take her dog on an extended walk, while the boys (family and friends) gave up on dual Xbox and Internet activities to play poker!

Perhaps I could put a time on the electricity junction box to deny us electricity at random times through-out the day.

We might start talking to each other instead of e-mailing and messaging around the house.

Meanwhile, three computers are up and humming and my son is back on Skype planning some 15 rated Afghanistan-like raid with his cousin (300 miles away) and couple of Americans (one who calls himself David Hasselholf, but isn't as his voice hasn't broken) and someone's Mum who pretends to be her son as she likes the game more than he son does (I listen in).

All computers are in communal spaces in the house so that activities are surrepticiously or indirectly monitored.

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E-words

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 27 Aug 2010, 07:08

A word, or new use for a word, should, because of its context, not only slip into usage unnoticed but ought also to be immediately comprehensible.

I like 'e-learning.'

When I began studying Open and Distance Learning in 2001 'online learning' and 'web-based learning' covered the topic - inadequately it would appear. We ditched 'iLearning' as pertaining to nothing more than 'interactive' and therefore missing all things WWW, all things Web and Internet. iLearning could be done off-line which somehow diminished it.

All of this is as much an off-line experience as an online one.

This is what the Internet 'affords' we can trawl for chunks of information and take it all 'off-line' if we wish. At times I don't know or care to know if I am online or not, receiving messages or not, on, in or under this 'digital ocean,' or on the beach, catching this binary fret.

There are no paramteres, no boundaries ... information is chunked and diced and hung out to dry or digitise, to flourish or flounder.

Can consciousness be defined? Bagged? It is no different whether express in print or online.

So why e-learning but not e-consciousness?

They're of the mind and the mind defies being differentiated by platform.

o-Learning. With Socrates, it is oral.

p-Learning. With Caxton, in print.

tv-Learning. With the OU, in the middle of the night.

e-Learning. Anywhere on the Internet.

Though if it is like e-mail that it is little more than electronic ping-pong with gobbets of data.

iLearning. Interactive or personalised to the 'id,' with 'me' in mind?

iou-Learning. Interactive or 'Internet Open Universtity' Learning.


‘Part of the difficulty of understanding and implementing e-learning is that there is no one unique description for ‘e-learning; terms and conflicting definitions abound – ICT, learning technologies and e-learning are all terms that have been described to cover aspects of this area.’

Conole et al; (2007:72)

How does 'e-learning' or 'e-tivity' translate? Do other languages adopt these terms as 'loan words?' Or do the have their own words for these things? What are they?

REFERENCE

Conole, G; White, S and Oliver, M in Conole and Oliver (eds)  Contemporary perspectives in E-Learning Research. (2007)

 

 

 

 

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E-J

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We know about DJs broadcasting on radio, so how about an e-J doing likewise online?

 

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E-words. E-terms. E-lexemes.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:22

Inspired by The Secret life of words. How English became English. Henry Hitchings (2008)

‘Communications is essential to our lives, but how often do we stop to think about where the words we use have come from?’
Hitchings (2008)

Whilst ‘where words came from’ is the premise for ‘The Secret Life of Words’ it is much more: it is a history of the people who spoke English. It is a refreshing take on a chronology of events. We learn history through words for warrior, through the Anglo-Saxon, French and Latin word for the same thing ... and through the words the English language has so easily accommodated from across the globe. It is a fascinating journey, one made pertinent to someone studying on the cascading wave-edge of the digital ocean that is ‘e-learning’ with the frequent coining of new terms.

For a description of the way the English language functions (or mis-functions) I love this:

English is ‘Deficient in regularity.’

From James Harris (c1720) in Hitchings (2008:1)

It is exactly the kind of thing a teacher might write in red pen at the bottom of a school-boy’s essay.

This is another way of putting it. English, ‘this hybrid tongue’, as Hitchings calls it. Hitchings (2008:2)

A tongue that re-invents itself, twists and transmogrifies at every turn.

A couple of decades ago I recall there being suggestions that the English language would splinter into so many dialects, creoles and forms that a speaker of one would not understand the user of another. The opposite appears to be the case, that ‘core English’ has been stabilised by its myriad of versions. Users can choose to understand each other or not, to tolerate even celebrate their differences or to use difference to create a barrier: think of the class divide, the posh voice versus the plebeian, one regional accent set against another, or an accent from one former British Dominion compared to another.

‘Words bind us together, and can drive us apart.’ Hitchings (2008:3)

How is the Internet changing the English Language?

What impact has Instant Messaging, blogging and asynchronous communication had? Can we be confident that others take from our words the meanings we intend? As we are so inclined to use sarcasm, irony, flippancy and wit when we speak, how does this transcribe when turned into words? How can you know a person’s meaning or intentions without seeing their face or interpreting their body language? Must we be bland to compensate for this?

I love mistakes, such as this one from Hitchings:

Crayfish ... ‘its fishy quality is the result of a creative mishearing.’ Hitchings (2008:4)

Age ten or eleven I started to keep a book of my ‘creative mishearings’ which included words such as ‘ragabond,’ instead of ‘vagabond.’ I love the idea of the ‘creative mishearing,’ isn’t this the same as ‘butterfly’, shouldn’t it be ‘flutterby’? And recalling a BBC Radio 4 Broadcast on Creativity with Grayson Perry, ‘creativity is mistakes.’

Mistakes and misunderstandings put barbs on the wire strings of words we hook from point to point, between arguments and chapters. We are fortunate that the English language is so flawed; it affords scratches and debate, conflict and the taking of sides.

An American travelled 19,000 miles back and forth across the US with a buddy correcting spellings, grammar and punctuation on billboards, notices and road signs. His engaging story split the reviewers into diametrically opposed camps of ‘love him’ or ‘hate him.’ (Courtesy of the Today Programme, the day before yesterday c20th August 2010)

‘Our language creates communities and solidarities, as well as division and disagreements.’ Hitchings (2008:4)

My test for the longevity and acceptability of a new word coined to cover a term in e-learning will be twofold:

Can, what is invariably a noun, be turned with ease into a verb or adjective?

Might we have an Anglo-Saxon, French and Latin word for the same thing. We like to have many words for the same thing ... variations on a theme.

And a final thought

Do technical words lend themselves to such reverse engineering? Or, like a number, are they immutable?

If they are made of stone I will find myself a mason's chisel.

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Clashing swords and VLEs

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Inspired by Martin Weller's book on VLEs. Just read Chapter Seven - Standards and Specification and Chapter Eight - Learning Design. notes to follow.

Courtesy of the OU's 1990 book 'The Good Study Guide' I am trying to make my notes less a cut and paste and more a considered extraction of ideas, my agreements, disagreements and questions with a few notable quotes and references to follow up. These are probably then best catalogued and tagged in the OU ePortfolio MyStuff (for now).

Having read 'Standards and Specifications' I am wondering what role e-learning designers might play once a set of common approaches have been adopted? Once every learning design follows 'the script' the way a Hollywood screenplay has its three acts, various turning points, antagonists and protagonists, roles and events.

For every chapter I read, I read two chapters of a Bernard Cornwell Novel 'The Lords of the North' and a chapter of Norman Davies's history of the Isles (UK and the Republic of Ireland).

I won't be able to afford this luxury come September, a new season and a new moduel H808 'The Elearning Professional.'

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The value of electronic literacy in the Internet Age

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

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

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

Can you recommend an e-Reader?

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

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

E-literacy is an irresistible term of course.

‘Electronic Literacy’ or ‘E-literacy’

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

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

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

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


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

These literacies are:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.wwwords.co.uk/pdf/freetoview.asp?j=elea&vol=3&issue=1&year=2006&article=11_Ingraham_ELEA_3_1_web

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

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

Literacy and multiple literacies (Kress, 1997)

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

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

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

The goals of education

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

Two conflicting directions for education

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

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

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

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

REFERENCE

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

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







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'e-learning' I'll accept, 'enculturated' I loathe.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 14 Aug 2010, 16:06

“Debates around terminology and definitions often generate more heat than light with their length and ferocity almost indirectly proportional to their usefulness.” Weller (2007:4)

Whilst true it is difficult to accept another person’s definition of an invented word whose meaning shifts constantly and means different things to different people.

“It was through the rise of the Internet that the ‘e’ prefix came into popular usage, and in line with e-commerce, e-business and e-government, it is the internet that is really the defining technology in e-learning.” Weller. (2007:5)

If it is the case the Internet (capital ‘I’ anyone?) is the defining technology of e-learning, then it isn’t e-learning, it should be i-learning. Or was that term nobbled in the 1980s for ‘interactive’ learning.

What about www-learning?


It’s suitably polysyllabic to appeal to the academic community and no more unpronounceable than some of the terms academic writers feel it necessary to construct.

‘E-learning. Any learning experience that utilizes internet-related technologies to some extent.’
Weller. (2007:4)

Imagine this definition blown into a party balloon then let loose into the atmosphere of cyberspace; it will buzz about who knows where until it loses itself in the multitude of tools ‘out there.’

Will we reach a stage where we return to the more established global term ‘learning?’ that would embrace all these Is, Es and Ms.

Or as Weller, it’s not worth the trouble, just run with it, as we must run with podcasting and iPod, iPads and googling and so much more. Banned though should be the polysyllabic babble that academic writers prefer to use in favour of a couple of words in plain, unpretentious English.

The word I loath more than all, too often used by certain authors with abandon in relation to e-learning, is ‘enculturated.’

I don’t think much of ‘situated’ either.

REFERENCE

Weller, M. (2007) Virtual Learning Environments. Using, choosing and developing your VLE

It is the holidays, so this norming I read Michael Faber's 'The Fifth Gospel.'

Fun and quotable. And this easy and quick to read. A 3 hour train journey would do it.

Over the previous few days I have read Stephen King's 'Cell,' which begins like a text book, 'throw them out of the aerolpane' thriller but turns into such daftness I skim read the last half at great speed. You must admire his hutzpah.

Over the previous week I have not been enjoying Simon Schama's 'History of Britain' as I feel I'm getting too much of him and not enough history (He's very good on Caravagio though) ... while Andrew Marr's 'The Making of Modern Britain' at least had some micro-factoids to interest in a journalist sort of way.

Then I found my old copy of Norman Davies 'The Isles' which I read a decade ago and plan to read again ... followed by his History of Europe.

Unsure why I'm trying to pack my brain with such stuff, but it is in part due to my mind being re-awoken from a period of slackness courtesy of the OU.

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The importance of Face-to-Face (from the OU, 1990)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 8 Oct 2011, 15:07

From the Good Study Guide – (OU) 1990 by Andrew Nortledge.

p65 ‘Where the lecture comes into its own is in helping you to understand how the ideas in the subject work. The lecturer can ‘project; meaning into the words for you. The sense of the word is signalled through tone of voice and embellished with gestures and fluid expression.’

A gem I fell upon serendipitously when my daughter emptied her bedroom of childhood books, including this one, sent to her rather hopefully by her grandfather when she was 12.

The relevance here is on why face-to-face lectures and tutorials will continue to have such an important role to play. Maybe fewer of them (per student) so that a far larger student cohort can be taught and managed, but necessary all the same.

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Quote yourself happy

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

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

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

Surely there are standards and expectations?

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

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

Is there some etiquette regarding this kind of thing?

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

Academically stimulating, but hardly a Caravagio.

At what point do you become 'self-quotable?

Did Churchill quote himself?

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

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

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

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

Or things I said to important people ?

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

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

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

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


It is ?

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

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

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

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What's wrong with Educational Social Networking? (EDU)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Jun 2012, 01:04

DSC04711.JPG

Isn’t ‘re-invention’ the word? (Rogers, P114 & P115, 2002)

Not wholesale repurposing, but as Rogers puts it 'It should be acknowledged that rejection, discontinuance and re-invention frequently occur during the diffusion of an innovation and that such behaviour may be rational and appropriate from the individual's point of view.' (Rogers, p114 2002)

I wonder how my experience might have been with a group of colleagues or friends, signing up together ... but might this too ‘spoil the party.’ And how over a longer period fellow students would be emailing and messaging and getting on the phone ... let alone meeting up.

This fascinates me primarily because I am convinced that collaboration, sharing, discussion and so on is crucial to a deeper learning outcome. But does this not have to be down to the drive of the individual and permitted by the institution they belong to?

How much motivation can others really offer or be expected to offer?

If neither a carrot or stick will work with adult learners, especially in a online environment, then what do you do? ‘You can take a horse to the trough, but you can’t make it drink.’ As I’m about to take a course on the Psychology of Sport as a Senior Swimming Coach I may gain some further insights into waht motivates people to do something and how outsiders can influence this in a positive way.

And just because we’re invited to drink from this trough once, dos not mean we will do it again, or often or with enthusiasm. Our moods will wax and wane, or commitments beyond the course will impinge.

Deep learning, as I’ve learnt, benefits from, even requires a rapport with one or several others at various levels of understanding – a Subject Matter Expert (SME) or experts, a tutor, a couple of fellow students on the course, and perhaps someone more junior who can be in turn mentored or tutored by us (first years being buddied by a second year, a post-grad student supervising a fresher).

How much this mix can be set by what little the OU or other Distance Learning Provider knows about an individual is quite another matter.

Do you run a call-centre like team of facilitators/moderators ... or aspire to the one-to-one relationship of tutor or governess to student mimicking some land-owning/aristocratic model of the distant past? Where is or how can that rapport that can work between student and tutor be recreated here? Or is this something for a DPhil?

A free-for-all would create imbalances, inevitably ... for the institution. But whose experience are we prioritising here?

Whilst a balance must be found, if the best outcomes are to give tutors and SMEs much more time online to forge relationships then this should be - a good coach attracts the best athletes and attracts the interest of other coaches. How does she do that? (Expertise, training and personality ... enthusiasm, putting the athlete at the centre of things)

Perhaps by pursuing ‘educational social networking’ institutions are shooting themselves in the financial foot?

The time put in to make a freer networking between students, tutors and SMEs, with students in different time zones and different priorities would be prohibitive. Undergraduates studying on campus, in a homophilous cohort, with fewer worries (other than debt) don’t know how fortunate they are to have this opportunity to study, probably for the only time, before the life of the wider world impinges.

Are Personal Learning Environment (PLE) a way or the way forward?

If I have this concept right, i.e. with the formal relationships and tutor relationship given equal potential, the tools in one place on the same homepage is a suitable progression from the VLE) Perhaps OU students are doing this anyway by starting at their own Blog or Home Page and simply anchoring the pages from the OU that matter most to them?

The New Scientist is running an interesting essay in its current edition which touches on all of this.

New Scientist (week 10th July 2010) has a piece called 'Generation F' by Richard Fisher (2010).


* 400 million worldwide ... on social networking sites.
* The importance of weak ties as well as close ones.
* The time it takes to forge 'reliable and trustworthy' ties.
* The value of 'acquaintances' to provide relevant and trustworthy news/information.

The article is prone to the some hyperbole:

Social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace) the 'harbingers of a sea change in our social evolution, in the same way that the arrival of language informed our ancestors.' (Donarth, 2009)

Danah Boyd (2009) describes Facebook as ‘an essential utility like water or electricity.’

Academics are just as guilty of this kind of thing, there’s been plenty of it in the reading for H807 the democratising of education, ‘starting the world anew’ ala Tom Paine etc: and claims made in the last ten/twenty years regarding ICT and education, what it could do, will do ... but hasn’t.

The essay is of value though for how, and if, social networking can be used short-term purposes:

'Online social networking appears to be 'very good for servicing relationships, but not for building them de novo.' (Dunbar, 2010)

H807 tries to use an ‘educational social networking’ approach, or does it. Perhaps it is deliberately more self-contained than this. Though with emphasis on authors such as Salmon (2002) and her model for e-tivities, undue emphasis is put on getting people talking and working together? Is that so necessary.

Isn’t experience showing that this is wishful thinking?

The OU must have research on this. Why do more people quit a an online distance learning course (20-50%) compared to a traditional distance learning course? What are the views on conversations, synchronous or asynchronous between fellow students and students in the wide OU community and tutors?

At various times, the ‘weakest links’ to fellow OU students through the OU blog has produced some useful support and insights for H807, yet engagement through our own Cafe/General Forum can surely only be described as minimal?

Whilst deeper learning experiences do come from sharing (like this), it isn’t happening to the degree the OU would like?

Collaboration between some random people I may meet at the bus stop when the service is delayed is not the same as forging an academic bond with some one or some many who are equally engaged with the material, whether their opinions are the antithesis of mine would be immaterial – indeed, disagreement would be better, it feeds discussion. This is NOT a criticism of H807, we have a common purpose, we have elected to do H807, there is a common profile intellectually and absolutely the variety of life experiences enriches the experience. But clearly, as individuals, our approaches to learning, IT skills, time allocated to the task and for many other reasons will and does negate against certain ways of learning. Such as this.

If on the one hand the wishes of some students, maybe most, to stay at arms length aren’t the wishes or hopes of others who would like to engage with a wider circle being denied?

The sought of relationships between students that the OU is hoping for can surely only developed over a few years rather than a few months.

Jeff Hancock (2008) of Cornell University '... found that those with Facebook access asked questions to which they already knew the answers or raised things they had in common, and as a result were much more successful at winning people over.' (New Scientist, 10July2010).

We experienced the ease with which we could share personal information, there was no drilling or phfishing for information, but clearly I will know more about some people than others. It relevance is another matter, the buy-in to these people could eventually result in a bond of sorts, at least as working on this platform is concerned. I would have to look back through the way we respond to each other to see if the above occurred ... deliberately asking certain people certain things even though we knew the answer, as a catalyst to conversation. This does not work discussing trivia such as pets and the weather (though I’ve indulged in plenty of that too ... it doesn’t lead to conversations on costing programming, what Vygotsky means about scaffolding or whether we are fed up with e-tivities, e-granaries, e-moderators ... and e-jobs.

Mid-way through the unit we read Elliot (2008) and I took an interest in the way 'lifelong learning' functions.


I was looking at this as an adult learner environment, the merging of social, family and work through social networking sites and the communication habits and styles of all three merging into and becoming a messed up single entity. Historically it wasn't long ago that work, family and social words were one ... fifty years ago, seventy or a hundred years? No more.

Both of these points, revealing more and the merging, or coalescent, or the dropping of barriers between these spheres is changing behaviours.

'Increased visibility also means our various social spheres - family, work and friends- are merging and so we will have to prepare for new societal norms. 'Well have to learn how to live a more transparent life.' (Holtzman, 2009)

The idea of 'Exposure' was used be Ellen Levy in 1999 (Levy, 1999) after she had spent a year keeping a blog and photojournal, then a novel activity. (Washington Post, 24th September, 1999).

What an employer, parent, friends or colleagues make of this is another matter, but then again, one day we’ll all be walking around with our DNA profile on a dog-tag (or embedded under our skin on a microchip).

The relevance of all of this?


How far can the individual be indulged within the parameters of an online course, that must retain students and prove its worth to the institution (financial, academic, members), the students (worth it financially, academically, career wise ... and personally) ... and the wider community (grants, knowledgeable workforce, content and informed citizens)

Je suis comme je suis
Je suis faite comme ça

(Jacques Prevert, 1946)

I am what I am, I was made this way.
....

REFERENCE


Donath, J. New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com, p40. From Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, vol.13, p 231)

Dunbar, R. (2009) How many friends does one person need? Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford. Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com.

Elliott, B. (2008) Assessment 2.0: Modernising Assessment in the Age of Web 2.0 [online], Scottish Qualifications Authority; available from http://www.scribd.com/doc/461041/Assessment-20 (Accessed 1 February 2010).

Ellison, N (2007) The Benefits of Facebook "Friends:" Social Capital and College Students' Use of Online Social Network Sites
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Volume 12, Issue 4, Date: July 2007, Pages: 1143-1168
Nicole B. Ellison, Charles Steinfield, Cliff Lampe. (Accessed 11 July 2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com.

Fisher, R (2010) New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com

Granoveter, M, S. (1973) The Strength of Weak Ties. The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 78, No. 6 (May, 1973), pp. 1360-1380 http://www.jstor.org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/action/exportSingleCitation?singleCitation=true&suffix=2776392
(Accessed 11 July 2010)
Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com. The University of Chicago Press.

Golbeck, J (2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com.

Hancock, J. (2008) I know something you don't: the use of asymmetric personal information for interpersonal advantage
Jeffrey T. Hancock, Catalina L. Toma, Kate Fenner. Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com. (Accessed 11 July 2010)

Holtzman, H (2010) Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com

Kearns, M. (2009) Behavioral experiments on biased voting in networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 106, p1347) http://www.pnas.org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/content/106/5/1347.full.pdf+html (Accessed 11 July 2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com.

Levy, E. (1999) Featured in article in the Washinton Post, 24 September 2010. See more at http://businessinnovationfactory.com/iss/innovators/ellen-levy
(accessed 11 July 2010)

Prevert, J, (146) Paroles.

Pentland, S (2010) Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com

Rogers, E.M. (2003) Diffusion of Innovations (5th edn), New York, Simon and Schuster.

Salmon, E (2002) E-tivities the key to online learning. Kogan Page.

Tom Tong, S (2008) Too Much of a Good Thing? The Relationship Between Number of Friends and Interpersonal Impressions on Facebook. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, vol13 p531-549)

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H808 Approaching ECA

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 16:03

Feeling that I have a gap in relation to learning pedagogy and wishing to read some articles that are more 2010 that 2000 ... I have picked out 14 fresh articles to read.

Invaluable

Prensky and his 'Digital Natives' can be dropped - nothing in practice proves the point. It has nothing to do with when we were born, and everything to do with our desire to engage with and exposure to the technology ... oh, and income, eduation, age, opportunity ... the usual criteria.

My 85 year old Father-in-law has had a Mac since ... since they existed. He continues to run postgraduate courses between two countries ... and hasn't had a P.A. for 15 years. He is more comfortable with current ICT than some teenagers ... why? Because he is goal-orientated. The technology is simply a set of tools, a means to an end.

Personally I'm running with the view that there is no such thing as 'e-learning,' just 'learning.'

After all, the models of learning that I need are based on print, lectures, classrooms and tutorials. How often is 'e' justified? Does it work to its strengths? Is is inclusive or exclusive ... just part of the mix or re-mix?

And might I hear from some practioners, rather than researchers? i.e. those who put it into practice? Not just from HE.

Try presenting an OU styled E-tivity plan to a client. Learn what their issues and expetations are?

Try using the word (if it is one) 'E-tivity' for a start.

Keen on innovation, ready to be sold, want the bottom line, to be convinced that it will deliver and that results are measurable. An please, don't quote, cite or reference anyone.

And don't use the term 'e-learning' either.

Not interested. It is 'learning stuff' online ... or online learning, with computers and IT.

Why the great divide between theory and practice? Between universities and the people who employ your students? Should not employers be telling universities what they expect, want and understand, rather than the other way round.

Concentrate on outcomes. Identifying and fixing problems. Multi-mode. Why go the 'e-learning' route for £60k when you can solve the problem for £15k in print.

Why don't we go there?

The needs should dictate the proposed solutions, not the course, or tools ... and their affordances. As if these new comers operate in isolation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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