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Life Logging and education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Mar 2015, 03:34

The idea of recording our daily lives is an ancient one: records, journals, letters and papers have been kept for centuries. Only recently has it become possible to keep digital versions of our day. There are reasons why we forget though; there are reasons too why our perceptions of the world aren't that great either. 

I happen to be one of those people who started a diary when I was 13. I had the misfortune of being sent away to school from the age of 8 too. As well as the diaries I have bundles of letters I received from the age of 8 to 16 - I refused to return to the 'institution' my parents were subjecting to me and got it to a 'normal' schooling.

Only in the last couple of days have I taken a close look at a diary I started almost exactly 40 years ago, or at letters I was receiving at the time. When my mother died I received a bundle of letters I had written to her as well. I never expressed to anyone, or was asked, how I felt about being sent away to school, though I remember my first night as vividly as my last. Reading back feels as if I was subjected to a prison sentence. For all the privilege, tenderness, trust and love was removed. Something as simple as a hug became a rare thing for holidays. There was, thankfully, none of the abuse, you hear of. Though boys were caned, and slippered. The torture was bottling up feelings and learning to deal with problems in your own way - even friends could, if given too much information, turn against you.

I was bashed through a sausage machine and have only rarely been able to reconstruct the person I may have thought I'd be age 7 or 8. Poor little rich boy? I didn't ask for that, or the violent breakup of my parents when I was 8. At least I've given my kids stability and love. One just left the nest and it was delightful to reflect on how much time as a family we have been together: barely more than a few days apart in her lifetime. Society should above all else value stability in families and an open, revealing and liberating education rather than a closed, introverted and exclusive one. 

I am not surprised to find, even where some of them have the money, that not one person I know who either went to such school age 8-13 or 13-18 has sent their children away. There are so many reasons why it was wrong them, and no better today. Today he problem is separating young people from the world they belong to instead of mixing up income brackets, race, religion, genders and even age groups. If I had influence, or power to change the way we educate our young people in this country it would be to open it up, by legislation. Nothing destructive, but to expect and develop a better mix, rather than the current exclusivity. We should abolish the charitable status independent schools have to start; what is charitable about an elitist institution? They should be open to public scrutiny and expected to earn it: 50% fee paying, 25% on reduced fees, 25% free places? 

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Why learn?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 19 Jan 2015, 07:41

Fig.1 After another twenty years? With age comes wisdom.

  • To get a job: a better job, to pass through a gate towards a graduate job, as a springboard to a job.
  • To gain a qualification: as above, though sometimes it is primarily a badge of honour and achievement
  • To feed your curiosity: a compulsion or desire to better understand a think for the pure sake of learning.
  • To renew a long held interest that may have started at school or with a first degree.
  • Because it is expected of you: your family and peers expect it.
  • To develop fluency in the subject for whatever reason - which includes some of those above.
  • To apply your learning directly to a problem : can be related to a job, research or intellectual curiosity.
  • To kill time: like reading a book, doing Sudoko puzzles or watching Soaps. A pricey way to fill part of your day though?
  • To meet like-minded people.
  • As a catalyst to who knows what.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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War breeds hate; hate festers and breeds war.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 17 Nov 2014, 08:18

Fig.1 At the war memorial to the Machine Gun Corps on Hyde Park Corner, 1991. I'm with my late grandfather - dark suit and beige shoes, fourth in from the right. That's me on the far left of the line in the glasses holding the standard. (Volunteered about five minutes previously) Marking the 75th Anniversary of the formation of the MCG in 1916.

I've just completed fascinating couple of weeks, often gruelling on The OU's World War 1: Trauma and Memory on the FutureLearn MOOC platform.

My love for The OU is restored. Everyone should pick a course from FutureLearn to understand where learning is being taken. You cannot go wrong with an OU lead and designed one of these - some of the others are re-versioned books, leaflets, extra curricular workshops and lecture series, not embracing the affordances of the platform at all.

An eye opener for anyone studying learning - go over there anyone studying education.

At the end of each week, which officially run for the five working days of the week, we are invited to reflect on the lessons learnt. A very significant part of this are the 'massive' conversations that follow each 'activity'. 

A week of looking at and contemplating the dead from violent conflict I conclude that 'war breeds hate; hate festers and breeds war.' Unless the population is wiped out, or dived between the conquerors. Or unless the conquerors stay put - the Normans eventually subjugated England and Scotland and 1000 years on some of them still rule and own the land.

Responses to hatred are diametrically opposed: forgiveness and peace, blame and violent conflict. Has humankind moved on that far from the tribalism of one or two millennia ago?  If young men, the typical combat soldier truly understood what could happen to them would they still go? It applies to every kind of risk, and testosterone fuelled it is more of a male thing? This willingness to take outrageous risks believing that it 'won't happen to them'. And of course, commemorating 'our glorious dead' and 'returning heroes' risks celebrating war rather than being a period of reflection and commemoration. A veteran of WW1 my grandfather never used the term 'heroic'. Do young people joining up think that if nothing else, wounded, or dead in a coffin, they will at least come back 'a hero' - making it OK? And yet, however frightful, violent conflict remains a way that peoples, people, cultures attempt to resolve their differences.

It'll continue until the world's resources and 'life chances' - are fairly distributed. I feel the awakening of a burgeoning political sensibility that may wobble towards republicanism and socialism. 

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On the value of reading and re-reading the same quality book

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 24 Aug 2014, 06:52
From E-Learning IV

 Fig 1. Essential reading on British Forces on the Ypres Salient in 1917

I take back what I said a couple of days ago about a module (not OU) that comprises a reading list and set of essay questions. Sometimes I feel the OU modules I have done are too prescriptive, that all of us are passengers on a learning train that will not permit anyone to leave the service. You work from and are assessed on the content given - excellent, succinct and contained. This does not suit everyone; never does the scary freedom to read from a reading list. In many cases the variety seen in both approaches, with overlap, is how and when one comes to understand something.

Back to formal reading

It matters that you are directed to the right book. This is the right book on Passchendaele to understand from a general strategic, to operational, to tactical level what took place.

I read 'Passchendaele: the untold story' first in May for a presentation in June.

The purpose was to lay out the chronology of events and compare two battles within the Passchendaele or 'Third Ypres' conflict relating to command. I took notes: highlighted in the eBook which I then typed up in a Google Doc before creating a presentation. Over two months later I read the book again as if I had never seen the book before; on the one hand I worry about my sieve like brain, on the other I am intrigued to understand what is going on.

From E-Learning IV

Fig.2 Notes taken in Google Docs from the highlight sections in the eBook

On second reading, with the tracks and sleepers of the general chronology becoming established and retained knowledge, and with an essay title ringing in my head, the highlights I make in the eBook are, with a few exceptions, totally different. I am reading the same book, but taking something very different from it. I have a highly selective, easily distracted brain - nothing sticks if it doesn't have to. I know a few people with a photographic memory: they appear to read something once then have the entire contents at their fingertips to apply to a problem. My memory is the opposite - nothing at all that I don't deem of importance to the task at hand will be retained. I have, side by side, the notes I took in May and the notes I am currently taking - they could be from different publications; I struggle to find any common ground. 

There will be a third reading

This third reading will have different purpose as in due course I write a comparative history between Third Ypres: Passchendaele and the First Gulf War to fulfil a desire to respond to something my late grandfather said in 1992 'That's nothing compared to Passchendaele' he said as he watched the First Gulf War unfold on TV. He saw the differences between foot soldiers as unrecognisably different, whereas I saw the prospect of having a leg blown off or being gassed as more than faintly similar. Had the generals used the tactics of 1992 in 1917 they would have gained more ground and lost fewer men; something had been learnt in 75 years of war then.

Fig.3. The mud of the First Gulf War

Visualising the above I imagine a desert; the state of my brain before I read, that over time acquires an invasion of cacti, followed by ground cover plants, until eventually there are established trees and a rich ecosystem.

Hardly surprising, but on second reading you pick out more detail; you see things that you missed, or couldn't take in the first time round. I'm the kind of person who would apply this to entire modules: that the student who wants to should be allowed to, for a considerable discount, to re-sit a module they have already done. Why not even a third time if your goal is to master a subject? A' Level students with poor grades will 'cram' for a year to improve on these. Through-out life things we want to do are achieved as a result of tackling the problem repeatedly until we crack it. 

Finally, I conclude, that given how complex we are, so learning needs to offer a similar level of variety; there can be no perfect system, or learning design pattern. We learn in different ways, and educators teach in different ways. E-learning isn't a panacea, it is simply another approach the complements ones we have always adopted, not least learning directly from experts themselves through talking things through.

More of us should be able to or should have been able to retake classes we flunked - with a different teacher, if not in a different institution. It shocks me to see how a student at school can be put off a subject they enjoy as they don't relate to or get on with the teacher - so change the teacher. 

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Gobsmacked

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Fig. 1. MarineTracker.com

This blew me away. A service that tracks every vessel at sea. For various levels of monthly subscription the service will do all but helm your tanker, yacht, motorboat across the world's oceans - that is coming.

It isn't quite Google Streets - you can't drill down to live satellite images at sea level. 

Will DVLA track every vehicle on UK roads one day? Why not? All driving offences will become a thing of the past or be prosecuted the moment they are committed. And we take a step further towards the driverless car.

Then tracking people; voluntarily. Why do that? Having a snail-trail database of where you have been. It would be interesting to analyse how, ant-like, we go about our lives. The commute would be seen for the almighty waste of time that it is.

Would it be ethical to microchip your kids? Or a parent with dementia?

And regardless of this what kind of services could be offered to someone whose whereabouts is always tracked? To some considerable degree we allow this and encourage it as soon as we turn on a mobile device? I don't speak a word of Spanish - yet. I'd like through my phone, with an ear piece, to have a one-to-one tutorial as I attempt to cross the country to locate the above yacht when it puts into port in the next couple of days. 'Just in time' language tuition. 

Other things I don't want to look up. 'Tell me about ...' and I am promptly told about the thing I am looking at in a language, and style that suits me ...

Far fetched?

Artificial Intelligence offers a way forward to bring unprecedented levels of personalised learning to millions.

Those with a smart phone and speedy Internet access; so neither inclusive, nor fully accessible or even without cost. So severely limited in that respect as a harbinger of education for the world. 

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Making Memories

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 13 Oct 2014, 08:45

Fig.1. The muddy sides of the River Ouse, Piddinghoe. At low tide.

We are very good at forgetting: it's vital.

We see, feel, sense far too much in our daily lives (which includes when asleep). Come to think of it what on earth was I doing on a student exchange to North America last night where I am twenty years older than my hosts ... (probably sums up how I feel about the workplace).

See. Some memories are made for us, or by us whether or not we want them.

Learning though requires us to gather, create and retain stuff. Some of this stuff is forgettable; it doesn't resonate, or is poorly taught or expressed. Or we simply don't get it the way it is expressed, or the first time around.

Fig.2 Neuroscience of dummies

Make it a memory

At an OU Residential School the session on revision was packed. The tips made us laugh: sucking a choice of Polo Fruit sweets by subject theme - when you come to the exam repeat and each sweet will link you to that period of revision. Odd. But it worked often enough for me to convince me of its value.

 

Fig.4. Ebbinghaus and his 'Forgetting Curve'

The science from the likes of Hermann Ebbinghaus and his 'Forgetting Curve' simply indicates how something fades, unless you go back to it a few times over several days over which period you make it stick. It doesn't say anything about the 'stickiness' of the memory in the first place. Sometimes this stickiness is made for you. There is drama, there is an explosion. Most likely, by chance, the learning is anchored by some unrelated event like the fire alarm going off - that won't work for 50 different things though.

Fig. 5 Multiple ways of making 'it' stick: read (book and e-book), highlight, tag and take notes.

If the module, or your tutor isn't doing it for you then the next step is to dig around for a book, video or image that does it for you.

Most likely, and of far greater value, is for you to turn that lesson into a memory of your own creation. There is always value in taking notes, so never listen to the presenter who says 'no need to take notes I'll give you the slides afterwards'. Never trust the quality of the slides. What the person said will be of more value then the slides. You, and your handwriting, and your doodles are how it starts to become a memory. Then when you write up or rewrite those notes you do it again. You make it into something. 

Fig.6 The River Ouse at low tide.

I'm fixating on the horror of drowning in a shell-hole in the First World War.

Ever since I was a boy those images of cowboys and Arabian princes sinking into quicksand has horrified me. What must it have been like? Walking the dog by the River Ouse at low tide just as it turned the gurgling of water backing up and filtering into the muddy bank gave me the shivers. That sound was ominous. It made a memory of the walk and the thought. It's also what is sustaining me as I work at a short story.

Fig. 7 A family memory of a wedding in California. Will it stick?

We've talked about 'memory making' in the family.

It is the event, and the sharing of the event. My late mother-in-law was horrified that her daughter couldn't remember a road-trip they did across the US when she was 13. I concluded that she hadn't remembered much, or couldn't remember much when it was mentioned out of the blue, as the trip was never shared. Conversations are and were always about current and future events. This is why it helps to get the old photo albums out from time to time. But there's a loss. Do we make them anymore? Visiting a mislabelled album online is never the same. 

Fig. 8. My late grandfather John Arthur Wilson MM with the author Lyn Macdonald at the spot north of Poelcappelle, Belgium where he buried two of his mates - 75 years after the event. He recalled it 'like yesterday'.

Recalling the First World War

Some veterans would talk, others remained silent. Those who did not want to remember could and did forget. My late grandfather was a talker; it drove my mother mad. I came to love his recollections. Clearly, there were events that would have burned themselves into the memories of these men, but unless they talked about it, in a veteran's association or with family and friends it was not going to stick. No wonder veterans would seek each other out over the decades. Nudged by histories and movies their memories could be changed though; sometimes they came to say what was expected of them 'the rats were huge, the generals useless, the German bunkers impenetrable, the mud up to your waist, the sound of the individual shells ... '

In conclusion

Whatever activities and devices are built into your module, you are responsible and can only be responsible for making something of it. Take the hint. Engagement takes time so make the time for it. These days it is made easier through the Internet. You can keep a blog to share or as a learning journal; you can talk it over with fellow students either asynchronously in a forum (or blog), or synchronously in a webinar. You can 'mash it up' with images, grabs, doodles and annotations. You can make it your own. It'll stick if you want it to but superglue requires effort. Someone else 'sticks it' for you and it won't happen.

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Reflection: we are all so very, very, different when it comes to learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014, 13:25

Just ten minutes. A live presentation. Why for me should it be such a big deal?

I said to my wife that I have not problems delivering other people's words (acting) and I have no trouble writing words for others to speak (speech writer, script writer), but what I loathe and struggle with is delivering my own words on any kind of platform.

Big fails on this count, emotionally at least would include:

My grandfather's funeral

My groom's wedding speech (I was pants at proposing too)

My father's funeral

My mother's funeral 

...

Because it matters to me far too much when, and only when, the words that I give seem to emanate from my soul. 

Let me blog, let me write letters, let me smoulder from my ears into the atmosphere with no expectation of feedback.

...

Both positive and negative feedback, especially if constructive, sends a shiver through my bones. Why is it that I crave confrontation, that I want to be mentally smacked around the head, then kicked up the arse and sent back into the fray to deliver some amazing show of ability?

...

We are all so, so, so very different, yet how we are taught, or expected to learn seems so very contrived, so set by context and numerous parameters.

I would prefer to be stuck in a cabin for a couple of weeks with an educator who hasn't a clue about the subject, but is a natural educator, than someone who has ticked a collection of boxes in order to obtain their position. The natural educator can teach anything. The subject matter expert thinks they know everything. eLearning can be the subject matter expect - 'IT' (literally) thinks it knows it all.

So, connect me, and for me connect students and educators - worry only about the desire and ability to teach or transmit and manger those hungry to gain knowledge, and for students concentrate almost entirely on motivation. If they want to learn pores will open up in their skull so that you can pour in the information and they'll never be satiated.

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Four Years Blogging here

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014, 13:02

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

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

Teens are passing through A' Levels and GCSEs.

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

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

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Three reasons to revitalise, reinvent and revolutionise education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 16:43

Fig. 1, Ken Robinson: On education ... and a fix for the huge drop-out rate in American Schools.

An excellent TED lecture. Worth taking notes. These are mine.

Offered by fellow student Marshall Anderson on the H818: The networked practitioner journey.

Worth listening to a couple of times (as I have just done).

Music to my ears, though I am not a teacher and have given too much of my career to the mechanised teaching he knocks ... digital and interactive learning is and has been, surely, a product of the mechanised approach? But you don't question the legitimacy of e-learning in an e-learning agency and suggest that a blended approach would be better.

They have one product on the shelf.

Which puts me at odds with the hand that has fed me for the last couple of decades. Next stop Finland? There is of course an answer here and that is recognising, please, that children, whilst deserving a better education system and approach, are NOT always at school ... this curiosity and motivation can be developed at home if and where a family have parents with the time and inclination and where, ideally, they also have contact with grandparents and even cousins, and especially friends.

FIG.2. TED Lecture with Ken Robinson

Ken Robinson is right to celebrate the human side of the child, that:

  1. human beings are naturally different and diverse
  2. that 'lighting the light of curiosity' is key and that
  3. human life is inherently creative.

For the moment my interest is with my 17 year old daughter and 15 year old son ... hoping and helping them to find and know what motivates them. It is this that will get them through school, a worthwhile goal beyond the barriers that exist in formal education - you still have to satisfy the standardised tests in order to get a place at university. Which is another schooling environment Ken Robinson doesn't touch upon - you can give us human beings too much freedom. Parameters are stimulating, both the negative and positive ones.

A struggle makes something worthwhile.

It helps to create a common memory too. Fundamentally this reminds me that any learning and especially e-learning needs to be seen in context - an e-learning platform or project is never exclusive, it is always part of what else is going on in the participant's life.

Blended, rather than pure e-learning is surely therefore the way forward?

Wise words put succinctly and with wit. Common sentiments that we struggle to realise. Privately educate? Home educate? Or move to Finland, Canada or Singapore?

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H818: A History of Openness

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014, 09:21

We're considering the nature of 'openness' in education as part of this new Master of Arts in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) module.

This is increasingly about ease of access to information, all of it, uncensored.

Often for ease of access and to gain a qualification with a marketable value, information that is packaged in books, journals and lectures, though increasingly in 'sexier' interactive and multimedia forms with the related 'scaffolding' that comes with learning design and planning. The natural tendency is to consider the hectic last decade of the Internet at the expense of the history of openness in access to information and an education over the last century.

A hundred years ago all but the most privileged were in the dark: leaving school after an elementary education, with reliance on biased newspapers, magazines and part works. Libraries, BBC radio and affordable paperbacks, secondary then tertiary education, cinema and TV have each had a role to play, as has the Open University.

Does enlightenment come with access?

What does it say of power of information and ideas where access is controlled, as in China? Does connectedness within openness lead to even greater coalescing of likeminds in cliques, reinforcing stereotypical biases rather than exposing them to valid alternative views?

Nothing is straightforward when it comes to people - heterogenous by design, homogenous by inclination.

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Spot the genius. He or she is riding a bike in a favela in Brazil.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014, 11:18

What has changed in learning each time a transformative tool or technology has come along from a) written language b) papyrus c) codex d) printing and e) the Internet? A neuroscientist will say that the human brain hasn't changed one jot - its innate capacity to learn and to do so at certain developmental stages remains the same. Struggling to see what is new, believing that our latent motivations, drives and inclinations to learn as individuals are as unique to each of us as it has always been I see one change only - the numbers, whether as a percentage in a population or as a gross figure - literacy could only expand as the printed word got into the hands of more people. The Internet will in due course help put primary, secondary and tertiary education into the hands of the disenfranchised.

What has been the frequency of genius revealing itself over the last thousand years?

Even accounting for the billions to chose from in the 21st century compared to the 15th, or 1st, won't exposure too and access to 'an education' by billions give genius a chance to develop and show itself like never before?

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No Internet Connection

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 16:36

My thirteen years and more studying with the OU has seen how I learn shift. The current twist is looping back to the less distracted days of being 'off line'. At the same time I have done a couple of things that are very old school:

1) A 'Room of my own' without internet access (my choice) .. down the road with an opt in/ opt out. Also an 'office' (I recently bought the domain name Mindbursts.com.

2) Pen and paper ... and by that I mean a fountain pen with ink cartridges and a pad of lined paper - not quite an exercise book, but close.

Why?

1) I am easily distracted. Studying with the Internet 24/7 it is too tempting to be checking email, responding to forum messages or just browsing, I miss linking to books and journals I read about, but these can wait. Maybe the impluse to purchase or read another book weill reduce by the time I get to consider it in the wee hours back at home. My 'room' is ten miles down the road.

2) Partially this is physiological - I am seeing a physio trying to untangle or unknot some hideous pain in my left elbow which I ascribe to typing up blog entries with my left hand while reclined on the sofa or in bed. Partially it is knowing that there is never a short cut to learning and knowing a subject. I truly believe that mixed methods work - that it helps to take the written word and write it out, and type it out, and talk about it and visualise it. Neurologists will confirm that memory formation requires the  binding of activity across the brain, rather than from just one part of  it.

Meanwhile, I look forward to another e-learning module, H818, with trepidation:

1) I need to demonstrate to myself that I can keep up and even improve on the standard I'm now able to attain. (Time and effort and the only two words to think about).

2) I will be running in tandem with anothe module, taught old-school, at a different university, simultaneously. Already I dread the commute to a monthly day-long tutorial that I can only do by train if I am on a train at 5.20am. It'll make for a very interesting comparison. If the OU offered the module I want to study I would have done it - they don't. This surprises me given the Open Learn work they are doing on the First World War with the Imperial War Museum.

Best wishes to all ... so much for thinking I'd finished with this. Next up I'm applying to the OU to do a PhD so I might be around for a while longer yet.

NOTES

I started an early e-learning module H808 in 2001 ... skipped off the final paper and came back to it all decade later. I have both books and papers from that period which make for amusing reading.

 

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New blog post

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Apr 2013, 08:23

photo.JPG

Fig. 1. scamp on learning theories

As a platform I loathe whiteboards. I should have stuck with a sheet of wallpaper backing and a set of pencils. The detail can be finer and a rubber does the job of erasing adequately. And you can colour it in afterwards.

More diagrams should be expressed as 'scamps' - a messy and incomplete expression of what you think ... 'so far'.

For me to put this into an APP like SimpleMinds or Grafio would give it a locked-down completed look. Clearly it is no.

Courtesy of an intellectually sharp 85 year old retired philosophy professor (father in law) and an intellectually deep and challenging Italian (brother-in-law) I'm going to see if this is going anywhere - how the sets overlap, or not, where the theories belong ... or not. We may get on to 'connectivism too'. I may come away with a bruised brain. I'll record this too if I remember as keeping notes is impossible and the rate at which the discussion moves could be visualised as starlings flocking over the West Pier, Brighton. It looks interesting and there is a pattern but unless you can freeze-frame you're never going to figure it out.

 

 

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H809: Activity 9.2 - 9.4. Unscrambling the presumptions of research in e-learning educational practice

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 20 Oct 2014, 08:07

Activity Theory (AT) according to various authors .... , supposes a quest to solve a problem, an 'activity theorist' looking at certain kinds of research, understanding activity system as being driven by outcomes, would therefore annotated the six nodes of the AT pyramid with this in mind.

Fig. 1. Activity Theory (Engestrom, 2008)

In contrast, considering the same subject of research, a sociologist would be inclined to look for power structures.

In turn how might a management consultant, or psychologist approach this? And in relation to H809 and the MAODE, how differently would someone educated in each of the following theories approach the same subject matter: behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism and connectedness?

The suggestion that the theory behind a piece of research or OER from H809 TMA02 predisposes a specific research response is like having an undefined medical problem. In turn each specialist offers a view based on the narrow perspective of their specialism.

By way of example, with sinus/earache like symptoms from which I have always 'suffered' I in turn visit a neurologist, immunologist and dentist. I discover from each in turn that I must be depressed/stressed, have an allergic response to something, need a tooth filled/crowned. In turns out that I have a pronounced response to house dust mite and due to physical damage to a channel in one part of the maxillary sinus it doesn't drain so the slightest infection, a mild cold, will cause inflamation and pain. The response that works is primarily preventative with self-medication of prescription pain relief at a dosage that works - co-codomol and occassional antibiotics. (The above over a 33 year period of investigations that included several other excitable consultants who each in turn gleefully hoped that I might have a very rare condition X or Y that they would investigate).

Just as medical specialists are inclined to come at a situation with too narrow a perspective, so too can we when wishing to study, in a learning situation, what is going on ... in there (the brains of each student) and externally, the context and situation of the 'learning' that they are doing (or having done to them).

Reference

Conole, G., and Oliver, M. (eds.) (2008) Contemporary perspective in e-learning research. Themes, Methods and Impacts on Practice.

Engestrom, Y (2008) From Teams to Knots

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What is going on in there? This and the wonders of the brain and the universe ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 4 Apr 2013, 13:35

JVMRi3.tiff.jpg

When I think if learning, I think of the minuscule intricacies of the component parts of the brain and at the same time the immense vastness of the known universe.

As humans we are eager to understand everything. It seems appropriate to marry neuroscience with astrophysics, like brackets that enclose everything. From a learning point of view then ask as you look at a person or group of people, ‘what is going on?’ specifically, ‘what is going on in there? (the brains) and between them to foster insight, understanding, innovation and advancement.

The best interface for this, a confluence for it all, is the Internet and the connectedness of it all.

What has the impact of the Internet been and based on everything we currently know, where do we presume it is going?

 

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What will the impact be of the Web on education?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 29 Mar 2013, 04:54

How is knowledge sharing and learning changing?

From four or five months after conception with the formation of the brain, to the moment of brain death we have the capacity to learn, subconsciously as well as consciously. Whether through interlopers prior to birth, in infancy and early childhood, or through family and carers in our final moment, days, weeks, months or years. At both ends of life the Web through a myriad of ways can advise, suggest and inform, and so educate, like never before. While for all the time in between as sponges, participants and students we can access, interact, interpose and interject in an environment where everything that is known and has been understood is presented to us. The interface between person and this Web of knowledge is a fascinating one that deserves close study for its potentially profound impact on what we as humans can achieve as individuals and collectively:  Individually through, by with and surfing the established and privileged formal and formal conveyor belt of education through nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary centres of learning. Individually, also through expanding opportunities globally to learn unfettered by such formal education where such established opportunities don’t exist unless hindered through poverty and politics or a lack of communications infrastructure (a robust broadband connection to the Web). And individually and collectively alongside or beyond whatever formal education is provided or exploited by finger tapping into close and expanded networks of people, materials, ideas and activities.

By seeking to peg answers to the role the Web is starting to play, at one end to the very first opportunity, at the micro-biological level to form a thought and at the other end to those micro-seconds at the end of life once the brain ceases to function - and everything else in between, requires an understandings neuroscience and an answer to the question ‘what is going on in there?’ How do we learn?

From an anthropological perspective why and how do we learn? Where can we identify the origins of knowledge sharing and its role in the survival and domination of homo sapiens? And from our migration from the savannas of Eastern Africa to every nook and cranny of Earth, on land and sea, what recognised societal behaviours are playing out online? And are these behaviours mimicked or to a lesser extent transmogrified, warped or elevated by the scope, scale and speed of being connected to so much in such variety?

A history of learning is required. From our innate conscious and subconscious capacity to learn from our immediate family and community how has formal education formed right the way through adding reading, writing and numeracy as a foundation to subject choices and specialisms, so momentarily expanded in secondary education into the single subjects studied at undergraduate level and the niche within a niche at Masters and doctoral levels. And what role has and will formal and informal learning continue to have, at work and play if increasing numbers of people globally have a school or university in their pockets, courtesy of a smartphone or tablet and a connection to the Web?

The global village Marshall Mcluhan described is now, for the person connected to the Web, the global fireplace. It has that ability to gather people around. Where though are its limits? With how many people can we develop and maintain a relationship? Once again, how can an understanding of social networks on the ground inform us about those that form on the Web? Multiplicity reins for some, flitting between a variety of groups while others have their niche interests indulged, celebrated and reinforced. Is there an identifiable geography of such hubs small and large and if visualised what does this tell us? Are the ways we can now learn new or old?

In relation to one aspect of education - medicine - how are we informed and how do we respond as patients and clinicians?

The journey starts at conception with the mixing of DNA and ends once the last electrochemical spark has fired. How, in relation to medicine does the quality (or lack of), scale and variety of information available on the Web inform and impact upon our ideas and actions the length of this lifetime’s journey At one end, parents making decisions regarding having children, then knowledge of pregnancy and foetal development. While at the other end, a child takes part in the decision making process with clinicians and potentially the patient - to ‘call it a day’. Both the patient or person, as participant and the clinicians as interlocutors have, potentially, the same level of information at their fingertips courtesy of the Web. How is this relationship and the outcomes altered where the patient will know more about their own health and a good deal about a clinician’s specialism? The relationship between the doctor and patient, like others, courtesy of the connectivity and capacity of the Web, has changed - transmogrified, melted and flipped all at the same time. It is no longer them and us, though it can be - rather, as in education and other fields, it can be highly personalized and close. Can clinicians be many things to many people? Can any or only some of us cope with such multiplicity? A psychologist may say some will and some won’t, some have the nature for it, others not. Ditto in education. Trained to lead a classroom in a domain of their own, can a teacher take on multiple roles aimed at responding to the unique as well as the common traits of each of their students? While in tertiary education should and can academics continue to be, or expected to be undertake research as well as teach? Where teaching might be more akin to broadcasting, and the classroom or tutorial takes place asynchronously and online as well as live and face-to-face. Disaggregation equals change.

In relation to one aspect of education in medicine and one kind of problem, what role might the Web play to support patients so that they can make an informed decision regarding the taking of potentially life saving, if not simply life improving, medications? Having understood the complexity of reasons why having been prescribed a preventer medication, for example, to reduce or even eliminate the risk of a serious asthma attack, what is going on where a patient elects, sometimes belligerently, not to take the medication. Others are forgetful, some misinformed, for others it is the cost, or the palaver of ordering, collecting and paying for repeat prescriptions.

Information alone isn’t enough, but given the capacity of the web to brief a person on an individual basis, where they are online, what can be done to improve adherence, save lives and enhance the quality of life?

My hypothesis is that a patient can be assisted by an artificial companion of some kind, that is responsive to the person’s vicissitudes while metaphorically sitting on that person’s shoulder i.e. in the ‘Cloud’ and on their smartphone, tablet, headset, laptop or whatever other assistive interface will exist between us and the Web.

 

 

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The use of the internet and other new technologies is not a panacea for learning and education. DISCUSS

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013, 11:08

This from a paper from Rebecca Eynon a Professor of Education and the Oxford Internet Institute (Eynon, 2009:277)

Her book 'Teenagers and Technology' is a valuable read too.

So what do you think? Do we expect too much, too quickly from technology? Look at the horseless carriage, it still can't drive you home - well, not in England anyway. Over a hundred years ago you could stumble into you tub trap after a few too many pints of ale and your dobbin would take you home. I suppose the equivalent today would be to have a private secretary to do all this typing stuff for you?

Pizzas burning, must dash.

REFERENCE

Eynon, R (2009) Mapping the digital divide in Britain: implications for learning and education. Rebecca Eynon

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Who are the leading learning theorists and schools of thought?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 28 Nov 2012, 05:15

LEADERS  IN LEARNING:

Donald Clark offers a list of 50 learning theorists

I've been +adding to it. Who are we missing?

GREEKS
Socrates
Plato
Aristotle
RELIGIOUS LEADERS
Jesus
Mohammed
+ Confucius
ENLIGHTENMENT
Locke
+Hobbes
Rousseau
Wollstonecraft
+ Hagel
+ Machiavelli
PRAGMATISTS
James
Dewey
MARXISTS
Marx
Gramsci
Althusser
BEHAVIOURISTS
Pavlov
Skinner
Bandura
CONSTRUCTIVISTS
Piaget
Bruner
Vygotsky
+Engestrom
HUMANISTS
Maslow
Rogers
Illich
Gardener
SCHOOLS
Montessori
Friere
Steiner
John Seely Brown
+ Christopher Alexander
+ Donald Schon
+ Rogers
INSTRUCTIONALISTS
Ebbinghaus
Harris
Mazur
Black & William
E-LEARNING
Jay Cross
Martin Weller
Grainne Conole
Agnes Kukulska-Hulme
Jilly Salmon
Helen Beetham
Rhona Sharpe
Chris Pegler
Jane Seale

TECHNOLOGY ANALYSTS
McLuhan
Postman
Schank
Kelly
Shirky
GAMES
Prensky (NO!)
Gee
USABILITY &EVALUATION
Norman
Nielsen
Krug
MEDIA & DESIGN
Mayer & Clark
Reeves & Nass
INFORMAL LEARNING
Csikszentmihalyi
Cross
Zuckerburg ?!
INTERNET LEARNING
Page & Brin
Bezos ?!
Hurley & Chen
INTERNET CONTENT
Sperling
Wales
Khan
OPEN SOURCE
Torvalds
Moodle guy
+ Wiki
+ MOOC
+ WordPress
TRAINING
Bloom
Biggs
Bateson
Belbin
Mager
Gagne
Kolb
Kirkpatrick

Please offer suggestions to add or delete ...

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What's the difference between teaching a 14 year old compared to a 42 year old?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Nov 2013, 15:01

Fig.1. Lawrence Lek at the Design Museum

Both would learn from each other if given half a chance.

In swimming we talk about Long Term Athlete Development to differentiate by age and gender from around sge 4/5 to adult competitive swimmers in their 20s. Being a Masters swimmer too I reckon we regress.

What role does context play? I'm sure the 41 year old learns differently at a desk in an office than on an iPad at home.

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From iPad to hardback - sometimes you have no choice

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:23

Sometimes the only version is a second-hand hardback copy:

in this instance viaAmazon and the University of Bradford

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Can you recommend a good read on learning? A must have however deep we get into the digital ocean?

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H810 - Accessibility - Coming Out!

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There has been enough on the radio about people with disabilities struggling for all kinds of reasons to 'come out' that it must be a severe issue inTertiary Edypucation too - where people, clearly those with a hidden disability, go out of their way to deny that they could be at a disadvantage. Wherein lies the problem, better in a socilaized learning context to conform, than standard out or given 'preferential' treatment. The fact is that education was meant for an elite, privileged and powerful few - only now is education becoming 'Open'. Education is power - to be kept from all kinds of people with disabled people just others on a long list of those for whom barriers existed, and have been knocked down in one form and rebuilt in others. An Eton education doesn't close doors does it?
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H810: Language, Terms, Access, Disability, Impairment, Xenophobia ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 6 Sep 2012, 14:51

Multiple asynchronous discussion in a tutor group, more of the same here – then get online and do the same live, in a synchronous chatroom or tutor group, or with those around you (family, friends and collegaues). This is such a terrific way to mold and shape your thoughts on an issue. I am doing H810 on 'accesibility' – a timely eyeo–opener with the Paralympics raging.

Forgive me if I keep mentioning the radio but I've driven well over a thousand miles in the last three days and not suprisingly there have been many BBC 4 programmes relating to disability due to the Paralympics - all on issues such as the terms to use, accessibility provision and even on how and when someone who becomes disabled 'Comes Out' to friends and family, as well as potentially to an institution where they work or study. Best of all, in the company of young cousins galore we have watched the irreverant, though brilliant, 'The Last Leg' on Channel 4 - comics and athletes, mostly with a disability though plenty of guests who do not, who rib and tell jokes, or make observations about the events of the day constantly making fun of themselves, their attitudes and the attitudes of others.

Dare I offer the kind of email or text they answer?

'Is it OK to punch a disabled person if they are being a knob?' Very Edinburgh Fringe, live and late in the evening, so fruity language used all the time - It breaks down barriers so is a form of access. I've got some time having finally got back home for 24 hours so plan to track down through BBC iPlayer the radio shows I'm referring too - as streamed radio these are only available for 7 days after transmission, though some are available as podcasts. Not necessarily outside the UK though? Perhaps if we act quickly we can persuade the BBC to archive and share some of this content? It's the kind of content that should be given a longer shelf life through Open Learn.

'Thlid, spas, spasmoid, mong' ... obviously and horrible terms used by boys age 8-10 at a boarding prep school in the 1970s.

Locally and with abusive undertones, children at a nearby home were name-called using a diminutive of the name of the place, 'Stellers' for Stelling Hall while at a public school where, for far too many bullying was the favourite sport, any act of stupidity you were called of all things, 'a right Balliol' after a local home for kids with learning difficulties. Even tourists got it in the neck as at any opportunity we'd lean out of a bus and yell 'tourist' at anyone with a rucksack and hiking boots (the school is in the Lake District). I turned up at this instituion after six months hospitalization, ops etc: having broken my leg very badly. I was nicknamed 'booties'' as I had to wear lace up ankle boots as one foot was smaller/weaker and required support. Did I like the term? Of course not, but by protesting the bullies insisted on using it. An entire cohort of younger boys, if anything at all distinguished them, they got a name, so accent, learning difficulty, squint, hearing, colour, religion - not just Jewish, but Catholics, were singled out.

Courtesy of Facebook I've recently been reminded of a list of abusive nicknames given to the teachers - in every case picking out a pysiological trait, accent or behaviour. Horrible.

All what I am saying coming to me from a dark, buried place in my head - no wonder Harry Windsor is admonished for calling a fellow soldier a Paki becuase he got this from Eton and being brought up in an elitist, underserved poweful and exclusive environment. To carry this on 'we' should now forever nickname him 'Bottom' so he isn't allowed to forget. I have to wonder from only a term of social anthropology as an undergrad if this, in a pack, or small group, comes from some innate sociatal xenophobia?

Thinking about the opposite of the appropriate behaviour or teriminology makes it apparent how much effort needs to be put in saying the best and correct thing especially as words come with all kinds of associations.

Historically was everyone who was different persecuted?

The solution to this is to get the person's name as soon as possible, double check with them how it is pronounced, even spelling, then use it - they are a name first, not a category, or a cohort, or an institution, but (like all of us) unique and individual, deserving respect, love and understanding. As I've come to understand v. painfully, whatever our bodies may be doing to let us down or limit mobility or the ability to communicate or even help ourselves, there is a good chance that much of or even a part of this unique being is cognitive to the last.

Respect this and imagine if by some twist of fate you were in this position not them - not pity, but the politeness to listen and look with care, even ask questions and never assume anything at all - being kept from the same life chances is perhaps what accessibility is all about, why should those who already be at an advanage be the  first or only ones to benefit from enhanced approaches to learning? Technology risks giving an 'unfair advantage' to those who already have a head start while access aims to gives everyone a chance or more appropriatley the choice to keep up or catch up in a way that suits them.

'Accessibility is a process of negotiation' - spot on.

Listen, ask questions, learn what you can about the person, their needs, wishes and expectations - get to know them. Where it is required offer choices, sometimes by trial and error, as for disabled people like all of us, we have our likes and dislikes, experiences of what works for us and what does not, and from a plethora of potential gadgets one thing or another, good bandwidth or not, a high resolution screen or not, preference for a mouse, tracker ball or tablet and stencil or a specialist keyboard - and so on. Take a course in learning theory!

Context matters. Pressume nothing.

Within reason be prepared to make the time to individualise and adjust everything - and expect to return to this to adjust as circumstances ebb and flow. One size never fits all - wherein lies the biggest barrier caused by mass produced technology from a mouse to off-the-shelf software. Can it be adapted? Is there an App that suits my specific needs? That opens a door that is currently closed?

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Blogs on e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 26 Aug 2012, 10:15

Doug%2520Belshaw%2520eBook.JPG

If you read only two, then follow Martin Weller and Doug Belshaw.

No time now, but I want to go back and re-blog Doug, even take some tips on knocking my own e-learning blog into shape. This is like going into a niche bookstore that ONLY promotes stuff on education and e-learnig.

Invaluable across the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE)

The book is good too.

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Turning thoughts into action - one of the world's great educators

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 17 Aug 2012, 10:52



20120816-030059.jpg

I read this cover to cover yesterday, into the evening and small hours. I'm now onto the second read, with various notes to add, references to pursue and further research to undertake.

Yet to be published, see detials below on how to get your hands on a copy.

Why read 'A Life Remembered' ?

It's a fascinating life story of a now British Citizen, Zbigniew Pelczynski OBE - from surving the Warsaw Uprising as a teenager in the Polish AK to landing on these shores after seven months in a POW camp as a corporal in the British Army. It would be 12 years before he saw his parents again by which time he had learnt English in Gateshead, got a degree from St.Andrews, a B Phil then a D Phil from Oxford and was a Fellow at Pembroke College.

A book on the German philospher Hegel made his academic career and he went on to lecture and tutor at various leading universities around the world Yale and Harvard, as well as universities in Canada, Japan, Israel and Australia while pursing various interests and causes with passion and dogged determination.

A life lesson? I think so.

Zbigniew tutored Bill Clintonm a senator and dozens of government ministers across the globe and was an adviser to the Polish Government after the fall of communism.

Who would hten on 'retiring' then sets about his life's work?

The School for Leaders in Warsaw develops the skills of future politicians and ministers and it is here I believe there is an OU connection as materials from the OU were adapted for use in Eastern Europe.

Now in his 86th year Zbig as he is known, or 'Bish' by kids who got to know him in the 1950s, is either in front of a Mac emailing colleagues and friends, walking or cooking. This September he hosts a conference on the philosophers Rousseau, Hobbes and Machiavelli, attends the Polish Embassy for the official launch of this book then fliesto Warsaw to take part in meetings at his School for Leaders.

Pembroke College can be contacted at the following address:

Pembroke College  Oxford  OX1 1DW

The main College switchboard number is:

Tel: 01865 276444  Fax: 01865 276418

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