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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

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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



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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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Studying e-learning but sometimes the old ways are best!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 26 Jun 2012, 14:59

DSC03517.JPG E-learning can never be replacement learning, rather it is a tool, a support, a method, an approach that enhances distance learning and complements 'learning'. It has its own vibrancy and currency, with a universe of information and even free 'Open' courses at your finger tips ... and is increasingly mobile.

Imagine taking a slate away from a Victorian child and handing them an iPad.

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It would take them no time to figure out what it is about. Increasingly, though my background isn't 'traditional education' I find myself turning to simple skills of involvement and engagement, such as this excuse last month as Lewes and Lewes Old Grammar School celebrate 500 years of teaching with a march through the streets of Lewes and a party in the Paddock (our park).

The Queen had her 60th on the River Thames, we have the 10th of the First World War to think about and an Oxford College has its 750th to mark next year. Keep it simple, dress up, create some banners or the odd float, and march to a band.

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New blog post

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 20 Jun 2012, 07:04

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I came across this on the rear page of 'World War' a partwork pubished in 1936/1937. I was struck by its clarity. This is an age where the 'working man' left school age 14. My grandfather started work the day of his birthday having got through 'Standard 7' the term before. He had the mind, he survived the First World War as a machine gunner, transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and qualified as a Fighter Pilot and went on to be a Regional Manager for the North Eastern & then Scottish & Newcastle Breweries. But he always deeply regretted not having a more enduring education. At least he saw his daughter through Durham University with an M.A.

Is this what the OU offers? To man and woman alike? This chance to 'engage the brain'?


 

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On keeping a dairy, a record, a blog, a journal.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 13 Jun 2012, 17:54

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Three decades on I can have a laugh online reminding friends and family what we were up to in our early teens.

I stopped keeping a diary when I started to blog in 1999; when you aren't recording events in private you become a reporter. I keep blogs with a focus: e-learning, swimming or the First World War. The diary is now at best 'Blip Photo', a picture a day.

Probably the visual record will be a far better way to recall people and events, people in particular.

Had I a camera strung around my neck in the 1970s and 1980s and could afford the film and printing costs what kind of record might I have?

In conversation with people I new in the 1970s it is staggering what we are starting to recall, the detail of people, food, smells, activities and feelings. As an educator I wonder what we can recall from the classroom, playing fields or swimming pool?

Or is education through secondary, even tertiary levels, 'learning to learn'?

Personally, I find a 'Learning Journal' an indispensable support to my scatter-brain. Nothing sticks unless I 'engage' through writing, sharing, discussing. I will read a book and not have a clue what it was about unless

I also listed the books I read, and the albums I purchased.

Even the posters I put up on the wall.

Do I want to think back to lesson on Silas Marner?

On the Tolpuddle Martyrs. 'Abba's Greatest Hits?'

Why not?

Bowie posters on the wall.

Shakespeare for sure.

School and the RSC Tour to the Newcastle Theatre Royal created in me a love for Shakespeare.

A few taps on my cerebellum and I can recite Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet.

There are lessons worth remembering though.

And as you focus, particularly on sciences or law and medicine at tertiary level, let alone everything you are "required" to learn in the workplace this is stuff you need to engage with.

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effort, time and motivation

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 6 Jun 2012, 09:15

The Holy Trinity of learning.

2 years and 4 months it has taken me on a Masters programme called 'Open & Distance Learning' to realise that this is what it takes for a person to gain knowledge. Of these three, I'd put motivation first, and put intrinsic motivation above extrinsic.

If you want to learn you will and can. Does it help to have a classroom? A library? Some books? Do you need a computer, or smartphone, or laptop? 

You need a teacher. Present is best, small groups or one to one. A teacher who motivates.

I stumbleupon a bix of bits and pieces that my father had kept (he died a decade ago) and found a couple of my school reports from when I was ten; and some old school photos. I've been online remembering school with half a dozen old classmates from when I was 4.11 to 16.

An unpleasant experience with a teacher killed a subject, while a positive experience and even where I didn't excel I was happy and got good reports. A subject I may have enjoyed and came to via the back door by going to live there, French.

Where is the teacher in e-learning?

In the instructional design and the team of content cretors, in the way software recognises and rewards, in the vital involvement of an e- moderator, who like the 'good teacher' know how and where to step in to initiate, to support, encourage, encourage and motivate.

Funny that this should come to me during the vacuum of a Bank holiday. (or not so funny, the last module I did 'creativity, innovation and change B822 gave me the green light to empty my head, go for walks even to dream on it. Which of course I did last night, bobbing around in a world of classes).

There is a paper I am picking my way through too, from ALT- C  2007 and some papers from the Institute of aeducation I am glancing at, so I've hardly stopped feeding my mind.

Effort and Time speak for themselves

I'm not suggesting that everyone can get A grades, there is more at play. The effort benefits fromguidance. Consistency is required too, and not always in a person's mindset. Either way, for anyone, it takes time. The day (or night) will never come where you can go to sleep wearjng a headset and wake up  after an 8 hour mind dump and 'know stuff') But then again, who ever thought a driverless car would become feasible?

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Noam Chomsky on the Purpose of Education

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Noam Chomsky on the Purpose of Education

 

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Is education a problem or a business opportunity?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 23:40

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'In Business' with Peter Day on BBC Radio 4 recently included insights on higher education from the Open University Vice Chancellor Martin Bean.

Martin Beanenlightens, enthuses and convinces us of a model that puts the student at the centre of things, supported by great teaching that exploits everything online and distance learning can now offer.

Personally I always need a transcript alongside radio or TV if I am to start to recall much that is said. I offer here a partial transcript.

The Open University point of view is expressed in the first eight minutes.

PETER DAY (PD) suggests that people are complaining about education. This is 'In Business' so that angle is on the graduates that join companies.

'Almost everywhere education seems to be failing to produce what people want from it'.

Now businesses are getting much more involved we are told.

Is education a problem or a business opportunity?

'Wherever they come from and whatever they are learning what should students be taught? That’s something companies are increasingly getting involved with because they are finding it difficult to get the trained people they need'.

Various industry leaders are interviewed, but a substantial part of programme, indeed the first 8 minutes of a 30 minute piece goes to the Open University, Vice Chancellor, Martin Bean, (MB) who we are reminded comes from industry himself having led education at Microsoft.

How is the OU introduced?

One of the global pioneers in new kinds of education was the Open University set up by the British Government 43 years ago to create distance learning based on broadcasting to reach students outside lecture halls. The Internet now provides huge new opportunities for the Open University. Here’s one of the OU’s online lessons:

The History of English in 10 minutes (narrated by Clive Anderson), an iTunes podcast is offered as an example of the online learning experience.

PD: Education is in some kind of crisis: why?

MB: Institutions needs to have the student at the heart of the equation otherwise it leads to dissatisfaction either with the teaching, or worse still the outcomes when they graduate.

Are employers getting 21stcentury skills, softer skills that are really about people, about the ability to collaborate, group problem solve, the ability to communicate effectively verbally, the ability to work in teams and our model as you know is based on practice-based learning, so the beauty of embedding learning in the workplace with the Open University model means that you're actually getting the best of both worlds. I think the fact that over 80% of the FTSE 100 companies in the UK sponsor an OU student gives a pretty clear indication to me that that model is one that overcomes some of that.

PD: There is competition from the more traditional universities now?

MB: Other more traditional universities are embracing more innovative practices that we’ve been using and I think that’s fantastic, that’s what students are demanding, these are students now that view technology and access and real time interaction an absolute necessity in their life.

It’s all about embracing the technology of the day.

MB: What’s on my agenda now is to continue to leverage the web, and the personalisation of the web, to fully embrace these new tablet and mobile devices that are proliferating the world and directly link them in to our virtual learning environments, so that people can get as much out of a tablet or mobile device as they do for entertainment today they can get as much if not more using it as a Higher Education learning device.

PD: Looking at the history of technology it is often thought that the new will replace the old?

MB: We have to redefine what personal means. The web has moved from being very content centric to very people centric.

The personal side of higher education is where the magic happens.

MB: What’s interesting though is the redefinition of what 'personal' can actually be. We used to think of personal as meaning physical, having to be in the same room, what’s interesting in what has happened to the web is it has moved from being very content centric to being very people centricand enabling us to engage and collaborate in Facebook-type ways that we could not have contemplated even five years ago.

PD: Is it better?

MB: It's not fair to compare classroom or lecture with online as it is all to do with the quality of teaching.

What is effective teaching?

When we get that precious time with an academic we want is discourse, want we want is challenge.

The real question is ‘what’s fit for purpose?’

 

Other contributors were:

Nick Wilson
Managing director, HP UK

Rob Williams
Principal lecturer, University of the West of England

Ralph Mainard
Deputy master, Dulwich College

Joe Spence
Master of Dulwich College

Jim O’Neill
Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management

Kunal Bahl
Founder of Indian coupon website Snapdeal

Krishnan Ganesh
Founder Tutorvista

Eric Schmidt
Chairman, Google

REFERENCE

Day, P (2011) In Business. TX 5 JAN & 9 Jan 2012 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b018xwtc (Accessed 10 Jan 2012)

 

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Apple to make an announcement on education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 4 Jan 2012, 05:13

I'm used to commenting on the news after the event, in terms of my thoughts on what Steve Jobs might have done for education had he still been around it appears I was ahead:

http://tinyurl.com/7w6rk7l

The intention was to taken on the $8bn text book business, to give every secondary school kid an iPad preloaded with all the text books they could need.

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Steve Jobs on the future of education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 2 Jan 2012, 20:23

'All books, learning materials, and assessments should be digital and interactive, tailored to each student and providing feedback in real time'.

Steve Jobs quoted in Isaacson (2011:545)

He also favours highly personalised online earning with loads of vide keeping class for debate and discussion. Surely the class to some degree is redundant too given the increasing quality of the online experience?

REFERENCE

Isaacson, W. (2011) Steve Jobs. Little Brown

If enough people wish to discuss Steve Jobs I'll set up a group for OU folk over in LinkedIn?
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Steve Jobs iIdeas

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 1 Jan 2012, 06:04

 

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"There's a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat. That's crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random disucussions. You run into someone, you ask what they're doing, you say 'Wow,' and soon you're cooking up all sorts of ideas". Steve Jobs after Walter Isaacson (2011:431) on the design of the Pixar building.

I'll be quoting from the Steve jobs biography often as I apply what I have learnt to B822 'Creativity, Innovation and Change', and share what he did for the world with the Apple, with Pixar, with iTunes and the iPad.

Had he got involved in education I have an idea of how he would have approached something.

Steve Jobs was the idea and for behind releasing on iTunes a box-set of EVERYTHING Bob Dylan had ever recorded; this in the Digital Age is the way forward. Even if I cannot read everything on a subject, I want it aggregated for me nontheless. I want every article or book reference in a book such as this biography, with links to every interview too.

REFERENCE

Isaacson, W. (2011) Steve Jobs. Little, Brown.

Happy 2012 folks!

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H800 Forum Strengths & Weaknesses

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 5 Oct 2012, 23:34
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Not globalisation, but localisation

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 8 Sep 2011, 07:05
Here's another daft term, 'produsers,' for people who both create content and read it. Far from globalisation, taking education, I envisage localisation as Schools and Universities give prospective students what they want: mother tongue (not English), even greater flexibility and other elements of a course tailored.
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H800 WK25 Does technology diminish or enhance the role of the educator?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 1 Jul 2012, 17:31

 

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My son might be online playing World of War craft often, but so are two or three of his best mates.

From time to time they down tools (weapons, magic wands or whatever it might be) and head into town, or meet up to kick a ball around. Ditto my daughter whose use of the internet is exclusively to talk more with her immediate circle of friends.

This is real.

A colleague who has had the 'social media manager' tag at the OU has gone the full loop and is a 'Communications Manager' despite being online all day. I see her point, we differentiate new practices with new terms, but drop them once we see them in context.

It has happened sooner that I thought but there ought to be no need to different 'learning' from 'e-learning' as it is just learning that exploits new platforms and tools.

The human element is important.

Our human nature demands that we have physical contact with others. We are sociable, which interestingly has me spending increasingly amounts of time as a 'social media manager' in meetings or calling up people to meet face to face over lunch or a coffee.

I appreciate that the MAODE is all online.

I wonder however if this 'purist' point of view is sustainable or even desirable. Or do those who can and want to meet up do so anyway?

(Meeting a fellow MAODEr for the very first time a few weeks ago was odd. We felt we knew eachother, there was no 'ice to break' as we'd worked on group tasks together in a previous module).

Not once have I imagined the technology making the genuine educator redundant i.e. someone whose modus operandi is to help students acquire knowledge and apply it, even to instill a life long love of learning with some tools and techniques to see them through.

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If on a holiday to the Dordogne you came across a person from the Paleolithic painting in a cave would you leave him to it, or offer him your oils and sable brushes, or show him how to use a digital camera? (or her of course).

You don't change the desire for self-expression, or capturing the world around you.

I know educators in their 80s who marvel at the Internet and the opportunity it offers to inform thousands.

Just think of an academic paper that in the past (and still) may be formally presented to a group of ten in the faculty, a group of thirty at a conference, then published ... and quickly forgotten, compared to an age where such papers are presented face to face as described, but live through livestreaming or a webcast to several hundred, then shared, copied and commented upon by thousands, and before it is even formally published may be gathering in a large readership?

And this is done by nursery, primary and secondary school educators too.

You have an idea for a class, you share it and if it is liked, it is picked up and used in many ways by many different people.

Its no longer a case of saying, 'I wish I had done that.' With permission/creative commons, OER and all that, you can use the fruits of someone else's efforts, tweaked and personalised of course.

I rather think it is an exciting time to be working in education.

Personally I hanker after contact though, to address, mentor and coach people, probably young adults.

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

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

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

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

(Power play of some kind, or love?)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I've return to Engestrom often.

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

This is what initially had me befuddled and angry:

Two people are the easy part.

The interplay between SIX people because yet more complex.

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

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

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

Anyone care to comment?

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

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

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

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

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

REFERENCE

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

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Are you a Tablet Agnostic, Atheist, or Evangelist?

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

Or is that device agnostic?

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

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

It's just learning folks.

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

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

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

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

I am getting used to Linkedin.

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

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

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

Here's the rub.

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

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

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

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

From materials and commentary prepared by John Pettit (2008)

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

Do we need campus based universities?

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

Give the campus over to the retired and unemployed.

Do we need schools?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is size such an issue?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REFERENCES

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

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

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

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

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

How and why do people learn?

How is this best achieved?

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

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

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

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

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

An idealist?

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

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

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

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H800:61 Wk13 Activity 2a

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

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

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

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

And this might be interesting to answer:

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

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

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

And there’s more:

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

And interesting take on blogging:

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

But has anything changed?

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

And further thoughts on which to dwell:

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

And future research?

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

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

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The Now Revolution - let battle commence

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 4 May 2011, 18:52

My blogging skills were noticed. The task now it to focus them for a good cause - that cause if the Open University.

My reading and training list includes Facebook, Twitter and Linked in. Various books cover all the ground. As I child I had 'My very own learning to cook book.' The equivalent is the 'Dummies' series. I read them all 'Blogging for Dummies', 'Facebook for Dummies', even 'Twitter for Dummies'. They are written by the people who helped build these platforms and the mix of humour and practicle advise is invaluable.

This does it for Social Media

The%20NOW%20Revolution%20COVER%20GRAB.jpg

This, introduced in a Hubspot Webinar last week is a worthwhile read.

You could read a chapter a night and put what you read into practice the next day. Sounds like an OU MBA course - practised based learning. From my point of view I am seeking out that relationship where I can be pupil to a Master (Barrister), or shadow a Partner (Solicitor) ... even apprentice to a skilled craftsperson.

The skills of social media marketing and just a side step away from 'e-moderating' from what I see. My role is to act as a catalyst, to listen, comment and engage in equal measure.

The first time I visited the OU Campus I was gobsmacked by its scale. Today I was once again impressed by the quality of in-house training (on the Open Source Software used here called Drupal).

I took notes ... because it gave me some insight into the arguments for using Open Source. (Not so much from in the lion's den, but my head in its mouth).

I've read somewhere that students should look at the kind of organisation they are learning with. I have found already that 'flexibility' and support' don't just apply to students ... but applies to employees too.

New comers into distance learning will find this a difficult reputation to match.

p.s. I heard a great line from an OU academic the other day, 'it's as if the Open University was waiting for the Internet to happen'.

Now that its upon us can you think of anywhere on the globe better placed to flourish?

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Love your memories in a blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 16:35

Nabakov.JPG

“I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is." Nabakov

I thought 500 page views was a landmark, then 1000. There has been steady growth to 10,000. It went crazy for a week in April with 1,000 views a day then settled back to 150-250  day. Whose counting? Basic analytics are a form of recognition, even reward for the blogger. 50,000 is a biggy that has taken 14 months to achieve. 100,000 is unlikely within the Masters in Open & Distance Education, though a MRes, another module in the MAODE (because it interests me so much) or a MBA are all of interest for later in the year and all would be blogged upon right here.

Are you saying something worthwhile to this audience?

Even if I feel the PC Screen is a mirror and I'm writing this for my benefit first as a reference I can return to later: what did I think? Where is that quote? Where was I in the learning process? Aren't I glad I've moved on! Editing old entries, bringing them up-to-date develops this. As Nabokov wrote,

Read Backwards

e-Reading 'A New Culture of Learning' backwards in a large font isolating interesting gems I may have missed. Also reading it by search word; 'play' works and is appropriate with over 160 mentions.

I liken this to panning for gold.

Once I've done this a few times typing out notes may be irrelevant; I'll know it. 'Play as the new form of learning?'

One final thought. Two decades ago I liken learning to a nurturing process, of an educator/teacher or course designer/principal sprinkling water on the heads of students buried like heads of lettuce emerging from the ground.

This no longer works for me.

What I now see are kids in a large paddling pool having fun and making up games with toys offered to them by supporting parents and older siblings.

The mantra for e-learning is 'activity, activity, activity', perhaps it ought to be 'play, play, play'; that's what you'll come away with if you read John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas 'A New Culture of Learning; cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change.'

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On using Twitter in Education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 12:05

My concern, as I'm guilty of it as a blogger, is that it changes how you 'talk.'

My blogging voice is light and journalistic - it is difficult to escape this in an assignment, however many references I put on or re-writes I do.

A different mindset is required, literally wearing a different hat and taking a different approach from the start.

As a professional writer I ought to be able to write for different audiences. I'm not sure I can, indeed my voice has always bee the 'spoken word' for TV and Video with scripts design to visualise rather than say anything at all.

I find and consider Twitter to be an invaluable exercise in being succinct; stylistically this has to be a good thing.

However, as I found myself doing recently, something I wrote, after an edit, looked and read like x16 140 character Tweats strung together.

Surely engagement of any kind, a conversation over coffee, over lunch, Tweating or blogs, helps internalise and sought out issues and confusion in the student's mind. It is an activity even if it is being measured?

I wonder if a 'viva voce' in a video conference (Skype, Elluminate) wouldn't demonstrate the value of social networks in education, that it would be apparent that those who are talking about their topic in cyberspace are more likely to have formed some points of view of their own.

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My first week at the Open University Business School

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 29 Apr 2011, 06:30

Yammer WK1 DY1

Dutifully and out of habit I have kept a diary, not online. This records who I meet, what I learn, notes on what I am responsible for. So a day diary.

I'd like to think by the end of the week I could, and should reflect on this, even assess how I have got on.

There is a schedule over three to five weeks that I've shared in relation to my first 'cycle' of activity.

Outside work hours I've had an extraordinary week in a guest house with three quasi-permanent PhD student guests with three others at various times popping in for a night or two - all PhDs or PhD students.

Conversations at work, in relation the MAODE are rolled into conversations in relation to collaboration in teaching creativity (PhD thesis), slow moving atomic particles in the Martian atmosphere (Post Doctoral) and mechanical engineering (PhD).

And how to cook (as one guest has never been away from home).

The MAODE has not taken a back seat, indeed I'm in the curious position of it being on the back burner all day as I sit in an open plan office that includes the curriculum and teaching team.

With blogging the MAODE theme I have had plenty of people to practice on (my household want to blog, I've got two as far as Facebook, one chasing recommended urls and putting meta-tags in her blog for the first time) and of course it is a topic of conversation 'over the water-cooler in relation to student participation.

I'm looking for answers in 'Everything is Miscellaneous' David Weinberger and 'Use of Blogs' Axel Bruns and Joanne Jacobs, but could as easily recommend books on how and why to keep a diary ... it is the same, with the added bonus if you want it, of finding yourself in a dialogue with helpful and supportive like-minds.

 

 

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