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Another First and once again gobsmacked - by the OU interface and the performance of the iPhone

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 7 Sep 2011, 11:16

 

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My first smartphone is an iPhone.

As I am writing about mobile learning for an EMA I needed one didn't I ? In any case it's my birthday in three weeks time. Without the kit to test it for yourself you remain a second hand learner.

I am gobsmacked at how dinky it all is after the iPad.

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Some Apps work even better in miniature, for example the spaced learning aide-memoir site Spaced-Ed saw me signing up for further micro-courses.

 

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I am into Linkedin, Wordpress and Twitter too; each of these offers a simplified variation of its larger sibling.

This tiny keyboard defies its ability to type at all defies logic, I feel as if I am trying to play a harp wearing gardening gloves.

In relation to where else I can take all that this device offers my immediate thought was confined to a coffin, or under the bed if you'd prefer or perhaps on a bunk in a small yacht.

Unlike the iPad I am could take this for a run or under-dressed spring skiing.

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Getting all my Kindle books here with the reader could allow me to cycle the South Downs while listening to a book, not that the Kindle is so hard to have in a jacket pocket.

Much more to discover; my 45 words per minute typing down to 60 characters a minute may render my stream of consciousness less steam and more substance.

On Verra

P.S. I need them for nothing else but had to resort to reading glasses; I dare say there will be yet smaller devices such as a voice-activated iBadge?

P.P.S. No spellchecker and it irritates me that its is automatically miscorrected to it's.

P.P.S. 12 hours later I find myself at a desk with a large screen editing this (spacing mostly), the iPad on my knees like a figure from a book I have reviewed her ... but the figure is an image in Picasa Web. I started on the iPhone (using it as an iTouch at the moment, wifi only) running through 8 items: colleague blog update, Linkedin Group updates, shared doc on Social Media 'Must do' list with links, and while the kettle boiled a few stabs at basic French from an App which I'll ditch as it is too basic and the next step requires payment).

ON REFLECTION

Not only managing the distractions, but the ease at which the Apps can extract payment through the likes of iTunes.

iTunes U is another matter -free learning, on the go wherever you go (and even when you need to go).

 

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MAODE H800 EMA WORDLE

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 6 Sep 2011, 05:40

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If only a 6,000 word assignment could be written by assembling all your evidence, research and notes, putting in the criteria for this four parter, then hitting a button sad

This is the Wordle version

I wonder if by doing Wordles of our work it would be possible to differentiate between a lower and a higher grade assignment on the basis of the size (and therefore frequency) of certain words?

P.S.

Discussing mobile learning with my 13 and 15 year old I told them about loading all course books onto an iPad (becoming common place in Schools across North America); they both said it would be too distracting as you'd want to chat or play games.

I said what about an e-Reader, and they said that was boring, what was wrong with a real book sad

To cap it all my 15 year old has gone retro, both in her dress sence (her version of hippie or punk depending on her frame of mind), and insists on using a throw-away film camera or a functiong 1970s Polaroid camera.

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The motivation has to be the content, not how it is delivered, and the end result in terms of grades, the university and career of their choice etc: I like the analogy of mobile content being like 'Chicken Tikka': whatever the means of delivery the expectation is that it is still Chicken Tikka.

'Whicever mode of delivery I choose, the meal I eat will still be Chicken Tikaa'. Luckin et al. (2005:122)

REFERENCE

Luckin,R., Brewster,D., du Boulay, P., Corbay, S.  (2005) in Mobile Learning. A handbook for educators and trainers. Edited by Agnes Kukulska-Hulme and John Traxler.

 

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EMA in six images

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 Sep 2011, 05:32

I use this blog as an e-portfolio.

It now holds notes from entire books, ad well as an assembly of key points for the H800 EMA.

This way I can pick up where I left off via desktop, laptop or iPad.

I know there are other even better ways to do this, Google Docs and Dropbox, but what I like here is the search function, tags and chronology.

On the basis that I always tag I can now assemble searches by author or topic.

I then return to these pages to edit or add.

I like having the HTML coding so that I can cut and paste into an external blog.

Images: photos, screen grabs or snips, as well as photos and charts, come from Picasa Web.

(See below)

In a concerted effort to narrow down my ideas I am trying to cover the EMA in images only. As a result of all of this I believe I know my stuff, the problem, is to demonstrate that to others in a format that is academic rather than journalistic and highly visualised.

ON REFLECTION

I ought to use the affordances of PowerPoint to construct this thing, using the frames like cards that I can move about and bullet points as a way to construct the treatment. Then write it up, and read it out. Better still record this and play it back to be sure of it's sense before checking further that it meets all the criteria.

With excellent planning H800 gives us this time, whereas in H807 and H808 I'm sure there was course work offered, but very few people coming out to do it.

Could the contents of this blog be put into FileMaker Pro?

Would that make it more versatile?

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H800 EMA Mobile

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 6 Sep 2011, 04:34

 

 

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The penny dropped

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 06:49

Between formal and informal learning design styles

Highly prescriptive vs call up the information you need as you go along. So defined instructions vs figuring it out for themselves. Perhaps using tools to guide and inform. We were given the simplest of tasks, teaching students how to cross a busy road in safety.

I made a point about any group requiring leadership or a champion.

I made a point on Randy Pausch whose 3D lecture series included mixing up student groups who then had to vote on each other's levels of collaboration in the group.

There was a discussion on informal peer assessment that I didn't entirely follow, certainly my notes are somewhat cryptic. Hopefully the session was recorded so I can listen back.

It is the unexpected insights in a synchronous session that prove valuable, especially the asides in the break-out room.

Assemble the books and papers you plan to refer to ahead of writing.

This is a new one to me. I prefer to write what I want and deal with the referencing after rather than fitting the assignment to the books and papers.

Perhaps a combination of the two is required.

The learning plan you produce may not be followed closely given the myriad of ways people respond. Many are drawn in by the assessment but not all.

Can such divergent styles be accommodated?

As the Elluminate discussion progressed, four students, one tutor moderator, I did a doodle.

doodle

Having shared the idea I then corrected it.

From Wenger (1998:233) 

'There is an inherent uncertainty between design and its realization in practice, since practice is not the result of design but rather a response to it'.

Phenomonology explains why people may still be adrift of the desired response.

The notes reads 'design as well as we can ... 'the students share the outcome. We set the learning, that is then displaced to or set in the context of each learner. We might have a learning objective, but students can and diverge from this'. (A good thing if you want diversity and originality)

As a learning designer you have to anticipate a variety of behaviours and plan for not too many being wildly divergent. This can be achieved by understanding the students.

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H800 WK21-22 Activity 2d VLE vs. PLE who wins?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:59

H800 WK21-22 Activity 2d VLE vs. PLE who wins?

  • John Petit
  • Martin Weller
  • Niall Sclater

Stephen Downes – Students own education

· How much do they actually differ in their views?

· What is my perspective?

· Freedom is lack of choice

· Parameters work

· Creativity is mistakes

· Have rules, the mischievous or skilled will break them anyway

· The end result counts.

a) This isn’t a debate. Neither takes sides and the chair interjects his own thoughts. A debate, whether at school, university or in a club, or in a court of law or the House of Commons, is purposely adversarial, people take sides, even take a stance on a point of view they may not wholly support, in order to winkle out answers that may stand somewhere between the two combatants.

b) During the MAODE this might be the second such offering as a ‘debate,’ the last being as weak. What is more I have attended a Faculty debate which shilly-shallied around the issues with at times from an audience’s point of view it being hard to know whose side the speakers were on?

c) As well as deploring the lack of rigour regarding what should or should not be defined as a debate, the vacuous nature of the conversations means that you don’t gain one single new piece of evidence either way. Generalities are not arguments, neither side attempts to offer a knock-out blow, indeed Martin Weller seems keen to speak for both sides of the argument throughout.

When Martin Weller implies that a VLE constrains because ‘There are so many fantastic tools out there that are free and robust and easy to use.’ I would like a) example b) research based evidence regarding such tools, which do offer some compelling arguments, these commercial and branded products have to offer something refreshing and valuable.

Unlike some university offering they are therefore not only effective, but vitally, they are fun, tactile, smartly constructed, well-funded, give cache to the user, are easy to share, champion and become evangelical about, explored, exploited and developed further. Here I compare Compendium with the delight of bubbl.us.

Here I compare blogging in the confines of the abandoned cold-frame that is the Victorian OU student blogging platform compared to the Las Vegas experience of WordPress.

I can even compare how WordPress performs externally compared to the shackled version provided by the OU. On the one hand there is a desire to treat students like sheep; there is even a suggestion in this chatty-thing between Niall Sclater and Martin Weller than OU undergraduates ought to offer the most basic environment in which to operate. Access is an important point, but you don’t develop players in an orchestra by shutting everyone in a hall and giving them a kazoo. And if that Kazoo requires instructions then it deserves being ignored. Having lived with it for a year the OU e-portfolio My Stuff might best be described as some kind of organ-grinder with the functionality and fun-factor of Microsoft DOS circa 1991.

Martin Weller makes the point about tools that might be used this before, during and after their university experience. There is a set of ICT tools covering word-processing, databases, number manipulation, calendars and communications that are a vital suite of skills; skills that some might already have, or partially have … or not have at all. The problem is in the accommodation of this widely differing skill set.

JV Exposure to new, or similar, experience of better as well as weaker programmes/tools, fashion, peer group, nature of the subject they are studying, their ambitions, who they are, how much time they have, their kit, connection and inclinations, let alone the context of where they are going online.

In this respect Martin Weller is right to say that ‘some kind of default learning environment’ is required first of all.

Caveat: You are going to need people to use the same kind of things in order to be able to communicate.

· University blog vs. their own bog.

· University e-portfolio vs. their own portfolio.

· Elluminate vs. Skype.

· Mac vs. PC,

· Tablet vs. laptop.

· Desktop vs. smartphone.

· Paper vs. e-Reader.

· University Forum vs. Linked in or others.

· Twitter vs. Yammer.

Swimming analogy: training pool, leisure pool, main pool, diving pool, Jacuzzi.

Niall Sclater makes a point about a student using an external blog that doesn’t have a screen reader. Do browsers not offer this as a default now? Whilst I doubt the quality of translation I’ve been having fun putting everything I normally look at into French or loading content onto an e-reader and having it read to me on long car journeys. The beauty of Web 2.0 and Open Learn is that developers love to solve problems then share their work. Open Learn allows these fixers to crack on at a pace that no institution can match.

Perhaps issues regarding passwords is one such problem which is no longer a problem with management systems. Saving passwords etc.: Other problems we have all see rise and fall might include spam. The next problem will be to filter out spam in the form of ‘Twitter Twaddle’ the overwhelming flack of pre-written RSS grabbed institutional and corporate messages that should without exception be ‘flagged’ by readers as spam until it stops. I never had a conversation with a piece of direct mail shoved at me through my letter box, or spam come to that matter. Here largely the walled, university environment in which to study, is protected from the swelling noise of distraction on the outside,

Niall Sclater talks about the Wiki on OU VLE, in Moodle ‘comprises what we consider is the most useful functionality for students. The OU ‘cut out a lot of the bells and whistles you find in MediaWiki’. New to wikis I enjoyed being eased into their use, but like a keen skier, or swimmer, having found my ‘legs’ I wanted incremental progressions. Being compelled to stay in the training pool, or on the nursery slopes, to return to by Kazoo metaphor, is like having Grade 5 flute, but having to play with six novice recorder players in Kindergarten. We move on and therefore what is offered should move with us.

Universities fail abysmally to sell their products to their captive audiences.

Commercial products are sold, invitingly to everyone who comes within earshot. There is a commercial naivety and intellectual arrogance sometimes over stuff created that must be great, because it is the invention of brilliant minds … and that its brilliance will be self-evident even if it sits their within its highly branded overcoat waiting for some time to take an interest and take it out for a test drive. Creators of these tools forget that a quick search using some of the terms related to the affordances of the product being offered will invariably produce something more appealing from the likes of Google, Adobe, Apple or Microsoft.

Nail Sclater points out that some students can be confused by too much functionality. I agree. If there is a product that has far too much functionality, it is Elluminate. And even for a library search, it ought to be as simple as the real thing … you go to a counter and ask for a title. Google gets it right. Keep it simple. Others are at last following suit. Or is the Google God now omnipresent?

Martin Weller stumbles when he says that Nail ‘hits on two arguments against decentralised PLEs by

a) Giving three arguments

a. Authentication

b. Integration

c. Robustness

b) He is meant to be in favour of PLEs.

i.e. academics are incapable of debate because they are, to use of Martin Weller’s favourite terms ‘contextualised’ to sit on the fence. A debate should be a contest, a bullfight ideally with a clear winner, the other party a convincing looser.

You wouldn’t let a soldier chose his weapons then enter the fray. There has to be a modicum of formal training across a variety of tools, and in a controlled, stepped fashion in order to bring people along, communally, for retention and to engender collaboration and participation and all that benefits that come from that.

Who at a time of change is going to declare their role, or department redundant? Brought into a new role, Social Media Manager, I feel I will have succeed in 12 months if I have handed over the keys to others, spread some of the glory about. That’s how I see it, a little bit of everybody’s lives. You can wordprocess, you can do some aspect of Social Media. There are other functions though that long ago were circumvented by clever software. Web 2.0 deplores the gatekeeper. It wants to put everything ‘out there,’ enabling everyone and anyone to make of it what they need and please.

Personally I’ve been loading content, text and images, in diaryland since Sept 1999 and have never had an issue with access, yet I have repeatedly found my OU e-portfolio failed, or that while composing a response in a forum the system fell-down and I lost what I was doing.

Nial Sclater argues in favour of VLEs to ensure usability, access, extension to students, common ground on terms of tools, opportunity and form an assessment point of view, use of content too.

While Martin Weller wants to ‘Support’ – an argument for VLEs. (I’ve now made the point several times that Martin Weller seemed unsure of which side he was on, and by personality and from experience, will never take a side in any case).

We DO want people going away being able to use package X. Do we turn out Roy Castle types who can play loads of instruments not very well, or a virtuoso performer who can at least play the cello well?

JP stepping in ‘as my confidence grew I got to know that and my confidence grew across the year as I got to know that and one or two other very limited and well-supported tools’

Nial Sclater’s point that the same tool is required for collaboration and assessment. This applies also to reading the materials provided and doing the activities so that these are the points of reference for assessments (as currently practised). How can a Tutor mark an assessment that is based on vegetables from a walled Victorian kitchen garden, when the student offers flowers grown from seed in a tub? To return to my sporting analogy, how might I judge a person’s ability to swim after 12 weeks if they’ve been learning how to sail?

Parameters have a purpose.

The greatest resistance to a writer is having no sense of purpose, no goals, no parameters, no set pieces, no one to be on their case. A free for all, perhaps as the new London Business and Finance School is finding, is that just giving students the lot and telling them to get on with it is not conducive to a viable learning experience. (Nor do I think it’ll deliver someone is able to work with others).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I therefore offer the following:

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

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

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

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

The rest of it is 'Twitter Twaddle'

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

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

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

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H800 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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Exposure or participation?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 16:30

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The idea of and value of 'exposure' has been debated since the early days of blogging.

I could call up entries from my blog in 2001/2002.

The feeling, amongst those of us who felt like blogging pioneers, was that by opening up we shared our common humanity and in many respects become less lonely souls as a result (not that I didn't need additional companionship being happily married to my soul mate with two small children at the time!). The press picked this up as scandalous and novel.

This kind of blog is a genre in its own right amongst the thousands of genres on 120 million + blogs.

I question any need for us learners to 'open up' in this respect. Indeed for most of the last module I 'hid'behind an image of an MRI scan (something I might return to). I see no need to reveal who I am, my face, age or gender. In this environment what counts (or can be discounted) are these words.

In terms of our relationship with the tutor, I would expect in a Summer School, or if attending the Oxbridge style one-to-one Tutorial, that a relationship could/might form.

Indeed, attending by father-in-law's 70th and then 80th and even his 85th I've been impressed by the 100s of former students who turn up. Some guy.

I don't think (their names already escape me) want me as a friend, or a friend for life ... though as a colleague for sure.

 

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Design Museum

H800 51 Wk11 Why this is like talking with your fingers

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Dec 2011, 06:03

As it is a bank holiday and the first in many years that I recall being sunny, I find I am getting online for an hour or two at dawn to do some stiudent work and write this. Then I walk the dog along the River Ouse or up on the South Downs and the day is mine/ours.

Painting the porch sad

Then nodding off in the sun with a course book or two, a couple in print, a 2011 publication from John Seely Brown on the Kindle.

How, when and why blogs and threads work or fail is the topic of conversation.

I used to treat forums and assignments, optional or otherwise, as the weekly essay - something I had to do whether or not I engaged with others. I would also take part on a whim, responding to some entries, and happily letting the conversation drift off topic. Length was no object either. I lurked in other tutor forums too, making the time to follow how what ought ostensibly to be the same conversations could be very different indeed - some very active, some dead.

A year on I am more strategic.

I would like to be sharing the learning process, contributing to the conversations whether I can help or not, whether I am seeking answers or asking questions. The Cafe and General area serves a purpose to take 'over spill' though it functioned best in H808 where a moderator management the supplementary activities.

Gilly Salmon's 'E-moderating' has a good deal to say on this.

It is worth owning,. not simply to read cover to cover, but to have as a reference. I may not like the term 'e-moderator', but 'moderator' is, however diminishing or disparaging to a Dphil, the main function here. It could be carried out by a postgrad student, even an animated undergrad.

What matters is engagement.

Someone may need to act as the 'eyes & ears' for the group until it is established. Introductions have to be made, conversations started and moved along ... if anyone is rude, they should be quietly put in their place; if anyone is being like a door-mouse, they need support.

'The essential role of the e-moderator is promoting human interaction and communication through the modelling, conveying and building of knowledge and skills'. (Salmon, 2005:4)

There isn't a structure, no more than there is in a car or coffee bar.

The structure comes about from the people and activity in it. This is shaped entirely by the behaviour of the participants. 1) They have to turn up 2) Someone has to have something to say 3) Some of us need to be going around like a host, 'making polite conversation', 'networking', even introducing people. It IS a social gathering.

Tutor is a better term. It is valid.

Indeed the beauty of working online is that you can recreate the essence of an 'Oxbridge Tutorial', that privilege one-to-one, or one to two or three, that is the weekly essay read out and discussed.

Discussion is the key.

The tutor DOES NOT need to be a subject matter expert. See my interview with Oxford Senior Lecturer Dr Zbigniew Pelczynski.

Whilst the tutor cannot keep waving pixie dust over a group that simply does not gel they ought to try, especlally in the first weeks and especially with students new to this set up.

Why I participate in some forums and not others.

Often because someone else has started the ball rolling, and often. I will be the first if I have a need to get through the week's work and no one else has made a start. I may fret about covering all bases giving my response too much thought ... and therefore resulting in something overly long. Not easy to adhere to but I try to set parameters; 250 words typical, 500 words an absolute max after that think about offering it as an attachment.

It can be like chosing a restaurant!

You want to go where there's some buzz already, though not so much that you feel you will never be able to join in the conversation.

The reality is different.

This is an asynchronous beast. If I come in late I may read every post with care before I respond, which can result in a long response. People should feel just as comfortable simply answering the question, ignoring others at first .. or just reading the last couple of posts and responding to them.

It is tempting to respond to someone in a DIFFERENT tutor group if they say something strong; you're not supposed to do so! I might quote them in my own group. There have been times when lifting the thread of catalyst that got them going in another group will do the same in your own.

How my input is affected by the way the forum is structured.

At Harvard they use as system called 'Rotisserie' in some asynchronous threads/forums which, like playing pass the parcel (or pass the microphone) require people to take it in turns to say something. No harm there! No all the time, but for ice-breakers and specific, important threads it may work very well. Everyone has something worth saying, our differing perspectives are a vital part of the experience.

I'd like these threads to be presented very differently, as cards placed around a table. This sounds like a step towards a Virtual World. I just don't 'see' conversations as lists or 'toilet roll scrolls' from top to bottom, rather they should be in a circle at least, in a spiral at best.

It matters that activities have been designed that get people engaged without the need for a tutor all the time.

'Structured, paced and carefully constructed e-tivities reduce the amount of e-moderator time, and impact directly on satisfactory learning outcomes, adding value to the investment in learning technologies'. (Salmon, 2002a)

Do I behave differently in face-to-face tutorials?

I'm the student who says they understand but the tutor will see that on my face it says 'I still haven't a clue'. I will stop asking questions. Here I will ask more often, then start asking elsewhere, within h800, even beyond the Masters in Open and Distance Education. I'm still asking people how to visualise the learning process in threads, forums and blogs away from here.

Face-to-face people don't need to put up their hand to ask a question, you can read the person, you can tell if they are anxious to join in at some point. You don't need 'rotisserie' as people do take it in turns. Someone will act as the chair, even is there isn't one nominated. Think of us like the Village Elders taking it in turn to reflect on an issue.

Seeing that someone else has already made an effort to answer the week's questions I decide I can and should make the effort to do the same. It is easier to reply to the questions and ONE response than the question and 16 responses! i.e. I like to be second, or third to comment, rather than first or last. No good if everyone is hanging back. Perhaps between us we should nominate someone to go first each week!!!

'Online learning calls for the training and development of new kinds of online teachers - to carry out roles not yet widely understood'. (Salmon. 2005:10)

REFERENCE

Salmon, G (2005) E-moderating. The Key to teaching and learning online.

AND FINALLY, I relate to this, also from Gilly Salmon's book:

'Consider this medium as like talking with your fingers - half-way between spoken conversation and written discourse.' (Hawkridge, Morgan and Jeffs, 1997, quotes in Salmon 2005)

 

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