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When is an App better than a book?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 May 2015, 09:16

Dan Snow. "Clearly an App is better than a book for history."

This is a fascinating insight into the way we learn and educate is changing with students exploring, creating and sharing from an App 'smôrgasbord' of rich, interactive content. 

I picked up this thread in the WW1 Buffs Facebook pages

This conversation will keep me busy for several months. The debate on the guardian site is heated, personal and too often Luddite in tone. Why try to say that a book is better than an eBook is better than an App that is 'book-like?' I'll be pitching in as I believe what he argues is right and applies immediately to Geography too. I've studied online learning, history and geography - all to Masters level. I'm not an historian, geographer or an educator: I'm simply deeply curious and fascinated by the way we learn.

Key to Apps is immediacy, relevancy and motivation.

Put content into a student's hands in a way they appreciate: at their fingertips, multi-sensory and connected. An App can take all that is a book, and add several books and angles; all that is TV or Radio and have the person sit up, create content of their own, form views, share opinions and therefore learn, develop and remember.

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Where do I stand academically? Where and what next? And the madness of being.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 07:48

Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) with the Open University, UK (OU)

H800: Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates

H807: Innovations in eLearning – Learning outcomes

H810: Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students

B822: Creativity, Innovation and Change

H808: The e-learning professional

 

This completes the Masters Degree. I graduate on Saturday 27th April 2013

Currently (March 2013) I am taking H809 as a bridge towards doctoral research or professional consultancy. Complete in June 2013.

H809 Practice-based research in educational technology

I joined the #H817open MOOC for one component of this module. I will register for 2014

H817: Openness and innovation in e-learning.

I am applying to undertake doctoral research in education - using learning technologies.
 
H809 will help prepare for applications starting in January 2014 for an October 2014 start. Most are now a 4 year programme, with a Masters in research to begin. WebSciences at University of Southampton is an interesting option - I attended an Open Day in January.
Too many active interests was a stated issue on childhood school reports. Nothing's changed.
 
I am looking at an MA in History with the University of Birmingham which would give me the opportunity
study the First World War. (I have written extensively about this through my late grandfather's memoire 'That's Nothing Compared to Passchandeale')
There is more.
 
I attended the School of Communication Arts, London. A full-time programme in copywriting, art direction and design and have worked in the 'creative' and 'communications' industries all of my career.
And 'EAVE' (European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs)
 
My first degree is in Geography. My dissertatio nwas on demographics. I love maps. Perhaps I should try to match maps, e-learning and the First World War. Animated it all and add some interviews and 'drama reconstruction'.
See what happens when you let something fester and wake up in the middle of the night.
 
Neuroscience and long term memory are fascinating too.
I need my life over. I need to split into three and start again. I need a coffee and a long walk on the South Downs. (I need to go back to bed)
And then there's Fine Art.
 
And Creative Writing. And cooking. And the garden. There's teaching, and moderating ... and blogging. There's movies. And sailing and swimming coaching. There's family and friend ... ah. Friend? I knew there was something missing in all of the above.
Scrap the lot and have a belated 50th birthday to celebrate 20 years of marriage, parenthood and the madness of being. Then sign up to crew in the Round the World Yacht Race.
And if that doesn't kills me ...

P.S. ADHD

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Smarty Pants will rule!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 12 Feb 2013, 14:04

I  have been repeatedly pulled in by various plausible and intelligent thinkers.

  • Marshall McLuhan
  • Nicholas Carr
  • Malcolm Gladwell

even

  • Marc Prensky

They may motivate people to take a closer interest but are without exception populist, picking references that support their thesis to convince the gullible of the new world order. Marc Prensky is garbage from beginnign to end so I cannot understand how the OU has been suckered into pedaling his ill-informed perspective - unless to prevoke debate.

Marshall McLuhan sounded plausible in 1960 but can be shown to have got it wrong - an irrelevance then and of no value to consider today. Nicholas Carr is no better - his goal is to sell books only.

14 years ago my first blog post was 'What's new about new media? Not much'.

As a historian/geographer I simply could not see it this way, in space or time, it wasn't the case that what we were experiencing was very much different to shifts driven by technology that have occurred over the millennia.

But this thesis, 'business as usual' doesn't get you noticed, or heard, or recognised, or making a living selling books or standing up in conferences. There must be an aspect of being human that favours the new against all else. Which explains a good deal. Geographers think in millions of years, Historians in thousands.

Most of us can barely reflect on the tiny period of our own existence ... which is why weather phenomena, technology and war seem of the times.

Smarty Pants will rule!

Clearly a popularist title for the book I am yet to write - on the coming of wearable technology. Starting in our underwear - are we fit? are we agile? what's are heart rate doing? how does this relate to the context of our lives? If the data might save or improve our lives why not?

And a button-sized camera at this level would give an interesting take on the world.

Who remembers the 'Wicked Willy' cartoons?

Though seeing a world through his lens might be a dangerous though intriguing place to go.

I've thought it, someone in California has probably been doing it for the last three years sad

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En e-portfolio of everything

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 15:43

To start me off filling an eportfolio with EVERYTHING I've ever experienced I have a mind map in front of me that offers the following:

Big Wellies

A picture of me age five or six in oversize green wellies that I fondly remember as I loved it when I found water deep enough for the wellies to fill with water.

Fog Horn

The fog horn from the Lighthouse on Farnes Islands. I could here it from my bedroom window in Beadnell and like to watch the light as it appeared across the window. Not older than eight.

Physics

This is an O'Level Physics book that was sent home for me to read. I misssed an entire term of school as I had broken my leg rather badly in a skiing accident. I don't have the book, but I have it (and most others) listed. I could in theory recover a substantial number of the books I have EVER read?

Geography Essay

In text books I kept for my favourite subject that I went on to study at Oxford.

Tots TV

That my 14 year old daughter was watching on YouTube. She remarked, as she sang along, how she could remember the words. So could I. We used to watch it together since she was two or three.

Which triggered this idea of recalling distant memories and what prompts it required: a photo, a taste, a book title ...

Where e-portfolios still fail ... and I have a diary of 17000 pages, is the tagging. You have to find the words. I'd prefer to tage visually, so a an image to represent every page, or every event on every page? But what about a smell, taste or sound?

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Deep thoughts on e-portfolios, the meaning of life, minds, like-minds and Avatar, via Nottingham university and GCSE hydrology.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 21 Nov 2013, 10:58

Does your e-portfolio get in the way or support what you do?

Whoever you are?

Whoever has a stake in it.

Thinking out loud, started on 12th October 2010, picked up again and rolled around my mind on 13th January 2011.

Wherein lies the beauty of a blog, or in this case an ECA that requires reflection on the mind games of the past four months.

There’s a picture in the New Scientist of how ants, in their hunger for a sweet that has been dropped in the gutter have gathered in, or moved away some forty or more leaves which now form a circle around the fallen sweet.

This is what I am doing as I reflect on the activities of H808, each e-tivity, each note, paper, report, forum entry, blog or e-portfolio asset is a leaf that until now has been scattered somewhere, online, offline, some in a heap, some laid out, some yet to blow down from a tree.

My mind, its little and large pathways, the synapses that run between the left and the right hemispheres, are busy with a thousand ants moving these leaves aside, while gathering some of them up to make a pattern.

From Essay Style Visualised

And then, for a moment I saw that six petalled flower I have drawn before, the shape of the A’ Level essay, but somehow I see also a podcast and the analogy fails and without even the politeness of animated transformation my flower becomes a Christmas Tree.

From Essay Style Visualised

On this tree, the structure of the ECA, I will hand 10 or more ‘things.’ No good my just thinking about it though.

Time to move on.

I recommend the use of eportfolios, whether or not they are packaged as such. Often the affordances are there anyway. I’d like digital building blogs as simple and as versatile as Lego bricks so that I could have a button away, on my homepage, depositories and repositories, that do the jobs of blogs, wikis and eportfolios without any need to feel they are separate entities, rather the words I think, and images I take or draw, or recordings I make are like a rain shower (with the occasional deluge or drought) that is taken care by the system, MySystem.

Is this a homepage? All those toolbars? Mine's a mess. I dream of a computer screen A1 size, two of them preferably and a homepage as busy as a photomosaic coverpop.

Currently it looks like this. Could someone offer some advice on how to get my head around this before my entire home page is a Venetian Blind of unwanted toolbars and browsers?

From Drop Box

MySystem would be an assemblage of tools and services to store, collate, elaborate upon, develop, select and share all that can be digitised. Text for the most part, but images too, still and moving. And numbers, as stats or formulae. Assets in polite society, 'stuff’; for a Saxon word and something in Latin for anyone trying to pull rank.

Whatever definition we come up with for ‘e-portfolios’, someone else has another one.

And why not, this is but functional flotsam-and-jetsam on the Digital Ocean?

My first blog in September 1999 covered this. Perhaps I should shift my thinking and take in ideas of both oceans and clouds, the binary code the water molecules the form the water cycle? Now there’s an idea: the Internet as something fluid, changing, responsive ... predictable to a degree ... its shifting patterns advancing relentlessly rather than recycling, the apocryphal butterfly in one part of the system beating its wings and having a profound effect elsewhere, the Twitter-effect. This analogy of oceans and clouds hasn’t changed in a decade, perhaps it is the Geographer in me?

 

From Drop Box

 

I am still looking at a year 8 geography exercise book featuring the water cycle.

‘Analogies taught man to think.’

Now who said this?

I have it on a sheet of motivational quotes given out at the School of Communication Arts by John Gillard. This sheet and some other papers, a portfolio of ideas, is in a portfolio (the physical kind). There’s a storyboard for a couple of commercials: I could shoot these on my phone. Indeed, given that one takes place up a cliff face the phone might be the best camera for the job. No amount of Googling has located it for me. Proust perhaps? Shakespeare … or a commentator on Shakespeare?

All e-portfolios are squirts of ink into this ocean.

All content is drips, drops and an occasional multi-coloured deluge. Though pre-empting bespoke consultative decision making on behalf of a client, real or imaginary, my simple advice regarding e-portfolios is - do it all.

1) Your own - that does the business and ought to be the final repository for e-materials that are being shared or assessed, that is easy-peasy to link or upload for those who are expert in these things or have a system that they play well and with which they can 'sing.'

2) A smorgasbord of off the shelf e-portfolios that people may get free, or as part of their trade or other association, or be happy to subscribe for (after all, there's a good deal that can be done with them that is personal, off-campus and away from work).

3) Their own. The end result, the content and where and how it is finally presented is all that matters. In any case, there is every chance that your students are more e-literate than you are, speak the code like their Mother Tongue and will do what so many students have done before them and re-invent the digital wheel. The content is its own subject matter expert – it is out there being freely exchanged and wikified to the ‘nth’ degree of finality.

4) With institutional, administrative, management and support from academics and tutors that also encourages peer support and so enables 1, 2 & 3.

Everyone will have their own idea of what an e-portfolio is … if it ‘is’ anything at all in the physical sense, because of course it isn’t until you print it off, or play the asset. It isn’t a trunk, it isn’t a filing system.

Perhaps in truth it would look as bland as the grey matter of your brain?

Why and how does this help anyone?

By visualising something you give it powers.

The problem lies where your visualisation doesn’t match with mine, but as the designer it is my world that you have to live within in. I suppose we each of us require a bespoke website and a team of people working on it to forge this link between what enters and leaves our heads.

So why do I hear the voice of Dr Angela Smallwood?

It was the JISC conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Hall of Parliament Square.

It was a workshop on e-portfolios. ‘I was a baby’ (quoting Neytiri from Avatar talking to Jake).

But I bought into the idea of ‘deeper thinking’ and how it is achieved. Wasn’t the computer in Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy called ‘Deep Thought’ ?

Food for thought?

Breakfast.

Bacon, toast and a fried-egg.

Only blog for the day, I promise.

Work to do!

 

 

 

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Dusty Rhodes

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 1 May 2010, 17:37

Our Geography teacher had most of us (all ?) achieve A Grades at A Level. When it came to writing essays his advice was simple and he drew a flower on the board with six petals.

The stem was both the introduction and conclusion, the centre of flower was the essay title. Six petals, perhaps eight would do it. Each would be a point, well made, with quotes/references.

Often he'd summarise his thoughts on a boy's essay by drawing a dishevelled weed ... or more simply a three petalled plant with one huge, deformed petal ... and so on.

I was never one for the perfect plant. Often I'd be the one with twelve petals, some tiny some so massive they took on the entire board. One essay I remember submitting filled an entire exercise book (I still have it, sad, I know. It was Geography, meteorology, he taught as to undergraduate level). I regress (and digress).

After two years we sat exams. By then by editing down and picking out what I felt mattered I went into the exam well prepared, armed to the teeth. I could easily give up ten minutes of the 45 mins to write on a topic to planning, the six or so main points, the pulling from my head a mnemonic that would deliver a dozen or twenty or more facts. And then I wrote. This worked.

Course work would have suffocated me. I lack that consistency and self-discipline, or more likely, I drain so much energy intermittently that I just have to 'chill' from time to time. I'm not one for drawing early conclusions, nor am I one for regurgitating what is wanted from me because of what specifically I have been asked to read - I will always look beyond the references.

In particular, I would prefer to sit down to write naked ... jsut me and the keyboard, no notes. For the information to have gathered in the rigth spot in my head I need to have worked with the material, to have discussed and debated it, to got it wrong and been corrected, to have asked questions, and to have figured it out. I have to believe it.

Working in a Web Agency when first doing an OU course on distance learning the topics were of interest every day to colleagues so it was like being on a campus, or certainly in a faculty. And as we believed or thought that the aim of a university degree or studying was to get a job there was a degree of arrogance - we had jobs. We were in it, doing it. We had to know best, or certainly quite well, otherwise why would companies & government pays us to do our thing?

I ramble. Or reflect. Whether I can reflect my way into some higher level of sublime understanding though is quite another matter. A decade ago blogging obsessively there were a group of us who read and responded to everything we wrote. Doing this I feel I am writing with a fountain pen on the ceiling of a catacomb.

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