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H800: 67 WK13 Three presentations on the 'Net Generation'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Sep 2011, 13:09

The Smith and Caruso (2010) ‘The ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology, 2010’ is on objective report, a snap shot in time, professionally executed and commented upon objectively.

Kennedy's survey (2006) ‘Questioning the net generation: a collaborative project in Australian higher education’of the same cohort of undergraduate students from three Australian Universities had an objective, a problem to solve i.e. is there any foundation for the idea of a 'Net Generation', or 'Digital Natives'.

The third type of presentation Conole et al. (2008) ‘“Disruptive technologies”, “pedagogical innovation”: What’s new? is an easy read the style is lucid, persuasive and conversational, as you'd expect from a seasoned speaker.

Each is different and ought to be commented upon for what it purports to be.

The insight here is three fold:

  1. the different ways information is presented,
  2. how all three approaches offer valid course materials or assets
  3. and because of their differences will evoke and expect a correspondingly different kind of comment.

You could say that with each of these in turn presentation style, and the skills at the presentation technique increase, while the academic content becomes diluted, more fluid and conversational. When in comes to comment or critique this should be born in mind; Grainne Conole's presentation would not warrant the kind of scrutiny you'd give a report.

The final step would be an eight minute professional video, or covering all three, drawing in further reports and interviews with the experts and students, a documentary.

Though informative, I'd consider the first and second papers to offer the most calories to a student. The choice is down to the academic team: dean, academic expert and learning designer.

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H800: 58 WK 12 ACTIVITY 2

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 30 Aug 2011, 04:55

H800 WK 12 ACTIVITY 2

As you read the paper, think about the ways in which similar ideas were discussed in previous weeks and refer to the relevant module materials:

Do you think the innovations described in Weeks 8 and 9 as ‘learning design’ would induce more desirable approaches to studying on the part of the students?

The student (maturity, experience of education, opportunity, access, support)

But is also depends on the learning designer (as teacher)’s approach, whether deep or surface learning (Marton, 1977); or thinking of the six approaches to learning Saljo (1979) came up with.

The importance here is how much effort is put into creating activities in the learning experience, forcing the student’s hands in some respect by obliging them to go along with the ‘deep’ approach. I would therefore favour, to cover more bases, activities that are also fun and engaging, with a sensible allocation of time to do them. This has to be preferable to shallow, passive learning.

Compare Marton’s idea that some students regard learning as something that just happens to them with Sfard’s account that you read in Week 3.

Marton (1976) doesn’t say that learning is something that ‘just happens to them,’ what he says is that in contrast to deep learning where the students take an active role ‘seeing learning as something they do themselves’ those who adopt surface learning ‘approach learning in a passive role and see learning as something that just happens to them.’

You may not have encountered the literature that Richardson describes. In Week 4, Chris Jones asked you to think about your own definition of ‘learning’. Do the concepts, theories and evidence described in my paper fit your own experience as a learner?

Yes. If you ask a closed question. I hadn’t thought that different disciplines would take or do take a different approach to learning. That between them French, Geography, History, Maths, Physics, Biology, Art and so on were in part enjoyed or loathed depending on whether the engagement was personally driven or dictated to us as passive learners. Teachers in their ways can easily turn a student off or onto a subject. The same can apply at a distance with learning design. A balance has to be struck, with variety, to cover different experiences of learning and their differing expectations of the way to do things. I am therefore interested in Kember (1997) definitions of approaches to teaching.

Interaction between the teacher and student, and facilitating understanding on the part of the student the key motivators and the experience of a number of subjects … even as an adult I find there is too much ‘teaching as imparting information’ which I find takes five or six stabs before it sticks (reluctantly).

Which of Säljö’s five conceptions of learning best fits your own definition?

‘Learning as an interpretative process aimed at the understanding of reality’.

If you have (or have had) a role in teaching or training, do the concepts, theories and evidence described in my paper fit your own experience as a teacher or trainer? If you haven’t had such a role, ask your tutor whether they fit their experience as a teacher.

I could discuss Kimbers (1997) approaches to teaching at length from the point of view of a coach, someone who created distance learning materials (video and course books) and very rarely a teacher with a class of secondary school students for a day. I could also compare teaching practices almost from my first year at school through university and postgraduate courses/training.

The approach to teaching can make or break a course … it can kill a subject you love, or bring to life something you approached with trepidation.

Do you find the argument convincing?

‘Students who hold a reproductive conception of learning through exposure to a subject-based curriculum may simply find it hard to adapt to a more student-centred curriculum.’

I have suffered through some modules of a Swimming Coach course which couldn’t accommodate people who’d loathed school, didn’t want to learn, just wanted to know the answers. It frustrated that better instructors too. It saddened me that their experiences of learning had been so poor.

You may find the similarity between the models in Figure 1 and Figure 2 beguiling, but are the models really justified?

I don’t get the diagrams at all … though I am guilty of doing things just like it. It strikes me that they are slides from a presentation without the attached commentary.

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H800: 57 Week 12. Activity 2+ Richardson

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 31 Aug 2011, 12:46

I admire the way Richardson picks his way through the CIBER/UCL document and then presents his own reports as a model of social science excellence. He has a valid point, even if I find the stats themselves impossible to decipher. I recognise the research methodology and hope to reach this standard eventually - perhaps with the MRes after the MA?

Ciber/UCL presumes that Google generation is a fact for others to disprove.

I don't support the all lower case choices for the contents – as if written on a Blackberry. Upper and Lower case serve a purpose that aids reading, even more than say choosing between serif and sans serif.

‘The untested assumption is that this generation is somehow qualitatively ‘different’ from what went before: that they have different aptitudes, attitudes, expectations and even different communication and information ‘literacies’ and that these will somehow transfer to their use of libraries and information services.’ p5

The longitudinal study sounds like guesswork. p6

Look at a Population Pyramid.

Which part of it is unequivocally Generation X or Y?

Do you look at a ward, a town, a region, a country or a continent?

When ‘Generation X’ or the ‘Google Generation’ is applied to people its said as if it applies to the entire population.

Perhaps there’s a state in California where every child is born with an iPad in their hands.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/03/mind-vs-machine/8386/ Christian, Brian (2011) The Most Human Human

UK%20Population%20Pyramid%202010.jpg

We are told that the ‘Google Generation’ are those born after 1993. Google launched in 1996. It came to prominence, six years later? Who might I ask were the first to exploit Google? Not this age group. And just because they were born in the era of the search engine super powers does not make them ignorant of books (or libraries). Regarding these in relation to learning, here again we should challenge the term. Did we not, as children, learn far more from our mother, and parents, and our immediate family. Even once at school, what fraction of teaching here compares to the great period of time we spend away from school.

The language used, as Richardson advises us, could warn of a weakness in the factual nature of the report, ‘raises enormous issues for information providers’ hints of the scaremongering you get in the press. In any case, this could only be the outcome if nothing changes but a) the technology constantly strains to find a market by serving a valuable purpose and b) people catch up, they learn new things sooner.

‘The fact is, the human race got to where it is by being the most adaptive, flexible, innovative and quick learning species on the planet’ says Brian Christian in his 2011 book ‘The most human human. A defence of humanity in the age of the computer.’

This could be applied equally well in relation to the narrative across the Richardson papers, that the differences and difficulties between face-to-face and online learning have largely been overcome. We’re getting better at it, as his research shows. Online learning is becoming more face-to-face in its nature, but also plays to its strengths and differences with technology that is common place, inexpensive and intuitive.

I wonder how much of this I can relate back to weeks 8 & 9 though ... let's go and take a look.

Also here 'My mind bursts'

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H800:57 Learning design and moderating students online

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 17 Apr 2012, 07:12

Some thoughts on e-moderating from Gilly Salmon all from 'E-moderating'. (2003)

Perhaps we ought to call them Tutors or Associate Lecturers though, rather than moderators.

What do you think?

'It is worth structuring your course to provide participants with rhythm, enticement, flow and pace to their online study.' p63

'We have found that the first few weeks of being online is a critical time for group forming and confidence building'. p64

You've got to make a good first impression, enough, but not overpowering, leading the way?

'Participants in online learning are involved in a variety of communities of learning and practice at the same time, and have a myriad of other responsibilities. Some of these may be similar in values and beliefs and norms of behaviour to those of the course groups and some may not. You need to build enticement, inclusiveness and pacing to make your experience stand out'. p65

Should this come from the Tutor or from Learning Design? Who sets the pace? It depends on whether the module is an obstacle course or the shot-put.

'Long message take time to read and respond to (but may be more worthwhile than short ones). p66

I guess to stay friends with your fellow students and the Tutor you should keep the length down a bit ... but do they read it at all?

'Summarizing, archiving and weaving are the key skills for the e-moderator. They save participant's time, and enable participation in new ways. Furthermore, the more successful an e-moderator is, the more likely he or she will be overwhelmed by success in terms of many student messages'.

A note in relation to countries with poor fixed-lined telephone systems:

'Mobile connectivity through cellular systems will provide access to many more people who will 'leap-frog' over others, technologically, by missing out interim stages'. p70

And a note in relation what learning means.

'What we know of learning is that we want people to change what they actually do, we need to offer experiences that shuffle backwards and forwards between what they already know, and what they are prepared to develop, between specific details and their implications in wider contexts, and between practice and reflection.' (Harvey and Knight, 1996)

Meanwhile I have 60 pages of course work to read, take notes, and comment on ... and then comment on the comments of others in the Tutor Group Forum .. and then I can climb into a hot elluminate session.

(Or should that be a bath?)

REFERENCE

Harvey, L and Knight, P (1996) Transforming Higher Education, SRHE and Open University, Buckingham.

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The playing field for education in the UK is both muddled and uneven

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 31 Aug 2011, 04:53

Competition is a good thing, but the playing field is both muddled and uneven.

Remember, funding for higher education isn't simply from the State, but through corporates and research grants. What is more the UK has a long established history of private education at all stages; many parents plan to pay for their children's education, and where able set funds aside for tertiary education too through savings schemes.

Online support for learning, either blended or 100% at a distance, has become viable for ALL in tertiary education, so they are doing it. Even undergraduates on campus expect the kind of online facilities and support that may until recently been the sole domain of the distance learning student.

In the private sector, where I came from, creating commercial product at any stage: primary, tertiary and secondary was difficult for one simple reason - both students and institutions expected the resources to be free. One model therefore was to have content sponsored. Indeed that's how I came to succeed in producing careers materials (video) because it was all financed in advance by sponsors and distributed for free. DVD and online based course materials failed because no one would pay for it.

Ten years ago I prepared a report for my employer regarding the production of commercial learning materials, one offs for specific age groups and subjects. My conclusion was don't, unless it is all paid for upfront. Even the secondary sector is deeply affected by the BBC and their wonderful, free 'bitesize' series to support GCSEs.

There must be research on perceptions of UK universities. The cache of the long-established Oxbridge and Russell Group institutions must be substantial. From an employee point of view there are those who will divide hundreds (or thousands) of applications for a few graduate positions into two piles: Oxbridge or not.

Unsound and unfair, but if faced with ostensibly the same grade, but from different instituions, how do you differentiate short of seeing everyone for a first interview or reading exam papers for yourself?

The answer from the student's point of view used to be the CV thick with extra-curricula activities; I wonder if the future student should pack an e-portfolio, evidence of their worth and potential once away from the student 'desk'.

The last two decades has seen the private secondary sector buy into/ buy up primary sector 'prep' schools even establish pre-prep schools. I wonder to what degree this long-term relationship can be maintained into the tertiary sector?

The Eton Brand, for example, as a University, would be a valid offering in a global market.

 

 

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H800 53 Block 2 Approaches to learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 12:14

Richardson (2005), ‘Students’ approaches to learning and teachers’ approaches to teaching in higher education’.

This short, clear, bulleted article is the most straightforward and possibly most valuable text I've come across in the 14 months of the Masters in Open and Distance Education that I have thus far done.

No doubt its clarity is in part a product of my improved understanding and more extensive experience gained during this period; it slots into place.

Learning a foreign language (French)  I described fluency being akin to a fog lifting; it became clearer and intuitive. I wonder if I am approaching that point with online learning? Not that certainty is possible,

I'll return to Richardson often.

REFERENCE

Richardson, John T. E. (2005). Students’ approaches to learning and teachers’ approaches to teaching in higher education. Educational Psychology, 25(6), pp. 673–680.

http://oro.open.ac.uk.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/11509/

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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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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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H800: 50 Wk11 Why arguments (and fights) stick in the mind

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 17:47

There was argument between a couple of Profs on Radio 4 on Thursday evening.

They were disagreeing on how best to describe the movement of photons or something in light waves. She likened it to a Mexican Wave, an idea that he rubbished. I think they ended up with a ‘pass the parcel’ idea as a compromised. Once we’ve listened to them having a go at each other for bit we are told that they are married (and happen both to work for the OU).

It was 'The Light Switch Project'.

This for me demonstrated how debate is memorable, you experience the process by which people struggle to agree, or agree to disagree about something and as a result you take your own stance.

I liken technology creep to a liquid or gas that gets into everything.

It is liberating and enabling though. For example, I’ve seen my children take an interest in something and through ‘how to videos’ online learnt skills that in the past might have taken weeks to pick up from siblings, parents or grandparents.

It can be both a catalyst and an accelerator.

Learning about technology by using technology i.e. context, applied learning … even practice based learning. Learning using technology as a tool to help students learn, Like educational films (the original documentary), radio and TV, slide-projectors and photocopies, biros vs fountain pens, the typewriter then word-processing, video and interactivity through CD-rom, whiteboards and Internet access.

Does it work?

Does use of a Spellchecker improve spelling, or simply make you dependent on the technology? It is a must. Though I’d say the first skill is touch-typing as however advanced the technology may be, the QWERTY keyboard is dominant and for many will be a barrier.

How technology is introduced matters, whether it is bottom up to meet an individual need, or top down as a perceived ‘must have’ or panacea without proper consideration for how it will be used.

The learning design comes first, knowing what resources are available, and from a teacher’s point of view deciding strategically how to mix it up given the choices and whether and how to respond to new apps and technologies as they come on stream.

Is a teacher as performer, coach, subject matter expert in the flesh and in front of a classroom audience of 30+ going to be more effective than a one-to-one with an avatar in a 3D virtual world.

At some stage we’re going to look at the technology and see that all it is doing is trying to recreate what we have already and have done for decades – taking kids out of their homes and putting them in an institution up the road while parents go to work.

If teaching online is so good why not keep the kids at home?

Surely there’s never been a better time to self-educated? Are my children growing up too fast? Does it matter that they have been exposed to so much and can dig around online to see and find out things a generation ago we had limited access too?

Physiologically and mentally they mature at the same time.

I keep the line ‘when I was a boy’ to myself, but I see far more parallels than differences; many things are faster, even instant. You want to speak to a friend or have a question answered and it is. They have no excuse to ask ‘why?’ when they are able to go online and little reason to ask ‘what can I do?’

A grant that must be spent results in a school acquiring a dozen Sony Flips (or a cheaper equivalent) so let’s use them.

The choices have surely become bewildering?

However, who should be making the choices – the head of department, the teacher or the student? Or if I spread this net wider, governments and parents? There is no doubt that reasonable IT skills are vital to employability – it’s getting to the stage where you can’t answer the phone without going through Outlook.

Growing up I took learning to be something that you ticked off; i.e. you thought, I can do that, then moved on. I feel today that this is never possible, that anything you learn is just a step on from your previous position of ignorance that can always be improved either by doing it differently or better i.e. life-long learning is the norm, and ICT makes in possible.

Could we apply the same thinking to household appliances?

Where would we be without a fridge-freezer, electric-steam iron or toaster? We’d manage. Might I suggest that nothing has changed? That ‘amelioration’ of what always has occurred with knowledge transfer is occurring? That the effect in the learner’s mind is physiologically no different to what it has always been?

 

 

 

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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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Intellectually and spiritually content? Getting there

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:09

Delighted to have found somewhere to stay in Milton Keynes.

It is extraordinary that people live such lovely lives, the privilege of the commute being a short walk over a field, from village to Central Business District in minutes. This isn't the Britain I have ever known - a 79 mile commute being one of the worst, cattle-trucks in from South London even worse. But I've done the 'weekly border' having once been in Penrith, Cumbria while my fiance was in Paris, France for six months. Sleeping away from home is part of me of course, having had boarding school from the age of 8 I perhaps find it easy to get used to?

 

Of course the OU Campus is a strange beast, each Faculty a bright sparkly building set in its own grounds each building a short walk apart from the other. If it weren't for the speed bumps to slow the traffic down (people come in by car in their thousands) I'd imagine golf-carts to be the required way to move around.

 

But do you much? Your faculty is your home.

My home once again has connections with the university, mother and daughter work there. This does not need to be a point of conversation at home, I  have the Masters in Open and Distance Education to complete for a start and instead of talking about the OU I am delightfully engaged in conversations on the medical effect of what we eat. I find myself creeping back towards soya milk and muesli and away from coffee and biscuits.

For someone who typically blogs a thousand words a day I've been unusual quiet.

The pressure on my mind is considerable. If I find myself near a keyboard over the bank holiday I may catch up, though my inclination is to head for the sea.

This isn’t to say I’m not writing a thousand words an hour; that would be an exaggeration, but I find that 60 emails a day (sent), half this number received, contributions to Yammer an OU Twitter like feed and the various minutes and reports that I’m writing quite easily makes up the number.

As I will often tell people, the best contribution to my career was a touch-typing course at Oxford College of Education.

I'll become a poor-weather blogger.

Meanwhile what I have to say has gone into note pads. I’ve filled a 80 pad shorthand notepad, both sides. This contains a good deal of ‘Everything is Miscellaneous’ and all that I wanted from ‘Use of Blogs.’ How I would have preferred both on my Kindle, all this note taking reduced to highlighting, my ideas saved or shared immediately, and the entire thing now at the edit stage. Instead I’ll have to write it all out. I find my concentration wavers if I transcribe stuff, or more likely I feel inclined to add yet further notes and thoughts.

Meanwhile, perhaps sensibly going for paper rather than technology, I have ‘The Social Life of Information’ (2002) John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid to enjoy, ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’ (2007) Rick Levine et al and ‘E-moderating’ (2005) Gilly Salmon.

My perfect Bank Holiday would be to take these to sea – sail across the English Channel, a few days in French Ports.

As crew, this way I can read, all that fresh air, with occasional moments of physical agitation.

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Want to blog? Sources of inspiration and getting it down.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 15 Feb 2013, 12:06

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ON BLOGGING

Sources of inspiration and getting it down.

Get this for a start: Use of Blogs (2006) Axel Bruns and Joanna Jacobs.

It persuades you why to blog. Each chapter is written like an academic paper - an essay at least. Chapter 5 I found I was copying out verbatim (which I can't do here). Go see 'Can Blogging Unspin PR' Trevor Cook.

Your starting off point can be anything at all, once you start (for me at least) it is like opening a vein.

Who cares if it is a note to yourself. If it’s work or course work remember that you can compose then recraft as often as you like; what is more, you can turn access on or off as you please too – even allow comments as you please – with other blog platforms the list of linking choices is as broad as the destination board at Heathrow – you can ‘blog’ to a person, a group, people in different groups and so on (though this is a level of complication may turn the novice off).

If you are at all stuck for content ideas then my suggestions are:

1) Write about the deep past (everything you write is of course in the past) – what this might means is thinking of your earliest experiences of whatever your blog may be about – if it is about education then try these:

2) Your best friend at nursery school

3) Your first day at school

4) The funniest thing that your witnessed or did at school

5) The first thing you learnt and how

6) Add a caption to an old photograph then expand these thoughts into the era.

7) A birthday party

8) A Christmas

9) A first book

All of these are possible jumping off points; once you’re in flight you’ll be surprised how easy it is to steer back to where you had planned to be - who cares about the journey you took to get there – you can leave it in or edit out the first paragraph / chapter.

If you kept a diary at any time in your life – milk it! Put it up, selectively, verbatim and / or relived – you can even retrofit the date.

Getting it down

There is a beauty and simplicity to pen/pencil onto paper. Personally I find typing it up afterwards tedious and will find myself inevitably expanding beyond the way the thing was initially written. The mistake here is that you can/do with ease turn a natural, conversational flow of thoughts into something else – verbose at best, disjoined at worst. You then get into editing and saving sections/chunks for future entries.

Ideally, whether you have notes, an essay plan or mind map to guide you, I’d recommend typing directly into the Blank Box. The QWERTY keyboard is a piano keyboard and you’re playing a ditty or having a jam.

Most blog platforms have ample editing tools, the only warning is to save regularly in some if you are prone to distraction.

Even back up onto a clipboard or Word, though personally I’m not a fan of overworking a piece in Word first.

Have a notepad, record a thought on paper or into a digital recorder, have a device that you can readily use on the go – my most fruitful blogging years were when I had a Psion – I could type this spec-case sized device and draw it into my Mac to upload.

I’ll discover in due course an iPad can offer this facility – I believe it will (and some).

A final thought for now – if you can touch-type and write stream of consciousness then how many words can you get down in so many minutes?

Let’s say you think at FIVE words a second, talk at THREE words a second and type at 40-60 words a minute. In theory in five minutes you can blog between 200 and 300 words. Perfect length. Have a plan, three or so points to make and fire away.

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Bedsit for mature students - a meeting of unlike minds

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 26 Nov 2011, 16:39

I've had five nights in a guest house with FIVE OU students/academics: 3 PhD students and one 2 years post doctoral, while I come in a long way behind as I'm yet to complete my MA (though in theory it is my second MA, and I have done TWO post-graduate courses the equivalent of MAs that were not accredited). So I am another natural for life-long learning.

Conversations - who we are, defined by what we do, what we know, what we don't know and what we think.

Key components missing from online experience are: rapport, facial expressions as we listen or talk, the reciprocal nature of dialogue there is, or should be a natural see-saw of give and receive, of request and response which asynchronous threads struggle to provide.

I have had thought that as someone who kept a diary before blogging came along that this makes me a natural blogger - it helps.

There is another habit or trait that is equally important and may help others get started - the tradition in school of 'taking notes' and even 'call reports' or 'minutes' of meetings. These are starting points for a blog, the trick is to type it all up in real time, as you go along, then edit/censor before you post. Even post into a private page to exploit the affordances of the blog, the date, the place, the tags and categories and how much easier it is to find tagged information than it is to file it, whether on a desktop harddrive or printed out and put into a filing cabinet.

At its simplest level these notes are an aide memoire - they could be an audio record (Tony Benn) and Captain T Kirk - or they coule be a video log (surely you have seen Avatar - 'this is science' he says, dismissive of the importance of reflection, and right to be so given what trouble his personal record made public causes). It may even be the case that someone else takes down your every thought (Churchill's secretaries).

A writer's journal - excerpts and ntoes, can only be of practical value to their author - and if they become a successful author, authority or powerful/influential person - then to academics once archived (we love to study the creative process).

A 'Secret' Dairy is just that (or in the case of H.G.Wells locked down for 50 years, or Mark Twain 100 years). I hope the genre hasn't died just because of the compulsion to blog it, and the volume of traffic and interest that such candor, exposure or disclosure can bring. Is that it, bloggers just crave an audience? THey are in fact wannabe lead singers or actors? They'll say anything if they get an audience, the problem being with a blog to know if that audience is there.

Which is why good stats are vital. Forget comments asa guide to 'readers,' and a universal 'page views' means little. We need stats on the pages viewed, to know which are or become the hot topics. We need personalised lay-outs and we need to DROP the idea of reverse chronology which by dating an entry also ages it, and by stages gives it a sell by date.

Just because a blog puts you on a soapbox and lets you artificially put up the volume. People get around this in simple ways, they keep their blog locked, or off-line, write under a psuedonym and disguise the main character/location (but risk exposure/scandal) or they buy a hard back notebook/diary and do it that way.

________________________________________________

Note to self:

5:3:1 used to be the north American ratio of promotion, maintaining and creating a website.

1:3:5 was the mistake we said us Brits always made, putting everything into development/creation and little into getting an audience (and therefore customers).

I wonder if the desirable ratio for web 2.0 is more like 3:5:1, whereby the effort to maintain, to be active online, to be engaged in social media networking/social influence marketing is both a form of advertising AND part of the creation process?

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Blogging a dead horse

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 16:44

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The more I read, the more I research, the more I listen and the more I gush to others about blogging, the more I feel that it is like ...'trying to flog a dead horse to make it pull a load'.

Not the act of blogging, but the actions required to convert people.

People (students) don't see there value; to read a few well written, apposite blogs, fine. A person that in this environment has something to offering pertaining to their course. Or for entertainment. (Stephen Fry's Tweats form a micro-blog after all), micro only in the sense that you are restricted by character count per entry. If these parameters are like a letter-box then Stephen Fry is posting plenty himself and garnering a gargantuan response).

I have infront of me 'Exploring students' understand of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education'. It was a conference item at ALT-C 2007: Beyond Control: Association Technologies Conference, 4-6 September, Nottingham, UK.

One of its Six authors is Grainne Conole, an OU senior academic, a blogging practioner and evangelical online chatter-box and good-egg. She wants us all to blog, and understands the magic of a comment ... she likes to make new friends and understands the reciprocal nature of reading and leaving salient comments. It's T.L.C. online.

I just clicked away and posted this in her blog:

I'm faced with the dilemma of having to split my professional, student and blogging personas; I recently joined the Open University Business School. This three way split has me locking down one diary and 'friends' gathered over a decade and tripping over the other two selves, starting afresh with contacts and what I blog wearing my professional hat. I am certain such possible conflicts of interest occur for anyone working in online media communications - broadcasting on behalf of your employer; indeed, my contacts in senior PR and Media roles of various organisations have the weakest of online profiles, even though two of them are published authors.

On the other hand just as I really got going in Facebook to connect with my brother and his family in South Africa and organise my mother's 80th, I find that living away from home during the week I come online to have some sense of what my own family are up to - just a shame our dog doesn't blog, 'stick chasing across the South Downs' would do it.

Currently reading your 2007 paper 'Exploring students' understanding of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education'. Are Learning Designers (and those who work with them) 'flogging a dead horse?' The analogy I'm about to use in my OU student blog is that I am starting to feel like a Tuba player at a football match - no one is interested, they're watching the game. Maybe if I could network with the other instrument players in the crowd we could have a jam-session. As another paper on blogging discovered 'birds of a feather flock together', we do this and find kindred spirits. The problem in OU student blogging platforms is that we are overly pigoen-holed, not just by course, but by module and tutor group (and sub-groups within these).

I liken the Internet to a digital ocean; currently blogging as an OU student is like blogging in fish tank, in a warehouse full of fish tanks. And every so often someone kindly comes along and divides us up even more, creating barriers, rather than opportunities. Please can we just all be tipped into the same ocean?

I then went off to Facebook, via my external blog My Mind Bursts.

I only sat down to transfer notes from a pad ... and am yet to transcribe a single word of it.

I was going to say, anything short of writing directly into 'the white box' that you are presented with on your chosen blog platform or platforms snacks of something else: a repository, a writer's journal, a student's e-portfolio that they leave open ... keep forgetting in the lecture hall, that they photocopy and leave on benches outside the refrecatory.

Reading 'Everything is miscellaneous' David Weinberger I find a like mind a) the idea of miscellany, that each page, each asset, whether ostensibly part of something (like this) is like an autumn leave scattered on the forest floor. These leaves never compost down and those that are tagged stay on the top of the pile, those that people find or are guided too most often, stay on the top of the pile ... and did it not long ago reach the stage where the leaves on the forest floor are so deep that they have buried the trees?

I put a slightly inept first draft phrase into Yammer the OU Personnel 'Twitter-like' feed about dandelions and pomegranates. I've used the dandelion metaphor many times, the pomegranate too, but had never put them together.

My thinking was this, if the seed is this blog entry, or a Tweat or even a message in Facebook i.e. an idea, thought, asset or message, a seed if you were scattered to the wind to find its own fortune then developing social media for an institution, whilst the asset, these words, are still a seed, they are coming from a pomegranate, not a dandelion. The reason being that understandably if you are expressing the views of others, collectively or individually, you cannot just hold you thoughts up to the wind and blow. The opening of the pomegranate is, as it were, the necessary processes and procedures. This analogy falls apart though if you have an image of Jamie Oliver holding a pomegranate half in one hand while smashing it with a wooden rolling pin with the other ... the OU are not smashing me on the head to extract words like nasla mucus. Rather, at first at least, they will be extracted by me using tweezers.

All this and my 16 pages of notes on blogging handwritten into a Shorthand Pad remain unused.

To overcome my reluctance to write up what I feel I have already expressed I realise I could just photograph my notepad ... in fact, I'll do this and just see how folk manage with my handwriting.

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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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Milton Keynes

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Nov 2012, 12:50

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Three weeks ago I entered the OU Campus for the first time.

There was no fanfare but I heard the OU signature tune. That 'ear worm' may take a while to extract.

I'm now in the town, ten minutes from the campus, but ostensibly in the country. Milton Keynes defies the logic of a city that has grown up organically; MCK has been planted, every 35 acres or so grows a different architect's idea of what a community should be. I think Prince Charles should have been given a shot.

I'm staying in a house with FIVE OU students, all doing Dphils in various departments. I spoke to my wife earlier and said I felt like I'd just joined a team that would be competing in University Challenge (I suppose we could).

With all this brain power in the building I won't have any excuses if I need to discuss an idea; I'm sure they'll have answers. Is that allowed? Suddenly instead of distance learning I'll be learning at close proximity.

MAODE and H800 hasn't been forgotten.

Though I have been without a computer for 48 hours. I got to the point where I felt a desire to keep a journal on paper. Not that I blog like that any more, the obsessive who must post an entry every day. We did that in 2000/2001 to be the first or the first few to do so. I probably got most of three years down then let it drift. Better to write when you have something to say. My ride up the M23 around the M25 and up the M1 at 45mph (roadworks/density of traffic) gave me a chance to get through two chapters of Chris Pegler's book on Blended learning. I set the Kindle to read and wore headphones. The quirkiness of the reader means that I remember best of all the words it found hard to pronounced The intonation was all wrong for repurpose, for example, and Moodle came out like a sneeze.

I listened to Catherine Valente reading her latest book. We met online and blogged constantly to each-other from 2001-2005. Hearing her read gently through her book while glancing at the text from time to time made me wonder if some of the authors of the books we are reading for the MAODE couldn't be persuaded to do the same. It is an engaging way to be taken through the text.

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H800: 47 H800 Week 8/9 Activity 7 Cloudworks 'Swim lanes' for learning design,

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014, 14:23

It is one thing to contribute to a flash debate, it is quite another to embrace the Cloudworks platform.

There is only one way to test the water, and that is to get in. We talk of 'swim lanes' for learning design, I like every platform, every social network, business network or here, educational network, to be a visit to another pool, a lido, indoor or out, leisure pool or training pool.

They need to know who you are, you have to sign in. Then you have to change, get in, and give it a go.

So I am for the umpteenth time adding a profile picture and a profile, tagging, finding favourites debates and linking to people.

It all takes time.

Online you control time. Intensive engagement might move things along ... on the other hand, it may irritate those who've been here a while.

It should take time.

Find the rhymn of the place, observe when and where there is a buzz. Identifiy the 'champions,' come in on the periphery, pick up a thread, join in tentatively, give it a go here and there.

I make a contribution to a Flash Debate on the futre and threats to universities

Universities will flourish as they become part of the mainstream and engaged with the world, rather than distinct from it. Relationships with governments, industries, schools (for future students) and alumni (for past student) will develop and become continual, rather than passing. Student cohorts may look the same on the ground, but in the virtual world will be broader and deeper, technology and systems allowing a greater diversity. Not all institutions will have the ability, whether through lack of financing, the burden of their past and costs, to be flexible and change. The overall impact will be of an evolutionary change, though for some it will be a fight for survival.

BRANDING

Established, motivated, well-supported and well known colleges and institutions, where there is strength as a brand, as well as financially, in their governing body and from alumni will thrive. They can afford to exploit the changing circumstances (and they can’t afford not to). Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Bristol, UCL and the OU are not about to go under. On the other hand, new, complacent, poorly supported, little known educational institutions where the sources of income and grants may be narrow or uncertain, with weak leadership and ill-established (or disloyal) alumni will fail.

BUSINESS

The opportunities to flourish are extraordinary; the global demand for tertiary education with tens of millions of people from Asia, for example, seeking higher education over the next decade means that there is a growing and hungry market if you have the right ‘product.’ Education is a business, whether the model is that students are educated for free or pay part of the fees, cash flow matters. Retailing has been in constant flux, from the high street to out of town shopping, with national and international brands dominating, and then online shopping cornering certain markets, from books to electronic goods. Retailers have had to change the mix, where they locate and what they sell. Universities are less agile and less prone to the vicissitudes of short-term purchasing decisions, but the impact on them of new technologies is no less profound. Negotiating their way through this will require skill, the most vulnerable institutions will fail.

QUALIFICATIONS

Letters after your name differentiate you from other candidates for a job or promotion. Where there are many applicants for the same position where you studied, indeed, who you studied with, will matter. It helps to study under the best in your field. It depends entirely on where you wish or plan to go afterwards, where and if a position or job requires a certain qualification, and if a qualification from one or another institution has greater perceived or actual value. However, as those with experience of the job market will tell you, it is how what you have been taught is applied and how you relate to other people, that will determine your success.

CAMPUS BASED vs DISTANCE LEARNING

Technology is blending the two: increasingly students are opting for this, to be campus-based, but to take advantage of the technology to better manage their time or support their learning. Far from being the death-knell of the traditional university, new technologies will assist in their finding ways to develop and support a broader and deeper student body. Participation and collaboration, socialising away from the screen, is a vital component of the university experience for those coming out of secondary education – the demands and expectations of a mature student are very different. How people get on, how they work together, is a vital lesson that a campus based university offers. Whilst increasingly our online experiences are as ‘real’ as everything else we do, it is how and if we can work as a team that will decide how we progress. The student experiencing this will better know themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and suitability for different career paths.

CHANGE

Like retailers, manufacturers, broadcasters, publishers and the post office, we are in a period of significant change, new technology was already having an impact, the economic down turn has aggravated this, obliging some forcing other institutions to act. How this change is managed will decide who survives and who struggles on. There is a fine line to tread between innovating early, or too late, changing wholesale or piecemeal. The wise institution not only spreads its risk, but also casts its opportunism just as wide as spreading your bets covers you in a world where nobody knows what will work or not. Libraries, one of the draws to a campus-based university, cannot be as influential as hundreds of millions of texts become instantly available in digital form. Senior lecturers and researchers should be employed for their ability to communicate, support and rally students around them, not simply because of the paper they are working on. Students will demand more if they feel it is the cash in their pocket that is buying what the institutions offers. Errors, failings and shortcomings of a person, a module or course, can be spread through online reviews and will decide their fate. New blends of courses will invent themselves where a student feels able, supported through e-learning, to cherry pick, even to study simultaneously quite different subjects. Cohorts, if on the ground still that 17-23 year old age group, will become far more diverse, with groupings formed by mutual interest in a subject. Life-long learning, already apparent in some professions, will become more common place as people recognise the need to refresh their understanding of some topics, while gaining new skills and additional insights.

Am I responding to a thread, or like the second or third speaker at an Oxford Union Debating Society getting up to say my piece?

And if I sit on the fence, what kind of debate is that?

We should be obliged to take sides, THAT would be a debate, otherwise it is a conversation, another online tutorial.

Thus far Cloudworks is like a new swimming pool, refreshing and full of opportunity. To thrive, let alone survive, it needs people coming down to swim, to jump in, to train, to meet ...

And once you have your regulars, keep them coming back.

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H800: 46 The card-based Hybrid Learning Model and a card-based Tool Kit for writers.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Jul 2012, 13:21

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From HLM Flash DemoVideo player: Flash Demo

For someone who does NOT have a formal teaching background this for me is the first time in 13 months that I have something practical that is based in learning, not 'e-learning' that I feel can apply immediately to any learning context: instructing sailing, teaching swimming, advising on digital marketing, supporting a team making a short film ... and especially thinking of ways to occupy children who are now on a three week holiday.

Blogspot from conference presentation of HLM

Institutional e-learning services

HLM Grid

I found this exercise extraordinarily useful. In the space of an hour I felt I assembled the makings of a series of activities, a module that might take place over a weekend, or a week or two. Thinking of this as learning first, and e-learning second helped.

I decided on creating a course on 'marketing to the social web.'

I've always fallen back on system, surveys and so on. A set of questions, in this case cards, that you can mix about, sets the process up. A similar end result might be achieved in different ways, but here, falling back on the cards and working with these options helps you to get something down. Indeed, having the cards makes you appreciate at every stage you could approach it differently. It would highlight any repetitive approach, something some online educators are guilty of i.e. a course where every activity is a person talking to camera with a transcript of what they say. And no better than the weekly lecture and reading list which was almost my entire three year undergraduate experience.

The graphics worry me. I do think there is value in engaging the best graphic designer for things like this, to come up with something universal. I wonder how some learners would interpret a class that involved the use of flash cards with coloured in cartoons on them. Given the ability of the www to offer choices I'd give users a choice of a dozen alternative images for each activity.

As I'm looking at various courses on digital marketing I'll see how I can add to this.

Activity/Task –Objective

Learning Event

Teacher’s Role

Learner’s Role

Resources

Tools (inc. Technologies)

Other comments

Survey on current awareness of advertising/marketing in social networks

RECEIVES

Explain

Evaluate

Review

WWW

Marketing to the Social Web as key resource.

Survey Monkey

(e-reader)

Individual

24 hours of Google Alerts, Twitter and Facebook, Linkedin.

EXPLORES

Coach

Research

WWW

Min six people sharing task to cover entire 24 hour period.

Write in a blog, microblog. As text from the spoken word. Writing within parameters, not just Twitter’s 140 characters, but other word counts.

IMITATES

Perform

Apply

Perform

Reflect

WWW

Twitter

Wordpress

LiveJournal

Blogger

Writers & Artists Handbook.

Voice Recognition Software

Touch Typing Software

Trying to develop a fluid, immediate, even ‘stream of consciousness’ approach to writing.

Image only in a blog.

CREATES

Coach

Create

WWW

Flickr

Tumblr

Facebook

Digital Camera

Mobile Phone

Webcam

Comment on blogs, join in forum discussion .

EXPERIMENTERS

Explain

Practice

WWW

Blogging for Dummies.

Letters to the editor. Letters.

RSS

Within the group and beyond

Add sound to a blog … voice, music, live (Skype) and broadcast (podcast).

PRACTICES

Coach

Perform

WWW

Podbean

Headset

Microphone

Group

Measure

RECEIVES

Apply

Questions

WWW

Analytics

Neilsen

Research companies

Tools

Technorati

Google Analytics

Buzzmetrics

Group

Promote (PR, advertising, marketing)

EXPERIMENT

Perform

Explains

Explore

Perform

WWW

Viral Video

Event

D&AD DVD

Mobile platforms

DVD player

Group

Survey on final awareness of advertising/marketing in/to social networks.

RECEIVES

Explain

Evaluate

Review

WWW

Marketing to the Social Web as key resource.

Survey Monkey

(e-reader)

Individual

 

The Writer's Tool Kit

All these cards had me thinking of  a writer's tool kit, 'The Observation Deck' by Naomi Epel. In that period where I wrote fiction all day I often dipped into this, simply to keep me going. In pratise it is far more useful for someone who blogs all the time as it triggers a line of thought.

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If you're running a creative writing course this IS your learning design done; each week take a different card from the box and do.

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Blog, e-portfolio, wiki, cloudworks ... tutor and module forums

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Jul 2012, 07:46

I need them all roled into one. When it comes to a blog/e-portfolio I have to wonder if this is not it - pretty much.

I can deposit documents here as well as anywhere else, but keep the page private.

Following the activities if fellow MAODErs on H807, which I did a year ago, is refreshing. Do this for a couple of years and I can keep the topic and its lesson's fresh. I can also follow H809 which I would have liked to have done. Indeed, might the OU call it a MA* if you do additional modules beyond those required for the MA?

As I prepare to up sticks, move town and job I'm hoping to compensate for some of the disruption by getting everything I may need online so that it can be accessed from anywhere.

I'm yet to break away from the OU e-portfolio My Stuff. It may be clunky, but it works and it is integrated. I've never been happy with Pebble Pad. Perhaps I just run with Dropbox? Picassa Dropbox has become indispensable. Rather than think about compressing images I take pics and grab frames/windows and post them here for later use and linking. With images feeding into several blogs and OU forums too I can't afford for this to be comprised ... or I'd lose any pics and diagrams that I've created.

Synchronous vs Asynchronous Threads

The assumption is that we don't wish to interact in real time otherwise more tools would be provided to co-ordinate synchronous meetings. My experience is that with a little co-ordination such meetings are extraordinarily valuable, to motivate pressing on with the course, let alone to resolve issues or to share learning. With retention of students such an issue it surprises me that the OU isn't more proactive.

As a tutor do I hope that all my students will stay the course, or do I expect 40% to fall by the wayside?

We seem to be in denial of obvious means of getting in touch too: email, messaging, Skype.

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Visualising the learning design process

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 23 Jan 2013, 06:07

Visualising the process and products of learning design

I will be at CAL ’09 next week in Brighton, and am looking forward to it, in particular some of the sessions and papers which include work from the JISC Curriculum design call. For example, the “challenges of the design pattern paradigm” session and other learning design papers/session. In the meantime I thought I’d put up the poster that my colleagues and I have put together, This poster  entitled “Visualising the process and and products of learning design” will be presented at CAL ’09.

It  is a very short synopsis of the visualisation and representation work we’ve been doing here at the OU. A  version of the poster itself is available for download (click on the image to see a low resoultion image of the poster, or on one of the  links to see a higher resolution PDF at either A4 or A0 size):

Image showing “Visualising the process and and products of learning design ” poster

Visualising the process and and products of learning design, A0 sze (pdf, 1.9 Mbyte),

Visualising the process and and products of learning design, A4 size (pdf, 1.1 Mbyte).

Also, a draft of the text of the poster (including the abstract and references) is available here.

Can visual representation work at the curriculum level?

Apart from the design patterns and learning design stuff, one of the other things I would like to explore whilst at the conference is if or how visual representations have been used at programme level (or above). As far as I’m aware, most visual representation work has focused on the activity or course level, and describes interactions involving students and teachers.  But what about the curriculum level? I’m keen to talk to anyone working in this area: please do  contact me if you are, or add a comment below, thanks <img class=" src="http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/brasherblog/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif" />

CAL ’09 poster text

Abstract

Teachers and media developers go through a complex decision making process when designing new learning experiences – working towards an effective pedagogical mix, combining resources, tools, student and tutor support. For an individual media developer or teacher, the process of creating a visual map of a learning activity clarifies their own understanding of the mix. For teams comprised of individuals focused on different aspects, a visual representation supports communication about issues that need to be resolved before the activity is delivered to students.

This paper focuses on the development of CompendiumLD, a particular strand of work within the OU Learning Design Initiative. CompendiumLD is a tool to represent and visualise learning designs; it is an adaptation of Compendium, an existing knowledge mapping tool. CompendiumLD has been developed iteratively, informed by evidence gathered through a series of interviews with academics, and tested through a series of faculty based workshops. Development has proceeded from changes in the set of icons used to represent components of learning activities, through to specific functionality to support the design of learning activities. This functionality includes context specific learning design help and a set of visual design templates.

Findings to date indicate that most users find the tool easy to use, that it makes the process more explicit and provides a useful vehicle for sharing design ideas with others. Some users are interested in its potential to support both the process of learning design and the production of maps for use by students.

Recently introduced  features include (1) the facility to specify times that students and tutors will spend on specific tasks, producing a running total displayed on the user interface and (2) support for transclusions (intended to help designers  identify reuse of  e.g. tasks or learning objectives. Initial evaluations of these new features will be discussed.

1       Introduction

A learning activity can be conceptualised as a specific interaction of learner(s) with zero or more other(s) using specific tools and resources, orientated towards specific outcomes (Beetham, 2007).  Evidence we have gathered indicates that designing learning activities is inherently messy, creative and iterative, and that choosing  the best combination of tools, resources and tasks for a particular context is difficult (Conole et al., 2008). In the Open University and other distance universities, design is typically carried out by teams composed of people with a variety of specialist skills including academics, programmers, graphic designers, editors and project managers.

2       Aims

Our aim is to research, design and implement a range of tools to support individuals to design effective learning activities, and to enhance the effectiveness of design teams.

One approach we have taken is to apply the concept of ‘knowledge cartography’  to learning design, building on previous work in this area including other visual representations of learning designs (e.g. UML activity diagrams, LAMS).  This has led to the development of a software tool CompendiumLD through which we are exploiting two aspects of mapping, the product and the process.

  • As products maps can visually represent complex relationships between objects, which highlight key elements and connections for a particular purpose
  • Creating a map forces a person to externalise their understanding of the situation, and this process clarifies their understanding of the situation

(Okada, Buckingham Shum, & Sherborne, 2008).

Design processes

In our research  to date we have studied how design  is carried out by individuals and teams within the iterative design cycle which occurs before courses are launched.

We will be studying how CompendiumLD can be used by teachers to  deliver teaching activities, and how it can be used to evaluate the design of activities.

Design products

Snapshots from the design process

The learning design nodes are on the left hand side: these can be dragged and droped onto the working area. Learning design nodes include

Learning activity

Learning outcome

The nodes can be connected by dragging between them.

Double-clicking on a learning activity opens it

A screen grab of CompendiumLD showing the main working area labelled  “Andrew Brasher’s Home Window”.

Context sensitive prompts appear when nodes are added.

3       Evidence

Empirical evidence gathered to inform the development of CompendiumLD  includes the collection of user requirements (Nixon, 2007), case studies (Wilson, 2007), 12 semi-structured in-depth interviews, and evaluation of workshops and focus groups (Cross, 2008). In January 2009 we began in-depth evaluation of holistic course design, which has and will involve studying course teams’ use of visual representations during the design process over a period of 9 months.  Examples from our evidence base are shown as speech bubbles.

4       In use

Examples illustrating how CompendiumLD can be used within the design process are provided by  snapshot 1 and snapshot 2. Snapshot 1 illustrates an early stage of the  the design process, snapshot 2 a later stage when a more detailed description has been generated and some of the issues that arose in snapshot 1 have been resolved.

5       Conclusions and future work

The qualitative data we have gathered so far indicates that generating a visual representation helps to clarify designers’ intentions, and aids communication of those intentions.  Continuation of the iterative improvement of the tools and methods we have developed is planned for 2009-10, including trials across a range of UK universities. So far our work has focused on the representation of learning activities within a course or module. We will be looking at applying visual representations at different levels, e.g. across degree programmes, and requirements gathering workshops to inform this are planned for later in 2009.

References and further information

Full references for the citations in this poster are available from are available from http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/brasherblog. Information about CompendiumLD is available from http://compendiumld.open.ac.uk.

Beetham, H. (2007). An approach to learning activity design. In H. Beetham & R. Sharpe (Eds.), Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: designing and delivering  e-learning (pp. 26-40). Oxford: Routledge.

Conole, G., Brasher, A., Cross, S., Weller, M., Clark, P., & White, J. (2008). Visualising learning design to foster and support good practice and creativity. Educational Media International.

Cross, S., Conole, G., Clark, P., Brasher, A., & Weller, M.   . (2008). Mapping a landscape of Learning Design: Identifying key trends in current practice at the Open University. Paper presented at the LAMS Conference.

Nixon, S. (2007). LD project final report – final report of the LD VLE programme work. Milton Keynes: The Open University.

Okada, A., Buckingham Shum, S., & Sherborne, T. (2008). Knowledge Cartography: Software Tools and Mapping Techniques: Springer.

Wilson, P. (2007). Progress report on capturing eLearning case studies (Internal report). Milton Keynes: The Open University.

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What is a learning activty? Grainne Conole

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Sep 2011, 09:40

Beetham provides a simple definition

"an interaction between a learner or learners and an environment (optionally including content resources, tools and instruments, computer systems and services, 'real world' events and objects) that is carried out in response to a task with an intended learning outcome." (Beetham, 2004)

Conole has developed a learning activity taxonomy (Conole, 2007; Conole, 2008) that attempts to consider all aspects and factors involved in developing a learning activity, from the pedagogical context in which the activity occurs through to the nature and types of tasks undertaken by the learner. The taxonomy is based on the premise that learning activities are achieved through completion of a series of tasks in order to achieve intended learning outcomes. The taxonomy was derived by working with practitioners to elicit the stages involved in the design process and consists of three main components:

  • The context within which the activity occurs; this includes the subject, level of difficulty, the intended learning outcomes and the environment within which the activity takes place.
  • The pedagogy (learning and teaching approaches) adopted. These are grouped into three categories – associative (acquisition of skills through sequences of concepts/tasks and feedback), cognitive (construction of meaning based on prior experience and context) and situative (learning in social and/or authentic settings).
  • The tasks undertaken, which specifies the type of task, the (teaching) techniques used to support the task, any associated tools and resources, the interaction and roles of those involved and the assessments associated with the learning activity. In particular the types of tasks which a student might do as part of the learning activity are described in detail and grouped into six categories; assimilative (attending and understanding content), information handling (e.g. gathering and classifying resources or manipulating data), adaptive (use of modelling or simulation software), communicative (dialogic activities, e.g. pair dialogues or group-based discussions), productive (construction of an artefact such as a written essay, new chemical compound or a sculpture) and experiential (practising skills in a particular context or undertaking an investigation).
  • http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloud/view/2473 (Accessed 4/4/11)
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H800: 45 Week 8 Activity 2 (Part 4) Tools for Learning Design

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 16:14

Is this a model or an expression of what took place?

At what point, by adding Tutor engagement, and then picking out individuals in relation to their tutor group forum participation do you make assumptions?

A questionnaire would elicit the facts.

At some point the complexity of the activity shown diminishes the ease at which the chart is interpreted.

33pysds_H800-WK8-Act3.jpg

 

I'd replaced the imploring 'HAVE FUN!' with the more germane 'ENGAGE!' i.e. take part, I say this because debate and discussion may not be fund with a smile.

Often I liken a session that spins out of control as a Catherine-Wheel nailed to a post that fizzles and falls ... or winds down. Some activities can be like this, 'full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.'

They tend to be the most fulfilling, where everyone in the group takes part. Or at least SIX on a regular basis to give the thing some spin.

Failure to participate is the killer; with it an activity can be a wild success, drawing people in, urging them to take part. Without them you are on your own 'with your books and your thoughts.'

The reality of distance learning online is a bit of both, the trick is to be able to engage and disengage with reasonable flexibility, not feeling guilty whether you are quiet for a period or when you are ever-present.

The role of the tutor is a tricky one

Mentor and coach, or subject matter expert? Institutional insider to guide? Overseer? Absent landlord? Marker? Assessor? Animateur?

The role is changing. It will be as different as it is in the 'real' world from the one-to-one private tutor, or the 'gang master' running 60 students via pre-recorded video lecture. Customers, as students can call themselves with greater validity if they are paying significant sums, will be demanding.

'Change is all around us'.

(Sung to the tune of Wet, Wet, Wet's 'love is all around us').

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H800: 45 Week 8 Activity 2 (Parts 1, 2 and 3) Tools for Learning Design

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 5 Oct 2012, 23:18

PART ONE

This is how I develop a Creative Brief ... this happens to be an MAODE exercise on Learning Design.

As a video producer this is the idea I'd sell to the client.

I'd then work with a coach and group of swimmers to set the scene and milk it.

This is the kind of thing corporate clients use to teams of 10,000 employees. This is also how I go about writing scripts, sometimes adding drawings, cut-outs from magazines and photos. Nothing hi-tech at the thinking stage ... which gives people more freedom to contribute.

A whiteboard marker pen on unforgiving wallpaper backing paper (30p a roll in from the reduced bin!). Stuck to the kitchen door.

PART TWO

The Forum Thread deserves as Swim lane of its own with as much activity into it and Elluminate as I have put here into a blog/microblog.

How%20much%20changed%20when%20printed%20arrived%20COMPENDIUM.jpg

Often I find a dedicated thread such as e-Learning Professionals is more likely to guarantee a response to something I say; the reason for this is simple, they have thousands of active members.

There are reliable statistics to say what tiny per centage of people are happy to write, read, comment and contribute. 1% to write, about 4% to comment. This has to be reflected in forum activity too, however much it is required by the course. I've missed out blogs other students keep, and the links back and forth to these.

You'd be surprised how much goes on in the background.

I've found myself working things through with people in different tutor groups, who did the module a year ago ... or who have nothing to do with MAODE but have an answer. Which reminds me of the fantastic diagram drawing tool dia. How does Naughton’s journalistic point of view compare to those of an academic?

I worked through it alone, blogged about it and offered thoughts and replied in the tutor forum.

The degree or blogging I’ve put forward reflects what I consider an invaluable addition to taking part in Forum Threads. You express what you think, ‘stream of consciousness’ into your own blog, edited to140 character for Twitter than take part in a Forum where some back and forth discussion should come about.

The other invaluable form of participation is through a conference call – as Jonathan Swift said, ‘I don’t know what I mean until I have heard myself speak.’

This is akin to a treatment outline for a video. The script in our case is the ad-libs and verbatim responses of student and input from the tutor. I like the idea of swim-lines and can imagine the Tutor online as a coach, rather than a subject matter expert, as a guide and mentor.

The reality is that such rapport develops with fellow students.

It is a shame that there isn’t more continuity through your original cohort. I have used the Compendium to share projects, using the layers to attach documents and have another contribute. For a simple mind map I like bubbl.us, otherwise I’m as likely to do a sketch and photograph it to share … or draw directly into a paint/draw package such as ArtPad using a stylus and Wacom board. Like all tools you need to have a clear use for it, rather than playing in a sandpit. To be able to collaborate in a team people need to be familiar with and using the same software/platforms.

Compendium can be used as a basic mind-map or flow chart and with experience be used for much more, as an e-portfolio of sorts.

It is overly prescriptive. Tools need to be intuitive and follow common practices regarding buttons and outcomes. For a first draft I prefer marker pen on paper, followed by bubbl.us.

As Beetham’s Chapter 2 (Activity 2) points out learners will find their own way through a task regardless. We understand things differently, draw on different experiences and come up with our own metaphors.

Whilst I go with the ‘Swim Lanes’ analogy, I often think the reality is like a Catherine-wheel nailed to a post in the rain.

Should an exercise such as this be addressed in a way that has so scientific connotations? It is surprising how easy it is to share the narrative of a linear activity in a multitude of ways. A simple set of numbered bullet points, perhaps worked up as a presentation. As a board game, one step taken at a time. Or a set of activity cards. You can talk it through by counting five activities off on your fingers. I'll do one of these in the truly, joyful, brilliant www.bubbl.us and post it to my ou blog and extracurricular blog' 'My Mind Bursts' which in turn is fed to Twitter 'jj27vv.'

Make one of these mind maps, then change your mind and be tickled with the way the 'node' or 'bubbl' behaves . Go see! This and a list of wonderful tools from an H808 student who is a primary school teacher in Thailand. Work should be fun, especially learning design. After all, if you don't enjoy it, how do you expect your future students to behave?

PART THREE

Bubbl.us has gone from toy to a grown up tool with layers and the opportunity to add sound, images (stills and moving) and no doubt much more, none of which I have had time to try.

The old bubbl.us was like playing with kid's party balloons and when you deleted a balloon (or node) it blew up and burst into flames. This new version still does some magic to the eye, fading away like a mist, also when you save melting into the background like a rainbow of ice melting.

An extraordinary delight to the senses and apparently of far more practicle use than I credited it with a few months ago.

 

33pxxlo_New-Sheet.jpg

 

Click on this and it takes you to Picassa Dropbox. You can then enlarge it, save the code and help yourself. I think all the images I've put into this OU identify album is 'open to the public.'

Seeing this all again I am reminded of my inspiration David McCandless.

By working on this a few more times an art director or designer would turn it into a thing of beauty; it is this level of inspiration that sells ideas to committees, colleagues and others.

People buy into ideas. People like to be inspired.

The pedagogy must of course be sound, the right offering of activities, outcomes and learner flexibility and support is the OU magic mix.

P.S. Don't imagine I was familiar with any of these tools until I started the MAODE in Feb 2010, most of everything I now use I was introduced to by someone here.

PART FOUR

Add the role of the Tutor.

Get in a designer and make it a thing of information beauty.

Sell it internally and externally.

Schedule, produce.

Watch what happens and adjust accordingly.

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H800: 41 WK5 Activity 2. The Medium is the message

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 10 Feb 2013, 17:07

I struggle with McLuhan's point of view  because it can be argued in many ways: is he saying that the message is controlled by the affordances of the medium or by the people running the shows? Or both? And in plenty of country's the medium was/is state controlled. While in the US it is controlled by the advertisers. TV lends itself to a certain form of expression; historically there have been and are producers who create TV magic and get the format right, though there are plenty of experiments too that kick against what is possible and an audience will tolerate.

A shift to YouTube is fascinating. I watched the Japanese Disaster's play out live, first on BBC 24hr News, then CNN, then best of all Japanese TV with English voice over NHK all on Freeview. I thought, having sat through IRA bombs and 9/11 that these feeds were the best source ... the closes to being there. My son was getting this on YouTube diretly from people's SmartPhones 'on the ground'. For the Libyan crisis I am taking Twitter Feeds and watching Al Jexera.

The point I feel is that each medium offers different possibilities: print, radio, TV and now online. Everyone is their own producer/director if uploading from a Flip camera or SmartPhone. However, artists will come through. Within the communities that we become a part of there will be someone who is more informed, better at expressing themselves or exploiting the platform. Watching a documentary on Japan my son curses the amateur video producers for not keeping the camera still as vast quantities of water smash into buildings and boats. Not meaning to be flippant but he's probably learning why locked off shots, from a tripod, work better.

From a learning point of view we are 'there,' the internet to a greater degree than print, radio or TV 'puts us on the spot. Is this not closer to reality, to being physically present, which is how historically (35,000 of human kind) we have learnt? By observation, participation and collaboration? Through mistakes and successes?

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H800: 40 From Teams to Knots - Engeström

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 28 Sep 2012, 14:25

When flummoxed and interested in equal measure I buy the book.

Engestrom%20Team%20to%20Knots%20GRAB.JPG

An article won't do. I need to understand the person's argument more fully. Written some 10 years on from the article we are looking at in H800 'From Teams and Knots' may benefit from Engestrom having had 10 years teaching at a US university.

Can I read it in 24 hours though? (and take notes)

Reading the sample champter on my Kindle I am immediately taken by the author's interest in teams in industry, in particular in car manufacture and the work of Jones et al in Lean Production in the 1990s. For four or more years I was spending three weeks out of every four videoing the development of lean production at UGC. An author who made no sense on first reading, I suddenly find has a great deal to say about something with which I am familiar.

 

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