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H800: 40 Expansive Learning and Engestrom

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 28 Sep 2012, 14:24

 

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I've taken this, from Engestrom and considered this as the interplay between SIX people (or groups) - or a mix of the two. Six people who are bringing to the discussion their different backgrounds and ideas in order to address a topic. At arm's length, the objects, the ideas, views or knowledge that they have begins to take on an identity of its own.

 

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

Amyone care to comment?

This is my take on a topic that has taken me through the briar-bush and out the other side. Has the struggle been worth it. The challenge I feel I face when reading papers such is this is how to make the subject matter comprehensible to the non-academic, I challenge I throw down to every academic: it is possible to make yourselves understood by the majority, rather than a minority.

REFERENCE

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

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Interacting activity systems: Engestrom

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 06:26

 

1). What kind of theory of learning is offered by classic activity theory?

A single activity system unit that works upon an object and delivers an outcome

2). What are the five principles of current activity theory? According to Engeström:

  1. A collective, artifact-mediated and object-orientated activity system, seen in its network relations ot other activity systems, is taken as the prime unit of analysis.
  2. Multi-voicedness of activity systems. A community of multiple points of view, traditional and interests.
  3. Age and history
  4. Contradictions as sources of change and development - accumulating structural tensions within and between activity systems.
  5. The possibility of expansive transformations.

3). What is the problem with the ‘standard’ theories of learning that expansive learning addresses?

Standard theory equates to lasting behaviour change whereas expansive learning considers a sideways shift of the entire activity system.

 

created using Art Pad

I was thinking in terms of trying to boil two pans on water on one hob; the flames between the pans cause more conflict than harmony. Shift both pans to the left or right and the heat is under each activity rather than between them.

I'll get out a pad of paper and try some more of these.

4) What is the criticism that Engeström makes of the apprenticeship model of learning?

Doesn't permit the development of original thinking. (I disagree. It depends on the person you are apprenticed too. Think of the many great artists who learnt their craft under a great master, then broke loose).

In relation to e-learning or are we calling it technology-enhanced learning here I fully recognise the value of participation, letting go of your thoughts and therefore being one of these 'activity systems' so that a shared 'third object' (Engestrom, 2001) as it were, moves forward.

The best colloborative work is like this, my experience being those video production, often drama based, that require multiple inputs from people with very different, and specific talents.

I've gone on to try and express the Engestrom diagram in 3D, and drawing six activity systems ... i.e creating greater complexity to begin getting closer to the highly complex reality and in turn a different diagram/illustration entirely.

 

REFERENCE

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

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Joining the Open University Business School

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 23:23

It has surprised me how much my mind has be thrown by this exciting prospect. Like so many OU students I'm now very much in the camp of having my mind in two places.  Of course, the MAODE is complementary and my working world will substantially be an online one.

So, with one major sports related e-learning project set to one side and my head engaged in OUBS matters I return to contemplating 'Expansive learning.'

 

Activity Theory

I've decided that my problem isn't with the thinking, but with how it is expressed. I've therefore taken this model and set it up with chess pieces on a table. I need to visual people, objects and concepts rather than giving them titles or symbols. Some years ago when developing a project I got permission to spend an hour at a local youth theatre and I had the young people walk through and improvise the roles I was trying to form into a video script.

 

Where there's a budget to do so it pays to hire a designer, visualiser or art director such as David McCandless.

 

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I wish academics, like copywriters in advertising, would work with art directors or designed, anybody who can better visualise what they have in their minds. There is more to sharing knowledge than text and diagrams. Where I also struggle is where these diagrams take on the attributes of science-fact, when they are simply models - one means of sharing a concept where there are plenty of others.

How often do you hear people say 'I see what you mean?'

Perhaps the best was to express Activity Theory would be as a podcast, to explain it without any image allowing each person to visualise it in their own way. Now there's a challenge.

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Digital Parent - neither Natives nor Immigrants

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 15:52

I've been taken in by and am now set against the idea of that there is a generational difference when it comes to use of technology - yes those starting university today clearly have different experiences with the kit than we/I did (I was at Oxford in 1981-84).

The computer was in a lab. My Dad had a Microwriter. By 1985 I might have had an Amstrad and a pager.

My point with this Digital Natives thing is that the term was coined without foundation. It is now being debunked. How come the academic instituions went along with it? Had this faux pas occured in the sciences propper rather than social sciences the ho-ha would have featured on the Today Programme.

This isn't a red top newspaper or titletattle on local radio, so why get taken in by the hyperbole.

Anyway, the OU research folk have been busy these last few months releasing all kinds of papers on the theme. Here are some of them.

It is has never been generational.

'Our research suggests that we should be cautious about distinguishing a specific generation because although there are age differences there are additional factors differentiating students, specifically gender and disciplinary differences. We find significant age related differences but we are reluctant to conclude that there is a clear disconnection between a Net generation composed of Digital Natives and older students.' ( Jones and Ramanau, 2010)

Read these for more

Jones, C and Ramanau, R (2010)

THE NET GENERATION ENTERS UNIVERSITY: WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR
TECHNOLOGY ENHANCED LEARNING? UK Open University, United Kingdom

Jones, C A new generation of learners? (2010) The Net Generation and Digital Natives

Jones. C and Healing, G (2010) Net Generation Students

 

 

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H800: 36 Further Reading ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 14:26

Further reading and distractions. Several I'd recommend here for H800ers and H807ers and H808ers. In deed, anyone on the MAODE.

A couple reveal other interests (Swimming, History) as well as business interests (Digital Marketing/Social Networking)

 

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I just craved a read, cover to cover, rather than all the reports and soundbites. At the top of my list for relevance is the 1994 translation of Lev Vygotsky from a book that was originally published in 1926 - highly relevant to e-learning because perhaps only with Web 2.0 can his ideas be put into action. Also Rhona Sharpe and Helen Beetham (eds) on 'Rethinking Pedagogy for the Digital Age', just the kind of thing we read anyway, just valuable to read the entire collection as there is a pattern, a train of thought you follow through the book with an excellent introduction to each chapter by the editors. Others? Several on the corporate side, impressed with Larry Webber. Several practical if you are teaching and want loads of 'how to' e-tivities. Don't touch Prensky - inflated and vacuous. I don't understand why or how come he is so often brought into conversations ... because he irritates people into speaking out?

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H800:35 Web 1.0 to Web 4.0

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 16:01

I think Tim O'Reilly (2005) should have a say in this; did he not coin the term Web 2.0? Of course, we didn't know, at the time, that we were in the Web 1.0 phase.

It feels like trying to decide where the boundaries are between the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages; indeed, the analogy is apt as both are about technologies. The latter over thousands of years, the former over thousands of DAYS.

I'm reading Larry Weber on Digital Marketing. He wants readers to think in terms of us currently hitting Web 3.0 with Web 4.0 on the horizon. His history doesn't serve him well. To my mind he wants us to think if 'new media' as Web 1.0. It wasn't. For the most part in the late 1980s and early 1990s we were just getting to grips with digital, with interactivity offline on Philips Laser discs, CDs then DVDs. I recall, painfully, trying to migrate interactive DVD content to the web c1998 ... the platform couldn't handle the file sizes. Anyway, this was when Web 1.0 began with the Web.

Isn't Web 2.0 really tied to the Dot.com Bubble Burst of late 2000/2001 ?

The industry began to think itself out of the mess and the possibilities shifted as broadband became common place.

So where does this leave us now?

Did people living at the time of the Bronze or Iron age really care? Imports gave a hint of what other cultures could do.

My thinking is that the shift is so great and so fast that we are entering Web 3.0.

But this isn't a board game, we aren't simply leaving one domain and entering another. For heaven's sake, we still have pen, paper, artillery, stone pestle and mortars, wooden rolling pins, iron tanks ..

Web 2.0 is Warner Bros teaming up with Facebook to deliver video on demand.

Web 3.0 will be want hundreds of thousands of people do with the content, because they sure as heck won't simply sit back and watch. The way they mash it up and share it then come up with something NEW, this is Web 3.0 behaviour.

Web 4.0

Larry Weber hints at where it is going. Your thoughts?

REFERENCE

O’Reilly, T. (2005) What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software [online],http://routes.open.ac.uk/ ixbin/ hixclient.exe?_IXDB_=routes&_IXSPFX_=g&submit-button=summary&%24+with+res_id+is+res18497(last accessed 16 March 2011).

Weber, L (2009) Marketing to the Social Web (Second Edition) John Wiley & Sons.

(See Larry Weber introduce the second edition here)

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JISC 2011 on Open Content

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Nov 2013, 11:34

I might be 275 miles away from JISC 2011 but when I heard my 'jj27vv' Twitter 'handle' used I felt as if I'd been transported to Liverpool. I certainly had to remind myself that I wasn't there ...

The question/s were to do with the use of Open Content, that there never was a blank sheet and that in something like a wiki a history of authorship is tracked.

 The resonses came from:

Amber Thomas, Programme Manager, JISC

Chris Pegler, Senior Lecturer, Open Univeristy;(Our Course Chair in H808 for a while)

Stephen Stapleton, Open Learning Support Officer, University of Nottingham

Vivien Sieber, Head of Learning and Research Services, University of Surrey

Tony Hirst, Lecturer, Open University.

This session and the others are available as podcasts.

Of most use will be the top tips for use of Open Educational Resources by each of the panelists.

 

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JISC ONLINE

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Made to think about Attendance

Because I couldn't. Somehow the technology or actions required to move from one hall to another overcame and IO found myself stuck in the same hall as the Keynote speech quite unable to figure out how to move.

Still, I could click through the presentation slides of Doug Belshaw and came up with my interpretation of attendance.

Attendance requires 'engagement,' it also requires 'effort,' which in simplest terms needs 'motivation' and a willingness to battle against barriers that you may come up against that in your personal circumstances are large or small. Today 'engagement' probably also requires 'collaboration', 'participation' and via blogs/social media etc: 'publication.'

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JISC ONLINE

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So glad I diodn't treck across the country to attend JISC 2011. The online experience is SUPERIOR to attending ... whilst I may not be able to network or go to stands, I can, from my kitchen table, happily view, grab, twitter, post notes on and so engage in future sessions/workshops ... while taking notes. It surprises me how much I can read, listen to, watch and write at the same time.

JISC%20LIVE%20KEYNOTE%20GRAB%202.JPG

Go see!

JISC 2011

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H800: 34 Whereso art though, Webeo 4.0 ?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 20:49

For an H800 WK 5 activity I'm contemplating the transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0.

Meanwhile I'm reading a book that wants to move me on from Web 3.0 to Web 4.0.

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Is this akin to the Neanderthal form of teaching that was Modern History at Oxford, ending I think around 1702. My daughter is styding Modern History and takes in the Second World War - this feels like yesterday (though my parents were children during that war).

Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 is starting to feel ancient.

Web 3.0 is where it's happening.

Web 4.0 is where it's going ... until and only if we coin a different term to trump it.

Never has my head hurt so much, I feel like all the Dr Who's in one ... a person from each era contained in the same being, loyal to each, while desperate to be embraced by the latest think, very conscious that the religion of tomorrow is of more value that the beliefs of the distant past of ... well twenty years ago.

 

Dion Hinchliffe does it this way:''

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I'm uncertain which or what analogy to use, but if you are studying 'innovations in e-learning' how can what is going on right now not be far more relevant to the thinking of a decade ago, let alone a few years ago?

It's as if this is 1911 and we're style unsure (as they were) if heavy-than-air machines would get off the ground. H.G.Wells had his heroes in dirigibles.

 

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H800: Wk 5 Activity 2 Giving Marshall MacLuhan a massage

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 09:28

Thoguths on 'Speaking Freely', hosted by Edwin Newman4 January 1971 by PBS-TV in the USA.

I disagree with the premise that  ‘The medium is the message’ or ever was.

The 'Word' wasn't the book itself - its being a book... but the work (the words it contained), to think of it in terms of Bibles being printed 500 years ago.

We have an inclination to hyperbole, today was we go all Internet, just as McLuhan did over TV. And every generation does whether it's the train, car, telegraph, telephone or TV, pages, video-games or Smart-phones. H.G.Wells was like this - at least he had the sense to write fiction most of the time.

Perhaps it is human-nature to crave and celebrate 'advancement' and 'invention.'

Could someone ask a neuroscientist. V.J.Ramanchandran probably has a point of view. I guess courtesy of social networks I could have a message to him in ten minutes. Should I? To make the point? To have a definitive and authoritative answer?

The typo of message as 'massage' is apocryphal surely?

It was a time of social confusion … because everyone of McLuhan generation and cohort were taking LSD weren't they?.

McLuhan is an elusive character best understood for the thoughts he provoked rather than as the source of a consistent and coherent body of ideas. He sound likes Marc Prensky of ‘Digital Natives’ infamy or Douglas Coupland and ‘Generation X’ now reborn as ‘Generation Y’ which I’d like to call ‘Generation Why not?’

'The surge towards the future' (a hackneyed phrase) is not just associated with new digital technologies, such as Web 2.0. The ocean analogies continue with the 'wave of analogue mass communications symbolised by television and the shrinking of the world into what McLuhan named ‘the global village’.' Indeed, though more so than the 1970s the events of the last few days surely make us feel like a global village. I've switched from CNN to NHK a Japanese Channel that has a simultaneous feed in English ... it could be local news. It is local news if we are thinking in terms of a global village. It has taken forty years to come about. TV takes the images from SmartPhones ... though the Internet is getting much of this too.

Speaking Freely, hosted by Edwin Newman4 January 1971 by PBS-TV in the USA.

Transcript

People suddenly want to be involved in more dynamic patterns.

If this was what was felt in 1971, why is it still the mantra today? It is wishful thinking. Of course people want things packaged. They want to be spoon fed, from several sources. They are greedy for the choices of packages …

I disagree, consumers were being empowered, whether they were influenced by advertising or not (they were), they were not the less making choices.

Intriguing that we want the audience to be the producer, but only in so much as the producer interprets what they want then package it as a TV show.

Instant replay isn’t participation.

It is editing, then playing back in slow motion. This any other trick is firmly at the fingertips of the producer and in 1971 that of the Gallery Vision Mixer.

Commentators cannot help but reflect publicly on what so many quickly accept as the norm, the younger the audience, the more likely they are to consider it the normal modus operandi.

I thought watching CNN coverage 24/7 of the Japanese earthquake had me ‘there.’

I kept inviting my 12 year old son who was watching better footage free of the CNN ads on YouTube. Different generations, different means of consumption.

Old World, New World; His World, My World.

Watching how CNN collated the edited the material looking for the highlights was interesting. How they pimped it up into the mother of all trailers for news on the event touched on the distasteful, treating the event like a series of events from the American Football Series along with graphics, EFX and music. The events in Japan constantly interlaced with adverts … many of them tourist destinations such as Turkey. Incongruent.

If the medium is the message then I'm tired of the message that comes from TV if news like the Japanese earthquakes has to be packaged with such insensitivity and commercialisation. Shame on CNN.

I’d no longer think of editing TV as an artistic process as putting the car into gear at the traffic lights.

In the US they allowed the sponsors to alter their Football game, an idea that never caught on in the old world. A soccer game of four quarters? It isn’t water-polo.

Hints at what we have with SmartPhones, though people are as likely to be watching the news, a cartoon series, a movie or their favourite music.

I simply don’t accept, as someone at school in the 1970s, that at any stage students thought they were gaining control or wanted to participation in the production of learning process.

Things are packaged by those who know better for a reason – they know better, they are supposed to be the teachers, supposed to be the subject matter experts, supposed to be, and can be the only ones who know their audience, their class and can respond accordingly.

Sesame Street does show ‘the entire learning process in action and in the best advertising style’. Advertising works, or they wouldn’t do it. People are persuaded … and people can be persuaded to learn. I wonder what Marshall McLuhan would make of ‘In the Night Garden’ and the ‘Teletubbies’ – learning as entertainment, that is engaging and vicarious rather than the teachery/evangelically and now very dated Sesame Street.

We like to listen, laugh at or be taken in by commentators like Marshall McLuhan, with have our own generation, who get themselves known, on TV, publishing books. I even help them by mentioning their names, from Malcolm Galdwell to Marc Prensky, they are the Athenian Oracle. We should learn to dismiss what they have to say, rather than accept it, to look at the facts ... and if there aren't any to go and do some research so we understand what is actually happening, not what we would like to happen or think is happening.

The best form of participation I can think of regarding TV, no longer the family activity a generation or two came to love, is fighting over the remote control.

This and turning the TV off, rather than on is a form of participation. It's called doing something that doesn't send you to sleep which is partially the premise behind Ragdoll's 'In the Night Garden' by the way (whose your favourite character?)

 

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h800: 34 Vicarious Learning (Wk Activity 4)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 10:32

There is no need for me to plug gaps - there aren't any.

There have been choices to make throough-out H800 wks 1-5. For the TMA01 we are to comment, 500 words each, on THREE activities (with a couple of exclusions which are required four the FOURTH part of the TMA).

Content to cover the ground and ill for the best part of three weeks I wasn't going to do my old thing of 'do everything' choose later ...

However, I thought this reading nmight be part of the 'compulsory' component on 'metaphor' in learning.

In fact, I find it a separate line of thinking entirely, far more pragmatic, and not even complemenetary to the idea of metaphor, though vital the thoughts we are developing on 'Acquisition' and 'participation' for the simple reason that this discussion wraps them up in one activity called 'Vicarious Learning'.

I found this diversion highly information, indeed so much so , that I feel without it I could not have come to my current level of appreciation of acquisition and participation, that instead of separate staged entities, they can be bound together in a single experience.

This idea of ‘vicarious learning’ has been popular with educational researchers as a topic since 1993 and originally formed part of Bandura’s (1977) work.

It is of course what happens all around – we learn by default, by observing others being taught, and either struggling or succeeding at a task or with a concept. Has human kind not done this always? You learn from your parents, siblings and peers, from uncles and aunts, elders and others in your immediate community and from any group or community your are sent to or put into in order to learn.

The suggestions it that ‘observed behaviours are reinforced’ … with a bias in favour of positive reinforcement of ‘good behaviour or outcomes’ rather than poo behaviour and none or negative outcomes. I wish I believed this to be the case and will need to see the research. There are always exceptions to the rule, people who pick up the bad habits and the way NOT to do a thing, or through their contrary nature deliberately go against the grain (though by doing so their formal learning would soon be ended).

Is observation ‘participation’ ? Surely it is?

Yes I learn as ‘one removed as it were’ from the interaction they are watching. Indeed, it is ‘acquisition’ too.

Reading this puts a wry smile on my face because of the way the language of e-learning has settled down, we come to accommodate phrases and ways of putting things that make sense to all in a less cumbersome fashion than this – it is the nature of language. ‘web-based generic shell designed to accept data from any discipline that has cases’.

The PATSy system looked at/looks at:

· Developmental reading disorder

· Neuropsychology

· Neurology/medical rehabilitation

· Speech and language pathologies

It is a:

· A multimedia database/resource.

· + virtual patients

· Clinical reasoning and diagnosis

‘Results showed that online interactions with PATSy were positively correlated with end-of-term learning outcome measures.’

It is helpful where students struggle to articulate their misunderstanding.

TDD (task-directed discussion)

Useful for reflection.

Especially to reveal what a student DOESN’T know, not what they DO know.

It provides:

· A multi-media database

· Discussion tools

· Reading resources

It operates:

· At a distance (does it say)

· On campus but working alone (clinical)

· As observers of learners and as learners themselves.

REFERENCE

Cox, R. (2006) Vicarious Learning and Case-based Teaching of Clinical Reasoning Skills (2004–2006) [online], http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ esrcinfocentre/ viewawardpage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-139-25-0127 [(last accessed 10 March 2011).

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How positive leadership spreads like a Mexican Wave

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 8 Dec 2012, 00:01

How a ‘contagion of positive emotions’ from and of the right leader or teacher will greatly enhance the learning experience and project outcomes.

The problem is, you need to be there to get the vibe. I dare say parenting therefore has a huge impact on the developing child - nurtured or knackered?

But what does this say about the role of distance learning?

A bit, not a lot. Tutorials from time to time may pay dividends. We should stop being such e-learning purists and meet face to face when and where we can … at least online, if not in the flesh.

And before I go anywhere, thanks to someone for the link to this which I received in my daily maelstrom of Linked In forum threads, emails, comments and what not.

Advances in neuroscience may help us understand the internal mechanisms that enable some people to be effective leaders, and some not. Boyatzis (2011)

The leadership role is moving away from a “results-orientation” towards a relationship orientation. Boyatzis (2011)

People who feel inspired and supported give their best, are open to new ideas and have a more social orientation to others. Boyatzis (2011)

The difference between resonant and dissonance in relationships was tested, for example the difference between an inspired and engaging leader, compared to one who makes demands and sets goals.

While undergoing an MRI scan people were asked to recall specific experiences with resonant leaders and with dissonant leaders. When thinking about ‘resonant’ leaders there was significant activation of 14 regions of interest in the brain while with dissonant leaders there was significant activation of 6 and but deactivation in 11 regions. i.e. people are turned off by certain kinds of leadership. Boyatzis (2011)

The conclusion is that being concerned about one’s relationships may enable others to perform better and more innovatively– and lead to better results i.e. be an inspired, motivating leader, not a dictatorial or demanding one.

How therefore if running a course online does the course chair or a tutor engender these kind of feelings in their students?

The other lesson from this is to appreciate how quickly impressions of others get formed or the neural mechanisms involved.

First impressions count

They impact on how one person responds to another for some time to come. We are emotional beings, however much we’d like to control our behaviour.

The other idea is of ‘emotional contagion’ or ‘emotional arousal’ being picked up in the neural systems activate endocrine systems; that imitation and mimicry are important i.e. you cannot lead at arm’s-length – you have to be there, as must be your team, and by implication, where learning is involved, you students. Boyatzis (2011)

What you pick up in the presence of others is:

  • the context of an observed action or setting
  • the action
  • the intention of the other living being.

‘A sympathetic hemo-dynamic that creates the same ability for us to relate to another’s emotions and intention’ (Decety & Michalaks, 2010).

There are three implications of these observations Boyatzis (2011):

  1. the speed of activation
  2. the sequence of activation
  3. the endocrine/neural system interactions.

Our emotions are determining cognitive interpretation more than previously admitted.

Our unconscious emotional states arouse emotions in those with whom we interact before we or they know it. And it spreads from these interactions to others.

Research has suggested that negative emotions are stronger than positive emotions which may serve evolutionary functions but, paradoxically, it may limit learning. Boyatzis (2011)

i.e. where the teacher shows leadership that engenders a positive response the learning experience is increased (think of the fictional character played by Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society, think of Randy Pausch the late Carnegie Mellon Professor of Virtual reality) … whereas negative emotions.

From a student’s point of view if you have a teacher you do NOT like (or no one likes) this will have overly significant NEGATIVE impact on your learning experience.

So it matters WHO and HOW you are taught, not simply an interest or passion for a subject.

‘A contagion of positive emotions seems to arouse the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which stimulates adult neurogenesis (i.e. growth of new neurons) (Erickson et. al., 1998), a sense of well being, better immune system functioning, and cognitive, emotional, and perceptual openness’ (McEwen, 1998; Janig and Habler, 1999; Boyatzis, Jack, Cesaro, Passarelli, & Khawaja, 2010).

The sustainability of leadership effectiveness is directly a function of a person’s ability to adapt and activate neural plasticity. Boyatzis (2011)

The SNS (Sympathetic Nervous System) and PNS (Parasympathetic Nervous System ) are both needed for human functioning.

They each have an impact on neural plasticity.

Arousal affects the growth of the size and shape of our brain. Neurogenesis allows the human to build new neurons. The endocrines aroused in the PNS allow the immune system to function at its best to help preserve existing tissue (Dickerson and Kemeny, 2004).

I FOUND THIS PROFOUND

Leaders bear the primary responsibility for knowing what they are feeling and therefore, managing the ‘contagion’ that they infect in others.

(Is a disease metaphor and its negative connotations the appropriate metaphor to use here?)

It requires a heightened emotional self-awareness.

This means having techniques to notice the feelings, label what they are and then signal yourself that you should do something to change your mood and state.

Merely saying to yourself that you will “put on a happy face” does not hide the fast and unconscious transmission of your real feelings to others around you.

Leaders should be coaches in helping to motivate and inspire those around them (Boyatzis, Smith & Blaize, 2006).

But not any old form of coaching will help.

Coaching others with compassion, that is, toward the Positive Emotional Attractor, appears to activate neural systems that help a person open themselves to new possibilities– to learn and adapt. Meanwhile, the more typical coaching of others to change in imposed ways (i.e., trying to get them to conform to the views of the boss) may create an arousal of the SNS and puts the person in a defensive posture. This moves a person toward the Negative Emotional Attractor and to being more closed to possibilities.

What does say about parenting?

The role or the patriarch or matriarch in the family? And whilst your father may be an inspiring leader at the office, what if he is a nit-picking bore and a negative grudge when he comes home?

REFERENCE

Boyatzis, R. (2011) Neuroscience and Leadership: The Promise of Insights Leadership | January / February 2011

Boyatzis, R.E., Smith, M. and Blaize, N. (2006) “Developing sustainable leaders through coaching and compassion, Academy of Management Journal on Learning and Education. 5(1): 8-24.

Boyatzis, R. E., Jack, A., Cesaro, R., Passarelli, A. & Khawaja, M. (2010). Coaching with Compassion: An fMRI Study of Coaching to the Positive or Negative Emotional Attractor. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Montreal.

Decety, J. & Michalska, K.J. (2010). Neurodevelopmental change in circuits underlying empathy and sympathy from childhood to adulthood. Developmental Science. 13: 6, 886-899.

Dickerson, S.S. & Kemeny, M.E. (2004). Acute stressors and cortisol responses: A theoretical integration and synthesis of laboratory research. Psychological Bulletin.130(3): 355-391.

Janig, W. & Habler, H-J. (1999). Organization of the autonomic nervous system: Structure and function. In O. Appendzeller (ed.). Handbook of Clinical Neurology: The Autonomic Nervous System: Part I: Normal Function, 74: 1-52.

McEwen, B. S. (1998). Protective and damaging effects of stress mediators. New England Journal of Medicine. 338: 171-179.

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H800: 32 Wk5 Activity 1 Metaphor and Symbols in Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 8 Mar 2011, 20:15

My first take on Saloman (1997) 'Of mind and media', ran to 3,800 words, my second take is still 2,800 ... (See below, it's my previous blog entry).

Now that I've devoured the text I'll consider the questions.

Do you prefer certain forms of representation to a greater extent than others?

1. The only kind of learning that matters is learning that works. This will vary by context, content and desired outcomes. A piece of chalk on a blackboard is learning, as is Avatar. The first might cost $1, the latter $200m.

If so, why do you think that is the case?

2. We cannot always indulge our differences. I dare say the best education might be privileged and historically at home with a governess then a tutor. Personalisation by yourself, aided by parents/siblings peer pressure and your school/institution is what e-learning offers via social networking, forums, YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook, Wikipedia, Google and all the rest of them.

Does this preference apply to everything you attempt to learn?

3. If I am motivated to do so I will do more than watch the TV programme or catch the radio show ... I will do more than buy the book (or books), I will do a course, join a group, get a qualification. It is progressive, exploratory and stepped; it ends in your head, and may begin on your own but is often best developed with others. Though ask a successful author how they developed their craft skills or how they now work and I doubt they say they do it as a group/collective in a writer's group.

Or does it vary from one type of learning task to another?

4. Whilst certain approaches, if there is a choice, do lend themselves better to certain ways of doing it, any learning is defined by the candidate's motivation to learn and what is available, let alone their individual circumstances. I do think that challenging someone to learn might deliver a better outcome than spoon-feeding or mollycoddling. I learnt to deliver a baby when I had to, I had about five minutes to read a very short chapter on 'home delivery'. I learn to sail when it went wrong and we escaped drowning. I learnt to make training films by making mistakes (and putting them right). I once saw a production of Sleuth that was performed in front of the curtains with none of the pyrotechnics or gadgets ... in this simple form it was more engaging. i.e. I am going back to the story told around a campfire, perhaps with a song. This is how to enjoy Beowulf rather than as a movie.

Does the article make you think differently about what you do?

5. The article irritated me. It is 4, 800 words long. The first half could be removed entirely. Editorially I would have put a line through the waffle and a red line over disagreements. I have a paragraph of what I'd fix that I'll post in my blog. It should have been edited to improve what is poor writing. However, it is this disagreement and the 'mistakes' that have rattled me and so got my attention. How therefore to create a tussle with the text or concepts? They do it at Oxford, it's called a debate.

To what extent do the technologies available limit the learning and teaching possibilities in terms of forms of representation?

6. The technologies are not the limiting factor, they are only possibilities. The limiting factor is the author of the learning - bells and whistles do not improve a lesson if the teacher hasn't a) got an idea b) prepared a 'script' that has some chance of success.

Can you describe any specific examples of how different forms of representation are an important influence on teaching and learning situations with which you are familiar?

7. In H808 we did a group task that had to end with a presentation/representation of some kind. We had powerpoint presentations, and videos but to my surprise as I had doubted it would work one group did a poster that was rich, comprehensive, inventive, memorable and in one shot said it all - indeed with the flows and movement of information about the page I'd even described it as interactive. i.e. Keep It Simple, Student. I've been using a Kindle poolside to show swimmers pages from the 'Swim Drill Book'. It has proved extraordinarily effective.

To what extent do assessment methods constrain or privilege certain forms of representation (for example, how much does a written examination reveal about a learner’s competence in communicating effectively in a second language?).

8. Testing is more vital for the learning process than as a test to achieve a grade, pass or mark. But of course assessment is crucial for the sake of credibility and to have something to open a door to work. A written test tests someone's comprehension of the language and confidence/ability with this language first. Interesting for the last year I've been feeding my learning back to a national sports organisation. I have been fairly critical of a written test for sports coaches as it is at odds with the way they learn and what they do ... it was dropped from the curriculum last week. I had read during H807 or H808 about how the thing to be taught, the approach to teaching it and the way it is assessed should all marry up. i.e. to teach someone to dive Kate are they ever going to have to go near or in water? Of course they are. At what point does their reading or writing skill hinder their ability to qualify? If you want to learn to sail someone had to give you the helm; my father would never do so! I went off and did a course without telling him so that should he fall over board I'd know how to get back to shore. The ultimate tests I have windsurfing and skiing have been where errors would be fatal ... though I'm not suggesting a test should be a life or death matter, though it wouldn't half concentrate your mind.

Finally, I spent this morning with a colleague/friend who did an e-learning diploma with Sussex University.

We shared favourite e-learning websites and the ones we hated the most. I came away rather depressed by the awfulness of many, their formulaic approach and dreadful written and spoken English - there is a lack of craft skills. I think these things have been designed and created with the context in which the learning will take place in mind or the multiple opportunities people can and will find to engage with a task or topic. Personally, I like to hear and see it from several sources, good and bad, then give it a go several times ... and in time form an opinion having done what I'm doing here and did this morning over coffee - batting it about.

We liked Spaced-ed and can see what they are doing with Qstream ... though our own e-learning will naturally engage even more than these!

I came away with key ideas such as: metaphor, variety, mistakes, context, relevance and participation.

REFERENCE

Salomon, G 1997, 'Of mind and media', Phi Delta Kappan, 78, 5, p. 375, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 8 March 2011.

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H800: 30 Language, Communication, Education and John Seely Brown via Hitchings and Tyneside

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 22 Dec 2020, 20:40

The meaning of words and learning, from how we learn to speak via Hitchings, John Seely Brown and the Open University MAODE module H800.

I like that thought that ‘All knowledge is, we believe, like language’.

Whether we are educators or not, we all have experience of acquiring or possibly learning a language. I was brought up in the North of England by aspirational Geordies who between them wanted to instil ‘correct’ spoken and written English. Woe-betide the child who spoke with a hard ‘a,’ spilt an infinitive and sprinkled their conversation with ‘sorts of … ‘ or ‘you know.’ I’m surprised none of us came out with a stammer. Could this be why my brother bit his nails all the time? He held onto his Geordie accent despite his parents best (or worst efforts). Which has me thinking, we’ve had a Royal who stammered, is there one who used to bite their finger-nails?

Language, and our choice of words and the words that are coined and come into common used are vital. I STILL get into conversations over whether it is ‘E-learning’ or ‘online learning’, and as they are the client you can imagine which way I tip.

‘Its constituent parts index the world and so are inextricably a product of the activity and situations in which they are produced’. Brown et al (1989)

This indexing of the world makes for a fascinating book. Hitchings on the English Language gives a wonderful insight not only into the way ‘English’ developed, has changed and is changing … and why words matter.

‘A concept, for example, will continually evolve with each new occasion of use, because new situations, negotiations, and activities inevitably recast it in new, more densely textured form. So a concept, like the meaning of a word, is always under construction’.

Think of conceptual knowledge as similar to a set of tools.

‘People use tools actively rather than just acquire them, by contrast, build an increasingly rich implicit understanding of the world in which they use the tools and the tools themselves’. P33

I like this idea too, that we can equate words with tools and vice-versa. They are components that enable communication. And communication facilitates learning.

But of course ‘How a tool is used will vary by context and culture’. Brown et al (1989:33)

Wherein lies the inherent problem with language, whether it is translated, or especially if you think you are talking the same language … but are not because your take and comprehension of a word or set of words is different: should, would, will, can, maybe, perhaps … all words that combined with a look, and body language may make someone believe they mean ‘yes’ or they mean ‘no’. So do you, in such situations act or do nothing? Language can have us sitting on the fence. Is this what academics do? Forever transitory between the commercial world where decisions are paramount?

‘Enculturation is what people do in learning to speak, read, and write, or becoming school children, office workers, researchers and so on’. Brown et al (1989:32-33).

I loathe the word ‘enculturation’ as I only ever come across it in reports/conversations such as these. As all learning, in all its stages becomes readily available and transparent I wonder if such words, indeed any jargon or acronyms are justified? It is possible to be intelligent without cluttering your sentences with ‘big words’ or sounding patronising. Try it; it’s habit forming. Like all education.

‘Given the chance to observe and practice in situ the behaviour of members of a culture, people pick up on relevant jargon, imitate behaviour, and gradually start to act in accordance with its norms’.

I read, unless you are born into a middle class family of snobs who deny their roots.

Ambient culture over explicit teaching

‘When authentic activities are transferred to the classroom, their context is inevitably transmuted; they become classroom tasks. The system of learning and using (and, of course, testing) thereafter remains hermetically sealed within the self-confirming culture of the school’. Brown et al (1989:34)

Wherein lies the discord in many school classrooms

The students’ lives are so far removed from the school experience that they cannot behave. They could and will only learn if they do so within the context of their family lives. How many families sit around together, in front of the piano, or radio, or TV, let alone at the dining room table? Children don’t sit still, physically or mentally. They occupy their own space both online and off. No wonder they take laptops into lectures. And can they blog, and send messages while sitting through a lecture? Probably. They could even stream it live to someone who can’t make it … or just record it for later consumption (or not). Not being the operative word, what they can grab of it in transit is probably as much as they’ll take in first time through. Just plain folks (JPFs)

I love the idea of JPS

‘Just plain folks’ (JPFs),’ we are told, ‘learn in ways that are quite distinct from what students (in the classroom) are asked to do’. (Jean Lave’s ethnographic studies of learning and everyday activity 1988b). (Weren't JPS a brand of cigaretter, famously branded gold and blank on Forumula 1 Racing cars of the 1970s?)

JPFs are best off as apprentices rather than having to make qualitative changes in school. Brown et al (1989:35)

This is what we do. We label, we index, we give things names. We categorise whether or not there is truth behind the category. I debunk ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’ as concepts wherever I can as false, yet we know what is meant by it, as with ‘Generation Y’ or the ‘Facebook Generation.’ We cannot have a conversation without such terms.

What as a teacher do you make explicit and what implicit?

The problem is that to overcome difficult pedagogic problems you make as much as possible explicit – this is not the way to teach.

Indexical representations which ‘gain their efficiency by leaving much of the context underrepresented or implicit.’ Brown et al (1989:41)

i.e. what you leave out is perhaps more important than what you put in.

Which explains the problem with Wikipedia – it aims to be universal, comprehensive and definitive.

It wants to be the last word on everything, even if the last word is always the next word that is written. From a learning point of view I’d like to launch a moth-eaten version of Wikipedia, the Gouda cheese version that leaves stuff out, that is nibbled at and full of holes.

Why?

Because this will get on your goat and prompt you to engage with the content, to correct it, to fill in the gaps. Can someone write an app to do this?

To go in and remove sentences, replace the right word with the wrong one, a wrong date/place with the facts currently given?

'Communication is essential to our lives, but how often do we stop to think about where the words we use have come from?'

Henry Hitchings poses this question on the flyleaf of his gloriously informative and entertaining book on the History of English 'The secret life of word. How English became English.' Hitchings (2008)

REFERENCE

Hitchings, H. (2008) The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English.

Brown, J.S., Collins.A., Duguid, P., (1989) Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. Educational Researcher, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Jan. - Feb., 1989), pp. 32-42 American Educational Research Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1176008 . Accessed: 05/03/2011 13:10

 

 

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The honest image - who are you or were you?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 4 Feb 2013, 09:32

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What image should we use to portray ourselves?

Is there such as thing as best practice? Ought it to be like joining a gym, we have a snapshot taken on a webcam and this current image, no matter how it comes out, becomes who we are?

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Do so few of us dislike or distrust what we see when we look at our faces in the mirror each morning?

It has been the subject of research, role play in online education; I'd like to do some of my own. I began a year ago with this.

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I liked the picture, felt it was healthy, robust and confident and confident.

I should have looked at the date on it. August 2004. Happy and sunny days. You age under stress and from the mid-40s it doesn't take much to add ten years -all that sun in the past, being unwell. As I write below, his spirit, like mine (I hope) remains that of an enthusiastic twenty-something. The same occurred with the Elluminate session we had in H800 the other day, the tutor on the webcam (initially in a scratchy black and white image) is not the person who goes by in the General Forum. Are we all guilty of this. Men included? We go with something in our late thirties or early to mid-forties?

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I then went with this.

An image I long ago used in my eleven year old blog. I wanted something that was indicative of the content and would last. I'm still inclined to run with this. It is indicative of what I think blogging is all about - the contents of your mind, what you think i.e. you 'mind bursts' as I call them on numerous blogs.

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Facebook personas sees me in a number of guises

While on Skype I use a image taken with the webcam on the day of an online interview - this is a month ago, so as contemporary as it gets.

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I have this image fronting Tumblr taken 21 years ago.

In moments of euphoria having just successfully negotiated a 15m pond of slush on a pair of skis in front of a crowd of early May skiers below the Tignes Glacier, France. The day I proposed to my wife. We'd be 'going out together' for three days ... we've now been together, well 21 years. In my original diary we could create banner ads to publicise what we had to say to fellow writers. One of these has a spread as long as the contents of my diaries and blog: they run from a 13 year old Head Chorister in cassock and ruffs, though gap, undergrad, to add exec, video director, with four woman I didn't marry.

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Increasingly, I am thinking of using a self-portrait, that this attempt to capture myself through my minds eye

is more telling that a photograph.

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I could use the drawing I did of a 14 year old

What amuses me most here is how I superimpose these attachments as if I were in a school play, the beard is clearly on the soft face of a pubescent boy - I should have looked at my grandfather for the face I'd get, with the more bulbous nose and pronounced chin. Talking of which, I find it intriguing that I am the spitting image of my grandfather, that my own children see images of him age 20 and think it has to be me. All that changes as he ages into a 40 and 50 year old is he goes bald, whereas I am thus far limited to a thinning of the crown.

This I'm afraid, if the age of my children in the rest of the picture is something to go by, is some seven years ago sad

My only reason for picking it is that I haven't renewed my contact lenses and am inclined, after twenty years wearing them to give up. Maybe laser surgery when I have the cash? This is contemporary. It doesn't say who I am, just 'what' I am. Wearing a child's hat (he's a dad), the headset to record notes onto a digital recorder (for a podcast), a coat he bought for honeymooning in the Alps (we went skiing) 18 years ago …

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I have of course not changed much since 1977

It takes me back to the original point - who are we? how do we representative ourselves online in a single image when we are all a sum of a complex of parts? Is it any wonder that we present multiple selves online, the more so the longer we've lived? I don't remember my father being around to take this picture. though clearly he did. I do remember the great-big wellies though and the joy of water spilling over the top if I could find a puddle or pond deep enough. And the jumpers knitted by my granny (sleeves always too long). And the trees in the garden I climbed behind. And my sister and brother … How set in were the learning process by then?

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The Dracula Spectacula, People's Theatre, Newcastle.

The teeth were made from dentine and fitted by an orthodontist.I rather foolishly sharpened the fangs and bit through my own lip on the last night. I had to sing while gargling my own blood. The joy of memories.

  • Could a daily snap taken when looking in the bathroom mirror be used to tag memories from that 'era' of your life?
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H800: 27 On Elluminate (must we?)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 1 Mar 2011, 16:50

The settings have the moderator in low resolution Black and White, more like an ultrasound scan. The sound quality was just as bad, not quite womb music, but certainly underwater. A few tweaks and I had a higher resolution colour image of the moderator, though the sound, the only thing that matters, remained broken, distorted and unreliable.

We introduce ourselves. 30 words or ten seconds was enough. I wonder at its relevance. If meeting for business we’d dispense with this small talk, pull out an agenda and get on with it.

Asked to make a comment in a recent Elluminate session I had pre-empted the prompt and written something down, only to lose the point when clicked on the mic. Actually, winging it, as I know from hundreds of interviews ALWAYS produces a better response, than the response that someone has written down in advance. I made an off the cuff comment that H807 was more reading, whereas this just fit in.

I cannot help but think that Skype and a basic Google Docs of Sync.in document work better.

At least this time my mic continued to function, though even here, I could not tell, could not hear, that I was ‘on mic’ once I’d clicked it open. This from someone who has been a sound engineer, who wants a live feed to my headphones so I can hear what others are going to hear …or what is being recorded. Should sessions such as this be necessary? Software should be so intuitive, obvious and like things we’re familiar with that this kind of walk and talk through is unnecessary. Someone hasn’t adhered to the advice ‘Keep it Simple, Stupid.’

The tutor likened the reading the tasks otherwise like waves on the beach … and another and another.

I am sympathetic to anyone with a demanding day job.

When I started the MA in 2001 I was working fulltime and doing a second post-graduate course. I never had a quiet moment. I did the reading on planes and trains and very early in the morning. I came home to a five and three year old. There was no expectation to be around, to say much in the crude threaded discussions or give the technology a go. It was books in a box with a regular essay/assignment and far easier to juggle with no sense that you were missing out, or not contributing if you made an appearance once every ten days.

Concentrate on the core reading and contribute to forums … it’ll count.

The point is made that id can be difficult to contribute if your thoughts had already been articulated. My experience is that a forum thread goes through three distinct phases: each person responds in turn to the question/questions, then once many/most have done this, you comment, contribute and elaborate … and at some stage you decide that you’ve had enough, said enough and can move on … maybe dipping back in as others come forward and either assert the same things, or pick you up on a matter or say something completely new. Often the later arrivals are better able to ‘see the woods from the trees,’ and can summarise, or make a succinct point that says in a few lines what others have deliberated over for hundreds of lines.

I make a note to myself that these forums are ‘A tool FOR thinking … not that you have to get it written down’. People need to write what they think as they think it.

The best outcome for all is that we generate a learning community. We are participants, so look to the readings of others. For example, thinks the same thing as me … so agree, to create a learning discussion, you are responding, someone can grow from where you are responding.

It doesn’t need to be like Chinese whispers: at most people post their thoughts to a task as if they would submit an essay, albeit a very short one.

THEN they look at comments and may respond to one. Would it be that each of us HAD to comment on EVERY thread submitted by others! If only six people are involved on round one you get SIX postings, on round two you get 25 postings … (you don’t comment further on your own initial thoughts – even if you want to) then if everyone responds to these Five that makes 125. We haven’t set a word limit, but in my experience this many postings would already come to some 12500 words. Must everyone comment? For the sake of it? For the marks they may need to assemble at some later stage?

Early contributors, or the most frequent visitors may set a tone, that could facilitate what I’d term ‘loose talk,’ I often wonder what the OU Guidelines are for tutors, but can probably guess that the hours they are paid are extremely limiting.

The tutor makes the point that it is ‘nice when you post something and someone responds.’

My tip to those who enjoy this kind of reward is that the more you respond and comment on others … the more likely you are to receive reciprocal comments, that it is not WHAT you have to say, or how often you say it, or where you say it … but that you are participating at all. i.e. the more you put in,. the more you get back

I like the analogy the US E-learning Prof Marc Wagner calls a ‘pot lunch’, in that you ‘bring something to the table,’ but also consume the produce of others … and comment on the whole thing.

The essence of this course, our Tutor explains, is that we are trying to establish the relationship of technology to the learning: on the one hand this is how we THINK learners learn (the academic community) whilst this is how we learn, this is how teaching should be designed. How can technology enhance distance learning?

My own take on this, from corporate learning and development is very different … that the distribution mechanism might have been a VHS cassette in the post, a satellite uplink or an interactive CD-rom, but the mere ‘book like’ or manual like distribution of content was never our purpose. That engagement was always deemed necessary as candidates would have to prove they knew what they had been taught in an assessment.

The point I made, when asked, regarding the reading, was to do some of the reading, even be guided by the choices made by others, then look to their unique thoughts, the inputs from others whether they started last week, or a year ago.

I liken panic over a TMA as preparing for the first night of a show, of getting up on stage, going onto the pitch … that this forces you to bring your thinking together, indeed the deadlines and parameters literally funnel your thinking.

I reflect on my grandfather who left school at 14. Interviewing him at length before he died there is no doubt that as the ‘office boy’ those around him formally/informally taught him so much ‘in situ,’ from taking a stock sheet, to learning shorthand … then, the height of technology, being given a typewriter to figure out. (This is 1910 by the way)

When a separate conversation starts the tutor wonders about who is talking, some listening, some writing notes … with the moderating trying to hold it all together. I’d unplugged the headphones and was listening from the kitchen while I made a coffee.

‘Like sitting in a meeting wearing a blindfold‘

I put it and another agreed that it is like closing your eyes and concentrating … I’ve been using videoconferencing since the 1980s. This is how North Sea Oil rigs kept in touch. There was never any question that you wouldn’t see everyone in vision. 25 years later Elluminate looks retro.

I like the point one person made that such sessions are ‘Good for class moral’.

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H800: 26 Guest lists and where you sit at the tutor's table (even if they're not there)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 1 Mar 2011, 07:09

How do you study if you are both a tutor and a student?

I guess if you are a chemistry tutor and you’re studying e-learning the two are complementary but you cannot, be both tutor and student of the same course (though interestingly this has/is occurring in our module with a tutor absent the OU failing to accommodate).

It’s rather making me think that student as tutor is absolutely possible.

Why not? All it requires is leadership and initiative. I don’t see tutors as subject matter experts. Can you cater for everyone? In communications you need to know your audience. Writers are meant to think of their reader as one person, not millions. How should teachers/tutors think? Of student, or students? Does it matter anymore?

Can we, knowing or indulging ourselves, choose from a plethora of ways into a subject?

I have to wonder, thinking in extremes, why we don’t have tutor groups by gender, by generation, even by profession … let alone our current professional status. Would for example all those working for the armed services benefited from being in a group of their own?

And how do we make such a choice?

Too late if you buy a book, even read a sample, only to find the rest of the content doesn’t deliver.

What about a course?

You pay the fees for a module only to feel or realise a week or so on that it is going to disappoint all the way to the end?

Do you choose by Brand?

Do you choose by awarding body?

And what say do we have?

Can we play-act the model online student?

Would it help to have such an image and then be this person?

Can we assume ourselves into a level of comprehension what we haven’t yet reached and as a result of such aspirations and performance become this more informed and ‘educated’ person?

With an interest and some training in sport and developing young elite athletes I’ve studied Long Term Athlete Development. With a sport, let alone studying, we can group children by gender and biological age. When or where do such groupings or any groupings become difficult to create, or politically incorrect to create? Should not institutions go to greater lengths to group people scientifically?

And to mix these groups up as we go along, if only to change and balanced the learning opportunities?

This is the OU’s show, their party. They are hosting an event, or series of events or have we simply taken a few steps beyond getting a box of books and CDs on the doorstep at the start of a module … to the set of railway tracks that is the like a cartoon, are laid before our eyes as each new week approaches? Who ‘owns’ this course? I get know sense of that, or someone leading. The tutors/authors of the course left years ago. Perhaps this is obvious and given the topic and the speed of change in e-learning is detrimental. I wonder, if given time, more ‘natural’ tutor groupings would form in the national forums of ‘General Discussions’ and the Café from which break-out tutor groups could be constructed (or they do?) I wonder if the solution is in the ways resources are presented, that there need to be multiple ways into a topic. That once size never did fit all.

That ideally we would each have a personal tutor, that all learning would be one to one and tailor to our needs, as they are and as they change … and as we are changed by the process and anything else that is going on around us.

Do we all want a take-away, or a pot-lunch?

The set menu and if so as a school dinner, or from a top restaurant? Home cooking or our own cooking?

Might I say with H800 are getting the ‘set menu,’ i.e. the choice is limited. All I’m discussing here is choice; the next point would be the size of helpings. How do we respond to either being hungry as a wolf (read everything) or not hungry at all (graze nonchalantly doing the bare minimum?) The answer, as I found in H808, was to have plenty of moderated activities in the General Discussion, Café and Supplementary Activity Forums … where like minds could meet, where if you found you had time or wanted to make time, you could get involved in a different group and therefore benefit from an alternative dynamic. I have found that with groups, even more so away from the OU, that are global in scope, that you find groupings that are topic specific and where you can, whenever you like, find a conversation to engage with that adds to your knowledge.

It is a vital part of the learning process I believe, where you form opinions and develop ideas as a result of your engagement, the only issue being that your voice comes out of the tips of your fingers rather than your mouth, which rather suggests we’d all have been better off communicating to our parents and siblings at home via a QWERTY keyboard from an early age so we had these surprisingly necessary skills in place.

Perhaps, as there appears to be so much inclination, whether desire or otherwise, to shift towards the Oxbridge tutorial system as a model, (small tutor groups), might not we also have junior, middle and senior common rooms?

Might we not also have a variety of virtual colleges? And taking just one idea from this … ought we not to have more than one tutor, even within a module, perhaps a different module for each TMA?

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H800: 25 Where does virtual learning begin?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 28 Feb 2011, 06:27

And if real learning occurs, is it no longer 'virtual?'

Where does reality end?

What part of your subconscious is real?

It happens after all, if yo think it or dream it. We distinguish between learning and e-learning; should we ? Did we distinguish a different reality after the train, after the telephone, after television or a man on the moon?

I am often online, I speak to people through Skype and Elluminate.

Yesterday I likened an Elluminate 'tutorial' with seven or eight fellow students as wearing a blindfold in a meeting; yo have to be alert to the presence of others, be sensitive to their interest (or lack of), their hand going up, or not. You are dependent on your only sighted person present - the tutor or moderator.

Over the last month I have been interviewed for a job on Skype. Producers have discussed my work on Skype.

I have been set task to show what I can do, somehow my body of work, the videos and scripts not real enough. Can I still fill a blank sheet of paper with pertinent and persuasive ideas; that's what they want to know.

My blend of learning uses the conscious and subconscious.

I consciously go to bed with a book, now on Kindle, currently reading through my extensive highlights and notes on two books: Education Psychology (Vygotsky 1926) and 'Rethinking Pedagogy for the Digital age (Helen Beetham & Rhona Sharpe eds. 2007). As I drift away I may close the Kindle, may slip it safely to one side .. may not. I matters not a jot. I'tll look after itself.

No wonder I find myself dwelling on all matter of things.

Earlier I woke thinking about one of these job interviews: it may be to work on contrast, it may be to work freelance, there are even a couple of full-time posts. All want to know what I have done recently. What they really need to know is what can I do for them next week or month. Or now.

As I return to consciousness I reflect on the interview that was on my mind, only to realise that it is highly unlikely that my future boss Is Johnny Depp. I've been duped by my own mind. No worries. The thoughts relate to the real opportunities, not this peculiar mash-up in a virtual world.

I have multiple presences in cyberspace with 'faces on' that may be anything from a week to 15 years old. Indeed, I ought to attach an image of the six year old me to a collection of 'earliest memories.'

I have a couple of existences in Second Life too, though I've yet to run with these.

Would I not get more confused over where reality ends?

If it is becoming less easy to distinguish reality from the virtual, how are we supposed to differentiate between learning and e-learning? Is it not the case that both could be going on ... but a student, or the students are doing no learning in either situation? That they are elsewhere? That they are not engaged? Yet hours later, consciously or otherwise, a recollection of a 'lesson' may produce a learning moment, may generate 'stuff' a learning object in that person's consciousness?

 

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H800: 24 Wk3 Metaphor in Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 8 Nov 2011, 22:15

It could be the subject of of PhD Thesis

Metaphor is the essence of learning, of knowledge transfer, of transmitting ideas, of ideas themselves, of innovation and creativity.

We labour it

 

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Reading Sfard and various other authors/academics and philosophers ... and a neuroscientist I draw my own conclusions in relation to learning in general and e-learning in particular.

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The first image is from Gareth Morgan. The explanation of how metaphor is used, and potentially abused (or simply confused) is clear. 'Man is a lion. He is a lion because he is brave.'

We permit poetic licence

We then move on to the idea of what I am calling (for want of a metaphor) Stage 1 Learning, that necessary first step where the person learning needs to acquire 'stuff,' where knowledge is imparted or experienced. This might be a lecture, a talk, a video, a book. Acquisition for me is not the metaphor, it is the description of what is occurring. I cannot see 'acquisition.' I can see someone at a supermarket check-out 'acquiring' goods, I can even visualise the 'sausage machine' concept/cartoon of information/knowledge being ground out of books and deposited in a person's head.

Moving on to Stage 2 Learning (though it could be any stage 2 through to infinity) we have a tool of learning, 'participation.' Here, once again, I understand an adjective describing actual participation, as demonstrated in the John Seely Brown lecture, of students working together at a table (round of course), with those on the 'periphery' taking part tangentially while those in the middle are the primary 'actors.' THIS is learning in the Congo Rain Forest to get honey from the top of a tree, this is learning above the Arctic Circle to cut blow-holes to harpoon seals ... this is how 'man' has always learned. a) where's the new thinking? b) is 'participation' a metaphor, or simple an adjective?

For me participation is the end of term play, the Christmas Panto, working on a student newspaper, blog or TV magazine show.

To use metaphor suggests improving communication of ideas and doing so in a persuasive and memorable way. There are cliched metaphors. They lose currency through over use. Educators appear to be stuck in a rut on this one, regurgitating old ideas.

 

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H800: 22 Reflecting on H800

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 10 Mar 2013, 00:26

How goes it?

Like a roller-coaster, merrily going along, like the C4 ident:through the loops of a roller-coaster though the shapes I see are 'H' and '800' and '807' and '808' as I pass by.

Then I switch track and venue and find myself on the Mouse-Trap. Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Here there is a rise and dip where you are convinced you will hit a girder. I just did, metaphorically speaking. (Diary entry, August 1980)

Ilness changes things

Nothing more than a rubbish cold made uncomfortable by asthma.

It is a set back of sorts. I can sleep and read. But the spark has gone (for now).

To use a different analogy, if I often think of my mind as a Catherine-wheel, this one has come off and landed in a muddy-puddle.

We're in the week of metaphors for learning.

I can draw on any notes I've taken on this here and in my eportfolio. This is more than an aide-memoire, it favours the choices I made before at the expense of anything new. So I widen my search. The OU Library offers hundreds of thousands of references in relation to 'Education' and 'Metaphor' going back to 1643.

Gathering my thoughts will take time.

There are 26 pages (nearly 12,000 words) to read (course intro, resources). Far, far more if I even start to consider ANY of the additional references or reading.

Give me three months. We have, or I have left, three days.

My approach is simple. Tackle it on the surface, drill into an author or topic that is of interest and expect to pick up on and pick through this again later this module, later this year ... or next existence. (I believe in multiple existences and flux. We are transitory and changing)

As well as tapping into the OU Blog and e-portfolio the blog I've kept since 1999 might have something to say on metaphor. If I care to I might even rummage through A'Level English Literature folders from the 1970s, just to trigger something. Engaged and enabled by Vygotsky and others in relation to memory and learning I value this ability to tap into past thoughts/studying with ease.

(Ought others to be sold the idea of a life-long blog?)

Otherwise I have gone from learn to swim in the training pool, to swimming lengths in the main pool ... to observer/coach who will participate, but has a towel over his shoulders and is looking around.

The next pool? Where is that?

I'm not the same person who set out on this journey 12 months ago.

On the other hand, having a Kindle makes me feel more like a teenager swotting for an Oxbridge examination; I like having several books on the go. I'll be through 'Educational Psychology (Vygotsky) by the end of the day and am already picking through and adding to copious notes.

Piaget next?

Then a little kite-boarding as I head away from the swimming pool that has been an MA with the OU?!

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H800: 22 Wk2 Activity 1 John Seely Brown on participation through tinkering

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 22 Dec 2020, 20:28

I agree with John Seely Brown’s emphasis, however, how should the degree of and the value of participation differ between the following four types of learning situation: primary, secondary, tertiary and ‘on the job.’

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And how does this degree of participation through-out a term, day or even a lesson in relation to the context, the ratio of teachers to pupils, the subject matter, the mix of students, the time of day, period in the week, in the term and so on. And how does such participation rank. Or measure up, in terms of efficacy – the time in which certain learning outcomes need to be met and assessed?

Learning that might be described as mechanical, compared to intellectual, for example, between how to fill a drum with uranium trioxide correctly, reliably and safely compared to learning a language. And even within these examples, how does the person’s preferred learning style come in to play?

QQ 1. Your work so far on H800 includes some individual reading and viewing/listening. Does Brown’s argument imply that this is less valuable than your group work?

Not at all.

Participation is being recognised as a shift to make more of something that has always occurred, but is enabled by current technology, so that such participation is as possible at a distance, as it is face-to-face.

The individual reading, reviewing/listening … and watching provides the assets, insights and experiences of others that are required to begin to form an opinion. As Vygotsky (1926) points out, learning doesn’t occur in a vacuum, there are stages, or step changes, related to coming to a more mature response to something. However, Brown suggests during the course of the presentation, that merely attaching oneself to the periphery of group work that interests you, could or will, if you play your role, lead to a kind of reverse centrifugal force during which you will be drawn into, or tumble in amongst, the activity at the centre of the group. The example he used was on contributing to the development of Open Source Software, the outsider attaching at the periphery and through participation, confidence, demonstration of ability, through ‘tinkering’ and engagement, gradually proving themselves worthy of participation in the ‘inner sanctum’ as it were.

QQ2. What are the implications of his argument for your own use of technology – in your own learning and teaching?

If we think of the best way to learn a language as ‘immersive,’ then perhaps there are many more occasions where similarly immersive, participatory learning could have a place and produce, as a result, better ‘results.’ That there is no point in being precious with knowledge, instead of keeping it close, let it go, build reputation, share ideas. How authors or creators/creatives earn a living from the expression of their thoughts is another issue.

Models are changing across the board

This is completely counter to my experience of secondary and tertiary education, indeed, I liken myself to Brown who talks about his writing code that no others could read and being proud of this. We kept everything close to our chests. However, putting on theatre shows and later moving into TV and Film production, I was involved in a highly participatory activity, indeed, coming in as a runner, or production assistant is/was and still is the way to gain experience, learn on the job, prove yourself and through will, willingness and personality, being drawn in or permitted into the ‘inner sanctum’ which you might call the key roles of producer, director or writer (compared to assistants to any of these, or assistants to the assistants).

QQ3. What are your reactions to Brown’s style of presentation?

The experience in person would have been satisfactory. As you listen you may take notes, may refer as appropriate to the slides he uses, as well as watching his facial expressions and body language and listening to the change in timbre, tone and pace of his voice, all adding emphasis, nuance and even colour to what he is saying. As someone from Television, who has covered lectures/talks it disappoints me that little adequate thought has been given to why certain shot sizes work better, the variety of shot sizes, the angle from which it is shot, even the lighting as Brown often steps back into the shadows, let alone when and how to use cut-aways to the slides and to the audience. However, for a change, the sound quality is good – often it is atrocious. If you get bored or distracted count how many bald heads there are, try to see who is taking notes, does someone get up and leave then return.

None of this is pertinent to the piece and should never been in the frame! Indeed, picking up on what he says later I ought to load this into iMovies or FinalCut Pro, frame him, cut in therefore, and source alternative or better slides.

To cut back its length I may cut in audience shots, whether or not they are of people at this presentation so long as they appear to make a match. What Brown himself would applaud and calls ‘tinkering,’ which is perhaps his thesis.

To tinker is good. Participation is effective.

Enrolling people, engaging them, team-work, motivational techniques … all suggests the teacher not as subject matter expert, but as host, guide or coach ... so simply the person with first-hand experience. ‘Understanding,’ he says, ‘is socially constructed’.

QQ4. What are its strengths and weaknesses compared with the webcast lecture in Week 1 about the Google Generation, or with other presentations you have seen?

Online producers are yet to convince me that they have got it right. I doubt there is a single ‘best’ way to cover such talks/lectures … you may want to preserve the veracity of the presentation and therefore cut nothing at all, indeed, professionally for multi-media and for multiple platforms ‘we’ may provide potential editors with shot sizes and cut-aways to allow them to make their own editorial decisions: this would be in keeping with what Brown describes as ‘tinkering’ later on.

Dr Ian Rowland gave a chat, without visual support. Brown gave a talk with visual support that was weak – they didn’t complement what he was saying, they lacked, IMHO, adequate emphasis.

The answer, which those in education, where the budget permits, should do, is for writers to work with visualises, as in advertising copywriters work with art directors, or giving the emphasis to the director, as directors do with another person’s screenplay/script in TV. This isn’t so far-fetched, modern educators can shoot and edit their own video, and as educators surely they ought to be more away of the need and benefits of appealing across the senses. For example, if this presentation were going to 17,000 managers across the Deutsche Bank I might have the budget to employ an illustrator/cartoonist such as Steven Appleby to make more of these supporting images – to make them more memorable and appealing, and in so doing, strengthening the message.

QQ5. Is it paradoxical that you are invited to listen to one person talking about, among other things, the importance of study groups?

It isn’t paradoxical at all. We live in a mixed and multi-media world. Those recording these events, as here, shouldn’t just be alert to accessibility issues (sight/sound), but to learning choices an audience/readers might like to make on how they engage with the material based on personal choices and circumstances.

Often, despite balking at reading all the time, I would prefer the peer-reviewed, published paper that can be read in a fraction of the time it takes to sit through a ‘talk.’ Already I behave as my 12 year old son does and would have listened to John Seely Brown, while reading the transcript, while (as I did) executing quick Google searches on all manner of things that he mentioned, from ‘what is a ‘bull meeting,’ to the credentials of those he mentioned (what does it say in Linked In) and any related reports John Seely Brown may have penned SINCE this presentation in October 2007.

REFERENCE

 

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H800: 20 Wk2 Activity 9 Blended Learning in Brazil

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 1 Jul 2012, 18:01

We are asked to consider the life of a Brazilian Mum, working in a Law office, doing an undergraduate course

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She opts for blended learning and needs to juggle family life (husband, two children) with her job and studies. Through a combination of face-to-face elements and TV or going online she is able to meet a tight weekly schedule, within a time course time table.

We are asked to reflect on this fictional student and her circumstances, how the institution puts in place enough to make her stdying possible, and to meet various benchmarks so that she is taught and assessed at the correct level.

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A quick Google search and we should think of this is a city like Barcelona or Birmingham; these are modern solutions to a common dilemma, how to have two people in full-time employment, with family commitments, while trying to gain further qualifications in order to improve their career prospects.

I believe the institution has put everything in place in terms of the schedule, the support, the infrastructure, technology and resources. To succeed the candidate will need not only to juggle many balls, but at times to face off brickwalls and barries. Life happens as a parents ... husband made redundant, children sick, elderly relatives ... it is far easier to get this part of your education dealt with while there is less going on! Does she have the motivation and will she get the support from siblings, husband, her work ... even her friends? Is their a mirror network of support and new friends where she is studying.

What is meant by conventional?

When has there been a period of stability in education? And compared to the context where? We fairly recently mixed up universities and polytechnics, only in this generation have we been pushing for 50%^+ attendance in Tertiary education. Only recently has the school leaving age been increased.

My parent’s generation (they happened to be at Durham University) lived at home … one generation on, and we’re back to this pattern with university being a natural step on from Secondary School rather than a leap across the country onto a campus. This has always been fluid, as they should to reflect changing demands in the economy and changing possibilities.

Each generation makes the most of what is possible and available

It strikes me that this is suitably resourceful way to gain qualifications and experience while juggling everything else, in the case, a woman has to do an implication being here that perhaps a man would have excused himself from any household chores were he to consider taking a degree, while a woman has to do it all. I speak from the basis of a househusband doing part-time and freelance work, alongside family responsibilities (kids now at secondary school, having seen them through nursery and primary school).

I don’t consider what she is doing to be unusual at all, indeed I think it is the norm.

I have certainly seen plenty in my generation retrain as their previous careers/jobs have alternated out of recognition or disappeared … or become so ‘cheap’ that they aren’t sustainable.

The best learning is driven by the motivation of the individual to learn; they will push against any brick wall, or through any barrier to achieve this end. The state, as here, cannot spoon feed or dictate, just offer as best as is reasonable, a flexible system that can be accommodated. It is not surprising how much can be done if people give p 3 hours + television viewing every day, for example.

In relation to ‘face to face, the very best learning, if we take it back hundreds of years, is one to one, governess and tutor.

A compromise might be an equally privilege Oxbridge kind of tutorial system, in a college with a small cohort of students meeting weekly in groups of one, two or three.

The experience of 50+ students in a lecture hall several times a week can never have suited the majority

Indeed, on a developmental point of view it favoured the ‘freaks’ those with exceptional or rather narrow skills at being able to take something from these experiences … and then to memorise it all for an exam.

Because of the fluidity/flexibility of this non ‘traditional’ approach the institution must feel, necessarily, that one way or another the candidate is meeting all the criteria to meet the learning outcomes, that a combination of attendance, contributions, assessments and so on will bring them up to a standard that is common to any student at this level.

Whilst the institution can be prescriptive, the candidate has to make the time, make the space, organise their lives all the better in order to accommodate their work

Depending on their circumstances they become dependent on the contribution being made by a partner, but will always be faced with other hurdles, such as being made redundant in the middle of it all, or a child being sick (or a relative), or the partner being made redundant. All manner of problems can arise that might not be the lot of the typical, full time, undergraduate student who is fed and sheltered, may even have a grant, and just has to get out of bed on time for lectures!

A support network of tutors, assistants and technical staff

Support infrastructure to provide resources and to facilitate meetings, discussions and interaction. i.e. the institution needs to be a host, to be supportive.

The division of course work into discrete time periods based on modules, units within these and dates for assignments. I.e. highly structured to ensure, despite what else is going on in this person’s life, there are clear markers/deadlines/guide lines regarding what is required/expected of them.

Whilst it is the student who has to juggle, in some respects the institution is the ring master.

The student requires the institution to be a presence, both real and virtual, to provide the venues and platforms … even the skills to juggle and the items to juggle!

 

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H800: 19 Week 2 Activity 6 University Libraries vs Google

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 18 Oct 2014, 16:39

Dr Ian Rowlands The Google Generation

The key thoughts that I take from Ian Rowlands talk on the Google Generation are :

  • Disintermediation
  • Extravagant Claims
  • Diversity and segmentation (he picked out three clusters)
  • Google and Wikipedia dependence
  • Text based to visual
  • The mental maps of children
  • Books as chapters
  • Good students and ‘good’ research techniques
  • A mental map of information

Disintermediation

The middleman, or the ‘intermediary function’ has been cut out. He mentioned travel agents, we could just as easily exclude secretaries (because of word processors), the post man and(because of email), people in ‘middle management’ because analytics run from the shop floor, or retail outlet to a directors computer and … even the teacher as subject matter expert.

The Extravagant Claims as popular commentators, authors and publications become mashed-up with serious study.

These are the Marc Prensky (Digital Natives) and Malcolm Bradbury (The Tipping Point) types who take indicators from genuine research and then exaggerate and extend the claims and findings.

They are not ‘one homogenous blob’ as Dr Rowland puts it.

There is diversity by age, gender, and exposure to IT. This is complex picture is exactly what advertising agency and product marketing departments understand and it was about time educators took a similar approach to understand the minutiae of the ‘audience’ who will choose to purchase information from their libraries …. Or not, that fails to attract interest because a headline is easier to consume than a 30 page report. There is segmenting by diversity type … something librarians once did for users, but now readers can do for themselves.

Do modern users care or understand the relevance of what they find

Can they not differentiate between dirt or a pearl? That a Google search is not a library search and that there are more sources than Wikipedia?

We’re shifting from text based to a preference for the visual. But has not the visual always been preeminent. People learn less from reading than they do by observing and doing, always have done. Indeed, has not there simply been a period of text based education elitism?

The mental maps of children are indeed different

Rowland expresses concern about this as if it isn’t commonly understood. It would help if those in education took a formal course in education as teachers in primary and secondary education are required to do, they therefore might understand something about childhood development, developmental psychology and basic neuroscience.

Each generation is a product of how and where it is brought up and what they are exposed to; if we have a Net Generation today, then in the past we have had generations brought up with Television, with Movies, with the car, and before that the train … and further back still, the first generations to be literate and have books. It isn't helpful to isolate the Google generation and think they're different from us. They're not. There's a continuum. Dr Rowland

Books as chapters

Is this not the same with tracks from albums, rather than the entire LP concept?

Good search technique students get better grades than poor search technique students

Is it the good research technique, or the good student that gets the results? I’m not convinced the correct correlation is being made here.

We need a mental map of information so that stuff doesn’t get ‘hidden behind the screen.’

From the point of view of methods of communicating the information I would prefer a summary and article to a informal talk cum-lecture. Armed with a verbatim transcript I will immediately do a search for words and phrases that would have been edited out of any written piece on the subject. So out come the following:

‘actually’ 19 uses.

‘really’ 56 uses

‘very’ 54 uses

‘you know’ 20 uses

‘simply’ 12 uses

‘literally’ 3 uses

‘sorts of’ 4 uses

(This I should add is a very modest tally of a normal convesational style that would occur with anyone except a seasoned broadcaster. The point is, you don't want to read a verbatim transcript).

Here I am making something I want to read, easier to read.

All that counts is how the information goes in, if there is motivation to engage with it, and how the information is then labelled, enabled, packaged and chunked in your mind.

Are the right kind of neurological activities going on that result in the information withering, or proving fruitful?

Is it to be engaged in deep learning, or is it just ‘stuff’ top be learnt, tested and dropped?

The key word for any expression of information that matters to me is EFFORT.

Has the person wishing to communicate something made the effort to get it right?

We have a plethora of choices

A subject we may be interested in may be delivered as a lecture, a workshop, a classroom talk, a presentation of any kind, an after dinner or at the dinner table, live or recorded, in vision or not, edited or not. It may be a paper, a leaflet or pamphlet. It may be a formal study or report, an assignment or essay, even a thesis, a chapter in a book, or entry in Wikipedia.

It might also be the basis for an entire course of study or a module within one. The subject of a three minute news story, with an interview and cut-aways, or a documentary, or a panel debate. It might be a poster, a website, a blog entry or email as body text or an attachment.

It can be many things and all things. One dish can make a smorgasbord

There are lectures and there are informal talks, some like this, perhaps ought not to receive wide circulation, it may be unfair to take a speaker out of context. I get the feeling that this is an intimate, even informal, sharing of ideas, a catalyst to get a discussion going amongst a group of professionals.

From a learning point of view I cannot sit back and listen to these things and get much from it

This is didactic, being talked to. My attendance at lectures as an undergraduate stopped during my first term and I doubt I attended ANY lecture afterwards; it was easier to read their book, as I felt most lecturers were ‘reading from their book.’ So I got their book from the faculty library, or got to it first in the Bodleian, or bought it from Blackwell’s (all three within a 2 minute bike ride of each other). Just as a sheet of grabs of bullet points from a Power Point presentation are NOT ‘presenter notes,’ nor is a verbatim transcript of the person talking.

This is LAZY, though of value as a point of ACCESS best practice.

If I can read the presentation then I’ll do so, not at three words a second (the spoken voice) and ideally not with all the ticks and circumlocutions that slow the spoken word down in what can be an indulgent perambulation around a subject. Academics are not broadcasters. What do we read at? Nine words a second?

When someone was born does NOT dictate whether they are or are not exposed to a plethora of electronic gadgets, tools and resources.

Whilst they have to have been born after the technology has come into existence and popular use, this does not mean that they are ‘brought up in an immersive rich media interactive culture’.

If we take everyone born on the planet after 1993 the percentage exposed to this immersive media immediately and understandably drops massively. It is a western, developed, first world phenomenon.

 

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H800: 18 Eating Three Humble pies - on reading, dated reports, participation online (and the use of cliched corporate catch phrases)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:00

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Eating humble pie

At various times over the last 12 months I have knocked the MAODE because of the amount of reading required, particularly in H808 ‘Innovations in e-learning’, where it rankled to read reports that felt out of date or books of the last century, and across the modules for the lack of examples of ‘innovations in e-learning,’, as if the MAODE should exploit the students by sending through the online hoops the equivalent of a performance in a Cirque du Soleil show.

I take it back:

I eat humble pie for and offer three reasons:

1. Reading works

2. The earliest investigations on things we now consider common place and highly revealing

3. Bells and whistles may have no tune Reading works, though it is unnecessary to have the books in your hand, or to print of the reports.

I’ve done both, starting the MAODE or ODL as it was called in 2001, I had a box of books delivered to the door (I have many of these still).

Picking it up again in 2010 with H807 ‘Innovations in e-learning’ for want of an e-reader or adequate computer I found myself printing everything off – it unnecessarily fills eight large arch-level files (where if kept for a decade, they may remain).

 

There is value in printing things off

Whilst some links and too many follow up references from books and reports read in H807 were broken, I have the links and reports I downloaded and printed off in 2001.

One of these, exactly the kind of document I would have rejected in 2010 as dated, was written in 1992.

 

What is more, this paper addresses something that one would imagine would need a modern perspective to be of interest, the subject is the value of networking – what we’d call online collaboration or participation today.

The earliest investigations reveal the inspiration at a time when there were few options.

One the one hand I can go to the OU Library and type in ‘participation’ and ‘e-learning’ and be invited to read as PDFs a number of reports published in the last few months, on the other, I can go and see some of the earliest efforts to understand the possibilities and overcome the technical issues in order to try and recreate for distance learners what campus based students had all the time – the opportunity to meet and share ideas, the tutor group online, as it were.

 

See below

Computer Networking for Development of Distance Education Courses (1).

In my teens and helping out on video-based corporate training films I recall some advice from the Training Director of FIH PLC, Ron Ellis. It’s one of those irritating corporate communications acronyms:

‘Keep it Simple, Stupid’

(as it was, though as some now prefer)

‘Keep it short and simple’.

It’s a fascinating story and remarkably for Wikipedia were entries are often anything but, it is short and straightforward.

 

The points I am making are straight forward too.

1. Reading

2. Research and References

3. Simplicity

 

An e-reader is simple

The process is enhanced and highly tailored once the content you need to consume is in a device that is slimmer than a slim novella. The affordances of the e-reader mean you can do away with pen and paper (though not a power or USB cable).

My passion for reading, where the 'Content is King', which perhaps unnecessarily brings me back to Wikipedia.

What you read, and the fact that you read, matters more than its being in paper form, whether chained to a shelf in the Duke Humphrey’s Library, Oxford (Bodleian), or bubble-wrapped from Amazon, let alone printed off on reams of 80sgm from WHSmith, holes punched and the thing filed for delayed consumption.

 

Reading too, I realise, is the purest form of self-directed learning

Vygostky would approve.

You are offered a list of suggested titles and off you go.

 

Parameters help

It is too easy to read the irrelevant if your only guide is Google and it is just as easy to purchase or download a book that has the title, but whose author could at best be described as ‘popular’.

It may fell archaic and arcane to be presented with a reading list, but I recognise their value, if only as the maelstrom of digital information spins across your eyes you can focus.

It may require effort to skim read the abstracts and contents of 33 books and papers in order to extract three or four to read over a two week period (as required to do in May 2001 on the then ODL), but the method works:you get an overview of the topic, a sense of who the authors and institutions your ‘school’ considers of interest, and then motivated by making some choices yourself, you read.

 

This in itself is one reason to avoid Wikipedia

if everyone reads the same content, everyone is likely to draw the same conclusions.

In any case, my issue with Wikipedia is three-fold, entries are either too short, or too long and there is no sense of the reader, the audience, for whom they are written; at times it is childish, at others like reading a doctoral thesis.

 

Or am I missing the point?

it isn’t a book, not a set of encyclopedias, but a library, communal built, an organic thing where those motivated to contribute and who believe they have something to say, do so; though all the corporate PR pap should be firewalled out.

Either way, my ambition is for WikiTVia, in which the entire content of Wikipedia is put in front of the camera and shot as chunkable video clips.

 

Anyone fancy giving it a go?

I digress, which is apt.

 

If you have a reading list you are less likely to get lost

What is more, you will have something to say in common with your fellow pupils when you’re online.

It matters for a niche conversation to be 'singing from the same hymn' sheet which is NOT the same as singing the same tune.

(Aren’t I the one full of cliché and aphorisms this morning).

 

Which brings us to point three, and a theme for Week 2 of H800 ‘Technology-enhanced learning: practice and debates.’

A title I have just typed out for the first time and I initially read as ‘Technology-enhanced debates’ which could be the right way to think of it given an initial taste of Elluminate.

 

It doesn’t work and there seems to be little desire or interest to fix it.

Google take over please.

I’d liken my first Elluminate session to my first attempt (indeed all my attempts) to learn to row.

Think of the Isis, early November morning, eight Balliol Men kicked out of bed by 3rd year student Miss Cressida Dick to cycle down to the boathouse.

 

We varied in shape and size like the cast of a James Bond movie:

Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton, Jaws and Odd-Job, Scaramanger and Ros Klebb, Goldfinger and Dr. No.

Despite our coach Dick's best intentions everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

Later that term on in our only race we were promptly ‘bumped’ and were out.

I wonder if the joint experience of Elluminate will find us bumping along discontentedly for the next few months?

My suggestion would to disembark to something simple, that works (as we did in H808)

Elluminate to Skype with Sync.in or Google.docs is the difference between crossing the English Channel on Pedalos, or sharing a compartment on the Eurostar.

Had this been a business meeting I may have said let’s email then pick up the phone and do a conference call that way.

If it had mattered and the journey was a matter of hours I may have said, hold it, let’s meet in a couple of hours.

What matters is achieving the outcome rather than trying to clamber on board a beach-side round-about on which the bells and whistles are falling off.

 

Reading, referencing and simplicity brings me to a paper we were expected to read in 2001.

Computer Networking for Development of Distance Education Courses (1) Tony Kaye.

Institute of Educational Technology

Downloaded 15/05/2001 http://www.icdl.open.ac.uk/mindewave/kaye.html

(Link broken and my searches thus far have not located a copy of this paper)


It was written in 1992.

(Until this week I baulked at reading anything pre Google, Facebook or Twitter. What, frankly is the point if none of these highly versatile, immediate forms of collaboration and communication online are not covered?)

This report is as relevant to synchronous and asynchronous collaborative online learning in 2011 as the earliest books coaching rowing.

The basic issues remain the same: the problem to solve, the goal and outcomes.

 

It’s relevance is like starting any conversation about the Internet with Tim Berners-Lee and CEARN.

In the paper, expert discuss the potential for computer support through local and wide-area networks for ‘work groups engaged in collaborative authoring tasks.’

You see, this, to keep it simple, is all we were trying to achieve on Elluminate, a ‘work group engaged in collaborative authoring tasks.’

Today we can hear and see each other, though the voice will do – and despite being so anachronistic, we can, presumable, all type on a QWERTY keyboard.

Courtesy of Cloud computing any other shared tool, from word, to spreadsheets, presentations, art pads and photo manipulation, we could choose to use from a plethora of readily available free choices.

‘it takes as a basic premise the need for a progressive co-evolution of roles, organisational structures, and technologies (Englebart and Lehtman, 1988), if technology is to be successfully used for group work.’

‘A summary of some of the main findings from studies of traditional (i.e. non technology-supported) course team activities is presented’.

This I consider important as it re-roots us in the very process we are trying to recreate online, a meeting between people, like or not-alike minds, with a common theme and goal.

This report was written for and about teams planning and writing distance teaching materials, however, as it points out,

‘many of the issues raised are relevant to other group collaboration and authoring tasks, such as planning and writing reports, research studies and books.’ Kaye (1992:01)

It makes fascinating reading, not least the comprehensive list of items that would have to be co-ordinate to create a distance learning ‘package,’ resplendent with diskette and C90 audio cassettes, 16 hours of TV and a 300 page course Reader.

Have things moved on?

Where’s our TV in MAODE?

I actually believed in 2001 I’d be getting up in the middle of the night to view lectures.

We don’t have lectures in the MAODE, why not?

It should not be a dying form.

 

The detail of designing, developing and producing a distance education package, though interesting in itself, is not what I’m looking for in this report, so much as how the teams used the then available technology in order to work together collaboratively online.

They had a task to undertake, a goal.

There were clear, agreed stages.

 

The emphasis on this report (or book chapter as it is sometimes referred to) are the ‘human factors’.


A wry smile crosses my face as I read about some of the problems that can arise (it sounds familiar):

  • Lack of consensus
  • Differing expectations Nature of roles and tasks ‘differences in the perceived trustworthiness of different colleagues’ [sic]
  • Different working patterns “Varying preferences in use of technology (which in this case include academics who use word-processors and who ‘draft in manuscript prior to word-processing by secretary” [sic]

Then some apt quotes regarding the process from this disparate group of individuals:

‘working by mutual adjustment rather than unitary consensus, bending and battering the system until it more or less fits’ (Martin, 1979)

‘If some course teams work smoothly, some collapse completely; if some deliver the goods on time, some are hopelessly late. Course teams can be likened to families/ Happy families do exist, but others fall apart when rebellious children leave home or when parents separate; most survive, but not without varying elements of antagonism and resentment.’ (Crick, 1980)

 

There is more

In microcosm it’s just the same on the MAODE.

I come to this conclusion after four or five ‘collaborative’ efforts with fellow students.

 

We’re human

We work together best of all face-to-face, with a real task, tight deadlines and defined roles, preferably after a meal together, and by way of example, putting on a university play would be an example of this.

Recreating much or any of this online, with a collections of heterogeneous strangers, with highly varied lives not just beyond the ’campus’ but possibly on the other side of the planet, is not unexpectedly therefore primed to fail.

This said, in H808, one collaborative experience I was involved with, between six, with one in New Zealand, was a text book success.

 

Why?

As I put it then, ‘we kept the ball rolling,’ in this case the time zones may have helped (and my own insomnia that suggests I am based in Hong Kong not Lewes, East Sussex).

It also helped to have a Training Manager from the Navy, and a Training Manager (or two) from Medicine.

There was professional discipline that students and academics seem to lack.

 

Indeed, as academics often say themselves, they don’t have proper jobs.

Isn’t it about time that they behaved like the professional world, indeed, took lessons from corporate communications instead of getting things wrong all the time?

 

I read this from the 1992 report and wonder if when it comes to the people involved much has changed inside academic institutions.

‘There is evidence to suggest that course team processes can become pathological if the factors listed by Riley(1983) (particularly, it could be argued, the ‘private’ factors) are not properly addressed.’ Kaye, (1992:08).

‘One experienced course team chairman (Drake, 1979) goes so far as to say that …


“the course team is a menace to the academic output and reputation of the Open University,” [sic/ibid]

‘because it provides a framework for protracted (and exciting) academic discussions about possible options for course content and structure, but that when the real deadlines are imminent, many academic are unable to come to define decisions and produce satisfactory material.’

!!!


If academics at the OU can’t (or couldn’t) work together what hope to do mature postgraduates have?

 

Our maturity and NOT being academics probably

‘problems can arise in the relationship between academic staff and radio or television producers’ Nicodemus (1984) points out that the resultant anxieties can cause “ … a lot of flight behaviour which simply delays and dramatises the eventual confrontations.’

 

I have an idea for a soap-opera set on the campus of the OU; this report provides the material

I'm not going to quote it all, but there is some social science behind it. Hopefully this paper or chapter is traceable.

Brooks (1982) has observed that when complex tasks are shared amongst individuals or small working groups, the extra burdens of coordination and communication often counteract the productivity gains expected from division of labour.

 

Problems arise from social psychological processes:

for example, pressures to confirm in a group might cause people to behave less effectively than if they were working alone, and diffusion of responsibility and lack of ownership of a group product can lead to group members contributing less effort to a group task tan they would to a personal, individual, project.

 

However, we are left on a positive note by this report

“ … the cycle of integration-disintegration is, after all, also known to be important in creativity.” (Nicodemus, 1984)

In the case of distributed course teams (eg those working on interdisciplinary, or co-produced courses) where, a priori, a strong case might be made for networked computer support for collaboration, it would seem important to pay even more attention to the underlying dynamics within a team.

 

Enough, enough, enough … I am only half way through this report.

Let’s skip to a conclusion, which is as pertinent today as it was in 1992.

‘The social, psychological, and institutional factors influencing the processes and outcomes of academic teamwork were stressed in the first part of this chapter (see above, this is as far as I got), because these factors are probably of greater overall importance in determining successes than is the nature of any technology support which might be made available to a course team'. Kaye (1992:17)

 

 

REFERENCES

Brooks, F 91982) The mythical man-month: Essays on software engineering. Reading. MA.: Addison-Wesley.

Crick, M (1980) ‘Course teams: myth and actuality’, Distance Education engineering, Reading, MA.: Addison-Wesley.

Drake, M. (1979) ‘The curse of the course team’, Teaching at a distance, 16, 50-53.

Kaye, A.R. (1992) ‘Computer Conferencing and Mass Distance Education’, in Waggoner, M (ed) Empowering Networks: Computer Conferencing in Education, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Educational Technology Publications.

Martin, J. (1979) ‘Out of this world – is this the real OU?” Open Line, 21, 8.

Nicodemus, R (1984) ‘Lessons from a course team’, Teaching at a distance, 25, pp 33-39

Riley, J (1983) The Preparation of Teaching in Higher Education: a study of the preparation of teaching materials at the Open University, PhD Thesis, University of Sussex.

 

Post script

In the course of writing this I discovered (courtesy of Wikipedia) that Leonardo da Vinci may have coined the phrase, or a version of ‘Keep it simple, stupid’ and also invented the pedalo. The mind boggles, or is Leonardo still alive and contributing ? (his fans certainly are).

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