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Spam - none here, ever!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 14 Sep 2010, 15:41

Working with a number of other blogs one thing that strikes me that has to be of enormous worth by committing to the OU platform is the lack of spam.

This may be a basic set up, but it is good at the thing that matters most - permitting the generation of and sharing of content.

Without adverts popping up, spam (deviously written to look like a genuine comment you will find) and the impression that the provider really does want you to upgrade.

What matters in a learning environment are the comments of one or two, perhaps regular readers ... whose blogs you read too.

(whether ot not you care to say 'hi' or comment)

You do not need a presence on a commercial website with a readership of millions to share your OU learning experience. In any case, you'll be lost like a needle in a stack of needles.

Content should be King.

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Put in the disc, and close the door

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 14 Sep 2010, 14:49

Twenty five years ago or so my wife was given this instruction when using a computer for the first time. Like most of the students in the Computer Lab at UCL, London they duly put in the disc, and made sure the door to the lab was closed.

My son had a piece of homework last night that said 'explain what the words in italics mean.'

So he explained what it meant to put words in italics.

I learnt from the an interview on BBC Radio 4 yesterday that the way to 'happiness' and in the context of H808 'The e-Learning Professional' too perhaps, could be to follow the advice you find on the back of a juice carton.

'Stand up in a cool place.'

On rumaging through the fridge all I found was:

'Best before sell by date' and 'Shake Well before pouring.'

We expect instructions to be literal.

We even assume a pattern. No wonder we are so often tripped up when using new software that has its quirks or strange attributes.

Meanwhile, whilst in H807 I was overwhelmed by the amount of reading, in H808 I feel overwhelmed by the desire and need to try out and use regularly a plethora of e-portfolios, and other content sharing and storing software. At the same time, having not used an upgraded version of Word in six years, or Microsoft Outlook ever I am having to tackle rather a lot.

For how long can you afford not to upgrade if eventually when you do so the software looks and behaves in such a foreign way that you feel like a beginner?

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E-portfolios

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 14 Sep 2010, 14:52

As the list of e-portfolios to try grows I find my opening yet another invitation to 'give 'em a go.'

Adobe Share

Having lived very happily with many Adobe products this last decade I feel inclined by brand loyalty to give it a go.

Meanwhile I'm newly signed into:

Zoho

Google Docs

& Mahara

While continuing to load My Stuff ... with My OU Stuff.

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Finding My 'Stuff'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 21:12

'The ultimate aim of personalization is to offer material that meets the needs of the individual learner at the exact moment they need that information.’ Weller. (2007:112)

Unfortunate then to look for Mark Prensky's piece on Digital Natives that I have read, taken notes on and surely put here in the OU Blog and MyStuff.

Unfortunate that I read a few months ago, and took notes, on a piece of research testing Prensky's ideas and concluding that they had no basis in fact. Whether or not a person is tuned into digital technology has nothing to do with when they were born, but everything to do with wherethey are born (opportunity/wealth), the level of education (socio-economic group) they receive and access to kit and Internet access (geography).

What have I failed to do? I tag furiously.

P.S. I use the term 'stuff' with its recently acquired modern defintion as in 'stuff online' or 'any digital asset, so photo, animation, podcast, text, pdf etc:'

P.P.S. I takes me over an hour to find the llink and article. I had quoted this in my ECA for H807. I searched by title and author in the E-Journal part of the OU Library, with no joy. Then went into the Journal itself, had no joy where is shared/managed through EBSCOT but finally had succcess through the publishers homepage and courtesy of my access privileges as an OU Student.

Helsper, Ellen Johanna and Eynon, Rebecca (2010) 'Digital natives: where is the evidence?', British Educational Research Journal, 36:3, 503 - 520, First published on: 17 June 2010 (iFirst)

Can be found here:

http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all?content=10.1080/01411920902989227

My mistake, finally spotted. Not 2009 as I had, but 2010. I wonder if my tutor will spot this when marking my ECA. She's very good at this kind of thing!

REFERENCE

Weller, M (2008) Virtual Learning Environments

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Compendium

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 12 Sep 2010, 15:00

I'm keeping a 'log' of my progress into Compendium private for now. I may in due course edit this down into some succinct steps picking out anything that may trip up the unwary or some new take on how it can be used.

Meanwhile, bouyant as a result of advice and suggestions given by other OU students I am going to do some housekeeping on usernames and passwords then give some other software a go if only to have a break from Compendium.

If you are looking at Compendium for the first time do get in touch, we could get our heads around this together.

Yes, two heads are better than one.

 

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Sunday 12th September 2010

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 14 Sep 2010, 14:54

Some of the software I am trying to get my head around:

  • Outllook
  • Zoho
  • Compendium
  • Learning Clubs
  • Word (2002-2010)
  • Skype
  • Google Docs
  • Mahara
  • Peeblepad

COMPENDIUM 09.15 12th SEPT 2010

Having created the contents for a map inside my home page I cannot figure out how to save it or to create another map. Listing through the movie, or screencast, or animation, or whatever you want to call it, I pick up, at last on the concept of a map being like a folder so by typing M I get a map (or folder) in which to build my content. Of course at first I do not simply type m, I type CTRL 'm' as I expect it to function in this way. Wrong, just type the letter 'm'. So, one step forward, three steps back, four steps forward and I get theresad

With a Map open, it being a folder, I hazzard a guess that my first experimental Knowledge Map can, through drop and drag go into this Mapfolder. Wrong. No probs. I spent 30 mins thinking it through, I can delete it all and start afresh and do a better job of it second time round. Just as well this isn't a real job.

Things need to be called what they do or are. When is a folder not a folder? When its a map. But it isn't a map, it's an electronic flip chart, or organiser, or plannogramme. It isn't a map in the Ordance Survey sense of the word. Though is it a Mind Map. (Didn't someone try to trademark the term?)

I press on.

I do expect this. Learn a bit. Have a bit of a go. Delete. Try again.

I take the project I developed in H807 and type in the 'Learning Problem' and put this at the core of building a response, not the assignment, but the way forward to seek financing, assemble a team, budget, schedule and then produce a piece of e-learning.

I rock 'n roll between the Knowledge Map I am constructing and the instruction in the Screencast Movie. I have seen that there are several of these, so will inch forward taking instruction, giving it a go, and hopefully producing something of use by the end of it. The test will be to send it to a.n.other for their input.

Making a Start. The second time.

  • Type M to start a folder/file thingey
  • Stuff includes:
  • Pro Nodes and Con Nodes
  • 'Populating' nodes with uploads, links and type notes/lists.
  • Questions
  • Ideas
  • Arguments
  • Linking ideas
  • Connecting up 'fragments' or 'ideas' (stuff, or assets, or nuggets)
  • Bringing in ideas (from folder and files, various types/formats)

 (As I'm in the process of migrating folder from my ancient iBook to a second hand PC laptop the 'assets' I might attach/enclose at this time aren't available. This 'dual existance' on MAC and PC can be resolve by using another e-learning tool - clouds. These assets, strategically chosen and appropriately protected, out to be online. Like I guess several hundred photographs that are currently 'shared' between Kodak Eashare (new version) and Flickr ... as well as Face Book.)

COMPENDIUM 11.45 12th SEPT 2010

Already feel I am creating a Map in Compendium that collates my thinking to date in a single page of links rather than a 2,000 proposal or a Power Point Presentation.

My immediate dilemma is starting to realise how Compendium could be used for several other projects that became hopeless tangled over the last decade. These are speculative writing and TV or film production projects. For instance, 'The Watersprites' is a photojournal that in part tells the story as well as identifying intended locations for shooting. It is also a shortfilm on YouTube. It is also a synopsis, more than one treatment, a handful of characters and a few too many scripts that would benefit greatly from this approach. I can see that by being reminded visually of where a project is going, parameters are set and a logical outcome is more likely.

Knowledge Mapping contains the fireworks and permits them.

  • Assigning tags
  • 'Harvesting' tags from one map or many
  • with a nod to Mac users (probably the presenters prefered platform)
  • But how to save? Can I assume this map will still be there when I come back?

I like the way a problem or tentative proposal can be thought through and shared without it needing to become what may on appearanve read like or look like a finished document.

COMPENDIUM 15.30 12th SEPT 2010 Part Two

I needed the break. The fact that I am playing more with the Knowledge Map I have created rather that listening to more 'how to movies ...' is a positive sign. The fact that I have pulled out a set of A1 card and laminated overlays of a presentation I gave a fw weeks ago ... is a positive step. I think I can create electronic, digitally enhanced versions of these on Compendium, the 'retro-fit' part of the learning process, but the end result something I can then share with colleagues.

I think with these A1 sheets I will photgraph them (far too large to scan) then create an overlay in Adobe Photoshop which in turn will be one of a series of slides in Power Point.

These in turn will be linked and expanded with Compendium so that at each step furthe information can be drawn upon. This is a five year/six year plan so we'll be coming back to it repeatedly using it to guide decissions as well as to provide evidence. (This is swimming, our National Governing Body, the ASA want all clubs to achieve then retain a national standard for best practice. We hold three accreditations and are aspiring to a fourth).

Tidying up a Knowledge Map with an 'arrange.'

With my example 'control R' turned an organic, flowing chart of links into a hideous 1960s string art thing that didn't read well at all. In other cases it doe work well, it depends rather on how well developed your thinking is. 

Organising the world the way you think about it

I like the sound of this ... which is good if you want to create something original (which I do), but is somewhat harder if you are trying to conform, i.e. to follow a pattern expected by others (for examples in an assessment). Even a Hollywood Movie ... there are certain prescribed patterns and expectations.

 

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Author Steven Pressfield on overcoming resistance by being professional

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 10 Sep 2010, 23:31

The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle

by Steven Pressfield

The key word through-out ‘The War of Art’ is ‘Resistance’ – i.e. that which prevents us from doing.

Steven Pressfield’s advice is to sit down and do it like a pro.

That’s the book in two lines.

Professionals and amateurs

‘The word amateur from the Latin root meaning 'to love'.

The conventional interpretation is that the amateur pursues his calling out of love, while the pro does if for money.

Not the way I see it. In my view, the amateur does not love the game enough. If he did, he would pursue it as a sideline, distinct from his real vocation. The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time’. Pressfield (2002)

This is familiar territory.

I heard it first from Richard Nelson E Bolles in ‘What Color’s Your Parachute?’ (New editions most years 1970-2011)

His advice is:

‘You become a professional by behaving like one.’ Bolles (1970)

Pressfield is derogatory about amateurs who toy with their art and blame the way they toy around for their failure.

‘We're all Pros already’ he encourages us to believe.

‘Resistance knows that the amateur composer will never write his symphony because he is overly invested in its success and over terrified of its failure. The amateur takes it so seriously it paralyses him’.
Pressfield (2002)

A Professional is patient

Resistance outwits the amateur with the oldest trick in the book: It uses his own enthusiasm against him. Resistance gets us to plunge into a project with an over ambitious and unrealistic timetable for its completion. It knows we can't sustain that level of intensity.

We will hit the wall. We will crash.

‘A professional accepts no excuses’
Pressfield (2002)

He knows if he caves in today, no matter how plausible the pretext, he'll be twice as likely to cave in tomorrow.

‘A professional does not take failure (or success) personally’ Pressfield (2002)

Resistance uses fear of rejection to paralyse us and prevent us, if not from doing our work, then from exposing it to public evaluation.

‘Starting is not my problem.' Pressfield (2002)

Starting something else is my problem. Being distracted is my problem.

I need to be behave like a professional BECAUSE I am not paid ... and then I will be.

REFERENCE

Pressfield, S (2002) The War of Art.

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Skype across the decades

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 10 Sep 2010, 21:29

Just spent the last two hours in conversation with a university contemporary and colleague from the 1980s and 1990s with whom I produced numerous training and information films. I would produce and write, he'd direct and edit. Last job we did together? 1996, the launch of the European Stock Exchange EASDAQ. (Which coinsided with the home birth of my son smile

The match of skills that worked in the past will as a result be renewed - he is highly technical and has been generating video material for smartphones for the last year. We've both approached online learning from different perspectives, but have a child-like curiosity still.

We laughed over a comment, very 80s, that a senior producer in corporate video production made to us as we started out, that people can be put into three categories: maps, taps and chaps.

Maps. Making and fixing stuff.

Taps. Accountants and writing.

Chaps. Selling and getting on with people.

My thinking is that a basic team of three needs one of each, though two would do as long as all bases are covered. He is the map, I'm the tap, so we need a 'chap.'

The language may be arcane, but the thinking is sound.

Now that I am happy on Skype I'm more than happy to use this tool more often.

I have several other tools to use though, e-portfolios, wikis, compendium ...

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A forum is not a tutorial, yet it aspires to be so

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 5 Oct 2012, 23:07

A forum is not a tutorial, yet it aspires to be so.

The tutor is afforded no more privileges than any other contributor, democratic, but hardly giving them the attributes or affordances of the 'chair.' (Although I’m sure they have some useful control and buttons behind the scenes!)

A tutorial works best one-to-one (like therapy), face-to-face, or in a small group, say six at most, discussing in an synchronous environment.

(James Turner, Policy Director at the Sutton Trust suggested supplementary tutoring of school students one-to-one was most common, two-to-one worked even better because of the collaboratory experience. BBC Radio 4 10.00 Tuesday 7th September 2010, Accessed again 16.00 Saturday 12th September 2010)

You get a cue from the tutor to speak or contribute while body language and human politeness typically results in each person making contributions. Often the person who says nothing for long spells has the most insightful contribution because they have been listening.

I respect the person who says nothing the most – they have the most to say.

Twelve or more is a class. This is an e-classroom.

Easy to define as such, just consider the numbers.

I have taught classes of forty+ in secondary schools and taken ‘classes’ of sixty (with assistance) in an eight lane swimming pool. Numbers mean something, one to one is perfection, with two to one you lose nothing (and academics suggest you probably gain).

Moving up from this ... a tutor group in the real world might be six.

No surprises when things don’t work so well, whatever the affordances, or excuses of asynchronous learning/messaging when there are groups of twelve or more.

Asynchronous forums are not a listening environment, nor due to the limitations of an OU Forums affordances and attributes does in foster the kind of discussion you'd have in real life.

A suggested improvement would be:

1) Put the tutor in the chair and have this position reflected in the layout of and the way message 'tumble' into the forum.

2) Compress or concertina all messages by an individual so that the 'weight' of their message, either the frequency of contribution or length is not given prominence. i.e. the short, infrequent post has equal weight with the more verbose or frequent contribution. This mimics real life.

3) To make all things equal the images files and silhouettes are reduced in size, to a pinpoint if necessary. Their only relevance is to identify who is speaking or who spoke, in which case our names would do. I’d just as happily pick a character icon from the Monopoly or Cludo, my gender, face, mood at the time of the picture etc: are not only irrelevant but they are probably counter to my usual stern disposition.

4) Use something like Harvard's 'Rotisserie' system, deploy games and other events tactically i.e hosts/tutors and other strategically deployed postgraduate and/or PhD students are invited in from time to time to make a contribution.

Some suggestions. Some ideas.

 

 

 

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Google Docs

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 9 Sep 2010, 07:08

Prompted to give Google Docs a go I find within a couple of minutes I am Google-smacked!

Overwhelmingly impressive.

e-Life transforming. e-Things will never be the same.

I've only just crept on from Word 2002 in the last few weeks, so to be hit with so much more I feel like someone who has been trying to ski on a dry-slope strapped to planks of wood who has just been let loose on an Olympic Piste in the latest Salamon gear!

My 'MyStuff' days (six months actually) are also numbered. I knew that I had to 'populate' such a resource with material to give myself something to play with, but Google Docs without any doubt, on first impressions takes what MyStuff could have been in the commercial arena and realises it.

Google Docs has translated the desiress, hopes and expectations I had for MyStuff into a user-friendly and intuitive interface.

All I want to do now is share, share, share ... and go and compare.

And write more and read more and never leave my desk again.

In fact, I may re-instigate my exercise-bike as work-station. This is a standard exercisebike with the handle bars removed. Instead I have a lectern of sorts with a keyboard sensibly covered in a plastic skin. In this way I can type and bike!

Yee-ha!

(The second term of the day, did it with heebie-jeebies an hour ago, that I have put through the OED online)

Between them, the OED online and Google Docs leave me feeling like a kid on Christmas Morning with two brilliant but quite unexpected gifts!

Yee-hoo-oo-o!

And then I put a document into Google Docs, my piece on H808 First Impressions (below) and out of curiosity had it translated into French.

OMG

Though I understand French well enough to work in the country and can speak it OK, my written French is attrocious. Has this just given me the facility to communicate at a reasonable level with written French? Its an incredible, by default personalised language learning tool if nothing else.

Perhaps I could head for France in the next couple of months after all?

On verra.

I've regained the will to live.

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The outcomes of H808 Unit 1

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 31 Aug 2011, 03:34

The outcomes of this first unit are:

  1. to appreciate the range of potential interpretations of the concept of an ‘elearning professional’
  2. assess the roles that different technologies might play in your own development during the first four units of H808.

The first has been covered thoroughly and discussions are now playing out in the tutor forum.

The second I need to get to grips with:

Blogging and forum entries I can do.

More work required on:

  • The OU Library
  • Wikis
  • MyStuff
  • Compendium

Have I?

Read carefully through the Course Guide and the Assignment Guide

Scan through the materials for each of the first four units.

Have I? Core Activity 1.3

Looked at the following resources:

  1. The map of the H808 virtual environment (in the Resources section of the H808 homepage). This will give an overview of the technical environment, and also some suggestions as to what you might focus on if you are a novice or an ‘old hand’ with these tools.
  2. The various technical guides that you will find in the OU Computing Guide at http://www.open.ac.uk/computingguide/start.html.
  3. The Technical and skills forum, where the online moderator will be available to answer questions and give advice, together with the more technically expert of the H808 student participants. Please make use of all these sources of help. If you hit a problem, don’t suffer in silence!
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H808 First Impressions. Week 1.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 13:16

H808 First Impressions

Someone’s been busy over the summer recess. smile

There are several noticeable differences:

In addition to the tutor there is a technical expert (Hi Helen) ‘embedded’ in the course to take a proactive role ensuring that none of us get the hebegebes with the technology. Even the basic functioning of the OU platform and its myriad of tools, attributes, quirks and foibles, can be daunting or at least irksome for the IT proficient. I doubt I am alone when I find at times I ‘just don’t get it’ when all it needs is someone to look over my shoulder and say, ‘try pressing that,’ or you’ve missed out a letter, or ‘there’s a really easy way to do that.’ I am at that stage where I am tripped up by a single letter of HTML code ... only to find that I don't need to be reading or trying to read code, if I understood how to use the e-tools being offered. Curiously this role may do more to bring students from the different tutor groups together than the mere offering of forums for this purpose ... a cafe where there is no coffee. mixed

The tutor is around a lot. (Hi Trevor).

(I have not lurked around other tutor groups to see what is going on, so perhaps we can have a pow-wow on this or what I read in an article on e-learning, a 'tribal meeting; which I suppose is a meeting of department heads, or vice-chancellors i.e. the chiefs?).

This may just be a start of course thing, but I sense a wind change that is going beyond the basic set-up to support collaboration elucidated by Salmon regarding e-moderating. My prediction is that the call-centre like support, online and on the phone, that is offered corporate e-learners and e-trainers may become something that H.E. institutions need to provide, populated by undergraduates (2nd years as it were), as well as graduates, not just the traditional PhD student as part time tutor and lecturer ... as well as Senior Tutors.

I’d like the occasional host guest or a heavy hitter too, the participation of those who wrote the module, designed the course or whose work is most often cited.

The title 'H808 Environment Map' is an unnecessarily disingenuous term for a fantastic, indispensable guide. This isn't a map, it is 'The Lonely Planets' map, plan and guide pocket book for H808. It should be on the inside cover of what is the H808 Course Book. It should be wall-paper on the homepage i.e. you go nowhere and try nothing until you have consumed it. I'm going to print it off, laminate it and put it on my desktop, the tabletop wooden one i.e. extract it from its binary code and give it form on paper.

Something’s been refreshed in the OU Library.

My first impression would be to say from a design point of viewit has been ‘Google-ised,’ i.e, its appearance has been cleared up and simplified. Is it that designers and programmers in time can prioritise their choice of tools and offer in a more clinical way the tools they know users will need as they progress through their search rather than offering a High Street DIY store cornucopia of e-tic-tacs and e-tools that may or may not be required and probably do little more than scare and confuse in equal measure.

The resources and supplementary reading have all been accessed within the last couple of months and the links work.

In H807 it was a bugbear, not overly regular, but frequent enough, to find that links did not work so documents were not found speedily. The sifting out of redundant papers and reports (their points of view have been superseded by the technology and actual practice rather than the conjecture and hyperbole of some academics and commentators) as well as the checking and fixing of links is important. It is a considerable frustration, though understandable, that published version of books.

Not overly burdensom or keen to read two study-related books over the summer (July/August) Weller’s Virtual Learning Environments(2007) and Conole and Oliver's (eds) Contemporary perspectives in e-learning Research (2007), that very few of the links to URLS given to follow up references work (very few, may be none!) and then seeking them through the OU library doesn’t always prove successful either, no fault of the library, but links into this amorphous universe that is Cyberspace leaves some e-references wanting. And being who I am I want these references as qualifying and verifying is part of the ‘bonding process’ that this student requires to feel thoroughly engaged with the material.

Might I suggest that putting an URL for an article or blog comment into a print-published book is about as lasting as putting a sparkler in a birthday cake - by the time you want to eat the cake the sparkler has burnt out.

I like the new 'tick box' alongside the study planner to help mark off your progress.

Happy Days, Exciting Days in OU Land

P.S. Did you know you have access to the Oxford English Dictionaryonline as an OU Student. This is like being invited to Versailles during the reign of the Sun King. Brilliant. Except it can't help me with 'hebe-gebe.' A term used by my family, or a Geordie term for feeling a bit nervous, gets the goose-bumps up, a tad scary in a Ghost Train ride kind of way?

P.P.S. Just learnt a few tricks to search for a word in the OED and found 'heebie-jeebie.'  A feeling of discomfort, apprehension, or depression; the ‘jitters’; delirium tremens; also, formerly, a type of dance. (OED) Far from being my native Geordie, it is 1920s New York American.

6.00am and I've learnt something new already! approve

9/9/10 is going to be a fun day.

8/9/10 was magic.

I wonder why? thoughtful

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Blogging. A private journal, journalistic or academic?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Jul 2012, 13:05

Three Degrees of Blogging

If it plays to how it is defined, a ‘weblog’ then it should be nothing more than a captain’s log, in the style of Star Trek, that logs position and events as they occur.

Web pages, cobbled together into a journal like experience defy what the web affords.

The person who keeps a diary in a hardback notebook, or one of those Five Year Diaries with a flimsy padlock, have to keep notes on specific dates in the calendar, online the daily webpage is a falsehood, it is a devise that obliges something that is wholly unnecessary.

Personally, long ago, I ditched all pretence at writing a daily entry (even if I did so), by archiving entries by category.

Weblog as webstorage or repository.

More like the modern e-portfolio I suppose. The idea concept is easily controverted. Writing pages of fiction, with comments turned on make sharing and critique immediately possible. Allow any number of readers to contribute directly to the pages and the weblog becomes both a blog and a wiki.

Can we ‘wikify’ a website?

And do I coin such a word as soon as I tell my dictionary to accept the term? Which makes me wonder – is there a way for multiple users to share the contents of their dictionaries?

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H808 Activity 1.1. The e-learning professional Professional

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 12:08

The following bullet points list the views of the Senior Tutors regarding professionalism. There were speaking in the introductory podcast to the module ‘The E-learning Professional.’ (H808)

What does it mean to be a Professional (or simply professional)?

Robin Mason

* Has been doing it for a long time or hasn’t.
* PhD vs. Undergraduate.
* Has put in the hours or hasn’t.
* Mature or not.
* Experienced or not yet.

Gill Kirkup

* An established field vs. new field.
* Follows standards. vs. No standards followed.
* Part of a professional association. vs. not.
* Part of the UK Higher Education Academy or not.
* Part of a legitimate community or not.
* Committed or not.
* Respectful of learners or not.
* Licensed or not.

Robin Goodfellow

* Genuine vs. not.
* Recognised vs. unrecognised.
* Experienced vs. Inexperienced.
* Independent or not.
* Has a technical foundation or doesn’t.

Chris Jones

* Takes time or doesn’t.
* Specialist (secretive) vs. Part of the mainstream.
* Enthusiast or not interested enough.
* The professional sports person vs. amateurs.
* Autonomous vs. dependent
* Independent vs. not objective or balanced.
* Part of such a trade association or not.
* Specialist vs. generalist.
* Part of something vs. an outsider.
* Formalised standards vs. none
* Monitored vs. Unmonitored
* Little ‘p’ pr big ‘P.’

To these I would add:

* A Professional had form whereas a non-professional does not.
* Self-taught or received a formal education (HE and beyond)?

I disagree with Gill Kirkup suggestion that only in an established field is something professional. I agree however, with Gill Kirkup’s views regarding ‘respect’.

I disagree with Robin Goodfellow’s view that a professional must be independent. Being Professional doesn’t mean you can’t also be biased or bigoted.

‘Big P, little p’ is an interesting idea.

Depending on how your measure up, by Chris Jones’s definition, you are either Big P or Little p. Is it the case that a practising lawyer is a Professional, while a painter and decorator can be professional? Is a good lawyer a professional Professional, while a good decorator is simple a professional painter?

The term ‘professional’ is an adjective and a noun.

Anyone can be described as ‘professional,’ (adjective) by dint of their behaviour and experience, however to be a ‘professional’, (noun), various criteria should be met.

Might a professional be defined as someone with ‘qualified confidence in their field?’

Professionals put in the time and effort, and follow rather than ignore guidelines for the community in which they operate. It matters that you are paid for something you are good at; being a Professional implies that you are paid.

A final thought

What’s a professional Professional? The opposite of an amateur Amateur.

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The e-learning professional. (v. long)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 31 Jan 2013, 06:23

The podcast H808 e-learning SMEs.

(Makes them sound like a prog rock band of the 1960s. Perhaps they were?)

[V. Long version here. 4,000 words +. 1,000 or under in H808 Tutor Forum.

Edited versions in the next 24 hours/couple of days in EduBlogs at www.mindbursts.edublogs.org]

Week One

I may be a professional swimming coach (amongst several things), but my head coach told me ‘I think too much.’ Think less and get the athletes to do more. Keep it simple. If there is any context however where thinking is the currency, literally if we are talking professionalism, then the more I think the more professional I become.

(Or not).

Many would say that a 3,000 word blog entry is 'unprofessional.'

I call it shared reflection, the 'uncut version.' It is the outcome of over five hours thinking on the topic. Hours banked. Ideas turned into cash. By definition when I have made two years worth of regular deposits I may call myself and even be defined as an 'e-learning professional' with the MA to suggest I have joined that club, and a job that for the remuneration I receive makes me a professional rather than a wishful thinking wannabe.

It is unprofessional as a post-graduate student to be flippant and/or verbose.

A professional would keep this down to 500 words, yet I am stretching it to 3,000. The uncut version. Reflection in action. My mind at work. Not the athlete sharing a few ‘mots justes’ after a successful race, but the race itself and all the training before hand. The choice words, bullet point form only with an abridged commentary goes into my Tutor Group Forum. Under 250 words there, is my targert. Under 1,000 words per OU blog had been my thinking too. Blown that then.

Watching the TV I fall asleep.

Listening to the radio (i.e. any audio) I do something else - I’d be distracted anyway, I have to.

In an effort to get into my head the points being made by OUr E-learning Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) I first read the transcripts provided and then listened to the podcast while reading the text.

What shocked me was how much I had missed.

I do less than skim read it appears, all I must do is to look at patterns and shapes. No wonder I learn so little when I do nothing more than read.

Lesson learnt?

This isn’t an 'airport thriller' I can read at break-neck speed chaisng the protagonist as he is in turn chased; this requires a different kind of reading.

It requires effort.

I must work with the text, make notes. Just highlighting choices words and sentences isn’t enough either. Effort I can do. It is consistent effort unless I am working under exam conditions where I struggle. There is always something more interesting to read.

Historically, when successful academically, it has been a huge effort and very time consuming for me. I have to take notes (long hand). Then I have to take notes on the notes. I have to make lists, take quotes and re-order the material. I may still not make sense of it. I need to chase up a few references. I need to find my own patterns. I need to discuss it. Argue about it, agree and disagree. And then, gathering up a wad of papers and scraps of paper the whole lot needs to compost for a few months. Then, and only then, might I start to ‘get it,’ and have something constructive and original to say.

Do any of us have this kind of time anymore? Did we ever?

(My late father, my daughter and a friend, a partner in one of the world's leading law firms, all have/had photographic memories. They would have read the transcript and been able to pick out its salient points after the first swift reading. Not so me, not so us?)

The process you see playing out here is an attempt to mulch the content, slow cook it and hope that I can achieve something in five hours that would normall require five months.

Keep cooking.

The second time round with the SME podcast I first worked with the text, highlighting points and generally trying to get my head around it. If you’ve come across Jakob Nielsen’s ‘Writing for the Web,’ this is what I did – isolating sentences and ideas, creating headings, sub-headings and bullet points, in a word ‘chunking. In fact, I begin to get close to doing what Richard Northridge recommends in the ‘OU Guide to Studying’ (1990) note taking, creating concept cards and then even looking for links and patterns in the text itself.

Lesson learnt?

This takes time and requires effort. I’m not great on effort. My modus operandi is (or has been) to take in volumes of material, but if this is only at a surface level no wonder I am often more frustrated than informed.

Lesson learnt?

Less is more. Rather than chasing a reference, another report or book, I need, at first, to ensure that the text I have in front of me has been dissected, not consumed, not afforded nothing more than a passing glance, but pulled apart, then reconstructed.

Lesson learnt?

Effort

Not the expected outcome of this simple task – my faltering approach to learning laid bare, but a valuable lesson at the start of the module.

At last I’m listening to the podcast.

I made myself think, made myself listen, I 'sat forward' (the technical term for interacting, for engagement.) I made myself read and take notes, made me list the contrasting ideas, the arguments for and against, the justifications ... and to cluster these ideas and adjust my own thoughts accordingly based on my experience.

I had something to think about as I listened.

Do I have anything in common with these e-learning professionals in relation to assumptions and aims?

  • Do I have different understandings of what it means to be an ‘elearning professional’?
  • Is there a distinct elearning profession, or is elearning simply an aspect of other professions?
  • The profession of teacher?
  • The profession of a university lecturer or academic?
  • The profession of a trainer or staff developer or a human resources developer in private corporate bodies?
  • Is there an elearning professional?
  • And should I be describing my job as that of an elearning professional?

My short reply, given my background in sports coaching, is simple.

  • If you are paid you are a professional.
  • If you are the athlete and not paid you are an amateur.
  • If you’re the coach and not paid you are a volunteer.

Therefore, if someone is good enough and experienced enough (or simply good at selling themselves and their ideas) – and they are remunerated for their efforts, then they are a professional.

Rebecca Addlington is a professional athlete. Bill Furness, her coach, is a professional too.

At my swimming club all the swimmers are amateur, though some through bursaries to pay for County and Regional development training are by definition quasi-professional as they are receiving benefits if not in cash, then in kind. Some of the coaches and I do not define myself as a swimming coach; it’s a hobby that’s got out of hand.

I have ‘put in the hours.’

(Which I can qualify by saying I have put in the appropriate hours. i.e. time will not make you a professional, the enduring focus of your efforts will)

One of the key themes of the podcast made by each of the speakers is that a professional has put in the time.

They have put in the effort, gained experience that is directly or indirectly relevant to their e-learning expertise – and by dint of this expertise (and being paid by the OU, for books and reports, lectures and workshops too perhaps) they are all professionals.

At the swimming club many of us (its the biggest club in the South of England) have earned our places through years of experience, gaining qualifications and attending regular courses (CPD) to retain a licence to teach or coach aquatics. Many of us, paid or not, can call ourselves 'professionals.'

Just as I’ve reduced my core thought to that of the contract between a professional and an amateur, by picking out the ideas of each speaker and doing something similar a number of interesting points regarding what it means to be an ‘e-learning professional’ emerge.

In this see-saw of ideas the protagonists have a habit of changing places.

By defining professional we should also think what it means to be unprofessional.

I’ve allowed this dance to play out as it leaves me with an image of a professional being circled by the professional wannabe, the unprofessional (as yet), the layperson, the naive, virgin student. A mass of non-professionals clamoring around the few.

The points and arguments frequently fall into another diametrically opposed set: the qualitative vs. quantitative, an objective point vs. the subjective, a value judgment vs. the facts. Everything overlaps - a Venn Diagram of the points would show sets within sets.

Adrian Kirkup

· Amateur vs. Professional (there are many highly ‘professional’ amateurs)

· Ineffective vs. effective.

Robin Mason

· Hasn’t done it for long vs. been doing it for a long time

· Undergraduate vs. PhD (A sub-set of the above)

· Hasn’t put in the hours vs. has put in the hours (more of the same)

· Immature vs. Mature (a variation of the same. Though professionalism is not a consequence of maturity)

· Inexperienced vs. Experienced.(Experience that takes time to acquire, and a certain manner to be effective)

Gill Kirkup

· A new field vs. an established field. (Disagree. Though a new field of subset of a professional activity would be definably professional).

· New vs. Established. (as above)

· No established standards vs. abides by general and specific received standards.

· Acting alone or part of a professional association.

· Part of the UK Higher Education Academy or not. (a subset of the above)

· Part of a legitimate community or not. (as above)

· Committed vs. Uncommitted.

· Respectful vs. Disrespectful.

· Respect for the individual learner, incorporating research and scholarship, the development of learning communities online is a hugely strong component in professional elearning practice. (successfully combines the subjective and unquantifiable with the quantifiable and objective)

· Juvenile and professional vs. professional only if matured. (as Robin Mason)

· Unlicensed vs. Licensed.

Robin Goodfellow

· Genuine vs. not genuine.

· Unrecognised vs. Recognised.

· Inexperienced vs. Experienced.

· Independent vs. tied (to government or a business).(disagree)

· Technical foundation vs. no technical foundation

· No need for a label, e-learning professional vs. professional enhancer. (strongly agree)

Chris Jones

· Takes time vs. no time.(as Robin Mason and Robin Goodfellow. You have to put in the time to become a professional. Which I guess applies as much to the professional criminal, as the Professional lawyer. Little p, Big P- see below)

· Part of the mainstream vs. Specialist. (disagree)

· ‘Lone Ranger’ and early stages of innovation ... vs. early majority and established (themes of Rogers)

· Enthusiasts vs. the not interested. (strongly agree)

· Society and the professionalisation of modern life (quotable)

· Sport in the 20th century and professional vs. amateurs in sport

· Traditional and modern professionals

· Autonomous vs. dependent

· Trustworthy vs. (spin/PR/Branding/Agenda)

· Not part of a trade association or governing body vs. part of such an association

· Generalist vs. specialist

· An outside vs. part of something

· Formalised standards vs. none

· Unmonitored vs. monitored

· Is there a distinct elearning profession, or is elearning simply an aspect of other professions?

· Little ‘p’ pr big ‘P.’

Jonathan Vernon (moi)

· Doesn’t look the part vs. looks the part.

· Lacks form vs. has form.

· Self-taught vs. ‘done a course.’

· Qualified (with the piece of paper to prove it) vs. Unqualified (however expert they may be).

Some thoughts on the points identified above

It is worth reflecting on Robin Mason’s point about ‘putting in the hours.’

The suggestion that genius and expertise requires 10,000 hours of effort is no urban myth. A study carried out at the Berlin Music Conservatoire identified three groups of graduates. Asked to estimate how many hours of practice and playing each student had put in since picking up an instrument they were then divided into three distinct categories: up to 4,000 hours, up to 8,000 hours and up to 10,000 hours. The first became teachers, the second category got places in orchestras whilst the tiny number who had put in 10,000 hours (takes around 10 years to do this) were most likely to be the solo artists, the concert pianists, the mavericks, the Vanessa Maes and Mozarts. Whilst all these categories are professionals, they are paid for their skills, the use of the word ‘professional’ to distinguish those who are expert, who have attained a certain standard, would in my view apply to the musicians who have made it into a top orchestra – with the soloists in a category beyond the ‘professional.’ Our ‘OU H808 E-learning SME professionals', given the decades of thought they have put into what we now define as ‘e-learning’, have been part of this ‘orchestra’ of professionals for some time, and who knows, we may have a Mozart amongst them. Personally, I've not read enough from any of them yet to know any better. I look forward to hearing what they have to say and how they say it.

Interestingly, Robin Mason returns repeatedly to a theme of time passing, of gaining, requiring or acquiring maturity of thought. Though I feel as if I am clutching at ideas in an amorphous cloud here, my sense is that whether it is professional with a big P or a little p, that the word ‘maturity'; might say it all.

What does maturity imply?

Growing up, lessons learnt, age, growth, adult hood, a way of behaving, able to fit in and contribute to a community and so on.

I disagree with Gill Kirkup

If I have understood her correctly regarding her suggesting that only in an established field is something professional whilst in a new field this is not possible. We can all think of (or at least imagine) an unprofessional ‘professional.’ The corrupt lawyer, the doctor struck off the medical register, the TV food expert who is not a doctor at all (and so a sham professional).

In 2000 I would have defined myself, as some of the panel here would have done, as what is now termed an ‘e-learning’ professional. After fifteen years in corporate communications, training and learning, creating linear, then non-linear and ultimately web-based materials the companies and government department for whom I worked through various production companies had to see me as ‘professional.’ I hadn’t done the post-graduate studying, but I’d learnt through observation and experience (first carrying video kit into the changing rooms of a nuclear power plant age 17 assisting with a training film for BNFL at Sellafield).

Interestingly, I don’t currently consider myself to be an e-learning or a learning professional and even with the MA I hope to gain in 2011 I will by my own definition not be a professional until I am being paid for my expertise.

To use a horse-racing term I lack 'form.'

I'm literally out of the race (for now).

Being studious here and building my confidence is part of the plan to regain the 'professional' tag.

Does a barrister on retirement cease to be a professional lawyer?

Socio-econonmically he/she would still be defined as a 'professional' would they not?

I agree however, very much, with Gill Kirkup’s views regarding ‘respect’ and her definition of an e-learning professional within the academic community.

Respect for the individual learner, incorporating research and scholarship, the development of learning communities online is a hugely strong component in professional elearning practice.’

(This, for me, successfully combines the subjective and unquantifiable with the quantifiable and objective. i.e. you can be a professional Professional).

I disagree with Robin Goodfellow’s view that a professional must be independent vs. tied (to government or a business). If we look beyond e-learning professionals and academia it would be quite wrong to say that someone is not professional simply because they represent the interests of an organisation or government department, let alone are being paid to take a certain stance or have a strongly held view (left or right wing politically, religious or atheist and so on).

If nothing else, I believe I have shown above that there is a natural dichotomy, if not a debate even an implicit conflict, between views on whether a person, or institution, or field of study, can be defined as professional or not, worthy of study or not.

It is engagement in such a debate where a professional proves their credentials.

A professional is a match for anyone, whilst the unprofessional would not play by the rules, make excuses, bow out...

Dare I imply that all the above are differentiating between the educated and uneducated?

Is it so black and white? Students at school, scholars as Edwardian’s would have defined them, and undergraduates, graduates too, in terms of education can never be defined as ‘professional.’

Or can they?

The government pays students to go to college, to stay on in secondary school after the age of 16 – does not this make them pros, like a boy of a similar age getting paid to play football in an academy, they literally ‘turn pro.’

I agree with Robin Goodfellow that there is ‘need for a label’, that what is currently the e-learning professional may be the ‘professional enhancer ‘of the future if the UK HE Academy has their way (though I doubt the term will stick). Just as Robin was (we were) once web-based learning professionals, or learning professionals, or professionals in education...

Big P, little p (Chris Jones) is the most memorable expression of an idea in relation to the professional Professional that I take from this and a worthy talking point. And 2,500 words in I could sum it up with a Twitter count.

Professional is an adjective and a noun.

Anyone can be described as ‘professional,’ (adjective) by dint of their behaviour and experience, however to be a ‘professional’, (noun), various criteria should be met. Depending on how your measure up, by Chris Jones’s definition, you are either Big or Little P.

(I can think of other categories where a similar way of looking at things could be applied, for example, ‘engineer’. The person who fixes my washing machine may call himself an ‘engineer,’ but Isambard Kingdom Brunel was an ‘Engineer’. A sports psychologist is no longer allowed to call themselves such, they are sports scientists. So Psychologist, if not professional, not has a legally binding form of expression and use).

I disagree however with Chris Jone’s view that Professionals (big P you notice) have to be specialists whilst implicitly, if they are professional at all (little p) they are not, or unlikely to be so if they are part of the mainstream.

Or do I?

(I'm changing my mind as I write this, reflecting on a matter tends to do this. You twist yourself in so many knots and then find you are looking in the opposite direction - and happy to do so)

Onwards

Is there an implicit elitism here that makes me uncomfortable, an obvious them and us?

As a Professional I am not ‘part of the mainstream’ ?

Yes, that’s it.

You see the ‘mainstream’ is the population, everyone, in the universe that we are discussing. Professionals are of the mainstream, of society, even if they are a subset community within the broader community.

The likes of Richard Dawkin and Stephen Hawkings are 'professional Professionals' by their engagement with the world, not because of an elitist, hide-themselves away hermit like attitude to knowledge acquisition. Do Simon Schama and Neil Ferguson fall into the same category of professionalism?

Be published and damned, broadcast and be damned even more?

But you don't have to be famous to be Professional (though I dare say you'd cease to be professional if you became infamous).

Or have I been making a mistake through-out this internal debate ... this reflection – that we have always only been discussing Big P professionalism ONLY as part of ‘the whole thing,’ i.e. the specific category of the ‘e-learning Professional’ and just as this time round I haven’t given a moment’s thought to ‘e-learning’ as a term, I have nonetheless unnecessarily dissected the term ‘professional.’

I’m yet to click through the OED online.

I daren’t. It may be my undoing.

Back to my idea of a Venn Diagram.

If ‘professionals’ is the universe then we have two subsets, Professionals (Big P) and professionals (little p) (the noun only). Far smaller, and intersecting both these sets, we have ‘e-learning.’ There are in e-learning little P and Big P professionals.

Still with me?

But there are also non-professionals, and even  the unprofessional to consider. Can they also be defined as Non-professionals (Big N) and Unprofessionals (Big U).

Final thoughts

Might a professional be defined as someone with 'qualified confidence in their field?'

Not finished yet

I've got a Venn Diagram to draw, some visualising to do.

Can a loner be a professional?

I enjoyed Chris Jones's point about the ‘Lone Ranger’ that in early stages of innovation there are maverick, loners having a go at something new way ahead of anyone else - think Dr Emmett Brown in 'Back to the Future' tinkering away at the construction of a time-travelling automobile. Are such people professionals or even professional? Does this 'odd-ball' behaviour disenfranchise you from the professional community, even if you have the mind the size of a planet?

A consultant escapes the hospital ward for a couple of years to undertake research. Just because they are beavering away on their own, being a 'Lone Ranger' doesn't disqualify them from the category of 'Professional,' (Big P), or even 'professional Professional' (little p, Big P).

Dare I suggest that our panel of e-learning experts are 'professional e-Professionals' ?

I don't even begin to delve into the thinking behind innovation diffusion. This is an entire module in its own right. It is called 'Innovations in E-learning', or H807 for short.

For more read 'Diffusion of Innovations' E.M.Rogers. (2005) 5th edition.

Nor am I going to teach the definition 'e-learning.'

Is there a professional 'look.'

Forgive me if I make a comparison here between the need for barristers to put on the appropriate garb in court and so look Professional with a big p, compared to those wishing to be called professional and seen as Professional who don't look the part. Poolside as coaches it is expected that all teachers are appropriately dressed in the club colours and well groomed - this looks professional. There was once a time when teachers wore a jacket and tie, so looked professional like fellow professionals such as lawyers and doctors. Don't academic look the part, 'look professional' in their gowns and mortar-boards?

And having addressed 'looks' can someone sound 'professional?

Think how a director chooses actors to play a role. Look at Michael Cane in 'Educating Rita,' is this the stereotypical professional Professor?

Another discussion, but coming from corporate communications we have been through exercises of using authentic presenters (people who work at the place) compared to buying in 'professional' presenters. To do justice to the message in the TV medium the professional broadcasters were far better at putting over the points the client wanted to make.

As I said, another discussion, a different thread.

P.S. It would be unprofessional to post such a long entry into a tutor forum, where a 500 word, even a 250 word version will be posted (the bullet points, or just my thoughts on the key bullet points ... or just where I strongly agree or disagree).

Lesson Learnt ?

Professionals put in the time and effort, and follow rather than ignore guidelines for the community in which they operate.

It strikes me that academics, like creatives, are more interested in reputation and recognition than money.

Is it not striking that not one of our panel mention it?

Can you be a professional without it?

And what about spelling and grammar?

The ability to communicate. Have I mentioned that. Can the professional spell?

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Up and running. H808

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An hour in the middle of the night has been spent reading through the first task and all the various forum entries in H808 'The E-Learning Professional.'

This and applying for a job. Stymied by the need for three references. I've been such a hermit these last few years I worry that beyond family and friends the only reference I could get would be from my hairdresser and she might say something like 'he may be on time but I know he's seeing the barber down the road as well.'

Three dreams over the last ten days are bugging me - my lengthy reflection on these will go into the WordPress Blog (unless they prove to have something to do with the OU). I use a 27 point survey that usually reduces the dream to some mundane conclusion, though occasionally offers something more profound.

Ever on the look out for 'e-' words I spotted 'e-nose' in last week's New Scientist.

The e-nose refers to an 'electronic nose' rather than an 'electronically enhanced and largely online nose' that is the 'e-' of e-learning. The e-nose can identify certain scents electronically, it transpires ... (though not across, the Internet) ... yet. It wouldn't surprise me if a Google-e-nose were developed that could be used to search for and then offer recipes for food from your fridge that has escaped its packaging. Hold it up to your webcam and Google will advise.

The following was written out long hand with an ink pen.

I wonder if there is a stylistic difference, greater fluidity? (My son had squirreled the lap-top away and being the dead of night I didn't want to disturb him).

Is there software that can spot the stylistic difference of something written directly into a word-processor, like this ... or written out long hand, like this:

Reflection

Whilst reflection is meant to help tackle complex problems, what if the issues are so chaotic, long term and intractable that far from helping to resolve a problem the act and habit of reflection simply re-enforces the mess?!

E-Learning

How much of it is online?

And how much of it is even electronic and/or enhanced?

This happens to be a reflective note being written long-hand onto a recyled A4 ruled pad of paper. It is anything but electronic, or digital. Nor, as yet, is it shared or offers any chance of interaction, let alone collaboration with a group of friends, community of fellow students or the wider world.

The most important part of this experience is taking place in my head and is either one step behind, or one step ahead of this writing process. It is stream of consciousness. It is a singular, lonely and individual occurrence from which little will be gained by sharing it.

This is it: learning in which the 'e' is highly tangential.

Indeed, I'd go as far as to say that the 'e' component of my online learning, or web-based learning, or iLearning experience with the OU thus far is one in which the online quality of the process can be as discretely packaged as you would a book, a lecture or a face-to-face chat with a fellow traveller - it is one part, even a distinct part, an entity with barriers, parameters and a physical presence.

It is a part, not even a large part. But a catylst. A resource. A tool. A track. (a word-processed addition here)

An audit of how this learner spends his time studying shows that half is off-line doing that all too traditional act of reading and taking notes; that of the remaining half another 50% is spent at a computer keyboard sometimes not fully aware or bothered about whether I am working online or off, using software on my hard-drive or the OU server.

(a hand-written omission here replaced with the following while typing online)

And if I continue this fractal-like halving of time spent studying, at what point do I reach 'e-'

And does it matter?

The 'e-' is the fleck of saffron in a risotto.

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E-words. E-terms. E-lexemes.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:22

Inspired by The Secret life of words. How English became English. Henry Hitchings (2008)

‘Communications is essential to our lives, but how often do we stop to think about where the words we use have come from?’
Hitchings (2008)

Whilst ‘where words came from’ is the premise for ‘The Secret Life of Words’ it is much more: it is a history of the people who spoke English. It is a refreshing take on a chronology of events. We learn history through words for warrior, through the Anglo-Saxon, French and Latin word for the same thing ... and through the words the English language has so easily accommodated from across the globe. It is a fascinating journey, one made pertinent to someone studying on the cascading wave-edge of the digital ocean that is ‘e-learning’ with the frequent coining of new terms.

For a description of the way the English language functions (or mis-functions) I love this:

English is ‘Deficient in regularity.’

From James Harris (c1720) in Hitchings (2008:1)

It is exactly the kind of thing a teacher might write in red pen at the bottom of a school-boy’s essay.

This is another way of putting it. English, ‘this hybrid tongue’, as Hitchings calls it. Hitchings (2008:2)

A tongue that re-invents itself, twists and transmogrifies at every turn.

A couple of decades ago I recall there being suggestions that the English language would splinter into so many dialects, creoles and forms that a speaker of one would not understand the user of another. The opposite appears to be the case, that ‘core English’ has been stabilised by its myriad of versions. Users can choose to understand each other or not, to tolerate even celebrate their differences or to use difference to create a barrier: think of the class divide, the posh voice versus the plebeian, one regional accent set against another, or an accent from one former British Dominion compared to another.

‘Words bind us together, and can drive us apart.’ Hitchings (2008:3)

How is the Internet changing the English Language?

What impact has Instant Messaging, blogging and asynchronous communication had? Can we be confident that others take from our words the meanings we intend? As we are so inclined to use sarcasm, irony, flippancy and wit when we speak, how does this transcribe when turned into words? How can you know a person’s meaning or intentions without seeing their face or interpreting their body language? Must we be bland to compensate for this?

I love mistakes, such as this one from Hitchings:

Crayfish ... ‘its fishy quality is the result of a creative mishearing.’ Hitchings (2008:4)

Age ten or eleven I started to keep a book of my ‘creative mishearings’ which included words such as ‘ragabond,’ instead of ‘vagabond.’ I love the idea of the ‘creative mishearing,’ isn’t this the same as ‘butterfly’, shouldn’t it be ‘flutterby’? And recalling a BBC Radio 4 Broadcast on Creativity with Grayson Perry, ‘creativity is mistakes.’

Mistakes and misunderstandings put barbs on the wire strings of words we hook from point to point, between arguments and chapters. We are fortunate that the English language is so flawed; it affords scratches and debate, conflict and the taking of sides.

An American travelled 19,000 miles back and forth across the US with a buddy correcting spellings, grammar and punctuation on billboards, notices and road signs. His engaging story split the reviewers into diametrically opposed camps of ‘love him’ or ‘hate him.’ (Courtesy of the Today Programme, the day before yesterday c20th August 2010)

‘Our language creates communities and solidarities, as well as division and disagreements.’ Hitchings (2008:4)

My test for the longevity and acceptability of a new word coined to cover a term in e-learning will be twofold:

Can, what is invariably a noun, be turned with ease into a verb or adjective?

Might we have an Anglo-Saxon, French and Latin word for the same thing. We like to have many words for the same thing ... variations on a theme.

And a final thought

Do technical words lend themselves to such reverse engineering? Or, like a number, are they immutable?

If they are made of stone I will find myself a mason's chisel.

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The use of narrative in e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 15 Oct 2012, 10:28

I fully buy into the idea of using narrative in teaching.

Without the pyrotechnics of e-technology some imagination from a well informed agent, perhaps assisted by a scriptwriter, could produce a script that is engaging, a journey from which a learner may deviate if something so intrigues them, a pattern with a beginning, middle and end that everyone can follow.

‘Teachers use narrative to teach children difficult concepts and to bring structure to the curriculum.’ Egan (1988)

REF

Bruner (1996.97) ‘Meaning Making’

  • spontaneous inclination to engage in a dialogue with material
  • to improve some form of organisation upon it
  • to make comparison with it

REF

McCloskey, D.N. (1990) Storytelling in economics

Bruner, J.S. (1996) ‘Frames of thinking: ways of making meaning.’ In Olson, D and Torrance, N (eds) Modes of thought. Explorations in culture and cognition, pp. 93-105.

It has been shown that experts in any field tend to embody knowledge in the form of narrative.

Schon, D (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action.

‘Stories are the method by which people impose order and reason upon the world.’ Fisher. (1987) REF Fisher, W.R. (1987) Human communication as Narration: toward philosophy of reason, value and action.

‘By framing events in a story it permits individuals to interpret their environment, and importantly it provides a framework for making decisions about actions and their likely outcomes.’ Weller. (2009:45)

The framework is the logic of the narrative, the logic of the plot, the role-play of the protagonist (you the learner), the battle you have with antagonists (concepts you can’t grasp) supported by your allies (the community of learners, your tutor and institution) leading to a crisis (the ECA or exam), but resolved with a happy ending (one hopes).

Film-makers, naturally, but also documentary film-makers, bang on about the ‘narrative’ and the ‘story.’

This is how facts, whether naturally linear or not, need to be presented, if an audience, or a larger part of that audience, are to be suitably engaged by a topic.

Some months ago there was a news story concerning how much could be expressed in 40 seconds – BBC Radio 4, Today Programme. Any recollections?

Three experts were called and in turn tried to explain:

1) Bing Bang

2) String Theory

3) The Offside Rule in soccer

Bing Bang was pure narrative, like Genesis in the Bible, with a clear beginning, middle and end.

String Theory had a narrative in they way the theory came about, and just about got there.

The Offside Rule didn't even started well, then got hopelessly lost in ifs and buts and maybes. (I got lost at least. Coming to all three equally ignorant I only came away with full understanding of one, some understanding of the second, and barely a clue with the Offside Rule)

The use of scenarios:

  • as a device for determining functionality
  • as a means for engaging users in the stakeholder’s consultation

Having spent too considerable a part of my working life trying to write original screenplays and TV dramas I am versed in writing themes and strategies, storytelling in three acts, with turning points and a climax, antagonists and protagonists.

I use software like Final Draft and Power Structure.

These tools could as easily be used to compose and craft a piece of e-learning. Perhaps I’ll be given the opportunity to do so.

Narrative … is a useful means of imposing order and causality on an otherwise unstructured and unconnected set of events, but it also means that some detail is omitted in order to fit into the narrative, and other factors are only considered in the limited sense in which they can be accommodated with the narrative.’ Weller (2009:48)

Writing a narrative, for a novel or screenplay, is to some degree formulaic.

Is design of e-learning as straight-forward?

A decade ago it looked complex, five years ago with HTML code package in plug-ins and excellent ‘off-the-shelf’ software coming along the process appeared less out of reach.

Today I wonder if it is more matter-of-fact than some make out?

Addressing problems, devising a plan (a synopsis, then a treatment), threading it together … maybe its having it operate apart from the tutor or lecturer or teacher is what concerns you (teachers, lectures, profs). You are the ones who must learn to ‘let go of your baby,’ to have an actor or presenter deliver your lines. Once, and well. Or write in a team, as writers on a soap opera.

It works to follow the pattern rather than break it.

It strikes me that in e-learning design there may be only a few structures to cover most topics – really, there can only be so many ways to tell/teach/help someone understand a concept … or to do something, and remember the facts, the arguments and concepts … to be able to do it, repeatedly, build on this and even develop an idea independently to the next stage or level.

There is little meat on a popular documentary

There are micro-narratives and their are journeys, some more literal than others, for example, currently there’s a BBC documentary series, ‘The Normans’ and the third or so series of ‘Coast.’

From an educational point of view, what do audiences ‘learn’ from these programmes?

Can they typically recall anything at all, or do we/are we semi-conscious when watching TV, leaning back, not leaning forward, mentally as alert as someone smoking a joint. (Apocryphal or true?)

Try reading the script, try transcribing what is said and look at how far it goes.

Not very far at all.

Such programmes/series can be a catalyst to go to the website or buy the books, but otherwise the information is extremely thin, predictable and ‘safe.’)

If only links could be embedded into the programme so that as you view the programme relevant pages from the Internet wold automatically be called up.

Do you watch TV with a laptop?

Many do. Traders can manage several screens at a time, why not as mere mortals too?It becomes more engaging when you field of vision is nothing but screens, on topic. My preferred way of working is to have two screens, two computers, a mac and a PC, side by side. They do different things, they behave in different ways. I have a team of two, not one.

The medium may introduce a topic or theme, but there is little meat on the bone and we can be swayed by:

  • bias
  • the view of the author/presenter/channel
    • (commissioning editor)
  • negative or positive

(For any longer list of concerns take a course in media studies.)

And if its on a commercial channel there are interruptions for adverts, while even the BBC chase ratings.

Even seen a lecturer take a commercial break

How about the some rich e-learning sponsored by Lucoxade, Andrex or Persil?

This is how schools receive interactive cd-rom and online websites ‘for free.’

REFERENCE

Weller, M. (2007) Virtual Learning Environment. using, choosing and developing your VLE.

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Clashing swords and VLEs

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Inspired by Martin Weller's book on VLEs. Just read Chapter Seven - Standards and Specification and Chapter Eight - Learning Design. notes to follow.

Courtesy of the OU's 1990 book 'The Good Study Guide' I am trying to make my notes less a cut and paste and more a considered extraction of ideas, my agreements, disagreements and questions with a few notable quotes and references to follow up. These are probably then best catalogued and tagged in the OU ePortfolio MyStuff (for now).

Having read 'Standards and Specifications' I am wondering what role e-learning designers might play once a set of common approaches have been adopted? Once every learning design follows 'the script' the way a Hollywood screenplay has its three acts, various turning points, antagonists and protagonists, roles and events.

For every chapter I read, I read two chapters of a Bernard Cornwell Novel 'The Lords of the North' and a chapter of Norman Davies's history of the Isles (UK and the Republic of Ireland).

I won't be able to afford this luxury come September, a new season and a new moduel H808 'The Elearning Professional.'

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The value of electronic literacy in the Internet Age

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 06:32

Did serendipity bring me to ‘Contemporary Perspectives in E-learning Research.’ Conole and Oliver (2007) or did I notice that H808 students were reading and critting it?

Either way I bought it as I’m yet to get my head around e-Reader.

Can you recommend an e-Reader?

A kindle or the Sony Reader perhaps? I can’t see the point in an iPad for reading academic journals and books. I don’t want to be printing off a forest and filing on shelves I don’t have either.

Chapter 11 of ‘Contemporary Perspectives in E-learning Research’ looks at ‘Academic literacy in the 21st century’

E-literacy is an irresistible term of course.

‘Electronic Literacy’ or ‘E-literacy’

‘Involving the capacity to locate, organise, interpret and use digital information.’ Conole (2007:160)

Martin (2003) appears to get the credit for coining the term.

There are many forms of literacy, all have their place:

  • information literacy
  • digital literacy
  • electronic communication
  • computer literacy
  • transliteracy
  • information/IT skills
  • computer-mediated communications
  • knowledge construction
  • research


Shetzer and Warshauer (2000), McKenna (2002), ‘Writing as a social practice’ (Ivonic et al, 1999)

These literacies are:

  • shaped by disciplinary norms
  • institutional power dynamics
  • impact of audience
  • notions of identity


‘What we choose to read and how we read may lead to fundamental changes in our understanding of authoritative scholarship.’ Conole (2007:160)

It interesting that Google is often the preferred means of locating academic information (Borphy et al, 2004). Does this apply to undergraduates and graduates? At times frustrated with the OU Library Services I ended up in Google Scholastic but no longer had the access privileges so had to back pedal. Too often links given in text, journals and book are out of date. By way of example of the three links I wished to follow up in this chapter I found only one and that was at a different URL I am yet to find the SCONUL or SCORM articles.

SCONUL (1999) ‘information skills in higher education’, SCONUL position paper. Available online at: www.sconul.ac.uk/activities/inf-lit/papers/seven-pillars.html (CAN’T FIND)

SCORM (2004) Shareable content object reference model. http://www.adlnet.org/scorm/history/2004/index.cfm (ERROR PAGE)

Ingraham (2005b) Filmic and even melodramatic narrative ... used purposefully.

Ingraham (2005b) Exploring the Frontiers of E-learning: border, outposts and migration. ALT-j, 2005. 6-8 Sept 2005.

Beyond the ‘essentially medieval apprenticeship system’ (Ingraham and Ingraham, 2006) ‘E-Quality: a dialogue between quality and academia’, E-learning, 31) http://www.wwwords.co.uk/elea/content/pdfs/3/issue3_1.asp

(ACCESSED 16 AUG 2010. But not at this address, but at this onesmile

http://www.wwwords.co.uk/pdf/freetoview.asp?j=elea&vol=3&issue=1&year=2006&article=11_Ingraham_ELEA_3_1_web

I have a problem with some PDF files too, but that’s down to an eight year old iBook not being able to upgrade to the latest ADOBE PDF software. A new iBook beckons.

This theme of literacy given a book in its own right. How though do institutions recognise the many different ways students may wish to pursue and assemble content and information in future?

Literacy and multiple literacies (Kress, 1997)

‘It is a normal and fundamental characteristic of language and literacy to be constantly remade in relation to the needs of the moment.’ Conole (2007:169)

Kress, G (1997) Before writing: rethinking the paths to literacy.

‘The are many ways of making and communicating meaning in the world today.’ Conole (2007:169)

The goals of education

The development of ‘concrete-operational skills of technical reason coupled with functional, utilitarian language skill.’ (Jones, 1991)

Two conflicting directions for education

‘The desire to stimulate the growth of autonomous, entrepreneurial, IT-literate, multi-skilled individuals’ or ‘the desire to create a compliant, low-expectation labour force inured to the demands of flexibilisation.’ Conole (2007:171)

Surely this isn’t a case of either or, and surely both ends of the scale can be viewed positively – society needs a community of people working at different jobs to remain viable and coherent. Conole should be quoting Government policy here but prefer to suggest that there is a choice while clearly favouring one over the other.

Prison Officers, we are told, don’t need a university degree; they aren’t the only ones. Unless you want people to endure their necessary jobs like Marvin the Paranoid Android. Adams. (1979)

REF Kress, G (2003) Literacy in the new media age.

REFERENCE

Adams, D (1979) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Conole, G and Oliver, M (eds)  2007. Contemporary perspectives in E-Learning Research. Themes, methods and impact on practice.







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'e-learning' I'll accept, 'enculturated' I loathe.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 14 Aug 2010, 16:06

“Debates around terminology and definitions often generate more heat than light with their length and ferocity almost indirectly proportional to their usefulness.” Weller (2007:4)

Whilst true it is difficult to accept another person’s definition of an invented word whose meaning shifts constantly and means different things to different people.

“It was through the rise of the Internet that the ‘e’ prefix came into popular usage, and in line with e-commerce, e-business and e-government, it is the internet that is really the defining technology in e-learning.” Weller. (2007:5)

If it is the case the Internet (capital ‘I’ anyone?) is the defining technology of e-learning, then it isn’t e-learning, it should be i-learning. Or was that term nobbled in the 1980s for ‘interactive’ learning.

What about www-learning?


It’s suitably polysyllabic to appeal to the academic community and no more unpronounceable than some of the terms academic writers feel it necessary to construct.

‘E-learning. Any learning experience that utilizes internet-related technologies to some extent.’
Weller. (2007:4)

Imagine this definition blown into a party balloon then let loose into the atmosphere of cyberspace; it will buzz about who knows where until it loses itself in the multitude of tools ‘out there.’

Will we reach a stage where we return to the more established global term ‘learning?’ that would embrace all these Is, Es and Ms.

Or as Weller, it’s not worth the trouble, just run with it, as we must run with podcasting and iPod, iPads and googling and so much more. Banned though should be the polysyllabic babble that academic writers prefer to use in favour of a couple of words in plain, unpretentious English.

The word I loath more than all, too often used by certain authors with abandon in relation to e-learning, is ‘enculturated.’

I don’t think much of ‘situated’ either.

REFERENCE

Weller, M. (2007) Virtual Learning Environments. Using, choosing and developing your VLE

It is the holidays, so this norming I read Michael Faber's 'The Fifth Gospel.'

Fun and quotable. And this easy and quick to read. A 3 hour train journey would do it.

Over the previous few days I have read Stephen King's 'Cell,' which begins like a text book, 'throw them out of the aerolpane' thriller but turns into such daftness I skim read the last half at great speed. You must admire his hutzpah.

Over the previous week I have not been enjoying Simon Schama's 'History of Britain' as I feel I'm getting too much of him and not enough history (He's very good on Caravagio though) ... while Andrew Marr's 'The Making of Modern Britain' at least had some micro-factoids to interest in a journalist sort of way.

Then I found my old copy of Norman Davies 'The Isles' which I read a decade ago and plan to read again ... followed by his History of Europe.

Unsure why I'm trying to pack my brain with such stuff, but it is in part due to my mind being re-awoken from a period of slackness courtesy of the OU.

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More visualization ... fewer words, greater comprehension!

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Creators of course content need to put thought into visualising information in simple, single page graphics that are easy to grasp.

“While such diagrams are useful to convey an impression of complex software systems, anyone who has tried to delineate the boundaries between such systems will know that boxes and arrows greatly simply a messy reality.’’ Weller (2007:4)

Well thought out expressions of data, facts and stats, as well as concepts, can not only be enlightening, but memorable. David McCandless is a recognised exponent of the art of making information beautiful. McCandless, 2009

Being here suggests that I am a words person, I call myself a ‘visualiser’ though I admit to giving up on writing HTML even with the likes of Dreamweaver some eight years ago. Get someone else to do it! Too much faff. Attended London’s School of Art, copywriting, art direction and design. Had the option to follow a Fine Art MA rather than turning up here. Might I have produced a few memorable canvases by now had I taken t hat route?

REFERENCE

McCandless, D. ( 2009) Information is Beautiful.

Weller, M. (2007) Virtual Learning Environments. Using, choosing and developing your VLE

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The importance of Face-to-Face (from the OU, 1990)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 8 Oct 2011, 15:07

From the Good Study Guide – (OU) 1990 by Andrew Nortledge.

p65 ‘Where the lecture comes into its own is in helping you to understand how the ideas in the subject work. The lecturer can ‘project; meaning into the words for you. The sense of the word is signalled through tone of voice and embellished with gestures and fluid expression.’

A gem I fell upon serendipitously when my daughter emptied her bedroom of childhood books, including this one, sent to her rather hopefully by her grandfather when she was 12.

The relevance here is on why face-to-face lectures and tutorials will continue to have such an important role to play. Maybe fewer of them (per student) so that a far larger student cohort can be taught and managed, but necessary all the same.

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Quote yourself happy

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 16:07

I was judgmental on Martin Weller quoting himself in H807 ... but I have just bought the book and buy into.

So why do I feel so uncomfortable about Weller or any other 'academic' quoting themselves.

Surely there are standards and expectations?

Who are we to quote ourselves, just because we got into print or had our words used in a piece of academic study to then cite ourselves and in so doing award ourselves additional recognition?

Imagine Simon Cowell deciding to get up and sing ... and then judging his own performance and deciding to award himself credibility?

Is there some etiquette regarding this kind of thing?

(Must be, academia has rules for everything, no wonder it's so dull)

Academically stimulating, but hardly a Caravagio.

At what point do you become 'self-quotable?

Did Churchill quote himself?

As Churchill said ... (he says) ...

(Or by writing your own speeches you are quoting yourself? Ditto lectures)

Can I quote myself as if this has some value ... things I posted online in 1999? Or put in a dairy in 1985? Or even wrote in a History essay on the Reformation in 1977? (Files saved, in a trunk, in an attic, in a room, in a building ... and could just as well be scanned and banged up online

Or is this lacks credibility then short films broadcast on mainstream TV?

Or things I said to important people ?

Look up the correct use of disinterested Mr Weller – (do you have an editor or proof reader?) It does NOT mean ‘no interested it means ‘not committed to one or other point of view, rather as a judge should be in a trial i.e. interested, but not taking sides.’

Odd how the pinnacle of my irritation is indicative of my reaching a tipping point

This is a watershed, where my opinions are expressed in increasingly frustrated ways until I find myself screwing up my face, then edging down the other side, won over to the opposing view, having convinced myself that black is now white. That ‘they’ are right and I am wrong ... I become evangelical on their behalf, whether they want it or not, before coming to some grey compromise.

I’ve just about read enough on learning theory to be able to categorise my approach to learning.


It is ?

This comes from reading ‘Contemporary Perspectives in E-Learning Research. 2007. Edited by Grainne Conole and Martin Oliver.

The turning point, the ‘flip’ came with looking up a reference for Martin Oliver ... and deciding that I needed to see fourteen points of reference. His book, his privilege. He’d wrong-foot himself did he not refer back to previously published papers.

I've got Martin Weller in box too, bought the book.

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Is this a blog?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 15:16

I think not.

You can keep it private, or share it with the OU community or the wider world, but you can't personalise it.

Nor do you get to keep it afterwards.

Perhaps the OU should offer a blogging platform along the lines of EduBlog or WordPress and treat it as a worthwhile piece of PR, marketing and goodwill.

Afterall, why encourage people to blog for the first time and quickly lose them to another platform?

So what is this?

I don't mean for this to sound derogatory, but dwelling on this through the night, as you do (it is 02.53), I liken this to writing on a piece of loo roll. OK, it lasts a little longer (two years) and can be re-ussed.

Well, I won't stretch that analogy any further.

Scroll is the world I am looking for.

Like a papyrus scroll from Egypt 4000 years ago. Slung up over a line for all to see (or not).

Not a blog though.

Few, if anyone, posts an entry every day, as you would in a journal. Even if you go down the private route, it doesn't feel private, somewhere to disclose private thoughts, health, financial, family and political problems and views.

A learning journal? Part of the e-portfolio package? For reflection.

Yet again, if I am holding up a mirror to consider my experiences this public arena is surely NOT the place to do it?

Somewhere to paste stuff that is over 500 words long ... somewhere to link extended musings when you approach the 500 word mark in a Forum?

Some think 200 words in a Forum is about right.

So how many words for a blog entry?

Blogging mates from a decade ago struck on 1,000 words per entry. We also ran with the idea that is must all spew forth in one go. So in some respects perhaps my lavatorial analogy was the correct one.

I know exactly how you academics and intellectuals and non-obsessive journalers view this kind of thing.

How many characters in Twitter? I forget.

Perhaps the OU should set some parameters in forums and Blogs, as it does for assignments and limit us to 300 words in a forum entry and 600 here?

Or not.

Parameters serve a useful purpose. Give a sculptor a mountain and look what they do. Give me a e-scroll and look what I do.

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