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Buzzing

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 06:10

I'm not tired, which is the worry; it'll catch up with me. When I wake up with a clear, original thought I've learnt to run with it. Time was I could have put on a light, scribbled a bit then drifted off again. 17 years of marriage (and 20 years together) I've learnt to get up. And once I'm up, then I know it'll be a while before I can sleep again.

(I'll sleep on the train into London; at least I can't overshoot. I once got on the train at Oxford on the way into town and woke up in Cardiff).

I have the thought nailed, or rather sketched out, literally, with a Faber-Castell Artist Pen onto an A5 sheet of cartridge paper in Derwent hardback sketch book. This seems like a waste of good paper (and a good pen), but this doodle, more of a diagram, almost says it all. My vision, my argument, my persuasive thought. My revolution?

Almost enough, because I then show how I'll animate my expression of this idea by drawing it out in a storyboard. I can do it in seven images (I thought it would take more). I hear myself presenting this without needing to do so, though, believing myself quite capable of forgetting this entire episode I'll write it out too.

I once though of myself as an innovator, even an entrepreneur. I had some modest success too. Enough to think such ideas could make me. I realise at this moment that such ideas are the product of intense mental stimulation. To say that H808 has been stimulating would be to under value how it has tickled my synapses. The last time I felt I didn't need to sleep I was an undergraduate; I won't make that mistake. We bodies have needs. So, to write, then to bed.

(This undergraduate thing though, or graduate as I now am ... however mature. There has to be something about the culture and context of studying that tips certain people into this mode).

You may get the full, animated, voice over podcast of the thing later in the week. I'll create the animation myself using a magic drawing tool called ArtPad and do so using a stylus onto a Wacom board.

(Never before, using a plastic stylus on an a plastic ice-rink of a tablet have I had the sensation that I am using a drawing or painting tool using real ink or paint. I can't wait 'til I can afford an A3 sized Wacom board ... drawing comes from the shoulder, not the wrist and certainly not the finger tips. You need scale. Which reminds me, where is the book I have on Quentin Blake?)

Now where's a Venture Capitalist when you need one at 04.07am. That and a plumber, the contents of the upstairs bathroom (loo, bath and sink) are flooding out underneath the downstairs loo. Pleasant. A venture capitalist who is a plumber. Now there's something I doubt that can even be found if you search in Ga-Ga Googleland.

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Learning on the go. Mobile learning changes everything?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 3 Nov 2011, 16:44

Mobile Learning

Discussing this with Ian Singleton of icanplayit.com two weeks ago, I was Linked In to the author from JISC Doug Belshaw a few days later.

This conversation could soon link to a myriad of people cited and listed in the JISC report on Mobile and Wireless Technologies. This smorgasbord of a review will take a few weeks to consume; I'll want the recipe and I'll be back for more, repeatedly. It is a module in its own right.

It requires the early morning to take a three hour stab at this. Kukulska-Hulme (2010) says “Mobile learning is here to stay, even if in a few years' time it may no longer be distinguishable from 'just learning'."

As a student of e-learning the value of Doug Belshaw's JISC review is broad. Whilst mobile learning is the main theme, there is a suitable warming up to the topic via the development of e-learning and a broad acknowledgement of the key thinkers of pedagogy which touches on innovations in learning and the debunking of Prensky and his idea of digital natives.

It makes a good read for anyone studying Open and Distance Education with the Open University.

The theme that the author may not have seen that is pervasive throughout, is the idea of the e-learning entrepreneur; this seems inevitable with a device and technology that puts learning into the pocket of the learner.

Laptops and smartphones become a learn as I please, when and where I want, device. I wonder too, when cameras will become phones?

Reflecting on the devices that got unwrapped this Christmas some of us might prefer the Canon or Sony camera that uploads directly to Facebook, Kodak or Picasa without the interface of phone and laptop, or even a memory card.

If ou can think of it, it has been done.

This is one of those documents that will takes weeks of consideration as I wish to read all the references too, not that I doubt the author, but because often I find thinking such as this is like a digital conversation caught in the wind and there are a dozen other voices speaking at the same time. I've not come across Traxler before, for example. He’s cited 12 times in this review.

Though, just because someone else has already done it, does not mean that I might not do it better?

JISC Spotlight The presentation. “Students no longer need to engage with information and discussion at the expense of real life but can do so as part of real life as they move about the world, using their own devices to connect them to people and ideas, ideas and information of their own choosing, perhaps using their own devices to generate and produce content and conversation as well as store and consume them.” (Traxler, 2009, p.70)

Why therefore bother with a traditional university education at all?

Better to go straight to work and learn on the job, not simply as a trainee or apprentice, but by tapping into institutional and corporate learning. This is important The wider mobility of society has led to ‘approx-meetings’ and ‘socially negotiated time’ (2009:73) which, although mobile devices have not been designed specifically for educational purposes, has a knock-on effect upon formal education.

This disruptive effect has both a strong and a weak element, argues Traxler.

The ‘weak’ element of the disruption due to mobile devices in formal education is at the level of nuisance - such as ‘cheating’ during examinations, inappropriate photographs, devices beeping during class time. The ‘strong’ element of disruption, on the other hand, “challenge[s] the authority of the curriculum and the institutions of formal learning” (2009, p.77); students can effectively become gatekeepers and organisers of learning for other students in a way institutions have only been able to do previously.

Given the fragmented nature of the current mobile learning environment, there are multiple definitions of mobile learning; however, most of these definitions recognise the importance of

• context,

• access

• and conversation.

"[Mobile learning involves the] exploitation of ubiquitous handheld hardware, wireless networking and mobile telephony to facilitate, support enhance and extend the reach of teaching and learning”

(www.molenet.org.uk/about)

Due to funding arrangements, which sector is involved, and country-specific contexts, mobile learning means different things to different communities.

 

• On the go

• Every day

• Between classes and home (and work)

• Conflicts of complements formal learning

• More interactive

 

Woodill (2010:53) identifies seven main affordances of mobile learning:

1. Mobility

2. Ubiquity

3. Accessibility

4. Connectivity

5. Context sensitivity

6. Individuality

7. Creativity

 

REFERENCE

Belshaw (201) Mobile and Wireless Technologies Review 2010 Doug Belshaw, JISC infoNet

Traxler, J. (2009) ‘Learning in a Mobile Age’ (International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, 1(1), 1-12, January-March 2009)

Traxler, J. (2009) ‘Students and mobile devices: choosing which dream’ (in ALT-C 2009 "In dreams begins responsibility" - choice, evidence and change, Traxler, John (Professor of Mobile Learning, University of Wolverhampton)

 

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Web usability or pimping up my OU experience

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 13:23

Out of habit now I cut and paste all the course notes from H807 and H808 into word and reconfigure using techniques I have followed for a decade as a web editor based on the principles of Jakob Nielsen.

I got his book in 2000 and was using it when I started the MA in Open and Distance Learning with the OU in 2001.

Is the OU nervous about being so radical?

Is it note reasonable for us to expect them to keep uptodate? With a unit such as 'Inovations in E-learning' could an attempt at being innovative at least be made?

Some one is going to come along and create and manage platforms that are more suited to the next generation. I watch my son playing World of Warcraft, watching a downloaded movie AND texting friends and more than capable of keeping such a frenetic amount of activity going.

No wonder traditional classroom education bores him to tears. I'd home educated if I thought it wouldn't seriously compromise my ability to earn a living ... but then we wouldn't have school fees to pay?

The recent upgrading with colours and graded shading and a few clear icons and hugely welcome but compared to corporate sites the OU is at least four years behind.

This isn't 'sexy' presentation, but the lessons you pick up from Jacob Nielsen make text like this more suited to online reading. As I now NEVER print of, only diddle about with text and images in some kind of digital form I simply don't require text to be expressed as if it needs to be printed off or has been scanned in out of a book

Come on OU this is 2010, not 2002.

Perhaps when I've done my Web Editor bit on all the course content I could post it back in here?

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Thomas Edison and innovation

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 12 Dec 2010, 05:07

For anyone embarking on H807 'Innovation in E-learning,' although it isn't part of the course work (yet), I'd recommend listening to the following discussion on Thomas Edison.

The participants are right to suggest that in establishing a lab for inventions Edision create a model that has been followed by others. This may be particularly pertinent when you look at Facebook and Google, also the history of Apple - possibly also of Dyson. Indeed anyone who wishes to be engaged in successful innovative practice.

It would make an interesting discusion point for units on collaboration and leadership.

What delivers success?

How do you thrive on change?

Why is commercialisation vital to success?

 

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A variety of e-learning journeys

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 13:43

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The point being that people learn a great deal that improves their knowledge and ability to carry out tasks, however this does not receive formal recognition so is not able to contribute to any professionalisation of their occupation.

Daft. The paradigm must shift. Or be ignored.

I'm spending time with a mate and colleague next week (weather permitting) who has put mobile learning into the Middle East and now has the financing to do more in 3D.

His qualifications?

A great mind and practical delivery of learning as linear, then interactive video and CD, to websites with a good deal of programming in between over the last twenty years.

There is a time to ditch the gaining of a further qualification.

Indeed, when I took up a version of this MA course in February 2001 it was for me nothing more than a piece of CPD on top of another post-graduate course I was doing in the production of cross-platform multimedia, the only person to be doing this through the EU funded programme EAVE ... all of this to feed into a full-time job producing innovative, cutting edge and online learning. I was studying at my expense to improve or tweak my practical application of all of this.

Surely the collobartive exercises of the last two weeks have shown that several people can do more than one person on their own? Why do teachers and educators operate in isolation trying to re-invent the wheel for the thousandth time when a learning experience or product shared is going to deliver something effective and fantastic?

CPD, which is the OU's MAODE, does not turn me into an e-learning professional.

I'm not interested in letters after my name; I have the M.A. and have put a couple of other post-graduate courses under my belt too.

The ONLY thing that counts is how I apply this learning.

The letters or professional tag mean diddly-squat.

All us of should be willing to be judged by our peers as to our professional status ... are we employed in this capacity? Do with have clients to serve or clients to win?

Don't get me wrong, for me this course is invaluable, a treat and indulgence, like grated Truffle on pasta.

I guess my mate and I will be back on Skype if the roads look poor. I'm not going to waste a hour of my life, let alone a day stuck in traffic on the M23, M20 or M40 trying to get to Bath on Tuesday.

My motivation? A good idea, a sponsor ... then do it.

Then pick up from what I've learnt in TV, have 26 ideas on the go with various grants, sponsors and clients supporting further development.

My next course, or refresher course?

Sales

REFERENCE. Professional Development fo Elearning. A Framework for the NEw Zealand Tertiary Education Sector. 2009.

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H808 activity 6

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 18:35

Some of the software is too clever by half. All of it has foibles.

Docx might punch some useful quasi-intuitive tools but it smacks of Apple pixie dust sprinkled over DOS. Failing to share docx word and excel docs with others with older software on PCs, let alone with MACs harks back to the early 1990s when this kind of incompatibility was common and a constant frustration in the 'creative industries' between those who were MAC based and those on a PC.

Up at 3.56am. Potty. But a couple of hours later and if I have been distracted I can only blame myself. The dog is asleep at my feet, the family sleep above me, though my head is full of domestic grief, not ours, but my daughter's boyfriends family starting a messy break-up with him temporarily ejected from his home and seeking sanctuary which we feel unable to offer.

Back to business.

My response too often is quick and emotional, this can apply to domestic life as well as work. I lead with the heart. I am learning to do otherwise, to make the time, to try to be rational, to avoid tipping from radical alternatives of hate and love, yes and no ... there is always a middle way, however hard it may be to negotiate or to my mind however dull 'middle of the road' might feel.

Middle of the road gets things done, with drama, in a professional manner, which may be the point in a module on the 'e-learning professional.'

H808, UNIT 6 A COLLABORATIVE EXERCISE

Having had some successful experiences I know what it takes, what skills, tools, timekeeping and commitment works. Where in the past I have been introduced by others to some simple online tools to share, collaborate and contribute work in an engaging way, both synchronously and asynchronously ... it may be my turn to get out of the passenger seat and take the wheel. Often you find the 'vehicle' drives in automatic, Skype and sync.in for example, Google Docs too, are far easier than you may at first imagine.

Tools for co-ordinating availability between people on opposite sides of the globe anyone? Personally I operate as if in three places ... spending a few hours on the Indian subcontinent, a few hours in the UK .... then reappearing on the West Coast of the US!

The 24 hour economy should not mean that you work for 24 hours. Or does it? Perhaps we'll reach the stage where we keep links with people permanently open wherever we go, as if they are sitting on our shoulders, forever at our side, omnipresent and god like (in the Greek sense).

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Is this more Microsoft Encarta CD than a Brave New world of learning and education?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 30 May 2014, 09:22

When you take a set of encyclopedias and ask, 'how do I make this digital?' you get a Microsoft Encarta CD. When you take the philosophy of an encyclopedia and ask, 'how does digital change our engagement with this?' you get Wikipedia.

How does this relate to e-learning?

It strikes me that much of that learning online has a considerable distance to go in terms of realising the potential of 'electronically enhanced' learning, that we are 'reading' for subjects and supervised by the institution and tutors very much in the style of a Microsoft Encarta CD.

Perhaps a virtual world is the way forward?

Perhaps just as people job share, you could share your learning too?

Perhaps there is more to educational social networking through the likes of Facebook than institutions are willing to accept.

And if you have an e-portfolio of work why not flit from one supplier to another, accumulating micromodules of a unit at a time from wherever you choose and have your aggregated qualification assessed by a third party?

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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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More face-to-face ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 13 May 2010, 14:21

Hungry for face-to-face interaction I spent 90 mins sharing ideas on e.learning with the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA). This is an exciting time for sport in the UK with the London Olympics 2012 fast approaching - indeed athletes who hope to be on the podium have been working towards this goal for some time already.

How do we get more people to swim and win more medals?

E-learning has a part to play in this and I'm confident that the ASA will deliver.

I'll do my bit by addressing a specific learning problem that can be addressed with a simple, innovative, e-learning idea.

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Second time round

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 12:50

Frank Cotterell-Boyce the English playwright and author was featured on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs a few weeks ago. He remarked that as a boy he was held back in the final year at Primary School because he was too young. Far from being a negative experience he said that it empowered him - he had done it all before, of course he knew the topics.

I feel as if I should sign up for 'Innovations in E-learning' H807 next year, not just to get my head around the topic more fully (its a gargantuan topic on which you could never know enough) but because by then there will of course be new innovations to talk about.

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Diffusion of Innovations

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 30 Mar 2010, 13:23

Now that I have the book in my hands I can only conclude that Roger's Diffusion of Innovations is the heart, veins & arteries of 'H807 Innovations in e.learning.'

Did I miss a trick finding excerpts as an e.book somewhat less than engaging or as an OU student was there an opportunity to download the entire thing?

Not that printing if off would have been cheaper than buying a second hand copy off Amazon.

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QWERTY vs a fountain pen

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Jul 2012, 13:08

This age and that kind of childhood we had to use fountain pens, never Biros. I learnt to type because I was given a second hand mechanical typewriter as a Christmas present. Odd, I thought. I had wanted an electric guitar.

30 years on my son wanted an electric guitar. With three acoustic guitars in the & little desire to be tutored or to follow his lessons at school the electric guitar didn't materialise for him. Instead his saving, looking after a neighbour's guinea-pigs when they were on holiday & playing with their primary school & nursery age boys ... and some deft online searching, he bought an iTouch.

His bedroom is an emporium to all things iTouch. His three best mates all have an iTouch too now. He's the early adopter ... they follow. He leads & champions wooly hats, T-shirts & trainers sad Jsut the way he is gregarious & enthusiatic for new 'stuff.'

Homework last night requried some research on the history of Blues. Fed up with being told Google has 94% of the search market in the UK I reverted to 'Ask Jeeves' which I used to prefer or trial over various others a decade ago ? (or less). We were taken to Wikipedia either way.

'I alwyas wiki my home work.' He says.

Like 'to google,' 'to wiki' is now a verb.

He touch types at 40 wpm. He is 11. He has had access to a computer since he was ... 2. He played a Mavis beacon QWERTY keyboard game/learner age 4.

How un-21st century, how clunky is the use of a QWERTY keyboard? What happened to voice recogniton? Why has a better keyboard not been adopted?

Being a 'game boy' he ignore the mouse. He could be shooting at the enemy the way he uses the cursor to get around.

Later in the evening my daughter is doing History Homework. It is the First World War. Her great-grandfather was a machine gunner. Her survived the Somme & Ypres and successfully transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. Three 'Really useful' boxes contain a collection of Imperial War Museum books, his medals, photos & postcards of the time ... even a cutting from the Consett Gazette in which he is featured in November 1917 haveing been awarded the Military Medal. In this box there is a full collection of 54 magazines on 'The Great War' published c.1929 & edited by H.G.Wells. The covers are red, everything else is in black and white.

'When did they invent colour?' She asked.

We discuss this.

We look through the many pages of mules & limbers, mud & soldiers, planes that are barely recognisable has such (a flying hay-rick) and 'tanks' that look as static as pillboxes.

"When did they start inventing things?' She then asked.

By this she means mobile phones, computers, TV sets ... or 'stuff,' as in 'eletronic stuff.'

When did humans ever not invent?

From the perspective of a child, 'innovation' within the context of the world they are familiar with must produce considerable advance. particularly in this era when 'new stuff' is redundant as it hits the shelf.

 

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The blogger's dilemma

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 17:07

'It seems to me that I follow only the most accessible thread. Three or four threads may be agitated, like telegraph wires, at the same time, and if I were to tap them all I would reveal such a mixture of innocence and duplicity, generosity and calculation, fear and courage.'

(Henry & June, Journals, July 1932 Anais Nin)

For the umpteenth time as several hooks snag I don't know whether to blog in one space or several. The compromise will be to keep this for and about the OU. Therefore 'e.learning & innovation,' even 'innovations in e.learning.'

The problem Anais Nin had related to the 'threads' in her life, her various interests that broadly split between her love life, her efforts to become a published writer of fiction & what the journals gradually become first to her and then to the people (and fans) who read them.

My response has been, having stared a blog, that mimicked a  diary and was simply an 'online journal' to split by purpose, by content (the the degree of exposure I was prepared to make/the adult nature of the material) and even by design. Things quickly got in a muddle & I returned to the single blog model, only to find I could not please all, or many (or even any but a handful)  of the readers. By which time it had ceased to be a  diary, or even an online journal.

I will persevere with WordPress where the old blog will be migrated. This could take some time. 8,000 hours if I go entry by entry. Oops. Maybe not them. I can be more selective than that. The intention will be to use current blogging tools to find & establish threads of ideas, topics, stories, people & events. To what end though?

Then there'll be a blog for teaching & coaching swimming aimed only at fellow teachers & coaches - so not on how to swim, or how to swim faster ... just how to teach or coach people to swim and then to swim faster.

There is relevance to this in relation to 'innovations in e.learning.

What is most likely to produce an innovation? By being prescriptive, or saying 'anything goes?' Or a bit of both. Somehow.

Or am I talking here about inventiveness & creativity?

 

 

 

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Digital Natives, Dinosaurs, Luddites & Dictators ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 21:02

"The problem for schools at the moment is that many teachers do not have the levels of digital literacy held by many of their students. This is magnified by the fact that the 'decision makers' in schools - i.e. the senior management team are less likely to have the skills needed due to their ... 'experience' so see less value in elearning and ict.

They have the power to effect change and innovate but are less likely to use it.

Gavin Holden 11 February 2010, 22:12

And barriers to learning:

"In FE-environments at present, they are staring down the barrel of a gun that spells out a requirement of at least a 75% pass-rate for A-levels. As a consequence they become more interested in bullying lecturers into, in effect, ticking boxes than being creative, let alone innovative."

Eva Arndt 12 February 2010, 14:31
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