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h800: 34 Vicarious Learning (Wk Activity 4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is observation ‘participation’ ? Surely it is?

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

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

The PATSy system looked at/looks at:

· Developmental reading disorder

· Neuropsychology

· Neurology/medical rehabilitation

· Speech and language pathologies

It is a:

· A multimedia database/resource.

· + virtual patients

· Clinical reasoning and diagnosis

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

It is helpful where students struggle to articulate their misunderstanding.

TDD (task-directed discussion)

Useful for reflection.

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

It provides:

· A multi-media database

· Discussion tools

· Reading resources

It operates:

· At a distance (does it say)

· On campus but working alone (clinical)

· As observers of learners and as learners themselves.

REFERENCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ambient culture over explicit teaching

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

Wherein lies the discord in many school classrooms

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

I love the idea of JPS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

REFERENCE

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

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

 

 

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The honest image - who are you or were you?

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

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What image should we use to portray ourselves?

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

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

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

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

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

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I then went with this.

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

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Facebook personas sees me in a number of guises

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

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I have this image fronting Tumblr taken 21 years ago.

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

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

is more telling that a photograph.

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

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

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

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

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I have of course not changed much since 1977

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

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The Dracula Spectacula, People's Theatre, Newcastle.

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

  • Could a daily snap taken when looking in the bathroom mirror be used to tag memories from that 'era' of your life?
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H800: 22 Reflecting on H800

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

How goes it?

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

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

Ilness changes things

Nothing more than a rubbish cold made uncomfortable by asthma.

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

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

We're in the week of metaphors for learning.

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

Gathering my thoughts will take time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The next pool? Where is that?

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

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

Piaget next?

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

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

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

IMG_1270.JPG

 

Eating humble pie

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

I take it back:

I eat humble pie for and offer three reasons:

1. Reading works

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

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

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

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

 

There is value in printing things off

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

See below

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

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

‘Keep it Simple, Stupid’

(as it was, though as some now prefer)

‘Keep it short and simple’.

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

 

The points I am making are straight forward too.

1. Reading

2. Research and References

3. Simplicity

 

An e-reader is simple

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

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

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

 

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

Vygostky would approve.

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

 

Parameters help

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

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

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

 

This in itself is one reason to avoid Wikipedia

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

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

 

Or am I missing the point?

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

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

 

Anyone fancy giving it a go?

I digress, which is apt.

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Google take over please.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Institute of Educational Technology

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

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


It was written in 1992.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have things moved on?

Where’s our TV in MAODE?

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

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

It should not be a dying form.

 

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

They had a task to undertake, a goal.

There were clear, agreed stages.

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

There is more

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

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

 

We’re human

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

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

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

 

Why?

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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


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

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

!!!


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

 

Our maturity and NOT being academics probably

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

 

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

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

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

 

Problems arise from social psychological processes:

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

REFERENCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Post script

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

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Risk more to succeed

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 14:15

The mistake risk takers make is to take too few risks

The dot com or e-learning mistake is to have only one ball in the air.

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Like Cirque du Soleil they should juggle a dozen items, who even notices if one drops to the ground and breaks, there's enough going on to amaze.

TV production companies, docs and drama, film companies too, have to have many ideas in development if any are to succeed; when will web producers take the same approach?

28 projects on the go I understand is the figure

I've got four ideas, so seven other people with four ideas each and we're in business as imagicians.

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H800:12 Wk Activity 4

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 11 Feb 2011, 09:33

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Where the lines cross, that's me, pretty much.

There must be an age when you start to wonder where you belong and how you behave. On this basis I am in fast reverse.

A year ago I had six books out from the library.

When I started the OU MAODE is used the OU library, printed reports off and put them in a folder to read and take notes.

By my second module I had no reason to print off and coutesy of Google I'd go straight to the journal I wanted with OU permissions apparently in place.

This is how I find artciles and having bookmarked journals I consider valuable I go straight to them.

A Kindle is the next step to refining the inputting phase of learning. On a Kindle the highlighting and notetaking takes place as I read. I'll manipulate this content later. Inspired by so much currently.

The OU is part of the story.

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Kindle: 2

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 11 Feb 2011, 09:19

Not quite 24 hours, more like 18 hour, but much of this has been spent in the company of my Kindle.

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Had it been back lit I might still be in bed. Once upon a time (twenty years ago) when my bed was my own I'd wake, read for an hour, then go back to sleep. Because I have to get up, I do.

It amuses me that I bought the stand it is resting on in 1982. My girlfriend at the time thought I was wasting my money. Here it still is. It pays to by something that will last.

The A5 Pad of Cartridge paper is meant for drawing, though it sometimes will double up for notes and mind maps.

Had I a Kindle at the time I would have the Kindle version of Media and Communication Technologies. For H800 I have read the introduction and conclusion and can draw on my notes done the old way: into a notebook, then typed up and blogged or stores in the MyStuff eportfolio.

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The only book I have on the Kindle is this. Excitement and ease of use has got me through five chapters in as many hours.

Kindle joy is here

The highlight tool is spot on, as is notetaking. I would have preferred a stylus, as my old PDA, but guess this would make it more expensive. Low cost is a factor (at least low enough).

The default images are a thing of joy and beauty. I recall seeing Mark Twain, Jane Austen and various pages from illuminate manuscripts and pages of animals from Victorian engravings.

I subscribe to How to Change the World on a 14 day trial. It starts with this. A lecture by Randy Pausch, age 48, an inspirational educator ... months before he dies from cancer.

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I've watched this through once, and will watch it several times over and take notes before I am finished. He has some inspired things to say and share.

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H800:12 WK1 Activity 4 The Google Generation - True or False?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 16 Nov 2011, 23:57

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Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. Written in 2007 (published 11 January 2008). Reviewed in 2011.

Part of the Week 1 jollies for H800.

(This picks up where I left off in the Forum Thread)

After a year of MAODE, a decade blogging and longer keeping journals (and old course work from both school and uni I might add) I feel I can tap into my own first, second, third or fourth take on a topic.

Increasingly, where this is digitised my preferred learning approach is to add to this information/knowledge, often turning my ideas inside out.

We are yet to have a ‘generation,’ (a spurious and loose term in this context) that has passed through primary, secondary and tertiary education ‘wired up’ to any consistent degree from which to gather empirical research. Indeed, I wonder when things will bottom out, when we’ve gone the equivalent journey of the first horseless-carriage on the Turnpikes of England to the 8 lanes in both directions on the M1 south of Leicester – or from the Wright Brothers to men on the moon.

I’d like to encourage learners to move on from copying, or cutting and pasting in any form, to generating drafts, and better drafts of their take on a topic, even if this is just a doodle, a podcast or cryptic set of messages in a synchronous or asynchronous discussion i.e. to originate.

I lapped up expressions such as Digital Natives, an expression/metaphor only that has been debunked as lacking any basis in fact.

I fear this is the same when it comes to talking about ‘Generation X, Y or Z.’ It isn’t generational, it is down to education, which is down to socio-economic background, wealth, access (technical, physical, geographic, as well as mental), culture, even your parent’s job and attitude.

My 85 year old Father-in-law is Mac ready and has been wired to the Internet its entire life; does this make him of this ‘Generation?’

If x billion struggle to find clean drinking water and a meal a day, where do they stand?

They’ve not been born on Planet Google, so don’t have this generational opportunity.

I find it short sighted of the authors not to go for a ‘longitudinal’ (sic) study. It strikes me as the perfect topic of a JISC, Open University, BBC tie in, the filming part funding the research that is then published every three years for the next thirty, for example.

Trying to decide who is Generation X, or Generation Y or the ‘Google Generation’ strikes me as fraught as trying to decide when the islands we inhabit became, or could have been called in turn England, Scotland, Wales, Great Britain or the United Kingdom.

We could spend an unwarranted amount of time deciding who is in and who is out and not agreed.

We can’t it’s like pouring water through a sieve. The creator of IMBD, a computer geek and film buff was born in the 60s (or 70s). Highly IT literate, then as now, he is not of the ‘Google Generation’ as defined as being born after 1993, but is surely of the type?

Personally I was introduced to computers as part of the School of Geography initiative at Oxford in 1982.

Admittedly my first computer was an Amstrad, followed by an early Apple, but I’ve not been without a computer for the best part of thirty years. I can still give my 12 year old a run for his money (though he does get called in to sought our browser problems).

And should this report be quoting Wikipedia?

Surely it is the author we should quote if something is to be correctly cited; anyone could have written this (anyone did).

Reading this I wonder if one day the Bodleian Library will be like a zoo?

The public will have access to view a few paid students who recreate the times of yore when they had to read from a book and take notes, and look up titles in a vast leather-bound tome into which we strips of paper were intermittently stuck. (not so long ago).

Is there indeed, any point in the campus based university gathered around a library when all his millions, or hundreds of millions of books have been Googliefied?

Will collegiate universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Durham (Edinburgh and Dublin? Harvard ?) become even more elite as they become hugely expensive compared to offerings such as the Open University?

There may be no limit to how much and how fast content can be transmitted … the entire Library of Congress in 3 seconds I am told, but there are severe limits to how much you can read and remember, let alone make sense of and store.

Is this not the next step?

To rewire our minds with apps and plug-ins? I smile at the idea of ‘power browsing’ or the new one for me ‘bouncing’ the horizontal drift across papers and references rather than drilling vertically, driven by a reading list no doubt.

I can give a name to something I did as an undergraduate 1981-1984. Reading Geography I began I the Map room (skipped all lectures) and then spent my morning, if necessary moving between libraries, particularly the Rhodes Library and Radcliffe Science Library, by way of the School of Geography Library, of course, and sometimes into the Radcliffe Camera or the PPE Reading Rooms.

I bounced physically.

I bounced digitally online as a preferred way of doing things. Though this often leaves me feeling overwhelmed by the things I could read, but haven’t read, that I’d like to read. Which is good reason ONLY to read the latest paper, to check even here if the paper we are asked to read has not already been superseded by this or fellow authors.

Old digitised news keeps like a nasty smell in the wind?

Users are promiscuous, diverse and volatile and it is clear that these behaviours represent a serious challenge for traditional information providers, nurtured in a hardcopy paradigm and, in many respects, still tied to it. (p9)

The problem with the short read and low tolerance of readers is the way papers have thus far gone from print version to digital version without, yet, thorough transmogrification.

We await new acceptable ways to write, and submit and share knowledge that is less formal and to anyone versed in reading online, digestible.

All authors for the web would do well to read Jakob Nielsen on web usability.

There is a way to do it. If it looks like it belongs in a journal or book, you are getting it wrong

Do the authors appreciate that labelling the behaviour ‘squirreling’ is self-fulfilling?

It normalises the behaviour if anyone reads about it. Whilst metaphors are a useful way to explain, in one person’s words, what is going on, such metaphors soon become accepted as fact.

There is a running debate across a series of article in the New Scientist on the way humans think in metaphors (good, can’t help it), and how ideas expressed as metaphors then set unfounded parameters on how we think (not so good, and includes things like the selfish gene, competition and so on).

This dipping, bouncing and squirreling, horizontal browsing, low attention span, four to eight minute viewing diverse ‘one size does not fit all’ individual would make for an interesting cartoon character. I wonder if Steven Appleby or Quentin Blake would oblige. ________________________________________________________________________________

Why ‘huge’ and why ‘very’ ? Qualify. Facts. Evidence. And why even, 'very, very.' This isn't academic writing, it's hear say and exaggeration.

There’s a category missing from the graph – branded information, such as Wikipedia, or Harvard Business Publication, Oxford or Cambridge University Press and Blackwell’s, to name put a few.

Where so much information is available, and so many offerings on the same topic, the key for anyone is to feel they are reading a reliable source.

The point being made later about ‘brand’ presence for BL … something we will see more of with the commercialisation of information. Even Wikipedia cannot be free for ever, while the likes of Wikileaks, for its mischief making and spy-value will always be funded from nefarious sources.

There are very very few controlled studies that account for age and information seeking behaviour systematically: as a result there is much mis-information and much speculation about how young people supposedly behave in cyberspace. (p14)

Observational studies have shown that young people scan online pages very rapidly (boys especially) and click extensively on hyperlinks - rather than reading sequentially. Users make very little use of advanced search facilities, assuming that search engines `understand’ their queries. They tend to move rapidly from page to page, spending little time reading or digesting information and they have difficulty making relevance judgements about the pages they retrieve. (p14)

Wikipedia and YouTube both exhibit a marked age separation between viewers of content (mainly 18-24s) and content generators (mainly 45-54s and 35-44s respectively). (p16, ref 17)

‘there is a considerable danger that younger users will resent the library invading what they regards as their space. There is a big difference between `being where our users are’ and `being USEFUL to our users where they are’.

Surely it would be easy to compare a population that have access and those who do not?

Simply take a group from a developed, rich Western nation and compare them to a group that are not, that don’t have the internet access, video games or mobile phones.

REFERENCE

Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. UCL 11 JAN 2008

 

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H800:11 WK1 Activity 3 How we perceive and write about innovations as they hit

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 31 Jan 2013, 05:47

Every innovation is perceived as siesmic, like a Tsunami it washes over everything. I like the digital ocean metaphor ...

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In relation to H800 and the Week 1 activities the introduction and final chapter of Stephen Lax's book covers the communications innovations of the last century + enough to inform.

 

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And whilst this is the topic for H807 'Innovations in E-learning' I recommend this. I like him so much I bought copies to give to friends; I don't know if they were grateful.

Is it available on Kindle?

 

 

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Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 15:42

It may be a wooden ruler, but I like this.

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Norman Davies in 'The Isles' devotes a chapter to this idea of Britishness ... and across his book, the equivalent of another chapter all over.

We could get like this trying to pen in types of learning (e-learning, online learning, CBT etcsmile the same applies to many facets of the Internet, it's like trying to define the oceans, ignoring the current the run underneath the surface.

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On blogging vs keeping a diary or are they the same thing?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 18:18

Maketh up a quote at ye beginning of thy book; it will make people think thou art clever.

Christopher Marlowe ‘The Obscure Tragedie’ Act II, Scene ii.

The following comes from a seminal book on diary keeping by Tristine Rainer.

Here are some key thoughts

Some of this thinking can be brought up to date in the context of keeping a diary online; the essential principals remain the same.

A dairy is many things:

‘Everything and anything goes. You cannot do it wrong. There are no mistakes. At any time you can change your point of view, your style, your book, the pen you write with, the direction you write on the pages, the language in which you write, the subjects you include, or the audience you write to. You can misspell, write ungrammatically, enter incorrect dates, exaggerate, curse, pray, write poetically, eloquently, angrily, lovingly. You can past in photographs, newspaper clippings, cancelled checks, letters, quotes, drawings, doodles, dried flowers, business cards, or labels. You can write on lined paper or blank paper, violet paper or yellow, expensive bond or newsprint.’

Tristine Rainer, ‘The New Diary’ 1976.

‘Flow, spontaneity and intuition are the key words. You don’t have to plan what you are going to do. You discover what you have done once you have set it down.’ Tristine Rainer.

Keep it all in one place

‘When the dreams like next to the fantasies, and political thoughts next to personal complaints, they all seem to learn from each other.’

This works for blogging:

Write Spontaneously

Write quickly so that you don’t know what will come next. How the unexpected can happen. Surprise yourself.

Write Honestly

Be open about what you really feel. Few diaries actually lie to themselves in a dairy, but many out of shyness with themselves avoid writing about the most intimate aspects of a situation.

Write Deeply

Anais Nin, disappointed with her childhood diaries, developed the practice of sitting quietly for a few minutes before beginning to write. She would close her eyes and allow the most important incident or feeling of the day or of the period of time since she last wrote to surface in her mind. That incident or feeling became her first sentence.

Write Correctly

Expressive language is not a science. There are no rules. You are writing for yourself, so self-expression is the key. Test the range of your natural voice – it will develop. Errors are part of the form of the diary, as they are part of life.

Choose your audience

Your best audience is your future self. In ten years time you won’t remember the situation unless you capture all its sensual vitality now.

Value contradictions

In time they will develop towards a larger truth; leave them in.

‘Some diarists find when they go several weeks without writing they begin to feel off balance and take it as a signal that they are avoiding the inner self.’

Those of us who keep a diary regularly are stuck with it; whether it appears online, and which bits of appear online is another matter.

‘We taught the diary as an exercise in creative will; as an exercise in synthesis; as a means to create a world according to our wishes, not those of others; as a means of creating the self, of giving birth to ourselves.’

Anais Nin, December 1976.

There’s more to follow from Tristine Rainer on basic diary devices and special techniques.

P.S. The Marlowe quote is John O’Farrel’s invention and appears in ‘I blame the scapegoats.’

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H800:8 Missing the bus

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 18 Oct 2014, 16:25

Fellow students are expressing understandable views regarding the way forums work; I wonder what the answer is?

If everyone is an active participant you could miss a day and find you are 40 thread behind the conversation. If you, understandably, are away for several days (work, holiday, crisis, illness) you could be 100 threads and 40,000 words behind.

I wonder if the approach, using an analogy I've already suggested regarding whether or not you speak to fellow commuters on a train (or bus) might be (or should be) to ignore all but the last 20% of posts, pick up the thread here and continue.

What I know you CANNOT do is try to pick up a thread that has gone cold; you may feel you want to respond to the way things developed since your departure ... but everyone has moved on, may feel the question/issue has been dealt with and may not even come back to look at this page.

Over the year I've commented on lack of entries in blogs and threads from fellow students; the issue (an exciting and interesting position to be faced with) in H800 2011 may be the opposite - along comes a cohort that does Facebook and Twitter and may keep a blog, who can type at a million miles an hour and feel they have something to say.

How therefore to manage this explosion of content?

How about we ditch text in favour of a 3 minute webcam 'update.'

Then again, 40 missed threads x 3 minutes equally a heck of a lot of viewing!

 

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H800:7 The OU Good Study Guide 1990

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 3 Feb 2011, 15:05

If you think much has changed, it hasn't.

Not yet.

The means of delivery may have changed, but we are still reading words. And where there's video today there was the lecture before. Or the topic-focussed discussion, this forum feed, a tutorial.

Two modules in I came across this.

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As valid today as it was in 1990.

Not that I was reading it then, I finished my first degree in 1984. This was something my daughter had been sent by her grandfather; she's 14. it's a foreign language to her. For any words she writes out long hand a thousand are typed into Facebook or Tumblr.

The lessons in here are straightforward; it pays to take you time and put in some effort.

 

 

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H800:3 Technology (the mobile kind)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 18 Oct 2014, 16:45

In fact any kind.

Coming out of H807 I felt I was 'readoing for a degree' in the traditional sense of the words.

Entering H808 I found there'd be stuff I'd have to use, no escape.

In both instances I eventually got down to it; read masses in H807 and started to learn or relearn how to take an academic approach to research, reading and writing nad in H808 I tried everything, mastered some, reviewed everything, and saw gaps worth filling.

Just as there is the time to read everything there isn't the time to try everything either. Whatever the software does (or is called) there will be six others just as good. Like all good consumers I may go by brand name, so Google, Microsoft, Adobe and even Facebook and Twitter are in.

Go with recommendations from fellow students who can demonstrate what they can do with these tools and talk about it at length; anything else might lead you down a blind alley.

Have two or three versions of something on the go until you're happy. I'm for Firefox as a browser, but still use GoogleChrome while trying mywebsearch from time to time. I've had and have pictures in KodakEasyshare but find everything (as the rest of the family) now feeds into Picasa (I find it intuitive, streaming content from camera, through an edit, online then blogged in minutes).

So I have to go mobile.

My Sony Ericson is more matchbox that Smartphone, a pager, camera, phone thingey. Today I resolved to open the manual (I bought the thing 13 months ago). I have some pics trapped on the phone. I decide to find out how to get them onto the memory card, into Picasa Gallery and online. I find I might be able to send them to my Picasa Account or my daughter's Facebook account. Odd that one. The picas route fails but I correctly identify one of the three versions of me running around Facebook and successfully upload a series of pictures taken over Christmas 2009. All the pics are sideways on and I cannot see that Facebook has an edit function.

I consider this to be an achievement; though I suppose there will be a cost. If its a £1 pic then I'm £12 down. Luckily I stopped it from uploading 93 pics.

Now however whenever I go to my phone I have a stream of Facebook drivel from my cousins various activities, with an occasional piece of nonsense from my 12 and 14 year old. How do I turn this off? (How did I turn it on!) Is it costing me anything.

What's the use?

Learning Technologies say they are plenty of uses. I agree. Were this a business phone and a business Facebook group and everyone was chatting on a theme then being able to engage, or disengage from this lively on topic banter would be of value.

There are other pieces of software on my hit list for H800.

My attitude is to jump in fully clothed, wearing a life-jacket with a smile on my face. I my flouder, I may swim. I may need the life-jacket, I may not. But at some stage I'll be hawled into a community lifeboat, pick up and oar and start to row. A few weeks in I might be at the helm and a few weeks after this I may strip off and dive in off the prow to go looking for something fresh.

i.e. behave like a teenager even if you're not. And if you get stuck ... ask a teenager. What I love about my children is that they will gladly offer to help. I then see that they are as clueless as me at first but after a few goes they manage to crack the code.

 

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H800:2 Headset and microphone

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 3 Feb 2011, 07:15

In our first Cafe exchange for H808 various folk, Shaun, Maureen and Gemma recommend getting a heaqdset and microphone. In H807 I baulked at dressing up like someone in a call centre or spening a few quid I didn't have. I mistakenly thought I'd get away with an external mic and the lap top speakers. It didn't work so I ended up typing furiously to try and keep up with the conversation.

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I am now the proud owner of a £9.99 head set that does the job beautfully. What is more, plugged into a digital recorder it is terrific for taking audio notes or podcasts.

 

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H800:1 A warming introduction (or simply a warm up)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 18 Oct 2014, 16:10

I've just read the introduction to H800.

This is a gentle, caring, thoughtful 'laying out of the OU stall.' No jargon, clearly written in a reassuring and friendly tone. Even the lay out is more magazine article than academic abstract, I like this. Don't scare new folks on day one. Or me. And old hand now.

Were we gathered in the real world this is the equivalent of tea and cake with the course team and future student colleagues.

Even though this is now my third module towards the MA in Open & Distance Education I begin with trepidation as pressures on my time mount; professionally I am now incorporating the contents of H807 and H808 into my daily life and activities - evangelising about all things to do with e-learning (and the OU), while developing projects and talking to prospective clients and sponsors, employers and potential employees.

Personal Development Planning wrapped up the H808 ECA and is now, along with reflective blogging and use of MyStuff (the OU e-portfolio) very much part of my weekly routine.

I struggled through H807 on an old iBook, succumbing to printing off far too often. With H808 I acquired a new laptop and barely printed off a thing (the ECA and evidence being the exception). Everything went into MyStuff.

(I tried Pebbelpad for several weeks then gave up. Having paid an annual sub of £20 for this I will give it a more thorough try in H800. I sense a need to have an alternative e-portfolio as the OU abandons or replaces MyStuff).

With H800 I feel the need, professionally, for a Smart Phone.

Returning from Learning Technologies 2011 I came away with one conviction - mobile learning and a number of trends (more video, less text; more chunking, easy create software and platforms; the creative/planning/production process being brought inhouse; shake up in higher education; significant investment/development in learning & development departments/functions; thorogh, comprehensive evidence of effectiveness with detailed analytics a key driver ... a list I will continue to develop this week as I finish going through my notes. See below for my take on Learning Technologies 2011)

Going mobile doesn't simply mean learning on the commute, or during a lunch break or riding a chairlift in a ski resort if only), but using the device at a desk, around the house, in corridors. Think of is this way, why do so many of us work from Laptops at a desk, when surely a desktop computer would do a better job. I feel a Smart Phone will simply offer an alternative way to work, as if on a micro-computer ... on a bench overlooking the English Channel. Stuck in traffic (as a passenger) .. even while making supper.

We will see.

Perhaps a Smart Phone and the next peice of business will go hand in hand.

I'll no doubt often using sports related analogies, so I'll treat week one and two as a warm up, rather than a sprint. In previous modules I've been like a pace setter at the start of the four minute mile, dashing off quickly only to retire before the end.

My key thought for H800? Pace.

In any case, I've got a self-assessment tax form to submit, more job interviews, client meetings too - even seeing a Venture Capital organisation. This and some swim coaching and quite a bit of swim club managing/organising (internal training, submission to a national audit, final assessment for the Senior Club Coach certificate). As well as time with family, children, our dog and the guinea-pigs 'E', 'C' & 'A'.

 

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LT2:6 Learning Technologies. Towards e-learning maturity.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 8 Mar 2012, 16:01

Theatre 1

Laura Overton opened by saying she'll try to give Fusion Knowledge a run for their money. She competes for the first ten minutes with Fusion Knowledge whose stand is like a Cuckoo's egg in this corner of Learning Technologies 2011.

This is the third time a speaker has stoically acknowledged the competition (volume, noise of other speakers and from stands).

This is something for Learning Technologies to resolve.

Between my notes, taking this pictures and the distractions of the Fusion stand I now wished I too had opened up a Flip and grabbed the seminar. I struggling with my cryptic notes.

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These THREE STEPS, Review, Compare, Act (i.e. benchmark then act) are a digest from 90 steps indentified that I look forward to reviewing. These 90 are group intoed six main 'work streams' Laura explained:

  1. Defining Need
  2. Learner Context
  3. Work Context
  4. Building Capability
  5. Ensuring Engagement
  6. Demonstrate Value

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Benchmarking is based on comparing many business (was the gigure 1200?). With my sports interest I liken this to how in swimming (UK) every year benchmark standards in all events in all age groups, by gender at County, Regional and National levels are recalibrated.

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And this. Which strikes me as a poor way to show a Bell Curve, the Diffusion of Innovations 'S' curve showing early to late adopters, with laggards here shown as 'novices.'

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and this which desires that business aspire to entire the Top Quartile (though if all businesses did so wouldn't the way in which the scale is measured simply shift i.e. there can only be businesses in the Top Quartile as long as there are others in each of the others. I'm sure someone who is doing a Maths degree will kindly step in and explain this too me. I'll ask Laura Overton too as she was very, very keen for people to fire questions in her direction.

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Here we have the collated findings from a brief survey done with companies that the audience were asksed to do too. I took an inside view of the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) and with only three exceptions gave them a 1 out of 9, suggestions that on this benchmark they are wofuelly behind the rest of the world. I'd can see the value of every company doing this in order to gauge how they compare and therefore how fit they are to compete using advanced learning & development resources.

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Perhaps there is a case for making a digital record of things we experience for later appraisail.

I appreciate entirely the value of benchmarking. This depends on the quailty, scale and currency of the data. I trust that in a market such as this it will be up to date.

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If I can locate those who recorded this even on their Flip cameras, or view it as a podcast courtesy of Learning Technologies I will do so. I'll aslo add here any correspondence I have with Laura Overton.

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Moodle it for £5k

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:56

Prices fly, then collapse. Services and products you need to buy in or off the shelf you can suddenly build for yourself. Web design and web sites have gone flat-pack in the simplicity and pricing.

 

Not the first time I've used IKEA as a model.Life has become far easier with the expert made redundant. Now we can all do it. All that's requires is an experience mind.


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LT2:4 Learning Technologies. Telling Storis.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 8 Mar 2012, 05:38

Once upon a time ...

Did you here about ...

Three men went into a bar ...

Stories and humour work.

In the 1980s for a training film that told a story you went to Melrose for humour you went to Video Arts.

Video Arts were at Learning Technologies. I went to their presentation twice. Everything they are doing I applaud. They are reinventing themselves.

Melrose fell 15 years ago (or so). The market couldn't sustain the expense and somehow we always find ways to tell a new story. Whereas comedy never changes. All Video Arts need to do is to re-shoot with fresh actors on a fresh set.

Meanwhile I do Epic No.2 too.

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I don't need convincing that stories work.

Get up to make a presentation and you will hold your audience if you say, 'a funny thing happened to me on the way here ...'

You are about to tell a story (or a bad joke), but hopefully something true, or convincing.

With a child 'once upon a time ... ' can lead to anything you like. As a parent you make up bedtime stories and you find a way to keep them awake.

(Which is why my wife long ago banned me from bedtime stories. Too exciting, too long ... kept them awake).

So to the value of Storytelling.

I love the way Epic handled the BBC Guidelines challenge.

I have a copy.

How would I describe this fat, pack A5 arch-lever file manual of don't and don'ts and more don'ts?

(I'll dig it out and take a picture)

It's about as engaging as a brick wrapped in last week's Sunday Newspapers.

Trainspotting for creatives?

Coming from advertising you see that a story can be told in 30 seconds.

I was on Kit-Kat. 'Have a break. Have a Kit-kat.' This was the era of epics in microcosm, classic adds such as 'Middle of the road.'

Ask. Do ask.

'Like all good learning we're going to be interacting.' Said Naomi Norman.

And we did, to a degree.

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I love the science. I cannot get enough on how the mind retains and uses information.

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is not rocket science, it is obvious. Human kind have spent far longer sitting around fires telling tales than watching TV.

Academics in education recommend the use of narrative.

‘Stories are the method by which people impose order and reason upon the world.’ Fisher. (1987)

‘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)

‘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)

* spontaneous inclination to engage in a dialogue with material

* to improve some form of organisation upon it

* to make comparison with it

Bruner (1996.97)

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But what I look forward to is the story.

 

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As I boy I was sent to boarding prep school.

The 'dormitory captain' an older boy who supervised Ihe younger ones (i was eight) would tell a ghost story.

I could still tell 'the Monkey's Paw,' or 'The Mist,' or the 'Broken Stair.'

 

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I've been telling stories every since.

 

REFERENCE

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.

Fisher, W.R. (1987) Human communication as Narration: toward philosophy of reason, value and action.

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

P.S.

More on Epic in due course. I've found a second page of notes. In the meant time yo can contact them yourselves:

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LT2:3 Learning Technologies. Where Twitter, like notes on scraps of paper, enter the domain of the virtual classroom.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Nov 2012, 16:44

Collaborative Learning using Twitter and Adobe Captivate

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I was persuaded by the softly spoken Akshay Bhavadwaj.

He asked us to think back to when we’d been in a classroom, when we could interact, asking questions of folks. He’s not the product of the British public school then, where collaboration was thought of as cheating and if you spoke out of turn you'd get hit by a piece of well aimed chalk or the wooden board rubber.

Old times, past times.

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I’m a convert to collaboration in all things; that sharing bolsters thinking, empowers and engages the mind.

70% drop out of online courses due to learner isolationwe are told.

This is because candidates will click in, click around then click off somewhere else unless they find someone, not just something, with which to engage.

My take here is that this is where those organising a course must step in. However, time (and cost) a limiting factor, I understand why the Open University wants, encourages and needs students who know their way around, or know anything, to share and support new comers. It may happen naturally in a large enough, engaged, tuned in, Net savvy community, but otherwise it needs a nudge (and the tools).

Should a cohort of students on a module, or in a Tutor group be sharing Twitter account details? This is when I feel myself splitting into various versions of me, the student being one, the commercial, family man and swimming coach the others.

Akshay explained how to use Twitter to circumvent a course Learning Management System (LMS).

it is easy to use Twitter. I.e. use what people are familiar with. This presumes of course that most in a cohort have the device, the means and inclination to use Twitter.

  • Overcome learner isolation
  • Hold learner interest

Akshay then went on to set up a virtual classroom with those attending the seminar and showed how using Twitter it was easy to quickly set something up.

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It worked, but those who have taught in a class or lecture hall recently, especially at Secondary Level, would have serious doubts about encouraging the use of smartphones in class. My experience is that students will listen to music with earplug cables snuck up shirtsleeves or text each other – the idea of using their device (at their cost?) to engage with classmates strikes me as odd.

In a virtual classroom however, this would be a different matter.

Using devices used for social networking and communicating between friends in a learning setting may not appeal to some. It smacks of bringing work home; but do we no longer have any choice ?

Life Long learning also means learning anywhere, anytime, anyhow.

If I understand what is going on correctly, then some corporates can purchase help desk services, real people paid to mill around and be around to be supportive. It’s no different to second year students keeping an eye out for first years at university …

I then went over to the Adobe stand, returning two or three times.

These are the tools I'd like to get my hands on. I feel an affinity to Adobe as I do to Mac.

As long as it pays to pay, then it is understandable that some tools cost something.

Pay peanuts and you get monkeys? Pay nothing and you get Open Source.

To discuss.

 

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LT DAY 2:1 Learning Technologies Day Two: Trying out new positions

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 8 Mar 2012, 16:12

It ended here.

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It began with this.

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And this

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Preparation IS everything.

The poster for Reed sums up my current mode - new positions, whether on my own account or employed, freelance or in a business, whether an agency or in-house. My conviction is that I have most to offer embedded in an international organisation's Learning & Development Department using the substantial external 'creation' and production experience that I have while exploiting some knowledge and insights from coaching swimming; the Open University MA in Open & Distance Education binds them; each new module is another thread that makes me a cohesive bundle. H800 opened its doors yesterday. H807 and H808 are done. Practice-based research in educational technology (H809) may follow.

Yesterday at Learning Technologies I felt like a minnow ...

Today I felt like a Manta Ray, sliding between seminars and stands seamlessly, observing, taking notes and pictures, having thoughts that I jotted down or shared with a colleague.

Paper and bumph. Would it have been different armed with an iPad? Suprisingly few were being used. It was all Smart Phones and occasional netbooks or Flip cameras.

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Surely 'bumph' in a bag could be reduced to a PDF file blue-toothed wirelessly into a portable device?

We're not there yet.

I'll be dipping into a referring to this material, its content and contacting the people I met and have subsequently Linked In to for many weeks.

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Freindships and professional relationships may result. Business will be done. We'll have fun.

I hope so.

ON REFLECTION

The Open University should have had a major presence here.

I began the MA ODE in 2001 as a form of business training; I recommend the MA in Open & Distance Education to anyone who will listen. It would complement the careers and interests of hundreds of the thousands attending Learning Technologies 2011, both visitors and those on stands.

Next time?

Next event?


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LT1.1 Learning Technologies. Day One. Snack from the eLearning Smorgasbord of Learning Technologies 2011

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 8 Mar 2012, 16:05

Olympia is like the interior of some vast World War II Normandy Gun Emplacement – all exposed blocks of concrete, exposed pipes, clattering stairwells and distant skylights.

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The catering is marginally better than that at Conference League game of football.

The layout of stands (or should I call them stalls) reminds me of an East European Department store in the early 1990s.

On registration you are handed a fat catalogue worthy of IKEA, sadly your journey around the show is anything like as smooth or as comprehensive – more like shuffling through a multi-story car-park full of baldy parked 4x4s.

The lecture ‘theatres’ are open plan and back to back; they conflict for attention. The combination of two speakers at it, never mind music from surrounding stands, obliges a ‘sit-forward and concentrate’ mentality. Imagine two noisy street shows in action simultaneously on the cobles of Covent Garden.

Stalls, not stands, was the behaviour too of some selling their services, with leaflets thrust into your hands and conversations started that you didn’t want whether eye contact was made or not); the inclination is to make a blunt response; the danger is that you soon find yourselves burdened with the equivalent of every Sunday newspaper in one go.

There was a hint of desperation about some of it.

None of this is conducive to enjoyment or appropriate for a showcase of e-learning technology 2011.

Despite this I’m preparing to return for a second day.

_______________________________________

I attended with a producer from E-Learning Productions. I go wearing three hats: producer of content, learning manager wannabe and Open University MA student in his 'second year' of Open and Distance Education - starting H800 around now (I think the virtual gates to the module open on the 27th).

The quality of the Learning Technologies presentations (with one exception) and the stands that we chose, rather than chose us, was impressive.

Much of it rings true, reinforcing our views on where we feel the market is going, this was especially the case with the Video Arts presentation ‘Video learning: anywhere, anytime and just in time.’

Blog entries below indicate where and why I think video will take over from print; this was demonstrated by Video Arts.


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Drawing on a back catalogue of high quality, humour and drama-based learning Video Arts have created a digital platform that allows users to pick ‘n mix clips to assemble a learning programme of their own.

These ‘chunks’ of ‘stuff’ make a bespoke learning programme.

I question how ‘right way, wrong way’ illustrated with humour always works, wondering if the humour and the performance is recalled, but the message lost. Which is why I’d expect all learning to be measured for effectiveness, the brutal answers of success or failure being the test of a good learning programme.

Emerging challenges in learning: proving the business value answered any concerns or interest I might have in gauging effectiveness.

Though competing with presentation immediately behind in Theatre 2, Jeff Berk delivered an insightful, packed, brutally stark means to measure the effectiveness of training.

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Jeff's background as an auditor showed, but my creative head said that whatever ways or means of communicating ideas, of sharing knowledge and experience, of teaching, of learning, that I may devise or select ‘off-the-shelf’ or from one of these ‘stalls,’ www.Knowledgeadvisors.com will tell me if it worked or not, if not why not, if so where so, and what to change and how.

An invaluable service that must form the part of any learning and training programme budget.

The thread of the presentation, that felt like an attempt to run through the contents of Wikipedia in 30 minutes, was that Training Managers should ‘replace the smile sheet, with the smart sheet.’

I buy that.

Jeff spoke of ‘improving human capital performance.'

I like the idea of ‘sensitivity analysis’ and ‘action metrics’ helping the learning consultant in a business discussion identifying actual rather than perceived problems to get a fix.

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I take away too the idea of ‘Scrap Learning’ and ‘Pointers for Change,’ as well as ‘Actionable Metrics,’ a ‘dashboard of summarised information for senior managers.

Had I been to Learning Technologies the week before rather than a week before a job interview I wonder if the outcome would have been different?

This stuff matters, and now I know it.

Jeffrey Berk is quotable; it is corporate speak at its best. ‘Leverage methodology into the spirit of the technology,’ he said.

There’s a White Paper ‘Standard Reports of the Future’ that you can request by email Jeff the COO of Knowledge Advisors on jberk@knowledgeadvisors.com.

Leadership for the 21st Century and how to achieve it was a dreary, ill-considered Slide Show read out by a presenter who I sensed hadn’t seen the slides until the moment they appeared on the wall behind him. He read, verbatim from notes, his head buried in the lectern.

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No introduction, just started reading as if someone had put 50p in a Juke Box.

The best demonstration of how to present badly I have ever witnessed and after two minutes I was desperate to escape.

Mercifully what was billed as 30 minute presentation barely lasted 10.

The clichéd jigsaw piece analogy, the lengthy self-quoting of the long dead American who devised the programmed smacked of an attempt to sell 1970s fashioned Moon Boots at a desert oasis.

Fusion Learning have a theatre-cum-stand.

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They compete successfully with the hubbub and take the idea of the market stall to its obvious corporate conclusion. It would be unfair to say that Steve Dineen was selling product out the back of a lorry, but the simple lay-out of stand as platform, replete with headset and microphone suggested something of this ilk. Though no visitor to a street market is going to be sitting in front of a laptop, watching an interactive presentation and receiving a back massage.

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Quotes can be scattered around a presentation like baubles on an over-decorated Christmas tree, but this one from Einstein worked in this context.

‘Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.’ Albert Einstein.

Fusion Universal take an idea that is a decade old and do it better.

How to animation on Microsoft Product delivered via a searchable ‘just in time format.’

For example, I can’t get my head around the plethora of choices regarding headers and footers in the new word package. Type, search, click and I get a voiced animation of how to do it. A decade ago I bought this kind of thing on a CD-ROM for £75, today I take out an annual subscription, select from a multitude of bite-size ‘info drops’ and may even contribute my own ‘how to ‘ clips should I think I have a fix, a better fix, or an alternative fix or just fancy myself as a presenter, voice over artists and director/writer of video-based assets.

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Like Steve, I too change into ‘soft shoes’ when faced with being on my feet all day.

Had I a budget this alone would have had me signing up to their services.

He wore sheepskin moccasins. I think if all delegates left their shoes at registration and padded around in slippers or socks it would be conducive to a far more chilled atmosphere.

walk around the lanes in Brighton and you will come across many of the organisations presenting here; Epic, Kineo, Edvantage and Brightwave are four that come to mind. Perhaps these organisations should band together to bring customers to them on the Brighton Seafront; or does Wired Sussex does this already? __________________________________________________________________________________

Naomi Norman introduced Epic beginning with a reminder of their impactful, PR coup, the annual e-learning debate in the Oxford Union.

This is a non-Oxford event, despite the implied cache, that uses the debating chamber ahead of the academic year.

It attracts interest, not least to Epic’s LinkedIn E-learning forum that I find a constant stream of intelligent, current thinking, or as Naomi put it, ‘good, memorable, engaging interactions.’

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The presentation in relation to mobile learning is succinctly expressed as:

‘Learning in the moment, Learning across space and learning across time.’

We saw highly simplified 2d animations that mixed a bit of silent movie text and Captain Pugwash paper-cut outs to give gobbets of information on First Aid. More at www.firstaid.co.k (free download).

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Also some of the 20 hours of materials, 4 hours of it video, for Collins for whom Epic have turned an entire two years GCSE Maths Curriculum into a smart phone App.

My colleague and I debated some of the more confusing visuals for this course on the way home and reckoned our children would only engage with the content if they had to, and would probably try to cram it all in the day before an exam. i.e. parents become tutors and facilitators, somehow having to cajole some interest in engagement early on, with rewards for completion of modules.

The idea that a book will teach a 13 year old something, let alone a game like platform, ignores the fact that in isolation this kind of self-directed learning doesn’t happen without the outside influence of schools, parents and most especially peer pressure.

Marcus Boyes clicked through a mobile learning website developed by Epic.

It was a convincing demonstration of how rapidly a complex task that may have taken many months, can be compressed into a few weeks, leaving content creators to compose. I liken it to an conductor having an assembled brass band with players who can play and instruments that work, rather than finding you have to first make the instruments and then learn how to play them.

Go compose.

Far from farting about (as he put it) I found Marcus informed, engaged, practical and agile. He is the perfect tech savvy person, passionate about what he does and mindful of the need to make things easy. I want to go home and 'make an App' myself. In fact, with a shelf of 4,000 charts, 400 photos and about 10,000 words the Skieasy Books I took to Collins in 1991 may yet find their way into publication.

I can see virtue in going straight to Mobile application.

If it works in this format then you’ve got something write, as Einstein desires, you’ve made it simple. Then you get all the gains of being mobile, engaging the learning any moment in the day when they have downtime.

There’s a White Paper. Stand 54. Or from Epic’s website.Or from me now that I'vedownloaded it.

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Go register. They're worth it.

And this App for LinkedIn from EIPC looks useful.

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I like these papers, but sometimes question their academic validity.

A white paper pre-supposes peer review and scrutiny in an academic setting. Has this happened? I let my OU colleagues take a view. If published in a reputable journal I'd buy it.

Go see.

Much more on Video Arts to follow.


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New blog post

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 26 Jan 2011, 07:35

Who are you?

DSC00379.JPG From Drop Box

As a student my head's in the pot, as a coach and trainer, teacher or instructor, I'm the guy with the water-can. I like the sentiment, the idea of nurturing talent.

I wonder if e-learning would be a 'cloud' of digital rain that does away with the guy?

See you at the Learning Technologies, Olympia? I'll be attending both days. I don't suppose I'm supposed to give my mobile number out here so look out for this chap (sans tan, san teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything).

JV%20TED%201.JPG
From Drop Box
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Video expands the mind ... and use of the Internet

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 16:58

 

 

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I call it the coming of 'WikiTVia;' the tipping point where we view and listen to wikipedia. This will engage, persuade, educate and entertain audiences the way reading can never do (however many links you have).

Jakob Nielsen and his team, as well as academics, are stripping the blogosphere bare to understand how it works.

Birds of a Feather: How personality influences blog writing and reading.

It ain't like you imagine.

Those who generate content are a fraction of total users, 1% is the figure Nielsen gives. This 1% generate content beyond the ken of lesser mortals; you may say they are obsessive about it. Nielsen cites the Amazon book reviewer who wrote 1,275 reviews in one year (is that all). I liken these people to what advertisers call 'champions.' The key influencers of a cohort or group, early adopters, who innovate first and do so with conviction and passion.

Nielsen eleaborates on this and calls it 90-9-1.

Taking this into the realm of video my intuition supposes that these 'Golden Boys & Girls' of content generation will be and are the same people who will have a Flip camera in their pocket (or simply use their phone) to capture or generate orignial content then upload. Content generated on a theme, from a premise, that has some link or basis in its text form will generate an explosive interest in the subject matter beyond its original audience. Video has this power to engage, to persuade, to intrigue and interest the viewer.

Rich content enriches minds.

VJs ?

Like DJs they have a following.

Though the content should be king, not its author.

Me?

I'm this 1%.

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