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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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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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The importance of the words

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 08:15

Writing is everything.

I'd master it now. Keeping a blog is a sure darned way to do that. Handwritten is fine; find yourself the perfect pen.

Writing, or rather the ability to write.

It is the key to communication, to learning and to e-learning, and a great deal else besides.

On my passport it says 'writer, director.'

I like that, though I think of my skill as a visualiser and the writing and directing is rarely TV, but corporate and classroom training, desk-top learning, and product launches, change brand and change management.  Still there can be drama in it, and tears, and death, and love, and life, and music and dance. We go underwater and scale mountains, enter shear caves of nuclear power plants and wade through sewers, track super-models along catwalks in Paris and record the last words of a man dying of cancer in Carlisle.

I see things in pictures.

Perhaps the MA in Fine Art IS what I should have started a year ago ... though I fear I may have missed out.

It's easy enough I find to get my 'hand back in' if I want to draw something as it is rather like riding a bike, or skiing in deep powder snow, or racing a Fireball, or pushing off a wall in Breaststroke and emerging from a legal transition half way down a 25m pool ... once you've put in the days, months, years (even decades) learning to do these things, barring ill-health and great age, you ought to be able to do them for some time to come.

Which reminds me, I want to crack written French in 2011.

Clients think of me as something in addition to writing and directing (I produce), but no. that's not it; there are words, voices, images, cut together and linked in various ways that form linear and non-linear assemblages, but to them I am 'a problem solved', a job delivered, with passion, on time, on budget (of course), sometimes as a team of one, but sometimes in a team of a few or many more. I do wonder if sometimes an email with the finally agreed Creative Brief is the end of the process, rather than beginning.

Today, once you've solved that you can invite everyone to come up with their own creative execution.

Now there's a thought I'd not heard coming.

All of this takes words, expressing and solving the problem and sharing this requires words. A fast, reliable typing speed helps too. So perhaps my Mum was right to get me a typewriter when I was 13 when I wanted an electric guitar.

Sometimes I find the problem for the client and share it with them in all its beautiful ghastliness.

This is what good writing means. And experience. And judgment. And belief. And your approach and thoroughness. And the write people around you. And sometimes conviction that £60,000 will deliver the job, but £600 will not.

Good writing is less about the words chosen and put on the page (unless you are a novelist or poet, and I am neither), no, good writing is a good idea, clearly expressed, in as few words as possible. (Which in due course requires editing something like this).

Who is it who said the selling is a good idea?

That all it takes to sell something, is to have a good idea.

Good writing has a purpose and the author knows how to put the words to work by addressing a problem, because you know your audience and whether you or someone else is the subject matter expert, it is your responsibility, even if the words are hidden by a creative brief, a synopsis, treatments and scripts, to get the message across ... like, with some or many images (photos, graphics, cartoons), or with the spoken words and/or similar images that move ...

A swimming club session plan written on a whiteboard to take a squad of swimmers can be beautifully written if it is magically composed, and serves its immediate purpose. The good swimming coach rarely leaves such things in the head. It is thought-out, it is planned, it fits into the scheme of things, it is the right session for that hour or two.

Good writing hits a chord; it too is of the moment.

I conclude that a good teacher, a good tutor, educator, practitioner of e-learning ... all have this ability to write well at the core of their being. They are confident with words, words that are as carefully chosen even if spoken on the fly, as a result of their experience and all the lesson plans or scripts, or class programmes, they have written in the past that bubble up to the surface when faced with a problem - a fresh student.

(My only caveat is the from the podcasts I've heard before an educator is interviewed they should at least have the wisdom to do some media training).

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E-portfolios and the OU

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 4 Feb 2013, 13:07

Enjoyed an hour long Skype and Sync-in discussion with three other members of our H808 Tutor Group.

Having raced back from watching my son playing rugby in Brighton I was minutes late, but had least gone through Weller again this morning and had his report and my notes on the desktop.

The material we discusses was valuable, but only one part to this valuable learning experience.

Working live, contributing to a live wiki and being able to both chat and send message in real time proved highly successful. The process expects some give and take, polite suggestions, some 'taking it in turns' and for me some brief interludes to introduce me to a set up that is largely new to me.

We came away with some fresh insights on Weller's OU Report (2005) on the development of an e-portfolio system for the OU VLE. While using his report as the basis for our discussion some broader insights were gained in relation to the potential of Open Source, the context, culture and validity of a system for the broadest range of users ... or for a niche group. The OU's remit to widen participation and to enroll and engage with students without necessarily the prior academic record for an undergraduate or graduate place. My thinking continues to develop along the lines of branding, I like Mark Collin's point on the culture of an institution. I'm also coming back to the value of students running with whichever platform their institution provides, not just for e-portfolios, but as Lesley Morrell has pointed out elsewhere, all being in the same blogging environment helps - it is seamless. Even if a blog on a different site is only a click-away, it is only this close if someone has bookmarked it.

Much learnt, and verbalising ideas like this had me believing I could make a presentation on the subject of eportfolios too. How many points am I going to make? Four key issues with an introduction and conclusion. 100 words be key point with an intro and conclusion of 50 words each?

'Don't give me a creative brief, give me your problems.' Said Robin White on the Bottom Line the other evening. (See below) Ad-talk, marketing speak, music to my ears of a lifetime ago. But it works. If your client has a communications problem that you can fix,m you have a client. If your client doesn't have a problem, then they don't need you. If interviewing a client I would ask 'who are you?' (To establish their culture and intentions ... and funding?) I would want to know 'who are your students.' I believe that medical students are different to economists, those in the creative arts different to historians and lawyers. I wouldn't be happy with some catch-all. The OU (though this year's intake we are being told is different with a 36% increase in undergraduates turning away from a 'traditional university degree) is a broad church. Ravensbourne College, Falmer and Bournemouth and one of my recently revived alma maters 'The School of Communication Arts who serve the creative industries would want something different, enabling innovation.

One final thought, which those talking this afternoon will have picked up on, is how attractive software can be when it is simple and easy to use. Sync.in and Skype are easy. Google is easy. MyStuff is remarkably straightforward. I could share some gems of my own, software I love.

Ideally I'd be perched in front of a bank of screens for this, like an investment banker ... or an e-j. A screen for each, the sync.in and Skype, the Weller Report and my notes on it. Instead, and possibly better for it, I had to go with what I had in my head and what by careful listening-in was sparked off. A pencil and a pad of paper proved useful.

The kids and dog kindly kept out of my way, though a coffee would have been nice. Sunday Lunch was waiting and they were chilled enough to let us finish. Whether or not I can escape to another part of the house is another matter! I prefer the expanse of the uncluttered dining room table.

Had my 12 year old's Xbox headset on. Felt like a twenty something in a call centre. To deal with the time-lag and occasional delays should we be using Walkie-Talkie or CB talk? As 'Out.' To let others know you've said you piece?

 

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With special thanks to ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 15:56
All writers thank a person or several people who have helped bring to fruition a new piece of work. I am looking for someone I can thank, to help me get through the last barrier with a novel. To finish the thing! Several choices, I've worked for around two years each on three novels and a screenplay. My last chance. Possibly. I know this is a journey I should never have set out on alone.
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