A friend asked my son if he was doing compulsive RE at the dinner table the other night. My son said yes, not really knowing what his friend had asked.
I explained the difference between compulsory and compulsive and then improvised someone with 'compulsive RE' disorder that meant they were constantly genuflecting to everyday objects, getting down on their knees to pray and singing hymns.
Everyone joined in with their ideas and we had a laugh.
Maybe they both learnt the meaning of the two words?
Mistakes come in many forms, from the impertinent, to the accidental, but as Greyson Perry says about art and creativity, 'Creativity is mistakes.' And sometimes very funny.
A little learning. Evelyn Waugh (1964)
Not an e-book, but as soon as I wanted to take notes or share sentences I wish it had been.
(His less famous, though more successful popular novelist brother Alec Waugh writes a far more enjoyable satire of school-days at Shrewsbury 'The Loom of Youth'. If I wrote about Sedbergh in the 1970s it wouldn't be satire, it would be an act of war - my only revolution was to leave before Sixth Form at which time the bullied would have had to become the bully).
I bookmark by folding over the corners.
Although the pages were falling out I didn't highlight or annotate the pages, though I could have pulled the pages out.
I make three notes:
- The obliteration of English villages. To investigate.
- Waugh thought there was a problem in the early 1960s
- Ronald Knox 'A Spiritual Aenid' and Evelyn Waugh's 'Life of Ronald Knox.'
Knox was known to open and oppose the same motion. The point he makes though is that 'audiences greed for originality is the extraordinary distaste for the obvious.
NOTE REGARDING MOBILE LEARNING
(All would be downloaded as eBooks where they available. They go to the Kindle so that I can read or listen to the book on one device while taking notes onto the iPad. Is this when reading becomes a learning activity? When you take notes? Or simply when you annotate or highlight the text itself ... if you dare do this to a printed book. Anyone shared highlights or notes they have made while or having read a common book? Like an asynchronous book club of the airwaves I guess).
'You learn, in approaching any subject, to search at once for the point that is new, original, eccentric, not for the plain truth.' (Waugh, 1964: 129)
And a note left by a previous reader (my mother, who sent me this book a couple of weeks ago) that reads 'pity'.
Against Waugh's line 'I abandoned my diary on the day I left school and have no source for the following years except inexact memory.'
I didn't. 36 years later and several million words I wonder what I got myself trapped into.
Some keep saying they want me to stop blogging for a couple of years 'to finish the book'. I have plenty to say on that too, though Steven Pressfield has the definitive response, 'resistance'. I say 'anything but,' I will fill my life with 'anything but' that three-five hours a day of effort in front of a keypad or notepad.
Is memory exact?
My diary is an aide memoire, an impression of the moment that changes all the time.
Waugh, A.E. (1964) A little learning.
I cannot see the value in hereditary he gives to the first chapter, in predetermining the way some turns out, physiologically or psychologically, surely upbringing has more to do with it? He also concentrates on the male professional line. Rather selective? And from our point of view ignorant and sexist?
I think I did the equivalent of throwing the files out of the window yesterday afternoon and no doubt the TMA grade will reflect this.
I reached a stage of total scrambulation.
Currently doing a 24 hour spring clean, pack the car, find wetsuits that no one can get into, fix the box on car roof, get keys that work for the car ... listen to Pepys dramatised on the radio (see the blog) ... while feeding teenagers and accommodating my wife whose computer died when it was purloined for World of Warcraft duties
(P.S. I am advised that my avatar remains wondering this world in her underwear. Meanwhile, after three weeks of doing a paper round my son has purchased a virtual motorbike for his World of Warcraft avatar - think Harley Davidson - he also has an upgrade on his pet - an Elephant.
Both impress I am told.
Educators enter here at their own peril.
My advice would be to so so with an experienced 13 year old to assist and you may end up like me, female, in your underwear, doing dances for your living. Seriously, this is my experimental taste of virtual worlds.
I learned that my son has several characters online, somehow, and each has a distinct personality and I suspect gender. I am 'Val Desire' her twin - is creation - is 'Not Val Desire'.)
And the dog is on heat
And my 15 year old daughter has decided the contents of her attic room are childish and is currently bagging it (while my wife is going through said bag convinced that everything has a value and ought to be put in our lock up garage for the next decade or two. A garage that is 11 miles away and we took possession of temporarily when we moved house ... four years ago.)
Otherwise a normal day.
Pencils and pastels I have, but I need cartridge paper and a new drawing board.
I'm disinclined to over use the digital camera as it will require immediate downloading to a laptop then editing, then uploading and all that eJazz. Do I go with the flow, indluge this? Maybe I should, passing on some basic craft skills along the way in relation to shot size, editing, action cuts and so on.
I realise too that this desire to go off and draw is akin to being behind a computer screen.
A sort of hunkering down escape into my own head. Though drawing is likely to be less distracting than being online.
Basically, what I crave, and did for decades with my Dad is a boat, to sea with all those challenges and absolutely NO contact with the outside world.
On these trips I took books, paper, guitar. I am inclined therefore to need the iPad that now is the books, the paper and all the sheet music my heart could desire.
Impossible of course because he is long dead and the boat sold.
I've set myself a challenge to take mobile learning to the nth degree, 'testing to destruction'.
If I thought the iPad would survive the experience I thought perhaps a jacuzzi or sauna?
Signal might not be good.
In my gap year eons ago I discovered that the hotel owner (4 star) thought it great that guests and staff, including a very lowly teen me, could 'chill' out together in 'his' sauna.
There is relevance and that is the idea of 'informal' learning.
Indeed, I wonder if many OU students, enjoying and enrolled in a 'life of learning' practice in a more informal way then us 'regular' students who (and I applaud it) take it reasonably seriously.
I could knock out the TMAO4 in a first draft before lunch today, not bother with much referencing and checking meaning, grammar etc: and submit expecting to scrape through with a 40 something at worst, a 50 something more likely. The problem I have is enjoying the present too much and even with e-learning being fed the latest through the likes of Zite and Stumbleupon.
Recording our hang-out session may have made for fun viewing.
On the other hand by doing so it radically changes the dynamic. I wouldn't want the student me confused with the business me.
(Four months in to a 12 month fixed contract).
That said I'd love a playback of my slow descent below the frame.
This is the trickster at play.
Belbin I believe categorises people and how they work in teams, I know where I belong! The very fact that it has become a catalyst for conversation shows it's value; where now Elluminate?
I've started to make comparisons in my OU Student Blog.
We role-play as children to make sense of the world, we take on multiple personas to some degree in real-life as well.
I am particularly taken by the way people with a disability can walk in a virtual world (Peachey 2010) or indeed how any of us can fly and do much more in these environments (die and repeatedly come back to life of course.)
At no cost my dentist, or rather our family dentist, made a set of dentures for me out of dentine that fitted over my teeth. This allowed me to sing. I foolishly sharpened the fangs and promptly punctured my lower lip. I learnt by the way that unless I could have dislocated my jaw biting someone's neck is impossible. Vampires should bite the wrist or leg, but then all, or at least the obvious sexual innuendos are lost.
Was I living out a fantasy when I played Dracula in my teens?
I kept acting into my twenties until I decided that my mental state couldn't handle the selection process (rejection) and my experience in front of camera and on stage left me bored senseless (I had minor roles).
Do actors, as in role-play, have to overcome or compensate for who they are?
Peachy raises all the points in a common- sense and everyday way. I can imagine or should research where stepping into the role of an avatar has life- saving qualities, for example is not learning to fly a commercial jet-airliner in a simulator not a form of virtual role-play? I believe firemen are trained in virtual set-ups too and believe the nuclear power industry do so too.
The trouble with doing this in a learning context is the huge development costs. i.e. It has to be better to use a ready made platform. I then ask though, what is wrong with using our imaginations, that improvising and role-play doesn't require the disguises?
Peachey, A. (2010) ‘Living in immaterial worlds: who are we when we learn and teach in virtual worlds?’ in Sheehy, K., Ferguson, R. and Clough, G. (eds) Virtual Worlds: Controversies at the Frontier of Education (Education in a Competitive and Globalizing World), New York, NY, Nova Science.
My son might be online playing World of War craft often, but so are two or three of his best mates.
From time to time they down tools (weapons, magic wands or whatever it might be) and head into town, or meet up to kick a ball around. Ditto my daughter whose use of the internet is exclusively to talk more with her immediate circle of friends.
This is real.
A colleague who has had the 'social media manager' tag at the OU has gone the full loop and is a 'Communications Manager' despite being online all day. I see her point, we differentiate new practices with new terms, but drop them once we see them in context.
It has happened sooner that I thought but there ought to be no need to different 'learning' from 'e-learning' as it is just learning that exploits new platforms and tools.
The human element is important.
Our human nature demands that we have physical contact with others. We are sociable, which interestingly has me spending increasingly amounts of time as a 'social media manager' in meetings or calling up people to meet face to face over lunch or a coffee.
I appreciate that the MAODE is all online.
I wonder however if this 'purist' point of view is sustainable or even desirable. Or do those who can and want to meet up do so anyway?
(Meeting a fellow MAODEr for the very first time a few weeks ago was odd. We felt we knew eachother, there was no 'ice to break' as we'd worked on group tasks together in a previous module).
Not once have I imagined the technology making the genuine educator redundant i.e. someone whose modus operandi is to help students acquire knowledge and apply it, even to instill a life long love of learning with some tools and techniques to see them through.
If on a holiday to the Dordogne you came across a person from the Paleolithic painting in a cave would you leave him to it, or offer him your oils and sable brushes, or show him how to use a digital camera? (or her of course).
You don't change the desire for self-expression, or capturing the world around you.
I know educators in their 80s who marvel at the Internet and the opportunity it offers to inform thousands.
Just think of an academic paper that in the past (and still) may be formally presented to a group of ten in the faculty, a group of thirty at a conference, then published ... and quickly forgotten, compared to an age where such papers are presented face to face as described, but live through livestreaming or a webcast to several hundred, then shared, copied and commented upon by thousands, and before it is even formally published may be gathering in a large readership?
And this is done by nursery, primary and secondary school educators too.
You have an idea for a class, you share it and if it is liked, it is picked up and used in many ways by many different people.
Its no longer a case of saying, 'I wish I had done that.' With permission/creative commons, OER and all that, you can use the fruits of someone else's efforts, tweaked and personalised of course.
I rather think it is an exciting time to be working in education.
Personally I hanker after contact though, to address, mentor and coach people, probably young adults.
Is the 'trade off' really only between:
Student and tutor Student and student Student and content
Should the tutor not also be engaged with the content?
If not they are a facilitator, not a tutor, not a thinker, equally able to challenge the content as the student must.
My interest is in a tutor who questions the script, not all do. I've had a tutor read the script as if it were Latin, locked in history and imovable.
It is, we are, living in highly fluid times.
This from Mary Thorpe (2009)
If face-to-face is the answer, how do you replicate the combination of informal and formal discourse opportunities that characterise the face-to-face campus. (Crook and Light, 2002)
The answer is in social networks such as Linkedin being alerted every time someone in your circle updates, or adds friends or writes something, though different, there is at least an inclining of this meeting serendipitously around the water-cooler, or passing in the corridor. Also the random offering up of 'people you might know', even if they haven't instigated it.
This is beyond face-to-face, but designed to replicate the chance encounter that makes up human intersctions.
In Diaryland (1999) a similar trait is offered as within a set number of 75 friends you always know who has updated i.e. who is active and therefore around and more inclined to engage. All that matters is this sense of sharing the same space. It matters therefore that you are present often enough to be someone in this environment and that the affordances of the platform alert others to your presence.
The debate over the differences between face-to-face are dry
As the two worlds are now so familiar to many people, this is like saying, what is the difference between the Rugby Club and the Bridge Club.
There is no other difference. The means of engagement are ultimately the same, between one person and another. Like everything as you become familiar with these platforms, and as your friends are online too, you accept their presence or otherwise as if you have bumped into them walking the dog or a conference.
This isn't revolution, it is barely even evolution, it is us being people with a bunch of different tools as we crafty humans have done for millenia.
'Technologies, such as social networking, can be used to construct personal learning environments designed by the learner precisely in relation to their interests and goals across a range of practice boundaries.(Anderson and Dron 2007)
Better still you start to allow tools like Stumbleupon and Zite to do this for you, by feeding in a specific, tailored profile you can get these aggregators to draw down who you are and feed back intelligence.
The day we don't trust it we drop these tools like a hot-potato and go somewhere else.
They CANNOT afford to get it wrong.
I signed up in error to MY LIFE, I say this because I only wanted to trial it on a monthly basis. The moment I was on the phone was the moment I was reimbursed, which actually is a sound thing.
This expression, this test of 'trust' might be enough to take me back (except that I feel the entire idea was mine in 2001).
'Technology self-evidently involves tools, understood as both the physical resources and practical skills required to make use of them, but to focus primarily on the tool or the virtual space would be to make a categorical error, mistaking a component part for the system as a whole (Jones and Eshault, 2004)
We still use pen and paper, we still talk to each other face to face, we may even share how we are getting on with our parents over Sunday Lunch.
This isn't replacement technology, it is hyper complementary technology, it is as convenient as having a hanky on which to blow your nose, no more. You pull out your smartphone to share a thought. Or in my case at 3.10am I get up, doodle an idea for a video production and then stick up a discussion question to a number of Linkedin groups.
Thinking of my late grandfather's garage with all its tools, the context would be the mix and combination of tools, some complimentary, some one offs, and the space (once he'd rolled the car out of the garage). Most importantly it would include him, both actively engaged in a task and from my point of view, someone who was always keen to pass on skills and insights.
Issues regarding identity -practice/familiarity
Trust and authenticity (checking/verification) 'Students may not take up the opportunities offered, or may do so to little good effect.' (Thorpe, 2008:122) 'Asynchronous conferencing for example has fostered both utopic and dystopic views of its potential (Haythornthwaite 2006)
The importance of the beginning of the course the same as in face-to-face, you only have one chance to make a good first impression.
'That particular aspect of getting everybody involved right at the very beginning really sets the scene for the rest of the course.' (Thorpe 2008:123)
Tutor as host.
A good start is forgiving. A poor start is far harder to retrieve. The problem institutionally is if your are overwhelmed by students. Are there enough tutors? Are there even intermediaries to step in? 'The design in effect performs a mix of compulsion and engineered interaction that combines formality with informality.' (Crook and Light, 2002)
Too much of either is a killer. Overly familiar and talking about pets and holidays in the middle of a forum puts your off. So do course materials on the rare occasion with The OU when it is if your are interrupting the conversation between a couple of professors who have developed their own private language that only means something to each other. (This isn't far from the truth). 'The potential for expansive learning' (Tuoni-Grohn and Engestrom, 2003)
We all want our heads cracked open like a part-boiled egg. 'This is learning that crosses the boundaries of different activity systems, expanding involvement with others and developing both individual and collective learning'. (Cole and Engestrom 1993)
I call it Pixie dust over Object 3.
Object 3 must be the moment Dyson and his team come up with the airstream device. Innovation, inspiration and originality is there in front of us, like Macbeth's dagger, tantilizingly before our hands.
So talk to Lady Macbeth and your colleagues, let it out, share your thoughts, make the dagger real, You may find it's more of a tickling stick.
'A context has to be reconstructed and participation invited through the use of activities, structured formats and textural genres operating at various levels.' (Thorpe, 2008:130)
I no longer think this is the case. We aren't creating false or mimicking landscapes or environments online, rather we know what these environments are and behave accordingly.
This comes with experience, it IS NOT, and has NEVER BEEN GENERATIONAL.
I am not the only forty something who despite my children being infront of a computer before they could walk have vastly more experience of the internet and computers than they do. I challenge them to keep up or catch up, indeed, I am quick to run after them if I think they are discovering something I too have not tried.
Ask me for evidence, research by educational institutions in the UK, US and Australia, that debunk Generation X and Digital Natives as utter TOSH.
Engestrom (2007) emphasizes the importance of learning across multiple activity systems where knowledge is being developed across many sites, from the formal academic context through practioner-focused websites and fora to the workplace.
Technologies, such as social networking, can be used to construct personal learning environments designed by the learner precisely in relation to their interests and goals across a range of practice boundaries (Anderson and Dron 2007)
But like an allotment you might start as an idea, the worth comes from putting in some time and effort.
A hybrid mix of community and network. (Thorp, 2008:129)
Yes, like weeds in the allotment and a few cacti on a tray of sand in the shed.
H800 wk23 a Activity 2
Stepping over the edge
'A key characteristic of these new technologies is "learning by doing" - users need to be immersed in and "play with" the affordances that these new digital environments offer, and hence over time get a sense of how they can change practice.' Conole (2011:403)
Whilst I may highlight and annotate, doing do on paper isn't the easiest way to share; using a screen reader is worse because I find myself not enjoying having the obvious affordances, such as cut and paste, disabled.
I have an iPad to learn from it and to share what I discover.
It is both the angle and the devil on my shoulder.
Does it super-size my mind?
It thrills and engages it, indulges and expands, but also risks loosing me in its labarynthine tangles.
Saved for now by a To Do list that I refresh and follow.
But then I find an idea from Conole (see above) that is key.
The internet is a trip to the sea, it is somewhere to play and discover.
We may require Lifeguards and laneropes but it remains largelly an environment that can only be understood through engagement.
You will get you face wet,you may get bitten by a crab.
To share this thinking I must go online, and cannot help myself. For the last three months I click through Linkedin, reading and responding.
For the next three it may be Stumbleupon, which through tricks and traits I find increasingly insightful, feeding me like a favourite aunt or uncle , the weirdness of the www.
Serendipity would be a better word for it.
I am rewarded by 25 minutes of browsing with 'new finds' that becomes stuff that I recommend which in turn obliges me to update my profile, might I even say 'brand tag' the finds as 'mymindbursts'. (I need two days off to take stock and write up some ten ore more blog entries.
Draft I know will do, from my experience as a diarist, just enough to trigger a more expansive and reflecive entry)".
To remind myself:
Livestream on Social Media Metrics from IET. Five presenters. All to write up from my notes and screengrabs, cushioned or suffocated by the 'official' word and slides that have since gone up.
Picklejar Social Media for HE in which Tracy Payle shares insights from a number of Universites and through activities tips my thinking upside down and shakes it out onto the conference room table. I come away enlightened and as I had wanted, more confident if mot emboldened.
Faculty discussion on VLE and my experiences of The OU VLE to date. I take a look at the poster in the Post Room and discover a 'common room' I had been unaware of.
Whilst embracing 'Activity Theory' I cannot always use the argument lucidly.
Engestrom presents an idea of how people or communities/groups communicate and learn from each other; when two people start to agree with gushing enthusiasm I'd worry, something else is going on.
(Power play of some kind, or love?)
[These ideas developed further here 'My Mind Bursts']
It is the very act of coming from a different stance that we as individuals begin to form ideas that are in effect beyond our current understanding, and when these 'objects' of understanding collide fresh thinking for both parties occurs.
There is a reason why in advertising (still I hope) a copywriter sits with an art director; this is how ideas form. Sitting in with 'creatives' and becoming one myself I came to appreciate this partnership ... though it has taken me 30 years to understand what is going in.
It has taken the last year with The OU to have my own thinking turned inside out, to let go, to share, to collaborate, rather than try to be that lone author in a garret, hunched shoulders over my work, never sharing it and rarely letting go.
What I have always needed and thrive on are collaborators in the form of agents, producers, editors, publishers, fellow writers and directors, colleagues who facilitate and enable, fellow bloggers too ...
If a blogger blogs, what do you do if you are forever engaged in other social media such as Linkedin or Facebook?
'e-Commentator' already feels like a naff 'noughties' way to express it.
We've had our fill of 'e-tivities' and 'e-learning' haven't we? It is just learning; they are just activities.
I've return to Engestrom often.
My ability to trace my love hate acceptance path through his thinking attests to the value of doing this, my 'learning journal'.
This is what initially had me befuddled and angry:
Two people are the easy part.
The interplay between SIX people because yet more complex.
At arm's length, the objects, the ideas, views or knowledge that they have begins to take on an identity of its own.
'Expansive learning is based on Vygotsky, though three times removed; it implies that we learn within activity pockets as individuals and groups. The interplay between these groups are the consequential objects of learning that in turn transmogrify in the presence of other objects. Solving problems, dealing with contradictions, may come about as these learning systems slide or shift'. Vernon (2011)
Am allowed to do that? Quote myself? It is my 'object 3' moment when it comes to this.
Anyone care to comment?
The challenge when reading papers such as those below is how to make the subject matter comprehensible to the non-academic. Some turn to diagrams, others to metaphors, yet others to cartoons.
I favour the lone speaker free of PowerPoint or even FlipChart.
If they can hold their argument and look into your eyes their conviction can be convincing.
My goal must remain making the complex comprehensible. Academics have a tendency to tie themselves in knots. If they only talk to fellow academics no wonder. I recognise the value of visualising, of animated explanation, of the power of persuasive through discourse, of metaphors, and analogies, of ideas rising out of the confusion to present themselves.
The problem with all things WWW is that it is just trillions of binary Ones and Zeros in the cloud (which is why I like to use the water-cycle as an analogy).
From materials and commentary prepared by John Pettit (2008)
Of courses it is learning if it is on a mobile phone or any other device. Do we mean informal or formal learning? Vicarious learning or didactic? Stumbling across knowledge, or reading formerly to pass an exam? Does it matter? These devices blur the distinction between a means of educating that may eventually look dated and specific to an era.
Do we need campus based universities?
Kids can have their kicks in Ibiza then study online while holding down their first job.
Give the campus over to the retired and unemployed.
Do we need schools?
And if so, instead of being at the centre of a child's education, perhaps they become as tangential as a visit to the leisure centre of supermarket because you are better linkedin to the educators and the content when you're away from the place and all its distractions.
When do you ever not learn even if you don’t know it?
It depends entirely on what the device is being used for. Apps have shown how versatile we are at throwing activities and qualities at these devices. People want this stuff.
Is a laptop mobile? What about the old Apple Classic? I used to take it out into the garden on an extension cable and view it inside a cardboard box while sunbathing. Was that mobile? I can read in the bath on a Kindle and click through RSS feeds on the iPad while the Kettle boils. Might it simply feel as if all these people are following me around?
There are degress of mobility. Working in TV we carried around with us monitors to watch content back during a shoot. The thing was no more portable than a hod stacked with bricks.
When I read formal and informal learning I wonder if this equates to whether the learning is hard or easy. I have acquired knowledge in a formal setting and had a laugh, equally in an informal context without the self-motivation and will I have found informal learning very hard to do.
It is sometimes claimed that handheld digital devices allow students to learn at anytime, anywhere. A more nuanced position argues that the devices have the potential for ‘any time anywhere’ learning but that many other factors come into play.
For example, some devices may be easy to handle but have small screens that don’t allow easy reading.
Far from being hard to read the small screen is better suited to the narrow field of close vision that we have. So what if it is like looking through a letter box. If you want to concentrate why look at more?
A device can become too small. Too portable. As a video producer I have seen kit shrink so much that a device the size of a child’s shoe will generate a HD image and for $75 a day you could hire a camera that delivers 35mm quality. Making a film though with a device so small creates instability, you need some weight on your shoulder if you want to keep the image steady.
The portability and size of screen is less relevant than the affordances of the device, the fact that an iPad doesn’t support Flash, or Android is having problems with Google Apps, that is, if you are using learning materials that require specific functionality that isn’t working.
As for screen size, people may watch a blockbuster movie on a giant screen at the Odeon Leicester Square or on a Smartphone or palm-sized gaming device that is no bigger than a spectacle case; here what matters as with any movie, is the quality of the narrative, not the size of the screen.
Where a device’s portability comes into its own, as the person who recently made a phone call from the top of Everest, is the portability. Another extreme might be a cave diver with a device the plots the route for a cave system, or a glaciologists relaying pictures of a feature in a Greenland ice-sheet to colleagues thousands of miles away that informs the research.
‘Patterns of usage differ widely, and the fit between people’s lives and the devices they use can be very close.’ (Pettit and Kukulska-Hulme, 2007, p.28)
Is an apt way to express a new term being used in the Open University Business School to describe applied or practice-based learning that gets away from the ‘distance’ tag, that is to call it ‘nearness’ learning. (Fleck, 2011). I also like the idea of ‘intense but provisional,’ people’s attitudes are brand specific, with the Mac vs. PC split of computing now a split between Windows, Mac and Android (and others).
People chose brands to simplify the choices that have to be made between a plethora of devices, between Sony, Nokia, Goole and Windows, as well as between network suppliers, be that O2, Vodafone or others.
There is another way of looking at it though, if you come to see that all these devices offer the same sets of services and tools, from QWERTY keyboards, to a camera, from messaging to phone calls, to the hundreds of thousands of Apps, and in the case of the latest Windows phone … Windows software from Outlook to Docs, PPT to Excel.
Is size such an issue?
People have managed needlepoint for centuries and once painted miniatures. There is an appeal for the tiny sometimes, just as there is for the massive. In this respect the device becomes a reflection of the person’s personality, as well as the depth of their pockets, the availability of others services, from a signal to 3G (or not), even to the power to charge batteries.
Personal choice, celebration of variety, offering a smorgasbord rather than the continental breakfast.
‘That well-known random-access device consisting of ink on bound sheets of paper may still have plenty of life in it yet!’ (Pettit and Kukulska-Hulme, 2007, p.28) expressed in 2007 is how in 2011 writers in the e-magazine Reconstruction 6.4 describe the ‘long-tail’ of the blog, that definitions have become meaningless, suggesting that the varieties of ways to do or have what we have continued to call a ‘blog’ is as varied as the ways we have over many centuries come to use paper.
Drawing on a paper written in 2007 on research presumably undertaken a couple of years previously, it strikes me that ‘the world has moved on’, to say the least – though not enough. This exercise is looking at the extraordinary capabilities and uses for a device that in 2011 can offer somewhat more than was possible four years ago. This doesn’t mean to say we have the things.
From my own perspective I came into the MAODE (this time round) with an eight year old iBook that had trouble with some software, things as simple as PDFs and the latest versions of Flash as I was unable to upgrade the operating system. Working from a smallish screen I found myself printing off too. For the second module I had access to a better laptop and plugged it into a good-sized screen that allowed me to see a page of A4 at a time or to swivel the screen and have two windows open side by side. During the course of my third module (this one) I found myself without a particular device, but with access to a desktop, a laptop, even an iPad (and have used a Kindle to read some 16 books). Here I found myself putting everything online, into a blog and e-portfolio so I could access whatever I wanted wherever I was (or whichever device was available), as well as having the cataloguing, aggregating, sharing affordances that this has given. Any device, however mobile, and whatever size, can tap into this content.
The problem now, isn’t simply, for me at least, is the overwhelming volume of content I have put online, which despite adopting various approaches to keep track of it, has split into a number of blogs (OU, Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr), a number of cloud galleries/warehouses in the sky (Flick, Dropbox, Kodak and Picasa Galleries, My Stuff, Pebblepad).
It is apt that I blog under the name ‘my mind bursts’, because it has, and is.
Like having a thought, or recalling some event or fact seemingly on a whim, I find I stumble across these ‘mind bursts’ quite by accident, forgetting the number of blogs, for example, that I for a period started only to abandon so that ‘serendipity’ has a role to play through the myriad of links I’ve also made. None of this has helped by finding myself with three Facebook accounts and unsure how to delete the ‘right’ one.
The attitude can only be to ride this like the web surfer of a decade ago – to run with it, rather than try and control it. You meet friends coming off a training a Liverpool Station, you do not need to know who else is on the concourse, the timetables for every train that day, week or year. To cope with the overwhelming quantity of stuff tools to filter out what matters to you at that moment is coming to matter most.
Currently I find myself repeatedly drawn to the activities of Hugo Dixon, a former Economist and FT journalist, who set up a business he called ‘Breaking Views’ to counter what he already by then perceived as a deluge of online information and the old print-based expression ‘Breaking News’; we would come to need as some pundits predicted fifteen years ago, ‘information managers’ or ‘information management systems’.
I wish I could reference the expression properly but ‘Freedom is lack of choice’ is one of my favourites; sometimes filters and parameters have their place. I enjoy using a Kindle as much for its limitations; it is something I can take to bed knowing that it’ll send me to sleep, while an iPad keeps me up all night.
Fleck, J (2011) Association of MBAs Conference Video 2011
Pettit, John and Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes (2007). Going with the grain: mobile devices in practice. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 23(1), pp. 17–33.
Simply to offer a different insight while acknowledging the above, I was, in 1983, introduced to the wonders of the University Computer Lab.
'Back then' this wasn't an elective, but rather signing up to some additional, extra-curricular training.
It did not appeal one bit; I could imagine to some degree where it was going and its necessity in one of my options (remote sensing from space), but to achieve anything (I am neither computer literate or mechanically minded), it struck me, as was the case, that your required a certain mindset (that of an engineer or mathematician). Because it was in little demand, not networked, bespoke to a project and housed in one place it was akin to joining the stamp club and about as exciting. It was however 'on request,' rather than compulsory and could with ease be ignored.
I wonder if a more laissez-faire approach would work?
More of an internal market in an organisation where choices are offered to individuals so that the decission making could be more bottom up than top down? i.e. you have a budget, you pick the kit you'd like, the software you need rather than being prescribed a piece of kit and software and obliged to learn it.
I imagine the moment I can afford to buy a Mac I'll do so.
The simplest analogy would be is that I feel I've been told I have to use a Rotring pen and a ruler, but I'd prefer to use a soft HB6 pencil and a pad of cartridge paper. The end result, the task or peice of communication I have to deliver will be the same, I just get there 'my way,' rather than 'your way'.
My university experience from the 1980s, to that as student and now insider thirty years on at the OU is different, however, invited to meet a group of Associate Lecturers yesterday to have my mind picked regarding web-conferencing, Elluminate and synchronous learning in general, I was struct not by how things have changed, but how what matters hasn't changed at all - there are educators who are fascinate by and passionate about what they do.
There is a desire to do the best by their students and to get their heads around what tools could be used to improve or enhance this experience. Even speaking with my 85 year old father-in-law, a former prof who still 'teaches' I am struck by this vocational zeal, which is shared whether by email and Skype, by snailmail or a tutorial, collaboration on a book, or giving a talk (still) at a summer school.
The lesson I have learnt therefore is never to let the technology get in the way of this experience, that between educator and student, the knowledgeable and the less knowledgeable, playing on this inhate human desire to share our experience and knowledge whatever that might be.
Increasingly, when discussing the merits of kit or software, I return to this theme, that people have not changed and that the natural relationships that form between people in markets, in villages, in communities, is what we crave and repeatedly recreate online in a multitude of ways.
A few hours ago I thought I'd delve into the Open University Business School Linkedin community to find some interesting stories and was offered this.
The reward, given that this is a Sunday Bank Holiday, is to find these stories.
I suppose were this online 'village' an actual community I'd say come down to the beach for this afternoons BBQ.
I should add that my own personal 'lift' through the OU only makes me wish I'd done an OU course two decades ago. I find that my life-style balance requires: family, work and curiosity indulged with an applied skew'.
Sure it can be put better, but I'm certain you get my meaning. I'm signed up to another MAODE module in 2012 despite having enough for the Masters ... this isn't the point (and has never been my raison d'etre behind CPD).
I wonder if an anthropologist would conclude that there are many of us who hanker after constant learning, as if from parents, uncles, relations, community members and the 'village elders'.
Personally, when my curiosity dries up and can no longer be fed, then I'll have one foot in the grave.
A rare moment to stop and take stock.
Does learning something new enter a phase of such frenzy that the formal aspect of the process is irrelevant.
To say I live, breathe and eat e-learning would be an exaggeration, but the mix of social media (my professional responsibility) and e-learning (my passion as an educator) on top of a foundation of 32 years of 'educational inclinations' means that I find myself in a self-constructed maelstrom of activity.
32 years ago, a 17 year old, we lived 'above the shop,' as it were, a training centre for a PLC in Cumbria. I listened eagerly to the Training Director and I was allowed to use first 1 inch reel to reel black and white Sony kit used for interview training ... and then a hefty VHS camera. I created my first 'training film' - ironically titled 'How to give a slide presentation.
A desire to taken in, and then share, what I think and understand, with others has informed my career.
Meanwhile, whilst reliving and reinventing and/or returning to my video production roots, my current interest is mobile learning - not that it is should be called 'm-learning,' just that it is 'stuff' with a learning twist, that you can have with you, connect with and use, wherever, whenever and whatever you are.
With a bit of skiing, sailing and swimming
Each in various ways as an educator, and participant: guided skiing, but never the BASI qualification, Offshore Sailing RYA qualification while instructing at RYA Level II and swimming a few weeks of effort of the most senior ASA Certification that is current (Senior Club Coach).
Everything can be taught
My turn around moment on this was a presentation I was linked to when Max Clifford, self-taught PR guru, spoke lucidly and with enthusiasm for students studying PR.
If nothing else, it showed they were passionate about the subject to study it for three years.
(Note to Max, the passionate ones might be 20% of the cohort).
Greek Fish Soup.
I'm yet to reach the position that I can call myself a professional academic, but is it the case the some academics (or is it just mathematicians and philosophers) are also very good cooks?.
My theory is, that they use the period of cooking, to be engaged with one activity ... while thinking of something else entirely???
There’s far more going on than simply technology and it’s a moot point to know when the technology is changing society or responding to society, the two are in a spiralling dance we see, hear and know more – our close relationships are even closer and then those we have kept at arm’s length are drawn in too.
This might make an interesting debate in Cloudworks. It is one of Grainne Conole’s.
‘The old labels of primary, second and tertiary education and work-based learning perhaps have no meaning now in the complex, changing environment’. (Conole, 2007.02)
And this might be interesting to answer:
What does it mean to be a learner in a modern complex environment?
This is valuable, the set of progressions Conole picks out: monitoring, recording, sharing, aggregating information, synthesising, providing evidence, assessing in from form, validating.
And a reminder of the team behind and beside the student as they learn: ‘the student themselves, of course, is the most important one, but also the peers that they work with the tutors who support them, the course developers who provide the course and the environment for them to work in, the senior managers and other support staff who provide the enabling framework, the quality assurance body and validating bodies, as well as professional bodies and, of course, employers’. (Conole, 2007.03)
And there’s more:
‘Education is no longer simple and classified into different boxes and boundaries, for the wider, societal environment in which students are now working and learning is different and constantly changing’. (Conole, 2007.03)
And interesting take on blogging:
Personal blogs both have the ability to provide personal reflective journal but also as a means of experts providing a filter on a complex changing environment.
But has anything changed?
‘It begs the question of does this offer a whole new dimension of learning or again is it more of the same?’ Conole asks and continues later, suggesting that Web2.0 technology ‘is just an integral part of their toolkit that they use to provide support for their learning. They’re also very critically aware now of the pros and cons of different things and they vote with their feet. If they can’t see the benefit they won’t use it’.
And further thoughts on which to dwell:
‘Because so much content is freely available and easily accessible they view it very differently. It has low intrinsic value. They expect high degrees of interactivity. They expect to be able to mix and match and interact and change’. (Conole, 2007)
And future research?
We’re particularly interested in looking at how students are learning across different boundaries and I think this related very much to progression in terms of breaking down those boundaries or silos I talked about before.
We no longer have primary, secondary, tertiary and work-based learning. The whole thing is mixing and changing and interconnecting.
Some thoughts on e-moderating from Gilly Salmon all from 'E-moderating'. (2003)
Perhaps we ought to call them Tutors or Associate Lecturers though, rather than moderators.
What do you think?
'It is worth structuring your course to provide participants with rhythm, enticement, flow and pace to their online study.' p63
'We have found that the first few weeks of being online is a critical time for group forming and confidence building'. p64
You've got to make a good first impression, enough, but not overpowering, leading the way?
'Participants in online learning are involved in a variety of communities of learning and practice at the same time, and have a myriad of other responsibilities. Some of these may be similar in values and beliefs and norms of behaviour to those of the course groups and some may not. You need to build enticement, inclusiveness and pacing to make your experience stand out'. p65
Should this come from the Tutor or from Learning Design? Who sets the pace? It depends on whether the module is an obstacle course or the shot-put.
'Long message take time to read and respond to (but may be more worthwhile than short ones). p66
I guess to stay friends with your fellow students and the Tutor you should keep the length down a bit ... but do they read it at all?
'Summarizing, archiving and weaving are the key skills for the e-moderator. They save participant's time, and enable participation in new ways. Furthermore, the more successful an e-moderator is, the more likely he or she will be overwhelmed by success in terms of many student messages'.
A note in relation to countries with poor fixed-lined telephone systems:
'Mobile connectivity through cellular systems will provide access to many more people who will 'leap-frog' over others, technologically, by missing out interim stages'. p70
And a note in relation what learning means.
'What we know of learning is that we want people to change what they actually do, we need to offer experiences that shuffle backwards and forwards between what they already know, and what they are prepared to develop, between specific details and their implications in wider contexts, and between practice and reflection.' (Harvey and Knight, 1996)
Meanwhile I have 60 pages of course work to read, take notes, and comment on ... and then comment on the comments of others in the Tutor Group Forum .. and then I can climb into a hot elluminate session.
(Or should that be a bath?)
Harvey, L and Knight, P (1996) Transforming Higher Education, SRHE and Open University, Buckingham.
Richardson (2005), ‘Students’ approaches to learning and teachers’ approaches to teaching in higher education’.
This short, clear, bulleted article is the most straightforward and possibly most valuable text I've come across in the 14 months of the Masters in Open and Distance Education that I have thus far done.
No doubt its clarity is in part a product of my improved understanding and more extensive experience gained during this period; it slots into place.
Learning a foreign language (French) I described fluency being akin to a fog lifting; it became clearer and intuitive. I wonder if I am approaching that point with online learning? Not that certainty is possible,
I'll return to Richardson often.REFERENCE
Richardson, John T. E. (2005). Students’ approaches to learning and teachers’ approaches to teaching in higher education. Educational Psychology, 25(6), pp. 673–680.
I was hopeless at languages but knew that going on a French exchange would do the job; it did I had three weeks in France, then he had three weeks back in England and the friends I made in France had me back for seven weeks over the summer, camping and hitchhiking. Then a gap year working in a busy four star hotel.
Immersive learning, learning by default.
I didn't expect to feel this way about my MA course. I've had some intensive days online, but I know find myself challenged my entire waking day, whether online or not.
I am in the university town of Milton Keynes; I'll call it that, because my perspective it is. I'm in a house that has five students in it, and it transpires there are houses up and down the road that do the same thing.
I get up and read on my Kindle.
I'm just about through Chris Pegler on Blended Learning (recommended). I walk in with a mechanical engineer and then spend the day in meetings at the OU Faculty of Business and Law on how it is received online, from students, assistant lecturers (tutors) and fellow academics and prospective candidates.
I have lunch in 'The Hub' and cannot help but overhear what sounds like an impromptu tutorial on genetics. And then I register at the OU library and enjoy that distraction of wondering the shelves, then as you approach the title you want you discover a couple of other items that could be of interest. Can serendipity be written into the code of someone studying online? It's preferable to the 'Amazon Recommends'. (Too pushy)
I return to the house and find myself engaged in the content of a thesis on how teams collaborate in creative activities.
Were the first universities at all akin to this?
Bologna in the 11th century, students staying in the town, in lodgings.
(Had I been at home there would have been several distractions. One person here says how she gets away from home so that she can work on her thesis. Do you require space to learn, just as authors need space to write? Who was it who said you need periods of nothing at all before you could write anything original?)
I need now to engage with the MAODE.
After a two and a half hour discussion on the value of blogging and other social networks in education I wonder if I have the mental energy or desire to do any more. I feel that I can knock a few holes in my head and rather like draining the milk from a coconut just give my head a shake over the keyboard.
A week ago I put 'the contents of my brain' online, either in dropbox, or Google docs, on the ou e-portfolio My Stuff, even here ... a blog is as good a place as any to store content. Just go tag crazy so that you can find it.
How to encourage others to blog?
As I come across others (and locate the links for the above), I'll offer more.
From HLM Flash DemoVideo player: Flash Demo
For someone who does NOT have a formal teaching background this for me is the first time in 13 months that I have something practical that is based in learning, not 'e-learning' that I feel can apply immediately to any learning context: instructing sailing, teaching swimming, advising on digital marketing, supporting a team making a short film ... and especially thinking of ways to occupy children who are now on a three week holiday.
I found this exercise extraordinarily useful. In the space of an hour I felt I assembled the makings of a series of activities, a module that might take place over a weekend, or a week or two. Thinking of this as learning first, and e-learning second helped.
I decided on creating a course on 'marketing to the social web.'
I've always fallen back on system, surveys and so on. A set of questions, in this case cards, that you can mix about, sets the process up. A similar end result might be achieved in different ways, but here, falling back on the cards and working with these options helps you to get something down. Indeed, having the cards makes you appreciate at every stage you could approach it differently. It would highlight any repetitive approach, something some online educators are guilty of i.e. a course where every activity is a person talking to camera with a transcript of what they say. And no better than the weekly lecture and reading list which was almost my entire three year undergraduate experience.
The graphics worry me. I do think there is value in engaging the best graphic designer for things like this, to come up with something universal. I wonder how some learners would interpret a class that involved the use of flash cards with coloured in cartoons on them. Given the ability of the www to offer choices I'd give users a choice of a dozen alternative images for each activity.
As I'm looking at various courses on digital marketing I'll see how I can add to this.
Tools (inc. Technologies)
Survey on current awareness of advertising/marketing in social networks
Marketing to the Social Web as key resource.
24 hours of Google Alerts, Twitter and Facebook, Linkedin.
Min six people sharing task to cover entire 24 hour period.
Write in a blog, microblog. As text from the spoken word. Writing within parameters, not just Twitter’s 140 characters, but other word counts.
Writers & Artists Handbook.
Voice Recognition Software
Touch Typing Software
Trying to develop a fluid, immediate, even ‘stream of consciousness’ approach to writing.
Image only in a blog.
Comment on blogs, join in forum discussion .
Blogging for Dummies.
Letters to the editor. Letters.
Within the group and beyond
Add sound to a blog … voice, music, live (Skype) and broadcast (podcast).
Promote (PR, advertising, marketing)
Survey on final awareness of advertising/marketing in/to social networks.
Marketing to the Social Web as key resource.
The Writer's Tool Kit
All these cards had me thinking of a writer's tool kit, 'The Observation Deck' by Naomi Epel. In that period where I wrote fiction all day I often dipped into this, simply to keep me going. In pratise it is far more useful for someone who blogs all the time as it triggers a line of thought.
If you're running a creative writing course this IS your learning design done; each week take a different card from the box and do.
The current generation will be able to begin to achieve a fraction of this if they please; all I have to go on are diaries I stared in March 1975 and efforts since then to recall all the events, feelings and dreams of my life to that point.
This alongside photoalbums, scrapbooks and sketch books, with lists of books read and films seen, maps of places visited and a complete extended family tree ought to offer a perspective of who or what I am.
Does any of it impact on how I think and behave?
Without my mind is it not simply a repository of typical memories and learning experiences of a boy growing up in the North East of England?
Blogging since 1999 there are like minds out there, though none have come back with an approximation of the same experiences (its been an odd, if not in some people's eyes, bizarre, even extraordinary roller-coaster of a ride).
It's value? To me, or others?
I could analyse it 'til the day I die. My goal is no longer to understand me, but to understand human kind. And to better understand the value of exercises such as this, not simply hoarding everything, but of consciously chosing to keep or record certain things.
For now I will exploit the tools that are offered. In theory anything already digitised on computers going back to the 1980s could now be put online and potentially shared. Can I extract material from a Floppy-disc, from an Amstrad Disc, from a zip-drive? Should I add super8mm cine-flim already digistised on betacam masters? And the books Iv'e read, beyond listing them do I add links even re-read some of them? And a handful of school exercise books (geography and maths) A'Level folders on Modern History. I kept nothing from three years of university, yet this is where the learning experience ought to have been the most intense. But I had no plans to take that forward had I?
My university learning was spent on the stage or behind a video camera.
Should I undertake such an exercise without a purpose in mind?
Do I draw on it to write fiction?
There is a TV screenplay 'The Contents of My Mind' that could be stripped down and re-written, even shared.
And all the fictoin, the millions of words.
Will this have a life if put online?
Is it not the storyteller's sole desire to be heard? To have an attentive audience?
I need them all roled into one. When it comes to a blog/e-portfolio I have to wonder if this is not it - pretty much.
I can deposit documents here as well as anywhere else, but keep the page private.
Following the activities if fellow MAODErs on H807, which I did a year ago, is refreshing. Do this for a couple of years and I can keep the topic and its lesson's fresh. I can also follow H809 which I would have liked to have done. Indeed, might the OU call it a MA* if you do additional modules beyond those required for the MA?
As I prepare to up sticks, move town and job I'm hoping to compensate for some of the disruption by getting everything I may need online so that it can be accessed from anywhere.
I'm yet to break away from the OU e-portfolio My Stuff. It may be clunky, but it works and it is integrated. I've never been happy with Pebble Pad. Perhaps I just run with Dropbox? Picassa Dropbox has become indispensable. Rather than think about compressing images I take pics and grab frames/windows and post them here for later use and linking. With images feeding into several blogs and OU forums too I can't afford for this to be comprised ... or I'd lose any pics and diagrams that I've created.
Synchronous vs Asynchronous Threads
The assumption is that we don't wish to interact in real time otherwise more tools would be provided to co-ordinate synchronous meetings. My experience is that with a little co-ordination such meetings are extraordinarily valuable, to motivate pressing on with the course, let alone to resolve issues or to share learning. With retention of students such an issue it surprises me that the OU isn't more proactive.
As a tutor do I hope that all my students will stay the course, or do I expect 40% to fall by the wayside?
We seem to be in denial of obvious means of getting in touch too: email, messaging, Skype.
Is this a model or an expression of what took place?
At what point, by adding Tutor engagement, and then picking out individuals in relation to their tutor group forum participation do you make assumptions?
A questionnaire would elicit the facts.
At some point the complexity of the activity shown diminishes the ease at which the chart is interpreted.
I'd replaced the imploring 'HAVE FUN!' with the more germane 'ENGAGE!' i.e. take part, I say this because debate and discussion may not be fund with a smile.
Often I liken a session that spins out of control as a Catherine-Wheel nailed to a post that fizzles and falls ... or winds down. Some activities can be like this, 'full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.'
They tend to be the most fulfilling, where everyone in the group takes part. Or at least SIX on a regular basis to give the thing some spin.
Failure to participate is the killer; with it an activity can be a wild success, drawing people in, urging them to take part. Without them you are on your own 'with your books and your thoughts.'
The reality of distance learning online is a bit of both, the trick is to be able to engage and disengage with reasonable flexibility, not feeling guilty whether you are quiet for a period or when you are ever-present.
The role of the tutor is a tricky one
Mentor and coach, or subject matter expert? Institutional insider to guide? Overseer? Absent landlord? Marker? Assessor? Animateur?
The role is changing. It will be as different as it is in the 'real' world from the one-to-one private tutor, or the 'gang master' running 60 students via pre-recorded video lecture. Customers, as students can call themselves with greater validity if they are paying significant sums, will be demanding.
'Change is all around us'.
(Sung to the tune of Wet, Wet, Wet's 'love is all around us').
This is how I develop a Creative Brief ... this happens to be an MAODE exercise on Learning Design.
As a video producer this is the idea I'd sell to the client.
I'd then work with a coach and group of swimmers to set the scene and milk it.
This is the kind of thing corporate clients use to teams of 10,000 employees. This is also how I go about writing scripts, sometimes adding drawings, cut-outs from magazines and photos. Nothing hi-tech at the thinking stage ... which gives people more freedom to contribute.
A whiteboard marker pen on unforgiving wallpaper backing paper (30p a roll in from the reduced bin!). Stuck to the kitchen door.
The Forum Thread deserves as Swim lane of its own with as much activity into it and Elluminate as I have put here into a blog/microblog.
Often I find a dedicated thread such as e-Learning Professionals is more likely to guarantee a response to something I say; the reason for this is simple, they have thousands of active members.
There are reliable statistics to say what tiny per centage of people are happy to write, read, comment and contribute. 1% to write, about 4% to comment. This has to be reflected in forum activity too, however much it is required by the course. I've missed out blogs other students keep, and the links back and forth to these.
You'd be surprised how much goes on in the background.
I've found myself working things through with people in different tutor groups, who did the module a year ago ... or who have nothing to do with MAODE but have an answer. Which reminds me of the fantastic diagram drawing tool dia. How does Naughton’s journalistic point of view compare to those of an academic?
I worked through it alone, blogged about it and offered thoughts and replied in the tutor forum.
The degree or blogging I’ve put forward reflects what I consider an invaluable addition to taking part in Forum Threads. You express what you think, ‘stream of consciousness’ into your own blog, edited to140 character for Twitter than take part in a Forum where some back and forth discussion should come about.
The other invaluable form of participation is through a conference call – as Jonathan Swift said, ‘I don’t know what I mean until I have heard myself speak.’
This is akin to a treatment outline for a video. The script in our case is the ad-libs and verbatim responses of student and input from the tutor. I like the idea of swim-lines and can imagine the Tutor online as a coach, rather than a subject matter expert, as a guide and mentor.
The reality is that such rapport develops with fellow students.
It is a shame that there isn’t more continuity through your original cohort. I have used the Compendium to share projects, using the layers to attach documents and have another contribute. For a simple mind map I like bubbl.us, otherwise I’m as likely to do a sketch and photograph it to share … or draw directly into a paint/draw package such as ArtPad using a stylus and Wacom board. Like all tools you need to have a clear use for it, rather than playing in a sandpit. To be able to collaborate in a team people need to be familiar with and using the same software/platforms.
Compendium can be used as a basic mind-map or flow chart and with experience be used for much more, as an e-portfolio of sorts.
It is overly prescriptive. Tools need to be intuitive and follow common practices regarding buttons and outcomes. For a first draft I prefer marker pen on paper, followed by bubbl.us.
As Beetham’s Chapter 2 (Activity 2) points out learners will find their own way through a task regardless. We understand things differently, draw on different experiences and come up with our own metaphors.
Whilst I go with the ‘Swim Lanes’ analogy, I often think the reality is like a Catherine-wheel nailed to a post in the rain.
Should an exercise such as this be addressed in a way that has so scientific connotations? It is surprising how easy it is to share the narrative of a linear activity in a multitude of ways. A simple set of numbered bullet points, perhaps worked up as a presentation. As a board game, one step taken at a time. Or a set of activity cards. You can talk it through by counting five activities off on your fingers. I'll do one of these in the truly, joyful, brilliant www.bubbl.us and post it to my ou blog and extracurricular blog' 'My Mind Bursts' which in turn is fed to Twitter 'jj27vv.'
Make one of these mind maps, then change your mind and be tickled with the way the 'node' or 'bubbl' behaves . Go see! This and a list of wonderful tools from an H808 student who is a primary school teacher in Thailand. Work should be fun, especially learning design. After all, if you don't enjoy it, how do you expect your future students to behave?
Bubbl.us has gone from toy to a grown up tool with layers and the opportunity to add sound, images (stills and moving) and no doubt much more, none of which I have had time to try.
The old bubbl.us was like playing with kid's party balloons and when you deleted a balloon (or node) it blew up and burst into flames. This new version still does some magic to the eye, fading away like a mist, also when you save melting into the background like a rainbow of ice melting.
An extraordinary delight to the senses and apparently of far more practicle use than I credited it with a few months ago.
Click on this and it takes you to Picassa Dropbox. You can then enlarge it, save the code and help yourself. I think all the images I've put into this OU identify album is 'open to the public.'
Seeing this all again I am reminded of my inspiration David McCandless.
By working on this a few more times an art director or designer would turn it into a thing of beauty; it is this level of inspiration that sells ideas to committees, colleagues and others.
People buy into ideas. People like to be inspired.
The pedagogy must of course be sound, the right offering of activities, outcomes and learner flexibility and support is the OU magic mix.
P.S. Don't imagine I was familiar with any of these tools until I started the MAODE in Feb 2010, most of everything I now use I was introduced to by someone here.
Add the role of the Tutor.
Get in a designer and make it a thing of information beauty.
Sell it internally and externally.
Watch what happens and adjust accordingly.
Pic from MMC Learning
'An approach to learning activity design (Sharpe et al. 2005) concluded that, as well as ICT skills, key issues were learners’ emotional relationship to the technologies they were offered – especially feelings of frustration and alienation – and issues around time management.'
In our tutor group and module forums we've gone through time management at length.
Though I suspect that for many of us time passing is the only certain thing in our lives. It has required therapy for me to downplay events when they DON'T go to plan ... that life as a Dad, husband, parent, portfolio-worker person, studying (two courses, this and sports related), as well as feeding the guinea-pigs, putting out the rubbish, sorting the recycling, putting air in the tyres on the car, fixing the fence ... collecting children from an event, taking them to the station ... let alone the other generation, four relatives in their 80s and 135 and 210 miles away.
I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
No schedule set for the morning, let alone the day or the week can be followed. (Which is why I get my hours in 4.40 am to 7.00am each early morning ... more pleasant with the sun joining me at last)
So, to the emotional response to technology.
I've come to apply the same kind of thinking to technology, yet more technology, especially if I don't like the look of it, as something that WILL, in the fullness of time, have value.
There is no point putting off engagement with it.
The same applies to a difficult to read text (there has been plenty of that lately). It WILL become clear, it just may take three or more attempts, could involve getting advice from others in the peer group, a search on the web and dare I say it a BOOK. I actually pick up copies of 'Facebook for Dummies' and 'Blogging for Dummies' as a matter of standard practice from the library (remember them?). These books are authentic, scurrilous and engaging. The body and mind enjoy the break from the computer screen.
I got 'Digital Marketing for Dummies' for my Kindle though ... how else can I read it in the bath while holding a coffee in my right hand (I am right handed) and 'the book' in my left, perfectly able to flick on through pages with my thumb.
Design isn't just programming when it comes to software.
Compare Mac to PC. Mac not only works, but it is obvious, intuitive and often beautiful to look at.
We are so used to the extraordinary simplicity of Google, YouTube and Facebook that we baulk if a piece of software, perhaps Open Source, doesn't have the look and feel of the familiar. It IS a DESIGN issue, as in creating a love affair with the object that has both form and function, rather than function alone.
Compendium; it is versatile, engaging and intelligent ... but could it dress better and be more intuitive and less 'nerdy' ?
More from Sharpe and Beetham:
'The use of technologies can compound existing differences among learners due to their gender, culture and first language'. Beetham and Sharpe (2007)
I like this too:
Learners cannot therefore be treated as a bundle of disparate needs: they are actors, not factors, in the learning situation. (ibid)
They make sense of the tasks they are set in terms of their own goals and perspectives, and they may experience tasks quite differently if digital technologies – with all the social and cultural meanings that they carry – are involved. (ibid)
Perhaps we should be seeking advice on these feelings too, how they can get in the way of us tackling technology or a tough read/assignment. After all, if motivated, people will overcome such problems, but if we become demotivated it is habit forming.
Beetham, H and Sharpe, R 'Rethinking Pedagogy for the digital age'. (2007)
p.s. This book needs an emotionally appropriate cover. Might I suggest a design from Helen A Dalby. Personally I'd like to see academic publishers make all book iPad friendly with illustrations throughout, maybe video and some interactivity too. Why stick with the rough, when you could make it smooth and cool. Video introduction from each of the authors please ... and links to their blog.
Sharpe, R, Benfield, G., lessner, E. and de cicco, E. (2005) Scoping Study for the Pedagogy strand of the JISC e-Learning Programme, Bristol: JISC. Online. Available. www.jisc.ac.uk/index.cfm?name+elearning pedagogy
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