## H800: 41 Sources

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 25 Mar 2011, 06:07

If you develop a keen interest in a topic suggested by a report then it can be taken several ways: more reports/papers by this person on the same topic, more reports/papers by others on the topc ... a book by the author on the topic. It isn't often that I want to do this, it is sometimes then only way I can start to understand something as some authors, particulalry sing a heavy, academic style, fail to communicate. The suprise is to find these same authors may express the idea far better elsewhere, or in a recent paper.

Over a longer period of time does this cursor not ride back and foth, as we return to a topic, expand and develop our reading?

I can think of authors and topics I revist over decades, this is how books fill a shelf (and now the Kindle).

Talking of which, wouldn't it be handy to be offere e-journal and papers as articles I might like, instead of just books?

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## H800: 37 Communities of Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 17 Oct 2012, 04:44

11th century Bologna

We've had a thousand years of learning based on being somewhere. Location mattered for the teachers (Masters) and the libraries.

21st century Cyberspace

We've had a decade of learning that still relies on community, but we can be anywhere (within reason) we like. Broadband Internet access matters. We are guided through the resources by a mixture of people and artifacts. A good deal of it is a pot-lunch at best, with people bringing something to the table, a smorgasbord at least, where we help ourselves.

One part of the community has not changed one jot - like minds gathered to talk, whether like this, through our finger-tips and a keyboard, but best of all in a live synchronous meeting.

No everything can be what we want, when we do or don't want it. We have to submit papers, We have deadlines. Why not this? Better still bring in the online viva - I've had one twice, the Job Interview across the Atlantic via Skype.

Have things changed that much?

Our minds are the same? Our desire for compassion, to be heard, to contribute, to be recognised even rewarded. We crave friendships, we make mistakes, we learn or don't learn from these, many of us marry and raise kids and grow old, have ideas, good and bed, published or not.

Life will go on, with or without the e-learning?

Will it be a better life?

I suspect not, just different.

Where is all the Leisure Time we were promised in the 1970s.

We have become slaves to the technology, being measured and observed as we tap out our lives, and machine-like we could be judged on how many words, and where these words appear and how often and who often reads them, measured in click-throughs, and page views and other site analytics.

A decade ago I envisaged my then infant children studying six A'Levels then two degress - simultaneously. To differentiate yourself maybe this becomes necessary and possible.

I've come across people hear studying TWO degrees simultaneously.

Perhaps this cross-fertilization will generate new ideas - or ware us down by the need to compete.

On verra.

The BBC offer references. Not only can you listen and take notes, and listen again, but you can then follow it up with further reading. I liken this to a wrap. The main meal comes from the OU canteen every day.

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## JISC 2011 on Open Content

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Nov 2013, 11:34

I might be 275 miles away from JISC 2011 but when I heard my 'jj27vv' Twitter 'handle' used I felt as if I'd been transported to Liverpool. I certainly had to remind myself that I wasn't there ...

The question/s were to do with the use of Open Content, that there never was a blank sheet and that in something like a wiki a history of authorship is tracked.

The resonses came from:

Amber Thomas, Programme Manager, JISC

Chris Pegler, Senior Lecturer, Open Univeristy;(Our Course Chair in H808 for a while)

Stephen Stapleton, Open Learning Support Officer, University of Nottingham

Vivien Sieber, Head of Learning and Research Services, University of Surrey

Tony Hirst, Lecturer, Open University.

This session and the others are available as podcasts.

Of most use will be the top tips for use of Open Educational Resources by each of the panelists.

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## H800: Wk 5 Activity 2 Giving Marshall MacLuhan a massage

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 09:28

Thoguths on 'Speaking Freely', hosted by Edwin Newman4 January 1971 by PBS-TV in the USA.

I disagree with the premise that  ‘The medium is the message’ or ever was.

The 'Word' wasn't the book itself - its being a book... but the work (the words it contained), to think of it in terms of Bibles being printed 500 years ago.

We have an inclination to hyperbole, today was we go all Internet, just as McLuhan did over TV. And every generation does whether it's the train, car, telegraph, telephone or TV, pages, video-games or Smart-phones. H.G.Wells was like this - at least he had the sense to write fiction most of the time.

Perhaps it is human-nature to crave and celebrate 'advancement' and 'invention.'

Could someone ask a neuroscientist. V.J.Ramanchandran probably has a point of view. I guess courtesy of social networks I could have a message to him in ten minutes. Should I? To make the point? To have a definitive and authoritative answer?

The typo of message as 'massage' is apocryphal surely?

It was a time of social confusion … because everyone of McLuhan generation and cohort were taking LSD weren't they?.

McLuhan is an elusive character best understood for the thoughts he provoked rather than as the source of a consistent and coherent body of ideas. He sound likes Marc Prensky of ‘Digital Natives’ infamy or Douglas Coupland and ‘Generation X’ now reborn as ‘Generation Y’ which I’d like to call ‘Generation Why not?’

'The surge towards the future' (a hackneyed phrase) is not just associated with new digital technologies, such as Web 2.0. The ocean analogies continue with the 'wave of analogue mass communications symbolised by television and the shrinking of the world into what McLuhan named ‘the global village’.' Indeed, though more so than the 1970s the events of the last few days surely make us feel like a global village. I've switched from CNN to NHK a Japanese Channel that has a simultaneous feed in English ... it could be local news. It is local news if we are thinking in terms of a global village. It has taken forty years to come about. TV takes the images from SmartPhones ... though the Internet is getting much of this too.

Speaking Freely, hosted by Edwin Newman4 January 1971 by PBS-TV in the USA.

Transcript

People suddenly want to be involved in more dynamic patterns.

If this was what was felt in 1971, why is it still the mantra today? It is wishful thinking. Of course people want things packaged. They want to be spoon fed, from several sources. They are greedy for the choices of packages …

I disagree, consumers were being empowered, whether they were influenced by advertising or not (they were), they were not the less making choices.

Intriguing that we want the audience to be the producer, but only in so much as the producer interprets what they want then package it as a TV show.

Instant replay isn’t participation.

It is editing, then playing back in slow motion. This any other trick is firmly at the fingertips of the producer and in 1971 that of the Gallery Vision Mixer.

Commentators cannot help but reflect publicly on what so many quickly accept as the norm, the younger the audience, the more likely they are to consider it the normal modus operandi.

I thought watching CNN coverage 24/7 of the Japanese earthquake had me ‘there.’

I kept inviting my 12 year old son who was watching better footage free of the CNN ads on YouTube. Different generations, different means of consumption.

Old World, New World; His World, My World.

Watching how CNN collated the edited the material looking for the highlights was interesting. How they pimped it up into the mother of all trailers for news on the event touched on the distasteful, treating the event like a series of events from the American Football Series along with graphics, EFX and music. The events in Japan constantly interlaced with adverts … many of them tourist destinations such as Turkey. Incongruent.

If the medium is the message then I'm tired of the message that comes from TV if news like the Japanese earthquakes has to be packaged with such insensitivity and commercialisation. Shame on CNN.

I’d no longer think of editing TV as an artistic process as putting the car into gear at the traffic lights.

In the US they allowed the sponsors to alter their Football game, an idea that never caught on in the old world. A soccer game of four quarters? It isn’t water-polo.

Hints at what we have with SmartPhones, though people are as likely to be watching the news, a cartoon series, a movie or their favourite music.

I simply don’t accept, as someone at school in the 1970s, that at any stage students thought they were gaining control or wanted to participation in the production of learning process.

Things are packaged by those who know better for a reason – they know better, they are supposed to be the teachers, supposed to be the subject matter experts, supposed to be, and can be the only ones who know their audience, their class and can respond accordingly.

Sesame Street does show ‘the entire learning process in action and in the best advertising style’. Advertising works, or they wouldn’t do it. People are persuaded … and people can be persuaded to learn. I wonder what Marshall McLuhan would make of ‘In the Night Garden’ and the ‘Teletubbies’ – learning as entertainment, that is engaging and vicarious rather than the teachery/evangelically and now very dated Sesame Street.

We like to listen, laugh at or be taken in by commentators like Marshall McLuhan, with have our own generation, who get themselves known, on TV, publishing books. I even help them by mentioning their names, from Malcolm Galdwell to Marc Prensky, they are the Athenian Oracle. We should learn to dismiss what they have to say, rather than accept it, to look at the facts ... and if there aren't any to go and do some research so we understand what is actually happening, not what we would like to happen or think is happening.

The best form of participation I can think of regarding TV, no longer the family activity a generation or two came to love, is fighting over the remote control.

This and turning the TV off, rather than on is a form of participation. It's called doing something that doesn't send you to sleep which is partially the premise behind Ragdoll's 'In the Night Garden' by the way (whose your favourite character?)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 8 Dec 2012, 00:01

How a ‘contagion of positive emotions’ from and of the right leader or teacher will greatly enhance the learning experience and project outcomes.

The problem is, you need to be there to get the vibe. I dare say parenting therefore has a huge impact on the developing child - nurtured or knackered?

But what does this say about the role of distance learning?

A bit, not a lot. Tutorials from time to time may pay dividends. We should stop being such e-learning purists and meet face to face when and where we can … at least online, if not in the flesh.

And before I go anywhere, thanks to someone for the link to this which I received in my daily maelstrom of Linked In forum threads, emails, comments and what not.

Advances in neuroscience may help us understand the internal mechanisms that enable some people to be effective leaders, and some not. Boyatzis (2011)

The leadership role is moving away from a “results-orientation” towards a relationship orientation. Boyatzis (2011)

People who feel inspired and supported give their best, are open to new ideas and have a more social orientation to others. Boyatzis (2011)

The difference between resonant and dissonance in relationships was tested, for example the difference between an inspired and engaging leader, compared to one who makes demands and sets goals.

While undergoing an MRI scan people were asked to recall specific experiences with resonant leaders and with dissonant leaders. When thinking about ‘resonant’ leaders there was significant activation of 14 regions of interest in the brain while with dissonant leaders there was significant activation of 6 and but deactivation in 11 regions. i.e. people are turned off by certain kinds of leadership. Boyatzis (2011)

The conclusion is that being concerned about one’s relationships may enable others to perform better and more innovatively– and lead to better results i.e. be an inspired, motivating leader, not a dictatorial or demanding one.

How therefore if running a course online does the course chair or a tutor engender these kind of feelings in their students?

The other lesson from this is to appreciate how quickly impressions of others get formed or the neural mechanisms involved.

First impressions count

They impact on how one person responds to another for some time to come. We are emotional beings, however much we’d like to control our behaviour.

The other idea is of ‘emotional contagion’ or ‘emotional arousal’ being picked up in the neural systems activate endocrine systems; that imitation and mimicry are important i.e. you cannot lead at arm’s-length – you have to be there, as must be your team, and by implication, where learning is involved, you students. Boyatzis (2011)

What you pick up in the presence of others is:

• the context of an observed action or setting
• the action
• the intention of the other living being.

‘A sympathetic hemo-dynamic that creates the same ability for us to relate to another’s emotions and intention’ (Decety & Michalaks, 2010).

There are three implications of these observations Boyatzis (2011):

1. the speed of activation
2. the sequence of activation
3. the endocrine/neural system interactions.

Our emotions are determining cognitive interpretation more than previously admitted.

Our unconscious emotional states arouse emotions in those with whom we interact before we or they know it. And it spreads from these interactions to others.

Research has suggested that negative emotions are stronger than positive emotions which may serve evolutionary functions but, paradoxically, it may limit learning. Boyatzis (2011)

i.e. where the teacher shows leadership that engenders a positive response the learning experience is increased (think of the fictional character played by Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society, think of Randy Pausch the late Carnegie Mellon Professor of Virtual reality) … whereas negative emotions.

From a student’s point of view if you have a teacher you do NOT like (or no one likes) this will have overly significant NEGATIVE impact on your learning experience.

So it matters WHO and HOW you are taught, not simply an interest or passion for a subject.

‘A contagion of positive emotions seems to arouse the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which stimulates adult neurogenesis (i.e. growth of new neurons) (Erickson et. al., 1998), a sense of well being, better immune system functioning, and cognitive, emotional, and perceptual openness’ (McEwen, 1998; Janig and Habler, 1999; Boyatzis, Jack, Cesaro, Passarelli, & Khawaja, 2010).

The sustainability of leadership effectiveness is directly a function of a person’s ability to adapt and activate neural plasticity. Boyatzis (2011)

The SNS (Sympathetic Nervous System) and PNS (Parasympathetic Nervous System ) are both needed for human functioning.

They each have an impact on neural plasticity.

Arousal affects the growth of the size and shape of our brain. Neurogenesis allows the human to build new neurons. The endocrines aroused in the PNS allow the immune system to function at its best to help preserve existing tissue (Dickerson and Kemeny, 2004).

I FOUND THIS PROFOUND

Leaders bear the primary responsibility for knowing what they are feeling and therefore, managing the ‘contagion’ that they infect in others.

(Is a disease metaphor and its negative connotations the appropriate metaphor to use here?)

It requires a heightened emotional self-awareness.

This means having techniques to notice the feelings, label what they are and then signal yourself that you should do something to change your mood and state.

Merely saying to yourself that you will “put on a happy face” does not hide the fast and unconscious transmission of your real feelings to others around you.

Leaders should be coaches in helping to motivate and inspire those around them (Boyatzis, Smith & Blaize, 2006).

But not any old form of coaching will help.

Coaching others with compassion, that is, toward the Positive Emotional Attractor, appears to activate neural systems that help a person open themselves to new possibilities– to learn and adapt. Meanwhile, the more typical coaching of others to change in imposed ways (i.e., trying to get them to conform to the views of the boss) may create an arousal of the SNS and puts the person in a defensive posture. This moves a person toward the Negative Emotional Attractor and to being more closed to possibilities.

The role or the patriarch or matriarch in the family? And whilst your father may be an inspiring leader at the office, what if he is a nit-picking bore and a negative grudge when he comes home?

REFERENCE

Boyatzis, R. (2011) Neuroscience and Leadership: The Promise of Insights Leadership | January / February 2011

Boyatzis, R.E., Smith, M. and Blaize, N. (2006) “Developing sustainable leaders through coaching and compassion, Academy of Management Journal on Learning and Education. 5(1): 8-24.

Boyatzis, R. E., Jack, A., Cesaro, R., Passarelli, A. & Khawaja, M. (2010). Coaching with Compassion: An fMRI Study of Coaching to the Positive or Negative Emotional Attractor. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Montreal.

Decety, J. & Michalska, K.J. (2010). Neurodevelopmental change in circuits underlying empathy and sympathy from childhood to adulthood. Developmental Science. 13: 6, 886-899.

Dickerson, S.S. & Kemeny, M.E. (2004). Acute stressors and cortisol responses: A theoretical integration and synthesis of laboratory research. Psychological Bulletin.130(3): 355-391.

Janig, W. & Habler, H-J. (1999). Organization of the autonomic nervous system: Structure and function. In O. Appendzeller (ed.). Handbook of Clinical Neurology: The Autonomic Nervous System: Part I: Normal Function, 74: 1-52.

McEwen, B. S. (1998). Protective and damaging effects of stress mediators. New England Journal of Medicine. 338: 171-179.

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## H800: 32 Wk5 Activity 1 Metaphor and Symbols in Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 8 Mar 2011, 20:15

My first take on Saloman (1997) 'Of mind and media', ran to 3,800 words, my second take is still 2,800 ... (See below, it's my previous blog entry).

Now that I've devoured the text I'll consider the questions.

Do you prefer certain forms of representation to a greater extent than others?

1. The only kind of learning that matters is learning that works. This will vary by context, content and desired outcomes. A piece of chalk on a blackboard is learning, as is Avatar. The first might cost $1, the latter$200m.

If so, why do you think that is the case?

2. We cannot always indulge our differences. I dare say the best education might be privileged and historically at home with a governess then a tutor. Personalisation by yourself, aided by parents/siblings peer pressure and your school/institution is what e-learning offers via social networking, forums, YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook, Wikipedia, Google and all the rest of them.

Does this preference apply to everything you attempt to learn?

3. If I am motivated to do so I will do more than watch the TV programme or catch the radio show ... I will do more than buy the book (or books), I will do a course, join a group, get a qualification. It is progressive, exploratory and stepped; it ends in your head, and may begin on your own but is often best developed with others. Though ask a successful author how they developed their craft skills or how they now work and I doubt they say they do it as a group/collective in a writer's group.

Or does it vary from one type of learning task to another?

4. Whilst certain approaches, if there is a choice, do lend themselves better to certain ways of doing it, any learning is defined by the candidate's motivation to learn and what is available, let alone their individual circumstances. I do think that challenging someone to learn might deliver a better outcome than spoon-feeding or mollycoddling. I learnt to deliver a baby when I had to, I had about five minutes to read a very short chapter on 'home delivery'. I learn to sail when it went wrong and we escaped drowning. I learnt to make training films by making mistakes (and putting them right). I once saw a production of Sleuth that was performed in front of the curtains with none of the pyrotechnics or gadgets ... in this simple form it was more engaging. i.e. I am going back to the story told around a campfire, perhaps with a song. This is how to enjoy Beowulf rather than as a movie.

Does the article make you think differently about what you do?

5. The article irritated me. It is 4, 800 words long. The first half could be removed entirely. Editorially I would have put a line through the waffle and a red line over disagreements. I have a paragraph of what I'd fix that I'll post in my blog. It should have been edited to improve what is poor writing. However, it is this disagreement and the 'mistakes' that have rattled me and so got my attention. How therefore to create a tussle with the text or concepts? They do it at Oxford, it's called a debate.

To what extent do the technologies available limit the learning and teaching possibilities in terms of forms of representation?

6. The technologies are not the limiting factor, they are only possibilities. The limiting factor is the author of the learning - bells and whistles do not improve a lesson if the teacher hasn't a) got an idea b) prepared a 'script' that has some chance of success.

Can you describe any specific examples of how different forms of representation are an important influence on teaching and learning situations with which you are familiar?

7. In H808 we did a group task that had to end with a presentation/representation of some kind. We had powerpoint presentations, and videos but to my surprise as I had doubted it would work one group did a poster that was rich, comprehensive, inventive, memorable and in one shot said it all - indeed with the flows and movement of information about the page I'd even described it as interactive. i.e. Keep It Simple, Student. I've been using a Kindle poolside to show swimmers pages from the 'Swim Drill Book'. It has proved extraordinarily effective.

To what extent do assessment methods constrain or privilege certain forms of representation (for example, how much does a written examination reveal about a learner’s competence in communicating effectively in a second language?).

8. Testing is more vital for the learning process than as a test to achieve a grade, pass or mark. But of course assessment is crucial for the sake of credibility and to have something to open a door to work. A written test tests someone's comprehension of the language and confidence/ability with this language first. Interesting for the last year I've been feeding my learning back to a national sports organisation. I have been fairly critical of a written test for sports coaches as it is at odds with the way they learn and what they do ... it was dropped from the curriculum last week. I had read during H807 or H808 about how the thing to be taught, the approach to teaching it and the way it is assessed should all marry up. i.e. to teach someone to dive Kate are they ever going to have to go near or in water? Of course they are. At what point does their reading or writing skill hinder their ability to qualify? If you want to learn to sail someone had to give you the helm; my father would never do so! I went off and did a course without telling him so that should he fall over board I'd know how to get back to shore. The ultimate tests I have windsurfing and skiing have been where errors would be fatal ... though I'm not suggesting a test should be a life or death matter, though it wouldn't half concentrate your mind.

Finally, I spent this morning with a colleague/friend who did an e-learning diploma with Sussex University.

We shared favourite e-learning websites and the ones we hated the most. I came away rather depressed by the awfulness of many, their formulaic approach and dreadful written and spoken English - there is a lack of craft skills. I think these things have been designed and created with the context in which the learning will take place in mind or the multiple opportunities people can and will find to engage with a task or topic. Personally, I like to hear and see it from several sources, good and bad, then give it a go several times ... and in time form an opinion having done what I'm doing here and did this morning over coffee - batting it about.

We liked Spaced-ed and can see what they are doing with Qstream ... though our own e-learning will naturally engage even more than these!

I came away with key ideas such as: metaphor, variety, mistakes, context, relevance and participation.

REFERENCE

Salomon, G 1997, 'Of mind and media', Phi Delta Kappan, 78, 5, p. 375, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 8 March 2011.

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## H800: 31 Symbols, Metaphors and TV in learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Nov 2011, 18:08

H800 WK5 Symbolic Forms used in Education

How I assimilate the article’s content is founded on the profound engagement I’ve had with MAODE this last year, but a lifetime of reading and viewing … enhanced by, certainly brought to the surface and even put at my fingertips having kept a diary for 35 years. I can list, within 10/15% all the films I’ve ever seen (because I’ve kept a record). I might even achieve a list of 40% of everything I’ve ever read (though I’ve yet to try to assemble such a thing). I wouldn’t begin to list my television viewing, perhaps because it is at times no more engaging that watching clouds form shapes in the sky. This accumulation of education and entertainment has, theoretically, less impact as I grow older, the symbolic forms of representation having the greatest impact when I knew least as a child. I can recall the first TV programmes I ever watched, can you? But I doubt I can remember much of significance that I’ve seen on TV in 2011.

‘Mans mind’ has been thought of as potter’s wheel, a steam engineer, a switchboard or a film … though not in theatre, the authors forgetting Shakespeare ‘life is but a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more.’… or the idea of the ‘Seven Stages of Man’ with its implicit developmental stages. I find myself disagreeing with the authors often, and collecting evidence for a paragraph regarding editorial matters. However, irritation and mistakes make for a spiky and more engaging learning experience. If you read something and agree and applaud all the way through, how much then sticks?

There will always be independence of human thought and as every generation starts with a blank sheet these multiple human minds will always be distinct. Computers are doing the opposite of what we expected, liberating and expanding minds, rather than reducing them to delivering perfect’ or ‘complete’ knowledge. To think not as others have thought, but to think in an original or creative way. Is this not inevitable if the way children are learning has changed so radically.

If thought of as a negative, metaphors could be seen as the equivalent of the leading question … they presume a way of thinking, a culture, history and belief system – they are intellectual containment … that to ‘think outside the box,’ is to think outside the accepted metaphor. However, given the thoughts on the role of language in learning, I wonder if common metaphors are the equivalent of expressing yourself in English, only to start using phrases from Welsh – i.e. you may lose your audience and the argument, even if you intrigue or engage some. On the other hand, if as they do in Germany you teach Geography in English, this additional challenge would better embedded the lesson. I don’t however envisage kids in England studying DT in German or Home Economics in French; but it’s an idea. ‘Content’, we know is important, though I start to wonder if is the context that is king’ …

Or should I come up with an alternative metaphor in order to avoid setting parameters? Creativity is a consequence of our ability to think in metaphors after all, an actual physiological trait of the brain. (V.J.Ramachandran, 2010).

Thinking in metaphors is an innate human characteristic.

We have always thought in metaphors, it is what defines us as human and what permits innovation, creativity and debate – we visualise concepts in our ‘mind’s eye’ we draw on our own experiences to invent ways of understanding of our own. Everything, we learn through all our senses, however much some of these are denied. Reading Shakespeare in class, taking it turns is different from seeing an RSC performance … and different again every time you see such a performance from a different actor.

We think in metaphors, analogies taught man to think, it is how we assimilate concepts by relating things we don’t understand to things that we do – though we can get our metaphors wrong, they can lead scientists ‘down the garden path.’

‘Attractively presented’ is a matter of debate as is the idea of ‘relative’ passive viewing

TV is ‘sit back;’ and passive and its attractiveness is a matter of opinion, and personal taste. Is David Attenborough age 80, as engaging when he speaks to camera as when he was in his thirties? Are any such ‘walk and talk’ presenter to camera globe-trotting lectures educational or just motivational? From an educational point of view is a bearded senior lecturer in Physics for in open sandals standing at a flipchart for the OU and broadcast in the dead of night any less attractive or effective lesson than Dinosaurs in 3d from the TV company Atlantic productions and shown on Sky HD/3D?

Is not all knowledge but a summation of a collective thought expressed by a person or people?

In relation to visualising nevertheless. Type in ‘nevertheless images’ into a Google search box, clicked on the images search and crashed the browser. On a similar note, I’d like to see ‘because’ can be represented as Ballet movement. The authors lack imagination if they think this can’t be done. And musical notation is a form of drawing.

Breakthroughs come when someone steps off the path, or reroutes from the top.

Multi-various experiences are the key and what is made possible by e-learning, the Internet, multiple digital channels and social networks, these are activities that engage several of the senses, or in the case of being there … all of them, are most effective at leading to a lasting physiological impact on a person’s mind.

In context, exciting to one or some, may be dull to another … and least exciting to someone who may have seen this film several times already. Different fields of reference … i.e. context and the person.

Are we saying that a rich, developed, symbolised and definitive expression of something being experienced by a mind that is equally busy and rich, is less of a learning experience?

That like minds, if they think alike, don’t think at all? That if someone sees the world as a red balloon and you give them a red balloon they gain nothing? Whereas I think any and of these situations will always ‘depend’ on a complexity of factors that are here grossly simplified. Our experience, and learning, is always the product of what we have been exposed to … indeed, this is a the definition of learning, without the stimuli and the physiological consequences on your mind, there is no learning, or experience to recall or to put into or let loose in the maelstrom of your mind.

What intrigues me about learning and perceptions is that much of what we are exposed to has obtuse effects, even bizarre ones

… that a surname cited in a report, if it is your mother’s maiden name, is going to tinge this report, that a phrase used that suddenly reminds you of a dead uncle … or online some novel interactive tool reminds you of an early computer game … or has occurred here, someone I found myself thinking in ‘films I’ve seem,’ which becomes an unstoppable process as a slide, like an avalanche into a memory set based on films, or certain actors, or an era where this actor was performing … electro-chemical activity that I cannot nonchalantly or willingly turn off.

And plainly put, ‘the less knowledge already available to the learner, the more the symbolic forms of representation will make a difference in the meanings the learner arrives at.’

You draw on an eclectic mix of experiences, hopefully – which is why the more a child is exposed to the better, from sport to music, reading and drawing .

How are these sets of mental skills and capacities gained?

From family, from your community and/or from formal education?

Variety is the way to educate a group … even with an individual, their interest and capacity to learn in certain ways will shift.

It says a lot for a film maker o have craft skills.

What I find fascinating about this is the benefit of taking different approaches, that teaching to a classroom assumes a one-size fits all, as does self-directed e-learning if it is largely asynchronous and done in isolation. The only way Web 2.0 learners can get this variety is by creating their own learning content, in which second and third year students may making ‘training videos’ for the first years, the entire exercise, repeated, mixed up and re-cut like an entry in Wikipedia. The difference I would suggest is that a multiplicity of responses is in time offered, for the reasons the author gives here. Think of a word (a noun), now Google with ‘images’ and see what you get. Now imagine this a ‘videos’, better still ‘learning’ and imagine being offered a plethora of learning videos on the subject that interests you, whether is diplomacy in the reign of Henry VIII or how to make a tea-tray.

More subtle differences are easy to achieve.

The same short story presented by very different voices. By very different voices with a different mood. A story illustrated in a multitude of ways, for example, a collection of representations of Alice in Wonderland from Tenniel’s original cartoons via Quentin Blake and many, many others

As I child we have an LP of Alice in Wonderland in which Bruce Forsyth played the Mad Hatter. Imbued with his career in Television I can only ever now envisage the Mad Hatter as a bloviating TG game-show host.

Throwing money at something doesn’t make it better?

There is so much more that comes into play. A good story told around a camp fire can be better that a Hollywood Blockbuster that has cost \$100m. The coming of the rock band ‘uncut’, the likes of the Rolling Stones or Paul McCartney playing in the back of a club, is indicative that bells and whistles don’t improve something. My wonder often viewing e-learning that money has not been put into something that counts crucially: the idea … and then the script. Get these right and everything else is just a matter of budget?

I do think TV is too easy

From a learning point of view take notes. Better still, load it into iMovies and cut your own version, change the voice over or add captions. Make something of it. Interact with it. Make an effort.

Learning and memory, the physiological effect on the brain, requires a stimuli and response – the degree/scale and impact of this response is down to many things, association, shock, appropriateness, worth, timeliness, location, urgency and effort.

TV is entertainment and news. It is sit back. It is fall asleep. If there’s engagement these days it is via an Xbox … or with the laptop open.

I disagree that print is ‘generally perceived to be highly demanding’

Unless you are talking about the Yellow Pages compared to Google. Books have their role, they haven’t become redundant technology like the Telex machine.

The producers at Ragdoll productions, the creators of Teletubbies and In the Night Garden would argue the contrary to what the authors are suggesting, that very young children put in a great deal of effort when they view TV. We are less enthralled as we get older. As adults what they recall about children’s TV and you’ll be surprised at the detail of what they can recollect. And TV can validate a book, sending a reader to the TV, or someone who has watched something on TV to the book. The platforms are different and can be made to work for each other.

I hope TV can provoke interest; it can sell products.

It teaches some people, some thing – where to place their hand and therefore their choice when they go to the supermarket. But try and learn something from 45 minutes of TV? Try transcribing the script … this cannot and does not compare to a chapter in a book or a paper. It cannot help to be anything other than light weight. Naturally it must also pander to the visual, and to the event … even to narrative, some ideas clearly being shoehorned into such models.

All you have to do to get someone to sit forward in front of TV is to tell them they are going to be tested on it.

Didn’t Michael Aspel once host a kids’ TV show called ‘Screen Shot’ or some such in which guests were tested on what happened in a scene? Knowledge of a test encourages effort to retain the pertinent facts … even to take notes. I often find myself at workshops and there is only ONE person in a group of 30+ taking notes … me. I wonder how people expect to retain a single of word of what is going on in front of them.

It isn’t whether or not the TV is a serious medium, but the content ditto the stage. The Queen’s Coronation had people gathered around TV sets in 1957.

They do. So what as educators do we do?

A dozen versions to satisfy all the potential audiences?

Or, as an author does, by thinking about ONE READER … so that whoever reads knows the perspective that is being taken?

The answer is DIY TV. It is the way the creation and publishing process has been greatly expanded to allow many, many more people to have a voice, to be seen, to be heard, to direct and produce and publish. What is already achieved as text and words in Wikipedia and video on YouTube, and dialogues and discussion on blogs and in social forums will and is becoming e-learning mass-produced, by the expert and the inexpert. I do wonder if the less expert the response the better, that the foibles of a maverick educator may teach more than something that is highly polished or corporate in nature.

In terms of language I’d go further and say it is not the language per se, but who uses it and how it is spoken and used. We learn to understand, to speak and to read largely from our parents, siblings, grandparents and in due course our peer group and school teachers. In terms of making up words, we are in an age of considerable invention, both to describe concepts and software, but because of the spread of English as the Lingua Franca and each person’s, each culture’s, each country, continent and generation’s different take on it. I turn to Henry Hitchings for a fascinating insight into the English language.

Born and raised with one language I learn French in my late teens by living and working in France. I came to dream in French, to speak it fluently, read it well and write it badly. I felt I was a different person when I spoke French. My father in law, raised in Poland, learning German during the occupation then immigrating to England speaks nine languages. His wife, whose family had escape Mussolini places English as her third language after Italian and French. How is there thinking enriched because of the diversity of languages they have used, have read and thought in?

Of course exposure to anything may impact on its correlation or juxtaposition to something else.

Here we hear about children exposed to TV. I wonder with a mixture of amazement and despair at my son’s activities on an Xbox, how he forms teams with friends and strangers, how they learn from each other and teach each other … how they circumvent the rules at every possible moment, playing outside the fields of the game, finding a way onto set as it were and doing things that may be possible in the game that are in possible in reality. As a younger boy playing Age of Empires he insisted on repeatedly kitting his medieval knights with cars and rampaging across Europe flattening everything  It will be interesting to observe how this plays out in later life.

I take issue with the idea of ‘mindlessness’ in this context, because it is disingenuous to suggest that watching TV, or playing a video games is mindless when it patently is clearly the opposite. Mindlessness might be a state achieved by someone meditating or in a coma, but it is not a state when several of the senses are being engaged.

Of course they do, any and every stimuli on the sense are in some way or over embedded physiologically in the mind.

Stories work. It is all that human kind have had for millennia.

This idea of nodes is being realised through fMRI scans that show what parts of the brain are stimulated when different activities are undertaken or thought about, such as recent studies on the nature of leadership. It is extraordinary how many different parts of the brain get engaged, indeed this is how and why our responses to things and our abilities despite common or fairly common upbringings are so very different.

Schooling hasn’t favoured original thinking, but learning often by rote to pass exams which suits some types, but not others.

REFERENCE

Salomon, G 1997, 'Of mind and media', Phi Delta Kappan, 78, 5, p. 375, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 8 March 2011.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ambient culture over explicit teaching

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

Wherein lies the discord in many school classrooms

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

I love the idea of JPS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

REFERENCE

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

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

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## H800: 28 What is 'learning?' This is:

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 3 Mar 2011, 16:54

I've been pondering this question for 14 years .. since our daughter was born.

I don't think I gave it a moment's thought at school, university, in further postgraduate studying or courses or even at work where we were producing training films (amongst other things).

Knowing and applying 'stuff' came into it.

Otherwise it was starting to get my head around the neurological processes that had me starting to understand what was going on. Simple really, you expose a person (your daughter, yourself) to something and it results in a stimuli that with repetition becomes embedded.

You cannot help yourself. You pick things up. At what stage have something been learnt though? When you apply it? Or simply knowing that the knowledge is 'there.'

One key moment this last year was coming to an understanding of what 'life-long learning' entails. Even concluding that the less isolated we are the more we learn? Which hardly holds true of the bookworm (or should they now be called webworms?)

Did it help to play Mozart while she was developing in the womb?

Did it help that she was learning to play the piano, draw, type and read all at the same time?

How does she compare to her brother because she apparently has a 'photographic' memory ... while he does not?

i.e. just because the input mechanism allows for good recall does she learn any better, or even less well, than someone who has to make more effort?

My own mind is made of Teflon - nothing sticks! And even if I get it into my head it slides all over the place producing most unusual combinations

Am I going to Google 'learning' or look it up in Wikipedia?

Probably not.

I'd prefer to find out what Quentin Blake makes of it ... or Norman Mailer. What did learning mean to Vincent van Gogh? We can probably tell from the many letters he wrote to his brother.

How did that monster acquire and develop his belief systems?

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## H800: 26 Guest lists and where you sit at the tutor's table (even if they're not there)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 1 Mar 2011, 07:09

How do you study if you are both a tutor and a student?

I guess if you are a chemistry tutor and you’re studying e-learning the two are complementary but you cannot, be both tutor and student of the same course (though interestingly this has/is occurring in our module with a tutor absent the OU failing to accommodate).

It’s rather making me think that student as tutor is absolutely possible.

Why not? All it requires is leadership and initiative. I don’t see tutors as subject matter experts. Can you cater for everyone? In communications you need to know your audience. Writers are meant to think of their reader as one person, not millions. How should teachers/tutors think? Of student, or students? Does it matter anymore?

Can we, knowing or indulging ourselves, choose from a plethora of ways into a subject?

I have to wonder, thinking in extremes, why we don’t have tutor groups by gender, by generation, even by profession … let alone our current professional status. Would for example all those working for the armed services benefited from being in a group of their own?

And how do we make such a choice?

Too late if you buy a book, even read a sample, only to find the rest of the content doesn’t deliver.

You pay the fees for a module only to feel or realise a week or so on that it is going to disappoint all the way to the end?

Do you choose by Brand?

Do you choose by awarding body?

And what say do we have?

Can we play-act the model online student?

Would it help to have such an image and then be this person?

Can we assume ourselves into a level of comprehension what we haven’t yet reached and as a result of such aspirations and performance become this more informed and ‘educated’ person?

With an interest and some training in sport and developing young elite athletes I’ve studied Long Term Athlete Development. With a sport, let alone studying, we can group children by gender and biological age. When or where do such groupings or any groupings become difficult to create, or politically incorrect to create? Should not institutions go to greater lengths to group people scientifically?

And to mix these groups up as we go along, if only to change and balanced the learning opportunities?

This is the OU’s show, their party. They are hosting an event, or series of events or have we simply taken a few steps beyond getting a box of books and CDs on the doorstep at the start of a module … to the set of railway tracks that is the like a cartoon, are laid before our eyes as each new week approaches? Who ‘owns’ this course? I get know sense of that, or someone leading. The tutors/authors of the course left years ago. Perhaps this is obvious and given the topic and the speed of change in e-learning is detrimental. I wonder, if given time, more ‘natural’ tutor groupings would form in the national forums of ‘General Discussions’ and the Café from which break-out tutor groups could be constructed (or they do?) I wonder if the solution is in the ways resources are presented, that there need to be multiple ways into a topic. That once size never did fit all.

That ideally we would each have a personal tutor, that all learning would be one to one and tailor to our needs, as they are and as they change … and as we are changed by the process and anything else that is going on around us.

Do we all want a take-away, or a pot-lunch?

The set menu and if so as a school dinner, or from a top restaurant? Home cooking or our own cooking?

Might I say with H800 are getting the ‘set menu,’ i.e. the choice is limited. All I’m discussing here is choice; the next point would be the size of helpings. How do we respond to either being hungry as a wolf (read everything) or not hungry at all (graze nonchalantly doing the bare minimum?) The answer, as I found in H808, was to have plenty of moderated activities in the General Discussion, Café and Supplementary Activity Forums … where like minds could meet, where if you found you had time or wanted to make time, you could get involved in a different group and therefore benefit from an alternative dynamic. I have found that with groups, even more so away from the OU, that are global in scope, that you find groupings that are topic specific and where you can, whenever you like, find a conversation to engage with that adds to your knowledge.

It is a vital part of the learning process I believe, where you form opinions and develop ideas as a result of your engagement, the only issue being that your voice comes out of the tips of your fingers rather than your mouth, which rather suggests we’d all have been better off communicating to our parents and siblings at home via a QWERTY keyboard from an early age so we had these surprisingly necessary skills in place.

Perhaps, as there appears to be so much inclination, whether desire or otherwise, to shift towards the Oxbridge tutorial system as a model, (small tutor groups), might not we also have junior, middle and senior common rooms?

Might we not also have a variety of virtual colleges? And taking just one idea from this … ought we not to have more than one tutor, even within a module, perhaps a different module for each TMA?

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## H800: 25 Where does virtual learning begin?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 28 Feb 2011, 06:27

And if real learning occurs, is it no longer 'virtual?'

Where does reality end?

What part of your subconscious is real?

It happens after all, if yo think it or dream it. We distinguish between learning and e-learning; should we ? Did we distinguish a different reality after the train, after the telephone, after television or a man on the moon?

I am often online, I speak to people through Skype and Elluminate.

Yesterday I likened an Elluminate 'tutorial' with seven or eight fellow students as wearing a blindfold in a meeting; yo have to be alert to the presence of others, be sensitive to their interest (or lack of), their hand going up, or not. You are dependent on your only sighted person present - the tutor or moderator.

Over the last month I have been interviewed for a job on Skype. Producers have discussed my work on Skype.

I have been set task to show what I can do, somehow my body of work, the videos and scripts not real enough. Can I still fill a blank sheet of paper with pertinent and persuasive ideas; that's what they want to know.

My blend of learning uses the conscious and subconscious.

I consciously go to bed with a book, now on Kindle, currently reading through my extensive highlights and notes on two books: Education Psychology (Vygotsky 1926) and 'Rethinking Pedagogy for the Digital age (Helen Beetham & Rhona Sharpe eds. 2007). As I drift away I may close the Kindle, may slip it safely to one side .. may not. I matters not a jot. I'tll look after itself.

No wonder I find myself dwelling on all matter of things.

Earlier I woke thinking about one of these job interviews: it may be to work on contrast, it may be to work freelance, there are even a couple of full-time posts. All want to know what I have done recently. What they really need to know is what can I do for them next week or month. Or now.

As I return to consciousness I reflect on the interview that was on my mind, only to realise that it is highly unlikely that my future boss Is Johnny Depp. I've been duped by my own mind. No worries. The thoughts relate to the real opportunities, not this peculiar mash-up in a virtual world.

I have multiple presences in cyberspace with 'faces on' that may be anything from a week to 15 years old. Indeed, I ought to attach an image of the six year old me to a collection of 'earliest memories.'

I have a couple of existences in Second Life too, though I've yet to run with these.

Would I not get more confused over where reality ends?

If it is becoming less easy to distinguish reality from the virtual, how are we supposed to differentiate between learning and e-learning? Is it not the case that both could be going on ... but a student, or the students are doing no learning in either situation? That they are elsewhere? That they are not engaged? Yet hours later, consciously or otherwise, a recollection of a 'lesson' may produce a learning moment, may generate 'stuff' a learning object in that person's consciousness?

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## SCA 2.0 The best of both worlds - located and 'E'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 14:29

These are the guys to watch

The model for learning is compulsive. It has everything that is great about e-learning and the use of technology, indeed, it is part of this genre and world ... but it is also a school, or college, in the old sense, with a physical presence where people meet to share ideas, grow and participate collaboratively in their development.

Where does studying and work end?

It doesn't. There are no boundaries, nor should there be.

Were that the 115 year old Vygotsky (1926) was here to experiene it ...

'The future world where 'classes' and 'learning' takes place at home and in the workplace as PART of the world, rather than distinct from it'.

'Ultimately, only life educates, and the deeper that life, the real world, burrows into the school, the more dynamic and the more robust will be the educational process. Education is just as meaningless outside the real world as is a fire without oxygen, or as is breathing in a vacuum'.

'Only he who exerts a creative role in real life can aspire to a creative role in pedagogics. It is just for this reason that, in the future, the educator will also be an active participant in society'.

'In the school of the future, these window will be opened as wide as can be, and the teacher will not only lok out, but also actively participate in the ‘duties of life.’

REFERENCE

Vygostsky L.S. (1926) Educational Psychology. (Translated 1997) CRC Press.

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## H800: 24 Wk3 Metaphor in Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 8 Nov 2011, 22:15

It could be the subject of of PhD Thesis

Metaphor is the essence of learning, of knowledge transfer, of transmitting ideas, of ideas themselves, of innovation and creativity.

We labour it

Reading Sfard and various other authors/academics and philosophers ... and a neuroscientist I draw my own conclusions in relation to learning in general and e-learning in particular.

The first image is from Gareth Morgan. The explanation of how metaphor is used, and potentially abused (or simply confused) is clear. 'Man is a lion. He is a lion because he is brave.'

We permit poetic licence

We then move on to the idea of what I am calling (for want of a metaphor) Stage 1 Learning, that necessary first step where the person learning needs to acquire 'stuff,' where knowledge is imparted or experienced. This might be a lecture, a talk, a video, a book. Acquisition for me is not the metaphor, it is the description of what is occurring. I cannot see 'acquisition.' I can see someone at a supermarket check-out 'acquiring' goods, I can even visualise the 'sausage machine' concept/cartoon of information/knowledge being ground out of books and deposited in a person's head.

Moving on to Stage 2 Learning (though it could be any stage 2 through to infinity) we have a tool of learning, 'participation.' Here, once again, I understand an adjective describing actual participation, as demonstrated in the John Seely Brown lecture, of students working together at a table (round of course), with those on the 'periphery' taking part tangentially while those in the middle are the primary 'actors.' THIS is learning in the Congo Rain Forest to get honey from the top of a tree, this is learning above the Arctic Circle to cut blow-holes to harpoon seals ... this is how 'man' has always learned. a) where's the new thinking? b) is 'participation' a metaphor, or simple an adjective?

For me participation is the end of term play, the Christmas Panto, working on a student newspaper, blog or TV magazine show.

To use metaphor suggests improving communication of ideas and doing so in a persuasive and memorable way. There are cliched metaphors. They lose currency through over use. Educators appear to be stuck in a rut on this one, regurgitating old ideas.

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## H800: 22 Wk2 Activity 1 John Seely Brown on participation through tinkering

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 22 Dec 2020, 20:28

I agree with John Seely Brown’s emphasis, however, how should the degree of and the value of participation differ between the following four types of learning situation: primary, secondary, tertiary and ‘on the job.’

And how does this degree of participation through-out a term, day or even a lesson in relation to the context, the ratio of teachers to pupils, the subject matter, the mix of students, the time of day, period in the week, in the term and so on. And how does such participation rank. Or measure up, in terms of efficacy – the time in which certain learning outcomes need to be met and assessed?

Learning that might be described as mechanical, compared to intellectual, for example, between how to fill a drum with uranium trioxide correctly, reliably and safely compared to learning a language. And even within these examples, how does the person’s preferred learning style come in to play?

QQ 1. Your work so far on H800 includes some individual reading and viewing/listening. Does Brown’s argument imply that this is less valuable than your group work?

Not at all.

Participation is being recognised as a shift to make more of something that has always occurred, but is enabled by current technology, so that such participation is as possible at a distance, as it is face-to-face.

The individual reading, reviewing/listening … and watching provides the assets, insights and experiences of others that are required to begin to form an opinion. As Vygotsky (1926) points out, learning doesn’t occur in a vacuum, there are stages, or step changes, related to coming to a more mature response to something. However, Brown suggests during the course of the presentation, that merely attaching oneself to the periphery of group work that interests you, could or will, if you play your role, lead to a kind of reverse centrifugal force during which you will be drawn into, or tumble in amongst, the activity at the centre of the group. The example he used was on contributing to the development of Open Source Software, the outsider attaching at the periphery and through participation, confidence, demonstration of ability, through ‘tinkering’ and engagement, gradually proving themselves worthy of participation in the ‘inner sanctum’ as it were.

QQ2. What are the implications of his argument for your own use of technology – in your own learning and teaching?

If we think of the best way to learn a language as ‘immersive,’ then perhaps there are many more occasions where similarly immersive, participatory learning could have a place and produce, as a result, better ‘results.’ That there is no point in being precious with knowledge, instead of keeping it close, let it go, build reputation, share ideas. How authors or creators/creatives earn a living from the expression of their thoughts is another issue.

Models are changing across the board

This is completely counter to my experience of secondary and tertiary education, indeed, I liken myself to Brown who talks about his writing code that no others could read and being proud of this. We kept everything close to our chests. However, putting on theatre shows and later moving into TV and Film production, I was involved in a highly participatory activity, indeed, coming in as a runner, or production assistant is/was and still is the way to gain experience, learn on the job, prove yourself and through will, willingness and personality, being drawn in or permitted into the ‘inner sanctum’ which you might call the key roles of producer, director or writer (compared to assistants to any of these, or assistants to the assistants).

QQ3. What are your reactions to Brown’s style of presentation?

The experience in person would have been satisfactory. As you listen you may take notes, may refer as appropriate to the slides he uses, as well as watching his facial expressions and body language and listening to the change in timbre, tone and pace of his voice, all adding emphasis, nuance and even colour to what he is saying. As someone from Television, who has covered lectures/talks it disappoints me that little adequate thought has been given to why certain shot sizes work better, the variety of shot sizes, the angle from which it is shot, even the lighting as Brown often steps back into the shadows, let alone when and how to use cut-aways to the slides and to the audience. However, for a change, the sound quality is good – often it is atrocious. If you get bored or distracted count how many bald heads there are, try to see who is taking notes, does someone get up and leave then return.

None of this is pertinent to the piece and should never been in the frame! Indeed, picking up on what he says later I ought to load this into iMovies or FinalCut Pro, frame him, cut in therefore, and source alternative or better slides.

To cut back its length I may cut in audience shots, whether or not they are of people at this presentation so long as they appear to make a match. What Brown himself would applaud and calls ‘tinkering,’ which is perhaps his thesis.

To tinker is good. Participation is effective.

Enrolling people, engaging them, team-work, motivational techniques … all suggests the teacher not as subject matter expert, but as host, guide or coach ... so simply the person with first-hand experience. ‘Understanding,’ he says, ‘is socially constructed’.

QQ4. What are its strengths and weaknesses compared with the webcast lecture in Week 1 about the Google Generation, or with other presentations you have seen?

Online producers are yet to convince me that they have got it right. I doubt there is a single ‘best’ way to cover such talks/lectures … you may want to preserve the veracity of the presentation and therefore cut nothing at all, indeed, professionally for multi-media and for multiple platforms ‘we’ may provide potential editors with shot sizes and cut-aways to allow them to make their own editorial decisions: this would be in keeping with what Brown describes as ‘tinkering’ later on.

Dr Ian Rowland gave a chat, without visual support. Brown gave a talk with visual support that was weak – they didn’t complement what he was saying, they lacked, IMHO, adequate emphasis.

The answer, which those in education, where the budget permits, should do, is for writers to work with visualises, as in advertising copywriters work with art directors, or giving the emphasis to the director, as directors do with another person’s screenplay/script in TV. This isn’t so far-fetched, modern educators can shoot and edit their own video, and as educators surely they ought to be more away of the need and benefits of appealing across the senses. For example, if this presentation were going to 17,000 managers across the Deutsche Bank I might have the budget to employ an illustrator/cartoonist such as Steven Appleby to make more of these supporting images – to make them more memorable and appealing, and in so doing, strengthening the message.

QQ5. Is it paradoxical that you are invited to listen to one person talking about, among other things, the importance of study groups?

It isn’t paradoxical at all. We live in a mixed and multi-media world. Those recording these events, as here, shouldn’t just be alert to accessibility issues (sight/sound), but to learning choices an audience/readers might like to make on how they engage with the material based on personal choices and circumstances.

Often, despite balking at reading all the time, I would prefer the peer-reviewed, published paper that can be read in a fraction of the time it takes to sit through a ‘talk.’ Already I behave as my 12 year old son does and would have listened to John Seely Brown, while reading the transcript, while (as I did) executing quick Google searches on all manner of things that he mentioned, from ‘what is a ‘bull meeting,’ to the credentials of those he mentioned (what does it say in Linked In) and any related reports John Seely Brown may have penned SINCE this presentation in October 2007.

REFERENCE

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## H800: 20 Wk2 Activity 9 Blended Learning in Brazil

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 1 Jul 2012, 18:01

We are asked to consider the life of a Brazilian Mum, working in a Law office, doing an undergraduate course

She opts for blended learning and needs to juggle family life (husband, two children) with her job and studies. Through a combination of face-to-face elements and TV or going online she is able to meet a tight weekly schedule, within a time course time table.

We are asked to reflect on this fictional student and her circumstances, how the institution puts in place enough to make her stdying possible, and to meet various benchmarks so that she is taught and assessed at the correct level.

A quick Google search and we should think of this is a city like Barcelona or Birmingham; these are modern solutions to a common dilemma, how to have two people in full-time employment, with family commitments, while trying to gain further qualifications in order to improve their career prospects.

I believe the institution has put everything in place in terms of the schedule, the support, the infrastructure, technology and resources. To succeed the candidate will need not only to juggle many balls, but at times to face off brickwalls and barries. Life happens as a parents ... husband made redundant, children sick, elderly relatives ... it is far easier to get this part of your education dealt with while there is less going on! Does she have the motivation and will she get the support from siblings, husband, her work ... even her friends? Is their a mirror network of support and new friends where she is studying.

What is meant by conventional?

When has there been a period of stability in education? And compared to the context where? We fairly recently mixed up universities and polytechnics, only in this generation have we been pushing for 50%^+ attendance in Tertiary education. Only recently has the school leaving age been increased.

My parent’s generation (they happened to be at Durham University) lived at home … one generation on, and we’re back to this pattern with university being a natural step on from Secondary School rather than a leap across the country onto a campus. This has always been fluid, as they should to reflect changing demands in the economy and changing possibilities.

Each generation makes the most of what is possible and available

It strikes me that this is suitably resourceful way to gain qualifications and experience while juggling everything else, in the case, a woman has to do an implication being here that perhaps a man would have excused himself from any household chores were he to consider taking a degree, while a woman has to do it all. I speak from the basis of a househusband doing part-time and freelance work, alongside family responsibilities (kids now at secondary school, having seen them through nursery and primary school).

I don’t consider what she is doing to be unusual at all, indeed I think it is the norm.

I have certainly seen plenty in my generation retrain as their previous careers/jobs have alternated out of recognition or disappeared … or become so ‘cheap’ that they aren’t sustainable.

The best learning is driven by the motivation of the individual to learn; they will push against any brick wall, or through any barrier to achieve this end. The state, as here, cannot spoon feed or dictate, just offer as best as is reasonable, a flexible system that can be accommodated. It is not surprising how much can be done if people give p 3 hours + television viewing every day, for example.

In relation to ‘face to face, the very best learning, if we take it back hundreds of years, is one to one, governess and tutor.

A compromise might be an equally privilege Oxbridge kind of tutorial system, in a college with a small cohort of students meeting weekly in groups of one, two or three.

The experience of 50+ students in a lecture hall several times a week can never have suited the majority

Indeed, on a developmental point of view it favoured the ‘freaks’ those with exceptional or rather narrow skills at being able to take something from these experiences … and then to memorise it all for an exam.

Because of the fluidity/flexibility of this non ‘traditional’ approach the institution must feel, necessarily, that one way or another the candidate is meeting all the criteria to meet the learning outcomes, that a combination of attendance, contributions, assessments and so on will bring them up to a standard that is common to any student at this level.

Whilst the institution can be prescriptive, the candidate has to make the time, make the space, organise their lives all the better in order to accommodate their work

Depending on their circumstances they become dependent on the contribution being made by a partner, but will always be faced with other hurdles, such as being made redundant in the middle of it all, or a child being sick (or a relative), or the partner being made redundant. All manner of problems can arise that might not be the lot of the typical, full time, undergraduate student who is fed and sheltered, may even have a grant, and just has to get out of bed on time for lectures!

A support network of tutors, assistants and technical staff

Support infrastructure to provide resources and to facilitate meetings, discussions and interaction. i.e. the institution needs to be a host, to be supportive.

The division of course work into discrete time periods based on modules, units within these and dates for assignments. I.e. highly structured to ensure, despite what else is going on in this person’s life, there are clear markers/deadlines/guide lines regarding what is required/expected of them.

Whilst it is the student who has to juggle, in some respects the institution is the ring master.

The student requires the institution to be a presence, both real and virtual, to provide the venues and platforms … even the skills to juggle and the items to juggle!

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

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

Eating humble pie

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

I take it back:

I eat humble pie for and offer three reasons:

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

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

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

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

There is value in printing things off

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

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

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

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

See below

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

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

‘Keep it Simple, Stupid’

(as it was, though as some now prefer)

‘Keep it short and simple’.

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

The points I am making are straight forward too.

2. Research and References

3. Simplicity

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

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

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

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

Vygostky would approve.

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

Parameters help

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

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

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

This in itself is one reason to avoid Wikipedia

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

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

Or am I missing the point?

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

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

Anyone fancy giving it a go?

I digress, which is apt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Institute of Educational Technology

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

It was written in 1992.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have things moved on?

Where’s our TV in MAODE?

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

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

It should not be a dying form.

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

There were clear, agreed stages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is more

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

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

We’re human

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

!!!

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

Our maturity and NOT being academics probably

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

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

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

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

Problems arise from social psychological processes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REFERENCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post script

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

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## Vygotsky and the need to nurture in education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 07:51

If I wished to define the way I lead, or teach it would be this:

As Vygotsky put it:

'The gardener affects the germination of his flowers by increasing the temperature, regulating the moisture, varying the relative position of neighboring plants, and selecting and mixing soils and fertilizer, i.e. once again, indirectly, by making appropriate changed in the environment. Thus it is that the teacher educates the student by varying the environment'. Vygotsky 1926 (Kindle location 1129)

And further on he says:

'The basic rule is that before imparting new knowledge to the child and before fostering a new reaction in him, we must be sure to prepare the ground for it i.e. arouse the appropriate interest. For an analogy, just think how we loosen the soil before planting seeds'. (Kindle location 1755)

Is this an e-reader location system? Page numbers no longer exists ... my world of reading books with pages numbers ended a week ago!

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## E-learning 2001-2011: A perspective

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 27 Feb 2013, 23:03

Have we dumbed down in the last decade?

I was on H804 BR227 Block 2-A1 on the 19th March 2001. I was in Barbara's Tutor Group.

The block reading was extensive; it had arrived in a large cardboard box, along with CD-roms. Books galore. I've numbered the 33 items from which I need to read x paper or chapters. Have we dumbed down in the last decade?

Is reading, if only on a Kindle, no so valid?

Has quantity of content provided been replaced by the quantity of content we generated between each other? If so, it makes contribution the peer group and module cohort all the more important.

Interestingly a article we then read from Cisco does something similar to the review suggestions above, not as basic as a start rating but ‘Sounding Off’ in which the first few words of comment and listed from sixteen or so commentators.

I then turn to printed off pages, marked up with a highlighter pen. (I can’t find myself stumbling across such paperwork with such Serendipity in ten years time should I care to reconsider the contents of MAODE 2010-2011. It will be buried in, by then, 10,000 assets in my e-portfolio. As I call it, like looking for a needle in a stack of needles. Something no string of tags can save you from … because every item has a similar set of tags. Where is ‘serendipity’ 2021? Years ago I put an ‘Enter@Random’ button in my blog., I’m yet to think of a more sophisticated way to tap into my mind).

‘The next big killer application for the Internet is going to be education.’

This is too often misquoted outside the realm of corporate training – what he has in mind here is how to keep 4,000 Cisco sales people up to speed and better able to sell, not how to educate classroom based school kids.

Is the next step the Open School?

To home educate? It would make better use of what the Internet offers. I do wonder how or why I’ve ended up nailed first to the locally primary school and then an affordable private school within walking distance. My wife and I are both freelance, who cares where we could be in the world as we do everything online.

Remind me to go to the estate agents. We’re selling up!

Meanwhile, I’m glad to see ‘e-learning’ used here; I was convinced it was a term coined recently. ‘Ultimately, Tom Kelly says, e-learning will be most effective when it no longer feels like learning – when it’s simply a natural part of how people work.’ If you do things in small chunks, she continues, they become just another part of your job. And what I like most of all, ‘E-learning will be successful when it doesn’t have its own name.’

My children wouldn’t call it e-learning

It’s just homework, whether in a text book or using a computer, which may or may not go online. Do we different where our TV feed comes from anymore? It’s just more TV. It is has taken me exactly one week, courtesy of a Kindle, to drop any idea of e-readers, e-books or e-reading … these are books, this is reading – the means of distribution is different, that’s all, it’s as if I have an electronic butler handing me one sheet of the book at a time. Bliss.

I’m still some way off why I’m reading this and writing about, just picking up echoes from the past as I go through it. Kelly had some insights on e-learning (which he defines as Web-based education):

• Small is beautiful
• Blends are powerful
• Measure what matters
• New technologies require new leaders

Was I listening back then?

I think we were too busy trying to reinvent the world.

These four points are understood today as:

Chunking Participation across platforms The business of measuring outcomes. Simply put ‘If technology adoption occurs faster because the sales force is better-trained, we have real business impact that’s measurable.’

And then the punch line

“One real; problem with e-learning is that traditional training people are in charge of it. No wonder it doesn’t work! Can you imagine if the post office was in charge of email?”

Does this apply to libraries?

Think of a book as a parcel, a report as a letter. Do we want it delivered by the Post … or by email? Are librarians best equipped to migrate digitised content to the e-brain?

There is then a paper, I guess the equivalent of a lecture, a piece of content purpose-written for the course. It is good to see Vygotsky, Piaget and Papert in here .. but what of Prensky from ‘The Power of Digital Game based Learning' and this suggestion by Prensky via research done by cognitive psychologists ‘such as Bruer and Tapscott in the late nineties who speculated that the young people’s minds have been literally ‘altered by the effect of a key set of digital formative experiences'. Prensky then, no better than a salesman links a truism with an unproven (and unfounded) suggestion. ‘Tapscott’s research indicated that young people are living, playing, communicating, working in and creating communities very differently than their parents (truism) and that the ‘hard wiring’ of young people’s brains has been effectively altered by digitally based learning experiences in the last decade.’ (unfounded, 'effectively altered' is what alerts me).

Let me see what I can find, where all just a click away from Google

So I buy this to feast on:

I’m going to have to go through these notes.

Courtesy of Kindle I can highlight and take notes.

I find myself rattled by everything Prensky says and how it is presented, from the glowing recommendations, to his extensive biography, to the unqualified, uncited, unresearched 'hear say' that considers itself to be serious study. He mentions the 'popular writer Malcolm Bradbury' but falls into the same trap of conjuring up presumptions that have no foundation in fact. This is less than journalism. It is invention. It may be what he thinks, but no one gets a word in edge ways to say whether he is right or wrong.

As I read I felt as if I was at best listening to an after dinner speech, at worst a stand-up comic

Prensky preaches to the converted, a certain group of secondary and primary school teachers who I can see nodding along to every platitude that Prensky offers.

That's my summary; the report will follow

Book by book, blow by blow.

Seeing Prensky so often quoted in the OU files, in 2001 and still, surprises me.

I feel like the little boy in the crowd pointing out that the King is wearing no clothes.

I may eat my words, I often do

But for now, this is my stance, which I prefer to sitting on the fence.

REFERENCE

Cisco’s Quick Study by Ann Muoio. From FC issue 39, page 286. http://www.fastcompany.com/online/39/quickstudy.html

Prensky M (2001) Digital Game based learning, McGraw Hill.

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## H800: 16 Kindle 5

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 16 Feb 2011, 07:29

If you're interested in learning and education online I recommend these two.

The first, E-learning by Design by William Horton a highly practicle, hands on, solutions to e-learning problem x,y, or z. Informed, experienced, good advice with examples galore and links online.

The second, Educational Psychology something by someone you will come across repeatedly. As my background is not in formal teaching, but in TV production and the 'media' it is this kind of foundation that I need.

On reflection, I wonder if ahead of the MAODE a module on the Foundations of Learning would have been of value.

The 16 chapters of 'Rethining the Pedagogy of E-learning' edited by Rhona Sharpe would suit an MAODE student as several OU and other authors have contributed.

Enjoy!

Do please get in touch if you have read or are reading any of the above. It is invaluable to share thougths, especially on Vygotsky.

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## Risk more to succeed

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

The mistake risk takers make is to take too few risks

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

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

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

28 projects on the go I understand is the figure

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

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## Kindle 4

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 26 Feb 2012, 06:22

Far from saving me time, owning a kindle is obliging me to spend more time with the text.

There are no page numbers at all, they've been deleted, instead, it is done by line or word ... so (Location 870) might be how a highlighted piece of text is referenced. How I deal with this should I quote an author I don't yet know.

If it takes me as long to work through my notes and highlights as it took me to read the chapter in the first place ... then I simply accept that I have still got a heck of a lot to learn and that in good time, these points, squirreled away will bounce back into my life with a click of my fingers.

A book, for example.

Am I Kindled out? My contact lenses are stuck to my eyeballs and the skin under the pads of my thumb are chafed from scooting back and forth over a keyboard.

Am I learning anything though?

That a great deal of nonsence is written. That authors must be pillored if they use strings of abbreviations and terms that are not common place. Courtesy of Kindle and an e-book I was able to see, for example, how often LOM was used in the body of a book. Four times it turned out, and in three it had been written out in full and in the fourth as LOMS it meant something else.

This I my bugbear about the use of the highly technical descriptors: more, very, truly and actually.

Pedant?

That's me.

Kindle will drive some people crazy at is potential. I see a way into the minds of many authors. My son dismissed it. One of his friends, I can't get away from it.

Further insights?

There's a way to write for a Kindle. Ditch many diagrams and tables. Think in terms of graphics that would work on TV (in black and white). Write short sentences (these are good discipline).

Meanwhile I have generated 11 pages of quotes and notes (4,000 words) having so far only regurgitated my thoughts on the introduction and chapter one to Rhona Sharpe's 'Rethinking Pedagogy for the Digital Age' (2007). It's that kind of book.

Fun packed.

And valuable.

(Even if I keep disagreeing with the authors)

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## Kindle 3 JV Unwell and Kindling

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 16:06

When your 14 year old daughter is in bed with flu, and running a temperature, you relent when she pops her head up from under the duvet and wants to use your laptop to watch a movie and get in touch with friends.

I think, because I use a keyboard extension that the chances that I will pick up her germs are reduced; I forget that we both use the same mouse. She blows her nose, uses the mouse, goes to sleep for three hours. I pick up the laptop, go online, do stuff like making a sandwhich  ...

That's four out of four now down with the bug, only the dog and the guinea-pigs seem fine (so far).

It doesn't take long before I wind down

An odd sensation, like your battery has gone flat.

If only it were as simply as plugging yourself into the wall or changing a battery

I am just grisly and very tired

I had a flu jab in October so I should be avoiding the worst of it.

Sit back from this screen ... you just can't tell how infectious these things can be !

If it is one bonus it is the Kindle

It can be read in bed, your head on a pillow, operated with one finger, one thumb ... and as my brain is mush I can make the text huge and read three words across like a TV autocue. When I fall asleep, so does it. When I wake up it is picks up where I left off. In fact, it will read the book to me ... however, will it tell when I am asleep? That would be clever.

I've gone from one book to several

Between them Amazon and Kindle have their fingers in my wallet.

I'm 46% the way through the Rhona Sharpe book. Here's a new concept ... no pages.

In addition I have samples of six other books, two blogs and a magazine on a 14 day free trial (I will cancel these 7 days in or earlier to be sure I don't continue with anything I don't want)

And new books, and old books.

In the 1990s I bought CDs to get back or replace LPs of my youth. Over the last five years I've got rid of most of these and run with iTunes.

Books, due to lack of storage space, are in really useful Really Useful boxes in a lock up garage we rented to help with a house move ... three years ago. Is there any point of a book in a box? I have over the decades taken a car load of books Haye on Wye and sold them in bulk. A shame. I miss my collection of Anais Nin and Henry Miller; I miss also my collection on movie directors and screenwriters. Was I saying that this part of my life had ended? Or I needed the space (or money). I fear, courtesy of my Kindle and lists of books I have made since I was 13 that I could easily repopulate my mind with the content of these books. Indeed there is no better place to have them, at my finger tips on a device a tasty as a piece of hot toast covered in butter and blueberry jam.

Page Views

I do nothing and the page views I receive doubles to 500. What does this mean? I am saying too much? That the optimum blog is one per day? Or have folks found they can drill through here for H807 and H808? Who knows, I don't the stats provided by the OU are somewhat limited. I'd like the works. Which pages do people enter on, which are most viewed, where do they exit, what's the average pages viewed by an individual and so on. In my experience 500 page views means three people reading 100/150 each with a few others dipping in and out.

How Kindle has changed me in 24 hours

My bedtime reading for anyone following this is 'The Isles' Norman Davies.

I read this in the 1990s when it came out. I felt it deserved a second reading. It is heavier then the Yellow Pages and almost as big. Because of its bulk I may have it open on a pillow as I read; no wonder I fall asleep. (Works for me). Having downloaded it to the Kindle last night in 60 seconds and for less than £9 I may now read more than a couple of pages at a time. I can also annotate and highlight the Kindle version. I have an aversion to doing this to the physical thing ... I am used to selling on my old books. Not something I can do with a Kindle version. Which makes me think, should these digital versions not be far, far, far cheaper? Take 'The Isles.' The dust cover is in perfect nick, I took it off and boxed it rather than get it torn. The damp in the lock-up garage hasn't caused too much harm. I could get £8 for it, maybe £5.

What else?

More on E-learning:

• Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age. (Rhona Sharpe)
• Creating with wordpress (blog)
• Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. (2010) Will Richardson
• E-Learning by Design (William Horton)
• How to change the world (blog)
• SEO Book (Blog)
• Digitial Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications (2009) Paul Argenti and Courtney Barnes
• The Online Learning Idea Book (Patti Shank)
• Using Moodle (Jason Cole and Helen Foster)

Some bought, some simply samples. The blogs on a 14-day free trial. Neither worth £0.99 a month.

Best on Kindle

The big surprise, the book that is so beautifully transmogrified by Kindle, lifted by it, is 'The Swimming Drills Book' (2006) Ruben Guzman.

No! This isn't what happens if your swimmer gets it wrong. This is a drill called 'dead swimmer' in which they float head down, then slowly extended into a streamlined position, kick away and then swim full stroke.

'The Swim Drill Book' is a mixture of text, almost in bullet point form, and line drawings of swimmers in various stages of effort to perform a stroke or drill or exercise.

If an author needs advice on how to write for a Kindle, or for a tablet, I'd point them at this book. This is NOT how it was conceived, but it is how it works on this alternative platform.

Download Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac then find 'The Swimming Drills Book.' You can then view a sample which takes you beyond the acknowledgements, contents and introduction into the first chapter.

A thing of beauty

By tweaking the layout, text size and orientation, you can place the diagram/drawing full screen. It simply works, just as the stunning black and white engravings and photographs that your Kindle will feature (at random) when 'sleeping.'

Here's an thought: if you're not reading a book it is gathering dust, a dead thing, whereas with a Kindle your books are simply asleep.

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 12 Feb 2011, 17:25)
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## Kindle: 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kindle joy is here

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

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

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

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

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## This convinces me that increasingly prodution process, like basic web creation before, will increasingly be in-house

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 14:19

This clip serves two purposes.

1) It convinces me that companies want e-learning production skills in house. Only the exceptional project, because of its scale and desired impact, will go to specialists with superior craft and technical skills. Everything else will be in house.

Of the 135 training videos that I've produced or directed I believe that all the magazine programme from employees/stakeholders, probably those for shareholders too, as well as most 'how to' training can be done in house.

This leaves the 'wow' factor impactful, persuasive, big budget, commercial and conference opener to the external supplier or the corporate or government department with deep pockets.

2) This clip also convinces me the the OU needs to update H807 'Innovations in E-learning.' If the material being viewed doesn't demonstrate what is currently possibly it can hardly claim to be illustrating anything innovative.

Adobe e-learning suite used by Toshiba Learning & Development

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## H800:7 The OU Good Study Guide 1990

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

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

Not yet.

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

Two modules in I came across this.

As valid today as it was in 1990.

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

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

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