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A Third MA

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 9 Jul 2018, 04:54

This is all too OU. Though the days of 'leisure learners' gaining multiple degrees was ended with the change to tuition fees a few years ago. I recall at my graduation the compare would announce from time to time that someone collecting their degree was on number three, or even number five.

I only have one MA, the MAODE from the OU. Although I should by now have a BA in French, and could have studied history with the OU, rather than with the Universities of Birmingham and then Wolverhampton.

I hanker after and expect the OU way of learning - with everything online, or at least considerable, intelligent online support in a blended version. Studying first at Birmingham and then Wolverhampton was no better, and often less well supported than my undergraduate degree of 1981-84. 

Needless to say, 9 July 2018, marks the culmination of my third Masters Degree.

BA/MA: Geography

MA: Open and Distance Education

MA: British History and the First World War

All I have to do is successfully negotiate the WLV 'Turnitin' system.

All I have to do is read it through by 15,000 words just one more time and try for the eighth of ninth time to get the conclusion right. I am writing about the nature of 'war enthusiasm' during the peak recruiting season into Kitchener's volunteer army in 1914. I have used the normal distribution or 'bell curve' to argue in favour of a spectrum of behaviours from antipathy to jingoistic enthusiasm for enlisting, with the majority either side of a line which had them enlist out of necessity for economic reasons, or had them enlist out of a sense of duty, patriotism and a desire to 'get the job done'.

As the Digital Editor of The Western Front Association website, this MA has, over the four years it has taken (including a two year gap between the universities of Birmingham and Wolverhampton) and a six month extension due to illness, filled my head with enough WWI content to help me with my 'job'. It also gives me some credibility in the WWI community. It will see me writing the occasional article and book review too. 

As the void in my academic life opens up I contemplate a PGCE to support my 'blended learning' advocate role, or, as time my be running out, to push for enough further credits through the OU to gain an MEd. I completed two units beyond the MAODE so in theory have 10 to 15 credits (I am unsure how many) towards whatever is required for the MEd. This would spur me to research and write about some of the initiatives I am involved with - not least the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in the classroom. 

 

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Further studies

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I will be joining the University of Wolverhampton next year to complete an MA in British Military History that I started at the University of Birmingham last year. This will bring my tally to three MA degrees, one BA degree, on top of other full-time postgraduate study, MA equivalent, at the School of Communication Arts. Bonkers. Had I known I enjoyed studying I should have gone the PhD route a couple of decades ago. 

I blame The OU for creating this compulsion to be studying. 

I have three jobs: digital editor, e-learning consultant, and swim teacher coach - fourth, though as yet unpaid as a sailing instructor. I rather want to do a cooking course too and spend a winter or summer season in a restaurant - that would stop me reading books by the stack.

No messing, I read and review two history books a month. I always look at these things and thinks 'I'll never get through that' then do. I then read it again. It is my respect for the author; I read them all twice. I think some of it is staying in my head too. 

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Proud and happy to call myself a 'Master of Arts'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:13
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Mr Kung Fu - was he the master or the pupil?

When I completed enough modules early last year to graduate as a 'Master of Arts: Open and Distance Education' I felt like a fraud; I'd scraped through, more importantly I didn't feel I was 'fluent' enough in the subject. One module, H817 had been replaced and had felt a little dated at the time. This is why I've ended up doing a couple more MA modules from the MAODE - I have only one missing from the full set (H817 Open) which I may do in due course. I could even put it towards an M.Ed (Masters degree in Education) for which I also need the compulsory 60 point module Educational Enquiry which next registers a year from now. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.2 The forgetting curve

Confidence to call myself a 'Master' and belief by others that I know my subject led me to being asked to join the Open University advisory panel on the MAODE and in the same week to join the board of advisors for a national educational body that recently met. Now I feel I have enough of 'the knowledge' at my fingertips. I prepared for this first meeting my searching through this blog: it shouldn't surprise me to know how much I'd forgotten, studying why and how we forget is very much a part of education - it is summed up in the Forgetting Curve (fig.2) that Hermann Ebbinghaus thought up over a hundred years ago. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.3. SatNav (not me)

It intrigues me that no gadget we own can circumvent this: that in fact, take a SatNav for example, let's assume that it takes you on a journey in the correct direction. Let's say you keep using the SatNav regardless. You could probably turn it off after two or three of these trips as your brain lays down the landmarks in your longterm memory. Thinking of which, I think the SatNav makes an excellent model for e-learning; just image you need to learn 120 absolute facts as a junior doctor - you could have your SatNav 'peg' the facts to specific points of a familiar journey. When you sit the exam it's then as easy as driving this route in your mind's eye visualisation everyone of the facts along the way.

I wander, cloud like.

I'm writing up my notes from this national advisory panel and over the next four years can hopefully nod at the courses that appear on which I've had some influence. Still not there yet, but I'm one heck of a long way further on since February 2010 when I re-booted this malarkey.

The answer has to be a P.hD. And I guess the only place to do that would be with the Open University. I went off the boil on that one a year ago, though I did secure a couple of interviews but came away suitably crushed.

It will have taken by then, at least ten years, more like 12 or 13, to call myself a 'Digital Scholar'.

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Registered for L120 Ouverture: intermediate French

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 May 2014, 06:57

I missed the opportunity to register for this last year by a couple of weeks - just as well as I would have been trying to completed an MA ODE module, start an MA in First World War Studies at the University of Birmingham ... and do this. Sounds nuts, but actually pushing my reasonable spoken, reading French to the point that I can write it too is fairly important for personal and professional reasons: I used to work in France, we have or inherited some legal/property mess over there and my inclination is to continue what I started in my teens and then tried to continue soon after getting married, and then thought about again before the children started primary school. All of that eons ago. I have been signed up to Rosetta Stone for the best part of nine months which has slowed my spoken French down making it marginally more intelligible. 

Visiting France over the last two months I shared the view with my teenage son that we have every reason to live in France as Britain, that I'm sorry we didn't when he was little (he'd be bilingual) and that he can see for himself how much it has to offer. (We'd been back and forth on Eurostar and were on the TGV from Lyon). 

A lifetime ago but working from a French TV News Agency in Paris I'd got as far as interviews to work for Euronews in Lyon before an appealing contract brought me back to England. 

Returning to studying, research and this apparent study overload: I am reading books in French on the First World War, so there's some overlap. My MAODE and e-learning studies are well and truly over. It is now applied in work and in the back of my mind, sometimes front of mind, for PhD research.

In any case, once the OU has you in her grips, like so many others, it is a hard to kick the way life: without it my brain has no skull to contain it, the thing just fizzes with ideas and issues and I turn circles. I need the structure of course deadlines. I don't do it to gain qualifications, but to gain practical know-how that I can apply. That said, I think the French module may contribute towards an Open Honours Degree - it'll be a hotchpotch of learning, language and creative writing, should I ever care to complete it over the next ... 16 years. 

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Where do I stand academically? Where and what next? And the madness of being.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 07:48

Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) with the Open University, UK (OU)

H800: Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates

H807: Innovations in eLearning – Learning outcomes

H810: Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students

B822: Creativity, Innovation and Change

H808: The e-learning professional

 

This completes the Masters Degree. I graduate on Saturday 27th April 2013

Currently (March 2013) I am taking H809 as a bridge towards doctoral research or professional consultancy. Complete in June 2013.

H809 Practice-based research in educational technology

I joined the #H817open MOOC for one component of this module. I will register for 2014

H817: Openness and innovation in e-learning.

I am applying to undertake doctoral research in education - using learning technologies.
 
H809 will help prepare for applications starting in January 2014 for an October 2014 start. Most are now a 4 year programme, with a Masters in research to begin. WebSciences at University of Southampton is an interesting option - I attended an Open Day in January.
Too many active interests was a stated issue on childhood school reports. Nothing's changed.
 
I am looking at an MA in History with the University of Birmingham which would give me the opportunity
study the First World War. (I have written extensively about this through my late grandfather's memoire 'That's Nothing Compared to Passchandeale')
There is more.
 
I attended the School of Communication Arts, London. A full-time programme in copywriting, art direction and design and have worked in the 'creative' and 'communications' industries all of my career.
And 'EAVE' (European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs)
 
My first degree is in Geography. My dissertatio nwas on demographics. I love maps. Perhaps I should try to match maps, e-learning and the First World War. Animated it all and add some interviews and 'drama reconstruction'.
See what happens when you let something fester and wake up in the middle of the night.
 
Neuroscience and long term memory are fascinating too.
I need my life over. I need to split into three and start again. I need a coffee and a long walk on the South Downs. (I need to go back to bed)
And then there's Fine Art.
 
And Creative Writing. And cooking. And the garden. There's teaching, and moderating ... and blogging. There's movies. And sailing and swimming coaching. There's family and friend ... ah. Friend? I knew there was something missing in all of the above.
Scrap the lot and have a belated 50th birthday to celebrate 20 years of marriage, parenthood and the madness of being. Then sign up to crew in the Round the World Yacht Race.
And if that doesn't kills me ...

P.S. ADHD

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What's better the online tutorial or face to face?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 7 Dec 2011, 12:56

We're asked to consider this as part of the MAODE; it may even be a component of the EMA in H800, yet after three modules I had not experienced a face to face anything - the MAODE (Masters in Open and Distance Education) is entirely (stubbornly?) online.


It has been with trepidation and fascination that I find myself attending group tutorials or seminars, booking in for a Residential School and having to face an exam.

These are part of an elective, a 30 point module that forms part of the OU Business School MBA (Master of Business Administration).


I can say with complete conviction that there is no competition, though evidentially different, both the online and face-to-face tutorial meet the same objectives, albeit with significant differences. Both should be experienced before you pass judgement.


There are pros and cons to each.

Two face-to-face tutorials of two and a half hours each had me in a group of first 16, then 11. We listened a bit but interacted a good deal. I took notes but am still writing them up. Online you talk with you fingertips; I have met up with fewer at a time, six or less on Elluminate, more asynchronously in a forum. There have been threaded discussions of 100+ posts running to 16,000 words or more.


On the other hand, travelling to a tutorial 63 miles from home last week I lost a good piece of the day, caught in a traffic accident going in and a worse one on the M25 coming back. Then again I've had tutor group forums that have been badly attended by both the tutor and fellow students.

Research (Richardson, 2005-2011) shows that satisfaction rates for online or face-to-face tutorials are now matched: electing for or receiving one or the other, from the OU at least, students are just as satisfied.

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What next regarding e-learning?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 04:54

This has me thinking and going through http://www3.open.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/qualification/F10.htm

With the MA in mind I have done:

H807 Innovations in e-learning

H808 The e-learning professional

And will complete next month:

H800 Technology Enhanced Learning

For the 180 credits required for the MA there is no choice (unless I am misreading it) but to do the only two remaining 30 credit modules:

H810 Accessible Online Learning

H809 Practice-based  Research in Educational Technology

Or have I got that wrong?

With this in mind it's H810 in September then H809 in February 2012.

To confuse issues there are professional reasons to start the MBA programme from October. Decision time then as I won't be doing two courses concurrently. Something I tried by doing over a three year period the UKCC ASA Senior Club Coach (swimming) qualification ... 

Freedom is LACK of choice.

I look forward to H810. Search H810 in the OU Student Blogs for an idea of what it is about; we did a rich, engaging and valuable period on accessibility in H807.

I'd do H807 again as I feel it was wasted on me. It took me six months to get into the postgraduate groove and my IT skills despite being online for a decade were woefully inadequate. The disappointment is that the reading and activities cannot possibly be contemporary so that you feel as if it is 2005 at best, 2003 at worst. I expected technological fireworks; at least I understand why that is not realistic. Perhaps the model whereby a module that aims to be innovative is designed and reinvented continually?

H800 is the 60 pointer but I have found it LESS onerous that previous 30 Pointer modules, not only is it spread thinner, but the pace is adjusted, the roll-over and degree of repetition embeds the learning outcomes and a TMA as prep for the ECA is inspired.

What next is asked by many MA qualified postgraduates I am finding. We hanker after more but short of a PhD what can be offered? Indeed, I think there is a gap in Tertiarty, or should it be called 'quartertiary' education?

If offered a further choice of modules beyond the MA I'd do them ... Towards at MA+ or MA* ?? Though in truth for how the thinking is applied, as a form of CPD.

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Face-to-face learning versus e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:53

Crucial to my development and understanding of e-learning is to have some one or two people I can discuss issues with face-to-face.

One an multiple MA graduate now with a Diploma in E-learning, the second a PhD Tutor in Environmental Law and the third someone who commissions e-learning projects (though he sticks with 'online learning' as the only term that is understood by lay-people).

A fourth person is a giant in education who in his 85th year just wonders if I can help put the papers he is still writing online to share with students. All he has in mind are a few dozen papers on a platform such as EduBlogs, which I can do.

My goal is to 'map' the many thousands of papers and books that are stacked three layers deep, to the ceiling, in his three-storey 15th century Cotswold home! i.e. The Contents of his Brain.

On verra

P.S. We've jsut had an hour long power-cut. The panic as two adults and three kids scramble around not knowing what to do is notable. I got my hands on the laptop so could press on under battery (but no internet connection as the router was down). My wife took a break from a mega pharmaceutical report she is writing to take her dog on an extended walk, while the boys (family and friends) gave up on dual Xbox and Internet activities to play poker!

Perhaps I could put a time on the electricity junction box to deny us electricity at random times through-out the day.

We might start talking to each other instead of e-mailing and messaging around the house.

Meanwhile, three computers are up and humming and my son is back on Skype planning some 15 rated Afghanistan-like raid with his cousin (300 miles away) and couple of Americans (one who calls himself David Hasselholf, but isn't as his voice hasn't broken) and someone's Mum who pretends to be her son as she likes the game more than he son does (I listen in).

All computers are in communal spaces in the house so that activities are surrepticiously or indirectly monitored.

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