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Want to blog? Sources of inspiration and getting it down.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 15 Feb 2013, 12:06

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ON BLOGGING

Sources of inspiration and getting it down.

Get this for a start: Use of Blogs (2006) Axel Bruns and Joanna Jacobs.

It persuades you why to blog. Each chapter is written like an academic paper - an essay at least. Chapter 5 I found I was copying out verbatim (which I can't do here). Go see 'Can Blogging Unspin PR' Trevor Cook.

Your starting off point can be anything at all, once you start (for me at least) it is like opening a vein.

Who cares if it is a note to yourself. If it’s work or course work remember that you can compose then recraft as often as you like; what is more, you can turn access on or off as you please too – even allow comments as you please – with other blog platforms the list of linking choices is as broad as the destination board at Heathrow – you can ‘blog’ to a person, a group, people in different groups and so on (though this is a level of complication may turn the novice off).

If you are at all stuck for content ideas then my suggestions are:

1) Write about the deep past (everything you write is of course in the past) – what this might means is thinking of your earliest experiences of whatever your blog may be about – if it is about education then try these:

2) Your best friend at nursery school

3) Your first day at school

4) The funniest thing that your witnessed or did at school

5) The first thing you learnt and how

6) Add a caption to an old photograph then expand these thoughts into the era.

7) A birthday party

8) A Christmas

9) A first book

All of these are possible jumping off points; once you’re in flight you’ll be surprised how easy it is to steer back to where you had planned to be - who cares about the journey you took to get there – you can leave it in or edit out the first paragraph / chapter.

If you kept a diary at any time in your life – milk it! Put it up, selectively, verbatim and / or relived – you can even retrofit the date.

Getting it down

There is a beauty and simplicity to pen/pencil onto paper. Personally I find typing it up afterwards tedious and will find myself inevitably expanding beyond the way the thing was initially written. The mistake here is that you can/do with ease turn a natural, conversational flow of thoughts into something else – verbose at best, disjoined at worst. You then get into editing and saving sections/chunks for future entries.

Ideally, whether you have notes, an essay plan or mind map to guide you, I’d recommend typing directly into the Blank Box. The QWERTY keyboard is a piano keyboard and you’re playing a ditty or having a jam.

Most blog platforms have ample editing tools, the only warning is to save regularly in some if you are prone to distraction.

Even back up onto a clipboard or Word, though personally I’m not a fan of overworking a piece in Word first.

Have a notepad, record a thought on paper or into a digital recorder, have a device that you can readily use on the go – my most fruitful blogging years were when I had a Psion – I could type this spec-case sized device and draw it into my Mac to upload.

I’ll discover in due course an iPad can offer this facility – I believe it will (and some).

A final thought for now – if you can touch-type and write stream of consciousness then how many words can you get down in so many minutes?

Let’s say you think at FIVE words a second, talk at THREE words a second and type at 40-60 words a minute. In theory in five minutes you can blog between 200 and 300 words. Perfect length. Have a plan, three or so points to make and fire away.

(48382)

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Wit, authority and a love for the subject

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 06:14

The analytics on your OU blog are none existent.

(47892)

This is my page views since Feb 2010.

That's all I get. Even 12 years ago I could learn every time I logged in the latest 'views' and the views for EVERY page in my diary ... with them ranked, and selected as favourites.

These are VITAL fuel to the blogger, especially the novice blogger who is desperate for signals that having offered their soul to the world that they are getting a response.

I think in my original 1999 blog I went through the 1,00,000 views three years ago (home page), the 170,000 on the favourites (a link into a category of pages) came next with some 18,000 or so on the most read individual page.

This is one indication of interest, the next is those pages picked out as favourites by other bloggers ... simple acts, no need to comment, just tick a box to indicate you're interest in what you've just said or expressed.

I have to say, my inclination to get in the Tardis and pick up on that 1999 blog is strong. It, they were better.

Back then it was a blank page. You needed some basic coding skills and a partner, a designer, always a total unknown, like a copywriter and art director working together.

I feel the loop has gone out far enough and us bloggers will welcome the return journey.

'Wit, auhtority and a love for the subject.'

This is all you need from a blogger you want to read, exactly what you'd like from a journalist. This is a description of the journalism of Sylvia Ryder.

I am first of all a diarist, then a blogger, also a writer and copywriter. I have decade of directing work (some on TV) to call myself a director. I have acted professionally. I even get up and play guitar and sing. I write for an audience. I would call myself an animateur, even a performer.

In this random, miscellaneous, uncatergorised world I am just the words I last put out. I am defined by then, Where they go, how I tag them ... I actually wish I could leave this to others. To wrap up here and say to my team ... you tage, you post, your spread my words where we've discussed is appropriate.

If I compose a song I want to perform it.

Listening to Sylivia Ryder being interviewed this morning (Radio 4, this Saturday) and mixing this up with 'Everything is Miscellaneous' David Weinberger I came up with my own conclusion.

We will no longer make do with the cherry on the top of the cake, placed there because those who know best have made this selection for us; we want all the cheries off the tree (let us decide) and all the cherries rotting on the ground too (it is for us to decide what to discard, not you).

We do and will discard the trash.

Therefore, we must offer at least a pummet of cheries.

This is easy to do.

Sony Flip, video and sound.

Cut in iMovie.

Turn an interview around with cut-aways in a morning.

Cost ?

Time of personnel ?

£100?

 

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Bedsit for mature students - a meeting of unlike minds

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 26 Nov 2011, 16:39

I've had five nights in a guest house with FIVE OU students/academics: 3 PhD students and one 2 years post doctoral, while I come in a long way behind as I'm yet to complete my MA (though in theory it is my second MA, and I have done TWO post-graduate courses the equivalent of MAs that were not accredited). So I am another natural for life-long learning.

Conversations - who we are, defined by what we do, what we know, what we don't know and what we think.

Key components missing from online experience are: rapport, facial expressions as we listen or talk, the reciprocal nature of dialogue there is, or should be a natural see-saw of give and receive, of request and response which asynchronous threads struggle to provide.

I have had thought that as someone who kept a diary before blogging came along that this makes me a natural blogger - it helps.

There is another habit or trait that is equally important and may help others get started - the tradition in school of 'taking notes' and even 'call reports' or 'minutes' of meetings. These are starting points for a blog, the trick is to type it all up in real time, as you go along, then edit/censor before you post. Even post into a private page to exploit the affordances of the blog, the date, the place, the tags and categories and how much easier it is to find tagged information than it is to file it, whether on a desktop harddrive or printed out and put into a filing cabinet.

At its simplest level these notes are an aide memoire - they could be an audio record (Tony Benn) and Captain T Kirk - or they coule be a video log (surely you have seen Avatar - 'this is science' he says, dismissive of the importance of reflection, and right to be so given what trouble his personal record made public causes). It may even be the case that someone else takes down your every thought (Churchill's secretaries).

A writer's journal - excerpts and ntoes, can only be of practical value to their author - and if they become a successful author, authority or powerful/influential person - then to academics once archived (we love to study the creative process).

A 'Secret' Dairy is just that (or in the case of H.G.Wells locked down for 50 years, or Mark Twain 100 years). I hope the genre hasn't died just because of the compulsion to blog it, and the volume of traffic and interest that such candor, exposure or disclosure can bring. Is that it, bloggers just crave an audience? THey are in fact wannabe lead singers or actors? They'll say anything if they get an audience, the problem being with a blog to know if that audience is there.

Which is why good stats are vital. Forget comments asa guide to 'readers,' and a universal 'page views' means little. We need stats on the pages viewed, to know which are or become the hot topics. We need personalised lay-outs and we need to DROP the idea of reverse chronology which by dating an entry also ages it, and by stages gives it a sell by date.

Just because a blog puts you on a soapbox and lets you artificially put up the volume. People get around this in simple ways, they keep their blog locked, or off-line, write under a psuedonym and disguise the main character/location (but risk exposure/scandal) or they buy a hard back notebook/diary and do it that way.

________________________________________________

Note to self:

5:3:1 used to be the north American ratio of promotion, maintaining and creating a website.

1:3:5 was the mistake we said us Brits always made, putting everything into development/creation and little into getting an audience (and therefore customers).

I wonder if the desirable ratio for web 2.0 is more like 3:5:1, whereby the effort to maintain, to be active online, to be engaged in social media networking/social influence marketing is both a form of advertising AND part of the creation process?

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Blogging a dead horse

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 16:44

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The more I read, the more I research, the more I listen and the more I gush to others about blogging, the more I feel that it is like ...'trying to flog a dead horse to make it pull a load'.

Not the act of blogging, but the actions required to convert people.

People (students) don't see there value; to read a few well written, apposite blogs, fine. A person that in this environment has something to offering pertaining to their course. Or for entertainment. (Stephen Fry's Tweats form a micro-blog after all), micro only in the sense that you are restricted by character count per entry. If these parameters are like a letter-box then Stephen Fry is posting plenty himself and garnering a gargantuan response).

I have infront of me 'Exploring students' understand of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education'. It was a conference item at ALT-C 2007: Beyond Control: Association Technologies Conference, 4-6 September, Nottingham, UK.

One of its Six authors is Grainne Conole, an OU senior academic, a blogging practioner and evangelical online chatter-box and good-egg. She wants us all to blog, and understands the magic of a comment ... she likes to make new friends and understands the reciprocal nature of reading and leaving salient comments. It's T.L.C. online.

I just clicked away and posted this in her blog:

I'm faced with the dilemma of having to split my professional, student and blogging personas; I recently joined the Open University Business School. This three way split has me locking down one diary and 'friends' gathered over a decade and tripping over the other two selves, starting afresh with contacts and what I blog wearing my professional hat. I am certain such possible conflicts of interest occur for anyone working in online media communications - broadcasting on behalf of your employer; indeed, my contacts in senior PR and Media roles of various organisations have the weakest of online profiles, even though two of them are published authors.

On the other hand just as I really got going in Facebook to connect with my brother and his family in South Africa and organise my mother's 80th, I find that living away from home during the week I come online to have some sense of what my own family are up to - just a shame our dog doesn't blog, 'stick chasing across the South Downs' would do it.

Currently reading your 2007 paper 'Exploring students' understanding of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education'. Are Learning Designers (and those who work with them) 'flogging a dead horse?' The analogy I'm about to use in my OU student blog is that I am starting to feel like a Tuba player at a football match - no one is interested, they're watching the game. Maybe if I could network with the other instrument players in the crowd we could have a jam-session. As another paper on blogging discovered 'birds of a feather flock together', we do this and find kindred spirits. The problem in OU student blogging platforms is that we are overly pigoen-holed, not just by course, but by module and tutor group (and sub-groups within these).

I liken the Internet to a digital ocean; currently blogging as an OU student is like blogging in fish tank, in a warehouse full of fish tanks. And every so often someone kindly comes along and divides us up even more, creating barriers, rather than opportunities. Please can we just all be tipped into the same ocean?

I then went off to Facebook, via my external blog My Mind Bursts.

I only sat down to transfer notes from a pad ... and am yet to transcribe a single word of it.

I was going to say, anything short of writing directly into 'the white box' that you are presented with on your chosen blog platform or platforms snacks of something else: a repository, a writer's journal, a student's e-portfolio that they leave open ... keep forgetting in the lecture hall, that they photocopy and leave on benches outside the refrecatory.

Reading 'Everything is miscellaneous' David Weinberger I find a like mind a) the idea of miscellany, that each page, each asset, whether ostensibly part of something (like this) is like an autumn leave scattered on the forest floor. These leaves never compost down and those that are tagged stay on the top of the pile, those that people find or are guided too most often, stay on the top of the pile ... and did it not long ago reach the stage where the leaves on the forest floor are so deep that they have buried the trees?

I put a slightly inept first draft phrase into Yammer the OU Personnel 'Twitter-like' feed about dandelions and pomegranates. I've used the dandelion metaphor many times, the pomegranate too, but had never put them together.

My thinking was this, if the seed is this blog entry, or a Tweat or even a message in Facebook i.e. an idea, thought, asset or message, a seed if you were scattered to the wind to find its own fortune then developing social media for an institution, whilst the asset, these words, are still a seed, they are coming from a pomegranate, not a dandelion. The reason being that understandably if you are expressing the views of others, collectively or individually, you cannot just hold you thoughts up to the wind and blow. The opening of the pomegranate is, as it were, the necessary processes and procedures. This analogy falls apart though if you have an image of Jamie Oliver holding a pomegranate half in one hand while smashing it with a wooden rolling pin with the other ... the OU are not smashing me on the head to extract words like nasla mucus. Rather, at first at least, they will be extracted by me using tweezers.

All this and my 16 pages of notes on blogging handwritten into a Shorthand Pad remain unused.

To overcome my reluctance to write up what I feel I have already expressed I realise I could just photograph my notepad ... in fact, I'll do this and just see how folk manage with my handwriting.

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Use of Blogs - an enthusiast's notes

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 16 Feb 2013, 16:18

NOTES FROM USE OF BLOGS (2006 Bruns and Jacobs)

An expression I like and will use ... though it might have come from 'Everything is Miscellanoues' David Weinberger (another must read).

Random acts of journalism

Micro-new level

‘Traditional journalists treat participants as deviants rather than as citizens. Participatory news requires a reversal of these practices and should rest on the assumption that citizens are as relevant and important as public officials.’ Gans (2003) in Uses of Blogs (2007:12)

People forget when that start saying that the role/jobs of lecturers are threatened by technology ... others, if not all of us, have to adapt to the change, or be like the Amish and reject it all.

‘When big news breaks, it’s tough to beat a weblog.’ (2007, Bruns)

I recall how when the Tsuanmi struck Japan I went to the TV news channels. I started off with BBC 24, then went to CNN and stuck for the week on NHK from Japan as it was closer to action, as it were, and the other two were taking the feeds from NHK mostly anyway.  I thought my 12 year old son should have been taking an interest, in fact he was one step ahead watching photage (Freudian slip or how we ought to spell)

‘Such unedited, firsthand accounts have also come to have significance beyond reporting the news and contrasting friends and family.’ Uses of Blogs (2007:13)

Is being ‘Unedited’ the key to authenticity I ask? And the first draft tone of a conversation? Well written, but from the heart, a stream of consciouness expressed as it is formed.

What a person has to say matters more than spelling, grammar or even style. In this respect I wonder if getting people to blog is about building up people's confidence when it comes to doing this ... writing. That they could be crippled by a school experience that crushed their every effort.

I learn that a huge rush to blog was prompted by 9/11 and these become know as 'Warblogs'.

The point that matters is the event the got people going. Better to start keeping a dairy on January 1st, than any other day of the year. Better to start a blog when you, your family, team are marking the start of an era. Might a requirement to keep a blog on the company intranet be written into a person's contract!

‘Most of what they bring to the table is opinion and analysis – punditry.’ Raine (2005) in Uses of Blogs (2007:12)

I like this. And I prefer the stance that bloggers take. Many are frank in their views. They may be opinionated, but they are up for a verbal struggle. Many have insights that no journalists could ever have.

‘Redefining the journalist’s role as an annotional or orientational one, a shift from watchdog to the ‘guidedog’. Bowman et al (2005)

Just as we want or expect tutors to be more coach-like in their behaviour, not teachers, but guides, facilitators or 'animateurs'. Or, if they still want to teach at their students, challenge them to treat their students as clients, that their remuneration is based on how many they retain for the duration of a module ... and that in the web 2.0 world everything (it has taken thirty years or wishful thinking in industry) is bottom up, responding to what customers/students want not they need to be shoehorned into.

Before Google surfing the net, indiscriminate browsing, or deliberate searching was looking for a needle in a haystack, today you look for a needle in a stack of needles. You are spoilt for choice. You go for anything in the top search.

GateKeeping to GateWatching

Commentators

‘New bloggers form a distributed community of commentators who will engage with one another’s views on the news as much as with those expressed in other news sources.’ (2007:16)

The exact same applies to learning ... certainly at postgraduate level, possibly even at undergraduate level. If we can find a way to share what we are doing we can learn together from the experience.

Publish, then filter vs filter, then publish.

Before and after, even web 1.0 to web 2.0. As we progress what we do online will lose its ties with old broadcasting/publishing mechanisms and behaviours.

There is no intermediary. There should be no one to get in your way. You have something to show and tell, show it and tell it - write about it, sing about it, paint it or photograph it.

‘Writer submits their stories in advance, to be edited or rejected before the public ever sees them. Participants in a community, by contrast, say what they have to say and the good is sorted from the mediocre after the fact.’ Shirky (2004)

The words someone writes and publishes here should never be edited, nor the grammar or writing style commented upon (unless it is praise). Positive feedback, any feedback should be to encourage, to give more of the same, to find a voice, and to develop and learn through trial and error.

‘Multiperspectival news is the bottom-up corrective for the mostly top-down perspectives of the news media.’ Gans (2003:103)

It isn't even the case of things being turned on their head, rather it is the case that the gatekeepers should join the throng.

‘A new media ecosystem … where online communities also produce participator journalism, grassroots reporting, annotative reporting, commentary and fact-checking, which the mainstream media feed upon, developing them as a pool of tips, sources and story ideas.’ Bowman and Willis (2005:13)

‘Deconstruction of content, demystification of technology and finally do-it-yourself or participatory authorship are the three steps through which a programmed populace returns to autonomous thinking, action and self-determination.’ Rushkoff (2003:24)

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Immersive Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 25 Nov 2011, 15:19

I was hopeless at languages but knew that going on a French exchange would do the job; it did I had three weeks in France, then he had three weeks back in England and the friends I made in France had me back for seven weeks over the summer, camping and hitchhiking. Then a gap year working in a busy four star hotel.

Immersive learning, learning by default.

I didn't expect to feel this way about my MA course. I've had some intensive days online, but I know find myself challenged my entire waking day, whether online or not.

I am in the university town of Milton Keynes; I'll call it that, because my perspective it is. I'm in a house that has five students in it, and it transpires there are houses up and down the road that do the same thing.

I get up and read on my Kindle.

I'm just about through Chris Pegler on Blended Learning (recommended). I walk in with a mechanical engineer and then spend the day in meetings at the OU Faculty of Business and Law on how it is received online, from students, assistant lecturers (tutors) and fellow academics and prospective candidates. 

I have lunch in 'The Hub' and cannot help but overhear what sounds like an impromptu tutorial on genetics. And then I register at the OU library and enjoy that distraction of wondering the shelves, then as you approach the title you want you discover a couple of other items that could be of interest. Can serendipity be written into the code of someone studying online? It's preferable to the 'Amazon Recommends'. (Too pushy)

I return to the house and find myself engaged in the content of a thesis on how teams collaborate in creative activities.

Were the first universities at all akin to this?

Bologna in the 11th century, students staying in the town, in lodgings.

(Had I been at home there would have been several distractions. One person here says how she gets away from home so that she can work on her thesis. Do you require space to learn, just as authors need space to write? Who was it who said you need periods of nothing at all before you could write anything original?)

I need now to engage with the MAODE.

After a two and a half hour discussion on the value of blogging and other social networks in education I wonder if I have the mental energy or desire to do any more. I feel that I can knock a few holes in my head and rather like draining the milk from a coconut just give my head a shake over the keyboard.

A week ago I put 'the contents of my brain' online, either in dropbox, or Google docs, on the ou e-portfolio My Stuff, even here ... a blog is as good a place as any to store content. Just go tag crazy so that you can find it.

How to encourage others to blog?

Recommend some great academic, student orientated blogs. Martin Weller's name came up. I'd recommend Doug Belshaw from the JISC. Then there's Terry O'Sullivan on marketing. And Les Budd. 

As I come across others (and locate the links for the above), I'll offer more.

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A visit to the OU Library

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Nov 2012, 12:20

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Fig. 1. The Open University Library

It would be an exaggeration to say that were I a practising Christian (Catholic) I feel as if I had just visited St. Peter's, Rome but there was a sense that 14 months into an MA course with the OU that by going to the OU Library, Milton Keynes, I had just done this. The OU library represents the hub, the knowledge; from here it branches out through people into departments, up stairwells, through offices and meetings rooms, forming itself into online and distance learning courses.

I haven't met Conole, Kirkpatrick, Weller or Pegler, but I saw their books on the shelf, which is a step further than reading extracts online, or chapters in an e-book.

Is not taking a laptop into a library an early form of mobile E-learning despite the situation?

 

 

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H800: 47 H800 Week 8/9 Activity 7 Cloudworks 'Swim lanes' for learning design,

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014, 14:23

It is one thing to contribute to a flash debate, it is quite another to embrace the Cloudworks platform.

There is only one way to test the water, and that is to get in. We talk of 'swim lanes' for learning design, I like every platform, every social network, business network or here, educational network, to be a visit to another pool, a lido, indoor or out, leisure pool or training pool.

They need to know who you are, you have to sign in. Then you have to change, get in, and give it a go.

So I am for the umpteenth time adding a profile picture and a profile, tagging, finding favourites debates and linking to people.

It all takes time.

Online you control time. Intensive engagement might move things along ... on the other hand, it may irritate those who've been here a while.

It should take time.

Find the rhymn of the place, observe when and where there is a buzz. Identifiy the 'champions,' come in on the periphery, pick up a thread, join in tentatively, give it a go here and there.

I make a contribution to a Flash Debate on the futre and threats to universities

Universities will flourish as they become part of the mainstream and engaged with the world, rather than distinct from it. Relationships with governments, industries, schools (for future students) and alumni (for past student) will develop and become continual, rather than passing. Student cohorts may look the same on the ground, but in the virtual world will be broader and deeper, technology and systems allowing a greater diversity. Not all institutions will have the ability, whether through lack of financing, the burden of their past and costs, to be flexible and change. The overall impact will be of an evolutionary change, though for some it will be a fight for survival.

BRANDING

Established, motivated, well-supported and well known colleges and institutions, where there is strength as a brand, as well as financially, in their governing body and from alumni will thrive. They can afford to exploit the changing circumstances (and they can’t afford not to). Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Bristol, UCL and the OU are not about to go under. On the other hand, new, complacent, poorly supported, little known educational institutions where the sources of income and grants may be narrow or uncertain, with weak leadership and ill-established (or disloyal) alumni will fail.

BUSINESS

The opportunities to flourish are extraordinary; the global demand for tertiary education with tens of millions of people from Asia, for example, seeking higher education over the next decade means that there is a growing and hungry market if you have the right ‘product.’ Education is a business, whether the model is that students are educated for free or pay part of the fees, cash flow matters. Retailing has been in constant flux, from the high street to out of town shopping, with national and international brands dominating, and then online shopping cornering certain markets, from books to electronic goods. Retailers have had to change the mix, where they locate and what they sell. Universities are less agile and less prone to the vicissitudes of short-term purchasing decisions, but the impact on them of new technologies is no less profound. Negotiating their way through this will require skill, the most vulnerable institutions will fail.

QUALIFICATIONS

Letters after your name differentiate you from other candidates for a job or promotion. Where there are many applicants for the same position where you studied, indeed, who you studied with, will matter. It helps to study under the best in your field. It depends entirely on where you wish or plan to go afterwards, where and if a position or job requires a certain qualification, and if a qualification from one or another institution has greater perceived or actual value. However, as those with experience of the job market will tell you, it is how what you have been taught is applied and how you relate to other people, that will determine your success.

CAMPUS BASED vs DISTANCE LEARNING

Technology is blending the two: increasingly students are opting for this, to be campus-based, but to take advantage of the technology to better manage their time or support their learning. Far from being the death-knell of the traditional university, new technologies will assist in their finding ways to develop and support a broader and deeper student body. Participation and collaboration, socialising away from the screen, is a vital component of the university experience for those coming out of secondary education – the demands and expectations of a mature student are very different. How people get on, how they work together, is a vital lesson that a campus based university offers. Whilst increasingly our online experiences are as ‘real’ as everything else we do, it is how and if we can work as a team that will decide how we progress. The student experiencing this will better know themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and suitability for different career paths.

CHANGE

Like retailers, manufacturers, broadcasters, publishers and the post office, we are in a period of significant change, new technology was already having an impact, the economic down turn has aggravated this, obliging some forcing other institutions to act. How this change is managed will decide who survives and who struggles on. There is a fine line to tread between innovating early, or too late, changing wholesale or piecemeal. The wise institution not only spreads its risk, but also casts its opportunism just as wide as spreading your bets covers you in a world where nobody knows what will work or not. Libraries, one of the draws to a campus-based university, cannot be as influential as hundreds of millions of texts become instantly available in digital form. Senior lecturers and researchers should be employed for their ability to communicate, support and rally students around them, not simply because of the paper they are working on. Students will demand more if they feel it is the cash in their pocket that is buying what the institutions offers. Errors, failings and shortcomings of a person, a module or course, can be spread through online reviews and will decide their fate. New blends of courses will invent themselves where a student feels able, supported through e-learning, to cherry pick, even to study simultaneously quite different subjects. Cohorts, if on the ground still that 17-23 year old age group, will become far more diverse, with groupings formed by mutual interest in a subject. Life-long learning, already apparent in some professions, will become more common place as people recognise the need to refresh their understanding of some topics, while gaining new skills and additional insights.

Am I responding to a thread, or like the second or third speaker at an Oxford Union Debating Society getting up to say my piece?

And if I sit on the fence, what kind of debate is that?

We should be obliged to take sides, THAT would be a debate, otherwise it is a conversation, another online tutorial.

Thus far Cloudworks is like a new swimming pool, refreshing and full of opportunity. To thrive, let alone survive, it needs people coming down to swim, to jump in, to train, to meet ...

And once you have your regulars, keep them coming back.

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H800: 46 The card-based Hybrid Learning Model and a card-based Tool Kit for writers.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Jul 2012, 13:21

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From HLM Flash DemoVideo player: Flash Demo

For someone who does NOT have a formal teaching background this for me is the first time in 13 months that I have something practical that is based in learning, not 'e-learning' that I feel can apply immediately to any learning context: instructing sailing, teaching swimming, advising on digital marketing, supporting a team making a short film ... and especially thinking of ways to occupy children who are now on a three week holiday.

Blogspot from conference presentation of HLM

Institutional e-learning services

HLM Grid

I found this exercise extraordinarily useful. In the space of an hour I felt I assembled the makings of a series of activities, a module that might take place over a weekend, or a week or two. Thinking of this as learning first, and e-learning second helped.

I decided on creating a course on 'marketing to the social web.'

I've always fallen back on system, surveys and so on. A set of questions, in this case cards, that you can mix about, sets the process up. A similar end result might be achieved in different ways, but here, falling back on the cards and working with these options helps you to get something down. Indeed, having the cards makes you appreciate at every stage you could approach it differently. It would highlight any repetitive approach, something some online educators are guilty of i.e. a course where every activity is a person talking to camera with a transcript of what they say. And no better than the weekly lecture and reading list which was almost my entire three year undergraduate experience.

The graphics worry me. I do think there is value in engaging the best graphic designer for things like this, to come up with something universal. I wonder how some learners would interpret a class that involved the use of flash cards with coloured in cartoons on them. Given the ability of the www to offer choices I'd give users a choice of a dozen alternative images for each activity.

As I'm looking at various courses on digital marketing I'll see how I can add to this.

Activity/Task –Objective

Learning Event

Teacher’s Role

Learner’s Role

Resources

Tools (inc. Technologies)

Other comments

Survey on current awareness of advertising/marketing in social networks

RECEIVES

Explain

Evaluate

Review

WWW

Marketing to the Social Web as key resource.

Survey Monkey

(e-reader)

Individual

24 hours of Google Alerts, Twitter and Facebook, Linkedin.

EXPLORES

Coach

Research

WWW

Min six people sharing task to cover entire 24 hour period.

Write in a blog, microblog. As text from the spoken word. Writing within parameters, not just Twitter’s 140 characters, but other word counts.

IMITATES

Perform

Apply

Perform

Reflect

WWW

Twitter

Wordpress

LiveJournal

Blogger

Writers & Artists Handbook.

Voice Recognition Software

Touch Typing Software

Trying to develop a fluid, immediate, even ‘stream of consciousness’ approach to writing.

Image only in a blog.

CREATES

Coach

Create

WWW

Flickr

Tumblr

Facebook

Digital Camera

Mobile Phone

Webcam

Comment on blogs, join in forum discussion .

EXPERIMENTERS

Explain

Practice

WWW

Blogging for Dummies.

Letters to the editor. Letters.

RSS

Within the group and beyond

Add sound to a blog … voice, music, live (Skype) and broadcast (podcast).

PRACTICES

Coach

Perform

WWW

Podbean

Headset

Microphone

Group

Measure

RECEIVES

Apply

Questions

WWW

Analytics

Neilsen

Research companies

Tools

Technorati

Google Analytics

Buzzmetrics

Group

Promote (PR, advertising, marketing)

EXPERIMENT

Perform

Explains

Explore

Perform

WWW

Viral Video

Event

D&AD DVD

Mobile platforms

DVD player

Group

Survey on final awareness of advertising/marketing in/to social networks.

RECEIVES

Explain

Evaluate

Review

WWW

Marketing to the Social Web as key resource.

Survey Monkey

(e-reader)

Individual

 

The Writer's Tool Kit

All these cards had me thinking of  a writer's tool kit, 'The Observation Deck' by Naomi Epel. In that period where I wrote fiction all day I often dipped into this, simply to keep me going. In pratise it is far more useful for someone who blogs all the time as it triggers a line of thought.

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If you're running a creative writing course this IS your learning design done; each week take a different card from the box and do.

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H800: 47 Cloudworks

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 25 Nov 2011, 15:04

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Grainne Connole is  the 'star turn' in Cloudworks. She is Oprah. This is a channel, a network, a show. To stand out, let alone to be attractive to users, it requires this kind of 'ownership.'

This 'online filing system' is weak because of how it is presented NOT for what it does and can do.

It has the potential to be a social educational campus/network. The key is to overlay ALL assets with an image of the person who composed the material, i.e. the entry into the content is the person or if not an image, then at least the opportunity to add a 'book cover/sleave' i.e. something visual, relevant to the content, personal and engaging.

Facebook has the right balance between form and functionalty. There is a caareful balance of  personalisation and prescribed layout/design. (Like a good TV channel, you know where you are when you're in Facebook).

Often I see ideas screaming out for the input of a designer

Here I mean a visualiser, an art director kind of designer, someone who can take the excellent functionality, the problem solving, engaging, satisfying programming/sites - and add some feeling.

We are emotional beings, we respond and are motivated for subjective reasons. We chose one thing over another because we 'like' it, not necessarily because it is better than another product or service.

In time it won't just be an art director that is required, you'll need a producer

... someone who can run the 'channel' as a living entity, as a live-show, that will include video. Am I describing the librarian of the 21st century, an 'asset manager' who is not working in the City of London?

If you give the new bubbl.us a go I promise that some of the things it does, and how it looks, makes it a joy. Every time you create a new node or bubble it automatically offers a different, though matching, graded shade of the previous colour.

(Six months ago it was more child-like - you deleted a bubble you didn't want and it bursts into flames!  Now they fade away like mist on a Spring morning).

There is a war going on out there.

Make yourself attractive. People haven't time to compare sites, they'll just run with what looks right and if it delivers they'll stick with it.

See Visualising the Learning Design Process, A. J. Brasher, below.

See Information is Beautiful, David McCandless.

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The Contents of my Brain

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 23 Jan 2013, 12:41

The current generation will be able to begin to achieve a fraction of this if they please; all I have to go on are diaries I stared in March 1975 and efforts since then to recall all the events, feelings and dreams of my life to that point.

This alongside photoalbums, scrapbooks and sketch books, with lists of books read and films seen, maps of places visited and a complete extended family tree ought to offer a perspective of who or what I am.

Does any of it impact on how I think and behave?

Without my mind is it not simply a repository of typical memories and learning experiences of a boy growing up in the North East of England?

Blogging since 1999 there are like minds out there, though none have come back with an approximation of the same experiences (its been an odd, if not in some people's eyes, bizarre, even extraordinary roller-coaster of a ride).

It's value? To me, or others?

I could analyse it 'til the day I die. My goal is no longer to understand me, but to understand human kind. And to better understand the value of exercises such as this, not simply hoarding everything, but of consciously chosing to keep or record certain things.

For now I will exploit the tools that are offered. In theory anything already digitised on computers going back to the 1980s could now be put online and potentially shared. Can I extract material from a Floppy-disc, from an Amstrad Disc, from a zip-drive? Should I add super8mm cine-flim already digistised on betacam masters? And the books Iv'e read, beyond listing them do I add links even re-read some of them? And a handful of school exercise books (geography and maths) A'Level folders on Modern History. I kept nothing from three years of university, yet this is where the learning experience ought to have been the most intense. But I had no plans to take that forward had I?

My university learning was spent on the stage or behind a video camera.

Should I undertake such an exercise without a purpose in mind?

Do I draw on it to write fiction?

There is a TV screenplay 'The Contents of My Mind' that could be stripped down and re-written, even shared.

And all the fictoin, the millions of words.

Will this have a life if put online?

Is it not the storyteller's sole desire to be heard? To have an attentive audience?

 

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Blog, e-portfolio, wiki, cloudworks ... tutor and module forums

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Jul 2012, 07:46

I need them all roled into one. When it comes to a blog/e-portfolio I have to wonder if this is not it - pretty much.

I can deposit documents here as well as anywhere else, but keep the page private.

Following the activities if fellow MAODErs on H807, which I did a year ago, is refreshing. Do this for a couple of years and I can keep the topic and its lesson's fresh. I can also follow H809 which I would have liked to have done. Indeed, might the OU call it a MA* if you do additional modules beyond those required for the MA?

As I prepare to up sticks, move town and job I'm hoping to compensate for some of the disruption by getting everything I may need online so that it can be accessed from anywhere.

I'm yet to break away from the OU e-portfolio My Stuff. It may be clunky, but it works and it is integrated. I've never been happy with Pebble Pad. Perhaps I just run with Dropbox? Picassa Dropbox has become indispensable. Rather than think about compressing images I take pics and grab frames/windows and post them here for later use and linking. With images feeding into several blogs and OU forums too I can't afford for this to be comprised ... or I'd lose any pics and diagrams that I've created.

Synchronous vs Asynchronous Threads

The assumption is that we don't wish to interact in real time otherwise more tools would be provided to co-ordinate synchronous meetings. My experience is that with a little co-ordination such meetings are extraordinarily valuable, to motivate pressing on with the course, let alone to resolve issues or to share learning. With retention of students such an issue it surprises me that the OU isn't more proactive.

As a tutor do I hope that all my students will stay the course, or do I expect 40% to fall by the wayside?

We seem to be in denial of obvious means of getting in touch too: email, messaging, Skype.

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H800: 45 Week 8 Activity 2 (Parts 1, 2 and 3) Tools for Learning Design

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 5 Oct 2012, 23:18

PART ONE

This is how I develop a Creative Brief ... this happens to be an MAODE exercise on Learning Design.

As a video producer this is the idea I'd sell to the client.

I'd then work with a coach and group of swimmers to set the scene and milk it.

This is the kind of thing corporate clients use to teams of 10,000 employees. This is also how I go about writing scripts, sometimes adding drawings, cut-outs from magazines and photos. Nothing hi-tech at the thinking stage ... which gives people more freedom to contribute.

A whiteboard marker pen on unforgiving wallpaper backing paper (30p a roll in from the reduced bin!). Stuck to the kitchen door.

PART TWO

The Forum Thread deserves as Swim lane of its own with as much activity into it and Elluminate as I have put here into a blog/microblog.

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Often I find a dedicated thread such as e-Learning Professionals is more likely to guarantee a response to something I say; the reason for this is simple, they have thousands of active members.

There are reliable statistics to say what tiny per centage of people are happy to write, read, comment and contribute. 1% to write, about 4% to comment. This has to be reflected in forum activity too, however much it is required by the course. I've missed out blogs other students keep, and the links back and forth to these.

You'd be surprised how much goes on in the background.

I've found myself working things through with people in different tutor groups, who did the module a year ago ... or who have nothing to do with MAODE but have an answer. Which reminds me of the fantastic diagram drawing tool dia. How does Naughton’s journalistic point of view compare to those of an academic?

I worked through it alone, blogged about it and offered thoughts and replied in the tutor forum.

The degree or blogging I’ve put forward reflects what I consider an invaluable addition to taking part in Forum Threads. You express what you think, ‘stream of consciousness’ into your own blog, edited to140 character for Twitter than take part in a Forum where some back and forth discussion should come about.

The other invaluable form of participation is through a conference call – as Jonathan Swift said, ‘I don’t know what I mean until I have heard myself speak.’

This is akin to a treatment outline for a video. The script in our case is the ad-libs and verbatim responses of student and input from the tutor. I like the idea of swim-lines and can imagine the Tutor online as a coach, rather than a subject matter expert, as a guide and mentor.

The reality is that such rapport develops with fellow students.

It is a shame that there isn’t more continuity through your original cohort. I have used the Compendium to share projects, using the layers to attach documents and have another contribute. For a simple mind map I like bubbl.us, otherwise I’m as likely to do a sketch and photograph it to share … or draw directly into a paint/draw package such as ArtPad using a stylus and Wacom board. Like all tools you need to have a clear use for it, rather than playing in a sandpit. To be able to collaborate in a team people need to be familiar with and using the same software/platforms.

Compendium can be used as a basic mind-map or flow chart and with experience be used for much more, as an e-portfolio of sorts.

It is overly prescriptive. Tools need to be intuitive and follow common practices regarding buttons and outcomes. For a first draft I prefer marker pen on paper, followed by bubbl.us.

As Beetham’s Chapter 2 (Activity 2) points out learners will find their own way through a task regardless. We understand things differently, draw on different experiences and come up with our own metaphors.

Whilst I go with the ‘Swim Lanes’ analogy, I often think the reality is like a Catherine-wheel nailed to a post in the rain.

Should an exercise such as this be addressed in a way that has so scientific connotations? It is surprising how easy it is to share the narrative of a linear activity in a multitude of ways. A simple set of numbered bullet points, perhaps worked up as a presentation. As a board game, one step taken at a time. Or a set of activity cards. You can talk it through by counting five activities off on your fingers. I'll do one of these in the truly, joyful, brilliant www.bubbl.us and post it to my ou blog and extracurricular blog' 'My Mind Bursts' which in turn is fed to Twitter 'jj27vv.'

Make one of these mind maps, then change your mind and be tickled with the way the 'node' or 'bubbl' behaves . Go see! This and a list of wonderful tools from an H808 student who is a primary school teacher in Thailand. Work should be fun, especially learning design. After all, if you don't enjoy it, how do you expect your future students to behave?

PART THREE

Bubbl.us has gone from toy to a grown up tool with layers and the opportunity to add sound, images (stills and moving) and no doubt much more, none of which I have had time to try.

The old bubbl.us was like playing with kid's party balloons and when you deleted a balloon (or node) it blew up and burst into flames. This new version still does some magic to the eye, fading away like a mist, also when you save melting into the background like a rainbow of ice melting.

An extraordinary delight to the senses and apparently of far more practicle use than I credited it with a few months ago.

 

33pxxlo_New-Sheet.jpg

 

Click on this and it takes you to Picassa Dropbox. You can then enlarge it, save the code and help yourself. I think all the images I've put into this OU identify album is 'open to the public.'

Seeing this all again I am reminded of my inspiration David McCandless.

By working on this a few more times an art director or designer would turn it into a thing of beauty; it is this level of inspiration that sells ideas to committees, colleagues and others.

People buy into ideas. People like to be inspired.

The pedagogy must of course be sound, the right offering of activities, outcomes and learner flexibility and support is the OU magic mix.

P.S. Don't imagine I was familiar with any of these tools until I started the MAODE in Feb 2010, most of everything I now use I was introduced to by someone here.

PART FOUR

Add the role of the Tutor.

Get in a designer and make it a thing of information beauty.

Sell it internally and externally.

Schedule, produce.

Watch what happens and adjust accordingly.

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h800: 44 Week 8 Activity 2. On learner's emotional responses to technology

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 8 Mar 2012, 15:22
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Pic from MMC Learning

'An approach to learning activity design (Sharpe et al. 2005) concluded that, as well as ICT skills, key issues were learners’ emotional relationship to the technologies they were offered – especially feelings of frustration and alienation – and issues around time management.'

In our tutor group and module forums we've gone through time management at length.

Understandably.

Though I suspect that for many of us time passing is the only certain thing in our lives. It has required therapy for me to downplay events when they DON'T go to plan ... that life as a Dad, husband, parent, portfolio-worker person, studying (two courses, this and sports related), as well as feeding the guinea-pigs, putting out the rubbish, sorting the recycling, putting air in the tyres on the car, fixing the fence ... collecting children from an event, taking them to the station ... let alone the other generation, four relatives in their 80s and 135 and 210 miles away.

I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

No schedule set for the morning, let alone the day or the week can be followed. (Which is why I get my hours in 4.40 am to 7.00am each early morning ... more pleasant with the sun joining me at last)

So, to the emotional response to technology.

I've come to apply the same kind of thinking to technology, yet more technology, especially if I don't like the look of it, as something that WILL, in the fullness of time, have value.

There is no point putting off engagement with it.

The same applies to a difficult to read text (there has been plenty of that lately). It WILL become clear, it just may take three or more attempts, could involve getting advice from others in the peer group, a search on the web and dare I say it a BOOK. I actually pick up copies of 'Facebook for Dummies' and 'Blogging for Dummies' as a matter of standard practice from the library (remember them?). These books are authentic, scurrilous and engaging. The body and mind enjoy the break from the computer screen.

I got 'Digital Marketing for Dummies' for my Kindle though ... how else can I read it in the bath while holding a coffee in my right hand (I am right handed) and 'the book' in my left, perfectly able to flick on through pages with my thumb.

Design isn't just programming when it comes to software.

Compare Mac to PC. Mac not only works, but it is obvious, intuitive and often beautiful to look at.

We are so used to the extraordinary simplicity of Google, YouTube and Facebook that we baulk if a piece of software, perhaps Open Source, doesn't have the look and feel of the familiar. It IS a DESIGN issue, as in creating a love affair with the object that has both form and function, rather than function alone.

Compendium; it is versatile, engaging and intelligent ... but could it dress better and be more intuitive and less 'nerdy' ?

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More from Sharpe and Beetham:

'The use of technologies can compound existing differences among learners due to their gender, culture and first language'. Beetham and Sharpe (2007)

I like this too:

Learners cannot therefore be treated as a bundle of disparate needs: they are actors, not factors, in the learning situation. (ibid)

And this:

They make sense of the tasks they are set in terms of their own goals and perspectives, and they may experience tasks quite differently if digital technologies – with all the social and cultural meanings that they carry – are involved. (ibid)

Perhaps we should be seeking advice on these feelings too, how they can get in the way of us tackling technology or a tough read/assignment. After all, if motivated, people will overcome such problems, but if we become demotivated it is habit forming.

REFERENCE

Beetham, H and Sharpe, R 'Rethinking Pedagogy for the digital age'. (2007)

p.s. This book needs an emotionally appropriate cover. Might I suggest a design from Helen A Dalby. Personally I'd like to see academic publishers make all book iPad friendly with illustrations throughout, maybe video and some interactivity too. Why stick with the rough, when you could make it smooth and cool. Video introduction from each of the authors please ... and links to their blog.

Sharpe, R, Benfield, G., lessner, E. and de cicco, E. (2005) Scoping Study for the Pedagogy strand of the JISC e-Learning Programme, Bristol: JISC. Online. Available. www.jisc.ac.uk/index.cfm?name+elearning pedagogy

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H800: 44 Week 8 Activity 2. An approach to learning activity design

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 26 Feb 2012, 06:08

Notes on Beetham Chapter 2 An approach to learning activity design.

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I've found this the chapter on ‘an approach to learning activity design’ from Helen Beetham profound and invaluable.

Helen Beetham is a Research Consultant to the JISC e-Learning Programme. Previously she was a Research Fellow in e-learning at the Open University.

The profound revelations I feel I have had concern three projects to 'reinvent learning' with interactive then web-based learning in the 1990s and 2000s that I am familiar with (I was in the production company or agency doing something else, or know the person and the project's history).

And the sense I wanted from MAODE of the history of education which I sum up as:

1 to 1 the governess and/or then tutor of the aristocracy. 17th century (and earlier, and well into the 20th)

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Samuel Daniel was a court poet and amongst others tutored Lady Anne Clifford. A copy of his miniature was inserted in Lady Annes 1646 'Great Picture' that told her life story/struggle.

1 to many in schools (both private and state maintained). (For wealthy families who couldn't afford the tutors ... the 'public' schools of Britain from the 16th century, followed by the Victorian & Edwardian schools for all).

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1 to 1 or many to many (depending on how you look at it) which brings back a good deal of the 1 to 1 that the likes of Princess Elizabeth might have had in the 16th century, through peer-support you have your time with a subject matter expert (if they will indulge you) ... and time with people with very different experiences and insights that can be better at giving your thinking a jolt ... or if we will indulge each other through 'social educational networking'.

I appreciate the history of education goes back further to Greece, Mesopotamia and even hunter gatherer societies on the plains of Africa.From Marketing to the Social Web. Larry Webber.

My feeling is that technology isn't as novel as we think; in fact it is enabling what used to occur in closer nit learning groups embedded in society.

I wonder if I should be looking at learning patterns from the Bantu in the Congo and apply that to teenagers wishing to learn using mobile devices in the 21st century, the urban jungle and chase replacing the forests, bore hunts and multiple relationships.

There is a lot to think about. I see learning design as akin to designing and growing a maize maze. One this is in place you have choices regarding whether guide an individual around your labyrinth by calling out ‘left!’, ‘right!’ or just ‘hot!’ or ‘cold!’ while others you leave to figure out their own way through. There will be graded outcomes that require exiting the maze, others where they never leave and yet others where they exit where right they came in – all depending on the activities, the learners and the desired outcomes.

The emphasis, from Beetham’s point of view, is that with learning design should be on learners, the activities they do (not tasks) and the outcomes. Beetham (2007).

Activities, not the tools used or the supporting materials, matter the most.

Whatever way you plan, develop and scaffold learners will do the activities their own way - in different contexts people learn in different ways which raises issues for activity design Beetham (2007).

I ask myself:

· How prescriptive should you be?

· How confining should the parameters be?

· What degree of latitude is offered?

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The learning activities may be any combination of associative, constructive or situative. Learners will develop their understanding as a result of consolidation and practice, drawing on their strengths and preferences and a repertoire of approaches. Beetham (2007) e.g. an apprentice learns in an associative way be rehearsing skills and concepts.

REFERENCE

Beetham, H, and Sharpe, R (2007) Rethinking Pedagogy for the digital age.

 

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H800: 41 WK5 Activity 2. The Medium is the message

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 10 Feb 2013, 17:07

I struggle with McLuhan's point of view  because it can be argued in many ways: is he saying that the message is controlled by the affordances of the medium or by the people running the shows? Or both? And in plenty of country's the medium was/is state controlled. While in the US it is controlled by the advertisers. TV lends itself to a certain form of expression; historically there have been and are producers who create TV magic and get the format right, though there are plenty of experiments too that kick against what is possible and an audience will tolerate.

A shift to YouTube is fascinating. I watched the Japanese Disaster's play out live, first on BBC 24hr News, then CNN, then best of all Japanese TV with English voice over NHK all on Freeview. I thought, having sat through IRA bombs and 9/11 that these feeds were the best source ... the closes to being there. My son was getting this on YouTube diretly from people's SmartPhones 'on the ground'. For the Libyan crisis I am taking Twitter Feeds and watching Al Jexera.

The point I feel is that each medium offers different possibilities: print, radio, TV and now online. Everyone is their own producer/director if uploading from a Flip camera or SmartPhone. However, artists will come through. Within the communities that we become a part of there will be someone who is more informed, better at expressing themselves or exploiting the platform. Watching a documentary on Japan my son curses the amateur video producers for not keeping the camera still as vast quantities of water smash into buildings and boats. Not meaning to be flippant but he's probably learning why locked off shots, from a tripod, work better.

From a learning point of view we are 'there,' the internet to a greater degree than print, radio or TV 'puts us on the spot. Is this not closer to reality, to being physically present, which is how historically (35,000 of human kind) we have learnt? By observation, participation and collaboration? Through mistakes and successes?

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H800: 40 From Teams to Knots - Engeström

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 28 Sep 2012, 14:25

When flummoxed and interested in equal measure I buy the book.

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An article won't do. I need to understand the person's argument more fully. Written some 10 years on from the article we are looking at in H800 'From Teams and Knots' may benefit from Engestrom having had 10 years teaching at a US university.

Can I read it in 24 hours though? (and take notes)

Reading the sample champter on my Kindle I am immediately taken by the author's interest in teams in industry, in particular in car manufacture and the work of Jones et al in Lean Production in the 1990s. For four or more years I was spending three weeks out of every four videoing the development of lean production at UGC. An author who made no sense on first reading, I suddenly find has a great deal to say about something with which I am familiar.

 

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H800: 40 Expansive Learning and Engestrom

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 28 Sep 2012, 14:24

 

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I've taken this, from Engestrom and considered this as the interplay between SIX people (or groups) - or a mix of the two. Six people who are bringing to the discussion their different backgrounds and ideas in order to address a topic. At arm's length, the objects, the ideas, views or knowledge that they have begins to take on an identity of its own.

 

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'Expansive learning is based on Vygotsky, though three times removed; it implies that we learn within activity pockets as individuals and groups. The interplay between these groups are the consequential objects of learning that in turn transmogrify in the presence of other objects. Solving problems, dealing with contradictions, may come about as these learning systems slide or shift'.

Amyone care to comment?

This is my take on a topic that has taken me through the briar-bush and out the other side. Has the struggle been worth it. The challenge I feel I face when reading papers such is this is how to make the subject matter comprehensible to the non-academic, I challenge I throw down to every academic: it is possible to make yourselves understood by the majority, rather than a minority.

REFERENCE

Engeström (2001) article, Expansive learning at work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualisation

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Interacting activity systems: Engestrom

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 06:26

 

1). What kind of theory of learning is offered by classic activity theory?

A single activity system unit that works upon an object and delivers an outcome

2). What are the five principles of current activity theory? According to Engeström:

  1. A collective, artifact-mediated and object-orientated activity system, seen in its network relations ot other activity systems, is taken as the prime unit of analysis.
  2. Multi-voicedness of activity systems. A community of multiple points of view, traditional and interests.
  3. Age and history
  4. Contradictions as sources of change and development - accumulating structural tensions within and between activity systems.
  5. The possibility of expansive transformations.

3). What is the problem with the ‘standard’ theories of learning that expansive learning addresses?

Standard theory equates to lasting behaviour change whereas expansive learning considers a sideways shift of the entire activity system.

 

created using Art Pad

I was thinking in terms of trying to boil two pans on water on one hob; the flames between the pans cause more conflict than harmony. Shift both pans to the left or right and the heat is under each activity rather than between them.

I'll get out a pad of paper and try some more of these.

4) What is the criticism that Engeström makes of the apprenticeship model of learning?

Doesn't permit the development of original thinking. (I disagree. It depends on the person you are apprenticed too. Think of the many great artists who learnt their craft under a great master, then broke loose).

In relation to e-learning or are we calling it technology-enhanced learning here I fully recognise the value of participation, letting go of your thoughts and therefore being one of these 'activity systems' so that a shared 'third object' (Engestrom, 2001) as it were, moves forward.

The best colloborative work is like this, my experience being those video production, often drama based, that require multiple inputs from people with very different, and specific talents.

I've gone on to try and express the Engestrom diagram in 3D, and drawing six activity systems ... i.e creating greater complexity to begin getting closer to the highly complex reality and in turn a different diagram/illustration entirely.

 

REFERENCE

Engeström (2001) article, Expansive learning at work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualisation

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Digital Parent - neither Natives nor Immigrants

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 15:52

I've been taken in by and am now set against the idea of that there is a generational difference when it comes to use of technology - yes those starting university today clearly have different experiences with the kit than we/I did (I was at Oxford in 1981-84).

The computer was in a lab. My Dad had a Microwriter. By 1985 I might have had an Amstrad and a pager.

My point with this Digital Natives thing is that the term was coined without foundation. It is now being debunked. How come the academic instituions went along with it? Had this faux pas occured in the sciences propper rather than social sciences the ho-ha would have featured on the Today Programme.

This isn't a red top newspaper or titletattle on local radio, so why get taken in by the hyperbole.

Anyway, the OU research folk have been busy these last few months releasing all kinds of papers on the theme. Here are some of them.

It is has never been generational.

'Our research suggests that we should be cautious about distinguishing a specific generation because although there are age differences there are additional factors differentiating students, specifically gender and disciplinary differences. We find significant age related differences but we are reluctant to conclude that there is a clear disconnection between a Net generation composed of Digital Natives and older students.' ( Jones and Ramanau, 2010)

Read these for more

Jones, C and Ramanau, R (2010)

THE NET GENERATION ENTERS UNIVERSITY: WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR
TECHNOLOGY ENHANCED LEARNING? UK Open University, United Kingdom

Jones, C A new generation of learners? (2010) The Net Generation and Digital Natives

Jones. C and Healing, G (2010) Net Generation Students

 

 

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H800: 37 Communities of Learning

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

BBC%20Radio%204%20In%20Our%20Time%20MEDIEVAL%20UNIVERSITY.JPG

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.

These should be made compulsory.

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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H800: 36 Further Reading ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 14:26

Further reading and distractions. Several I'd recommend here for H800ers and H807ers and H808ers. In deed, anyone on the MAODE.

A couple reveal other interests (Swimming, History) as well as business interests (Digital Marketing/Social Networking)

 

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I just craved a read, cover to cover, rather than all the reports and soundbites. At the top of my list for relevance is the 1994 translation of Lev Vygotsky from a book that was originally published in 1926 - highly relevant to e-learning because perhaps only with Web 2.0 can his ideas be put into action. Also Rhona Sharpe and Helen Beetham (eds) on 'Rethinking Pedagogy for the Digital Age', just the kind of thing we read anyway, just valuable to read the entire collection as there is a pattern, a train of thought you follow through the book with an excellent introduction to each chapter by the editors. Others? Several on the corporate side, impressed with Larry Webber. Several practical if you are teaching and want loads of 'how to' e-tivities. Don't touch Prensky - inflated and vacuous. I don't understand why or how come he is so often brought into conversations ... because he irritates people into speaking out?

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H800:35 Web 1.0 to Web 4.0

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 16:01

I think Tim O'Reilly (2005) should have a say in this; did he not coin the term Web 2.0? Of course, we didn't know, at the time, that we were in the Web 1.0 phase.

It feels like trying to decide where the boundaries are between the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages; indeed, the analogy is apt as both are about technologies. The latter over thousands of years, the former over thousands of DAYS.

I'm reading Larry Weber on Digital Marketing. He wants readers to think in terms of us currently hitting Web 3.0 with Web 4.0 on the horizon. His history doesn't serve him well. To my mind he wants us to think if 'new media' as Web 1.0. It wasn't. For the most part in the late 1980s and early 1990s we were just getting to grips with digital, with interactivity offline on Philips Laser discs, CDs then DVDs. I recall, painfully, trying to migrate interactive DVD content to the web c1998 ... the platform couldn't handle the file sizes. Anyway, this was when Web 1.0 began with the Web.

Isn't Web 2.0 really tied to the Dot.com Bubble Burst of late 2000/2001 ?

The industry began to think itself out of the mess and the possibilities shifted as broadband became common place.

So where does this leave us now?

Did people living at the time of the Bronze or Iron age really care? Imports gave a hint of what other cultures could do.

My thinking is that the shift is so great and so fast that we are entering Web 3.0.

But this isn't a board game, we aren't simply leaving one domain and entering another. For heaven's sake, we still have pen, paper, artillery, stone pestle and mortars, wooden rolling pins, iron tanks ..

Web 2.0 is Warner Bros teaming up with Facebook to deliver video on demand.

Web 3.0 will be want hundreds of thousands of people do with the content, because they sure as heck won't simply sit back and watch. The way they mash it up and share it then come up with something NEW, this is Web 3.0 behaviour.

Web 4.0

Larry Weber hints at where it is going. Your thoughts?

REFERENCE

O’Reilly, T. (2005) What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software [online],http://routes.open.ac.uk/ ixbin/ hixclient.exe?_IXDB_=routes&_IXSPFX_=g&submit-button=summary&%24+with+res_id+is+res18497(last accessed 16 March 2011).

Weber, L (2009) Marketing to the Social Web (Second Edition) John Wiley & Sons.

(See Larry Weber introduce the second edition here)

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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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Blogging - cover to cover

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 08:26

It'll not come from one book, or two or many. Having blogged for 11 years and six months I should know some things. I share some ideas here alongside some thoughts from Argenti and Barnes's 2009 book 'Digital Strategies for Powerfurl Corporate Communications' that I have read cover to cover these last few days courtesy of Kindle.

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Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications

Blogs and social communities have sparked ‘a complete overhaul of the business environment, especially in the context of communication.’ Agenti and Barnes (2009:K168)

K = Kindle ... they don't give a page number. How could you in a e-Book?

Education is changing too, blurring the lines between school and the workplace, and encouraging workplace learning with distance learning specialists and online courses from members of the Association of Business Schools surely set to grow

The difference between web 1.0 and web 2.0 – observation versus participation, status versus dynamic, monologue versus conversation. Agenti and Barnes (2009)

What is most relevant to corporate communications managers is as relevant to other institutions, whether government, education or charity.

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You need to be using:

• Blogs (such as WordPress. Edublogs, Diaryland)

• Microblogs (Twitter)

• Social Networks (such as Facebook, MySpace)

• Video-sharing platforms (YouTube, Vimeo)

• Search engine marketing and optimization

• Corporate web sites/ online newsrooms

• Wikis • Mash-ups • Viral/word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing.

The trick is to find ‘a middle ground between a completely centralised and a wholly decentralised structure is the best way to maintain an effective communications strategy in today’s environment.’ K593

My take on this is that to succeed organisations need to be:

• Informed

• Engaged

• Responsive

• Frequent

• Authentic

• Relevant

• Appropriate

• Pithy

• Real (neither journalistic, corporate or academic in style)

• Understanding

• Passionate but not obsessive

• Media Savvy

• Connected

• Tooled up

• With a give, take, try anything and receive mentality.

• Tag it all

• Optimise out of habit

• Have fun, be playful with surveys, questionnaires and polls.

The view Sir Martin Sorrell takes is ‘The more control you keep over the message, the less credible it is. And Vice Versa.’ Martin Sorrell (2008: K1520)

There are three skills sets required to take advantage of this:

1. Identifying influential bloggers 2. Building relationships with them 3. Engaging with them with the intent of receiving positive coverage

Points 1 and 2 was the experience I had in Diaryland.

Here from 1999 bloggers teamed up with designers, where the two functions were recognised as different, like the copywriter and art director in advertising. Here you could form groups and join groups, link to friends for a myriad of reasons, but best of, in the list limited to 70 friends you were/are updated constantly on the status – it helps to know that you’re in a group where people update regularly. It is largely from the community of those who write, that you find people who also read and comment, they are various consumers and emitters of content.

So much that I experienced here has migrated to other blogsites.

Things that work, as well as buddies and buddy updates, are the surveys and groups, creating engaging or fund questionnaires to share with others and forming groups too, where for example I set up lists for those to be the first to make 500, then 1000 and then 2000 entries … Fun too are the banner ads you can make and use to promote interest within the Diaryland community. Perhaps Andrew’s (its creator’s0refusal to allow advertising is what is causing a Diaryland demise.

‘Metaphorically speaking, RSS is the gateway drug of experiential online monitoring’. Agenti and Barnes (2009:K1183)

My view is GoogleAlerts does this better, it spread the net for you, whereas with RSS you need to have found the feed first. What is more GoogleAlerts feeds you snacks of information that are easy to consume, note, reference, keep, pass on or over.

In emails the authors interviewed Courtney Barnes and Shabbir Imber Safdar.

‘You need to understand that it’s not a cut-and-paste job. You need to participate in the conversation and adapt the content for the environment. ‘ Thus said (Agenti and Barnes (2009:K1159)

Look, listen and learn ... engage

To do this engagement is the first things, so blogs and Twitter, social networking and video, photographs … even some family history and reuniting with school and college friends. Then you tools like Technorati and Goole Alerts.

 

Technorati%20uses%20GRAB.JPG

 

Technorati

Google Alerts

Search out appropriate keywords

Joined Linked In too.

Having been engaged with four/five groups I made the mistake of joining and dozen and will have to drop most of these. Some post several times and hour 24/7 and I have ceased to see the worth of reading that much from one group, especially if the same question is being answered a thousand times. Managing this maelstrom is a task in itself, being alert to the new, dropping the redundant, buying into and out of the right people and places as their influence and quality of comment waxes and wanes.

Forrester Research on 90 blogs of Fortune 500 companies. June 2008.

Most company blogs are ‘dull, drab and don’t stimulate discussion’. • 66% rarely get comments • 70% only contain comment on business topics • 56% republish press releases or summarise news that is already public.

REFERENCE

Argenti P.A. and Barnes M.C. 2009 ‘Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications’ McGrawHill.

Sorrell. M (2008) ‘Public Relations: The Story behind a Remarkable Renaissance,@ Institute for Public Relations Annual Distinguished Lecture, New York, November 5, 2008.

 

Meanwhile I've got these two to read.

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And why books cover to cover?

I'm sick of snacking from a smorgasbord. I want a consistent voice, something up to date, that leaves an impression. A book does this for me, an article never does.

A year later

‘You need to understand that it’s not a cut-and-paste job. You need to participate in the conversation and adapt the content for the environment.' This said in Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications' Agenti and Barnes (2009:Kindle page 1159).

As I go through 33 months of postgraduate blog posts (the Masters in Open and Distance Education with the Open University), I stumble upon a great deal that some might call aggregation, but a year or so ago was linking and tagging.

In the module 'Innovations in e-learning' we were give a list of aggregating tools to try. Personally, the curator - and potentially their team, as in the real world of museums and galleries must surely add value above and beyond the mere pulling of content using a set of terms in an off-the-shelf bundle of software?

Over the last week or so since the meet up I have returned to various tools and tried new ones. I've gathered screen grabs and given it some thought - and largely concluded that as a result of this exercise I will be dropping them all in favour of reading a few choice blogs and receiving feeds from them - blogs where an opinion is expressed, you can leave a comment and expect feedback. At the heart of this is socially constructed learning.

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