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Is this more Microsoft Encarta CD than a Brave New world of learning and education?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 30 May 2014, 09:22

When you take a set of encyclopedias and ask, 'how do I make this digital?' you get a Microsoft Encarta CD. When you take the philosophy of an encyclopedia and ask, 'how does digital change our engagement with this?' you get Wikipedia.

How does this relate to e-learning?

It strikes me that much of that learning online has a considerable distance to go in terms of realising the potential of 'electronically enhanced' learning, that we are 'reading' for subjects and supervised by the institution and tutors very much in the style of a Microsoft Encarta CD.

Perhaps a virtual world is the way forward?

Perhaps just as people job share, you could share your learning too?

Perhaps there is more to educational social networking through the likes of Facebook than institutions are willing to accept.

And if you have an e-portfolio of work why not flit from one supplier to another, accumulating micromodules of a unit at a time from wherever you choose and have your aggregated qualification assessed by a third party?

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H808 e-portfolios. Life Logging and e-folios

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Nov 2011, 15:26

E-portfolios, good or bad thing?

Could they not become unduly burdensome? I have this image of us turning into snails with this vast aggregations of information on our backs (even if it is digital).

Are they for everyone?

New Scientist this week (16 OCT 2010, vol 208. No. 2782) puts 'Life Logging' into its '50 Ideas that will change science forever'list.

It all started with Vannevar Bursh in 1945 with something he called 'an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.' Fifty years on Bill Gates is quites as saying 'someday computer will store everything a person has ever seen and heard.' Somewhat over ambitiouisly (especially as it went nowhere), in 2000 I registered domain names 'The Contents of My Brain' and 'TMCB' thinking that there could be a place for an electronic diary, scrap-book, journal, album thingey.

I lacked the wherewithal or ambition to develop this further, in any case, I recall meeting the folk from Digitalbrain who seemed to be doing a good job of it.

Does there need to be a market leader?

Using a variety of platforms are not e-portfolios being achieved?

Some people look forwards, some look back.

Which kind person succeeds? A sparsely filled e-portfolio might be a good sign - they are getting on with doing.

And whilst I'm a fervent Futurist, is there not a place for real portfolios (artwork), albums (photos, including those framed and on the wall in a real gallery), books on shelves and files in trunks.

I recently found my H801 file, March 2001. Course work printed out, the few articles sourced online printed off, even a painfully thin listserve thread forum message thingey. And an assignment on DCode a CD-rom for schools that won national and international awards including a Palm D'or for Multimedia at Canne in 1998).

Had I put this online would I have referred to it over the last decade? Instead serendipty leads me to finding in in a box in the garage. Does an eportfolio facilitate serendipty, or is the process of loading it with 'stuff' going to be too prescriptive so that ultimately it narrows minds, rather than opens them up?

Old news keeps like fish.

Where does this expression come from?

Does it apply to course work too?

Even if I had an e-portfolio of what value would my old History, Geography and English A' levels essays be? Do they have more value digitised and online than in a file in a box in garage by the sea?

The brain does something e-portfolios are yet able to do well, which is to forget stuff, to abandon content yet be prepared to re-link if required to do so.

Time to quiz the neuroscientist me thinks.

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An embedded e-portfolio

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 12:00

A decade ago creating a commercial website generally required you to buy in the services of a specialist agency; this was certainly the case 15 years ago. Gradually however businesses found they could do it themselves, indeed the development of internal and external communications was so integral to a company's activities that it had to be in some cases. An internationally successful TV production company used outside suppliers initially to build its website. However, as the creative drive for this site needed to be part of the business and as the site become a TV channel of sorts, it was necessary to bring control in-house.

1999-2002 was an interesting period as some organisations let their IT department go, not considering it one of their 'core activities,' while others brought the process in-house, sometimes buying up their web-agency for the purpose.

Creating a website, developing software, communications and business function merged. Specialist functions developed internally may have found a market elsewhere and products could be bought in 'off the shelf.'

If the functionality of the software and web-pages are integral to an institution's competitiveness and development it is understandable if some things they develop in-house, while others they buy in.

ITC is highly fluid, progressive, aggressive and organic. You want control of the beast. Do you have the personnel and department as part of your institution, or do you hire in the specialists? Or do you split your loyalties and commitments across several suppliers, buying products off the shelf? How do you achieve your goals? How do you control costs? How do you differentiate yourself from others if you're all shopping from the same place? And in education, where there is a political, ethical and moral inclination to want to do it all for free - how is it paid for?

In relation to recommending an e-portfolio set-up or package or system to an institution there are a myriad of deciding factors which could result in the valid choice being any one of:

  • develop our own using our thinking and skills
  • buy in the services of an agency to create a platform for us
  • purchase a ready-made product off the shelf
  • use Open Source and tailor it to our purposes
  • none of these - students, staff and any other potential e-portoflios bring their own, on their laptops or in their own space in the 'cloud.'

The latter happens whatever you provide.

As a result of using the OU's MyStuff and trying PebblePad, as well as reviewing the reviews of several other packages, whilst it is possible to recommend what a particular client's e-portfolio should be able to do - it is less easy without understanding the institution's financial position, commercial requirements, staff and student development, professional and academic needs and ambitions.

To what degree are people storing and collating material in a loose collection of files and platforms, some online, some off, some linked in to several folios, each with a different outlook.

Once we lived in a more linear world and we would logically take in then draw from the academic institutions where we studied and the places where we worked. To a significant degree, even if we possessed portfolios as physical entities containing art work or assignments, our achievements and potential were locked in our being ... our experiences, accreditations, behaviours and potential were entirely contained in our heads and enabled by our bodies. Increasingly it is the case that the sum total of our achievements, our record, our actions, can be collated, shared and given an existence beyond us. If we think of the ultimate eportfolio as 'the contents of our brains' in a cloud, like a geostationary satellite, forever 'out there' do we not begin to mutate and duplicate, especially if some, or many parts or all of this is shared?

Will we not, in a cyber-world of hundreds of millions, not only find like minds, but aggregate to think alike in some instances? Where then is the copyright and plagiarism? And here's a dilemma for the inventive or creative mind. Do you pool you thinking for others to exploit, share the process by which you draw your conclusions which may fast track another to a similar, different or better result?

I appreciate that I am drifting into la-la-land and the realms of science-fiction, that I am feeling my way, that I am letting my own stream of consciousness take me wherever it will. If this finds resonance with others, if others comment and build on this ... or reflect it, then it is as if those collection of neurones and synapses that are creating this are connecting beyond my being.

If there is commercial worth in 'the contents of my brain,' an e-portfolio that might contain everything I have ever done, who benefits if they use this to create something original?

In conclusion

1) The e-literate will already, whether they know it or not, have the makings of an eportfolio through content they have generated about themselves, their ambitions and friends, the work they would like to do and the work they have done. A link to discrete parts of this can quickly generate a number of e-portfolios, just as it could generate a number of bespoke CVs. The less e-literate by dint of their presence at the doors of an institution, enrolement or employment, or if freelance, their contract or engagement, will have wittingly shared components of a potential eportfolio it only paper through letters, CVs and evidence.

2) Institutions, academic or business, may offer portfolios that are wedded to that organisation's culture. If designed, to look and function within this context it will be easier to compile, share, access and assess while there. No longer, if ever it were necessary, to print off, duplicate or photocopy reams of paper to have back-ups, let alone to apply simultaneously to more than one place. However, is not these ease of sharing problematic? Could not a multitude of people claim something to be their’s ? Or is that the point. We become a name on one of those credit lists that runs and runs after a CGI-rich film plays out.

3) There is no definitive answer, no panacea, when it comes to an eportfolio: create your own, buy off the shelf or let staff and students bring along what they have or don’t have. As a consultant e-professional (sounds far grander than it is), it is the requirements of the organisation you are working for that dictates the answer. Is the problem financial? Is it retention? Is it attracting students in the first place? Or holding on to staff? Is it assessement? Is it learning? Is it departmental? Is it a cohort or a group? Is is driven by your trustees? Government? Or a current fashion in pedagogy? Is it political? Does it put the student first, at the centre of things? If they have 20 years to pay off their student loan, do they carry the same e-portfolio with them for the duration, Sage accounting an add-on to whatever other functions their e-portfolio offers?

Do you want the way my mind works, or the conclusion? Is there one? If one thing defines e-technology it is that it is always in a state of flux, indeed like Macbeth clutching at that dagger before his eyes, you can never quite get your hands on it. An IT specialise shared her thinking with me in Linked In. A thought I have come across before. Whilst her role is to ‘speed things up’ for businesses, she can never say what it is that will speed up ... or that what is achieved was predictable. The important thing is to move on, progress, don’t stagnate, don’t over think a thing ... nor over-commit.

My recommendation to an institution questioning its use of eportfolios would be to be in all camps simultaneously, to have an inhouse eportfolio, to engage with external suppliers and permit individuals to have their own. What matters is the required functionality and outcomes. My recommendation to an individual is to have in their control anything they are placing elsewhere.

Is not the choice, when it comes down to it, one of selecting this handbag over that one? This satchel over that one? However it functions, whatever it looks like, only the contents matter. If you drop your one and only portfolio of photographs or drawings on the way to an interview, you can pick up the pieces and make do with cardboard and a roll of duct-tape. If your one and only eportfolio fails you lose the lot. Or do you? These assets, this ‘stuff’ what is it anyway? Text, images, programming (which is text) ... If you are digitally-savvy and have an online presence how easy is it to reassemble such a portfolio? Very, I’d suggest.

So, yes, as I suggest, you have a version for work, a version where you are studying, a version embedded in your website or Facebook page, a version on the hard-drive or you computer, and one on a zip or flash driver.

Ho hum.

I shall go and sleep on it. Always the right approach after this middle-of-the-night brainstorm.

What kind of e-portfolio would you recommend to the following?

  • Use in a prison by inmates serving at least three years.
  • Use for advertising and marketing creatives at a ‘school of communication arts.’
  • Use by trainee gymnastics coach who is a volunteer with a local club working with young children.
  • Use by a trainee solicitor.
  • Use by an actor hoping to get into RADA
  • Use by someone returning to work after a six year career break.
  • Use by Leonardo da Vinci, Douglas Adams or Stephen Hawking
  • Use by a politician

Why not come up with your own. The trickier the better.

  • Use by someone who is losing their eyesight
  • Use by someone who has terminal cancer
  • Use by a child at primary school
  • Use by someone in a retirement home
  • Use by someone with depression
  • Use by someone with ambitions to be a professional footballer, or designer for Apple, or ... TV producer, or ... happy.

Is an e-portfolio the next web page?

You've got to have one, even if you don't know why? At least you don't have to by a domain name.

And what brought this on?

Other than the requirements of H808 ...

The launch of a platform for swimming teachers and coaches across competitive swimming, water polo, diving and synchro.

The new Institute of Swimming (www.theiosonline.com) website not only streamlines the course booking process and offers some courses online, but embedded in the new platform in a way that is even more integrated the the OU's add-on MyStuff, is an eportfolio.

You complete your details and find in so doing that you have begun your profile in something called My IoS.

It will contain a CV, evidence of qualifications, assets that can specifically include video ... and the word 'e-portfolio' is not mentioned anywhere. Yet this is what is. And as for interoperability and transfer ... all of that is just a cut and paste, or link away is it not, as ever? And being a 'portfolio worker' in any case, the last thing I want to do is to merge one of my two (or is is three) other lives with this or any of the others.

It simply is.

 

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E-portfolios and the OU

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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New Media marketing

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 19:01

The Bottom Line on Thursday night had guests Alex Cheetle, Jasmine Montgomery and Robin White. They were poked by Evan Davies and consequently shot out words as if from a submachine gun on the topics of new media (social networking largelly) in advertising and marketing and the role of optimism in business.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/v1rg1/

 

These are people who pitch for business all the time.

They aren't just at ease with the terminology, but are evangelists. Not being an Opera buff I can't immediately think which one, but these four leaping in and out of each other's conversation felt at time like a scene from an opera. It had might as well have been in German.

Having listened over twice and taken extensive notes certain phrases and ideas are coming through.

I liked being reminded of what 'stickiness' is - nothing more complex than 'loyalty' and 'engagement.'

I am always interested to tag a few more ideas onto my understanding of 'branding,' as I am convinced this will be the deciding factor for most people choosing a product or service. Which is why and how the likes of Google and Facebook continue to dominate, while familiar 'sexy' brands like Adobe may muscle into creative industries education in an even bigger way by offering e-portfolios.

Can we as students reach the stage where we can talk with such enthusiasm and as lucidly about 'e-learning,' and as its the current topic, about 'e-portoflios' in particular?

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Drops of fancy ink in the digital ocean

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013, 09:35

My abiding image of cyberspace is of an ocean.

A product, a collection of tools and services, such as an e-portfolio, is but a few drops in such a digital ocean.

There are no barriers, except artificial ones ...  the movement between desk-top, smart-phone, VLE, e-portfolio, picture album, music gallery or whatever else should be seamless.

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Reflection in H.E. Creme. Bubbl.us. H808

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 21 Nov 2011, 23:59

EFFORT COUNTS (Creme)

Assessment of learning journals and the value of reflective writing for undergraduates and graduates using Bubbl.us to construct the knowledge map from an initial sketch on a fag packet.

With special thanks to fellow student Lesley Morrell who shared this software with us in the first place. I like it as a draft before Compendium, where I will take it next.

Available as a dowload on request ... or to share through bubbl.us.

 

Effort that 'doesn't count' in a learning journal kept for purposes of assessment.

Resource Guided

In which the author does their directed reading, as per the brief. Scanning a few reports, choosing the few than can be covered in the allocated time and drawing their conclusions from these alone.

Tutor Guided

In which the author first follows, then seeks clarification and support for the route to take. This may have at its heart the concern or interest in 'how do I get the marks' for anything that may be required for assessment. (The balanced approach is to draw upon the tutor as an additional guide to all the others in blue)

Course Guided

In which the author aims to do as the institution course moderator), awarding body requires. Previous knowledge of this, or other such like institutions will help. With the caveat: ‘A collaboration of strangers’. In which a forced grouping (of convenience, without bias/favour) is constructed and required to perform as if they have come together naturally.

Self-guided

In which the author draws more fully on their own experience of this kind of thing, through reading and practice, as a student, employee, child/sibling or parent ...

Misguided

In which the author through choice or influence takes the wrong path. If working in isolation, not seeking or receiving tutor or peer group feed-back they either go off on the wrong path, or they wander aimlessly like a boat without a rudder. A certain way to disillusionment, delusion and/or depression.

Collaboration as peer guidance

In which one or two fellow students take on a mentoring or partnering or even a paternalistic/maternalistic role. They become a more trusted and understanding friend whose shared journey, experience, intelligence and way of putting things keeps you straight, or puts you back on track. Perhaps more effective where the group that collaborates is self-forming. In which an informal, larger grouping of people support one, several or each other through the process. Perhaps as effective, if not more so, where someone takes a leadership role. Either way symbiosis or reciprocity may (or may not) be expected or required.

Self-forming Collaborative

In which an informal, larger grouping of people support one, several or each other through the process.

Serendipity

In which the author, through following up references within references finds a meaning and 'truth' that is deeper and more meaningful to them. It is therefore given greater weight (whether or not this will be respect or followed up in the course of assessment).

Libertine

The idea that the author does as they please. They express or 'perform' a typed-up, written-out 'stream of consciousness' - 'free thinking' if you like.

Indulgent

In which the author goes off in a world of their own. Dropping in thoughts and ideas from any old place, even if referenced, they are drawing on their entire life experience, anything they are reading at the time, or may have picked up from the internet, TV or radio in the last hour.

Thorough

The idea that the author does a comprehensive job, though this may be descriptive, rather than reflective or thoughtful. The ground is covered in a systematic, probably linear way - which in effect resulted in Dewey 19933) first thinking about a better approach.

Resourceful

In which the author play Huck Finn (in which he gets friends to paint a fence for him). This might be considered more devious, than resourceful as it implies building on, though hopefully not plagiarising the thinking of others. It may include reading all the suggested resources, but may also imply seeking out something more current that may very well answer the exact question for which they are seeking the answer.

The next step, even if the word count has been exceed, is to put it through Compendium to add underlying reports and references.

I've already had a great experience of producing a project briefing document in Compendium, sharing this withou someone several hundred miles away and then discussing it on Skype. Compendium meant that he got what is clearly a draft, a working document, the way my mind has thus far thought the project through. He could then indulge where necessary his greater curiosity by reading the attached notes, documents or reports.

The trick with this continued reflection on reflection, beyond due dates, word counts or reading lists, will be to wrap it all up at some stage, editing along the way, and if it is going to be submissable, reducing it to a 500 word count.

This has to be the eighth or ninth effort at this, forays that have yet to benefit from the kind of academic rigour and effort that will no doubt deliver an end result.

The fear is that this is like shooting an arrow at the moon, when the target is 60 yards away - clear as dandy. But this is who I am, and how I approach things. The trick is to pay me on a fixed-fee basis, because you may pay for 20 hours effort, but you'll get 60.

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H800 SuppActs. Unit 3.3: 2nd -15th Oct 2011

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:11

SuppActs. Unit 3.3: 2nd -15th Oct

Hi all!

This is a really great activity as Open Source has passionate advocates for and against, and a driving market reality which seems unstoppable.

I wonder, in addition to the course questions, what we have between us in the way of experience on this. It would dbe good to bring that in too. What is 'our' expereince for and against of working with Open source in education?

Discuss here, and  build resource and summaries in Wiki?

Helen

H808 Course Guide: Supplementary activity 3.3: Understanding open source

This is a collaborative activity [..]You may be able to present the output from this activity as evidence of exceptional proactivity.

Download Martin Weller’s paper on eportfolio products from the resources below, which was presented to the OU VLE project as part of its discussion on developing an eportfolio system in 2005, and do a ‘Find’ search through it for the keywords ‘open source’.

How well do you think Martin justifies his recommendation to the OU to consider an open source solution for its eportfolio system?

Do you agree with him? Join a discussion in (the H808 SA Forum &wiki ) with (others) who are interested in this topic and find out what the general opinion of open source software development initiatives is.

Resources

EduTools (2007) Product Listinghttp://eportfolio.edutools.info/item_list.jsp?pj=16 (accessed 25 May 2010).

Dr Helen Barrett’s Bookmarks (2007) Commercial E-portfolio Vendorshttp://electronicportfolios.com/portfolios/bookmarks.html#vendors(accessed 25 May 2010).

Himpsl, K., Baumgartner, P.(2009) ‘Evaluation of e-portfolio software’, International Journal: Emerging Technologies in Learning, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 16–22: http://online-journals.org/i-jet/issue/view/51 (accessed 25 May 2010).

Martin Weller eportfolio report

Martin Weller's 2005 report for the OU on eportfolio products and strategic options for a university-wide system.
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H808 Reflection on Reflection. Core Activity 2.3.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 20 Nov 2020, 18:56

Reflection is ‘cognitive housekeeping.’ Moon (2005). OU Student Jane Barret (2010) doubts that Moon supplies evidence, feels that ‘critical thinking’ is a better term and that Moon (and others) are trying to make something abstract concrete. I prefer to think of reflection in an academic setting as ‘guided consideration and compartmentalisation of the material you’re working with.’

Reflection in the context of studying requires the student to hold a mirror up to their student-selves. Efforts to get things straight in your head, to generate your own take on the topic being studied may go awry on take one, shape up in take two, and, one would hope, comes together by take three. Reflection on this process helps establish the final thoughts. In the OU context where is take one and take two? Some of it is undertaken in the forum, some of it in the blog. Either way, feedback, comment and critique as well as marking is the way to pass through these cognitive stages. Nothing obliges one to reflect more than success or failure, a hearty slap on the back, or a slap across the face. You do well, you want to do better; you do badly, you want to put it right. You reflect on this and find a better way forward. Wherein lies the importance, in e-learning, of comment and collaboration, using what the Internet affords, those around you whose different take and experience can add colour and understanding to your efforts.

Reflection is like making a buerre blanc, which is made by reducing white wine vinegar with stock, a shallot and then carefully adding cubes of unsalted butter. In other words, reflection is at first a gathering in of the correct resources and then a reduction of these resources.

Drawing on what Dewey says, that reflection is ‘a kind of thinking that consists in turning a subject over in the mind and giving it serious thought’ makes me think of composting. You put all kinds of bits and pieces in that over time, reduces down to plant food and fibre, or in the case of reflection, a sentence or two that sum up your thinking.

Dewey defined reflective thought as 'active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusions to which it tends' (Dewey 1933: 118)

Both of these ideas imply a ‘deep approach’ to learning, wherein lies the value of reflection. You take the experience of reading and interacting with others, and draw some tentative conclusions; you achieve more than simply itemising what others have already expressed ‘surface learning’.

Reflection is a process that both reduces and gathers in. The end result ought to be something potent and memorable.

REFERENCE

Barret, J c2.4 Reflection and learning (2) my views. OU. (Accessed 28 SEPT 2010)

Dewey, J. (1933/1998) How we think (Rev. ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Moon, J. (2001) ‘PDP working paper 4: reflection in higher education learning’ (online), The Higher Education Academy. Available from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id72_Reflection_in_Higher_Education_Learning.rtf (accessed 25 Sept 2010).

Moon, J. (2005) ‘Guide for busy academics no. 4: learning through reflection’ (online), The Higher Education Academy. Available from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id69_guide_for_busy_academics_no4.doc (accessed 28 Sept 2010).

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Reflection - personal, extended

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 7 Feb 2014, 13:39

I am undergoing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. For the last 18 months, initially every two weeks and now every month I see a therapist. I pay for this myself as the NHS could only offer 20 minutes every six weeks and said I was just 'a bit depressed,' - 'like most people.'

Five years ago I was temporarily diagnosed A.D.H.D.

This was turned on its head by specialists in London who couldn't distract me and found that as the tasks I was giving to do got harder my concentration improved. Ritlan had been fun. My problem was boredom. Always has been. Whenever there is a family gathering should we discuss the first words of various nieces and nephews, let alone the adults, one of my siblings or my mother will say my first word was 'why?' and my first phrase was 'I'm bored.'

I'm still bored and I'm still asking why. I was 49 last week.

I think too much. Rather than thinking less, please can someone put me in a situation where I can think until my brain hurts.

A best moment for me, outside the exam room ... a TV programme than was going to go live in 90 mins. The MD pulls the entire theme and my producer looks at me and says let's do something new from scratch. It was that or waste the expense of presenters, camera crews (live, multi-camera, galley staff, support staff etc: etcsmile No rewrites, no rehearsals, that script was handed out with minutes to go. Unprepared the interviewees were fresh. it worked. I'm good at doing 'from the top of my head.'

By reflecting on how I behave in certain situations, coming to understand the situations and my upbringing I am changing some of my behaviour - much of the time. This 'reflection' has at times been recorded, transcribed and chewed over - just like this. More often I treat the moment, the hour for what it is> I do wonder if I dwelt on it more often, whent back over these discussions if I would embed the change?

My late father when in his mid-twenty to mid-thirties ( I am told and believe) would spend an hour or so with his mother coming home. (That or he was having an affair - more likely?) Something of a matriarch my grand-mother, I could imagine this regular reflection facilitating and guiding my father's success. Reflection or dictation, being told what to do or coming to yor own decisions? I wonder. It's value, doubtful beyond building a substantial PLC. In terms of his relationships (catastrophic he went through four marriages). I was staying with him as marriage three collapsed. He was attending Relate. He enjoyed these sessions, admitted he was probably mad and came out of these sessions rationalising who he was without any intention of changing. It gave him an excuse.

If any component of this was reflection, then it was reflection reinforced a modus operandi, rather than changing it.

Wherein lies my issue with reflection and blogging. Is it necessarily something that results in change, or even something for the better?

Didn't Hitler write Mien Kampf while gaoled? This is narcissistic, self-indulgent reflection that gave him the opportunity to develop self-belief in his warped ideas.

See, reflection can back-fire, bringing the worst out of people, not necessarily the best.

The desired outcome of reflection as a form of thinking in an academic context is to help embed ideas and facts.

It is an aid to a neurological process, by using the information in a variety of ways it comes to matter more, priorities are made, choices taken, you form you own view of what matters and what does not. However, you share this reflection and immediately it is being written for an audience; you reflect and submit this as evidence in an assignment and the first thing you do is to check the requirements of the paper, and how it will be marked and then you adjust, edit and as a consequence contort the truth that reflection should try to uncover.

If reflection has worked then I can see a need to return to live or as-live TV. I thrive on pressure - head pressure.

 

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The skills I need as an e-learning practitioner

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Jul 2012, 08:32
The skills you need as an e-learning practitioner

Training as a TV producer I picked up some skills editing, writing and directing. A project was never too small that a person fulfilling each of these tasks wasn't required. Indeed, the 'one man band' was frowned upon. Some TV crews were still unionised so you had a cameraman, assistant and sound engineer, minimum.Today in TV production a producer may not only direct and write, but operate the camera and edit the piece. To be a TV professional in 2010 you need this variety of skills. I do. I did the courses. Camera, editing ... even six months as a sound engineer.

To be an e-learning professional it strikes me that as well as research, design and planning skills, with a healthy foundation from an appropriate course that takes in learning history, theory and practice, that you will also need more that just a modicum of IT skills. IT literacy is a given, but further familiarity, even a confident working knowledge of a variety of 21st century e-learning tools and platforms will be necessary, as well as that 20th century skilling of touch typing. (I have that).
With this in mind I am tackling some software that I have to date resisted. I managed without Outlook, now I'm using it through-out the day. I hadn't moved away from my original blogging platform of 1999, so have in the last two months started three new blogs in three different places, as well as continuing with the OU blog. I wanted to feel confident I know what these are doing. I signed into Facebook a ferdw years ago but have let it pass me by. It may feel like the exclusive domain of my children, nephews and nieces, but I am now determined to master it, instead of it having ontrol of me.
And finally, though I have grown familiar with MyStuff and have mine well stuffed ... I must decide on a second e-portfolio system to embrace. I want to try one, two at most. I'd like to run with Filemaker Pro as I'm familiar with it, but there is a cost and it won't be of any use to others who don't have it installed.
Time to look at the Tutor Group Wiki.
Google Docs Zoho Mahara Wiki MyStuff DropBox PebblePad Reflect Google Wave Edublog Adobe Acrobat FilmMaker Pro WordPress Windows Live ThinkFree

Which will permit easy export from MyStuff?

Can anyone explain this to me?

Export your MyStuff in the LEAP2A atom feed format (which enables transfer of data to and from other ePortfolio systems). Please click refresh feed if you have made any changes recently.

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e-learning is a term compromising one letter representing a physical property of technology (e for electronic)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 25 Nov 2011, 14:08

I wonder of e-learning as a term will last, like email?

What's happened to 'new media?' I guess it's no longer new. What's happend to 'web-based learning?' I guess the web is there, like air, so we don't need to refer to its existance, it just is. And so on to 'online learning' which at the OU has usrped 'open learning.'

I like this thought:

‘Whereas education is by definition a multi-faceted activity understood to involve a variety of players and activities – teachers and teaching; students and studying; institutions and structures, information, knowledge and, it is hoped, learning.

e-learning is a term compromising one letter representing a physical property of technology (e for electronic) and the hoped-for outcome (learning) for one participant in the interaction.

Given the power of language to constrain our thinking, is our current circumscribed terminology making it increasingly difficult to keep in mind and focus on elements of this expanding activity that, while not readily apparent in the term ‘e-learning’ itself, must be understood and included when establishing policy and researching the phenomenon?’

(Melody Thompson, 2007 in Conole and Oliver, 2007:187)

REFERENCE

Conole, G and Oliver, M (2007) Research in E-Learning

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How to keep the relentless deluge of information at bay?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 14:46

'The challenge is not how to get at the news, but how to keep the relentless deluge of information at bay'.

BBC Radio 4. 11.55am 17 September 2010.

And the last thing we should be doing with this deluge of information (generated by ourselves and/or others) is to worry about how to store it.

The last thing on Noah's mind was, 'I need to build a dam to store all this rain'. He wanted to save humanity (and all animal kind) from the deluge, so he made a big boat.

We don't need more repositories and storage devices we need boats that can keep us afloat on this digital ocean, rather than being sunk by it.

From Our Own Correspondent. BBC Radio 4. 11.55.52 am

Annual Summit of 150 World Leaders. Special Gathering to look at the state of world poverty. $100b still needed.

Bridget Kendal reflects on where she was on 6th September of the year 2000.

She was at the UN where the UN Secretary opened the Millennium Summit of the United Nations, there were 100 Heads of State, three Crown Princes  and getting on for 50 Prime Ministers  ... all gathered  to consider the challenges of the year ahead.

'I can tell you where journalists like me were', she says, sounding like Joanna Lumely c 1977, 'burrowing through tapes and tangled wires, struggling to find out about speeches being made in the assembly above, at the time the largest gathering of head of states, computer connections not working, no wireless hand-held devices to help you out, it makes you feel quite hot and anxious just to think about it ...

A decade later', says Bridget Kendal, 'covering UN summits is less of a technological battle, the challenge is not how to get at the news, but how to keep the relentless deluge of information at bay.

If you are looking at ways to store 'the deluge of information' you or others are creating, if you horde every picture taken, every word written then you are trying to build a dam.

Like Noah, you need a boat.

An e-boat.

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Learning new software tools

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 8 Oct 2011, 14:56

I wonder if I'm weary of learning to use yet another software tool? Those that intuitively add to what I know already are easy, whereas new platforms are not.

A Mac user since the days of the 'Classic' I find common tools such as Outlook quite foreign, plenty of functionality, but very mathematical, boxy and dry. I need to use it to tie in with the work I do with a swimming club.

I'm not even great with Excel having only used it for basic accounts. When it comes to creating and managing a database I have always used FileMaker Pro - I prefer the flexibility of layouts as I like to have bespoke pages depending on what information is being collated.

Any tips on merging contact data from Excell to Outlook would be appreciated.

Meanwhile I'm beginning to use Google Docs and Compendium, but rather than 'playing' I need a specific task to undertake that will require their use. Anyone have some suggestions?

  • Share the writing of a short story?
  • Collaborate on an article related to e-learning?
  • Design a piece of e-Learning on spec?

(I actually would like some collaborators to consider how to share some of the work of a soon to be 85 Oxford Don. Politics, Philosophy and since retiring 'Leadership')

 

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A forum is not a tutorial, yet it aspires to be so

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 5 Oct 2012, 23:07

A forum is not a tutorial, yet it aspires to be so.

The tutor is afforded no more privileges than any other contributor, democratic, but hardly giving them the attributes or affordances of the 'chair.' (Although I’m sure they have some useful control and buttons behind the scenes!)

A tutorial works best one-to-one (like therapy), face-to-face, or in a small group, say six at most, discussing in an synchronous environment.

(James Turner, Policy Director at the Sutton Trust suggested supplementary tutoring of school students one-to-one was most common, two-to-one worked even better because of the collaboratory experience. BBC Radio 4 10.00 Tuesday 7th September 2010, Accessed again 16.00 Saturday 12th September 2010)

You get a cue from the tutor to speak or contribute while body language and human politeness typically results in each person making contributions. Often the person who says nothing for long spells has the most insightful contribution because they have been listening.

I respect the person who says nothing the most – they have the most to say.

Twelve or more is a class. This is an e-classroom.

Easy to define as such, just consider the numbers.

I have taught classes of forty+ in secondary schools and taken ‘classes’ of sixty (with assistance) in an eight lane swimming pool. Numbers mean something, one to one is perfection, with two to one you lose nothing (and academics suggest you probably gain).

Moving up from this ... a tutor group in the real world might be six.

No surprises when things don’t work so well, whatever the affordances, or excuses of asynchronous learning/messaging when there are groups of twelve or more.

Asynchronous forums are not a listening environment, nor due to the limitations of an OU Forums affordances and attributes does in foster the kind of discussion you'd have in real life.

A suggested improvement would be:

1) Put the tutor in the chair and have this position reflected in the layout of and the way message 'tumble' into the forum.

2) Compress or concertina all messages by an individual so that the 'weight' of their message, either the frequency of contribution or length is not given prominence. i.e. the short, infrequent post has equal weight with the more verbose or frequent contribution. This mimics real life.

3) To make all things equal the images files and silhouettes are reduced in size, to a pinpoint if necessary. Their only relevance is to identify who is speaking or who spoke, in which case our names would do. I’d just as happily pick a character icon from the Monopoly or Cludo, my gender, face, mood at the time of the picture etc: are not only irrelevant but they are probably counter to my usual stern disposition.

4) Use something like Harvard's 'Rotisserie' system, deploy games and other events tactically i.e hosts/tutors and other strategically deployed postgraduate and/or PhD students are invited in from time to time to make a contribution.

Some suggestions. Some ideas.

 

 

 

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Re-invention of e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 31 Jan 2013, 06:07

Isn’t ‘re-invention’ the word? (Rogers, P114 & P115, 2002)

Not wholesale repurposing, but as Rogers puts it 'It should be acknowledged that rejection, discontinuance and re-invention frequently occur during the diffusion of an innovation and that such behaviour may be rational and appropriate from the individual's point of view.' (Rogers, p114 2002)

I wonder how my experience might have been with a group of colleagues or friends, signing up together ... but might this too ‘spoil the party.’ And how over a longer period fellow students would be emailing and messaging and getting on the phone ... let alone meeting up.

This fascinates me primarily because I am convinced that collaboration, sharing, discussion and so on is crucial to a deeper learning outcome. But does this not have to be down to the drive of the individual and permitted by the institution they belong to?

How much motivation can others really offer or be expected to offer?

If neither a carrot or stick will work with adult learners, especially in a online environment, then what do you do? ‘You can take a horse to the trough, but you can’t make it drink.’ As I’m about to take a course on the Psychology of Sport as a Senior Swimming Coach I may gain some further insights into waht motivates people to do something and how outsiders can influence this in a positive way.

And just because we’re invited to drink from this trough once, dos not mean we will do it again, or often or with enthusiasm. Our moods will wax and wane, or commitments beyond the course will impinge.

Deep learning, as I’ve learnt, benefits from, even requires a rapport with one or several others at various levels of understanding – a Subject Matter Expert (SME) or experts, a tutor, a couple of fellow students on the course, and perhaps someone more junior who can be in turn mentored or tutored by us (first years being buddied by a second year, a post-grad student supervising a fresher).

How much this mix can be set by what little the OU or other Distance Learning Provider knows about an individual is quite another matter.

Do you run a call-centre like team of facilitators/moderators ... or aspire to the one-to-one relationship of tutor or governess to student mimicking some land-owning/aristocratic model of the distant past? Where is or how can that rapport that can work between student and tutor be recreated here? Or is this something for a DPhil?

A free-for-all would create imbalances, inevitably ... for the institution. But whose experience are we prioritising here?

Whilst a balance must be found, if the best outcomes are to give tutors and SMEs much more time online to forge relationships then this should be - a good coach attracts the best athletes and attracts the interest of other coaches. How does she do that? (Expertise, training and personality ... enthusiasm, putting the athlete at the centre of things)

Perhaps by pursuing ‘educational social networking’ institutions are shooting themselves in the financial foot?


The time put in to make a freer networking between students, tutors and SMEs, with students in different time zones and different priorities would be prohibitive. Undergraduates studying on campus, in a homophilous cohort, with fewer worries (other than debt) don’t know how fortunate they are to have this opportunity to study, probably for the only time, before the life of the wider world impinges.

REFERENCE

Rogers, E,M. Diffusion of Innovations. (2005) 5th Ed.

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Blogging. A private journal, journalistic or academic?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Jul 2012, 13:05

Three Degrees of Blogging

If it plays to how it is defined, a ‘weblog’ then it should be nothing more than a captain’s log, in the style of Star Trek, that logs position and events as they occur.

Web pages, cobbled together into a journal like experience defy what the web affords.

The person who keeps a diary in a hardback notebook, or one of those Five Year Diaries with a flimsy padlock, have to keep notes on specific dates in the calendar, online the daily webpage is a falsehood, it is a devise that obliges something that is wholly unnecessary.

Personally, long ago, I ditched all pretence at writing a daily entry (even if I did so), by archiving entries by category.

Weblog as webstorage or repository.

More like the modern e-portfolio I suppose. The idea concept is easily controverted. Writing pages of fiction, with comments turned on make sharing and critique immediately possible. Allow any number of readers to contribute directly to the pages and the weblog becomes both a blog and a wiki.

Can we ‘wikify’ a website?

And do I coin such a word as soon as I tell my dictionary to accept the term? Which makes me wonder – is there a way for multiple users to share the contents of their dictionaries?

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Reflection or projection? An insight through Vygotsky

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 21 Dec 2012, 06:27

On Reflection

I can appreciate that a psychologist or therapist can guide someone through patterns of thinking and behaviour in order to resolve issues. However, reflection without guidance, without parameters, might simply re-enforce the underlying patterns of behaviour and thinking.

Does it help to dwell on the past?

Might it be no better than what Vygotsky calls ‘ideal woolgathering’? (1998:23)

Might it not be better to worry more about what you do next, your mood, behaviour and attitude in the future – this you can effect, the past you cannot. If reflection is used in any way as a form of assessment then it is inviting the student to expose themselves, to provide a biased insight into how they go about things.

If psychologists are to be understood, as well as the views of some very successful woman, whilst men will overplay their skills and abilities, women will underestimate them. If used as a tool to form a view of a student’s successful acquisition of subject knowledge will such reflection therefore tend to favour men over women?

Would we not achieve more if we treated this reflection as an audit, an objective statement of what took place in the past?

Then, instead of reflection we ‘project,’ we envisage, predict or plan, simple set-out what we’ll do next, do in the future? i.e. we put more thought, if not most of our energy, into thinking what we are going to do, rather than what we did.

I come to this conclusion after three decades of keeping a diary, often reflective.

Far from reassuring me about the value of reflection to change behaviour I detect patterns of behaviour that are so repetitive it becomes boring – too much navel gazing. Some successful people I know don’t give the past a moment’s thought, indeed, I do wonder if it is this that allows them to be successful. Instead of travelling with their head constantly turning to look back, their thoughts and actions are fixed firmly on the future.

Or is reflection of the moment? It is neither of the past or the future. Is it simply a mulling over of things? How prescribed can it be? Is it an objective or subjective exercise? Could someone else do it for you, or of you? Would the views of someone else not in fact be of greater value? Instead therefore of ‘looking at yourself in a mirror,’ you look into the eyes of someone else and ask them what they see.

Most importantly, by reflecting on the past, you plan your future actions, trying to build on experience and to avoid making the same mistakes.

REFERENCE

Vygotsky, L.S. (1998). Child psychology. The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky: Vol. 5. Problems of the theory and history of psychology. New York: Plenum.

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The e-learning professional. (v. long)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 31 Jan 2013, 06:23

The podcast H808 e-learning SMEs.

(Makes them sound like a prog rock band of the 1960s. Perhaps they were?)

[V. Long version here. 4,000 words +. 1,000 or under in H808 Tutor Forum.

Edited versions in the next 24 hours/couple of days in EduBlogs at www.mindbursts.edublogs.org]

Week One

I may be a professional swimming coach (amongst several things), but my head coach told me ‘I think too much.’ Think less and get the athletes to do more. Keep it simple. If there is any context however where thinking is the currency, literally if we are talking professionalism, then the more I think the more professional I become.

(Or not).

Many would say that a 3,000 word blog entry is 'unprofessional.'

I call it shared reflection, the 'uncut version.' It is the outcome of over five hours thinking on the topic. Hours banked. Ideas turned into cash. By definition when I have made two years worth of regular deposits I may call myself and even be defined as an 'e-learning professional' with the MA to suggest I have joined that club, and a job that for the remuneration I receive makes me a professional rather than a wishful thinking wannabe.

It is unprofessional as a post-graduate student to be flippant and/or verbose.

A professional would keep this down to 500 words, yet I am stretching it to 3,000. The uncut version. Reflection in action. My mind at work. Not the athlete sharing a few ‘mots justes’ after a successful race, but the race itself and all the training before hand. The choice words, bullet point form only with an abridged commentary goes into my Tutor Group Forum. Under 250 words there, is my targert. Under 1,000 words per OU blog had been my thinking too. Blown that then.

Watching the TV I fall asleep.

Listening to the radio (i.e. any audio) I do something else - I’d be distracted anyway, I have to.

In an effort to get into my head the points being made by OUr E-learning Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) I first read the transcripts provided and then listened to the podcast while reading the text.

What shocked me was how much I had missed.

I do less than skim read it appears, all I must do is to look at patterns and shapes. No wonder I learn so little when I do nothing more than read.

Lesson learnt?

This isn’t an 'airport thriller' I can read at break-neck speed chaisng the protagonist as he is in turn chased; this requires a different kind of reading.

It requires effort.

I must work with the text, make notes. Just highlighting choices words and sentences isn’t enough either. Effort I can do. It is consistent effort unless I am working under exam conditions where I struggle. There is always something more interesting to read.

Historically, when successful academically, it has been a huge effort and very time consuming for me. I have to take notes (long hand). Then I have to take notes on the notes. I have to make lists, take quotes and re-order the material. I may still not make sense of it. I need to chase up a few references. I need to find my own patterns. I need to discuss it. Argue about it, agree and disagree. And then, gathering up a wad of papers and scraps of paper the whole lot needs to compost for a few months. Then, and only then, might I start to ‘get it,’ and have something constructive and original to say.

Do any of us have this kind of time anymore? Did we ever?

(My late father, my daughter and a friend, a partner in one of the world's leading law firms, all have/had photographic memories. They would have read the transcript and been able to pick out its salient points after the first swift reading. Not so me, not so us?)

The process you see playing out here is an attempt to mulch the content, slow cook it and hope that I can achieve something in five hours that would normall require five months.

Keep cooking.

The second time round with the SME podcast I first worked with the text, highlighting points and generally trying to get my head around it. If you’ve come across Jakob Nielsen’s ‘Writing for the Web,’ this is what I did – isolating sentences and ideas, creating headings, sub-headings and bullet points, in a word ‘chunking. In fact, I begin to get close to doing what Richard Northridge recommends in the ‘OU Guide to Studying’ (1990) note taking, creating concept cards and then even looking for links and patterns in the text itself.

Lesson learnt?

This takes time and requires effort. I’m not great on effort. My modus operandi is (or has been) to take in volumes of material, but if this is only at a surface level no wonder I am often more frustrated than informed.

Lesson learnt?

Less is more. Rather than chasing a reference, another report or book, I need, at first, to ensure that the text I have in front of me has been dissected, not consumed, not afforded nothing more than a passing glance, but pulled apart, then reconstructed.

Lesson learnt?

Effort

Not the expected outcome of this simple task – my faltering approach to learning laid bare, but a valuable lesson at the start of the module.

At last I’m listening to the podcast.

I made myself think, made myself listen, I 'sat forward' (the technical term for interacting, for engagement.) I made myself read and take notes, made me list the contrasting ideas, the arguments for and against, the justifications ... and to cluster these ideas and adjust my own thoughts accordingly based on my experience.

I had something to think about as I listened.

Do I have anything in common with these e-learning professionals in relation to assumptions and aims?

  • Do I have different understandings of what it means to be an ‘elearning professional’?
  • Is there a distinct elearning profession, or is elearning simply an aspect of other professions?
  • The profession of teacher?
  • The profession of a university lecturer or academic?
  • The profession of a trainer or staff developer or a human resources developer in private corporate bodies?
  • Is there an elearning professional?
  • And should I be describing my job as that of an elearning professional?

My short reply, given my background in sports coaching, is simple.

  • If you are paid you are a professional.
  • If you are the athlete and not paid you are an amateur.
  • If you’re the coach and not paid you are a volunteer.

Therefore, if someone is good enough and experienced enough (or simply good at selling themselves and their ideas) – and they are remunerated for their efforts, then they are a professional.

Rebecca Addlington is a professional athlete. Bill Furness, her coach, is a professional too.

At my swimming club all the swimmers are amateur, though some through bursaries to pay for County and Regional development training are by definition quasi-professional as they are receiving benefits if not in cash, then in kind. Some of the coaches and I do not define myself as a swimming coach; it’s a hobby that’s got out of hand.

I have ‘put in the hours.’

(Which I can qualify by saying I have put in the appropriate hours. i.e. time will not make you a professional, the enduring focus of your efforts will)

One of the key themes of the podcast made by each of the speakers is that a professional has put in the time.

They have put in the effort, gained experience that is directly or indirectly relevant to their e-learning expertise – and by dint of this expertise (and being paid by the OU, for books and reports, lectures and workshops too perhaps) they are all professionals.

At the swimming club many of us (its the biggest club in the South of England) have earned our places through years of experience, gaining qualifications and attending regular courses (CPD) to retain a licence to teach or coach aquatics. Many of us, paid or not, can call ourselves 'professionals.'

Just as I’ve reduced my core thought to that of the contract between a professional and an amateur, by picking out the ideas of each speaker and doing something similar a number of interesting points regarding what it means to be an ‘e-learning professional’ emerge.

In this see-saw of ideas the protagonists have a habit of changing places.

By defining professional we should also think what it means to be unprofessional.

I’ve allowed this dance to play out as it leaves me with an image of a professional being circled by the professional wannabe, the unprofessional (as yet), the layperson, the naive, virgin student. A mass of non-professionals clamoring around the few.

The points and arguments frequently fall into another diametrically opposed set: the qualitative vs. quantitative, an objective point vs. the subjective, a value judgment vs. the facts. Everything overlaps - a Venn Diagram of the points would show sets within sets.

Adrian Kirkup

· Amateur vs. Professional (there are many highly ‘professional’ amateurs)

· Ineffective vs. effective.

Robin Mason

· Hasn’t done it for long vs. been doing it for a long time

· Undergraduate vs. PhD (A sub-set of the above)

· Hasn’t put in the hours vs. has put in the hours (more of the same)

· Immature vs. Mature (a variation of the same. Though professionalism is not a consequence of maturity)

· Inexperienced vs. Experienced.(Experience that takes time to acquire, and a certain manner to be effective)

Gill Kirkup

· A new field vs. an established field. (Disagree. Though a new field of subset of a professional activity would be definably professional).

· New vs. Established. (as above)

· No established standards vs. abides by general and specific received standards.

· Acting alone or part of a professional association.

· Part of the UK Higher Education Academy or not. (a subset of the above)

· Part of a legitimate community or not. (as above)

· Committed vs. Uncommitted.

· Respectful vs. Disrespectful.

· Respect for the individual learner, incorporating research and scholarship, the development of learning communities online is a hugely strong component in professional elearning practice. (successfully combines the subjective and unquantifiable with the quantifiable and objective)

· Juvenile and professional vs. professional only if matured. (as Robin Mason)

· Unlicensed vs. Licensed.

Robin Goodfellow

· Genuine vs. not genuine.

· Unrecognised vs. Recognised.

· Inexperienced vs. Experienced.

· Independent vs. tied (to government or a business).(disagree)

· Technical foundation vs. no technical foundation

· No need for a label, e-learning professional vs. professional enhancer. (strongly agree)

Chris Jones

· Takes time vs. no time.(as Robin Mason and Robin Goodfellow. You have to put in the time to become a professional. Which I guess applies as much to the professional criminal, as the Professional lawyer. Little p, Big P- see below)

· Part of the mainstream vs. Specialist. (disagree)

· ‘Lone Ranger’ and early stages of innovation ... vs. early majority and established (themes of Rogers)

· Enthusiasts vs. the not interested. (strongly agree)

· Society and the professionalisation of modern life (quotable)

· Sport in the 20th century and professional vs. amateurs in sport

· Traditional and modern professionals

· Autonomous vs. dependent

· Trustworthy vs. (spin/PR/Branding/Agenda)

· Not part of a trade association or governing body vs. part of such an association

· Generalist vs. specialist

· An outside vs. part of something

· Formalised standards vs. none

· Unmonitored vs. monitored

· Is there a distinct elearning profession, or is elearning simply an aspect of other professions?

· Little ‘p’ pr big ‘P.’

Jonathan Vernon (moi)

· Doesn’t look the part vs. looks the part.

· Lacks form vs. has form.

· Self-taught vs. ‘done a course.’

· Qualified (with the piece of paper to prove it) vs. Unqualified (however expert they may be).

Some thoughts on the points identified above

It is worth reflecting on Robin Mason’s point about ‘putting in the hours.’

The suggestion that genius and expertise requires 10,000 hours of effort is no urban myth. A study carried out at the Berlin Music Conservatoire identified three groups of graduates. Asked to estimate how many hours of practice and playing each student had put in since picking up an instrument they were then divided into three distinct categories: up to 4,000 hours, up to 8,000 hours and up to 10,000 hours. The first became teachers, the second category got places in orchestras whilst the tiny number who had put in 10,000 hours (takes around 10 years to do this) were most likely to be the solo artists, the concert pianists, the mavericks, the Vanessa Maes and Mozarts. Whilst all these categories are professionals, they are paid for their skills, the use of the word ‘professional’ to distinguish those who are expert, who have attained a certain standard, would in my view apply to the musicians who have made it into a top orchestra – with the soloists in a category beyond the ‘professional.’ Our ‘OU H808 E-learning SME professionals', given the decades of thought they have put into what we now define as ‘e-learning’, have been part of this ‘orchestra’ of professionals for some time, and who knows, we may have a Mozart amongst them. Personally, I've not read enough from any of them yet to know any better. I look forward to hearing what they have to say and how they say it.

Interestingly, Robin Mason returns repeatedly to a theme of time passing, of gaining, requiring or acquiring maturity of thought. Though I feel as if I am clutching at ideas in an amorphous cloud here, my sense is that whether it is professional with a big P or a little p, that the word ‘maturity'; might say it all.

What does maturity imply?

Growing up, lessons learnt, age, growth, adult hood, a way of behaving, able to fit in and contribute to a community and so on.

I disagree with Gill Kirkup

If I have understood her correctly regarding her suggesting that only in an established field is something professional whilst in a new field this is not possible. We can all think of (or at least imagine) an unprofessional ‘professional.’ The corrupt lawyer, the doctor struck off the medical register, the TV food expert who is not a doctor at all (and so a sham professional).

In 2000 I would have defined myself, as some of the panel here would have done, as what is now termed an ‘e-learning’ professional. After fifteen years in corporate communications, training and learning, creating linear, then non-linear and ultimately web-based materials the companies and government department for whom I worked through various production companies had to see me as ‘professional.’ I hadn’t done the post-graduate studying, but I’d learnt through observation and experience (first carrying video kit into the changing rooms of a nuclear power plant age 17 assisting with a training film for BNFL at Sellafield).

Interestingly, I don’t currently consider myself to be an e-learning or a learning professional and even with the MA I hope to gain in 2011 I will by my own definition not be a professional until I am being paid for my expertise.

To use a horse-racing term I lack 'form.'

I'm literally out of the race (for now).

Being studious here and building my confidence is part of the plan to regain the 'professional' tag.

Does a barrister on retirement cease to be a professional lawyer?

Socio-econonmically he/she would still be defined as a 'professional' would they not?

I agree however, very much, with Gill Kirkup’s views regarding ‘respect’ and her definition of an e-learning professional within the academic community.

Respect for the individual learner, incorporating research and scholarship, the development of learning communities online is a hugely strong component in professional elearning practice.’

(This, for me, successfully combines the subjective and unquantifiable with the quantifiable and objective. i.e. you can be a professional Professional).

I disagree with Robin Goodfellow’s view that a professional must be independent vs. tied (to government or a business). If we look beyond e-learning professionals and academia it would be quite wrong to say that someone is not professional simply because they represent the interests of an organisation or government department, let alone are being paid to take a certain stance or have a strongly held view (left or right wing politically, religious or atheist and so on).

If nothing else, I believe I have shown above that there is a natural dichotomy, if not a debate even an implicit conflict, between views on whether a person, or institution, or field of study, can be defined as professional or not, worthy of study or not.

It is engagement in such a debate where a professional proves their credentials.

A professional is a match for anyone, whilst the unprofessional would not play by the rules, make excuses, bow out...

Dare I imply that all the above are differentiating between the educated and uneducated?

Is it so black and white? Students at school, scholars as Edwardian’s would have defined them, and undergraduates, graduates too, in terms of education can never be defined as ‘professional.’

Or can they?

The government pays students to go to college, to stay on in secondary school after the age of 16 – does not this make them pros, like a boy of a similar age getting paid to play football in an academy, they literally ‘turn pro.’

I agree with Robin Goodfellow that there is ‘need for a label’, that what is currently the e-learning professional may be the ‘professional enhancer ‘of the future if the UK HE Academy has their way (though I doubt the term will stick). Just as Robin was (we were) once web-based learning professionals, or learning professionals, or professionals in education...

Big P, little p (Chris Jones) is the most memorable expression of an idea in relation to the professional Professional that I take from this and a worthy talking point. And 2,500 words in I could sum it up with a Twitter count.

Professional is an adjective and a noun.

Anyone can be described as ‘professional,’ (adjective) by dint of their behaviour and experience, however to be a ‘professional’, (noun), various criteria should be met. Depending on how your measure up, by Chris Jones’s definition, you are either Big or Little P.

(I can think of other categories where a similar way of looking at things could be applied, for example, ‘engineer’. The person who fixes my washing machine may call himself an ‘engineer,’ but Isambard Kingdom Brunel was an ‘Engineer’. A sports psychologist is no longer allowed to call themselves such, they are sports scientists. So Psychologist, if not professional, not has a legally binding form of expression and use).

I disagree however with Chris Jone’s view that Professionals (big P you notice) have to be specialists whilst implicitly, if they are professional at all (little p) they are not, or unlikely to be so if they are part of the mainstream.

Or do I?

(I'm changing my mind as I write this, reflecting on a matter tends to do this. You twist yourself in so many knots and then find you are looking in the opposite direction - and happy to do so)

Onwards

Is there an implicit elitism here that makes me uncomfortable, an obvious them and us?

As a Professional I am not ‘part of the mainstream’ ?

Yes, that’s it.

You see the ‘mainstream’ is the population, everyone, in the universe that we are discussing. Professionals are of the mainstream, of society, even if they are a subset community within the broader community.

The likes of Richard Dawkin and Stephen Hawkings are 'professional Professionals' by their engagement with the world, not because of an elitist, hide-themselves away hermit like attitude to knowledge acquisition. Do Simon Schama and Neil Ferguson fall into the same category of professionalism?

Be published and damned, broadcast and be damned even more?

But you don't have to be famous to be Professional (though I dare say you'd cease to be professional if you became infamous).

Or have I been making a mistake through-out this internal debate ... this reflection – that we have always only been discussing Big P professionalism ONLY as part of ‘the whole thing,’ i.e. the specific category of the ‘e-learning Professional’ and just as this time round I haven’t given a moment’s thought to ‘e-learning’ as a term, I have nonetheless unnecessarily dissected the term ‘professional.’

I’m yet to click through the OED online.

I daren’t. It may be my undoing.

Back to my idea of a Venn Diagram.

If ‘professionals’ is the universe then we have two subsets, Professionals (Big P) and professionals (little p) (the noun only). Far smaller, and intersecting both these sets, we have ‘e-learning.’ There are in e-learning little P and Big P professionals.

Still with me?

But there are also non-professionals, and even  the unprofessional to consider. Can they also be defined as Non-professionals (Big N) and Unprofessionals (Big U).

Final thoughts

Might a professional be defined as someone with 'qualified confidence in their field?'

Not finished yet

I've got a Venn Diagram to draw, some visualising to do.

Can a loner be a professional?

I enjoyed Chris Jones's point about the ‘Lone Ranger’ that in early stages of innovation there are maverick, loners having a go at something new way ahead of anyone else - think Dr Emmett Brown in 'Back to the Future' tinkering away at the construction of a time-travelling automobile. Are such people professionals or even professional? Does this 'odd-ball' behaviour disenfranchise you from the professional community, even if you have the mind the size of a planet?

A consultant escapes the hospital ward for a couple of years to undertake research. Just because they are beavering away on their own, being a 'Lone Ranger' doesn't disqualify them from the category of 'Professional,' (Big P), or even 'professional Professional' (little p, Big P).

Dare I suggest that our panel of e-learning experts are 'professional e-Professionals' ?

I don't even begin to delve into the thinking behind innovation diffusion. This is an entire module in its own right. It is called 'Innovations in E-learning', or H807 for short.

For more read 'Diffusion of Innovations' E.M.Rogers. (2005) 5th edition.

Nor am I going to teach the definition 'e-learning.'

Is there a professional 'look.'

Forgive me if I make a comparison here between the need for barristers to put on the appropriate garb in court and so look Professional with a big p, compared to those wishing to be called professional and seen as Professional who don't look the part. Poolside as coaches it is expected that all teachers are appropriately dressed in the club colours and well groomed - this looks professional. There was once a time when teachers wore a jacket and tie, so looked professional like fellow professionals such as lawyers and doctors. Don't academic look the part, 'look professional' in their gowns and mortar-boards?

And having addressed 'looks' can someone sound 'professional?

Think how a director chooses actors to play a role. Look at Michael Cane in 'Educating Rita,' is this the stereotypical professional Professor?

Another discussion, but coming from corporate communications we have been through exercises of using authentic presenters (people who work at the place) compared to buying in 'professional' presenters. To do justice to the message in the TV medium the professional broadcasters were far better at putting over the points the client wanted to make.

As I said, another discussion, a different thread.

P.S. It would be unprofessional to post such a long entry into a tutor forum, where a 500 word, even a 250 word version will be posted (the bullet points, or just my thoughts on the key bullet points ... or just where I strongly agree or disagree).

Lesson Learnt ?

Professionals put in the time and effort, and follow rather than ignore guidelines for the community in which they operate.

It strikes me that academics, like creatives, are more interested in reputation and recognition than money.

Is it not striking that not one of our panel mention it?

Can you be a professional without it?

And what about spelling and grammar?

The ability to communicate. Have I mentioned that. Can the professional spell?

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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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Words. A call for simple English.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 26 Nov 2011, 15:55

'Communication is essential to our lives, but how often do we stop to think about where the words we use have come from?' Hutchings (2008)

The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English

Words matter to me very much

Their purpose is to communicate.

We are all prone to use jargon, and the first time we use it we feel we belong that tribe. Academic writers are prone to the greatestmisdemeanours - they not only invent their own words, but they like to show off their command of words you/we have rarely come across, or they misappropriate words from other disciplines and force anew definition upon them.

Books on words appeal to me.

If Open Learning is to appeal to the broadest church, then clear, simple, language is required.

If you spot any polysyllabic bibble-babble, please do share.

Or is that me committing this very crime?

One long word, and another long word that might be of my own invention. My apologies.

So why use one word with many syllables which few people understand, when a sentence of short words would do a far better job?

Obfuscation or communication?

Showing off or joining the throng, who are your students.

And have I just done it again?

What I mean to say is, 'it cannot help learning if a writer puts in a long word that they and their colleagues understand that the majority don't.

Clear English, is simple English; anything more can be unnecessarily confusing.

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The use of narrative in e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 15 Oct 2012, 10:28

I fully buy into the idea of using narrative in teaching.

Without the pyrotechnics of e-technology some imagination from a well informed agent, perhaps assisted by a scriptwriter, could produce a script that is engaging, a journey from which a learner may deviate if something so intrigues them, a pattern with a beginning, middle and end that everyone can follow.

‘Teachers use narrative to teach children difficult concepts and to bring structure to the curriculum.’ Egan (1988)

REF

Bruner (1996.97) ‘Meaning Making’

  • spontaneous inclination to engage in a dialogue with material
  • to improve some form of organisation upon it
  • to make comparison with it

REF

McCloskey, D.N. (1990) Storytelling in economics

Bruner, J.S. (1996) ‘Frames of thinking: ways of making meaning.’ In Olson, D and Torrance, N (eds) Modes of thought. Explorations in culture and cognition, pp. 93-105.

It has been shown that experts in any field tend to embody knowledge in the form of narrative.

Schon, D (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action.

‘Stories are the method by which people impose order and reason upon the world.’ Fisher. (1987) REF Fisher, W.R. (1987) Human communication as Narration: toward philosophy of reason, value and action.

‘By framing events in a story it permits individuals to interpret their environment, and importantly it provides a framework for making decisions about actions and their likely outcomes.’ Weller. (2009:45)

The framework is the logic of the narrative, the logic of the plot, the role-play of the protagonist (you the learner), the battle you have with antagonists (concepts you can’t grasp) supported by your allies (the community of learners, your tutor and institution) leading to a crisis (the ECA or exam), but resolved with a happy ending (one hopes).

Film-makers, naturally, but also documentary film-makers, bang on about the ‘narrative’ and the ‘story.’

This is how facts, whether naturally linear or not, need to be presented, if an audience, or a larger part of that audience, are to be suitably engaged by a topic.

Some months ago there was a news story concerning how much could be expressed in 40 seconds – BBC Radio 4, Today Programme. Any recollections?

Three experts were called and in turn tried to explain:

1) Bing Bang

2) String Theory

3) The Offside Rule in soccer

Bing Bang was pure narrative, like Genesis in the Bible, with a clear beginning, middle and end.

String Theory had a narrative in they way the theory came about, and just about got there.

The Offside Rule didn't even started well, then got hopelessly lost in ifs and buts and maybes. (I got lost at least. Coming to all three equally ignorant I only came away with full understanding of one, some understanding of the second, and barely a clue with the Offside Rule)

The use of scenarios:

  • as a device for determining functionality
  • as a means for engaging users in the stakeholder’s consultation

Having spent too considerable a part of my working life trying to write original screenplays and TV dramas I am versed in writing themes and strategies, storytelling in three acts, with turning points and a climax, antagonists and protagonists.

I use software like Final Draft and Power Structure.

These tools could as easily be used to compose and craft a piece of e-learning. Perhaps I’ll be given the opportunity to do so.

Narrative … is a useful means of imposing order and causality on an otherwise unstructured and unconnected set of events, but it also means that some detail is omitted in order to fit into the narrative, and other factors are only considered in the limited sense in which they can be accommodated with the narrative.’ Weller (2009:48)

Writing a narrative, for a novel or screenplay, is to some degree formulaic.

Is design of e-learning as straight-forward?

A decade ago it looked complex, five years ago with HTML code package in plug-ins and excellent ‘off-the-shelf’ software coming along the process appeared less out of reach.

Today I wonder if it is more matter-of-fact than some make out?

Addressing problems, devising a plan (a synopsis, then a treatment), threading it together … maybe its having it operate apart from the tutor or lecturer or teacher is what concerns you (teachers, lectures, profs). You are the ones who must learn to ‘let go of your baby,’ to have an actor or presenter deliver your lines. Once, and well. Or write in a team, as writers on a soap opera.

It works to follow the pattern rather than break it.

It strikes me that in e-learning design there may be only a few structures to cover most topics – really, there can only be so many ways to tell/teach/help someone understand a concept … or to do something, and remember the facts, the arguments and concepts … to be able to do it, repeatedly, build on this and even develop an idea independently to the next stage or level.

There is little meat on a popular documentary

There are micro-narratives and their are journeys, some more literal than others, for example, currently there’s a BBC documentary series, ‘The Normans’ and the third or so series of ‘Coast.’

From an educational point of view, what do audiences ‘learn’ from these programmes?

Can they typically recall anything at all, or do we/are we semi-conscious when watching TV, leaning back, not leaning forward, mentally as alert as someone smoking a joint. (Apocryphal or true?)

Try reading the script, try transcribing what is said and look at how far it goes.

Not very far at all.

Such programmes/series can be a catalyst to go to the website or buy the books, but otherwise the information is extremely thin, predictable and ‘safe.’)

If only links could be embedded into the programme so that as you view the programme relevant pages from the Internet wold automatically be called up.

Do you watch TV with a laptop?

Many do. Traders can manage several screens at a time, why not as mere mortals too?It becomes more engaging when you field of vision is nothing but screens, on topic. My preferred way of working is to have two screens, two computers, a mac and a PC, side by side. They do different things, they behave in different ways. I have a team of two, not one.

The medium may introduce a topic or theme, but there is little meat on the bone and we can be swayed by:

  • bias
  • the view of the author/presenter/channel
    • (commissioning editor)
  • negative or positive

(For any longer list of concerns take a course in media studies.)

And if its on a commercial channel there are interruptions for adverts, while even the BBC chase ratings.

Even seen a lecturer take a commercial break

How about the some rich e-learning sponsored by Lucoxade, Andrex or Persil?

This is how schools receive interactive cd-rom and online websites ‘for free.’

REFERENCE

Weller, M. (2007) Virtual Learning Environment. using, choosing and developing your VLE.

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The value of electronic literacy in the Internet Age

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 06:32

Did serendipity bring me to ‘Contemporary Perspectives in E-learning Research.’ Conole and Oliver (2007) or did I notice that H808 students were reading and critting it?

Either way I bought it as I’m yet to get my head around e-Reader.

Can you recommend an e-Reader?

A kindle or the Sony Reader perhaps? I can’t see the point in an iPad for reading academic journals and books. I don’t want to be printing off a forest and filing on shelves I don’t have either.

Chapter 11 of ‘Contemporary Perspectives in E-learning Research’ looks at ‘Academic literacy in the 21st century’

E-literacy is an irresistible term of course.

‘Electronic Literacy’ or ‘E-literacy’

‘Involving the capacity to locate, organise, interpret and use digital information.’ Conole (2007:160)

Martin (2003) appears to get the credit for coining the term.

There are many forms of literacy, all have their place:

  • information literacy
  • digital literacy
  • electronic communication
  • computer literacy
  • transliteracy
  • information/IT skills
  • computer-mediated communications
  • knowledge construction
  • research


Shetzer and Warshauer (2000), McKenna (2002), ‘Writing as a social practice’ (Ivonic et al, 1999)

These literacies are:

  • shaped by disciplinary norms
  • institutional power dynamics
  • impact of audience
  • notions of identity


‘What we choose to read and how we read may lead to fundamental changes in our understanding of authoritative scholarship.’ Conole (2007:160)

It interesting that Google is often the preferred means of locating academic information (Borphy et al, 2004). Does this apply to undergraduates and graduates? At times frustrated with the OU Library Services I ended up in Google Scholastic but no longer had the access privileges so had to back pedal. Too often links given in text, journals and book are out of date. By way of example of the three links I wished to follow up in this chapter I found only one and that was at a different URL I am yet to find the SCONUL or SCORM articles.

SCONUL (1999) ‘information skills in higher education’, SCONUL position paper. Available online at: www.sconul.ac.uk/activities/inf-lit/papers/seven-pillars.html (CAN’T FIND)

SCORM (2004) Shareable content object reference model. http://www.adlnet.org/scorm/history/2004/index.cfm (ERROR PAGE)

Ingraham (2005b) Filmic and even melodramatic narrative ... used purposefully.

Ingraham (2005b) Exploring the Frontiers of E-learning: border, outposts and migration. ALT-j, 2005. 6-8 Sept 2005.

Beyond the ‘essentially medieval apprenticeship system’ (Ingraham and Ingraham, 2006) ‘E-Quality: a dialogue between quality and academia’, E-learning, 31) http://www.wwwords.co.uk/elea/content/pdfs/3/issue3_1.asp

(ACCESSED 16 AUG 2010. But not at this address, but at this onesmile

http://www.wwwords.co.uk/pdf/freetoview.asp?j=elea&vol=3&issue=1&year=2006&article=11_Ingraham_ELEA_3_1_web

I have a problem with some PDF files too, but that’s down to an eight year old iBook not being able to upgrade to the latest ADOBE PDF software. A new iBook beckons.

This theme of literacy given a book in its own right. How though do institutions recognise the many different ways students may wish to pursue and assemble content and information in future?

Literacy and multiple literacies (Kress, 1997)

‘It is a normal and fundamental characteristic of language and literacy to be constantly remade in relation to the needs of the moment.’ Conole (2007:169)

Kress, G (1997) Before writing: rethinking the paths to literacy.

‘The are many ways of making and communicating meaning in the world today.’ Conole (2007:169)

The goals of education

The development of ‘concrete-operational skills of technical reason coupled with functional, utilitarian language skill.’ (Jones, 1991)

Two conflicting directions for education

‘The desire to stimulate the growth of autonomous, entrepreneurial, IT-literate, multi-skilled individuals’ or ‘the desire to create a compliant, low-expectation labour force inured to the demands of flexibilisation.’ Conole (2007:171)

Surely this isn’t a case of either or, and surely both ends of the scale can be viewed positively – society needs a community of people working at different jobs to remain viable and coherent. Conole should be quoting Government policy here but prefer to suggest that there is a choice while clearly favouring one over the other.

Prison Officers, we are told, don’t need a university degree; they aren’t the only ones. Unless you want people to endure their necessary jobs like Marvin the Paranoid Android. Adams. (1979)

REF Kress, G (2003) Literacy in the new media age.

REFERENCE

Adams, D (1979) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Conole, G and Oliver, M (eds)  2007. Contemporary perspectives in E-Learning Research. Themes, methods and impact on practice.







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Grayson Perry and Rose Tremain on Creativity

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 26 Oct 2011, 07:45

I meant to share this at the time of the broadcast a month of six weeks ago. Life and an OU TMA got in the way.

Please offer your thoughts and share

These are notes, things I picked out, some reflection on my take on all of this. Perhaps we are like minds? Perhaps not? I'm trying to make sense of it ... I'm not saying I've made sense of it here or in a hundred or more posting on a similar theme that I have made online over the last decade reading the likes of Stephen Pressfield, Norman Mailer and Ben Okri, even David Ogilvy) who amongst many creatives have chosen to share their wisdom with the wider world.

To be successful and creative is a rare thing, it isn't simply a result of luck or talent or endeavour ... a mind might be able to self-regulate and focus once it has found its medium and voice, but just as helpful are those around you who create parameters, who set deadlines, who chase you with a stick or reward you with a carrot.

In this BBC Radio 4 broadcast Grayson Perry explored the myths and misconceptions of creativity.

What does it take?

Like all things, hard work and single-mindedness.

From my point of view I see myself as a Catherine Wheel that has been lit and fallen of its stand - I spit and twist, sending out ideas all over the place. Not the best way forward.

The Myths and Misconceptions were:


  • The Eureka Moment (Spoke to Terry Pratchet)
  • Anyone can do it (Spoke to Rose Tremain)
  • Drugs are good for you. (But not for Satre)
  • A bid mad
  • Britain's got talent (Spoke to Hussein Shelian)
  • Creative Genius
  • Need to have suffered an early trauma (Ray Talis)


We are reminded the 'creativity' is a central part of the UK economy.

For 17 years I actively contributed to this. My wilderness years, the last eight, have resulted in very little output (if that means getting it out of the front door). I stack it. I'd prefer to see these ideas compost and die than give my ideas to the world.

It is essential that creativity has institutional underpinning.

How will this manifest itself with the cuts to arts funding now being proposed by the coalition government in the UK.

or is it necessary. Whilst education in the UK has its faults it nonetheless appears to favour and permit the individual so that talent can develop. This must be the state system, private schools are a sausage machine for exam results, they have to be given what parents are forking out.

'Creativity is mistakes.'

Says Grayson Perry, he has this carved into concrete across the mezzanine floor of his studio. You try, you fail, you try again. I would like to suppose I haven't tried hard enough to fix my failures (or what I perceive as failures). At time though I feel if I keep on trying I would eventually strip back a 90,000 novel to a few words.

Imaginative power is 'looking, looking, looking' to which Rose Tremain added, it is 'listening, listening, listening.'

I'm a looker, so I don't know how I've ended up writing.

You can never be fully relaxed on holiday.

I do, but sailing and skiing do occupy your head if you fall off cliffs and like to race dinghies. Moments of near-death are exhilarating, as those times the elements sweep you along.

I hate the computer as a writing tool, this facility to edit does me no favours. yet a writer Grayson interviews said the computer allowed him to write, that until then he had no way to start straight in with a few thoughts, some scenes (like episodes in a film), and assemble it all in a non-linear way.

I've worked so hard with programmes like Power Structure and Final Draft but somehow always tie myself in knots trying to add or remove a character or scene or changing the ending or beginning.

'Letting go at the end - that's as good as it will get.' Says Rose Tremain.

A year of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and my last session was driving me to 'finish something.' I can, but there needs to be someone with a stick harrying me along, a reward at the end would help, reassuring words along the way too ...

My notes here (a month or so after the broadcast) say something about 'investigating in a way that is new and aiding their creativity by giving them love and boundaries.'

I would run with a lover, with the intensity of an unfulfilled affair. Something to make the heart race. I once spent a day drawing a girl I lusted for ... she was happy to be naked for me. I compelled myself into a state of denial without able to control my arousal. It all went into the drawing, the excited, confident marks across the page.

What about the University of East Anglia Creative Writing Course?

I've locked at the details and would be applying for 2011. Don't have the money. Anyone want to sponsor me? In return for a percentage of the royalties that would of course come about a year or two later?

Pretty please?

Or the MA in Fine Art at Sussex University?

'A life's work without any expectation of reward.'

My wife caught this line and said that was me. She should know, she's not had much out of me these last eight years. The novels I promised to write were written, but are considerably short of an edit I would send out. I would need to shut myself away from everything for 12 weeks.

Do you have somewhere I could hide?

Exam conditions six to nine hours a day, seven days a week. Not any man made disturbance - nature I can tolerate, nature I love. A hermitage on Farnes island would do, a ski lodge up a mountain pre-Season. somewhere. An empty barn, drained swimming pool, decommissioned nuclear power station.

Impulsive ideas that I run with:


  • A chess set made out of branded bottles of water.
  • Every ski run in the Ski Resorts of Val d'Isere and Tignes reconstructed as transects showing their true length and fall.
  • A short film about watersprites living in a public swimming pool
  • Story ideas galore for TV series or film.
  • A 6ft canvass of Lewes Castle in the snow from a series of photographs that could have been taken 800 years ago.

'When you are creating something you are drawing on so many parts of the brain.'

This was in response to someone with an MRI scan who claims to have identified creativity. It doesn't work like that, indeed, the creative mind goes more slowly ... it takes it times over these connections. It thinks, how else could it ever deliver anything original?

So when yo relax, you let go, that is when you have your great ideas. I resolved the ending to a story I haven't touched for three years on a dog walk so long I found worried messages on the mobile phone I had left in the car. My mobile is rarely on.

'The distressful bread of the day to day.' Said Rose Tremain.

Did I get that right?

Grayson Perry talked about his Inner Shed.

I have my inner shed, what I need is a 'room of my own.' It's hard to be creative perched on the end of the marital bed in a tiny room that is stacked to the ceiling with possessions that call for occupancy of a house twice the size.

Fretting over the non-blog affordances of the OU Blogging environment I have moved to EduBlogs where you will find me under 'Mymindbursts.'

Should institutions such as the OU ditch their own platforms and assemble the best off the shelf offerings in one place? What this environment lacks is personalisation, as well as stats, friends, freedom to add apps and plug-ins and all the rest of it.

This is a De Dion Bouton in the age of the E-type Jag.

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Design Museum

The importance of Face-to-Face (from the OU, 1990)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 8 Oct 2011, 15:07

From the Good Study Guide – (OU) 1990 by Andrew Nortledge.

p65 ‘Where the lecture comes into its own is in helping you to understand how the ideas in the subject work. The lecturer can ‘project; meaning into the words for you. The sense of the word is signalled through tone of voice and embellished with gestures and fluid expression.’

A gem I fell upon serendipitously when my daughter emptied her bedroom of childhood books, including this one, sent to her rather hopefully by her grandfather when she was 12.

The relevance here is on why face-to-face lectures and tutorials will continue to have such an important role to play. Maybe fewer of them (per student) so that a far larger student cohort can be taught and managed, but necessary all the same.

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