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N is for Network Theory

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  • Jakob Nielsen

  • Networks (Network Theory)

  • Netiquette

If you've been involved in web design for any length of time then you'll have come across Jakob Nielsen; I still treasure my 1999 copy of 'Web Usability' because it takes a scientific approach to web design - making web pages intuitively easy to use. A decade on and Nielsen's work has grown into a substantial and significant web usability consultancy.

'Netiquette' embraces all the behaviours and misbehaviours that have arisen as a result of paramount connectedness on the Web; what we see and do reflects human society on a global scale. Spam, porn, hacking, flash mobs, freedom of speech, libel, privacy ... 

Network Theory embraces many aspects of understanding who we are and how we behave in a way that can exploit the 'Big Data' offered in the 21st century. It is a smarter way to study what is going on in our heads, in society and online. 

 

 

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Web-Based Training (Part One)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 07:19

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Web-Based Training (WBT) (2000)

Margaret Driscoll

I bought this book in 2001. Nearly a decade on I am delighted how apt it remains, even if the term may now have been superseded by e-learning - while cyberlearning had currency for a few years too and before this we had 'interactive learning'.

Even a decade on I recommend the book.

Training and learning are in different camps, one supposing a component of applied engagement (health and safety, fixing photocopiers, burying uranium trioxide, driving a delivery van, making cars, selling phones, employee induction) while the other is essentially cognitive (though with its physicality in this kind of prestidigitation).

Yet we made ‘training programmes’ on things like cognitive behavioural therapy. Corporate and government clients had the money to do these things.

Driscoll’s definition of WBT is somewhat longer than Weller’s definition (2007) of e-learning (electronically enhanced learning with a large component of engagement on the Internet). A bit ‘wishy-washy’ my exacting Geography A’ Level teacher would have said.

Hardly a clear definition if it has a let out clause. But when was anything clear about what e-learning is or is not, or should be? The term remains a pig in a poke; its most redeeming factor being that it is a word, not a sentence, and fits that cluster of words that includes e-mail.

Web-based training Driscoll (2000) says should be:

  • Interactive
  • Non-linear
  • Easy to use graphic interface
  • Structured lessons
  • Effective use of multimedia
  • Attention to educational details
  • Attention to technical details
  • Learner control

I like that. I can apply it in 2011. I did.

I was reading ‘Web-Based Training’ (and using the accompanying CD-rom) in 2001 and then active in the development of learning, or knowledge distribution and communication websites for the NHS, FT Knowledge ... and best of all, Ragdoll, the home of Pob, Rosie and Jim, Teletubbies and the addictive pleasures of ‘The Night Garden.’

We may call ourselves students, mature students even, or simply post-graduates, but would we call ourselves ‘Adult Learners.’

It’s never a way I would have defined my clients, or rather their audiences/colleagues, when developing learning materials for them in the 1980s and 1990s. Too often they were defined as ‘stakeholders,’ just as well I saw them as people and wrote scripts per-the-script, as if for only one person.

That worked, producing for an umbrella term does not.

Adult Learning doesn’t conjure up innovative e-learning, perhaps because of the connotations Adult Learning has inelation to the catalogue of F.E. courses then comes through the door every July or August.

This definition of an ‘adult learner’ would apply to everyone doing an OU course surely?

The special characteristics of adult learners Driscoll (2000:14)

  • Have real-life experience
  • Prefer problem-centred learning
  • Are continuous learners
  • Have varied learning styles
  • Have responsibilities beyond the training situation
  • Expect learning to be meaningful
  • Prefer to manage their own learning

With some of these definitions baring more weight than others, don’t you think?

REFERENCE

And additional references used by Driscoll but not cited above:

References (Adult Learning)

Knowles (1994) Andragogy in action. Applying modern principles of adult learning.

Brookfield (1991) Understanding and facilitating adult learning

Cross (1992) Adults as learns: increasing participation and facilitating learning.

Freire (1970) A cultural action for freedom

Merriam and Caffarella (1991) Learning in adulthood

Kidd (1973) How adults learn

 

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Some interesting facts about English

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 30 Aug 2010, 12:02
Courtesy of Henry Hitchings. 2008

K.O. = 'Knock Out' so 'OK' ... not so!

I’ve learnt something. And so simple. I thought it might be American Airforce derived. Code. I always wondered about OK.

What about F.A.B? From ‘Thunderbirds.’

There are 6,900 different, mutually unintelligible natural languages.


96% of the world's languages are spoken by 4% of its inhabitants.

There are 750 languages in Indonesia.

Eleven languages account for the speech of more than half the world's population:


1. Mandarin Chinese
2. Spanish
3. Hindi
4. Arabic
5. French
6. Bengali
7. Portuguese
8. Russian
9. German
10. Japanese
11. English

Only SIX may be significant in fifty years time:


1. Mandarin Chinese
2. Spanish
3. Hindi
4. Bengali
5. Arabic
6. English

English dominates in diplomacy, trade, shipping, the entertainment industry and youth culture.

English is the lingua franca of science and medicine.

Its position is prominent, if not dominant, in education and international business and journalism.

There are more fluent speakers of English in India, where it persists as 'subsidiary official language' than in Britain.

English as a second language is spoken by some 120 million non-British.

English is spoken by

* 80% of the population of the Netherlands and Sweden
* 50% of the population of Germany, Slovenia and Finland
* 30% iof the population of Italy, France and the Czech Republic

REFERENCE

The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English. Henry Hitchings. 2008
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Fingerspitzengefuhl

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 18:50

'A feeling in the tips of one's fingers.' Courtesy of Henry Hitchings (2009)

My journey through the English language courtesy of Henry Hitchings has come to an end. I have read his ‘The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English’ from cover to cover. I’ll have to read his book on Dr Johnson’s Dictionary next – unless I have something better to do in OU Land. Or get my hands on Mencken’s book on ‘The American Language’ which the late Alistair Cook would often quote.

I feel better armed to deal with concerns for the veracity of such words as ‘enculturated’ and ‘e-lapsed’ time that those of studying Online and Distance Learning (e-learning) must get used to.

I’ve learnt about loan words, calques and coinage; words taken straight from a foreign language, expressions that are literal translations of a foreign language and invented words.

English is a language of constant invention.


I have a put down from the 16th century for any new fangled multiple-syllable techno babble I come across. I can call the author a 'Controversialist  - a writer who spurts out horrid polysyllables; and I might use the line, ‘such addicts of exotic terms would rarely use a short word where a long alternative could be found.' From John Florio's A Worlde of Wordes (1598)

I love the French loan word 'Escargatoire' which is 'a nursery of snails'. I am sure I can find a way to use it.

It amuses me that William Fox Talbot wanted to call photography ‘photogenic drawing while after Louis Daguerre we have ‘daguerreotype’ but pushed by Sir John Hersche ‘photography’ and ‘photo’ caught on. (Queen Victoria asked a grand-daughter for a 'photo' in a letter).

I thought of ‘stakeholder’ as a word that had to be 1970s corporate speak, only to learn that it was first used in 1850, along with entrepreneur and capitalist

Etiquette has become ‘netiquette’ in OU Land

This is a Georgian notion and appears in Johnson's dictionary of 1818. One piece of advice given regarding etiquette is to 'be discreet and sparing of your words.'

With is in mind, as I begin a new module my self-imposed rules will be:

  • Messages under 50 words
  • Forum replies and entries under 250 words
  • OU Blog global entries under 250 words, OU entries under 500 and private entries as long as I wish, but probably under 2,000 words
  • MyStuff under 1,000 (though I plan to break these entries into more manageable ‘learning objects,’ like the paper equivalent of waht in 1990 the OU called a ‘Concept Card.’

(I have also broken this entry into four parts to keep the wordage down per entry. More to follow.)

Hitchings leaves mention of the Internet to the last pages of the final paragraph

'Online communities, which are nothing if not eclectic, prove an especially rich breeding ground for new words.'

* extremes
* deliriously ludic (sic)
* personalised
* localised

REFERENCE

The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English. Henry Hitchings. 2008

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