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H809: Activity 9.2 - 9.4. Unscrambling the presumptions of research in e-learning educational practice

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 20 Oct 2014, 08:07

Activity Theory (AT) according to various authors .... , supposes a quest to solve a problem, an 'activity theorist' looking at certain kinds of research, understanding activity system as being driven by outcomes, would therefore annotated the six nodes of the AT pyramid with this in mind.

Fig. 1. Activity Theory (Engestrom, 2008)

In contrast, considering the same subject of research, a sociologist would be inclined to look for power structures.

In turn how might a management consultant, or psychologist approach this? And in relation to H809 and the MAODE, how differently would someone educated in each of the following theories approach the same subject matter: behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism and connectedness?

The suggestion that the theory behind a piece of research or OER from H809 TMA02 predisposes a specific research response is like having an undefined medical problem. In turn each specialist offers a view based on the narrow perspective of their specialism.

By way of example, with sinus/earache like symptoms from which I have always 'suffered' I in turn visit a neurologist, immunologist and dentist. I discover from each in turn that I must be depressed/stressed, have an allergic response to something, need a tooth filled/crowned. In turns out that I have a pronounced response to house dust mite and due to physical damage to a channel in one part of the maxillary sinus it doesn't drain so the slightest infection, a mild cold, will cause inflamation and pain. The response that works is primarily preventative with self-medication of prescription pain relief at a dosage that works - co-codomol and occassional antibiotics. (The above over a 33 year period of investigations that included several other excitable consultants who each in turn gleefully hoped that I might have a very rare condition X or Y that they would investigate).

Just as medical specialists are inclined to come at a situation with too narrow a perspective, so too can we when wishing to study, in a learning situation, what is going on ... in there (the brains of each student) and externally, the context and situation of the 'learning' that they are doing (or having done to them).


Conole, G., and Oliver, M. (eds.) (2008) Contemporary perspective in e-learning research. Themes, Methods and Impacts on Practice.

Engestrom, Y (2008) From Teams to Knots

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H809 Activity 8.1-8.5 Teenagers do Physics with the intervention of a computer to prompt discussion

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013, 09:14


In the abstract we are told that ‘Although ICT resources are commonly expected to produce uniform benefits’ Tolmie (2001) Are they? And that, ‘they are necessarily employed within pre-existing contexts of educational and social activity’. Tolmie (2001)

When and where could a context NOT be pre-existing?? Something is, or is not. Context is an absolute.

Rather, what is that specific context. Otherwise this is tautology. It is like saying that electricity pylons go into an existing landscape. Isn’t this stating the obvious so that a gullible audience nod in agreement?

Tolmie (2001) talks of ‘unexpectedly diverse effects’. Unexpectedly or diverse? Surely not both.

Is this not something of an exaggeration? And in any case, such diverse responses should be either expected, or not presumed either way to be likely or unlikely to happen. It is very dangerous to pre-empt findings.

I visualise the introduction of new technology such as this as drops of ink in a pool of water in a stream  - it has to compete with the mix that is already there, as well as its natural flow and other behaviours - leaking away into the land and evaporation for a start.

My conclusion based on reading the abstract is to: Think people above all else. Internal and external contexts are fluid and based on responses too and feelings.

It is all complex, and more to do with the brains of the individuals than simply their context . Everything can and should be measured in some way, from an agreed benchmark, to monitor, track then analyse. It is far more complex.

Take any class, habituated by the classroom, the people around us and the pattern and behaviour of the teacher … especially on a warm Friday afternoon, no wonder the mind wanders. Just because a person is physically in a classroom, even participating in a task, does not mean that much is going in if they are dreaming of the weekend or Fiona Henderson from the girl’s school down the road …

The expression ‘oversimplified’ used by Tolmie (2001)  is a) hyperbole b) a value judgment.

Better ‘simplified’, preferably qualification of the term - simplified as in ‘clipped or contained’ that parameters are created because of the remit of the funding process. You are not able to ‘look outside the box’ as only that which takes place in the box is funded. There needs to be some of one and some of the other - research based on ‘tackling circumscribed needs’ while at the same time research that has an open brief and is open ended - that stands back to see the wood for the trees, rather than, to continue the metaphor, to examine only one kind of tree in the woods in order to avert the ‘mentality of one-stop resources’ mentioned by Oliver & Conole (1998)

How else do you address improving a situation other than by identifying the problems?

Anything else is misguided (literally), or indulgent. Far worse, in the NHS, and Post Office and Banking System have been wholesale computing systems that really were alien and universal.

Change management. Everyone has a point. Time to listen and involves matters most. The psychology of innovation. Resistance is despised. (Robinson et al., 1998)

Making the wrong assumptions that blame the teachers rather than the technology - which is a catalyst for complexity, rather than a tool for conformity.

Evaluation work also rarely does more than examine the explicitly intended effects of ICT, and so fails to identify unintended or serendipitous repercussions that may actually be a critical aspect of its impact (Jones, 1998).

But the entire point and context of an exam is to remove such context in the surroundings by placing the student in ‘exam conditions’ in a neutral space, where parameters of time and context are controlled and aim to be common to other students and impartial.

Surroundings mean different things to different people. It is naive and deterministic to think that people are so easily governed by their context. The individual over the surroundings. Unless we think students are like a uniform tribal grouping.

I'm through the reading and taking it further - reading the original paper to see if my concerns and amusement are justified.

I find the gender difference uninsightful and unhelpful - we know this anyway. Men and woman are different physiologically - which includes the brain where there are various documented differences especially between the differing amount of grey and white matter and the concentration of neurones and close connections in women compared to men. But the differences between men and women are not black and white (and their are not racial differences whatsoever) ... within these differences there is considerable variety.

Now add each person's context - which for me starts a few months after conception and every possible influence since - the same chaos theory that says that when a butterfly beats its wings in the Brazilian Jungle there is a typhoon in Malaysia will suggest that that marshmallow your grandmother gave you on Christmas day when you were six while watching Jimmy Saville introduce the Chart Show will influence how you respond to the 14 year old boy you have been paired up with in a physics class who offers you a handful of mini-marshmallows by way of 'making friends' who in turn is nervous about this strange but beautiful creature who he hasn't noticed all year but rather fancies even though his older brother has his eye on her - what was that the teacher said checking the trajectory of your balls on the computer ?????

The wrong approach was taken, though the theory throws up some interesting questions

I will change my opinion as I go through my notes but my current stance is that a quantitative before and after study requires many hundreds of participants in a randomised controlled trial and the gender differences are a distraction - far better to have administered questionnaires before and after and drawn upon each students SATS results or some such to get some sense of where they were coming from in relation to physics.

More interesting pairings would be like-minds and enemies - really. A couple of buddies having a laugh might learn less than a pair who can't stand each other, or another pair who are rivals.

Have I been watching too many teen movies? Probably.

Already I have a script in my head based on Tolmie in which far from being the less talkative, the FM pairs are chatting away to themselves (in their heads, written and delivered as stream of consciousness voice over), communicating in subtle ways through body language and as a result actually communicating more, not less than the ones who won't shut up - and who may be playing up to the research conditions.

This is the other fundamental humdinger of a problem - these students are being tested under 'lab conditions'.

My memories of teenager physics classes are more akin to St.Trinian's with boys. I even have a diary to call upon which I may look at just to get me into the role. I have a household of teenagers and another five nephews and nieces in this age bracket if I need to be reminded of what it is (and was) like.

Oddly enough, work is often the last thing on their minds. Which is why homework is so important - fewer potential distractions.

This will be less than hearsay in due course - I am also refreshing what it was and is like to be a teenager through some additional reading. Problem is my daughter senses that I am observing her from time to time.

I'm just asking myself the same question I asked when she was born, 'what is going on in there?' - but in a quasi-academic rather than father-daughter way.

Researchers make the mistake of believing that their intervention - in this case using a computer to support a physics class by trying to prompt discussion - is going to make some measurable difference.

Can they not see the bigger picture, and how vast it is?

If each human brain has as many neurons in it as the visible galaxy - 98 billion, and each brain though similar, is connected in different ways, by gender but essentially by genetics, with every remembered moment of waking and sleeping life in between. This is why, to have something measurable, researchers taken to the lab and until recently would have stuck with sea-snails, rats and in the past cats and primates … while gradually observation and measurement of electro-chemical activity in the human brain has become possible.

When it comes to exams surely examiners know that the response to a unique set of questions in an exam, certainly at undergraduate level, if not at post compulsory level, will test the student’s ability to construct a response both from what they know, and what they have to surmise.


Jones, C. 1998 Evaluating a collaborative online learning environment Active Learning

Oliver, M. & Conole, G. (1998) Evaluating communication and information technologies: a toolkit for practitioners. Active Learning, 8,3–8.

Robinson, H., Smith, M., Galpin, F., Birchall, D., Turner, I. (1998) As good as IT gets: have we reached the limits of what technology can do for us? Active Learning, 9, 50–53.

Tolmie, A. (2001), Examining learning in relation to the contexts of use of ICT. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 17: 235–241. doi: 10.1046/j.0266-4909.2001.00178.


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Research spiral

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:52

Action research in educational settings involves practitioners researching their own educational situations and practices, as a means of improving these. The classic action research spiral entails at least two cycles of action-planning, implementation, monitoring, critical reflection and then application of what is learned through this process to a new iteration of the cycle. (Conole et al 2006. p. 33)


Conole, G, & Oliver, M 2006, Contemporary Perspectives In E-Learning Research : Themes, Methods, And Impact On Practice, n.p.: Routledge, eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost, viewed 23 February 2013.

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H809 Activity 3.6

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013, 11:49

Read the Oliver et al. chapter, but in particular concentrate on the section headed ‘Methodology’ (pp. 30–7). Consider the following questions:

Theories Methods Approaches

To put it simply, what I see is a quest to answer a simple question ‘what is going on here?’ On the basis of observation, dissection, interview, quantification, benchmarking and other methods we hope to come to a view that can be agreed upon. We might say, we don’t know, we might say we have an idea, but these are the problems regarding our stance, or that we have a good idea what is going on and here it is .

Q1 What do each of the various approaches listed highlight?

I only felt that action research and activity theory were covered in enough detail, with the example, outcomes and likely findings to be able to apply them. A list of some nine other approaches were given … as a list. For me they imply, to use a metaphor, that if you head out into the dark you are going to see or uncover different things if you go armed with a torch, a guidebook or a trenching tool, and whether you go alone, with fellow students and/or with experts … ie. whether you are an observer, whether you situate your learning as acquired new insights on the ground, whether you literally get stuck in and/or do any of this with others to converse with - fellow students, those less knowledgeable than yourself or experts of varying degrees.

‘These different epistemological positions have profound implications for how e-learning should be studied’. (Landow, 1997)

Q2. How, if at all, are specific methods (interviews, surveys, focus groups, observation, etc.) and methodological approaches related?

The few methods that the authors elaborate are related through broad categories of social sciences.

They are also related in the sense that the same question is in essence being asked every time, ‘what is going on?’ though the angle of approach can clearly be very different because of the motivations and experience of the person(s) doing the research - and/or potential the politics and criteria of any awarding/funding body of the institution for whom, or where, the research is being carried out.  

They are related because they are all part of something complex, part of the same ‘universe’ of social activity.

I felt as if the chapter would have benefitted enormously from a Venn Diagram as the authors introduced these broad, encompasing theories, then offered a number of subsets and finally as list of some 11 specific methods but they only developed three of these: action research, activity systems and what might be called ‘power theory’. From the list given earlier in the piece I couldn’t find anything more on:

  1. actor network theory
  2. cognitive science
  3. discourse analysis
  4. grounded theory
  5. knowledge engineering
  6. artificial intelligence
  7. literacy
  8. management studies

Traditionally, changes in society and institutions are studied from the perspective of specific social sciences:

  • sociology,
  • social psychology
  • business studies, etc.

Changes in personal knowledge, understanding and skill are studied using

  • the tools of psychology,
  • personal development
  • and educational theory.

Changes in the nature of knowledge itself are studied using

  • the tools of philosophy
  • linguistics
  • media studies
  • critical theory
  • and theories of representation that may
  • include cultural theory and criticism.

Studying the intersection of these – the relationship between people, technology and knowledge – consequently draws in all of these perspectives, as well as new disciplines such as systems theory, instructional design and a field of applied research into the use of technology in education.

Given the complexity of the phenomena under study, there is certainly a need for a wide repertoire of investigative techniques. (Oliver et al . 2007. p 22)

Once represented in a digital form, knowledge can be almost limitlessly disseminated and analysed, re-inscribed, re-applied and re-appropriated. The authority associated with computer-based representations is often hidden and – because of this re-writable quality – may become complicated, referring to multiple ‘designers’, including (in interactive systems, at least in some sense) a system’s user. (Oliver et al. 2007. p 23)

These different epistemological positions have profound implications for how e-learning should be studied. Landow, 1997

Action research Technical, Practical, Emancipatory - and shared. Involves practitioners researching their own educational situations and practices, as a means of improving these. Technical - get in a specialist Practical - observation and focus-group feedback, systematic personal reflection, a couple or more iterations required. Emancipatory - identifying the systemic changes, as well as the changes to individual practice, that need to be made in order to improve specific educational situations. e.g. A quasi-experimental design, comparing the performance of cohorts over time Activity Theory Builds on the work of Vygotsky.  Learning is a social activity mediated through the use of tolls and developed into activity theory. Used like this, activity theory allows researchers to analyse systems and to focus on particular problems within them; this may allow solutions to be proposed. (Oliver et al. 2007. p. 35)

These different epistemological positions have profound implications for how e-learning should be studied.

Uses Positivism The ‘traditional’ hypothetico-deductivist view of reality as being objectively ‘out there’, something that can be posited and then investigated through our senses. Human beings are postulated as rational individuals whose behaviour can be predicted. Constructivism#
A cluster of related positions: -active experimentation (e.g. Papert, 1980),
-social interaction (e.g. Vygotsky, 1986; Wenger, 1998)
-constructed knowledge (e.g. von Glaserfeld, 1993). Ethnomethodological Looking for evidence of human motivation in the narratives and traces left behind in documentary evidence. Involves the researcher inhabiting the lives of those being studied so as to develop an understanding of those lives. Associative People learn through basic stimulus-response conditioning, then later through the capacity to associate concepts in a chain of reasoning, or to associate steps in a chain of activity to build a composite skill. This leads to accuracy of reproduction or recall. Cognitive constructivist People learn by active construction of ideas and building of skills, through exploration, experimentation, receiving feedback, and adapting themselves accordingly. This leads to integration of concepts and skills into the learner’s existing conceptual or competency structures.
Social constructivist People and groups learn with the support of dialogue and in the process of collaborative activity. Situativist

People learn through participation in communities of practice, progressing from novice to expert through observation, reflection, mentorship and legitimate peripheral participation in community activities.
This leads to the development of habits, values, identities and skills that are relevant to and supported by that community. Tacit communitarianism This is the dominant orientation of the corporate management training sectors. Leads to ‘people like us’. A commonsense pedagogy of normalisation that adopts forms from both the social perspective and positivism in order to reproduce a culture through its many tacit codes This leads to knowledge engineering and closed-systems computational approaches such as organisational learning and expert and intelligent systems. The post-theoretical or new critical approach The new critical approach acknowledges conflicts, be they epistemological, virtual or real: social class, gender, theoretical orientation, global economic/energy flows and balances. The approach might be characterised by project- and problem-based learning, applied and action research, and grounded and emergent theoretical approaches situated in communities of practice.




Beetham, H. (2005) ‘What is learning and how do we learn? Introduction to three
types of learning theory’. In Beetham, H. and Roberts, G. (eds.) Introduction to Learning Theory and Design for Learning,Oxford: ALT.

McLuhan, M. (1989) The Medium is the Message, New York, Simon and Schuster.


Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2000) Research Methods in Education, 5th edn, London: Routledge Falmer.

Conole, G, & Oliver, M 2006, Contemporary Perspectives In E-Learning Research : Themes, Methods, And Impact On Practice, n.p.: Routledge, eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost, viewed 23 February 2013.

De Laat, M., Lally, V. and Lipponen, L. (2005) ‘Teaching online in networked learning communities: a multi-method approach’, Researching dialogue and communities of enquiry in elearning in HE. ESRC E-learning seminar series, Southampton: University of Southampton. Available online at: http://www.wun.ac.uk/elearning/seminars/seminars/seminar_two/seminartwo.html last accessed 30 March 2006.

Kuuti, K (1996) Activity Theory as a framework for potential human-computer interaction research. In Nardi, B. A. (ed) Context and consciousness: Activity Theory and Human-computer interaction.

Landow, G. (1997) Hypertext 2.0: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology, London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Oliver, M. (2001) ‘Evaluating online teaching and learning’, Information Services and Use, 20(2/3), p. 83–94.



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H800 WK23 Activity 2 Making sense out of complexity

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 1 Nov 2011, 16:44





And is visualised in many ways, Engestrom (2007) Mycorrhizae thinks in term of fungi.

My own take is a lichen:


The language you use carries with it connotations and hidden assumptions. You need to make things as clear and as explicit as possible to develop shared meaning and understanding to avoid confusion. Conole (2011:404) Indeed. Conole in one sentence manages several metaphors:

· Different lenses

· Digital landscape

· Navigate through this space

So we've go camera lenses/how the eye sees, we have a landscape that has a physical presence, where a digital one does not and then we have an image of a Tall Ship on an ocean passing through this landscape (or at least I do). You might see a GPS device, a map and compass on a the Yorkshire Fells. Language creates images in our minds eye. The danger of a metaphor is when it creates parameters or absolutes.

I find it problematic that descpite the tools around us we are obliged to communicate with words. We could use images, we can use live audio, but we are yet to construct and respond to these activites with a piece to webcam.

Conole and Oliver mention four levels of description:

1. Flat vocabulary

2. More complex vocabulary

3. Classification schemas or models

4. Metaphors

Which is the most persuasive? The most effective and memorable?

This set of words is used to describe cloudworks. Only the last stands out as pertinent to Web 2.0 and the kinds of apt terms for e-learning 2011.

  • Practice
  • Design
  • Case study
  • Resource
  • Design template
  • Link to site
  • Request for advice
  • Evolving dialogue

Metaphors are indeed 'powerful ways of meaning making'. (Conole. 2011.406)

Ref: Metaphors we live by. Lakoff and Johnson (1980)

Over the last 18 months I have returned repeatedly to the importance and value of metaphors, drawing on neuroscience and literature. There are 28 entries in which metaphor is discussed. This is perhaps the most insightful as it draws on an article in the New Scientist.

Morgan’s Metaphors discussed by Conole, White and Oliver (2007)

1. Machines

2. Brains

3. Organisms

4. Cultures

5. Political systems

Whatever works for you, but importantly, what you can use that is comprehended by others.

Presenting on Social Media over the last few weeks I have repeatedly used images of the Solar System to develop ideas of gravity and magnitude, spheres of influence and impacts. It is one way to try and make sense of it. The other one I use is the water-cycle, but as that can turn into an A' Level geography class.

Some futher thoughts from Conole

‘These and other tools are beginning to enable us to embed more meaning in the objects and connections within the digital space. The tools can also be used to navigate through the digital space, providing particular narrative paths of meaning to address different goals or interests.’ (Conole, 2011:409)

‘The approach needs to shift to harnessing the networked aspects of new technologies, so that individuals foster their own set of meaningful connections to support their practice, whether this be teachers and seeking connections to support them in developing and delivering their teaching, or learners in search of connections to support and evidence of their learning. (Conole. 2011:410)

‘Those not engaging with technologies or without access are getting left further and further behind. We need to be mindful that the egalitarian, liberal view of new technologies is a myth; power and dynamics remain, niches develop and evolve. Applications of metaphorical notions of ecology, culture and politics can help us better understand and deal with these complexities. (Conole. 2011:410)

How do we describe and make sense of digital environments?

It is complex and multifaceted


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My head's like a hedge-hog with its paws on a Van de Graff generator

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Nov 2011, 17:54

Or a guinea-pig chewing an electric cable behind the TV.

Same thing

Strange things are going on with my head.

The synapses are snapping.

This is the state of my mind.

It's exciting. It's exploitable.

The internal goings on of my cerebellum have gone from guinea-pig to hedgehog via a Frankenstein-like jolt of the old juice.

Last like this?

Undergraduate 1983.

(And most of yesterday, and the day before of course).

This is what studying does to my mind. It's taken eleven months in OU Land. The buzz began ... a few weeks ago.

It is like going from clueless first year undergraduate to the second year. Even online, you need to get the lay of the land. Even now that are vast swaves of OU activities, e-tivites, buttons, bolt-holes and affordances to discover, chew over, toy with and adopt, or adapt and move on, or stay with, or who knows what.

Funny. I never use the OU library anymore.

Once signed I just Google. Same thing? Instance ... rather than the time it takes to make a coffee.

Web-entrepreneur 2000. I was buzzing then too, mind and on two postgraduate courses - the OU (a somewhat earlier version of Open and Distance Learning) that in technology terms was like using a hand-pushed lawnmower to cut a path through a waterlogged meadow full of cattle. The mismatch between cutting-edge practice with a leading web agency and the course was the difference between reading an e-book or going into the Bodleian and thumbing through a vast, leather-bound index.

The best place to sthink on the planet. At a desk surrounded by ancient books ... with a lap-top. It's as if you are sitting inside the minds of everyone who has ever thought there before. Now we can get an inkling of this when you feel like minds are listening. Are they?

I feel the desire once more to spill the content of my mind ... to empty every moment I have sought to catch. Why? Not just because I can (although I appreciate there are plenty of people who keep diaries all there lives. But because of the way it wakens up your mind to a version of a moment in your past. These moments flip and change perspective as you revist them. Most odd.

"It's a matter of love; the more you love a memory the stronger that memory becomes."


Note the time. I have slept in the last 24 hours.

About four hours between 15h30 and midnight in two or three chunks.

Actually I've buzzed a lot over the years. It's who I am, when I'm being me at my best.

Skieasy was an interesting idea.

I still have the chess set I made out of a selection of bottled-waters. Dasani, that Coca-cola flop, is the King of the Black Pieces. I cheated a bit, Copella with their squared off bottles are the Castles and I had to use Fabreze for the Horses.


There are currently several voices in my head, people from the past, smiling and asking questions.

I'm being emotive and passionate about some new fangled way to do use video and they're listening. I feel this way about the Internet. My head is firmly back in 2000, with the electricity of an undergraduate and the knowledge of a PhD. (I could have one if the various courses I've done had been or could be validated and LinkedIn). Eventually.

I intend to study for life, life-long learning - literally.

I'm planning a module beyond the MA in Open and Distance Education that I'll complete in October 2011.

Foundations in research probably rather than a different subject, though in good time Modern History (yet again), and Geography (yet again).

E-learning enables this

Fine Art can never happen; I can't hunker down like that. (Unless I can do Fine Art via an A3 sized tablet? If it's good enough for Hockney, it's good enough for art students. Fine Art as a e-learning course. (Now there's a challenge. And an opportunity.)

Never say never when it comes to e-learning. Someone will be running an e-learning Fine Art MA within the year. You could use a Kinex to draw onto a tablet rolled like a piece of Clingfilm onto a pane of glass. Observed at work by your tutor a million miles away (or a few hundred at least). You see it is possible.

Never say never when it comes to e-learning, which is why I propose a new module for the MA in Open and Distance Education. It's called 'The E-learning Entrepreneur.' Any one listening? (Not at 2h05). I'll linkIn with it and see what bubbles up from the digtal hyrdrosphere.

I don't care if it takes six years for each one of these courses, I'll be around for a long while yet.

My grandfather made it to 97 and never lost his marbles. Bless. He died with some thoughts on Newcastle United and a swig of Newcastle Brown Ale (he'd worked in brewing from the age of 14 to retirement).

My mind wanders. Good. It should. So should yours.

New thinking doesn't idle around in one pocket of your subconscious, it dances like a Minx feeding on your the maelstrom of your mind.

And I'm yet to say what I sat down to write. Right.

Doodles on backs of envelopes. I have a lot of envelopes. I must have invested in a large supply a decade ago. Stick down the back and use them for notes. Light, a soft write with a gel-pen. Takes a doodle. A gem. An idea.

This process started 48 hours ago.

One image. A second. (The PDP thermal idea). And since then I've been revisited by an idea I had in .... 1998, I suppose.

ADD SKETCH HERE ... currently on

a) the back of an envelope

b) on a piece of scrap wallpaper (very good for doodles as you can spread wide)

and c) in my head (which should be in bed)

Title, Synopsis, Abstract, Review, Précis, Student Notes, Book, Book + References.

This is a volume control for 'volume' of words rather than sound.

Depending the time you have to engaged with the contents of the author's (or authors' heads) you skate or roll this slider back and forth until you hit on a what you're prepared to take in. You can always expand, if the mind takes you there ... you can always roll into the synopsis if your train comes in or you see an email you're prepared to answer.

(Email, I'm starting to treat it like the old postal service - two deliveries a day, at a time to suit me. So before breakfast and after lunch. If you want me otherwise phone.)

Where was I? So, text volume control thingy.

I was just learning Dreamweaver, on a Mac, probably an LCII or something c.1998.

Maybe or earlier. TBT hadn't been born I was sleeping where he'd shortly be sleeping (actually I was sitting where he was born a few weeks later, at home, caught by me some time before the Midwife made it over from Cheltenham. Another story.)

I won't have a record of it, I was months away from blogging. Unless, which is likely, I was keeping a diary off-line. Would that be 'logging?It'll be just as lost though as it'll be a floppy disc. Or were there CDs by then? Or possibly an IOMEGA Zip drive?

And now we have LCD TVs the size and thickness of a postage stamp.

Re-reading 'Contemporary perspective in E-Learning Research' can't help my sleeplessness.

Far from boring me to sleep, which it did six months ago, I find single words are scorched into my forehead and sentences are like liquid gold being poured down my ear. Oh dear. I think I understand it.

I commit a book crime.

Historically I have always read a book and taken notes at the same time. This goes back to Oxbridge Entrance exam reading lists and beyond.

Get it while it's hot on the first shot.

I did this with Conole et al in August.

I could even read those notes, but those notes WERE WRITTEN BY SOMEONE ELSE.

So I have to start over, this is TAKE TWO.


The sacrilege is the use of coloured Marker Stabilo Market pens on the pages of the book. This is because I'm treating the book as if it isn't there, as if it is in an iPad (I don't have one, I'll give me my address if you feel I should have one).

Yes, I am using a highlighter pen on the paper-based text because I've got so used to doing this in e-journals exported into Word.

Of course, this Stabilo Pen should DOUBLE as a TEXT READER so that said highlighted words could be drawn straight into my laptop and quoted here ... with the link and correct Harvard Reference put in place for me too. Pretty please. Tech person reading.

(Do tech people read? I suspect they call it something else. Scan?)

Oh heck. Not another idea. It's only 1h36. (or was when I started. That was nearly an hour ago. I don't edit, I know not how, I ellaborate.)

I have this fear that having an idea is pointless, because whatever you can think of someone has done it before.

Which makes this a race, catching wave after wave after wave of information as it comes in on the digital ocean, hoping, believing, that from time to time it'll be a big wave, my wave and I'll ride it like a pro-surfer. Enough. I need a coffee. That'll send me to sleep.

Anything's possible.

I look at this, my invention, my interpretation of how Personal Development Planning can lift a life, raise your spirits, send your career into a controled cycle of advancement and I want to sing about it. I want to be on this ride and bringing others along with me.

What can go wrong?

Coffee poisoning.

So, this Microsoft guy who is recording every moment of his day (and night? and ablusions?). You have to be at the head of the team, not the pond fodder. I gave this a momentary go voice recording three one hour swim coaching sessions. I am yet to listen over. Perhaps I'll do it once to see what lessons I learn.

On the other hand, someone interested in coaching swimmers may listen to the lot of it. And with nothing in vision there are no Safeguarding Children issues ... I consciously only used swimmer's names once I had hit pause.

My coffee's cold.

Do I warm it up? I'll not sleep. I haven't exhausted the possibilities.

A swimming pool beacons.

Once was the time I swam every day. I'll do so again. I can subdue my mind only if I sink the body around it.


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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)


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

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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


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.


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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Quote yourself happy

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 16:07

I was judgmental on Martin Weller quoting himself in H807 ... but I have just bought the book and buy into.

So why do I feel so uncomfortable about Weller or any other 'academic' quoting themselves.

Surely there are standards and expectations?

Who are we to quote ourselves, just because we got into print or had our words used in a piece of academic study to then cite ourselves and in so doing award ourselves additional recognition?

Imagine Simon Cowell deciding to get up and sing ... and then judging his own performance and deciding to award himself credibility?

Is there some etiquette regarding this kind of thing?

(Must be, academia has rules for everything, no wonder it's so dull)

Academically stimulating, but hardly a Caravagio.

At what point do you become 'self-quotable?

Did Churchill quote himself?

As Churchill said ... (he says) ...

(Or by writing your own speeches you are quoting yourself? Ditto lectures)

Can I quote myself as if this has some value ... things I posted online in 1999? Or put in a dairy in 1985? Or even wrote in a History essay on the Reformation in 1977? (Files saved, in a trunk, in an attic, in a room, in a building ... and could just as well be scanned and banged up online

Or is this lacks credibility then short films broadcast on mainstream TV?

Or things I said to important people ?

Look up the correct use of disinterested Mr Weller – (do you have an editor or proof reader?) It does NOT mean ‘no interested it means ‘not committed to one or other point of view, rather as a judge should be in a trial i.e. interested, but not taking sides.’

Odd how the pinnacle of my irritation is indicative of my reaching a tipping point

This is a watershed, where my opinions are expressed in increasingly frustrated ways until I find myself screwing up my face, then edging down the other side, won over to the opposing view, having convinced myself that black is now white. That ‘they’ are right and I am wrong ... I become evangelical on their behalf, whether they want it or not, before coming to some grey compromise.

I’ve just about read enough on learning theory to be able to categorise my approach to learning.

It is ?

This comes from reading ‘Contemporary Perspectives in E-Learning Research. 2007. Edited by Grainne Conole and Martin Oliver.

The turning point, the ‘flip’ came with looking up a reference for Martin Oliver ... and deciding that I needed to see fourteen points of reference. His book, his privilege. He’d wrong-foot himself did he not refer back to previously published papers.

I've got Martin Weller in box too, bought the book.

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No longer a passing interest ... (EDU)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 10 Aug 2010, 17:22

Happier with a stack of books to get through than anything else, so chasing texts I didn't get through for H807 'Innovations in E-Learning' that I will need for H808 'The E-learning Professional.'

Some ideas, themes and authors are starting to leave impressions across the shifting sands that I wash every week with novels, biographies, books on history, art and learning.

August will be the month of Camus, Andrew Marr, Simon Schama, Conole and Oliver, alongside historical novels and applied psychology. To what end?

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