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Kineo Presenters discuss how to get students to do work before the course begins

I'm already doing a 7 x 1 1/2 hours studying to finally crack my Google Certification Level 1 and Level 2, wanting to get through to Trainer and Innovator.

Now I find that Coursera and FutureLearn are offering many courses for FREE. I've just signed up to an Introduction to Sustainability from Coursera. Usual cost £38, now free. And there are still plenty of goodies in OpenLearn ... which have always been free.  I'm finding out what else Coursera offer if GBMET (where I work) can be recognised and we share links to students.

Meanwhile I love this 30 Second tip from Kineo on how to get students to do prep-work. Simple. Call it module 1! 



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An Introduction to E-Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 24 Mar 2020, 10:03

I started my first online degree here. It was one of the first of its kind, the Masters in Distance Learning from the Open University in 2001. A false start, with crude online resources, and my own career in tatters. I picked it up again in 2010. I completed my MA in Open and Distance Education in 2013. Started at that time this blog is fast approaching 5 million views.

I have since completed a further MA (albeit entirely face to face lecture and library based) and between FutureLearn, Coursera and OpenLearn a further 27 modules on one subject or another. I’m a mentor on Coursera’s ‘Learning How to Learn’. I recommend those that have tutor, mentor and student interaction. The human element, at least for me, is a vital component for completion. Not all worked, yet again I quit a course on French (a BA with the Open University). Speaking of which I totally recommend Lingvist as the go-to language learning App (I have tried and reviewed all of them). Also, perfect in a world of social distancing, Tandem, which fixes you up with someone like a dating App. (Not that I have any need for or experience of one of those).

Where student interaction is slight we’ve always started our online groups on LinkedIn. The group I set up 10 years ago for swimming teachers and coaches has 1,600 members and is still active. Most endure the length of the module.

Take a look at these online courses, join up with a buddy (you are more likely to complete). Most are free, though the best, and the business orientated ones may cost between £35 and £300. A degree module is now something like £2,000. 

30 hours a week I am supporting colleagues and students at Greater Brighton MET. Google Suite for Education is our go to platform. Google Meets are frequent with Google Chat live while I’m at my desk. Last night friends did a 8 or 9 person quiz on Zoom. I promise to wake up my contributions to ‘scenario-based learning’. 

I’m keen to get an art class going. I took a set of 360 degree photos in the lovely barn studio at Charleston a few months ago - with the model’s permission to post online. It was a life class so the nudity might result in the thing being barred. I may give this a go ... though any drawing from a flat surface my late mother, an art teacher, would have been against. 

Finally, on reflection, exactly 45 years ago I broke my leg badly skiing. A 13 year old between schools I ended up at home for the entire summer term to prevent me from putting weight on my leg. I was sent a box of books with instructions to read them. Without any other efforts at support at all I didn’t do a thing. Instead I got out my Dad’s Readers Digest book on Gardening and spent the next few weeks pulling myself around the garden on a tea tray. By the end of it I was air-propagating specimen rhododendrons.

Take care. Stay in touch 🙂 

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Harness your obsessions.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 12 May 2015, 16:12

We are all hung up on something – the terrible ex, the neighbours from hell, mothers, spiders, fitting rooms, flying or being alone. Anything you like. Some of the best stories come from the deepest and darkest obsessions (just ask Alfred Hitchcock). So dig deep and find your own personal heart of darkness.

I like this tip on writing from the Open University. 

I've come to it a very roundabout way. Via a FutureLearn initiative to get people writing 140 word fiction on Twitter. I think I've posted a dozen @mymindbursts. 

What do I get hung up about?

  • People parking up on the kerb in residential streets
  • Dogs, and cats, allowed to run about as they please yapping and shitting as they like.
  • Rubbish left to burn and smoulder for days
  • Loud radios played in gardens as soon as the sun comes out.
  • Exceedingly loud petrol-engine driven strimmers used in gardens on a Sunday morning.
  • Anyone who recites the party line instead of saying something truthful or original.
  • Overtaking on the inside lane.
  • Hogging the central lane.
  • Cyclists riding abreast on narrow roads.
  • Motorbikes revved and diddled with as their relaxing weekend activity.
  • Wheelie bins left out for days
  • Littering at beauty spots - some people regularly pull over a layby and toss their MacDonalds out of the window on leaving

I have this story called 'When the green man saw red.'

Like Michael Douglas in "Fallen' he goes mental trying to set the world straight and probably gets done over as a result. Sounds like me? I attract vandals and abuse. Was I born an arse who made one through parenting and boarding school. One wonders. 

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Reading and writing with fresh eyes

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 25 Mar 2015, 07:37
From Writing

Fig.1. Philip Pirrip is confronted by the 'fearful man, all in course gray ... '

Start Writing Fiction is a FutureLearn Course. Its content makes up part of an OpenLearn Course. It is a thread in the Creative Writing Course here at the OU.Three months on having completed the course it is about to repeat. I'll be there.

From E-Learning IV

Fig.2. How we learn in the 21st century. J F Vernon E-learning (2011)

We learn through repetition; not simply learning by rote.

We learn through passing through the same loop over and over again. There is nothing so special about graduation, gaining an MA, a PhD or achieving the lofty status of 'professor' so long as you are willing to climb, as if on a thermal, one focused ever ascending loop seeing the same thing over and over again in new light, until, through insight or height from the ground you see something new and have something new to say.

There are some key lessons to learn from 'Start Writing Fiction; (SWF)' though it is never the whole story - for that you need to sign up to a graduate course on Creative Writing. There's plenty to work with though. I look forward to being reminded what matters. It kicks off again on 27th April and runs for three months. 

Reading matters as much as writing.

The precocious child who read copious volumes and gets into literature in their early teens has an advantage. I was slow to read and reluctant to read. The only novels I may have read as a child were forced on me through school. Even in my teens as I read 'Great Expectations' and 'Silas Marner' for O' Levels and 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' for A' Levels I did say like a parrot: If I picked up an 'B' grade at both levels it was only because I regurgitated precisely what I had been tutored to put down.

Over three decades later, 33/35 years later to be exact if I check my diary from that time, I am reading Dickens with fresh eyes.

My late mother bought me a second hand edition of all the Dickens novels. I never read one. I now have 'Great Expectations' for free courtesy of 'Project Guttenberg' on my Kindle. I am reading it with lessons from 'Start Writing Fiction' in the front of my mind. SWF concentrates on the key, though not only component, of good writing: character. I am chewing over every line of Dickens with a rye smile on my face: I see what he's doing with Pip, with the escaped convict from the hulk, his older sister and her husband Joe the Blacksmith, with Miss Haversham and Estella. If 'character is plot' then the plot moves, in a series of steps, over the heads of each character. We are carried by Pip with repeated moments of laugh out loud insights to a child's perception and feelings for the world. How had I not see this before?

For the umpteenth time I am doing what doesn't come naturally to me: I should be painting, not writing.

Intellectually I feel like the child who is left handed who had than arm tied behind his back as a child to force him to write against his will with his right. I have managed well enough, but it is against character and it is too late to correct? I need to work with words as the text that describes what I see. Text has other values too of course. It can carry a story beyond a single canvas.

A creative writing tutor, editor and author - former opera singer and opera director - Susannah Waters in reviewing my writing on a retreat last September gave me more than SWF can do on its own. An A4 sheet torn in half offers the following tips on 'Scene Building:'

  • Who am I?
  • Stay in the person's head
  • Put me in the place

She expands on these.

Every line of 'Great Expectations' is in Pip's voice, written as autobiography much later in life, in the moment, capturing for now, his wonder, fear, feelings and hopes. It helps me enormously as I try to construct a story of my own set  in the couple of decades 1966 to 1986, rather than 1820 to 1860. Characters don't change, technology and society does. It helps me to contain my imagination and fears as I feel it falling apart. Character will hold it together; each character needs to surprise. 

I wish I could find the link to the BBC Radio 4 programme in which an author, Michael Morpurgo or Alexander McCall Smith talks about writing; it was on over the last three weeks. Or was it on TV?! Tips and devices were spoken of, but what had most resonance for me was the idea that an authors wonder at even the most mundane creates interest for the reader. 

I used to discount Dickens as old fashioned; I now feel that I am reading Dickens with the same wonder of someone who has broken through the fog of a new language and is becoming fluent. Can I now translate this into my own writing? For now the juggling game I am playing is my writing in one hand, Dickens in the other.

Sharing where I stand matters hugely. Knowing that others are following my journey and are supportive matters: it keeps me going. Being online matters. It is the next best thing to standing on a soapbox in the local park and reading passages from my efforts. Feedback matters as it guides you.

On this retreat last September we read out our work, actually Susannah read my piece for me as I wanted to hear it from a different voice. We were around an open fire in a cottage in Devon. Telling stories around a fire takes you back to the origins of storytelling; what must you say to hold their attention, to keep them entertained, to make them cry (I did with that one), to make them laugh, fear, hope, clap, get angry ... and ponder, even panic over the outcome. In that story I had a soldier in the First World War slowly sinking into mud, up to his chest and neck ... screaming for life.

 

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How online courses are starting to make a change to how we learn

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 4 Feb 2015, 18:15

Fig.1 A publicity still from my own short film 'Listening In.' Did you catch it on Channel 4? I know seven people who did smile

Marshall McLuhan had a lot to say about the medium being the message when TV came along in the 1960s.

I always put the message first and with online courses (MOOCs by another name?) I would liken them to books or TV programmes ... there are many as you can imagine for every kind of audience, by educational attainment, and subject. I agree that learning is inherently social.

Having got kids who could touch type before they could handwrite and use the Internet before they could use the telephone I have witnessed them learn, collectively, online in various 'online' activities - almost always with the very same people they are seeing during the day in class.

Platforms, such as FutureLearn are tailored for this - EdX, by way of contrast is not.

Learning outcomes must be an important raison d'etre for MOOCs, but I don't see this at all as being the only reason institutions are producing them. They are seeking to attract students to courses that are either taught on campus or online at a distance. If a MOOC on Aviation Comes of Age in the First World War attracts 5000 and 500 finish the course 50 buy certificates and 5 sign up for the MA then they have doubled their student intake to a niche subject. I'm making a wild stab at the numbers: I don't know what they were. I can hazard a guess by the activity in the discussions. They are producing them to learn from the experience, gain the in-house knowledge and support their educators and producing online content for their regular courses too. 

The numbers I do know are for the FutureLearn course 'Start Writing Fiction' which had 23,000 students to start with and bucked the trend by having 25,000 in week two. I can only guess at the numbers who made it through to the end based on the crude stats we have for 'MOOCs' to date. A new outcome for this course is that nearly two months after it officially ended people are still starting and still completing the course: I know this as I set up both LinkedIn and WordPress groups to support them and actively return to the course myself to refresh ideas and contribute to reviews of work submitted and discussions with those there.

By way of comparison, the University of Southampton WebScience MOOC is aimed at PhD candidates: I should now as I was one of those candidates and interview to study a PhD. I had no answer for my not having a medical degree or having done a randomised control trial before.

The 'Oxbridge Tutorial' is commonly used in the UK and is a tutorial system used at Oxford Cambridge, Bristol, Durham and LSE I believe. Is it also the Socratic Method?

The method of knowledge transfer may be the same but numbers are lower 1:1, or 1:3 max. A MOOC experience that works, at this level includes both Socratic and Madras approaches, for better or worse. Worse according to Oxford's Internet Institute (Rebecca Eynon) where cliques form around the leading student educators that appear to block out others.

PhD students may have to study on their own, but do they want to? MA students don't.

The Educators I know at university want to teach too.

Digital literacy, like any kind of literacy matters. I engage those who have been online for a decade and those that are newcomers. They pick it up pretty fasts if helped by others.

Other MOOCs I've looked at are aimed at those at school (High School in England) to help them with university entrance and preparation, I've mentioned an MA even PhD level MOOC while the Exploring Filmmaking would have been on TV in the past.

EdX won't let you in without paying.

Udemy is getting a dreadful reputation.

Lumesse is a corporate platform a bit like FutureLearn.

A gem of a Free Course from FutureLearn that has just started is 'Exploring Filmmaking' with the National Film and Television School. As you'd expect the value are top notch. A great mix. Bitesize learning. Great discussions. 90 mins to 2 hours a week - a lot more if you get deeply engaged. 

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What's a MOOC from FutureLearn life? It's as easy as turning the pages of a book

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 7 Jan 2015, 11:12

My interest is e-learning. A decade ago it was web-based learning and before that it was online learning ... as compared to 'offline' learning on an intranet or in a computer learning centre. Across this period, whether on Laser disc, CD-rom, DVD, or online the key words to describe a successful piece of learning might include: easy to use, intuitive, effective, measurable results, gamified and impressive. 'Impressive' for a corporate client has always been important - they want to see how their money is spent. It matters to jazz a thing up, to find a way to deliver exception creative qualities in both the ideas and the execution of these ideas. In H.E. this 'impressiveness' has been thin on the ground the experience and view of H.E. that someone talking to camera with a slide show or whiteboard will do the job; it doesn't, not any more.

At the risk of writing a list I want to think about the 'enhanced learning' experiences that have impressed over the last 15 years:

Audi Shop DVD - Gold Award Winner at the IVCA awards. Stunning animated 3D animations of the engine. Like a 3D animated Dorling Kindersley

What are you like? - Gold Award Winner at the IVCA awards. An interactive life and career guide for teenagers done in the style of 'In Betweeners' and 'Some Girls' - nailed the audience with creative tone and visual effects. This won BAFTAs, the IVCA Grand Prix and NMA Effectiveness Awards. 

Ideafisher - first on floppy discs, then a CD. It did in the 1990s what various websites do today by linking vast collections of aggregated ideas and concepts that it filters out and offers up. The closest I've felt to AI for creativity.

MMC - online marketing courses. These were, for me, in 2010, an early example of stringing the face to camera lecture together with course notes to create a course. Still more like a self-directed traditional lecture series but the volume of content was admirable and some of the tools to control the viewing and reading experience were innovative.

TED Lectures. Are they learning? Or are they TV? Are they modelled on the BBC's Annual Reith Lecture series? Top of the Pops for the lecture circuit so tasters and Open Education Resources for grander things. 

Rosetta Stone - iPad App

Pure simplicity. I love these. I gave a year to an intermediate course in French, learnt some grammar and fixed several problems with my pronunciation. Like that game 'Pairs' you play as a child: a pack of cards with pairs of images on one side that you pair up. With considered, only sometimes over art-directed photography. Repetitive, always in the language you are learning. The next best thing to being dropped in amongst native speakers as an infant. It just works.

iTunesU - The History of English in One Minute.

Not so much a course as a series of stunning and memorable cartoon pieces that galvanise your interest. The next step is to follow through with a free trial course through OpenLearn and perhaps a nudge then towards a formal course with the Open University proper. 

FutureLearn - the entire platform.

As easy as reading a book. I've done eight of these and have another three on the go (two for review rather than as a participant). Across the myriad of subjects and offerings there are differences, all gems, but some are more outstanding than others. It is no surprise that those MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) produced by the Open University are some of the very best; it's what you'd expect with their experience. Other university's shine through for their confidence with the the platform too, for example, 'How to read a mind' from the University of Nottingham. 

MOOCs I love enough to repeat:

Start Writing Fiction: From the Open University

I may have been through this a couple of times in full and now dip back into it as I get my head into gear. I'll do this as often as it takes to get the thinking to stick. It's working. I read as a writer. I will interrupt a story to pick out how a succinct character description works.  I'm also chasing up a myriad of links into further Open University courses and support on creative writing. For example: next steps, creative writing tasters, and audio tasters on iTunes. 

MOOCs I may repeat next year ... or follow similar topics from these providers:

Word War 1: Trauma and Memory: From the Open University with the BBC

World War 1: Paris 1919 - A New World: From the University of Glasgow with the BBC

MOOCs I admire that target their academic audiences with precision:

How to Read a Mind: The University of Nottingham

Shakespeare's Hamlet: From the University of Birmingham

Web Science: How the Web is changing: From the University of Southampton

 

 

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How are different MOOC platforms shaping up?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 6 Jan 2015, 13:55

The competitors for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are fragmenting, some into commercial learning and development where payment is easier to take, for specific skills training such as graduate induction and by profession, say law, accountancy, banking and pharmaceuticals. These are MOOCs that are neither massive nor open anymore. All see the value in improving their learning approaches, and to attract and identify the very best potential candidates, but open education should be for everyone, not a replay of an elitist model of the last millenium. Peter Stockwell puts the qualities and potential of FutureLearn very well at the end of the first week of the ‘How to Read a Human Mind’ in which he commends the contributions made by participants, how the most scholarly step in to explain and assist the novice, and the ‘wiki nature’ of the course allowing educators to rejig their module as it is represented. 

By comparison, efforts to use alternative platforms such as EdX, Coursera and Udacity I have found to be such direct reflections of formal, campus based training that they prefer an approach that fails to exploit our burgeoning digital literacy. The learning environments are dated and labyrinthine. The only successes I have had here has been where educators have taken a closer interest in the activity of the students, but this could only be achieved by their committing additional time: taking part in discussions and adding additional content on the fly, which cannot be the long term modus operandi of a ‘massive’ course with thousands, even tens of thousands of participants. If universities expect MOOCs to deliver plausible candidates for formal courses this doesn’t need to impact on the quality or nature of the experience, it does however require a mindshift in the way universities expose and reveal their educators and teaching methods.

 

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Is Google translate teaching me written French or am I teaching 'it' to translate French into English?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 14:31

It's 21 years since I lived in France.

Amongst other things I translated kids TV cartoons from French into English! I'm now trying, once and for all, to get my written French in order courtesy of:

  • Doulinguo
  • Qstream
  • OpenLearn French
  • Google Translate
  • A MOOC in French (ABC of business start ups if I have understood what is going on!!)
  • And the threat of legal action from the owners of my late Father's timeshare flat in the French alps (he died 11 years ago ... ). Only this week have they finally acknowledge my letters - probably because I chose to write in pigeon French rather than bolshy English.

When I want to write in French I give it a stab, stick it through Google Translate then  jig my English around until I get what I would have said in French out of the other end. (I can speak French - like a Belgian I am told).

When I read any tricky French I paste it into Google Translate and adjust until, once again, it has the sense of what I would have understood had I simply heard it spoken to me.

The test is how quickly will I be found out in an all French MOOC.

The only issue is that hopping around computers in our house (My teenage son has a couple of huge screens which I particularly enjoy using while he is at school) - I found one viewing of the MOOC was being automatically translated - which can in itself be quite a laugh. But at what point will such translation be seamless, at least to the non-linguists? At what point will it suffice as an adequate stab at what is being said and meant by what is being said?

Will be have a Bable Fish in our ear along with the Google Glass(es)?

 

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OpenLearn Research Report 2006-2009

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Jun 2012, 00:57

Open%2520Learn%25202006%2520to%25202008.JPG

This report is highly worthwhile -  an insightful guide to distance and online learning, through e-learning to current best practice and what we might come to expect.

Some surprises here:

Whatever the web may afford in relation to social networking, do distance learners want this level of interaction ?

Apparently not.


Despite what the web offers in terms of content, would students be better off sticking with what is offered to them instead of getting distracted?

Probably. It’s less distracting, and no doubt of a higher quality and relevance. (Makes marking easier too as their is some chance your tutor has read it too).

Open Research Online

This 63 page report is a gem and offers some insights across distance and e-learning from some of the leading OU practioners and thinkers.

Some notes, verbatim:

The value of Open Learning


Free access to re-mixed OU courses is not only providing tens of thousands of users with a valuable resource, and step into a formal OU course, but is a lab for research, experimentation and design in the Web 2.0 World.

A shift towards Personal Learning Environments (PLEs)

Open Research Online offers an extraordinarily insightful chronology and pedagogical reasoning for 'free' online learning which indicates the degree of shift, or substantial fraying of the edges of traditional approaches through a wide variety of tools and their multiple affordances that make learning student-centred, and hopefully engaging, and effective.

Distance Learning no longer needs to be such a solitary affair

'Online learning is often undertaken by an individual in their home or place of work in physical isolation from others studying the same material. Social software that allows these individuals to come together with other learners can play a vital role towards the achievement of the desired learning outcomes.' (p. 25 McAndrew et al, 2009)

Ditch (or repurpose/re-invent, remix text in favour of hat" Podcasts and YouTube?

'Materials on the web should (ideally in many people's views) utilise the capabilities of the web and how people use it. Thus it was (and still is) believed there should be fewer words, more graphics and much more dynamism or interactivity in a highly structured, more resource-based style of pedagogy when authoring courses for the web.' (p. 29 McAndrew et al, 2009)

Content over interaction ... so much for the rise of 'Educational Social Networking.'

'A large choice of content is considered the most important feature of Open Learn and that interacting with other learners is low in this list.' (p. 39 McAndrew et al, 2009)

How easily are you distracted by what the web offers, pushes and invites?

'The Internet is not necessarily Utopian and the support that formal structures offer should not be dismissed too easily. A competition for attention means that users can be distracted from their intended purpose and that chance encounters with information may be an unsatisfactory solution in comparison with targeted offerings that constrain and direct interests towards specific goals.' (p. 4 McAndrew et al, 2009)

REFERENCE

McAndrew, P; Santos, A; Lane, A.; Godwin, S.; Okada, A.; Wilson, T.; Connolly, T.; Ferreira, G., Buckingham Shum, S.; Bretts, J and Webb, R (2009) OpenLearn Research Report 2006-2008. The Open University, Milton Keynes, England.

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