Visualising the learning design process

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 23 Jan 2013, 06:07

Visualising the process and products of learning design

I will be at CAL ’09 next week in Brighton, and am looking forward to it, in particular some of the sessions and papers which include work from the JISC Curriculum design call. For example, the “challenges of the design pattern paradigm” session and other learning design papers/session. In the meantime I thought I’d put up the poster that my colleagues and I have put together, This poster  entitled “Visualising the process and and products of learning design” will be presented at CAL ’09.

It  is a very short synopsis of the visualisation and representation work we’ve been doing here at the OU. A  version of the poster itself is available for download (click on the image to see a low resoultion image of the poster, or on one of the  links to see a higher resolution PDF at either A4 or A0 size):

Visualising the process and and products of learning design, A0 sze (pdf, 1.9 Mbyte),

Visualising the process and and products of learning design, A4 size (pdf, 1.1 Mbyte).

Also, a draft of the text of the poster (including the abstract and references) is available here.

Can visual representation work at the curriculum level?

Apart from the design patterns and learning design stuff, one of the other things I would like to explore whilst at the conference is if or how visual representations have been used at programme level (or above). As far as I’m aware, most visual representation work has focused on the activity or course level, and describes interactions involving students and teachers.  But what about the curriculum level? I’m keen to talk to anyone working in this area: please do  contact me if you are, or add a comment below, thanks " src="http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/brasherblog/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif" />

CAL ’09 poster text

Abstract

Teachers and media developers go through a complex decision making process when designing new learning experiences – working towards an effective pedagogical mix, combining resources, tools, student and tutor support. For an individual media developer or teacher, the process of creating a visual map of a learning activity clarifies their own understanding of the mix. For teams comprised of individuals focused on different aspects, a visual representation supports communication about issues that need to be resolved before the activity is delivered to students.

This paper focuses on the development of CompendiumLD, a particular strand of work within the OU Learning Design Initiative. CompendiumLD is a tool to represent and visualise learning designs; it is an adaptation of Compendium, an existing knowledge mapping tool. CompendiumLD has been developed iteratively, informed by evidence gathered through a series of interviews with academics, and tested through a series of faculty based workshops. Development has proceeded from changes in the set of icons used to represent components of learning activities, through to specific functionality to support the design of learning activities. This functionality includes context specific learning design help and a set of visual design templates.

Findings to date indicate that most users find the tool easy to use, that it makes the process more explicit and provides a useful vehicle for sharing design ideas with others. Some users are interested in its potential to support both the process of learning design and the production of maps for use by students.

Recently introduced  features include (1) the facility to specify times that students and tutors will spend on specific tasks, producing a running total displayed on the user interface and (2) support for transclusions (intended to help designers  identify reuse of  e.g. tasks or learning objectives. Initial evaluations of these new features will be discussed.

1       Introduction

A learning activity can be conceptualised as a specific interaction of learner(s) with zero or more other(s) using specific tools and resources, orientated towards specific outcomes (Beetham, 2007).  Evidence we have gathered indicates that designing learning activities is inherently messy, creative and iterative, and that choosing  the best combination of tools, resources and tasks for a particular context is difficult (Conole et al., 2008). In the Open University and other distance universities, design is typically carried out by teams composed of people with a variety of specialist skills including academics, programmers, graphic designers, editors and project managers.

2       Aims

Our aim is to research, design and implement a range of tools to support individuals to design effective learning activities, and to enhance the effectiveness of design teams.

One approach we have taken is to apply the concept of ‘knowledge cartography’  to learning design, building on previous work in this area including other visual representations of learning designs (e.g. UML activity diagrams, LAMS).  This has led to the development of a software tool CompendiumLD through which we are exploiting two aspects of mapping, the product and the process.

• As products maps can visually represent complex relationships between objects, which highlight key elements and connections for a particular purpose
• Creating a map forces a person to externalise their understanding of the situation, and this process clarifies their understanding of the situation

(Okada, Buckingham Shum, & Sherborne, 2008).

Design processes

In our research  to date we have studied how design  is carried out by individuals and teams within the iterative design cycle which occurs before courses are launched.

We will be studying how CompendiumLD can be used by teachers to  deliver teaching activities, and how it can be used to evaluate the design of activities.

Design products

Snapshots from the design process

The learning design nodes are on the left hand side: these can be dragged and droped onto the working area. Learning design nodes include

Learning activity

Learning outcome

The nodes can be connected by dragging between them.

Double-clicking on a learning activity opens it

A screen grab of CompendiumLD showing the main working area labelled  “Andrew Brasher’s Home Window”.

Context sensitive prompts appear when nodes are added.

3       Evidence

Empirical evidence gathered to inform the development of CompendiumLD  includes the collection of user requirements (Nixon, 2007), case studies (Wilson, 2007), 12 semi-structured in-depth interviews, and evaluation of workshops and focus groups (Cross, 2008). In January 2009 we began in-depth evaluation of holistic course design, which has and will involve studying course teams’ use of visual representations during the design process over a period of 9 months.  Examples from our evidence base are shown as speech bubbles.

4       In use

Examples illustrating how CompendiumLD can be used within the design process are provided by  snapshot 1 and snapshot 2. Snapshot 1 illustrates an early stage of the  the design process, snapshot 2 a later stage when a more detailed description has been generated and some of the issues that arose in snapshot 1 have been resolved.

5       Conclusions and future work

The qualitative data we have gathered so far indicates that generating a visual representation helps to clarify designers’ intentions, and aids communication of those intentions.  Continuation of the iterative improvement of the tools and methods we have developed is planned for 2009-10, including trials across a range of UK universities. So far our work has focused on the representation of learning activities within a course or module. We will be looking at applying visual representations at different levels, e.g. across degree programmes, and requirements gathering workshops to inform this are planned for later in 2009.

References and further information

Full references for the citations in this poster are available from are available from http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/brasherblog. Information about CompendiumLD is available from http://compendiumld.open.ac.uk.

Beetham, H. (2007). An approach to learning activity design. In H. Beetham & R. Sharpe (Eds.), Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: designing and delivering  e-learning (pp. 26-40). Oxford: Routledge.

Conole, G., Brasher, A., Cross, S., Weller, M., Clark, P., & White, J. (2008). Visualising learning design to foster and support good practice and creativity. Educational Media International.

Cross, S., Conole, G., Clark, P., Brasher, A., & Weller, M.   . (2008). Mapping a landscape of Learning Design: Identifying key trends in current practice at the Open University. Paper presented at the LAMS Conference.

Nixon, S. (2007). LD project final report – final report of the LD VLE programme work. Milton Keynes: The Open University.

Okada, A., Buckingham Shum, S., & Sherborne, T. (2008). Knowledge Cartography: Software Tools and Mapping Techniques: Springer.

Wilson, P. (2007). Progress report on capturing eLearning case studies (Internal report). Milton Keynes: The Open University.

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H800: 45 Week 8 Activity 2 (Part 4) Tools for Learning Design

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 16:14

Is this a model or an expression of what took place?

At what point, by adding Tutor engagement, and then picking out individuals in relation to their tutor group forum participation do you make assumptions?

A questionnaire would elicit the facts.

At some point the complexity of the activity shown diminishes the ease at which the chart is interpreted.

I'd replaced the imploring 'HAVE FUN!' with the more germane 'ENGAGE!' i.e. take part, I say this because debate and discussion may not be fund with a smile.

Often I liken a session that spins out of control as a Catherine-Wheel nailed to a post that fizzles and falls ... or winds down. Some activities can be like this, 'full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.'

They tend to be the most fulfilling, where everyone in the group takes part. Or at least SIX on a regular basis to give the thing some spin.

Failure to participate is the killer; with it an activity can be a wild success, drawing people in, urging them to take part. Without them you are on your own 'with your books and your thoughts.'

The reality of distance learning online is a bit of both, the trick is to be able to engage and disengage with reasonable flexibility, not feeling guilty whether you are quiet for a period or when you are ever-present.

The role of the tutor is a tricky one

Mentor and coach, or subject matter expert? Institutional insider to guide? Overseer? Absent landlord? Marker? Assessor? Animateur?

The role is changing. It will be as different as it is in the 'real' world from the one-to-one private tutor, or the 'gang master' running 60 students via pre-recorded video lecture. Customers, as students can call themselves with greater validity if they are paying significant sums, will be demanding.

'Change is all around us'.

(Sung to the tune of Wet, Wet, Wet's 'love is all around us').

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

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

PART ONE

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

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

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

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

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

PART TWO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The reality is that such rapport develops with fellow students.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PART THREE

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

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

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

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

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

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

People buy into ideas. People like to be inspired.

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

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

PART FOUR

Add the role of the Tutor.

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

Sell it internally and externally.

Schedule, produce.

Watch what happens and adjust accordingly.

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

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 8 Mar 2012, 15:22

Pic from MMC Learning

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

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

Understandably.

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

I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

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

So, to the emotional response to technology.

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

There is no point putting off engagement with it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

More from Sharpe and Beetham:

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

I like this too:

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

And this:

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

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

REFERENCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

· How prescriptive should you be?

· How confining should the parameters be?

· What degree of latitude is offered?

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

REFERENCE

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

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H800: 40 From Teams to Knots - Engeström

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

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

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

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

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

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Visit to OU Milton Keynes

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A month ago I met, for the first time, someone I first got to know online; this having blogged since September 1999.

On Friday I paid a visit to the campus of the Open University which means after 13 months I get to see where this is all coming from (and where it might all lead?)

I arrived in very good time.

I've been to Milton Keynes before. I was lost for 45 minutes going up, down, and around and around all the around around abouts.

My first impressions? Space 1999

Remove the series? A colony on the moon?

I was equally lost driving around a quiet campus a 7.15am. It struck me that with the exception of the incongruous Walton Hall set in the middle of it all, and the Church, that each new wave of building was competing to be of the age. So we have the best (or worst) of each era: 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s set out in ample space (very un-English).

With ample parking.

I parked up and fell asleep. (I'd been driving for 2 hours 45 mins). I woke to find every space in the car park taken.

How everything else pans out we'll have to see.

I had an interview with one of the faculties; should I be saying which?

Perhaps that would be presumptuous. I'll take this conversation to another blog for that.

It was a positive and experience. Doing an OU course can be transformative, I would and could make studying a regular part of my working life, feeding what I study in my own time directly into the work place.

I liked this last 13 months to having the embers in a fire given a shaken; there are sparks and heat once more.

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H800: 37 Communities of Learning

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

11th century Bologna

We've had a thousand years of learning based on being somewhere. Location mattered for the teachers (Masters) and the libraries.

21st century Cyberspace

We've had a decade of learning that still relies on community, but we can be anywhere (within reason) we like. Broadband Internet access matters. We are guided through the resources by a mixture of people and artifacts. A good deal of it is a pot-lunch at best, with people bringing something to the table, a smorgasbord at least, where we help ourselves.

One part of the community has not changed one jot - like minds gathered to talk, whether like this, through our finger-tips and a keyboard, but best of all in a live synchronous meeting.

No everything can be what we want, when we do or don't want it. We have to submit papers, We have deadlines. Why not this? Better still bring in the online viva - I've had one twice, the Job Interview across the Atlantic via Skype.

Have things changed that much?

Our minds are the same? Our desire for compassion, to be heard, to contribute, to be recognised even rewarded. We crave friendships, we make mistakes, we learn or don't learn from these, many of us marry and raise kids and grow old, have ideas, good and bed, published or not.

Life will go on, with or without the e-learning?

Will it be a better life?

I suspect not, just different.

Where is all the Leisure Time we were promised in the 1970s.

We have become slaves to the technology, being measured and observed as we tap out our lives, and machine-like we could be judged on how many words, and where these words appear and how often and who often reads them, measured in click-throughs, and page views and other site analytics.

A decade ago I envisaged my then infant children studying six A'Levels then two degress - simultaneously. To differentiate yourself maybe this becomes necessary and possible.

I've come across people hear studying TWO degrees simultaneously.

Perhaps this cross-fertilization will generate new ideas - or ware us down by the need to compete.

On verra.

The BBC offer references. Not only can you listen and take notes, and listen again, but you can then follow it up with further reading. I liken this to a wrap. The main meal comes from the OU canteen every day.

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H800: Wk 5 Activity 2 Giving Marshall MacLuhan a massage

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 09:28

Thoguths on 'Speaking Freely', hosted by Edwin Newman4 January 1971 by PBS-TV in the USA.

I disagree with the premise that  ‘The medium is the message’ or ever was.

The 'Word' wasn't the book itself - its being a book... but the work (the words it contained), to think of it in terms of Bibles being printed 500 years ago.

We have an inclination to hyperbole, today was we go all Internet, just as McLuhan did over TV. And every generation does whether it's the train, car, telegraph, telephone or TV, pages, video-games or Smart-phones. H.G.Wells was like this - at least he had the sense to write fiction most of the time.

Perhaps it is human-nature to crave and celebrate 'advancement' and 'invention.'

Could someone ask a neuroscientist. V.J.Ramanchandran probably has a point of view. I guess courtesy of social networks I could have a message to him in ten minutes. Should I? To make the point? To have a definitive and authoritative answer?

The typo of message as 'massage' is apocryphal surely?

It was a time of social confusion … because everyone of McLuhan generation and cohort were taking LSD weren't they?.

McLuhan is an elusive character best understood for the thoughts he provoked rather than as the source of a consistent and coherent body of ideas. He sound likes Marc Prensky of ‘Digital Natives’ infamy or Douglas Coupland and ‘Generation X’ now reborn as ‘Generation Y’ which I’d like to call ‘Generation Why not?’

'The surge towards the future' (a hackneyed phrase) is not just associated with new digital technologies, such as Web 2.0. The ocean analogies continue with the 'wave of analogue mass communications symbolised by television and the shrinking of the world into what McLuhan named ‘the global village’.' Indeed, though more so than the 1970s the events of the last few days surely make us feel like a global village. I've switched from CNN to NHK a Japanese Channel that has a simultaneous feed in English ... it could be local news. It is local news if we are thinking in terms of a global village. It has taken forty years to come about. TV takes the images from SmartPhones ... though the Internet is getting much of this too.

Speaking Freely, hosted by Edwin Newman4 January 1971 by PBS-TV in the USA.

Transcript

People suddenly want to be involved in more dynamic patterns.

If this was what was felt in 1971, why is it still the mantra today? It is wishful thinking. Of course people want things packaged. They want to be spoon fed, from several sources. They are greedy for the choices of packages …

I disagree, consumers were being empowered, whether they were influenced by advertising or not (they were), they were not the less making choices.

Intriguing that we want the audience to be the producer, but only in so much as the producer interprets what they want then package it as a TV show.

Instant replay isn’t participation.

It is editing, then playing back in slow motion. This any other trick is firmly at the fingertips of the producer and in 1971 that of the Gallery Vision Mixer.

Commentators cannot help but reflect publicly on what so many quickly accept as the norm, the younger the audience, the more likely they are to consider it the normal modus operandi.

I thought watching CNN coverage 24/7 of the Japanese earthquake had me ‘there.’

I kept inviting my 12 year old son who was watching better footage free of the CNN ads on YouTube. Different generations, different means of consumption.

Old World, New World; His World, My World.

Watching how CNN collated the edited the material looking for the highlights was interesting. How they pimped it up into the mother of all trailers for news on the event touched on the distasteful, treating the event like a series of events from the American Football Series along with graphics, EFX and music. The events in Japan constantly interlaced with adverts … many of them tourist destinations such as Turkey. Incongruent.

If the medium is the message then I'm tired of the message that comes from TV if news like the Japanese earthquakes has to be packaged with such insensitivity and commercialisation. Shame on CNN.

I’d no longer think of editing TV as an artistic process as putting the car into gear at the traffic lights.

In the US they allowed the sponsors to alter their Football game, an idea that never caught on in the old world. A soccer game of four quarters? It isn’t water-polo.

Hints at what we have with SmartPhones, though people are as likely to be watching the news, a cartoon series, a movie or their favourite music.

I simply don’t accept, as someone at school in the 1970s, that at any stage students thought they were gaining control or wanted to participation in the production of learning process.

Things are packaged by those who know better for a reason – they know better, they are supposed to be the teachers, supposed to be the subject matter experts, supposed to be, and can be the only ones who know their audience, their class and can respond accordingly.

Sesame Street does show ‘the entire learning process in action and in the best advertising style’. Advertising works, or they wouldn’t do it. People are persuaded … and people can be persuaded to learn. I wonder what Marshall McLuhan would make of ‘In the Night Garden’ and the ‘Teletubbies’ – learning as entertainment, that is engaging and vicarious rather than the teachery/evangelically and now very dated Sesame Street.

We like to listen, laugh at or be taken in by commentators like Marshall McLuhan, with have our own generation, who get themselves known, on TV, publishing books. I even help them by mentioning their names, from Malcolm Galdwell to Marc Prensky, they are the Athenian Oracle. We should learn to dismiss what they have to say, rather than accept it, to look at the facts ... and if there aren't any to go and do some research so we understand what is actually happening, not what we would like to happen or think is happening.

The best form of participation I can think of regarding TV, no longer the family activity a generation or two came to love, is fighting over the remote control.

This and turning the TV off, rather than on is a form of participation. It's called doing something that doesn't send you to sleep which is partially the premise behind Ragdoll's 'In the Night Garden' by the way (whose your favourite character?)

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h800: 34 Vicarious Learning (Wk Activity 4)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 13 Nov 2011, 10:32

There is no need for me to plug gaps - there aren't any.

There have been choices to make throough-out H800 wks 1-5. For the TMA01 we are to comment, 500 words each, on THREE activities (with a couple of exclusions which are required four the FOURTH part of the TMA).

Content to cover the ground and ill for the best part of three weeks I wasn't going to do my old thing of 'do everything' choose later ...

However, I thought this reading nmight be part of the 'compulsory' component on 'metaphor' in learning.

In fact, I find it a separate line of thinking entirely, far more pragmatic, and not even complemenetary to the idea of metaphor, though vital the thoughts we are developing on 'Acquisition' and 'participation' for the simple reason that this discussion wraps them up in one activity called 'Vicarious Learning'.

I found this diversion highly information, indeed so much so , that I feel without it I could not have come to my current level of appreciation of acquisition and participation, that instead of separate staged entities, they can be bound together in a single experience.

This idea of ‘vicarious learning’ has been popular with educational researchers as a topic since 1993 and originally formed part of Bandura’s (1977) work.

It is of course what happens all around – we learn by default, by observing others being taught, and either struggling or succeeding at a task or with a concept. Has human kind not done this always? You learn from your parents, siblings and peers, from uncles and aunts, elders and others in your immediate community and from any group or community your are sent to or put into in order to learn.

The suggestions it that ‘observed behaviours are reinforced’ … with a bias in favour of positive reinforcement of ‘good behaviour or outcomes’ rather than poo behaviour and none or negative outcomes. I wish I believed this to be the case and will need to see the research. There are always exceptions to the rule, people who pick up the bad habits and the way NOT to do a thing, or through their contrary nature deliberately go against the grain (though by doing so their formal learning would soon be ended).

Is observation ‘participation’ ? Surely it is?

Yes I learn as ‘one removed as it were’ from the interaction they are watching. Indeed, it is ‘acquisition’ too.

Reading this puts a wry smile on my face because of the way the language of e-learning has settled down, we come to accommodate phrases and ways of putting things that make sense to all in a less cumbersome fashion than this – it is the nature of language. ‘web-based generic shell designed to accept data from any discipline that has cases’.

The PATSy system looked at/looks at:

· Neuropsychology

· Neurology/medical rehabilitation

· Speech and language pathologies

It is a:

· A multimedia database/resource.

· + virtual patients

· Clinical reasoning and diagnosis

‘Results showed that online interactions with PATSy were positively correlated with end-of-term learning outcome measures.’

It is helpful where students struggle to articulate their misunderstanding.

Useful for reflection.

Especially to reveal what a student DOESN’T know, not what they DO know.

It provides:

· A multi-media database

· Discussion tools

It operates:

· At a distance (does it say)

· On campus but working alone (clinical)

· As observers of learners and as learners themselves.

REFERENCE

Cox, R. (2006) Vicarious Learning and Case-based Teaching of Clinical Reasoning Skills (2004–2006) [online], http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ esrcinfocentre/ viewawardpage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-139-25-0127 [(last accessed 10 March 2011).

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H807 Innovations in E-Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 28 Sep 2012, 12:43

Were I back on the H807 Merry-go-round, I'd love to do the Innovations in E-Learning module over again ... indeed, given the pace of change maybe a three year refresher is required.

I'd have loved some of this:

And this:

And this:

Which was my third e-book purchase.

I have read it, highlighted it, reviewed it, shared notes via Facebook on it as I went along and will blog about it at length in due course. And Twitter this, and that. And respond to comments.

Most important of all, I am acting on this books advice which means I now have feed from Google Alerts, and Technorati amongst many other suggestions on how someone who feel they have a voice can find like minds.

Is looking at this better than reading the chapter around it?

Best of all is to share it and discuss with those who know better, or want to know better. My opinion is your opinion put through the kitchen-blender.

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The honest image - who are you or were you?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 4 Feb 2013, 09:32

What image should we use to portray ourselves?

Is there such as thing as best practice? Ought it to be like joining a gym, we have a snapshot taken on a webcam and this current image, no matter how it comes out, becomes who we are?

Do so few of us dislike or distrust what we see when we look at our faces in the mirror each morning?

It has been the subject of research, role play in online education; I'd like to do some of my own. I began a year ago with this.

I liked the picture, felt it was healthy, robust and confident and confident.

I should have looked at the date on it. August 2004. Happy and sunny days. You age under stress and from the mid-40s it doesn't take much to add ten years -all that sun in the past, being unwell. As I write below, his spirit, like mine (I hope) remains that of an enthusiastic twenty-something. The same occurred with the Elluminate session we had in H800 the other day, the tutor on the webcam (initially in a scratchy black and white image) is not the person who goes by in the General Forum. Are we all guilty of this. Men included? We go with something in our late thirties or early to mid-forties?

I then went with this.

An image I long ago used in my eleven year old blog. I wanted something that was indicative of the content and would last. I'm still inclined to run with this. It is indicative of what I think blogging is all about - the contents of your mind, what you think i.e. you 'mind bursts' as I call them on numerous blogs.

Facebook personas sees me in a number of guises

While on Skype I use a image taken with the webcam on the day of an online interview - this is a month ago, so as contemporary as it gets.

I have this image fronting Tumblr taken 21 years ago.

In moments of euphoria having just successfully negotiated a 15m pond of slush on a pair of skis in front of a crowd of early May skiers below the Tignes Glacier, France. The day I proposed to my wife. We'd be 'going out together' for three days ... we've now been together, well 21 years. In my original diary we could create banner ads to publicise what we had to say to fellow writers. One of these has a spread as long as the contents of my diaries and blog: they run from a 13 year old Head Chorister in cassock and ruffs, though gap, undergrad, to add exec, video director, with four woman I didn't marry.

Increasingly, I am thinking of using a self-portrait, that this attempt to capture myself through my minds eye

is more telling that a photograph.

I could use the drawing I did of a 14 year old

What amuses me most here is how I superimpose these attachments as if I were in a school play, the beard is clearly on the soft face of a pubescent boy - I should have looked at my grandfather for the face I'd get, with the more bulbous nose and pronounced chin. Talking of which, I find it intriguing that I am the spitting image of my grandfather, that my own children see images of him age 20 and think it has to be me. All that changes as he ages into a 40 and 50 year old is he goes bald, whereas I am thus far limited to a thinning of the crown.

This I'm afraid, if the age of my children in the rest of the picture is something to go by, is some seven years ago

My only reason for picking it is that I haven't renewed my contact lenses and am inclined, after twenty years wearing them to give up. Maybe laser surgery when I have the cash? This is contemporary. It doesn't say who I am, just 'what' I am. Wearing a child's hat (he's a dad), the headset to record notes onto a digital recorder (for a podcast), a coat he bought for honeymooning in the Alps (we went skiing) 18 years ago …

I have of course not changed much since 1977

It takes me back to the original point - who are we? how do we representative ourselves online in a single image when we are all a sum of a complex of parts? Is it any wonder that we present multiple selves online, the more so the longer we've lived? I don't remember my father being around to take this picture. though clearly he did. I do remember the great-big wellies though and the joy of water spilling over the top if I could find a puddle or pond deep enough. And the jumpers knitted by my granny (sleeves always too long). And the trees in the garden I climbed behind. And my sister and brother … How set in were the learning process by then?

The Dracula Spectacula, People's Theatre, Newcastle.

The teeth were made from dentine and fitted by an orthodontist.I rather foolishly sharpened the fangs and bit through my own lip on the last night. I had to sing while gargling my own blood. The joy of memories.

• Could a daily snap taken when looking in the bathroom mirror be used to tag memories from that 'era' of your life?
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H800: 25 Where does virtual learning begin?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 28 Feb 2011, 06:27

And if real learning occurs, is it no longer 'virtual?'

Where does reality end?

What part of your subconscious is real?

It happens after all, if yo think it or dream it. We distinguish between learning and e-learning; should we ? Did we distinguish a different reality after the train, after the telephone, after television or a man on the moon?

I am often online, I speak to people through Skype and Elluminate.

Yesterday I likened an Elluminate 'tutorial' with seven or eight fellow students as wearing a blindfold in a meeting; yo have to be alert to the presence of others, be sensitive to their interest (or lack of), their hand going up, or not. You are dependent on your only sighted person present - the tutor or moderator.

Over the last month I have been interviewed for a job on Skype. Producers have discussed my work on Skype.

I have been set task to show what I can do, somehow my body of work, the videos and scripts not real enough. Can I still fill a blank sheet of paper with pertinent and persuasive ideas; that's what they want to know.

My blend of learning uses the conscious and subconscious.

I consciously go to bed with a book, now on Kindle, currently reading through my extensive highlights and notes on two books: Education Psychology (Vygotsky 1926) and 'Rethinking Pedagogy for the Digital age (Helen Beetham & Rhona Sharpe eds. 2007). As I drift away I may close the Kindle, may slip it safely to one side .. may not. I matters not a jot. I'tll look after itself.

No wonder I find myself dwelling on all matter of things.

Earlier I woke thinking about one of these job interviews: it may be to work on contrast, it may be to work freelance, there are even a couple of full-time posts. All want to know what I have done recently. What they really need to know is what can I do for them next week or month. Or now.

As I return to consciousness I reflect on the interview that was on my mind, only to realise that it is highly unlikely that my future boss Is Johnny Depp. I've been duped by my own mind. No worries. The thoughts relate to the real opportunities, not this peculiar mash-up in a virtual world.

I have multiple presences in cyberspace with 'faces on' that may be anything from a week to 15 years old. Indeed, I ought to attach an image of the six year old me to a collection of 'earliest memories.'

I have a couple of existences in Second Life too, though I've yet to run with these.

Would I not get more confused over where reality ends?

If it is becoming less easy to distinguish reality from the virtual, how are we supposed to differentiate between learning and e-learning? Is it not the case that both could be going on ... but a student, or the students are doing no learning in either situation? That they are elsewhere? That they are not engaged? Yet hours later, consciously or otherwise, a recollection of a 'lesson' may produce a learning moment, may generate 'stuff' a learning object in that person's consciousness?

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H800: 22 Reflecting on H800

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 10 Mar 2013, 00:26

How goes it?

Like a roller-coaster, merrily going along, like the C4 ident:through the loops of a roller-coaster though the shapes I see are 'H' and '800' and '807' and '808' as I pass by.

Then I switch track and venue and find myself on the Mouse-Trap. Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Here there is a rise and dip where you are convinced you will hit a girder. I just did, metaphorically speaking. (Diary entry, August 1980)

Ilness changes things

Nothing more than a rubbish cold made uncomfortable by asthma.

It is a set back of sorts. I can sleep and read. But the spark has gone (for now).

To use a different analogy, if I often think of my mind as a Catherine-wheel, this one has come off and landed in a muddy-puddle.

We're in the week of metaphors for learning.

I can draw on any notes I've taken on this here and in my eportfolio. This is more than an aide-memoire, it favours the choices I made before at the expense of anything new. So I widen my search. The OU Library offers hundreds of thousands of references in relation to 'Education' and 'Metaphor' going back to 1643.

Gathering my thoughts will take time.

There are 26 pages (nearly 12,000 words) to read (course intro, resources). Far, far more if I even start to consider ANY of the additional references or reading.

Give me three months. We have, or I have left, three days.

My approach is simple. Tackle it on the surface, drill into an author or topic that is of interest and expect to pick up on and pick through this again later this module, later this year ... or next existence. (I believe in multiple existences and flux. We are transitory and changing)

As well as tapping into the OU Blog and e-portfolio the blog I've kept since 1999 might have something to say on metaphor. If I care to I might even rummage through A'Level English Literature folders from the 1970s, just to trigger something. Engaged and enabled by Vygotsky and others in relation to memory and learning I value this ability to tap into past thoughts/studying with ease.

(Ought others to be sold the idea of a life-long blog?)

Otherwise I have gone from learn to swim in the training pool, to swimming lengths in the main pool ... to observer/coach who will participate, but has a towel over his shoulders and is looking around.

The next pool? Where is that?

I'm not the same person who set out on this journey 12 months ago.

On the other hand, having a Kindle makes me feel more like a teenager swotting for an Oxbridge examination; I like having several books on the go. I'll be through 'Educational Psychology (Vygotsky) by the end of the day and am already picking through and adding to copious notes.

Piaget next?

Then a little kite-boarding as I head away from the swimming pool that has been an MA with the OU?!

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H800: 22 Wk2 Activity 1 John Seely Brown on participation through tinkering

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 22 Dec 2020, 20:28

I agree with John Seely Brown’s emphasis, however, how should the degree of and the value of participation differ between the following four types of learning situation: primary, secondary, tertiary and ‘on the job.’

And how does this degree of participation through-out a term, day or even a lesson in relation to the context, the ratio of teachers to pupils, the subject matter, the mix of students, the time of day, period in the week, in the term and so on. And how does such participation rank. Or measure up, in terms of efficacy – the time in which certain learning outcomes need to be met and assessed?

Learning that might be described as mechanical, compared to intellectual, for example, between how to fill a drum with uranium trioxide correctly, reliably and safely compared to learning a language. And even within these examples, how does the person’s preferred learning style come in to play?

QQ 1. Your work so far on H800 includes some individual reading and viewing/listening. Does Brown’s argument imply that this is less valuable than your group work?

Not at all.

Participation is being recognised as a shift to make more of something that has always occurred, but is enabled by current technology, so that such participation is as possible at a distance, as it is face-to-face.

The individual reading, reviewing/listening … and watching provides the assets, insights and experiences of others that are required to begin to form an opinion. As Vygotsky (1926) points out, learning doesn’t occur in a vacuum, there are stages, or step changes, related to coming to a more mature response to something. However, Brown suggests during the course of the presentation, that merely attaching oneself to the periphery of group work that interests you, could or will, if you play your role, lead to a kind of reverse centrifugal force during which you will be drawn into, or tumble in amongst, the activity at the centre of the group. The example he used was on contributing to the development of Open Source Software, the outsider attaching at the periphery and through participation, confidence, demonstration of ability, through ‘tinkering’ and engagement, gradually proving themselves worthy of participation in the ‘inner sanctum’ as it were.

QQ2. What are the implications of his argument for your own use of technology – in your own learning and teaching?

If we think of the best way to learn a language as ‘immersive,’ then perhaps there are many more occasions where similarly immersive, participatory learning could have a place and produce, as a result, better ‘results.’ That there is no point in being precious with knowledge, instead of keeping it close, let it go, build reputation, share ideas. How authors or creators/creatives earn a living from the expression of their thoughts is another issue.

Models are changing across the board

This is completely counter to my experience of secondary and tertiary education, indeed, I liken myself to Brown who talks about his writing code that no others could read and being proud of this. We kept everything close to our chests. However, putting on theatre shows and later moving into TV and Film production, I was involved in a highly participatory activity, indeed, coming in as a runner, or production assistant is/was and still is the way to gain experience, learn on the job, prove yourself and through will, willingness and personality, being drawn in or permitted into the ‘inner sanctum’ which you might call the key roles of producer, director or writer (compared to assistants to any of these, or assistants to the assistants).

QQ3. What are your reactions to Brown’s style of presentation?

The experience in person would have been satisfactory. As you listen you may take notes, may refer as appropriate to the slides he uses, as well as watching his facial expressions and body language and listening to the change in timbre, tone and pace of his voice, all adding emphasis, nuance and even colour to what he is saying. As someone from Television, who has covered lectures/talks it disappoints me that little adequate thought has been given to why certain shot sizes work better, the variety of shot sizes, the angle from which it is shot, even the lighting as Brown often steps back into the shadows, let alone when and how to use cut-aways to the slides and to the audience. However, for a change, the sound quality is good – often it is atrocious. If you get bored or distracted count how many bald heads there are, try to see who is taking notes, does someone get up and leave then return.

None of this is pertinent to the piece and should never been in the frame! Indeed, picking up on what he says later I ought to load this into iMovies or FinalCut Pro, frame him, cut in therefore, and source alternative or better slides.

To cut back its length I may cut in audience shots, whether or not they are of people at this presentation so long as they appear to make a match. What Brown himself would applaud and calls ‘tinkering,’ which is perhaps his thesis.

To tinker is good. Participation is effective.

Enrolling people, engaging them, team-work, motivational techniques … all suggests the teacher not as subject matter expert, but as host, guide or coach ... so simply the person with first-hand experience. ‘Understanding,’ he says, ‘is socially constructed’.

QQ4. What are its strengths and weaknesses compared with the webcast lecture in Week 1 about the Google Generation, or with other presentations you have seen?

Online producers are yet to convince me that they have got it right. I doubt there is a single ‘best’ way to cover such talks/lectures … you may want to preserve the veracity of the presentation and therefore cut nothing at all, indeed, professionally for multi-media and for multiple platforms ‘we’ may provide potential editors with shot sizes and cut-aways to allow them to make their own editorial decisions: this would be in keeping with what Brown describes as ‘tinkering’ later on.

Dr Ian Rowland gave a chat, without visual support. Brown gave a talk with visual support that was weak – they didn’t complement what he was saying, they lacked, IMHO, adequate emphasis.

The answer, which those in education, where the budget permits, should do, is for writers to work with visualises, as in advertising copywriters work with art directors, or giving the emphasis to the director, as directors do with another person’s screenplay/script in TV. This isn’t so far-fetched, modern educators can shoot and edit their own video, and as educators surely they ought to be more away of the need and benefits of appealing across the senses. For example, if this presentation were going to 17,000 managers across the Deutsche Bank I might have the budget to employ an illustrator/cartoonist such as Steven Appleby to make more of these supporting images – to make them more memorable and appealing, and in so doing, strengthening the message.

QQ5. Is it paradoxical that you are invited to listen to one person talking about, among other things, the importance of study groups?

It isn’t paradoxical at all. We live in a mixed and multi-media world. Those recording these events, as here, shouldn’t just be alert to accessibility issues (sight/sound), but to learning choices an audience/readers might like to make on how they engage with the material based on personal choices and circumstances.

Often, despite balking at reading all the time, I would prefer the peer-reviewed, published paper that can be read in a fraction of the time it takes to sit through a ‘talk.’ Already I behave as my 12 year old son does and would have listened to John Seely Brown, while reading the transcript, while (as I did) executing quick Google searches on all manner of things that he mentioned, from ‘what is a ‘bull meeting,’ to the credentials of those he mentioned (what does it say in Linked In) and any related reports John Seely Brown may have penned SINCE this presentation in October 2007.

REFERENCE

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H800: 18 Eating Three Humble pies - on reading, dated reports, participation online (and the use of cliched corporate catch phrases)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:00

Eating humble pie

At various times over the last 12 months I have knocked the MAODE because of the amount of reading required, particularly in H808 ‘Innovations in e-learning’, where it rankled to read reports that felt out of date or books of the last century, and across the modules for the lack of examples of ‘innovations in e-learning,’, as if the MAODE should exploit the students by sending through the online hoops the equivalent of a performance in a Cirque du Soleil show.

I take it back:

I eat humble pie for and offer three reasons:

2. The earliest investigations on things we now consider common place and highly revealing

3. Bells and whistles may have no tune Reading works, though it is unnecessary to have the books in your hand, or to print of the reports.

I’ve done both, starting the MAODE or ODL as it was called in 2001, I had a box of books delivered to the door (I have many of these still).

Picking it up again in 2010 with H807 ‘Innovations in e-learning’ for want of an e-reader or adequate computer I found myself printing everything off – it unnecessarily fills eight large arch-level files (where if kept for a decade, they may remain).

There is value in printing things off

One of these, exactly the kind of document I would have rejected in 2010 as dated, was written in 1992.

What is more, this paper addresses something that one would imagine would need a modern perspective to be of interest, the subject is the value of networking – what we’d call online collaboration or participation today.

The earliest investigations reveal the inspiration at a time when there were few options.

One the one hand I can go to the OU Library and type in ‘participation’ and ‘e-learning’ and be invited to read as PDFs a number of reports published in the last few months, on the other, I can go and see some of the earliest efforts to understand the possibilities and overcome the technical issues in order to try and recreate for distance learners what campus based students had all the time – the opportunity to meet and share ideas, the tutor group online, as it were.

See below

Computer Networking for Development of Distance Education Courses (1).

In my teens and helping out on video-based corporate training films I recall some advice from the Training Director of FIH PLC, Ron Ellis. It’s one of those irritating corporate communications acronyms:

‘Keep it Simple, Stupid’

(as it was, though as some now prefer)

‘Keep it short and simple’.

It’s a fascinating story and remarkably for Wikipedia were entries are often anything but, it is short and straightforward.

The points I am making are straight forward too.

2. Research and References

3. Simplicity

The process is enhanced and highly tailored once the content you need to consume is in a device that is slimmer than a slim novella. The affordances of the e-reader mean you can do away with pen and paper (though not a power or USB cable).

My passion for reading, where the 'Content is King', which perhaps unnecessarily brings me back to Wikipedia.

What you read, and the fact that you read, matters more than its being in paper form, whether chained to a shelf in the Duke Humphrey’s Library, Oxford (Bodleian), or bubble-wrapped from Amazon, let alone printed off on reams of 80sgm from WHSmith, holes punched and the thing filed for delayed consumption.

Reading too, I realise, is the purest form of self-directed learning

Vygostky would approve.

You are offered a list of suggested titles and off you go.

Parameters help

It is too easy to read the irrelevant if your only guide is Google and it is just as easy to purchase or download a book that has the title, but whose author could at best be described as ‘popular’.

It may fell archaic and arcane to be presented with a reading list, but I recognise their value, if only as the maelstrom of digital information spins across your eyes you can focus.

It may require effort to skim read the abstracts and contents of 33 books and papers in order to extract three or four to read over a two week period (as required to do in May 2001 on the then ODL), but the method works:you get an overview of the topic, a sense of who the authors and institutions your ‘school’ considers of interest, and then motivated by making some choices yourself, you read.

This in itself is one reason to avoid Wikipedia

if everyone reads the same content, everyone is likely to draw the same conclusions.

In any case, my issue with Wikipedia is three-fold, entries are either too short, or too long and there is no sense of the reader, the audience, for whom they are written; at times it is childish, at others like reading a doctoral thesis.

Or am I missing the point?

it isn’t a book, not a set of encyclopedias, but a library, communal built, an organic thing where those motivated to contribute and who believe they have something to say, do so; though all the corporate PR pap should be firewalled out.

Either way, my ambition is for WikiTVia, in which the entire content of Wikipedia is put in front of the camera and shot as chunkable video clips.

Anyone fancy giving it a go?

I digress, which is apt.

If you have a reading list you are less likely to get lost

What is more, you will have something to say in common with your fellow pupils when you’re online.

It matters for a niche conversation to be 'singing from the same hymn' sheet which is NOT the same as singing the same tune.

(Aren’t I the one full of cliché and aphorisms this morning).

Which brings us to point three, and a theme for Week 2 of H800 ‘Technology-enhanced learning: practice and debates.’

A title I have just typed out for the first time and I initially read as ‘Technology-enhanced debates’ which could be the right way to think of it given an initial taste of Elluminate.

It doesn’t work and there seems to be little desire or interest to fix it.

I’d liken my first Elluminate session to my first attempt (indeed all my attempts) to learn to row.

Think of the Isis, early November morning, eight Balliol Men kicked out of bed by 3rd year student Miss Cressida Dick to cycle down to the boathouse.

We varied in shape and size like the cast of a James Bond movie:

Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton, Jaws and Odd-Job, Scaramanger and Ros Klebb, Goldfinger and Dr. No.

Despite our coach Dick's best intentions everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

Later that term on in our only race we were promptly ‘bumped’ and were out.

I wonder if the joint experience of Elluminate will find us bumping along discontentedly for the next few months?

My suggestion would to disembark to something simple, that works (as we did in H808)

Elluminate to Skype with Sync.in or Google.docs is the difference between crossing the English Channel on Pedalos, or sharing a compartment on the Eurostar.

Had this been a business meeting I may have said let’s email then pick up the phone and do a conference call that way.

If it had mattered and the journey was a matter of hours I may have said, hold it, let’s meet in a couple of hours.

What matters is achieving the outcome rather than trying to clamber on board a beach-side round-about on which the bells and whistles are falling off.

Reading, referencing and simplicity brings me to a paper we were expected to read in 2001.

Computer Networking for Development of Distance Education Courses (1) Tony Kaye.

Institute of Educational Technology

(Link broken and my searches thus far have not located a copy of this paper)

It was written in 1992.

(Until this week I baulked at reading anything pre Google, Facebook or Twitter. What, frankly is the point if none of these highly versatile, immediate forms of collaboration and communication online are not covered?)

This report is as relevant to synchronous and asynchronous collaborative online learning in 2011 as the earliest books coaching rowing.

The basic issues remain the same: the problem to solve, the goal and outcomes.

It’s relevance is like starting any conversation about the Internet with Tim Berners-Lee and CEARN.

In the paper, expert discuss the potential for computer support through local and wide-area networks for ‘work groups engaged in collaborative authoring tasks.’

You see, this, to keep it simple, is all we were trying to achieve on Elluminate, a ‘work group engaged in collaborative authoring tasks.’

Today we can hear and see each other, though the voice will do – and despite being so anachronistic, we can, presumable, all type on a QWERTY keyboard.

Courtesy of Cloud computing any other shared tool, from word, to spreadsheets, presentations, art pads and photo manipulation, we could choose to use from a plethora of readily available free choices.

‘it takes as a basic premise the need for a progressive co-evolution of roles, organisational structures, and technologies (Englebart and Lehtman, 1988), if technology is to be successfully used for group work.’

‘A summary of some of the main findings from studies of traditional (i.e. non technology-supported) course team activities is presented’.

This I consider important as it re-roots us in the very process we are trying to recreate online, a meeting between people, like or not-alike minds, with a common theme and goal.

This report was written for and about teams planning and writing distance teaching materials, however, as it points out,

‘many of the issues raised are relevant to other group collaboration and authoring tasks, such as planning and writing reports, research studies and books.’ Kaye (1992:01)

It makes fascinating reading, not least the comprehensive list of items that would have to be co-ordinate to create a distance learning ‘package,’ resplendent with diskette and C90 audio cassettes, 16 hours of TV and a 300 page course Reader.

Have things moved on?

Where’s our TV in MAODE?

I actually believed in 2001 I’d be getting up in the middle of the night to view lectures.

We don’t have lectures in the MAODE, why not?

It should not be a dying form.

The detail of designing, developing and producing a distance education package, though interesting in itself, is not what I’m looking for in this report, so much as how the teams used the then available technology in order to work together collaboratively online.

There were clear, agreed stages.

The emphasis on this report (or book chapter as it is sometimes referred to) are the ‘human factors’.

A wry smile crosses my face as I read about some of the problems that can arise (it sounds familiar):

• Lack of consensus
• Differing expectations Nature of roles and tasks ‘differences in the perceived trustworthiness of different colleagues’ [sic]
• Different working patterns “Varying preferences in use of technology (which in this case include academics who use word-processors and who ‘draft in manuscript prior to word-processing by secretary” [sic]

Then some apt quotes regarding the process from this disparate group of individuals:

‘working by mutual adjustment rather than unitary consensus, bending and battering the system until it more or less fits’ (Martin, 1979)

‘If some course teams work smoothly, some collapse completely; if some deliver the goods on time, some are hopelessly late. Course teams can be likened to families/ Happy families do exist, but others fall apart when rebellious children leave home or when parents separate; most survive, but not without varying elements of antagonism and resentment.’ (Crick, 1980)

There is more

In microcosm it’s just the same on the MAODE.

I come to this conclusion after four or five ‘collaborative’ efforts with fellow students.

We’re human

We work together best of all face-to-face, with a real task, tight deadlines and defined roles, preferably after a meal together, and by way of example, putting on a university play would be an example of this.

Recreating much or any of this online, with a collections of heterogeneous strangers, with highly varied lives not just beyond the ’campus’ but possibly on the other side of the planet, is not unexpectedly therefore primed to fail.

This said, in H808, one collaborative experience I was involved with, between six, with one in New Zealand, was a text book success.

Why?

As I put it then, ‘we kept the ball rolling,’ in this case the time zones may have helped (and my own insomnia that suggests I am based in Hong Kong not Lewes, East Sussex).

It also helped to have a Training Manager from the Navy, and a Training Manager (or two) from Medicine.

There was professional discipline that students and academics seem to lack.

Indeed, as academics often say themselves, they don’t have proper jobs.

Isn’t it about time that they behaved like the professional world, indeed, took lessons from corporate communications instead of getting things wrong all the time?

I read this from the 1992 report and wonder if when it comes to the people involved much has changed inside academic institutions.

‘There is evidence to suggest that course team processes can become pathological if the factors listed by Riley(1983) (particularly, it could be argued, the ‘private’ factors) are not properly addressed.’ Kaye, (1992:08).

‘One experienced course team chairman (Drake, 1979) goes so far as to say that …

“the course team is a menace to the academic output and reputation of the Open University,” [sic/ibid]

‘because it provides a framework for protracted (and exciting) academic discussions about possible options for course content and structure, but that when the real deadlines are imminent, many academic are unable to come to define decisions and produce satisfactory material.’

!!!

If academics at the OU can’t (or couldn’t) work together what hope to do mature postgraduates have?

Our maturity and NOT being academics probably

‘problems can arise in the relationship between academic staff and radio or television producers’ Nicodemus (1984) points out that the resultant anxieties can cause “ … a lot of flight behaviour which simply delays and dramatises the eventual confrontations.’

I have an idea for a soap-opera set on the campus of the OU; this report provides the material

I'm not going to quote it all, but there is some social science behind it. Hopefully this paper or chapter is traceable.

Brooks (1982) has observed that when complex tasks are shared amongst individuals or small working groups, the extra burdens of coordination and communication often counteract the productivity gains expected from division of labour.

Problems arise from social psychological processes:

for example, pressures to confirm in a group might cause people to behave less effectively than if they were working alone, and diffusion of responsibility and lack of ownership of a group product can lead to group members contributing less effort to a group task tan they would to a personal, individual, project.

However, we are left on a positive note by this report

“ … the cycle of integration-disintegration is, after all, also known to be important in creativity.” (Nicodemus, 1984)

In the case of distributed course teams (eg those working on interdisciplinary, or co-produced courses) where, a priori, a strong case might be made for networked computer support for collaboration, it would seem important to pay even more attention to the underlying dynamics within a team.

Enough, enough, enough … I am only half way through this report.

Let’s skip to a conclusion, which is as pertinent today as it was in 1992.

‘The social, psychological, and institutional factors influencing the processes and outcomes of academic teamwork were stressed in the first part of this chapter (see above, this is as far as I got), because these factors are probably of greater overall importance in determining successes than is the nature of any technology support which might be made available to a course team'. Kaye (1992:17)

REFERENCES

Brooks, F 91982) The mythical man-month: Essays on software engineering. Reading. MA.: Addison-Wesley.

Crick, M (1980) ‘Course teams: myth and actuality’, Distance Education engineering, Reading, MA.: Addison-Wesley.

Drake, M. (1979) ‘The curse of the course team’, Teaching at a distance, 16, 50-53.

Kaye, A.R. (1992) ‘Computer Conferencing and Mass Distance Education’, in Waggoner, M (ed) Empowering Networks: Computer Conferencing in Education, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Educational Technology Publications.

Martin, J. (1979) ‘Out of this world – is this the real OU?” Open Line, 21, 8.

Nicodemus, R (1984) ‘Lessons from a course team’, Teaching at a distance, 25, pp 33-39

Riley, J (1983) The Preparation of Teaching in Higher Education: a study of the preparation of teaching materials at the Open University, PhD Thesis, University of Sussex.

Post script

In the course of writing this I discovered (courtesy of Wikipedia) that Leonardo da Vinci may have coined the phrase, or a version of ‘Keep it simple, stupid’ and also invented the pedalo. The mind boggles, or is Leonardo still alive and contributing ? (his fans certainly are).

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H800:12 WK1 Activity 4 The Google Generation - True or False?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 16 Nov 2011, 23:57

Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. Written in 2007 (published 11 January 2008). Reviewed in 2011.

Part of the Week 1 jollies for H800.

(This picks up where I left off in the Forum Thread)

After a year of MAODE, a decade blogging and longer keeping journals (and old course work from both school and uni I might add) I feel I can tap into my own first, second, third or fourth take on a topic.

Increasingly, where this is digitised my preferred learning approach is to add to this information/knowledge, often turning my ideas inside out.

We are yet to have a ‘generation,’ (a spurious and loose term in this context) that has passed through primary, secondary and tertiary education ‘wired up’ to any consistent degree from which to gather empirical research. Indeed, I wonder when things will bottom out, when we’ve gone the equivalent journey of the first horseless-carriage on the Turnpikes of England to the 8 lanes in both directions on the M1 south of Leicester – or from the Wright Brothers to men on the moon.

I’d like to encourage learners to move on from copying, or cutting and pasting in any form, to generating drafts, and better drafts of their take on a topic, even if this is just a doodle, a podcast or cryptic set of messages in a synchronous or asynchronous discussion i.e. to originate.

I lapped up expressions such as Digital Natives, an expression/metaphor only that has been debunked as lacking any basis in fact.

I fear this is the same when it comes to talking about ‘Generation X, Y or Z.’ It isn’t generational, it is down to education, which is down to socio-economic background, wealth, access (technical, physical, geographic, as well as mental), culture, even your parent’s job and attitude.

My 85 year old Father-in-law is Mac ready and has been wired to the Internet its entire life; does this make him of this ‘Generation?’

If x billion struggle to find clean drinking water and a meal a day, where do they stand?

They’ve not been born on Planet Google, so don’t have this generational opportunity.

I find it short sighted of the authors not to go for a ‘longitudinal’ (sic) study. It strikes me as the perfect topic of a JISC, Open University, BBC tie in, the filming part funding the research that is then published every three years for the next thirty, for example.

Trying to decide who is Generation X, or Generation Y or the ‘Google Generation’ strikes me as fraught as trying to decide when the islands we inhabit became, or could have been called in turn England, Scotland, Wales, Great Britain or the United Kingdom.

We could spend an unwarranted amount of time deciding who is in and who is out and not agreed.

We can’t it’s like pouring water through a sieve. The creator of IMBD, a computer geek and film buff was born in the 60s (or 70s). Highly IT literate, then as now, he is not of the ‘Google Generation’ as defined as being born after 1993, but is surely of the type?

Personally I was introduced to computers as part of the School of Geography initiative at Oxford in 1982.

Admittedly my first computer was an Amstrad, followed by an early Apple, but I’ve not been without a computer for the best part of thirty years. I can still give my 12 year old a run for his money (though he does get called in to sought our browser problems).

And should this report be quoting Wikipedia?

Surely it is the author we should quote if something is to be correctly cited; anyone could have written this (anyone did).

Reading this I wonder if one day the Bodleian Library will be like a zoo?

The public will have access to view a few paid students who recreate the times of yore when they had to read from a book and take notes, and look up titles in a vast leather-bound tome into which we strips of paper were intermittently stuck. (not so long ago).

Is there indeed, any point in the campus based university gathered around a library when all his millions, or hundreds of millions of books have been Googliefied?

Will collegiate universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Durham (Edinburgh and Dublin? Harvard ?) become even more elite as they become hugely expensive compared to offerings such as the Open University?

There may be no limit to how much and how fast content can be transmitted … the entire Library of Congress in 3 seconds I am told, but there are severe limits to how much you can read and remember, let alone make sense of and store.

Is this not the next step?

To rewire our minds with apps and plug-ins? I smile at the idea of ‘power browsing’ or the new one for me ‘bouncing’ the horizontal drift across papers and references rather than drilling vertically, driven by a reading list no doubt.

I can give a name to something I did as an undergraduate 1981-1984. Reading Geography I began I the Map room (skipped all lectures) and then spent my morning, if necessary moving between libraries, particularly the Rhodes Library and Radcliffe Science Library, by way of the School of Geography Library, of course, and sometimes into the Radcliffe Camera or the PPE Reading Rooms.

I bounced physically.

I bounced digitally online as a preferred way of doing things. Though this often leaves me feeling overwhelmed by the things I could read, but haven’t read, that I’d like to read. Which is good reason ONLY to read the latest paper, to check even here if the paper we are asked to read has not already been superseded by this or fellow authors.

Old digitised news keeps like a nasty smell in the wind?

Users are promiscuous, diverse and volatile and it is clear that these behaviours represent a serious challenge for traditional information providers, nurtured in a hardcopy paradigm and, in many respects, still tied to it. (p9)

The problem with the short read and low tolerance of readers is the way papers have thus far gone from print version to digital version without, yet, thorough transmogrification.

We await new acceptable ways to write, and submit and share knowledge that is less formal and to anyone versed in reading online, digestible.

All authors for the web would do well to read Jakob Nielsen on web usability.

There is a way to do it. If it looks like it belongs in a journal or book, you are getting it wrong

Do the authors appreciate that labelling the behaviour ‘squirreling’ is self-fulfilling?

It normalises the behaviour if anyone reads about it. Whilst metaphors are a useful way to explain, in one person’s words, what is going on, such metaphors soon become accepted as fact.

There is a running debate across a series of article in the New Scientist on the way humans think in metaphors (good, can’t help it), and how ideas expressed as metaphors then set unfounded parameters on how we think (not so good, and includes things like the selfish gene, competition and so on).

This dipping, bouncing and squirreling, horizontal browsing, low attention span, four to eight minute viewing diverse ‘one size does not fit all’ individual would make for an interesting cartoon character. I wonder if Steven Appleby or Quentin Blake would oblige. ________________________________________________________________________________

Why ‘huge’ and why ‘very’ ? Qualify. Facts. Evidence. And why even, 'very, very.' This isn't academic writing, it's hear say and exaggeration.

There’s a category missing from the graph – branded information, such as Wikipedia, or Harvard Business Publication, Oxford or Cambridge University Press and Blackwell’s, to name put a few.

Where so much information is available, and so many offerings on the same topic, the key for anyone is to feel they are reading a reliable source.

The point being made later about ‘brand’ presence for BL … something we will see more of with the commercialisation of information. Even Wikipedia cannot be free for ever, while the likes of Wikileaks, for its mischief making and spy-value will always be funded from nefarious sources.

There are very very few controlled studies that account for age and information seeking behaviour systematically: as a result there is much mis-information and much speculation about how young people supposedly behave in cyberspace. (p14)

Observational studies have shown that young people scan online pages very rapidly (boys especially) and click extensively on hyperlinks - rather than reading sequentially. Users make very little use of advanced search facilities, assuming that search engines understand’ their queries. They tend to move rapidly from page to page, spending little time reading or digesting information and they have difficulty making relevance judgements about the pages they retrieve. (p14)

Wikipedia and YouTube both exhibit a marked age separation between viewers of content (mainly 18-24s) and content generators (mainly 45-54s and 35-44s respectively). (p16, ref 17)

‘there is a considerable danger that younger users will resent the library invading what they regards as their space. There is a big difference between being where our users are’ and `being USEFUL to our users where they are’.

Surely it would be easy to compare a population that have access and those who do not?

Simply take a group from a developed, rich Western nation and compare them to a group that are not, that don’t have the internet access, video games or mobile phones.

REFERENCE

Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. UCL 11 JAN 2008

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When is a tag not a tag?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Feb 2011, 15:57

When I use the word, as a term, to label, reference, or 'tag' a blog entry only once. Or when I the word or phrase isn't spelt correctly. Or when I use the wrong term form months, correct it, but never return to correct the old tag.

Take a look down the left; I need to do some editing here.

Is there value in old news, old entries?

Certainly so. I've been on H807 and H808 and bloggeg extensively about both, so much so tha I could, and may revist, and in effect re-do both modules in order nudge my understanding up a few notches.

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H800:7 The OU Good Study Guide 1990

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 3 Feb 2011, 15:05

If you think much has changed, it hasn't.

Not yet.

The means of delivery may have changed, but we are still reading words. And where there's video today there was the lecture before. Or the topic-focussed discussion, this forum feed, a tutorial.

Two modules in I came across this.

As valid today as it was in 1990.

Not that I was reading it then, I finished my first degree in 1984. This was something my daughter had been sent by her grandfather; she's 14. it's a foreign language to her. For any words she writes out long hand a thousand are typed into Facebook or Tumblr.

The lessons in here are straightforward; it pays to take you time and put in some effort.

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H800:6 The E-learning UK for forum thread obsessives

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 1 Feb 2011, 13:48

Go here, do this.

As if you don't get enough insights on e-learning from fellow MAODE students, I've found this group in Linked In virbant, engaging and essential.

Go see.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 14:25

The cost is always the thing, but Adobe shine.

For the creative industries and creatives Adobe are unsurpassable.

They are like the Avid from TV and complement all things MAC for designers, art directors, photographers and video directors.

I hear my name in this mix.

When I assess a new e-learning tool I find myself giving several a go. There are blogs in Diaryland, Edublogs, Wordpress and the OU. I have a presence on YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr, in LiveJournal and Blogger. I've tried eportfolio systems MyStuff (OU), Mahara and PebblePad.

Beyond PowerPoint I've used the Google.doc equivalent Articulate, Captivate and Lectora. And others that may have swept in and out of my life and consciousness untagged, unblogged and unloved.

(The tearing my hair out guy courtesy of MMCLearning whose seminar I attended at Learning Technologies. Give me a moment in my life and I'll do their Diploma in Digital Marketing.)

I have in front of me the Adobe eLearning Suite 2 on a 30 day trial.

To do this justice I'm thinking to myself 45-90 mins a day.

Will this underline February 2011?

I favour big and established brands like Adobe and can make Adobe Photoshop sing thanks to a training CD-rom I used. DIY learning or self-taught can work.

Now that I've declared my interest I guess I should load it up and make a start.

Twelve years I was learning Dreamweaver ... before that Avid off-line editing.

Tomorrow something else.

I'm sure.

There's more on this HERE. Though under a Top 100 chart based on under 300 self-selecting 'e-learning' professionals from around the world doesn't strike me as statistically saying much.

(I've given up TV)

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LT1.2 Learning Technologies. Day One.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 1 Feb 2011, 19:30

Knowledge Advisors gave one of the most important presentations at Learning Technologies.

Coming out of this presentation I was keen to read further White Papers which are available here.

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H800: 4 The bud opens?

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H807, H808 to H800.

Either it is reflection of my growth through this course, or it is a blossoming of the MA ODE course. Looking at how we students will share contact details: Email, Skype, Blog and Twitter accounts suggests to me that any containment within the OU VLE is now cursory.

I feel this will increase its use, not diminish it.

This will remain the hub from which course materials, resources and context eminated with blogging, Skype and Twitter having their role to play.

All I can suggest to fellow students is to screen grab, cut and paste or download content you create beyond this platform as at some stage it is certainly going to form a significant part of your aggregated knowledge, possibly even evidence of participation.

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LT2:7 Learning Technologies. The challenge for RBS

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 30 Jan 2011, 15:12

Andrew Spencer from Royal Bank of Scotland gave a talk on the development of an MBA programme for senior RBS staff with Harvard Business Publishing

The relationhship was established with HBP prior to the economic crisis or the banking collapse. The challenge was to produce a global programme that would meet the needs of a diverse audience.

The RBS group of companies spreads far.

I loved the way he put it. RBS came up with two kinds of L&D offering:

Perhaps there's a place for cooking related anaologies. Mark Wagner has a podcast to an American Conference in which he calls a wiki a 'pot lunch.' In this respect a blog entry might be a Pot Noodle and a Twitter the last Hula-Hoop in the bag (a broken one).

In less corporate company Andrew might have said that the 'shit hit the fan' in this case it was the ship.

Some things would have to change.

They way RBS put it is that 'burning desire would have to transform into a desire for results.'

The cynic may say this is like saying greed had to be replaced by need?

Why HBP? For the brand and content and a previous working relationship.

A series of microsites were built so that people could find their way into the information. Andrew described this as a person finding the right door to go through. I'd go back to food and talk of a smorgasbord.

Once through this door a variety dishes are offered: insight videos, articles and indepth reports.

Take up of the offering picked up.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 3 Feb 2011, 07:15

In our first Cafe exchange for H808 various folk, Shaun, Maureen and Gemma recommend getting a heaqdset and microphone. In H807 I baulked at dressing up like someone in a call centre or spening a few quid I didn't have. I mistakenly thought I'd get away with an external mic and the lap top speakers. It didn't work so I ended up typing furiously to try and keep up with the conversation.

I am now the proud owner of a £9.99 head set that does the job beautfully. What is more, plugged into a digital recorder it is terrific for taking audio notes or podcasts.

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