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E-words

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 27 Aug 2010, 07:08

A word, or new use for a word, should, because of its context, not only slip into usage unnoticed but ought also to be immediately comprehensible.

I like 'e-learning.'

When I began studying Open and Distance Learning in 2001 'online learning' and 'web-based learning' covered the topic - inadequately it would appear. We ditched 'iLearning' as pertaining to nothing more than 'interactive' and therefore missing all things WWW, all things Web and Internet. iLearning could be done off-line which somehow diminished it.

All of this is as much an off-line experience as an online one.

This is what the Internet 'affords' we can trawl for chunks of information and take it all 'off-line' if we wish. At times I don't know or care to know if I am online or not, receiving messages or not, on, in or under this 'digital ocean,' or on the beach, catching this binary fret.

There are no paramteres, no boundaries ... information is chunked and diced and hung out to dry or digitise, to flourish or flounder.

Can consciousness be defined? Bagged? It is no different whether express in print or online.

So why e-learning but not e-consciousness?

They're of the mind and the mind defies being differentiated by platform.

o-Learning. With Socrates, it is oral.

p-Learning. With Caxton, in print.

tv-Learning. With the OU, in the middle of the night.

e-Learning. Anywhere on the Internet.

Though if it is like e-mail that it is little more than electronic ping-pong with gobbets of data.

iLearning. Interactive or personalised to the 'id,' with 'me' in mind?

iou-Learning. Interactive or 'Internet Open Universtity' Learning.


‘Part of the difficulty of understanding and implementing e-learning is that there is no one unique description for ‘e-learning; terms and conflicting definitions abound – ICT, learning technologies and e-learning are all terms that have been described to cover aspects of this area.’

Conole et al; (2007:72)

How does 'e-learning' or 'e-tivity' translate? Do other languages adopt these terms as 'loan words?' Or do the have their own words for these things? What are they?

REFERENCE

Conole, G; White, S and Oliver, M in Conole and Oliver (eds)  Contemporary perspectives in E-Learning Research. (2007)

 

 

 

 

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E-words and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 26 Aug 2010, 13:20

I've just negotiated my way into the OED online dictionary and have had my mind exploded.

Amazing. Thrilled. Delighted.

My quest is to share views on the word 'activity' and whether its reversioning to 'e-tivity' is justified beyond some kind of quasi-academic brand-speak to sell a book and a concept.

'Activity' is first cited in 1530. Kicked off-line in 2001.

Let's campaign to support these words rather than having them digitised into oblivion.

Let's use our booted heels to hack the 'e-' barnacle from words that deserve better. That stand alone. That have a meaning that is only diminished by adding 'e-'.

Let's ditch the unnecessary e-attachments.

Meanwhile, I'm off to lose myself in the OED where words are nutured like rare beasties kept alive, breeding and happy in a Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

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Words. A call for simple English.

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

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

The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English

Words matter to me very much

Their purpose is to communicate.

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

Books on words appeal to me.

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

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

Or is that me committing this very crime?

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

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

Obfuscation or communication?

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

And have I just done it again?

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

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

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The use of narrative in e-learning

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

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

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

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

REF

Bruner (1996.97) ‘Meaning Making’

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

REF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three experts were called and in turn tried to explain:

1) Bing Bang

2) String Theory

3) The Offside Rule in soccer

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

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

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

The use of scenarios:

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

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

I use software like Final Draft and Power Structure.

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

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

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

Is design of e-learning as straight-forward?

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

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

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

It works to follow the pattern rather than break it.

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

There is little meat on a popular documentary

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

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

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

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

Not very far at all.

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

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

Do you watch TV with a laptop?

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

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

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

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

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

Even seen a lecturer take a commercial break

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

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

REFERENCE

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

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Clashing swords and VLEs

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Inspired by Martin Weller's book on VLEs. Just read Chapter Seven - Standards and Specification and Chapter Eight - Learning Design. notes to follow.

Courtesy of the OU's 1990 book 'The Good Study Guide' I am trying to make my notes less a cut and paste and more a considered extraction of ideas, my agreements, disagreements and questions with a few notable quotes and references to follow up. These are probably then best catalogued and tagged in the OU ePortfolio MyStuff (for now).

Having read 'Standards and Specifications' I am wondering what role e-learning designers might play once a set of common approaches have been adopted? Once every learning design follows 'the script' the way a Hollywood screenplay has its three acts, various turning points, antagonists and protagonists, roles and events.

For every chapter I read, I read two chapters of a Bernard Cornwell Novel 'The Lords of the North' and a chapter of Norman Davies's history of the Isles (UK and the Republic of Ireland).

I won't be able to afford this luxury come September, a new season and a new moduel H808 'The Elearning Professional.'

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The value of electronic literacy in the Internet Age

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

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

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

Can you recommend an e-Reader?

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

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

E-literacy is an irresistible term of course.

‘Electronic Literacy’ or ‘E-literacy’

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

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

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

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


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

These literacies are:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Literacy and multiple literacies (Kress, 1997)

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

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

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

The goals of education

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

Two conflicting directions for education

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

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

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

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

REFERENCE

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

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







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'e-learning' I'll accept, 'enculturated' I loathe.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 14 Aug 2010, 16:06

“Debates around terminology and definitions often generate more heat than light with their length and ferocity almost indirectly proportional to their usefulness.” Weller (2007:4)

Whilst true it is difficult to accept another person’s definition of an invented word whose meaning shifts constantly and means different things to different people.

“It was through the rise of the Internet that the ‘e’ prefix came into popular usage, and in line with e-commerce, e-business and e-government, it is the internet that is really the defining technology in e-learning.” Weller. (2007:5)

If it is the case the Internet (capital ‘I’ anyone?) is the defining technology of e-learning, then it isn’t e-learning, it should be i-learning. Or was that term nobbled in the 1980s for ‘interactive’ learning.

What about www-learning?


It’s suitably polysyllabic to appeal to the academic community and no more unpronounceable than some of the terms academic writers feel it necessary to construct.

‘E-learning. Any learning experience that utilizes internet-related technologies to some extent.’
Weller. (2007:4)

Imagine this definition blown into a party balloon then let loose into the atmosphere of cyberspace; it will buzz about who knows where until it loses itself in the multitude of tools ‘out there.’

Will we reach a stage where we return to the more established global term ‘learning?’ that would embrace all these Is, Es and Ms.

Or as Weller, it’s not worth the trouble, just run with it, as we must run with podcasting and iPod, iPads and googling and so much more. Banned though should be the polysyllabic babble that academic writers prefer to use in favour of a couple of words in plain, unpretentious English.

The word I loath more than all, too often used by certain authors with abandon in relation to e-learning, is ‘enculturated.’

I don’t think much of ‘situated’ either.

REFERENCE

Weller, M. (2007) Virtual Learning Environments. Using, choosing and developing your VLE

It is the holidays, so this norming I read Michael Faber's 'The Fifth Gospel.'

Fun and quotable. And this easy and quick to read. A 3 hour train journey would do it.

Over the previous few days I have read Stephen King's 'Cell,' which begins like a text book, 'throw them out of the aerolpane' thriller but turns into such daftness I skim read the last half at great speed. You must admire his hutzpah.

Over the previous week I have not been enjoying Simon Schama's 'History of Britain' as I feel I'm getting too much of him and not enough history (He's very good on Caravagio though) ... while Andrew Marr's 'The Making of Modern Britain' at least had some micro-factoids to interest in a journalist sort of way.

Then I found my old copy of Norman Davies 'The Isles' which I read a decade ago and plan to read again ... followed by his History of Europe.

Unsure why I'm trying to pack my brain with such stuff, but it is in part due to my mind being re-awoken from a period of slackness courtesy of the OU.

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More visualization ... fewer words, greater comprehension!

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Creators of course content need to put thought into visualising information in simple, single page graphics that are easy to grasp.

“While such diagrams are useful to convey an impression of complex software systems, anyone who has tried to delineate the boundaries between such systems will know that boxes and arrows greatly simply a messy reality.’’ Weller (2007:4)

Well thought out expressions of data, facts and stats, as well as concepts, can not only be enlightening, but memorable. David McCandless is a recognised exponent of the art of making information beautiful. McCandless, 2009

Being here suggests that I am a words person, I call myself a ‘visualiser’ though I admit to giving up on writing HTML even with the likes of Dreamweaver some eight years ago. Get someone else to do it! Too much faff. Attended London’s School of Art, copywriting, art direction and design. Had the option to follow a Fine Art MA rather than turning up here. Might I have produced a few memorable canvases by now had I taken t hat route?

REFERENCE

McCandless, D. ( 2009) Information is Beautiful.

Weller, M. (2007) Virtual Learning Environments. Using, choosing and developing your VLE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Quote yourself happy

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

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

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

Surely there are standards and expectations?

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

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

Is there some etiquette regarding this kind of thing?

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

Academically stimulating, but hardly a Caravagio.

At what point do you become 'self-quotable?

Did Churchill quote himself?

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

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

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

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

Or things I said to important people ?

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

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

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

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


It is ?

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

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

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

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New blog post

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 13 Jul 2010, 20:40

Having bought into the OU Blog and contributing to 'IT' for the last 22 weeks to have no access for .... 12 hours ... is like having a lobotmy.

I'm not saying that a soul even reads this kind of entry but I've been rampaging through every rerference and lead like a forensic scientist these last few days eager get to the point, where I get the point that our esteemed OU author reached.

One worrying insight ... I find I can too often get to a reference more quickly directly through Google, than limping through the OU Library service search thingey ... and the glitches and hurdles that some providers present to you.

On the other hand, the OU Access sign is always encouraging.

Downtime July, August?

Different time.

This morning I had tow ancient mercury fillings removed while I discussed online tutoring with my dentist. Who is a Kings College, London Prof ... who takes online causes in dentistry once a quarter ... with students around the world.

He hates it.

Why?

The students know it is recorded, so don't turn up. It isn't a lecture, it is a tutorial. There may be 8 or more students, but only two interact and the only times we get some kind of dialoge it will be because a dentist in Isreal finds he is meant to share insight on tooth decay with a fellow dentist in Iran.

Yes. I agree. Debate engenders discussion, while cosy, feely goody-goody panders to the lazy lurkers.

Why is the Oxford Union Debating Society thriving?

How come they had a debate here recently on the future of E-learning!

Debate works, difference works ...

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What's wrong with Educational Social Networking? (EDU)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Jun 2012, 01:04

DSC04711.JPG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are Personal Learning Environment (PLE) a way or the way forward?

If I have this concept right, i.e. with the formal relationships and tutor relationship given equal potential, the tools in one place on the same homepage is a suitable progression from the VLE) Perhaps OU students are doing this anyway by starting at their own Blog or Home Page and simply anchoring the pages from the OU that matter most to them?

The New Scientist is running an interesting essay in its current edition which touches on all of this.

New Scientist (week 10th July 2010) has a piece called 'Generation F' by Richard Fisher (2010).


* 400 million worldwide ... on social networking sites.
* The importance of weak ties as well as close ones.
* The time it takes to forge 'reliable and trustworthy' ties.
* The value of 'acquaintances' to provide relevant and trustworthy news/information.

The article is prone to the some hyperbole:

Social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace) the 'harbingers of a sea change in our social evolution, in the same way that the arrival of language informed our ancestors.' (Donarth, 2009)

Danah Boyd (2009) describes Facebook as ‘an essential utility like water or electricity.’

Academics are just as guilty of this kind of thing, there’s been plenty of it in the reading for H807 the democratising of education, ‘starting the world anew’ ala Tom Paine etc: and claims made in the last ten/twenty years regarding ICT and education, what it could do, will do ... but hasn’t.

The essay is of value though for how, and if, social networking can be used short-term purposes:

'Online social networking appears to be 'very good for servicing relationships, but not for building them de novo.' (Dunbar, 2010)

H807 tries to use an ‘educational social networking’ approach, or does it. Perhaps it is deliberately more self-contained than this. Though with emphasis on authors such as Salmon (2002) and her model for e-tivities, undue emphasis is put on getting people talking and working together? Is that so necessary.

Isn’t experience showing that this is wishful thinking?

The OU must have research on this. Why do more people quit a an online distance learning course (20-50%) compared to a traditional distance learning course? What are the views on conversations, synchronous or asynchronous between fellow students and students in the wide OU community and tutors?

At various times, the ‘weakest links’ to fellow OU students through the OU blog has produced some useful support and insights for H807, yet engagement through our own Cafe/General Forum can surely only be described as minimal?

Whilst deeper learning experiences do come from sharing (like this), it isn’t happening to the degree the OU would like?

Collaboration between some random people I may meet at the bus stop when the service is delayed is not the same as forging an academic bond with some one or some many who are equally engaged with the material, whether their opinions are the antithesis of mine would be immaterial – indeed, disagreement would be better, it feeds discussion. This is NOT a criticism of H807, we have a common purpose, we have elected to do H807, there is a common profile intellectually and absolutely the variety of life experiences enriches the experience. But clearly, as individuals, our approaches to learning, IT skills, time allocated to the task and for many other reasons will and does negate against certain ways of learning. Such as this.

If on the one hand the wishes of some students, maybe most, to stay at arms length aren’t the wishes or hopes of others who would like to engage with a wider circle being denied?

The sought of relationships between students that the OU is hoping for can surely only developed over a few years rather than a few months.

Jeff Hancock (2008) of Cornell University '... found that those with Facebook access asked questions to which they already knew the answers or raised things they had in common, and as a result were much more successful at winning people over.' (New Scientist, 10July2010).

We experienced the ease with which we could share personal information, there was no drilling or phfishing for information, but clearly I will know more about some people than others. It relevance is another matter, the buy-in to these people could eventually result in a bond of sorts, at least as working on this platform is concerned. I would have to look back through the way we respond to each other to see if the above occurred ... deliberately asking certain people certain things even though we knew the answer, as a catalyst to conversation. This does not work discussing trivia such as pets and the weather (though I’ve indulged in plenty of that too ... it doesn’t lead to conversations on costing programming, what Vygotsky means about scaffolding or whether we are fed up with e-tivities, e-granaries, e-moderators ... and e-jobs.

Mid-way through the unit we read Elliot (2008) and I took an interest in the way 'lifelong learning' functions.


I was looking at this as an adult learner environment, the merging of social, family and work through social networking sites and the communication habits and styles of all three merging into and becoming a messed up single entity. Historically it wasn't long ago that work, family and social words were one ... fifty years ago, seventy or a hundred years? No more.

Both of these points, revealing more and the merging, or coalescent, or the dropping of barriers between these spheres is changing behaviours.

'Increased visibility also means our various social spheres - family, work and friends- are merging and so we will have to prepare for new societal norms. 'Well have to learn how to live a more transparent life.' (Holtzman, 2009)

The idea of 'Exposure' was used be Ellen Levy in 1999 (Levy, 1999) after she had spent a year keeping a blog and photojournal, then a novel activity. (Washington Post, 24th September, 1999).

What an employer, parent, friends or colleagues make of this is another matter, but then again, one day we’ll all be walking around with our DNA profile on a dog-tag (or embedded under our skin on a microchip).

The relevance of all of this?


How far can the individual be indulged within the parameters of an online course, that must retain students and prove its worth to the institution (financial, academic, members), the students (worth it financially, academically, career wise ... and personally) ... and the wider community (grants, knowledgeable workforce, content and informed citizens)

Je suis comme je suis
Je suis faite comme ça

(Jacques Prevert, 1946)

I am what I am, I was made this way.
....

REFERENCE


Donath, J. New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com, p40. From Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, vol.13, p 231)

Dunbar, R. (2009) How many friends does one person need? Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford. Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com.

Elliott, B. (2008) Assessment 2.0: Modernising Assessment in the Age of Web 2.0 [online], Scottish Qualifications Authority; available from http://www.scribd.com/doc/461041/Assessment-20 (Accessed 1 February 2010).

Ellison, N (2007) The Benefits of Facebook "Friends:" Social Capital and College Students' Use of Online Social Network Sites
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Volume 12, Issue 4, Date: July 2007, Pages: 1143-1168
Nicole B. Ellison, Charles Steinfield, Cliff Lampe. (Accessed 11 July 2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com.

Fisher, R (2010) New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com

Granoveter, M, S. (1973) The Strength of Weak Ties. The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 78, No. 6 (May, 1973), pp. 1360-1380 http://www.jstor.org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/action/exportSingleCitation?singleCitation=true&suffix=2776392
(Accessed 11 July 2010)
Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com. The University of Chicago Press.

Golbeck, J (2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com.

Hancock, J. (2008) I know something you don't: the use of asymmetric personal information for interpersonal advantage
Jeffrey T. Hancock, Catalina L. Toma, Kate Fenner. Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com. (Accessed 11 July 2010)

Holtzman, H (2010) Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com

Kearns, M. (2009) Behavioral experiments on biased voting in networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 106, p1347) http://www.pnas.org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/content/106/5/1347.full.pdf+html (Accessed 11 July 2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com.

Levy, E. (1999) Featured in article in the Washinton Post, 24 September 2010. See more at http://businessinnovationfactory.com/iss/innovators/ellen-levy
(accessed 11 July 2010)

Prevert, J, (146) Paroles.

Pentland, S (2010) Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com

Rogers, E.M. (2003) Diffusion of Innovations (5th edn), New York, Simon and Schuster.

Salmon, E (2002) E-tivities the key to online learning. Kogan Page.

Tom Tong, S (2008) Too Much of a Good Thing? The Relationship Between Number of Friends and Interpersonal Impressions on Facebook. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, vol13 p531-549)

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ECA H807 DONE

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And having just pledged to stop doing this, perhaps I will. I have other existences online that may be calling out for attention.
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OpenLearn Research Report 2006-2009

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

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

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

Some surprises here:

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

Apparently not.


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

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

Open Research Online

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

Some notes, verbatim:

The value of Open Learning


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

A shift towards Personal Learning Environments (PLEs)

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

Distance Learning no longer needs to be such a solitary affair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REFERENCE

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

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H808 Approaching ECA

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 16:03

Feeling that I have a gap in relation to learning pedagogy and wishing to read some articles that are more 2010 that 2000 ... I have picked out 14 fresh articles to read.

Invaluable

Prensky and his 'Digital Natives' can be dropped - nothing in practice proves the point. It has nothing to do with when we were born, and everything to do with our desire to engage with and exposure to the technology ... oh, and income, eduation, age, opportunity ... the usual criteria.

My 85 year old Father-in-law has had a Mac since ... since they existed. He continues to run postgraduate courses between two countries ... and hasn't had a P.A. for 15 years. He is more comfortable with current ICT than some teenagers ... why? Because he is goal-orientated. The technology is simply a set of tools, a means to an end.

Personally I'm running with the view that there is no such thing as 'e-learning,' just 'learning.'

After all, the models of learning that I need are based on print, lectures, classrooms and tutorials. How often is 'e' justified? Does it work to its strengths? Is is inclusive or exclusive ... just part of the mix or re-mix?

And might I hear from some practioners, rather than researchers? i.e. those who put it into practice? Not just from HE.

Try presenting an OU styled E-tivity plan to a client. Learn what their issues and expetations are?

Try using the word (if it is one) 'E-tivity' for a start.

Keen on innovation, ready to be sold, want the bottom line, to be convinced that it will deliver and that results are measurable. An please, don't quote, cite or reference anyone.

And don't use the term 'e-learning' either.

Not interested. It is 'learning stuff' online ... or online learning, with computers and IT.

Why the great divide between theory and practice? Between universities and the people who employ your students? Should not employers be telling universities what they expect, want and understand, rather than the other way round.

Concentrate on outcomes. Identifying and fixing problems. Multi-mode. Why go the 'e-learning' route for £60k when you can solve the problem for £15k in print.

Why don't we go there?

The needs should dictate the proposed solutions, not the course, or tools ... and their affordances. As if these new comers operate in isolation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Patterns, designs and activities: unifying descriptions of learning structures’

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 08:49

McAndrew, Goodyear, Dalziel

  • Learning patterns
  • Learning design
  • Learning activities

'The use of online and electronic systems to support learning - e-learning - is emerging as a field with new opportunities and problems.'

In advertising, marketing and corporate communications, the standard 'Creative Brief' used to inform and direct the creative team poses two initial questions, the answers to which focus the creative effort:

What is the problem?

What is the opportunity?

It is therefore refreshing and reassuring to find the same terms being used in relaton to the 'emerging field' of e-learning. i.e. it is a tool, a way of doing things that may be used to address a clearly defined problem ... and in addressing this issues opportunities are created. The first enables the second, the second motivates ambition beyond the original problem.

Patterns, designs and activities are transferable, and therefore reproducible as digital objects (learning objects, etcsmile

  • Personalisation
  • Large scale digital repositories
  • Flexible reuse
  • Knowledge economy

Learning Object 'any entity, digital or non-digital, that can be sed, re-used, or referenced during technology-supported learning.'

  • learning
  • or
  • training

(Unsure how to differentate the two. Learning at a uni, training at a poly? Learning in school , FE, HE & Uni ... training at work?)

'In pratice, works in implementing Learning Objects in education (as distinct from training) tends to specialise the definition to refer to items that have education meaning, for example units that can result in a few hours of student activity.'

i.e. Learning objects ...

'Any digital or non-digital, with education meaning, that an be used, re-used, or referened during technology-supported learning.'

Patterns

The concept of patterns applied to learning seeks to identify what can be provided as useful background, guidance and illustration in describing a set of inter-related desriptions for ways to assist learning online. Patterns are not viewed as something that can be reused diretly but rather as something that can provide the informed teacher with 'rules of thumb' as they build up their range of tasks, tools, or materials that draw on a collected body of experience.

IMS Learning Design

a formal language?

Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) - a software system that encourages the design of sequences of collaborative activites that use individual activity tools configured using a visual 'drag and drop' interface.

Learning Patterns

Ref Christopher Alexander on architecture and town-planning - to democratise architecture and town-planning by offering a set of coneptual resources that ordinary people could use in shaping or reshaping their environment.

REFERENCE

Alexander, C. (1979). The Timeless Way of Building. New York. OUP.

'His work provides a principled, structured but flexible resource for vernacular design that balances rigour and prescriptiveness by offering useful design guidance without constraining creativity.'

CF Long Compton Plan 1999 // Lewes Town Plan 2011

www2.tisip.no/E-LEN/

Fundamental Principles

  • picture
  • context
  • headline
  • body
  • solution
  • diagrammatic representation
  • linking paragraph

'A pattern is a solution to a recurrent problem in a context.'

From Town Planning

A pattern 'describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice.'

N.B. CONTEXT

  • to help constraint and communicate the nature of both problem and solution.
  • to help the reader understand enough about a problem and solution that they can adapt the problem description and solution to meet their own needs.
  • its name crystallising a valued element of the design experience.

'The use of patterns, can be seen as a way of bridging between theory, empirical evidence and experience (on the one hand) and the practical problem of design.'

(When I start writing out the entire report I know it's of value!)

'In communities that have adopted the pattern approach, design patterns are usually drafted, shared, critiqued and refined through an extended process of collaboration.'

'Educational design needs to be seen as a process in which a designer makes a number of more or less tentative design commitments, reflecting on the emerging design/artefact and retracting, weakening or strengthening commitment from time to time.'

'Understanding the dynamic interplay between patterns in the mind and patterns in the world is key to seeing how and why design patterns work as aid to design. It is their 'fit' with the mind and the world that gives them power.'

'The focus for our work is in task design, as this has the strongest analogy with the built environment where patterns are used to build concrete objects that activity then flows around in a way that cannot be entirely predicted.'

IMS Learning Design Specification

Educational Modelling Language (EML)

  • to enable flexible representation of the elements within online courses.
  • materials and the order in which activities takes place.
  • the roles that people undertake
  • services needed for presentation to learners.

'How to package up the overall information into a structure that is modelled on a play, with acts, roles (actors) and resources.'

Of particular interest to someone who has written three screenplays, sold none, though had two short films produced ... with one sold to Channel 4! Someone who is also a graduate of EAVE, taking a cross-platform interactive TV drama through the script development process. But of greater relevance a producer of some 135 training and information films, many drama reconstructions using professional actors, directors and writers.

Content Packaging

- digital objects are gathered together with a manifest describing their location, but enhances the approach to give an ordered presentation of the different entities within the unit of learning.

Simple Sequencing

Level A: roles, acts and the environment
Level B: adds properties and conditions
Level C: adds notification and messaging

www.unfold-project.net/ (UNFOLD PROJECT)

ref: Learning Activity Management System (LAMS)

e.g. 'What is greatness?'

A' Level history project.

www.valkenburggroup.org

N.B. One of the striking features of LAMS is the speed which new sequences can be created from an initial structure.

N.B. 'Changes to the sequence structure are achieved via a simple drag and drop interface in which existing activities can be dragged into new locations, and new activities dragged into the sequence at an appropriate point.'

LAMS offers a complete system in three parts where first a design is produced in the author environment, using a visual sequence editor, then designs are instantiated with a particular class group (and subsequently tracked) through the monitor environment, and then designs are accessed by students from the learner environment. The modularity of the system allows each environment to be considered in its own right (not just as a unified whole), and particular focus has been placed on the author environment as a way to engage teachers in designing activities for their courses.'

TOWARDS ...

An overall pattern language for learning.

CONCLUSION

'In the ideal of patterns, flexibility and advice is valued over complete description and instantly usable output.'

REFERENCE

McAndrew, P., Goodyear, P. and Dalziel, J. (2006) ‘Patterns, designs and activities: unifying descriptions of learning structures’, International Journal of Learning Technology, vol.2, no.2/3, pp.216-242; also available online at http://www.inderscience.com/search/index.php?action=record&rec_id=10632&prevQuery=&ps=10&m=or (Accessed 17 June 2010). (Revisited 26 Jan 2013)

Biographical notes: Patrick McAndrew is a senior lecturer in the Institute of Educational Technology at The Open University where he teaches and researches in the use of technology in support of learning. His work examines ways to design for active engagement by learners working together. This has involved studies in task based approaches to learning and their representation as learning designs within knowledge sharing environments. In 2001 he cofounded the UserLab research team which works within the Computers and Learning research group to undertake projects in e-learning.

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TMA03, Reflective Writing and e-learning (or not).

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 16 Mar 2014, 06:14

I understood from the heading for TMA03 in H807 that 'it is permissible to use an extract from a very long message.' I therefore deleted the 900+ additional words that on two occasions occurred in a forum message.

At one stage I had in an earlier draft all messages including the Tutor's introduction, my full response and even a previous pertinent message from another contributor. This for 'context' and making marking easier might have been better than all the html links that I added PER MESSAGE. I checked these anchors/links and there was a graphic in the Blog message too - clearly something in the uploading/submission process fangled these up.
 
The links/titling were absolutely as clear as anyone could wish them to be. A message per page.

My understanding of what makes 'reflective' writing is perfectly valid. It is open ended, not prescriptive - it is after all my mind that is coming up with these ideas, which is the entire point of it, to develop my personal understanding. I am trying to enhance my way of thinking, not adopt someonelse's.

In relation to my continued dislike of the term 'e-learning,' it isn't difficult to refer to plenty of current articles, including JISC that agree that the term is not universally agreed or accepted. Salmon referring to 'e-lapsed' time for an 'E-tivity' is palpably ridiculous. Academic os this ludicrous desire to 'coin a word or phrase and a cliched attitude regarding e-learning that anything with 'e' attached gains the 'e-' branded values. Balderdash.
 
'The first decade of the 21st century is already on the wane and we stand at an interesting point as regards the use of technology to support and enhance learning and teaching. The fact that we still refer to much of this enhancement as e.learning (and still disagree about what the term actually means) signals that the relationship between technology and learning is not as yet an entirely comfortable one.' JISC 2007 (Introduction)

The lesson I have learnt is that it is vital to meet face-to-face, even to speak to someone through. Elluminate or on the phone where all kinds of important cues and nuances to understanding come into play: tone of voice, pauses, choice of words ... and then facial expressions and body language when face-to-face. As occurred at an ASA workshop the other week, I simply couldn't get my head around what the tutor was trying to say about Some aspect of Nutrition,I eventually left it, but a fellow student could see by my expression that I was just fed up of asking the same question and getting a numpty response that made no sense - this student made a far better job of explaining to me the point the tutor could not.
 
Two decades of sailing and I could tie and adequate Bolen knot with a struggle having been shown how to do it a hundred times - only when an instructor used the term 'it's a gripping knot' did I understand WHY the knot worked and WHY it was important. My father didn't permit the word 'why?' His favourite line was 'don't ask why, ask how high.' Whatever that means!?
 
I must know why.
 
My quest is to discover why. Why is my nemis. Get me asking questions and I become driven to find answers, my asnwers.

If I keep asking 'why?' regarding the ECA, it will be because I haven't had this 'Bolen knot' moment - I genuinely thought with TMA03, as occurred on about the 7th draft of TMA02, that this moment had occurred.
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Oxbridge History Exam 1980

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 07:03

The journey I set out on to get to Oxford or Cambridge took two years.

Not getting along with Economics I switched to History after a term in the Lower Sixth. (Not getting on with Sedbergh School, Cumbria, I left smile !)

My essays, though long (always, my habit, then, as now - why say something in six words when eighteen will do?) Tell Proust to write in sentences of less than six words, in paragraphs that don't flow from one page to the next (ditto Henry Miller).

Where was I?

See how a stream of consciousness turns into a cascade?

I digress.

My essays (I still have them. Sad. Very sad). Were on the whole terrible. A 'C' grade is typical, a 'D' not unknown. So what happened to get me to straight As, an Oxbridge exam and a place to study Modern History at Balliol College, Oxford?

Composting

I was bedding down. Putting things in a stack. And working my pile. Perhaps my history tutors detailed notes and bullet points fed on my poor essays? Perhaps the seeds that took root were carefully tendered?

Repeated testing (my self) and learning how to retain then regurgitate great long lists of pertinent facts helped.

Having an essay style I could visualise courtesy of my Geography Teacher helped. (Think of a flower with six or so petals. Each petal is a theme. The stamen is the essay title, the step the introduction and conclusion).

Writing essays over and over again helped. Eventually I got the idea.

Try doing this for an Assignment. You can't. Yet this process, that took 24+ months to complete can be achieved over a few weeks. Perhaps a blank sheet of paper and exam conditions would be one way of treating it, instead I've coming to think of these as an 'open book' assessment. There is a deadline, and a time limit, though you're going to get far longer than the 45 minutes per essay (or was it 23 minutes) while sitting an exam.

Personally, I have to get my head to the stage where I've done the e, d, c, and b grade stuff. When I've had a chance to sieve and grade and filter and shake ... until, perhaps, I reach the stage where if called to do so I could sit this as an exam - or at least take it as a viva.

Not a convert to online learning as an exclusive platform though.

Passion for your tutor, your fellow students ... as well as the subject, is better catered for in the flesh.

The way ahead is for 'traditional' universities to buy big time into blended learning, double their intake and have a single year group rotating in and out during a SIX term year (three on campus, three on holiday or working online.)

P.S. Did I mention teachers?

Have a very good teacher, it helps. The Royal Grammar School, Newcastle where I transferred to take A' Levels delivers.

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Use of personal photos

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 10:37

A healthy debate over the use of photographs has developed in our Forum.

What is best practice?

There needs to be common behaviour for a start. If some of us show our faces while others do not, or put up abstract images or symbols then I'd liken this going to a dinner party and finding some people in fancy dress, or eating alone outside ... or hiding under the table.

There is a very good reason to 'show your face' - there is not better way to relate to someone, or to 'tag' a piece of text.

As a swimming coach I now coach or teach or have responsibility for nearly 300 children age 5-17. I know who they are because I recognise their faces. This is what we humans do, faces are of such vital importance, even our field of vision is defined by the scale and detail of a face.

The choice of picture matters too. Why half hidden? Is it recent? And the mood? Would it ideally look like the Mast Head for a Newspaper ... or ought it to be more modest and reflective, not quite a passport photo but equally bland?

What do people think?

How do you represent yourself?

Do you have a different picture for different sites or do you use the same picture each time?

Is this you in the last year? Or the last decade!

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The Learning Curve vs the Learning Slide

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The learning curve is shown as a series of steps during which time a student initially struggles with concepts and new knowledge, gets to grips with it then plateaus out. After a period the learning curve is met again ... and so on.

In my experience, this returning to academic study in an entirely online experience is less like climbing a steep curve, than jumping into a slide or water flume. The ride has thus far been fast & exhilarating. I have hit a necessary plateau. Or to continue the analogy I have come in with a 'splash.' (At least there is water in this imaginary swimming pool).

Only now am I taking stock, only now am I looking at the rucksack of course materials I have left at the top of the steps. So having shot along in a fast gear I am now going back to the beginning and will revist everything at a somewhat slower pace. I want to play with some of the OU tools & spaces. I want to print off the resources, even buy a book (Rogers' Diffusion in Innovations.). But will this stop me writing off the top of my head? I doubt it, at least not in a blog.

For me a blog has always been about doing exactly this. Where I place it and how I give it 'access' is another matter. To lock, or unlock. To leave ajar with the OU Code on a Post-it note under the door-mat. And how to tag it? My potentially naive experiment with tagging is to 'tag' everything on the basis that I won't know if it is reference-able or drivel until I look over it again i the weeks to come.

There are I believe tools that work better at doing this? Not jsut notes on scraps of paper, but ... a more cohesive & meaningful way to gather your thoughts?

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