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Here we go then, again

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 28 Aug 2014, 12:01

Fig.1. The opening page of Book One (or Livre 1)

A modest package of three text books arrived this morning. I'm starting Ouverture:Intermediate French. No more DVDs (or VHS cassettes) - that's all online. With trepidation therefore I look ahead to the new academic year and a BA module in French. The idea is to complete the task I ought to have undertaken 22 if not 37 years ago ... dreadful at school French I still did an exchange and have worked in France on and off. Getting a 'proper job' in the early 1990s I ought to have done a course and brought my written French up to scratch. I never did and not surprisingly my work prospects were limited. 'It's never too late' my wife says, not realising what I am about to embark on. Hopefully I'll come away both reading, writing and speaking French rather better. I may yet get to apply it longer term if I end up back in France working later this year.

On verra (We'll see)

From a distance learning point of view, and having had six out of seven modules over the last four+ years almost entirely online with little in the post but an EMA grade and assessment it does already feel, in a tiny way, that there is a modicum of direct contact. Though familiar with the online platform and having studied 'Personal Learning Environments' it is valuable to see it applied, and spelled out in book form.

I'd be unlikely to get porridge on a computer screen though. Flicking through the pages over breakfast I got porridge on page 2. Over the next year there might be many more spillages as I get through this stuff.

Scary? Yes. It took me twenty years to get my written English to a reasonable standard. I struggled with languages at school - spoken fine, I'm a good mimic and enjoyed 'immersive learning' when staying with a French family and later hitching around France in my teens with other French teenagers. Written French? Ouch. 

I know from experience that at some stage the fog of incomprehension clears: that a language can become second nature and therefore fluent. Why? I guess I love France and it's easier to try and fix a language I know rather than learning a new language, such as Spanish, from scratch.

Next up, and complementing this, I have some history books on the First World War to read in French. Also applying to a number of opportunities in France. In a few months time I may be doing 'L'Ouverture' from France itself ... though working too hard to manage this? 

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Less 'e' means more learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 28 May 2014, 15:44

Fig.1. My Personal Learning Environment

For someone who completed the Master of Arts Open and Distance Education over a year ago and has done further MAODE modules here and other MA modules elsewhere it surprises even me to recognise I learn, and probably do, more when I am NOT in front of the computer (iPad, laptop or desktop).

These days I have no choice but to read books and when I do this is how I set about them:

Read and attach PostIts

Write up, selectively, into a notebook the bits that I've picked out (there is a further filtering process here)

Then type these notes up into a Google Doc (typically into a table).

I have become meticulous about citing as I go along as to want to use a quote or idea and not know where it came from can take a considerable time to recover.

An eBook isn't only on the Kindle (now Paperwhite), but also on the iPad and sometimes even on the laptop or desktop. I read in tight columns with few words, fast - like a TV autocue. As I go along I highlight. Sometimes bookmark something important or big. And from time to time add a note. On other screens the highlights can be colour sorted, so I may theme these as highlights for an essay, for their narrative value, or simply their quirkiness (so I can blog about it).

Interaction with the content in any and many ways is key. Having a presentation to give or essay to write is crucial, otherwise you can read a book and highlight/bookmark far too much of the thing.

Invariably I follow up references. I may loop off to read parts of these references immediately, which may be a paragraph in another book, sometimes a book I can find free online, sometimes an eBook for £2 or so ... occasionally a hefty tome that gives me pause for thought. I have a student library card so can get down to the University of Sussex in 30 minutes. Here I've just read a few chapters from a biography on Plumer as I'm preparing something on aspects of Third Ypres, the Battle of Passchendaele. My self-directed reading list my have expanded to some dozen texts by now: divisional histories, several biographies on Haig, several books on military history with specialist books on the machine gun corps and gas. My notes are always created in Google Docs and in this case the folder shared with a fellow student who has added his own notes too. The learning process is akin to making a sculpture out of papier mache - I keep attaching little pieces and am starting to get a clear idea of the thing. 

Is reading still one of the most efficient ways to pass information from one person/source to another? It's quicker than a lecture. Good for many things. Were I studying Law surely reading is everything, whereas Chemistry or Physics you may benefit from and prefer the video/animation, the lecture with charts.

 

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P is for your Personal Learning Environment (PLE)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 3 Jun 2014, 12:49

 

My personal learning environment

  • Piaget

  • Chris Pegler

  • Personas

  • Personal Learning Environment (PLE)

  • Practice-based Learning

  • Randy Pausch

  • Punk Rock People Management

  • Produsers

Across the period I have been studying MAODE modules the nature, shape, scape and emphasis of my 'personal learning environment' has changed, in part as finances have waxed and wained, I have gone from a borrowed laptop working from print outs to making considerable use of a Kindle and then an iPad, before adding to this armoury a desktop and laptop and keeping all working 'in the cloud' so that it is readily accessed from any device. THIS is how I work 'anytime, anywhere' - each device allows me to tap into a module whether I'm travelling, on the kitchen table, in bed ... in the middle of the night, in the back of the car, on a walk. Whilst I have, typically, a three hour stint when I work during the day, much is picked up at other times, in particular reading on the fly, highlighting passages and then picking these out in notes later. I swear by the mind-mapping app 'SimpleMinds' and have even taken to screen-grabbing pages of books or papers to illustrate and annotate in a graphics app called Studio.

Piaget is an historic name in education that you'll need to read.

Chris Pegler has made her presence felt across the MAODE while I've been doing it ... she may even have been an associate lecturer in 2001 when I made a hesitant start on the thing. More of a doer than many of the academics you read - she has been present as the Chair, at conferences, and online. The kind of educator who engages with students rather than being sniffy about student engagement as too many research-bound academics can be.

Personas are a vital way to visualise your students when designing learning ... or creating any form of communication. As relevant to the creation of e-learning as the creation of anything else.

Practice-based learning or applied learning, sometimes 'just in time' learning has also to be blended learning. It is about effecting direct change in situ, supportive learning in the work-place. A smartphone or tablet with access to the Internet is all it takes rather than specialist papers or books. It's been around for far longer than may be apparent; in 1996 I was working for the RAC when they launched a bespoke handheld device that combined diagnostics, instruction and car payment in a single device called the 'hard body'.

Randy Pausch was an inspirational lecturer on 3d at Carnegie-Mellon University - go see his TED lectures.

Punk Rock People Management is the brain child of an OU MBA alumnus.

Produsers is a term that has not caught on, but sums up the idea of 'user generated content' where we, as students, not only consume or use information, but generate it too. This would include curating or aggregating content to share. It puts the onus of learning in amongst the students.

REFERENCE

Piaget, J. (1970) Science of Education and the Psychology of the Child, New York: Orion Press.

Pegler, C and Littlejohn, A (2004) Preparing for Blended e-Learning, Routledge.

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Precision writing

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Fig.1. My ever changing desk

Some weeks into preparing a 4000 word essay I finally, painfully, through copious notes, and assemblages of arguments to support my chosen thesis hit 'Word Count' and to my amazement find this fourth draft far from massively overfilling the cup comes in at 4036 words. It is with an uncharacteristic confession that I should know by now that this kind of considered effort will deliver, while writing as if in a blog will never do. A few marks short of a distinction for my last effort what I need now to do is prioritise the multitude of references that I've attached - some 67 (from a core set of seven or so books and eBooks). Actually I am still missing a dozen references at least. Whilst some of the ideas are mine, most are not, when it comes to the First World War, thousands have been there already (some 23,000 publications on the topic).

There is method to this. All other approaches having failed the above is to be the approach I take for my very last effort to constructing, rather than writing, a novel. It has its moments in the First World War, though it covers a period that a lecturer at the weekend expressed in the phrase, as 'From Super Power to the three day week'. He wanted to know how Britain had gone from Empire to near collapse over 75 years; this just so happens to be the period my main character lives through. 

Over the last four years I migrated from pen and paper, to purist working on and from digital platforms only. Today my approach is blended - anything and everything that works. This means hard back reference books as well as eBooks, a pad of paper and an ink pen and the interface an iPad, and laptop or desktop - documents in Google Docs so quite frankly anything that gets me online will work. Often I take photos of a book rather than take notes. With eBooks I highlight, add notes - then assemble choice points onto Rolledex cards. What counts, I have learnt, is the time and quality of engagement with the subject matter. At some stage the fog does clear and it makes sense well enough for you to be able to talk about it willingly and in an informed way if you so choose - recommended, where and if you can find some many willing and able to listen and respond. 

The result is my understanding of 'Why Britain went to war in 1914'. It is not the conclusion I would have come to a few weeks ago. It has relevance today as 100 years ago too - it comes down to a handful of political leaders: who they are, what they desire and represent, how they behave and to whom (if anyone) and how, they are accountable. 

Somewhere across these posts there are other images of 'my working space' and my 'Personal Learning Environment'. This space is temporary: its the kitchen/dining table for a start. When my teenage daughter gets in from college she takes over with art materials and a sewing machine and I retire to a corner of the bedroom with an iPad. 

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My Personal Learning Environment

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 11:49

I should look back at how this has changed over four years. Taking on more technology took a while. I remember the days of printing off. Then I migrated to an iPad and constantly looked at ways not to come offline ever. Now I mix it all up: I use a white board, I doodle in a notepad and I shift between devices as everything is done in Google Docs.

I have some favourite apps:

  • SimpleMinds
  • Studio

And load perhaps 50-100 pictures to Picasa Web Gallery every day ... there are over 2000 images and screen-grabs from the MAODEs alone. And far too many pictures of the dog hiding when I take her for a walk.

My only bete noire are the ruddy cables you need to supply power to the kit; I went away for a few days armed with iPad and Macbook Air but forget the charger for the laptop. The iPad cable feels as if I am packing a coil of rope - it ways more with the plug and takes up more space.

My test over the next couple of months is when I set off for a month to Belgium, France and the Alps. Will I hanker after a robust broadband signal all the time?

 

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Personal Learning Environment - 2013

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Aug 2013, 08:05

photo%2520%25282%2529.JPG

FIG.1. Projected onto the sitting room wall

The migration between kit and now the use of multiple devices tells its own story - that and my enhanced levels of digital literacies. And dependency on my OU blog??? I am too used to starting here then cutting and pasting the HTML results into WordPress. This platform works because it is kept simple. OK, you have to get your head around a few basics (which are good for any blogging platform), but the thing is stable and robust - it hasn't changed much in three years and it is always there.

Either I'll wean myself off it or I'll plugin to another module of course and be here for another decade. You get used to a thing - especially when it works. Calls to other institutions regarding their VLE have left me cold - some still old school box of books and turn up for an all day Saturday face-to-face once a month as your only tutor and peer group contact.

From a clapped out Mac Book that died and a Psion I moved on to a borrowed PC laptop ... and scrounging computer access around the home. Only recently I got a Mac Mini - for the previous 18 months I've been fine on an iPad with moments on my wife's PC to view and print off DOCX.

The Mac Mini gets what ever screen my teenage son leaves me with - he tends to snaffle away any new screen I get, just swaps them over. I may take me days to realise something is afoot.

And then there is the above - projected onto a wall with me working on a wifi keyboard and touchpad. It changes things. Next to this screen there is a large whiteboard. I get up and doodle.

As for the sitting room? Long gone. Cries for a TV to bring the family together fall on deaf ears. Why would any of us gather to watch ONE version of an event when we can each take or leave our news, or films, or anything else as we please on a bigger or smaller screen in various other rooms and cubbyholes around the house?

An iPad mini will replicate when I had a decade ago with a Psion, something handheld, light and discrete that I can tap on whenever I wish and wherever I am.

'The Private Life of the Brain' Susan Greenfield is my current highly recommended read. It is certain to take you off on a tangent from whatever you are studying, but if offers a layperson's view of the inner workings of the brain.

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My Personal Learning Environment: what is yours?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Jun 2012, 01:11

photo.JPG

Fig 1. MY PLE

First Half 2012 (earlier PLEs in the blog here)

The blogs, Picasa, increasingly eBooks from Kindle on a Kindle and the iPad. Tweeted. This locates like-minds but also provides my notes in my Twitter feed. Google as ubiquitous as QWERTY. Facebook for social/family; Linkedin for work related groups, interests and contacts (e-learning, corporate communcations)

My OU Blog in the student environment and its mirror my external blog in wordpress IS a blog, learning journal, e-portfolio, forum and deposit. It can be a link to 'like-minds' too (and job opportunities)

I want an article I cut and paste the reference in Google.

If I can't have it I repeat this in the OU Library resource fist by title, then by author. I find I can, almost without exception, read whatever takes my interest. Brilliance for the curious and ever-hungry mind.

Increasinly I photo and screen grab everything, manipulate in Picasa then load online where I can file, further manipulate and share. A better e-portfolio and an e-portfolio as it is image based. My e-learning folder tops 350+ images.

When busy on an OU Module the 'OU Learning Environment expands to fill 1/3rd of the screen: the learning journey, resources, activities and student forums are my world for 6-9 months'.

In truth I need to video my activity and then do a time in motion audit. Tricky as I don't have a laptop or desktop anymore. All is done (most) on the move on an iPad or iPhone. I 'borrow' my son's desktop when he's at school or early mornings on my wife's laptop. Which explains why EVERYTHING is online, I could go to the library or an Internet cafe and work just as well.

'A university in my pocket'?

Michael%2520Young%2520IMAGE.JPG

Or 'a university in the clouds', literally as envisaged in the 1960s by Michael Young et al and featured on BBC Radio 4's 'The New Elizabethans' (in association with the Open University of course)

  • A pivotal role in the creation of the welfare state
  • Groundbreaking work as a social scientist in the East End
  • His creation of the Open University

P.S. Which reminds me: the Open University was devised for those with a fraction of the opportunities I have had so I need to treat it with huge respect.

JFV%252520PLE%25252028%252520JULY%2525202011.JPG

Fig 2. My PLE July 2011

A year on my choice of blogs has greatly reduced. I still access Diaryland as it has 1,700+ entries to draw upon from 1999 to 2006. StumbleUpon I still use and need to add to the current PLE. I don't go near Xing. I haven't indicated the digital tools, the hardware I use to access this (these) online resources.

But what's more important, the phone or the conversation?

Yes, I dip into Wikipedia but frequently I scroll down for alternative equally valid answers from the long established sources that have finally got themselves online. TED lectures I've missed out too. I must watch several a month.

I haven't add family and friends because where they are part of my world, increasingly online through Facebook, they are not directly part of my PLE.

However, it would be foolish to ignore the vital role family and the context of family, community and school play in learning.

FURTHER LINKS IN THIS BLOG ON PLEs

Virtual Learning Environments vs. Personal Learning Environments

Virtual Learning Environments or Personal Learning Environments

Google+

Technology Mediated Learning Spaces

The reality check. Must PLEs be technology enables to qualify as PLE?

The Challenge Facing Course Design 1997 vs. 2012

What’s wrong with educational social networking?

My Personal Learning Environment (2011)

Sometimes only paper will do

Digital Housekeeping. Recording everything.

H800 EMA Images / Visualisation

H800 EMA Course Specifics

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

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My postgraduate learning environment

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 17 Jun 2012, 14:28

iDesk%2520Sketch.jpg

Whenever I stumbleupon I new tool I like to give it a shot and the first thing that comes to mind is my 'learning environment' or some such. All I initially wanted was a simple Venn Diagram creating tool (I tested several of those). This, iDesk, does some much, exploits the multi-touch surface of an iPad and is great fun and versatile.

'Subjects' and 'Art History' have vanished under 'writing'.

A shifting thing where clients call the shots when freelance work takes precedence.

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Google+

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 7 Aug 2011, 03:37

For the umpteenth time I am starting on a new venture on a new platform.

A decade ago I stuck to what I knew and wouldn't budge. I waved good-bye to contacts as I continued to blog in Diaryland while everyone else moved over to LiveJournal, Blogger and Wordpress. I even stuck with Friends Reunited and MySpace.

No more.

Everything I stumble upon I try.

Anything new I sign up.

Already I can imagine Google+ as a one-stop shop, a kind of Personal Learning Environment (PLE) even like the OU VLE in that is draws together so many of the services and tools I already use.

Managing and engaging with people according to their 'sphere of influence' rings true too. I've never felt comfortable with my several selves in Facebook.

Picasa I swear by for photos and screen grabs. The galleries here feed images into all my blogs.

I use but need to master dropbox.

I have a blogger blog, but I have become so engrossed in Wordpress I am truly reluctant to have to master another 'instrument' as it were.

It is not my desire to play every instrument in the orchestra, the wind section with a bit of piano and guitar for recreational purposes will do.

Conductor?

That's an interesting thought. But does Social Media have the equivalent of a score? I am not and never will be a programmer.

 

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Sometimes only paper will do

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Jun 2012, 00:26

Whilst I read books and papers using an eReader there are at times when only paper will do.

H800%252520WK25%252520Highlights%252520on%252520Paper.jpg p>

Reading course notes in H800 of the Masters in Open and Distance Education, WK25.

The again, MindCreator, an App for the iPad is rather useful. Updating this Personal Learning Environment mindmap perhaps suggests I spend very little time 'on paper,' and a good deal of time 'online'. I post this thinking it is up to date; having joined Google+ yesterday the interplay of tools here may change again.

Have we ever lived in such a fluid world?

JFV%252520PLE%252520Mindmap%252520August%2525202011.jpg

Created in MindCreator

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My Personal Learning Environment

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Jun 2012, 00:29

When something works I'll go back and use it repeatedly. I find the way in which I seek out, exploit, share and develop ideas to do with E-Learning and Social Media is fluid. I run with new tools as I find them, the three latest: stumbleupon, Allmyfavourites and Zite, which do the same kind of thing, helping to reduce the overwhelming amount of information being generated and sent my way to stuff that may be of value and interest me.

I've aslo may a tentative start in Social Networking Site Xing, using Google Translation to help with my rudimentary German.

 

JFV%252520PLE%25252028%252520JULY%2525202011.JPG

 

Created using iPad APP 'MindCreator'.

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Virtual Learning Environments or Personal Learning Environments or simply 'Learning 2011'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Jul 2011, 09:06

 

The value of a Institution supported VLE whilst you develop your PLE

Consistency of experience must be key, if only as the initially offering, i.e assume nothing about what students bring in terms of IT skills and build on this.

In the past students came to university with the ability to read, this didn't mean they relied on their local library or their own books. The VLE is the digital version of the campus: admin, support, library, course materials, tutor groups, assessment and so on.

We were given reading lists. The student in 2011 still has a reading list, though hopefully there are activities too, beyond reading/observing and taking notes.

There need to be parameters, a 'walled garden' of sorts, in order to create a sense of common purpose, of singing from the same script. The VLE can do this. Whilst also offering what might be a safe training griund for PLE tools, such as e-portfolios, blogs and social media. And bridging the two of course is blended learning, where you can be on campus and online and so mix and match, indeed realising that one compliments the other and both/all represent the new reality - neither VLE or PLE, just how we learn in 2011.

Next thing we'll learn that students can study in the language of their choice as a click of Google Translation and you're communicating.

(Now there's a thought)

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H800 WK21-22 Activity 2d VLE vs. PLE who wins?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:59

H800 WK21-22 Activity 2d VLE vs. PLE who wins?

  • John Petit
  • Martin Weller
  • Niall Sclater

Stephen Downes – Students own education

· How much do they actually differ in their views?

· What is my perspective?

· Freedom is lack of choice

· Parameters work

· Creativity is mistakes

· Have rules, the mischievous or skilled will break them anyway

· The end result counts.

a) This isn’t a debate. Neither takes sides and the chair interjects his own thoughts. A debate, whether at school, university or in a club, or in a court of law or the House of Commons, is purposely adversarial, people take sides, even take a stance on a point of view they may not wholly support, in order to winkle out answers that may stand somewhere between the two combatants.

b) During the MAODE this might be the second such offering as a ‘debate,’ the last being as weak. What is more I have attended a Faculty debate which shilly-shallied around the issues with at times from an audience’s point of view it being hard to know whose side the speakers were on?

c) As well as deploring the lack of rigour regarding what should or should not be defined as a debate, the vacuous nature of the conversations means that you don’t gain one single new piece of evidence either way. Generalities are not arguments, neither side attempts to offer a knock-out blow, indeed Martin Weller seems keen to speak for both sides of the argument throughout.

When Martin Weller implies that a VLE constrains because ‘There are so many fantastic tools out there that are free and robust and easy to use.’ I would like a) example b) research based evidence regarding such tools, which do offer some compelling arguments, these commercial and branded products have to offer something refreshing and valuable.

Unlike some university offering they are therefore not only effective, but vitally, they are fun, tactile, smartly constructed, well-funded, give cache to the user, are easy to share, champion and become evangelical about, explored, exploited and developed further. Here I compare Compendium with the delight of bubbl.us.

Here I compare blogging in the confines of the abandoned cold-frame that is the Victorian OU student blogging platform compared to the Las Vegas experience of WordPress.

I can even compare how WordPress performs externally compared to the shackled version provided by the OU. On the one hand there is a desire to treat students like sheep; there is even a suggestion in this chatty-thing between Niall Sclater and Martin Weller than OU undergraduates ought to offer the most basic environment in which to operate. Access is an important point, but you don’t develop players in an orchestra by shutting everyone in a hall and giving them a kazoo. And if that Kazoo requires instructions then it deserves being ignored. Having lived with it for a year the OU e-portfolio My Stuff might best be described as some kind of organ-grinder with the functionality and fun-factor of Microsoft DOS circa 1991.

Martin Weller makes the point about tools that might be used this before, during and after their university experience. There is a set of ICT tools covering word-processing, databases, number manipulation, calendars and communications that are a vital suite of skills; skills that some might already have, or partially have … or not have at all. The problem is in the accommodation of this widely differing skill set.

JV Exposure to new, or similar, experience of better as well as weaker programmes/tools, fashion, peer group, nature of the subject they are studying, their ambitions, who they are, how much time they have, their kit, connection and inclinations, let alone the context of where they are going online.

In this respect Martin Weller is right to say that ‘some kind of default learning environment’ is required first of all.

Caveat: You are going to need people to use the same kind of things in order to be able to communicate.

· University blog vs. their own bog.

· University e-portfolio vs. their own portfolio.

· Elluminate vs. Skype.

· Mac vs. PC,

· Tablet vs. laptop.

· Desktop vs. smartphone.

· Paper vs. e-Reader.

· University Forum vs. Linked in or others.

· Twitter vs. Yammer.

Swimming analogy: training pool, leisure pool, main pool, diving pool, Jacuzzi.

Niall Sclater makes a point about a student using an external blog that doesn’t have a screen reader. Do browsers not offer this as a default now? Whilst I doubt the quality of translation I’ve been having fun putting everything I normally look at into French or loading content onto an e-reader and having it read to me on long car journeys. The beauty of Web 2.0 and Open Learn is that developers love to solve problems then share their work. Open Learn allows these fixers to crack on at a pace that no institution can match.

Perhaps issues regarding passwords is one such problem which is no longer a problem with management systems. Saving passwords etc.: Other problems we have all see rise and fall might include spam. The next problem will be to filter out spam in the form of ‘Twitter Twaddle’ the overwhelming flack of pre-written RSS grabbed institutional and corporate messages that should without exception be ‘flagged’ by readers as spam until it stops. I never had a conversation with a piece of direct mail shoved at me through my letter box, or spam come to that matter. Here largely the walled, university environment in which to study, is protected from the swelling noise of distraction on the outside,

Niall Sclater talks about the Wiki on OU VLE, in Moodle ‘comprises what we consider is the most useful functionality for students. The OU ‘cut out a lot of the bells and whistles you find in MediaWiki’. New to wikis I enjoyed being eased into their use, but like a keen skier, or swimmer, having found my ‘legs’ I wanted incremental progressions. Being compelled to stay in the training pool, or on the nursery slopes, to return to by Kazoo metaphor, is like having Grade 5 flute, but having to play with six novice recorder players in Kindergarten. We move on and therefore what is offered should move with us.

Universities fail abysmally to sell their products to their captive audiences.

Commercial products are sold, invitingly to everyone who comes within earshot. There is a commercial naivety and intellectual arrogance sometimes over stuff created that must be great, because it is the invention of brilliant minds … and that its brilliance will be self-evident even if it sits their within its highly branded overcoat waiting for some time to take an interest and take it out for a test drive. Creators of these tools forget that a quick search using some of the terms related to the affordances of the product being offered will invariably produce something more appealing from the likes of Google, Adobe, Apple or Microsoft.

Nail Sclater points out that some students can be confused by too much functionality. I agree. If there is a product that has far too much functionality, it is Elluminate. And even for a library search, it ought to be as simple as the real thing … you go to a counter and ask for a title. Google gets it right. Keep it simple. Others are at last following suit. Or is the Google God now omnipresent?

Martin Weller stumbles when he says that Nail ‘hits on two arguments against decentralised PLEs by

a) Giving three arguments

a. Authentication

b. Integration

c. Robustness

b) He is meant to be in favour of PLEs.

i.e. academics are incapable of debate because they are, to use of Martin Weller’s favourite terms ‘contextualised’ to sit on the fence. A debate should be a contest, a bullfight ideally with a clear winner, the other party a convincing looser.

You wouldn’t let a soldier chose his weapons then enter the fray. There has to be a modicum of formal training across a variety of tools, and in a controlled, stepped fashion in order to bring people along, communally, for retention and to engender collaboration and participation and all that benefits that come from that.

Who at a time of change is going to declare their role, or department redundant? Brought into a new role, Social Media Manager, I feel I will have succeed in 12 months if I have handed over the keys to others, spread some of the glory about. That’s how I see it, a little bit of everybody’s lives. You can wordprocess, you can do some aspect of Social Media. There are other functions though that long ago were circumvented by clever software. Web 2.0 deplores the gatekeeper. It wants to put everything ‘out there,’ enabling everyone and anyone to make of it what they need and please.

Personally I’ve been loading content, text and images, in diaryland since Sept 1999 and have never had an issue with access, yet I have repeatedly found my OU e-portfolio failed, or that while composing a response in a forum the system fell-down and I lost what I was doing.

Nial Sclater argues in favour of VLEs to ensure usability, access, extension to students, common ground on terms of tools, opportunity and form an assessment point of view, use of content too.

While Martin Weller wants to ‘Support’ – an argument for VLEs. (I’ve now made the point several times that Martin Weller seemed unsure of which side he was on, and by personality and from experience, will never take a side in any case).

We DO want people going away being able to use package X. Do we turn out Roy Castle types who can play loads of instruments not very well, or a virtuoso performer who can at least play the cello well?

JP stepping in ‘as my confidence grew I got to know that and my confidence grew across the year as I got to know that and one or two other very limited and well-supported tools’

Nial Sclater’s point that the same tool is required for collaboration and assessment. This applies also to reading the materials provided and doing the activities so that these are the points of reference for assessments (as currently practised). How can a Tutor mark an assessment that is based on vegetables from a walled Victorian kitchen garden, when the student offers flowers grown from seed in a tub? To return to my sporting analogy, how might I judge a person’s ability to swim after 12 weeks if they’ve been learning how to sail?

Parameters have a purpose.

The greatest resistance to a writer is having no sense of purpose, no goals, no parameters, no set pieces, no one to be on their case. A free for all, perhaps as the new London Business and Finance School is finding, is that just giving students the lot and telling them to get on with it is not conducive to a viable learning experience. (Nor do I think it’ll deliver someone is able to work with others).

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Masters in Open and Distance Education: Module H800: WK21 My Personal Learning Environment

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 13 Jul 2011, 21:42

My%252520PLE.JPG

From this consider Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) vs. Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) and I come away, as I often do, seeking a compromise, the best of both - a basic, easy to use, and reliable VLE with students who may come with nothing, or a good deal, but was I have done will over the course of a couple of favourite tools and ways of doing things.

The two are like dripping coloured ink into a fish tank. My fingers aggitate between the two.

Until Google takes over all of it, there are too.

In my case I've gone from an old Mac Book and printing stuff off to having everything online, using blogs like e-portfolios and switching between an iPad and a laptop.

(78,099 page views)

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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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