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Seven Elements of Happiness: Dr Anthony Clare

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Remembering Dr Anthony Clare 

BBC Radio 4 7:30am 26 October 2020 and paraphrased from an article in the Times by Gyles Brandreth 

Number One: Cultivate a Passion 

Have something that you enjoy doing. The challenge for a school is to find every child some kind of passion -- something that will see them through the troughs. That's why I'm in favour of the broadest curriculum you can get.

Number Two: Be a Leaf on a Tree. 

You have to be both an individual -- to have a sense that you are unique and you matter -- while you also need to be connected to a bigger organism -- a family, a community, a hospital, a company. You need to be part of something bigger than yourself. A leaf that has come off a tree has the advantage that it floats about a bit, but it's disconnected and it dies.

Number Three: Avoid Introspection.

If you are a rather complicated person, people may avoid you. If, on the other hand, you are a centre of good feeling, people will come to you. The problem of being  introspective is that you find it difficult to make friends. Put an introspective person in a social group and they tend to talk about themselves. It puts other people off.

Number Four: Don't Resist Change. 

Change is important. People who are fearful of change are rarely happy. People are wary of change, particularly when things are going reasonably well, because they don't want to rock the boat, but a little rocking can be good for you. You need variety, flexibility, the unexpected, because they'll challenge you.

Number Five: Live for the Moment. 

Look at the things that you want to do and you keep postponing. Postpone less of what you want to do, or what you think is worthwhile. Do what makes you happy.

Six: Audit Your Happiness. 

How much of each day are you spending doing something that doesn't make you happy? Check it out and if more than half of what you're doing makes you unhappy, then change it. Go on.

Seven: If you want to be happy, be happy. 

Act it, play the part, put on a happy face. Start thinking differently. If you are feeling negative, say, "I'm going to be positive,' and that, in itself, can trigger a change in how you feel."

And if you do as Anthony Clare did, have seven children smile 








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What a week!

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We came on holiday on Friday and faced a first in the French Alps: rain and the need for umbrellas. Rain low down meant snow up top so this cloud had a silver lining. However I fell ill with a cold bad enough to keep me in bed, then one of the party broke their wrist and having only just ventured out myself and gently traversing a piste to stop for lunch my wife fell badly and broke her arm - actually she was convinced it was ‘just’ a dislocated shoulder so we skied down to a ‘station’ - not ours, to visit the Cabinet Medical. All was not good - a complicated fracture at the top of the arm requiring surgery. So off to hospital. Ski gear, no other shoes, no change of clothes. A taxi journey some 40km back and forth to where we are staying. And I had planned to take the afternoon off rather than aggravate my cold. Ill and worried I have slept little.

However, I did sign up to study a new FutureLearn Course in British History 1815 to 1945 and also convinced myself that I have the makings of a Cognitive Scientist.

With skis back to the hire shop and me back and forth to a hospital each day until we fly home on Sunday (or not!) I may be able to get some studying done. I can get through a text book a day when I am motivated, travelling or otherwise not distracted. 



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23 ways to a FutureLearn fix

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 6 May 2015, 08:56

The courses I've done with FutureLearn over the last 18 months.

  1. World War 1: A history in 100 Stories: Monash University
  2. Medicine and the Arts: The University of Cape Town 
  3. The Mind is Flat: University of Warwick 
  4. Understanding Drugs and Addiction. King’s College, London 
  5. World War 1: Changing Faces of Heroism. University of Leeds 
  6. Explore Filmmaking: National Film and Television School 
  7. How to Read a Mind: The University of Nottingham
  8. Start Writing Fiction: Fall 2014. The Open University
  9. Word War 1: Trauma and Memory: The Open University 
  10. World War 1: Aviation Comes of Age: University of Birmingham 
  11. World War 1: Paris 1919 - A New World: University of Glasgow 
  12. How to Succeed at: Writing Applications: The University of Sheffield 
  13. Introduction to Forensic Science: University of Strathclyde, Glasgow 
  14. Shakespeare’s Hamlet: University of Birmingham 
  15. Climate Change: Challenges and Solution. University of Exeter
  16. Managing my Money: The Open University
  17. Community Journalism: Cardiff University
  18. Developing Your Research Project: University of Southampton 

Those I'm on or have pending

  1. World War 1: A 100 Stories: Monash University
  2. Start Writing Fiction: Spring 2015: The Open University
  3. Monitoring Climate From Space: European Space Agency
  4. Behind the Scenes at the 21st Century Museum: University of Leicester
  5. Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales:  The Hans Christian Andersen Centre
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What will the impact be of the Web on education?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 29 Mar 2013, 04:54

How is knowledge sharing and learning changing?

From four or five months after conception with the formation of the brain, to the moment of brain death we have the capacity to learn, subconsciously as well as consciously. Whether through interlopers prior to birth, in infancy and early childhood, or through family and carers in our final moment, days, weeks, months or years. At both ends of life the Web through a myriad of ways can advise, suggest and inform, and so educate, like never before. While for all the time in between as sponges, participants and students we can access, interact, interpose and interject in an environment where everything that is known and has been understood is presented to us. The interface between person and this Web of knowledge is a fascinating one that deserves close study for its potentially profound impact on what we as humans can achieve as individuals and collectively:  Individually through, by with and surfing the established and privileged formal and formal conveyor belt of education through nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary centres of learning. Individually, also through expanding opportunities globally to learn unfettered by such formal education where such established opportunities don’t exist unless hindered through poverty and politics or a lack of communications infrastructure (a robust broadband connection to the Web). And individually and collectively alongside or beyond whatever formal education is provided or exploited by finger tapping into close and expanded networks of people, materials, ideas and activities.

By seeking to peg answers to the role the Web is starting to play, at one end to the very first opportunity, at the micro-biological level to form a thought and at the other end to those micro-seconds at the end of life once the brain ceases to function - and everything else in between, requires an understandings neuroscience and an answer to the question ‘what is going on in there?’ How do we learn?

From an anthropological perspective why and how do we learn? Where can we identify the origins of knowledge sharing and its role in the survival and domination of homo sapiens? And from our migration from the savannas of Eastern Africa to every nook and cranny of Earth, on land and sea, what recognised societal behaviours are playing out online? And are these behaviours mimicked or to a lesser extent transmogrified, warped or elevated by the scope, scale and speed of being connected to so much in such variety?

A history of learning is required. From our innate conscious and subconscious capacity to learn from our immediate family and community how has formal education formed right the way through adding reading, writing and numeracy as a foundation to subject choices and specialisms, so momentarily expanded in secondary education into the single subjects studied at undergraduate level and the niche within a niche at Masters and doctoral levels. And what role has and will formal and informal learning continue to have, at work and play if increasing numbers of people globally have a school or university in their pockets, courtesy of a smartphone or tablet and a connection to the Web?

The global village Marshall Mcluhan described is now, for the person connected to the Web, the global fireplace. It has that ability to gather people around. Where though are its limits? With how many people can we develop and maintain a relationship? Once again, how can an understanding of social networks on the ground inform us about those that form on the Web? Multiplicity reins for some, flitting between a variety of groups while others have their niche interests indulged, celebrated and reinforced. Is there an identifiable geography of such hubs small and large and if visualised what does this tell us? Are the ways we can now learn new or old?

In relation to one aspect of education - medicine - how are we informed and how do we respond as patients and clinicians?

The journey starts at conception with the mixing of DNA and ends once the last electrochemical spark has fired. How, in relation to medicine does the quality (or lack of), scale and variety of information available on the Web inform and impact upon our ideas and actions the length of this lifetime’s journey At one end, parents making decisions regarding having children, then knowledge of pregnancy and foetal development. While at the other end, a child takes part in the decision making process with clinicians and potentially the patient - to ‘call it a day’. Both the patient or person, as participant and the clinicians as interlocutors have, potentially, the same level of information at their fingertips courtesy of the Web. How is this relationship and the outcomes altered where the patient will know more about their own health and a good deal about a clinician’s specialism? The relationship between the doctor and patient, like others, courtesy of the connectivity and capacity of the Web, has changed - transmogrified, melted and flipped all at the same time. It is no longer them and us, though it can be - rather, as in education and other fields, it can be highly personalized and close. Can clinicians be many things to many people? Can any or only some of us cope with such multiplicity? A psychologist may say some will and some won’t, some have the nature for it, others not. Ditto in education. Trained to lead a classroom in a domain of their own, can a teacher take on multiple roles aimed at responding to the unique as well as the common traits of each of their students? While in tertiary education should and can academics continue to be, or expected to be undertake research as well as teach? Where teaching might be more akin to broadcasting, and the classroom or tutorial takes place asynchronously and online as well as live and face-to-face. Disaggregation equals change.

In relation to one aspect of education in medicine and one kind of problem, what role might the Web play to support patients so that they can make an informed decision regarding the taking of potentially life saving, if not simply life improving, medications? Having understood the complexity of reasons why having been prescribed a preventer medication, for example, to reduce or even eliminate the risk of a serious asthma attack, what is going on where a patient elects, sometimes belligerently, not to take the medication. Others are forgetful, some misinformed, for others it is the cost, or the palaver of ordering, collecting and paying for repeat prescriptions.

Information alone isn’t enough, but given the capacity of the web to brief a person on an individual basis, where they are online, what can be done to improve adherence, save lives and enhance the quality of life?

My hypothesis is that a patient can be assisted by an artificial companion of some kind, that is responsive to the person’s vicissitudes while metaphorically sitting on that person’s shoulder i.e. in the ‘Cloud’ and on their smartphone, tablet, headset, laptop or whatever other assistive interface will exist between us and the Web.

 

 

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How insight and creativity works - towards a theory of creativity

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 10:32

Why are we insightful? What is going on in the brain when we have a flash of insight?

Horizon on the Brain looks at:

  • Insight
  • Divergent thinking
  • Improvisation
  • Unusual and unexpected experiences
  • Schema violation

Based on this I'm going to take up something mindless to do between the gaps - doing the dishes surely counts?

Reading does not?

Watching TV does not?

  • Walking the dog
  • Falling asleep in the bath
  • Pruning bushes
  • Mow the lawn

When and where do people have moments of creativity?

The neuroscience of electromangentic and fMRI scans.

Human advancement is dependent on creativity.

You will hear from:

  • Prof Jonathan Schooler
  • Dr Mark Beeman
  • Dr Charles Limb
  • Dr Simone Ritter
  • Dr Jon Kounios
  • Dr Rex Young

You will hear about:

  • The neural correlate of creativity
  • The anterior superior antilial giros
  • Look for unexpected experiences Scehema violation
  • Breaking cognitive pedants

Breaking any routine – switching steps Change your routines Well trodden neural pathways are abandoned.

  • Mind wandering helps the creative process Engaging in a non–demanding task
  • Don't just do nothing, do something undemanding instead ...

If you're stumped, take a break e.g. walk, shower, gardening ... walk the dog.

  • Down regulate your frontal lobes.
  • Some people are hypofrontal. Losing your inhibitions when you improvise.
  • Releasing your mental handcuffs.
  • Science to explain.

Towards a theory of creativity.

REFERENCE 

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What purpose does an earworm serve?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 22 Oct 2012, 21:53

Today BBC Radio 4 treated us to some insights on the 'earworm'

20121022-140558.jpg

Fig. 1 Shaun Keaveny on earworms - today, BBC Radio 4

'Earworm' is a loan translation of the German Ohrwurm - it is a portion of a song or other music that repeats compulsively within one's mind, put colloquially as "music being stuck in one's head." Wikipedia

Getting stuff to stick in your head for learning is useful. Use the idea in revision. Hum the tune in your head during an exam.

There are dozens of songs that I will forever associate with a person, place or mood.

Where the ear worm isn't lodged I have tracks that I know will evoke the time and place, just as a time or place will set the music off.

Various examples are given of that tune you can't get out of your head, triggered like all memories by a siteor smell, thought or mood - then stuck. Not just a tune that is getting airplay, but obscure soundscapes from your past. A lecture in psychology from Goldsmith's London shares ideas gleaned from three studies. Powerful stuff.

In relation to learning I'd suggest using an ident and a sting.

Have an opening theme that is repeated - library music serves its purpose though professionally composed music is pretty good too and far less expensive if you know who to ask such as new comers to the industry with unrecognised talent.

Associations are changed - for me Ian Dury was me and Carolyn B and 'Storm's' house when I was fifteen, now it is Peter Cook outside Dingwall's Camden, some thirty years later.

I heard Johnny Cash performing 'Hurt' exactly two years ago (Johnny Vegas on Desert Island Discs) and now have the tune lodged in my head. And the sheet music downloaded so that I can sing it.

With a piece of video you can set the tempo with a 'click track' against which you then cut. Either a composer comes up with music against this tempo or you find something that fits.

As a director the choice is what you consider professionally to fit - but how about in a learning context you encourage students to lay in their own track of music? Synchronised with the click-track might it be more powerfully remembered as a result?

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Ten of the best - OU Blogs you may like to follow

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OU Blogroll

  1. A BSc For Me An attempt at completing my BSc in Computing with the OU

  2. All I Can Do Is Try I can answer questions about gaming stuff. Just leave me a comment.

  3. Amanda Michelle I am also a student of Science with The Open Universityand am aiming to achieve a degree (Bsc (Hons) Natural Sciences.

  4. All Things Considered A blog by Gina Collia-Suzuki: Art historian, history nut, writer, artist, bibliophile …

  5. Blog Whatever Motorbikes, Computing and Information, Java, Software System, Relational Databases, Open mathematics, Natural and Artificial Intelligence.

  6. Carpe Open I'm a 24 year old guy who is studying for his MSc in Psychological research methods with the Open University.

  7. Catherine’s OU Blog Aiming to do an honours degree in psychology and then a masters in psychological research.

  8. DSE141 Discovering Psychology More from Catherine, with insights on tutorials, the learning process and materials.

  9. DD101 I am undertaking various courses with the Open University with the long term intention of completing the BSc (Hons) Psychology (B07). I envisage it will take me 4 or 5 years to complete the BSc. This will be a journal of the long long road.

  10. Discovering Dhaka Life and work in Dharka

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h800: 34 Vicarious Learning (Wk Activity 4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is observation ‘participation’ ? Surely it is?

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

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

The PATSy system looked at/looks at:

· Developmental reading disorder

· Neuropsychology

· Neurology/medical rehabilitation

· Speech and language pathologies

It is a:

· A multimedia database/resource.

· + virtual patients

· Clinical reasoning and diagnosis

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

It is helpful where students struggle to articulate their misunderstanding.

TDD (task-directed discussion)

Useful for reflection.

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

It provides:

· A multi-media database

· Discussion tools

· Reading resources

It operates:

· At a distance (does it say)

· On campus but working alone (clinical)

· As observers of learners and as learners themselves.

REFERENCE

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

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H800: 28 What is 'learning?' This is:

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 3 Mar 2011, 16:54

I've been pondering this question for 14 years .. since our daughter was born.

I don't think I gave it a moment's thought at school, university, in further postgraduate studying or courses or even at work where we were producing training films (amongst other things).

Knowing and applying 'stuff' came into it.

Otherwise it was starting to get my head around the neurological processes that had me starting to understand what was going on. Simple really, you expose a person (your daughter, yourself) to something and it results in a stimuli that with repetition becomes embedded.

You cannot help yourself. You pick things up. At what stage have something been learnt though? When you apply it? Or simply knowing that the knowledge is 'there.'

One key moment this last year was coming to an understanding of what 'life-long learning' entails. Even concluding that the less isolated we are the more we learn? Which hardly holds true of the bookworm (or should they now be called webworms?)

Did it help to play Mozart while she was developing in the womb?

Did it help that she was learning to play the piano, draw, type and read all at the same time?

How does she compare to her brother because she apparently has a 'photographic' memory ... while he does not?

i.e. just because the input mechanism allows for good recall does she learn any better, or even less well, than someone who has to make more effort?

My own mind is made of Teflon - nothing sticks! And even if I get it into my head it slides all over the place producing most unusual combinations sad

Am I going to Google 'learning' or look it up in Wikipedia?

Probably not.

I'd prefer to find out what Quentin Blake makes of it ... or Norman Mailer. What did learning mean to Vincent van Gogh? We can probably tell from the many letters he wrote to his brother.

I have read Ian Kershaw's two volume biography of Adolf Hitler.

How did that monster acquire and develop his belief systems?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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H800: 22 Reflecting on H800

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

How goes it?

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

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

Ilness changes things

Nothing more than a rubbish cold made uncomfortable by asthma.

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

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

We're in the week of metaphors for learning.

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

Gathering my thoughts will take time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The next pool? Where is that?

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

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

Piaget next?

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

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

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

IMG_1270.JPG

 

Eating humble pie

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

I take it back:

I eat humble pie for and offer three reasons:

1. Reading works

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

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

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

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

 

There is value in printing things off

Whilst some links and too many follow up references from books and reports read in H807 were broken, I have the links and reports I downloaded and printed off in 2001.

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

 

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

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

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

 

See below

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

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

‘Keep it Simple, Stupid’

(as it was, though as some now prefer)

‘Keep it short and simple’.

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

 

The points I am making are straight forward too.

1. Reading

2. Research and References

3. Simplicity

 

An e-reader is simple

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

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

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

 

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

Vygostky would approve.

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

 

Parameters help

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

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

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

 

This in itself is one reason to avoid Wikipedia

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

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

 

Or am I missing the point?

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

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

 

Anyone fancy giving it a go?

I digress, which is apt.

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Google take over please.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Institute of Educational Technology

Downloaded 15/05/2001 http://www.icdl.open.ac.uk/mindewave/kaye.html

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


It was written in 1992.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have things moved on?

Where’s our TV in MAODE?

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

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

It should not be a dying form.

 

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

They had a task to undertake, a goal.

There were clear, agreed stages.

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

There is more

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

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

 

We’re human

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

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

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

 

Why?

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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


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

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

!!!


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

 

Our maturity and NOT being academics probably

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

 

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

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

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

 

Problems arise from social psychological processes:

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

REFERENCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Post script

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

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Vygotsky and the need to nurture in education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 07:51

If I wished to define the way I lead, or teach it would be this:

 

As Vygotsky put it:

 

'The gardener affects the germination of his flowers by increasing the temperature, regulating the moisture, varying the relative position of neighboring plants, and selecting and mixing soils and fertilizer, i.e. once again, indirectly, by making appropriate changed in the environment. Thus it is that the teacher educates the student by varying the environment'. Vygotsky 1926 (Kindle location 1129)

And further on he says:

'The basic rule is that before imparting new knowledge to the child and before fostering a new reaction in him, we must be sure to prepare the ground for it i.e. arouse the appropriate interest. For an analogy, just think how we loosen the soil before planting seeds'. (Kindle location 1755)

Is this an e-reader location system? Page numbers no longer exists ... my world of reading books with pages numbers ended a week ago!

 

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H800:17 Kindle:6 Some thoughts on Linked In, Vygotsky and me

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 21 Dec 2012, 05:54

DSC00817.JPG

Unable to sleep I do this.

A mini-reflection on building a profile in Linked In.

Then get on with reflecting on my notes on Vygotsky.

The more I read, the greater my fascination. Vygotsky (translated) I find like H.G.Wells, also of the era, extraordinarily readable and current. A considerable amount of 'Educational Psychology rings true.

There is then at the confluence of a thought regarding Vygotsky as uploaded this image above; I am only saved from tears by what I was reading about Educational Psychology - understanding does this to you.

I am reminded of my late father who would have be 80 last week.

It was an innocent way to start a thought, how in less than a week a Kindle has taken over my book reading. Somewhere I have a Bird Book, signed by my late father, given to me on a whim on the ONLY visit he ever managed to our former home in Little Compton in the Cotswolds. For my father, everything was out of his way, but somehow the old A34 rather than the M40 into London brought him to our doorstep.

Of course, such as bird book is still required. The Kindle doesn't do colour - yet.

The thought produced a physical response.

Kindle%20Vygotksy%20Emotions%20GRAB.JPG

(James, 1929)

Have we all had an encounter with a thief? If the image of the birds has me thinking about my father (conservationist, ornothologist, rubbish dad ... ) then the mention of the word 'thief' has me visualising a large screw-diver, the weapon of choice I picked up in the garage as someone tried to break in.

(By now we're living in a studio flat on Hamilton Terrace, though chronologically we've slid back a few years).

The text from Vygotsky has a resonance, and as I keep reading, a convincing argument in relation to education.

Work with these kinds of responses of the individual = success

My concern in relation to e-learning is how easy it is to duplicate what is inappropriate for a class of 30, but the authors (and their sponsors) believe is appropriate for 10,000.

Which in turn brings me to the week 2 activity in H800 of the MAODE

Online through the participation and collaboration of others in your immediate circle, which includes your tutor group, module cohort, wide MAODE colleagues and like-minded OU friends identified here, can your learning experience be personalised.

Ergo, we have a duty to comment, and only through writing ourselves, might we enable (or expose) our selves to comment in turn.

It does strike me that there is a 'layer' to the OU blogs-cum-threads that is missing: the MAODE or 'Education' blog platform.

As I've commented some thousand entries back, writing here is perhaps like doodling on a scroll of toilet paper in a public convenience.

Not the image or sentiment I wanted to conjure up, but a scroll, with perforations top and bottom comes to mind. What you do with this script if you've even read it is for your mind to decide.

REFERENCE

Williams, J (1929) Quoted in Educational Psychology, Vygotsky. Chapter 6.

Kindle doesn't give you a page number, presumable all e-Reader follow a similar convention. To cite do I give Location 1874?

Without knowing what I am doing or what it will achieve I search 'James' in the Kindle PC version, am about to click when a drop down offers me not a reference at the back of the 'book' but a link to Google or Wikipedia. I click Wikipedia and seamlessly, find myself here.

 

William%20James%20Wikipedia.JPG (Wikipedia, accessed 17FEB2011)

 

And as we're talking about physical responses to things then this brought a shiver down my spine and matching the cliched 'reflexive' action my draw dropped.

I don't know what planet I'm living on any more.

No wonder I can't sleep, Kindle content isn't a soporific book, rather it's wired into your cerebellum where in an action not dissimilar to Ken Dodd's tickling stick, your mind is suitably agitated.

Ken%20Dodd%20Tickling%20Stick%20GRAB.JPG

Ken Dodd and his tickling stick sad

(I saw him live as a 10 year old, insanity. About as funny as my Granny sitting on a bowl of peaches).

P.S. Whether for personal, OU or the wider world, this demonstrates a value of blogging ... just start to write and let your mind unravel. And if you'll only get quiet for 90 minutes in the dead of night, that's what you'll have to do.

 

 

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H800: 16 Kindle 5

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 16 Feb 2011, 07:29

If you're interested in learning and education online I recommend these two.

Vygotsky%20and%20Horton.JPG

The first, E-learning by Design by William Horton a highly practicle, hands on, solutions to e-learning problem x,y, or z. Informed, experienced, good advice with examples galore and links online.

The second, Educational Psychology something by someone you will come across repeatedly. As my background is not in formal teaching, but in TV production and the 'media' it is this kind of foundation that I need.

On reflection, I wonder if ahead of the MAODE a module on the Foundations of Learning would have been of value.

The 16 chapters of 'Rethining the Pedagogy of E-learning' edited by Rhona Sharpe would suit an MAODE student as several OU and other authors have contributed.

 

Rethinking%20Pedagogy%20for%20a%20Digital%20Age.JPG

 

Enjoy!

Do please get in touch if you have read or are reading any of the above. It is invaluable to share thougths, especially on Vygotsky.

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Re-invention of e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 31 Jan 2013, 06:07

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.

REFERENCE

Rogers, E,M. Diffusion of Innovations. (2005) 5th Ed.

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No longer a passing interest ... (EDU)

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

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

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

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

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