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R is for Rich Media

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 3 Jun 2014, 12:10


The richness of Rosetta Stone

  • Reflection
  • Rich Media
  • Repetition
  • Dr Vilayanur S Ramachandran
  • E Rogers
  • Sir Ken Robinson
  • Randomised Controlled Trial
  • Reciprocate
  • Repetition

Something of a mixed bag here; I wondered if any at all were to do wit he-learning. All I have therefore is 'rich media'. The award winning 'Gallipoli Day One 3D'  is a great example of this. Interactive, 3D, gamified, with videos and text. From a learning point of view this is aimed at the public, not the historian, nor the student studying history - not beyond GCSE at least. I increasingly see the value of reading ... books or eBooks: well researched and written content, read at speed, at your own pace. Take notes. Write an essay. Assessment. Richness, from video to 3D slows it down, dumbs it down, and may have less to contribute than may be apparent.

Reflection is a learning thing, not unique to e-learning. This is what I am doing here; a means to reflect on four yeas of postgraduate study. Done with a sense of direction it can move your learning on, without it is to fly without a rudder.

Descriptive reflection:  There is basically a description of events, but the account shows some evidence of deeper consideration in relatively descriptive language.  There is no real evidence of the notion of alternative viewpoints in use.

Dialogic reflection: This writing suggests that there is a ‘stepping back’ from the events and actions which leads to a different level of discourse.  There is a sense of ‘mulling about’, discourse with self and an exploration of the role of self in events and actions.  There is consideration of the qualities of judgements and of possible alternatives for explaining and hypothesising.  The reflection is analytical or integrative, linking factors and perspectives.

Critical reflection:  This form of reflection, in addition to dialogic reflection, shows evidence that the learner is aware that the same actions and events may be seen in different contexts with different explanations associated with the contexts.  They are influenced by ‘multiple historical and socio-political contexts’, for example.

(developed from Hatton and Smith, 1995)

Repetition is learning. E-learning can support the necessary repetition, with platforms such as QStream. A quiz played until you can get all the questions right does this. It's how the brain works; you forget unless you repeat and apply. See more on the 'forgetting curve' researched by Ebbinghaus. 

Dr Vilayanur S Ramachandran is a neurogolist. Worth following him.

Rogers spent five decade studying the nature of innovation. 

Ken Robinson does some powerful TED lectures where he talks about the right to celebrate the human side of the child, that:

  1. human beings are naturally different and diverse

  2. that 'lighting the light of curiosity' is key and that

  3. human life is inherently creative.

A 'randomised controlled trial' is what you need if your research is going to stand up to close scientific scrutiny. Does the e-learning app do what it says it can do? Few can. 

To reciprocate' is to collaborate. Comment on the blog would be one. Take part in a forum, synchronous or not. Generate content, but also aggregate or 'curate' the work of others ... and return the honour where someone comments on what you have to say.


Dr Vilayanur S Ramachandran - Thomson, H (2010) V. S. Ramachandran: Mind, metaphor and mirror neurons 10 January 2011 by Helen Thomson Magazine issue 2794.

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

Schon, A.A. (1983) The Reflective Practioner: How Professionals think in Action, London: Temple Smith

Kolb, D.A. 1984 Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Moon, J. (2005) ‘Guide for busy academics no. 4: learning through reflection’ (online), The Higher Education Academy. Available from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id69_guide_for_busy_academics_no4.doc (accessed 28 Sept 2010).

Smith, M. (1996) ‘Reflection: what constitutes reflection – and what significance does it have for educators? The contributions of Dewey, Schön, and Boud et al. assessed’ (online), The Encyclopaedia of Informal Education. Available from: http://www.infed.org/biblio/b-reflect.htm (accessed 21 Sept 2010).

Phylis Creme (2005) The compulsory nature of core activities might support the underlying approach that reflective activity “should be recognised part of the assessment process; otherwise students would not take them seriously”







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Design Museum

Can a popular book sit on the fence? Academic vs. popularist

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Feb 2013, 18:43

I wonder if the difference between the book selling 'voices' of e-learning are to academics what pop music is to classical music.

They make a great fuss, sing and dance, but lack substance. They are popular and sometimes wrong. Marc Prensky and the Digital Natives compared to Martin Weller's Ring Cycle?!

In 'The Shallows' Nicholas Carr goes out of his way to select anecdotes and references to prop up his thesis that Google is making us stupid. The wise, though less popular and academic approach would have been to make the case both ways with equal effort, to argue that Google is making is smart.

The two propostions would make for a reasonable and reasoned debate. There are two books in it.

Can a popular book sit on the fence?

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Mind, metaphor and mirror neurons - and the impact on blogging

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Nov 2014, 06:56

1. Are we hard-wired to how we conceptualise ideas?

2. Does this help or hinder the way we use eLearning tools?

3. Will children, say, 50 years from now, look at paper and pen in the same way as a person does now when they take a first look at computer?

4. Are we at some 'transition' point, and if we are, what does this mean?

My tutor in H808 asked me this on 12th September.

I feel far better able to reply now after four months of H808 and some fortuitous reading, though I did respond at the time. My forum thread exchange then and reflection on it today will form part of my ECA.

It surprises me that I have subscribed to a magazine at all, but I find the New Scientist offers plenty on our e-world upon which to reflect and insights to all kinds of other things that tickle my brain.

It matters that you read broadly.

The French Film Director Francois Truffaut was a firm believer of reading everything and anything that caught your attention. He’d have loved the web. It matters that you follow what the web offers, then browse the shelves for magazines at the newsagent on the forecourt of your station.

My favourite button that has been crucial to the longevity of my blog (elsewhere) for the last seven years is ‘Enter@Random.’

We don’t think in chronological order.

thinking is a mess, it selects ideas and makes things up sing different sides and corners and crooks and crannies of our brains. I unplugged the calendar on my diary in year one and replaced it with 12 themes that have now grown to 37. For a period there were 37 blogs, but try managing that, to say you end up with a split personality is an understatement.

My tutor put it to me (and us) the H808 Tutor Group:

1. Are we hard-wired to how we conceptualise ideas?

Dr Vilayanur S Ramachandran thinks so. We have a unique capacity to think in metaphors. This matters. It is this ability that makes us creative, allows us to be inventive, it is what makes us human beings.

Read all about in the New Scientist.

Quoted here within the 200 word count permission for a student quote.

Added as for student reading in a non-commercial academic context having read the copyright permissions.

Ramachandran is particularly interested in metaphor because it ties in neatly with his previous work on synaesthesia - a kind of sensory hijack, where, for example, people see numbers as colours or taste words. "Metaphor is our ability to link seemingly unrelated ideas, just like synaesthesia links the senses," he says.

After spending years working with people who have synaesthesia, he believes "pruning genes" are responsible. In the fetal brain, all parts of the brain are interconnected, but as we age, the connections are pruned. If the pruning genes get it wrong, the connections are off. "If you think of ideas as being enshrined in neural populations in the brain, if you get greater cross-connectivity you're going to create a propensity towards metaphorical thinking," he says.

I don't have synaesthesia, neither does Ramachandran, but he points out to me the strangeness of asking why, say, the cheddar cheese in your sandwich is "sharp". It's true, cheese isn't sharp, it's soft, so why do I use a tactile adjective to describe a gustatory sensation? "It means our brains are already replete with synaesthetic metaphors," he says. "Your loud shirt isn't making any noise, it's because the same genes that can predispose you to synaesthesia also predispose you to make links between seemingly unrelated ideas, which is the basis of creativity."


Thomson (2010)

Of the 12 photographs in this issue as many as 8, I think, are from the Getty Image bank. I wonder if one day, especially if I’m reading this on an iPad the images will move, rather as the paints are alive in the background of a Harry Potter movie. It wouldn’t take much for a photography to video as well as, or instead of taking a photograph. Indeed, the BBC now permit directors to generate HD TV footage using digital SLR cameras … the lenses are better, the creative choices wider.


2. Does this help or hinder the way we use eLearning tools?

How we use the web, let alone e-learning tools is in its infancy. We are still putting old ways online, still making web-pages into slide shows and calling them immersive learning. Gaming may change this, with the budget. Better, faster tools will enabled more. Collaboration on world wide wikis with like minds, and great minds, contributing will speed up the rate of change.

We’ll think in the same metaphors though, share and reinforce new metaphors and then some Leonardo da Vinci of the 21st century will come along and break it apart. Though we may not appreciate their insights at all.

Mobile learning, smart-phone learning on the move, or whatever you want to call it should shake things up. At first this will be, and is, the same old stuff sent to your phone, basic card to card Q&A even if it includes a bit if video or an animated graph.

I want learning projected onto the back of my scull, I want it in my head, not online or in a device. I want interactions with specific parts of my brain. I want my brain duplicated so that I can take more lessons at the same time, to learn multiple languages and to take several degrees simultaneously.

3. Will children, say, 50 years from now, look at paper and pen in the same way as a person does now when they take a first look at computer?

It is extraordinary the relationship between our minds and out limbs, or arms and finger tips. With training we can sight read a score and play complex musical pieces, we can scroll, cut, edit, fly and colourise images into a piece of drama that has us crying, or heads in our hands and we can type, like the clappers.

We can draw too, and sculpt, and swim and dance and do gymnastics.

Our relationship with the nerves in our body is a complex one. As for handwriting, our relationship with fountain pens, marker pens and pencils? It ought to be a skill still taught at school, there need to be handwriting competitions as there once were … even if they are tied into art classes and design.

How different is a stylus on a tablet to a piece of chalk on a slate?

I implore my children to write and draw. An illegible Christmas list is no list at all. They’d type, they do type. Yet how backwards is a QWERTY keyboard?

4. Are we at some 'transition' point, and if we are, what does this mean?

Yes. And I mean to be part of it.

We have reached the Tipping Point.

A book a read if I recall in 2001 when we thought we were approaching a tipping point, actually we were reaching the point at which the first e-bubble would burst. First and last? These things go in cycles, whatever the politicians do to stymie human nature. Greed and regret, progress, reflection, reinvention … then we do it all over.

We’re not even less violent than we were at the times of the Viking raids.

Meandering? A stream of consciousness? Reflection? Regurgitation?

All of this, and it all matters. You don’t have to read it, and you probably haven’t. This is here for me to find when I need it in seven months or seven years time.

It is remarkable how your views change; so it matters to have what you originally thought in front of you. There are memories I have that haven’t just been reworked over the decades, but have become different events. This isn’t simply age, though that has much to do with it, I view what I did as a child or teenager as I observe my own children today, the difference is, I can’t influence the behaviour and actions of my younger self, though I can, I hope listen to and guide my own children to actions and decisions they will feel comfortable with in the years to come


Thomson, H (2010) V. S. Ramachandran: Mind, metaphor and mirror neurons 10 January 2011 by Helen Thomson Magazine issue 2794.

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Why digitisation your every action may have some value - the Quantified Self

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Nov 2011, 23:22


From Drop Box

I've ignored ideas in the past and regretted it.

I recall a lunch with a Cambridge Graduate who had created software that made texting possible. His company was looking at ways to expand its use on mobile phones. All I could think was that it was a retrograde step and would take us back to pagers; remember them? How wrong I was.

I recall also reading about someone who had kept a 'web-blog' (sic) and photo journal of their business year in 1998.

Even as a diarist and blogger I thought this somewhat obsessive. From research into the patterns and networks created 'LinkedIn' emerged.

So when a Microsoft programmer Gordon Bell decides to make a digital record of everything they do to see what patterns may emerge THIS time I take an interest. (New Scientist, Opinion. 23 December 2010 / January 2011

My immediate thought, not least because I lack the resources, is to be highly selective. Had I a team to take content, edit, transcribe, edit, collate and link, maybe I'd do more; I don't.

A professional swimming coach should assess and reflect on the sessions they deliver. I did this without fail for nearly three years, by which time a good deal of it was repetitive and I felt comfortable with the many different plans I was delivering to different groups. I've been videod, I use video to analyse strokes and skills and I use a digital recorder to jot down observations of swimmers. So what if I leave the digital recorder open for a session. Am I prepared to run through this hour for a start? If I do so what might I learn?

That this is a valid form of evidence of my abilities (and weaknesses)

That edited (no names revealed of swimmers) it, especially parts of it, become a training tool (best practice) or simply insights for others on how, in this instance, a one hour session is transmogrified for use with different levels/standards/age of swimmer.

I video lectures in 1983 on Sony Betamax. I did plays. Debates. All kinds of campus activity around Oxford. I learnt a good deal. The camera is not your mind's eye, this is why you edit and develop craft skills, not because you want to dramatise reality, but because the mind does it for you. We don't go round with fish-eyes taking everything in, we do jump between a wide, mid and close shot. And when we concentrate on something the proverbial naked woman could walk down the street and you wouldn't notice. A camera around one's neck cannot and will not establish or adjust to any of these view points.

The act of recording changes your behaviour, it is therefore a record of a false behaviour.

I filled some of the gaps. I set down some of my thoughts on how swimmers were performing whereas usually I'd make a 'mental note' or jot something down on paper.

Shortcuts will be uncovered, valuable algorithms will be written. Might, for example, the old corporate audit of how people spend their time be transformed if, putting it at arm's length, the function is monitored during a working day?

We've seen from the reality TV show 'Seven Days' shot in Notting Hill how tedious the lives of Jo blogs can be as entertainment. We're tired of Big Brother too. As Bell remarks, 'most of the moments he records are mind-numbingly dull, trite, predictable, tedious and prosaic.'

To deliver further the New Scientist advices that we take a look at:


Dream Patterns



Use of email

Online interactions



Track Your Happiness

Your Flowing Data




Why a handwritten diary my be better not only that digitising everything, but even a blog?

The way you write reflects your mood, captures tone, even levels of intoxication, passion or aggitation, as well as your age. Though I fear the work of the graphologist is redundant. A choice is made over the writing implement, and the book or pages in which it is expressed. You make choices. If you must, you can have bullet points of events. It doesn't take much of a tickle for the mind to remember an exact moment. Such moments digitised are two dimensional, with no perspective. A memory recalle matures, its meaning changes as does your interest in it. A memory loved and cherished is very different to one that you wish to forget. What happens when both haunt you in their digital form? And when such memories become everybody's property?

Where does copyright stand if you are digitising life?

We watch TV, we read books, we play video games, we read letters and bank statements, we have conversations that are meant to be private ...

Meanwhile, I've barely dealt with the fall out of this Opinion piece in the New Scientist and the next issue looking at neuroscience does my head.

Here Vilayanur S Ramachandran gets his head around the importance of metaphor in creativity and how it separates us from all other beings. I used to cheat


From Drop Box


It took you out of your own mind and messed it up; sometimes useful, sometimes not. The way to be creative is to develop an inquiring, critical, educated, multi-outletting, messed up mind. Sing, dance, draw, paint, play musical instruments, climb trees, exercise in crazy ways, every week do or say something you've never done or said before. 'Quantable.' (sic) Radio 4. 6th Jan 2011. 20h30. The context was using the process of counting numbers to quanitfy some excess and the interviewee used this term 'quantable' which the producer of the programme must have liked because it was repeated. Amazing how we can mash-up the English Language and the new word may make perfect sense. Where ams I? ECA and a job interview. So what am I doing here? Habit. I want to come back to these ideas later and by doing this I know where it is.

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