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On keeping a dairy, a record, a blog, a journal.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 13 Jun 2012, 17:54

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Three decades on I can have a laugh online reminding friends and family what we were up to in our early teens.

I stopped keeping a diary when I started to blog in 1999; when you aren't recording events in private you become a reporter. I keep blogs with a focus: e-learning, swimming or the First World War. The diary is now at best 'Blip Photo', a picture a day.

Probably the visual record will be a far better way to recall people and events, people in particular.

Had I a camera strung around my neck in the 1970s and 1980s and could afford the film and printing costs what kind of record might I have?

In conversation with people I new in the 1970s it is staggering what we are starting to recall, the detail of people, food, smells, activities and feelings. As an educator I wonder what we can recall from the classroom, playing fields or swimming pool?

Or is education through secondary, even tertiary levels, 'learning to learn'?

Personally, I find a 'Learning Journal' an indispensable support to my scatter-brain. Nothing sticks unless I 'engage' through writing, sharing, discussing. I will read a book and not have a clue what it was about unless

I also listed the books I read, and the albums I purchased.

Even the posters I put up on the wall.

Do I want to think back to lesson on Silas Marner?

On the Tolpuddle Martyrs. 'Abba's Greatest Hits?'

Why not?

Bowie posters on the wall.

Shakespeare for sure.

School and the RSC Tour to the Newcastle Theatre Royal created in me a love for Shakespeare.

A few taps on my cerebellum and I can recite Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet.

There are lessons worth remembering though.

And as you focus, particularly on sciences or law and medicine at tertiary level, let alone everything you are "required" to learn in the workplace this is stuff you need to engage with.

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The Contents of my Brain

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 23 Jan 2013, 12:41

The current generation will be able to begin to achieve a fraction of this if they please; all I have to go on are diaries I stared in March 1975 and efforts since then to recall all the events, feelings and dreams of my life to that point.

This alongside photoalbums, scrapbooks and sketch books, with lists of books read and films seen, maps of places visited and a complete extended family tree ought to offer a perspective of who or what I am.

Does any of it impact on how I think and behave?

Without my mind is it not simply a repository of typical memories and learning experiences of a boy growing up in the North East of England?

Blogging since 1999 there are like minds out there, though none have come back with an approximation of the same experiences (its been an odd, if not in some people's eyes, bizarre, even extraordinary roller-coaster of a ride).

It's value? To me, or others?

I could analyse it 'til the day I die. My goal is no longer to understand me, but to understand human kind. And to better understand the value of exercises such as this, not simply hoarding everything, but of consciously chosing to keep or record certain things.

For now I will exploit the tools that are offered. In theory anything already digitised on computers going back to the 1980s could now be put online and potentially shared. Can I extract material from a Floppy-disc, from an Amstrad Disc, from a zip-drive? Should I add super8mm cine-flim already digistised on betacam masters? And the books Iv'e read, beyond listing them do I add links even re-read some of them? And a handful of school exercise books (geography and maths) A'Level folders on Modern History. I kept nothing from three years of university, yet this is where the learning experience ought to have been the most intense. But I had no plans to take that forward had I?

My university learning was spent on the stage or behind a video camera.

Should I undertake such an exercise without a purpose in mind?

Do I draw on it to write fiction?

There is a TV screenplay 'The Contents of My Mind' that could be stripped down and re-written, even shared.

And all the fictoin, the millions of words.

Will this have a life if put online?

Is it not the storyteller's sole desire to be heard? To have an attentive audience?

 

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The best form of ‘cognitive housekeeping’ is to sleep on it.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Nov 2011, 17:58

So I blogged three months ago when considering the merits and demerits of keeping a learning journal and reflective writing.

It transpires that sleep really does sort the ‘memory wheat from the chaff’ according to a report in the Journal of Neuroscience, DOI, 10,1,1523.jneuorsci.3575-10.2011) referred to in the current New Scientist. This Week. 5 FEB 2011.

‘It turns out that during sleep the brain specifically preserves nuggets of thought it previously tagged as important.’ Ferris Jabr says.

I have always used sleep to reflect on ideas.

If I expect or wish to actively dwell on something I will go to sleep with the final thought on my mind, a pen and pad of paper by my side. Cat naps are good for this too. I will position myself with pillows and a book, or article and drift off as I finish. Waking up ten or twenty minutes later I glance straight back at the page and will feel a greater connection with it.

I wonder if there is commercial value in working from home and doing so up 'til the point you need to fall asleep? It's how my wife works when she is compiling a hefty report. It's how I work when I have an assignment, or a script to deliver ... or a producton to complete. The work never stops and it doesn't stop me sleeping.

Going back to tagging.

How does the mind do this? In curious ways. We all know how a memory can be tagged with a smell or a sound. For me how mothballs remind me of my Granny’s cupboard (an image of it immediately in my mind). A Kenwood blender will always remind me of my mother grings biscuits to put on the basae of a cheesecake. And a sherbert dip the Caravan Shop, Beadnell, Northumberland. Often when a random recollection enters my consciousness I try to think what has triggered it: the way the light falls on a tree, the exhaust from a car or even a slight discomfort in my stomach. It is random. Indeed, is a random thought not impossible?

There has to be a trigger, surely?

Can any of these be used?

Perhaps I could categorise content here, or in an eportfolio by taste. So chocolate digestive biscuits might be used to recall anecdotes. Toothpaste might be used to recall statistics. Varieties of Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts might be associated with people I have got to know (a bit) during the MAODE.

The mind boggles; or at least mine does.

Colour and images (Still or moving) is as much as we can do so far.

I’m intrigued by memory games. I like the journey around a familiar setting where you place objects you need to remember in familiar places so that you can recall a list of things. Here the tag is somewhere familiar juxtaposed with the fresh information.

Are there better ways to tag?

Look at my ridiculously long list of tags here. Am I being obtuse? When I think of a tag do I come up with a word I've not yet used? How conducive is that to recalling this entry, or grouping similar entries to do the job?

I like the way some blogs (Wordpress/EduBlogs) prompt you to use a tag you’ve applied before; it offers some order to it all. I long ago lost track of the 17000 entries in my blog. Would I want to categorise them all anyhow? I think I managed 37. I prefer the 'enter@random' button I installed.

Going back to this idea of tagging by taste/smell, might a word (the category) be given division by taste/smell, texture and colour? How though would such categories work in a digital form? Am all I doing here recreating a person’s shed, stuff shoved under their bed or stacked in a garage, or put in a trunk or tuck box in the attic?

In the test reported in the Neuroscientist those who went to bed in the knowledge that they would be tested on the information they had looked at that day had a 12% better recall.

See.

Testing works.

It doesn’t happen in MAODE, if at all. When are we put on the spot? When are we expected ever to playback a definition under ‘duress’?

‘There is an active memory process during sleep that selects certain memories and puts them in long-term storage.’


Like an e-portfolio?

Is the amount of sleep I've had, the 350 or so nights since I started the MAODE ... part of the learning environment required?

REFERENCE

Sleep Selectively Enhances Memory Expected to Be of Future Relevance
Wilhelm et al. J. Neurosci..2011; 31: 1563-1569

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