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From diary to blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 28 May 2012, 16:58

I am one of those people who began a diary age 13 and kept it up pretty much for 16 years ... Picking up blogging in 1999 was a natural step used as much to paste in the more memorable events of those 16 years.

 

The format changed, from five year diary, to hardbook notebooks, to letters to my fiance and mercifully the diary came to an abrupt halt with marriage (going to be bed was no longer a time to take out the pen).

 

I'm glad I decided to catch-up with the habit when the children were born, so was ready in 1996 and 1998 to blog. And so I blog for another decade.

 

But was this a reflective diary?

 

At times it was simply filling the page (first a few lines in one of those Five Year Diary with a lock), then a minimum per day of a page of A4 in a hardback notebook ... though for a while as much as I cared to write (e.g. September 1977 or 78 fills an entire arch-lever file).

 

But was it reflective?


Looking back at these entries (very rare), it is depressing to read about issues and problems that I never resolved, or ambitions that I couldn't or didn't fulfil. Perhaps by reading back regularly these diaries would have had reflective, life-adjusting qualities? Rather than the prayers of a godless teenager who was sent to boarding school age 7, escaped for 2 years for A'levels to a day school, then returning to the boarding environment of univeristy.

 

Was my diary a companion who could only listen?


This is all brought up as a result of reading about the Reflective Diary as a tool for students to consider what they are trying to learn and if they are succeeding. I could say that from a purist's point of view this sullies the term 'diary'; I can imagine how dull it would have been for Alan Clarke, Anne Frank or Pepys to have written in such a way (let alone Henry Miller or Anais Nin). But this misses the point, a reflective diary is a tool, a task, like the weekly (or fortnightly) essay.

 

This from Burgess (2009)


Reflective diaries

 

There are many ways of keeping these.

 

* Make a note of something you found interesting in the lecture/seminar.

* Why was it interesting?

* How does it connect with your own life/practice experience?

* How might this inform your practice as a social worker

* How might users benefit from your learning?

* How might your learning add to your understanding of 'good' practice

 

I should look through decades of diaries, some 1.6 million words of it online, and see if I am guilty of an reflection of this nature. I say 'guilty' as I would have felt that writing in such a way in my diary (it would have had to be in a separate book) would have sullied the format, a bit like using play acting for education, rather than just for entertainment or writing a lyric for a song that taught safe sex. I would resist the idea of 'education' impinging on this side of my existence.

 

Are we not living in a world though where the barriers between work and home, school and home, colleagues and friends is breaking down?

 

Where in the same breath in a social networking site you can flip between friends, families, colleagues or fellow students?

 

Is such an environment like the population of your ideal village?

 

By Burgess with material adapted from the SAPHE Project (Self Assessment in Professional and Higher Education Project) Burgess, H (n.d.)

 

Self and Peer Assessment (online), The Higher Education Academy: Social Work and Social Policy (SWAP).

from: http://sorubank.ege.edu.tr/~bouo/DLUE/Chapter-08/Chapter-8-makaleler/Assessment%202_%20Self%20and%20peer%20assessment.htm (accessed 6 August 2010). Tags: assessment learning blog self-assessment burgess reflective diary

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The reflective blog (or diary)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 26 Nov 2011, 16:24

The current Radio 4 series on the genre, celbrities reading from their childhood diaries, shows that keeping a diary is rather more common practice than I had thought. I am one of those people who began a diary age 13 and has never stopped. The format changed, from five year diary, to hardbook notebooks, to letters to my fiance and mercifully the diary came to an abrupt halt with marriage (going to be bed was no longer a time to take out the pen).

I'm glad I decided to catch-up with the habit when the children were born, so was ready in 1996 and 1998 to blog.

And so I blog for another decade.

But was this a reflective diary? At times it was simply filling the page (first a few lines in one of those Five Year Diary with a lock), then a minimum per day of a page of A4 in a hardback notebook ... though for a while as much as I cared to write (e.g. September 1977 or 78 fills an entire arch-lever file). But was it reflective? Looking back at these entries (very rare), it is depressing to read about issues and problems that I never resolved, or ambitions that I couldn't or didn't fulfil.

Perhaps by reading back regularly these diaries would have had reflective, life-adjusting qualities? Rather than the prayers of a godless teenager who was sent to boarding school age 7, escaped for 2 years for A'levels to a day school, then returning to the boarding environment of univeristy. Was my diary a companion who could only listen?

This is all brought up as a result of reading about the Reflective Diary as a tool for students to consider what they are trying to learn and if they are succeeding. I could say that from a purist's point of view this sullies the term 'diary'; I can imagine how dull it would have been for Alan Clarke, Anne Frank or Pepys to have written in such a way (let alone Henry Miller or Anais Nin). But this misses the point, a reflective diary is a tool, a task, like the weekly (or fortnightly) essay.

This from Burgess (2009)

Reflective diaries

There are many ways of keeping these.

* Make a note of something you found interesting in the lecture/seminar.

* Why was it interesting?

* How does it connect with your own life/practice experience?

* How might this inform your practice as a social worker

* How might users benefit from your learning?

* How might your learning add to your understanding of 'good' practice

I should look through decades of diaries, some 1.6 million words of it online, and see if I am guilty of an reflection of this nature. I say 'guilty' as I would have felt that writing in such a way in my diary (it would have had to be in a separate book) would have sullied the format, a bit like using play acting for education, rather than just for entertainment or writing a lyric for a song that taught safe sex. I would resist the idea of 'education' impinging on this side of my existence. Are we not living in a world though where the barriers between work and home, school and home, colleagues and friends is breaking down? Where in the same breath in a social networking site you can flip between friends, families, colleagues or fellow students? Is such an environment like the population of your ideal village?

 

By Burgess with material adapted from the SAPHE Project (Self Assessment in Professional and Higher Education Project)

Burgess, H (n.d.) Self and Peer Assessment (online), The Higher Education Academy: Social Work and Social Policy (SWAP). Available from: http://sorubank.ege.edu.tr/~bouo/DLUE/Chapter-08/Chapter-8-makaleler/Assessment%202_%20Self%20and%20peer%20assessment.htm (accessed 6 August 2010).


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The use of narrative in e-learning

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

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

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

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

REF

Bruner (1996.97) ‘Meaning Making’

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

REF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three experts were called and in turn tried to explain:

1) Bing Bang

2) String Theory

3) The Offside Rule in soccer

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

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

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

The use of scenarios:

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

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

I use software like Final Draft and Power Structure.

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

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

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

Is design of e-learning as straight-forward?

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

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

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

It works to follow the pattern rather than break it.

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

There is little meat on a popular documentary

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

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

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

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

Not very far at all.

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

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

Do you watch TV with a laptop?

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

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

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

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

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

Even seen a lecturer take a commercial break

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

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

REFERENCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 1 May 2010, 17:37

Our Geography teacher had most of us (all ?) achieve A Grades at A Level. When it came to writing essays his advice was simple and he drew a flower on the board with six petals.

The stem was both the introduction and conclusion, the centre of flower was the essay title. Six petals, perhaps eight would do it. Each would be a point, well made, with quotes/references.

Often he'd summarise his thoughts on a boy's essay by drawing a dishevelled weed ... or more simply a three petalled plant with one huge, deformed petal ... and so on.

I was never one for the perfect plant. Often I'd be the one with twelve petals, some tiny some so massive they took on the entire board. One essay I remember submitting filled an entire exercise book (I still have it, sad, I know. It was Geography, meteorology, he taught as to undergraduate level). I regress (and digress).

After two years we sat exams. By then by editing down and picking out what I felt mattered I went into the exam well prepared, armed to the teeth. I could easily give up ten minutes of the 45 mins to write on a topic to planning, the six or so main points, the pulling from my head a mnemonic that would deliver a dozen or twenty or more facts. And then I wrote. This worked.

Course work would have suffocated me. I lack that consistency and self-discipline, or more likely, I drain so much energy intermittently that I just have to 'chill' from time to time. I'm not one for drawing early conclusions, nor am I one for regurgitating what is wanted from me because of what specifically I have been asked to read - I will always look beyond the references.

In particular, I would prefer to sit down to write naked ... jsut me and the keyboard, no notes. For the information to have gathered in the rigth spot in my head I need to have worked with the material, to have discussed and debated it, to got it wrong and been corrected, to have asked questions, and to have figured it out. I have to believe it.

Working in a Web Agency when first doing an OU course on distance learning the topics were of interest every day to colleagues so it was like being on a campus, or certainly in a faculty. And as we believed or thought that the aim of a university degree or studying was to get a job there was a degree of arrogance - we had jobs. We were in it, doing it. We had to know best, or certainly quite well, otherwise why would companies & government pays us to do our thing?

I ramble. Or reflect. Whether I can reflect my way into some higher level of sublime understanding though is quite another matter. A decade ago blogging obsessively there were a group of us who read and responded to everything we wrote. Doing this I feel I am writing with a fountain pen on the ceiling of a catacomb.

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