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Would you swim in the Atlantic? A friend asked.

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My response -

As long as you don't swim too close to large ships or get caught in a trawler net. I'd stay in shore rather than 50 miles out. Try the first 20 yards off the beach and don't get out of your depth. Seriously, rip tides are a terror, I've been caught in a couple. Even I always swim with a kicker float on a piece of string ... something to grab onto in case I get cramp or caught in a current. Oh, and I might even wear a wetsuit and a woollen hat.

I'm sailing the Atlantic at the end of the year. I don't intend ever to be in the water unless there is an emergency. I won't fall in as I'll always be attached to a harness. I'm asthmatic so falling into cold water is dangerous.

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Bart's Bash: The Guinness Book of Records Challenge

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 3 Oct 2014, 08:58
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14

Fig. 1 Some of the 30 boats taking part in our 'Bart's Challenge' 

The idea is to make it into the Guinness Book of Records. All over the world clubs took to the water. I had the Guinness Book of Records adjudicator on the rescue boat with me. The race had to be so long, with at least 25 participants. Photos and video was required for starts and finishes. She enjoyed it so much she helped lay and pull in buouys for the course.

Andy 'Bart' Simpson, a Brit, died racing in the America's Cup last year.

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Oh cripes - another August Bank Holiday gets washed down the plughole

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From E-Learning IV

Fig. 1 Wind and weather chart courtesy of WindGuru for Seaford Bay, August 25th

  • Day
  • Date
  • Time
  • Wind Speed (Beaufort Scale)
  • Wind Gust Speed
  • Wind Direction
  •  Temperature
  • Wind Direction
  • Cloud cover and forecast density at various descending levels (High to low)
  • Forecast precipitation in millimeters

Stars - the degree to which those who love strong winds will love it. Three stars is an unmissable opportunity for windsurfers and kite-boards.

Too wet, too windy - but perfect for the diehard windsurfer or kiteboarder: I'm neither. I'll be standing on the shore looking at the waves breaking on the beach in an hour or so. The sailing club's Race Officer will decide if sailing is on or not. The serious issue is if we start a race heavy weather could make bringing dinghies in treacherous. If it goes ahead, as Saturday, I will be drenched to the skin helming the safety boat - a RIB we bring out of Newhaven Harbour.

Lessons learnt lately?

The opportunity to improve sailing skills is made all the more swift courtesy of downloadable eBooks and YouTube. After earlier trials inland on a lake yesterday became my first outing helming a dinghy on the sea, and my first race - we had three. Before I took to the water I checked a few items off from a guide to dinghy sailing and at lunch I followed up further tips on YouTube. Is there a limit to what the Internet can tell or show you? The list of tips and insights given by fellow sailors would be long: fixing bits of the boat, getting it off the trolley and into the ocean ... getting it back.

Late onto the water I was a good 30 seconds off the start of the race and never made it up in the Club Laser. The second race I was in the thick of it as 22 dinghies josled for position - two years of crewing a Fireball payed off and sneakily I managed to be one of the first Lasers into this race and for the first lap of three led the fleet - it felt like by some fluke I'd got around the first lap of a F1 Grand Prix in a Citreon 2CV. Staying upright is about as far as my skills go for now. The third race was scuppered from the start as the tiller handle came off; this might be like a fisherman dropping his rod in the water and having to resort to a hand-line ... or a jokey losing his stirrups at the start of a race ... or doing a cycle race without any handlebars: sort of.

However, it is remarkable what you learn and how much more you learn in adverse conditions. My 'skills' have been plagued for weeks by my a clumsy swapping of hands when you tack between the mainsheet and the tiller, every time you tack your hands have to swap duties, the lead hand taking the rope on the mainsail (main sheet), the rear hand taking the tiller ... well, my tiller-handle was gone, which turned every tack into a drill. It worked. I'd liken it to any sports coach giving competitors a challenge in order to fix a problem, or to speed up 'adaptation'.

Trial and error, mistakes, dealing with the unexpected and a challenge ... being pushed. Learning works best when it is anything but 'plain sailing' - we learn so much from mistakes, from figuring things out, by asking for help ... and giving help in turn. How do we keep the human context alive in e-learning? Are we not like astronauts on a lone mission a million miles from earth?

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All change on the weather front

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 17 Aug 2014, 10:16

Fig. 1 Sailing on Seaford Bay

Here we go - autumnal weather, socks for the first time in two months, even a jumper and when out on the water waterproofs, spare clothes and a towel.

This squall sent half the fleet in - to shore that is, only one capsized repeatedly. The first race included many cadets, the youngest crew 8 and 11. 

Out on RIB so drenched through. The sea on the other hand is a balmy 19 degrees. Felt like a bath. Time for a dip?

 

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Fancy windsurfing today? Check Windguru.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 5 Aug 2014, 17:32

Fig. 1. Windguru

I'm always amazed at how much information can be put onto a screen; here, Windguru gives you in a glance the weather and especially the wind forecast in relation to windsurfing and kite boarding - strong winds are vital. It is just an aid to forecasting, though I have found it remarkably accurate, that wind strengths and directions do in reality shift pretty much according to the forecast. This greatly assists with planning a sailing trip - too strong or too weak and I keep away.

 

 

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Learning from mistakes

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 2 Aug 2014, 11:04

Fig.1. It felt like this even if it didn't look like this.

I capsized four times this afternoon. The first I got over the side of the dinghy and righted without getting my feet wet; it is six or seven years since I did this crewing a Fireball. Even in a wetsuit the English Channel is cold enough early in the season. The second time I floundered into the drink and the mast ended up embedded in the mud - I had to be rescued. Ominously I'd been out all of six minutes. Was I up to helming a Laser in a Force 6 with a full sail? It took another 90 minutes before the next dunking; I was tired, cramp in one calf, both thighs shaking. By now I'd just about figured out how to wrestle with the gusting wind. I was also trying to get my hands swapped over effectively on ever tack and to keep my feet from being tied up in the mainsheet. Another hour before the fourth capsize: a propper dunking in which I fell overboard rather than the boat capsizing - I was grinning for ear to ear: still am. Like Tantric Sex? Hours of holding off the inevitable then wosh-bang-wallop. It's the most fun I've had in ages. This sudden burst of enthusiasm for sport delivers on many fronts: exercise, fresh air, thrills, a mental and physical challenge ... a modicum of risk and much more to do and learn before I take to the sea. In 10 days, potentially, I have my first club race. In the sea. With waves and tides and other boats. Unlike the brain, my muscles now need a day at least to recover - I feel like I've been on the rack.

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'This is US Warship please turn to Channel 72 for an important announcement'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 18 Jul 2014, 07:34

Fig.1 Channel 16 - The emergency channel

On the helm overnight I kept an ear out for SOS and other messages on Channel 16. What I got was the most bizarre set of calls and messages:

The US Navy acting on behalf of the United Nations ... the message went on to ask skippers to look out for anything suspicious and to report it. This is 8-12 miles out to sea along the Spanish, Mediterranean coast. 

On my watch I had:

  • a small yacht, all sails up - no lights at all. They shown a torch into their sail as they came close.
  • a cattermarran; no lights on. Lights on as we approached, then all navigation lights on after we passed and motored off into the darkness.
  • a rib, in the dark, someone holding a torch.
  • one legit, correctly lit small yacht
  • various tankers in the distance, the largest a staggering 313m long and 40m wide.

Calls to prayer

Disco Music

General chatter

"Mayday, Mayday" - not in the immediate vicinity but the person couldn't give their chart position

My fertile imagination thought a war had broken out and I could hear shells exploding in Algeria. 

 

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600 Nautical miles in four days (one stop-over)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014, 10:25

Fig. 1. Many firsts

First time to log and chart any off-shore trip

First time to have the helm on a four hour night-time shift: just me, the full moon, the occasional visit by dolphins and 'ghost' ships that appeared, off radar, without any night-time navigation lights on.

First time to speak Spanish and be understood - even it was only asking for a one-way ticket at the bus station.

First time plotting a course and keeping the log.

First time sleeping overnight in an airport - the flight out went too early for the trains and taking a taxi negated getting a cheap flight.

First time to see the straights of Gibraltar - staggered by the narrow gap between Europe and Africa.

First time to be seasick: hideous, only lasted a few hours thankfully.

The list goes on of firsts.

Never more than four hours sleep in a row since last Friday.

I read a book cover to cover on the flight out (including departure lounge) 'Close to the Wind' by Jon Waters, someone else who did a university course in creative writing and is now being published. It's taken five years.

First time to use GPS system on a boat that not only plots your exact position, but identifies other boats in the same detail: size, speed across water, destination, bearing and so on. 

Shattered.

 

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Can you think of a memorable learning event when 'the penny dropped'?

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Bowline%2520Knot%2520illustrated.JPG

I have sailed for decades and could usually manage a Bolen knot by counting through the required actions. Then, in a yachting class I had it demonstrated and described as a 'gripping knot'. That's all I've needed ever since to tie this knot in a crisis, underwater, upside down or anywhere else - i.e. I needed to know why not just how. The why is the the learning objective.

Other's are coming to me - like the definition of an isthmus and a peninsula because they were beautifully drawn and coloured in - and was followed by a sharp clip around the ear. I was 6 and my older brother had come into the class and I wanted to give him a kiss.

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Train Fairs, Unfairs and the Ridiculous

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 9 Oct 2011, 18:31
Two weeks ago I was pleased as punch to be able to travel from Lewes in East Sussex to Milton Keynes for £7.50 (RETURN!) OK, four hours in a train and a choice of diddling around with a Milton Keynes bus at the other end (an hour from the station to the campus or 15 minutes and £7 by taxi). Last week £17.50, same timetable, I hoped I'd got the bus figured, but still an hour to the campus. This week? I cannot for the life of me find a train (return, outside peak hours) for less than £75. Consequence? I have no choice but to drive, leaving home at 5.00am tomorrow, or even tonight. Much later than 5.00am and a 2 hour motorway schlep can take 4 hours sad The joke is that I could do my job brilliantly while orbiting earth in Thunderbird 5. I've been online all weekend in mini and micro moments picking up RSS fed conversations from various sources, following colleagues and contacts as they up date blogs ... and I receive Google alerts to an iPad (mobile around the house, train, bus, car); iPhone shopping, walking the dog ... (I have an answer on how to relax: competitive sailing in the English Channel. I've done it, injury, tactics and exhaustion concentrate the mind).
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Scrambulation

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 24 Feb 2013, 07:46

I think I did the equivalent of throwing the files out of the window yesterday afternoon and no doubt the TMA grade will reflect this.

I reached a stage of total scrambulation.

Currently doing a 24 hour spring clean, pack the car, find wetsuits that no one can get into, fix the box on car roof, get keys that work for the car ... listen to Pepys dramatised on the radio (see the blog) ... while feeding teenagers and accommodating my wife whose computer died when it was purloined for World of Warcraft duties sad

(P.S. I am advised that my avatar remains wondering this world in her underwear. Meanwhile, after three weeks of doing a paper round my son has purchased a virtual motorbike for his World of Warcraft avatar - think Harley Davidson - he also has an upgrade on his pet -  an Elephant.

Both impress I am told.

Educators enter here at their own peril.

valdesire%252520nickers.JPG

My advice would be to so so with an experienced 13 year old to assist and you may end up like me, female, in your underwear, doing dances for your living. Seriously, this is my experimental taste of virtual worlds.

I learned that my son has several characters online, somehow, and each has a distinct personality and I suspect gender. I am 'Val Desire' her twin - is creation - is 'Not Val Desire'.)

And the dog is on heat sad

And my 15 year old daughter has decided the contents of her attic room are childish and is currently bagging it (while my wife is going through said bag convinced that everything has a value and ought to be put in our lock up garage for the next decade or two. A garage that is 11 miles away and we took possession of temporarily when we moved house ... four years ago.)

Otherwise a normal day.

Pencils and pastels I have, but I need cartridge paper and a new drawing board.

I'm disinclined to over use the digital camera as it will require immediate downloading to a laptop then editing, then uploading and all that eJazz. Do I go with the flow, indluge this? Maybe I should, passing on some basic craft skills along the way in relation to shot size, editing, action cuts and so on.

I realise too that this desire to go off and draw is akin to being behind a computer screen.

A sort of hunkering down escape into my own head. Though drawing is likely to be less distracting than being online.

Basically, what I crave, and did for decades with my Dad is a boat, to sea with all those challenges and absolutely NO contact with the outside world.

On these trips I took books, paper, guitar. I am inclined therefore to need the iPad that now is the books, the paper and all the sheet music my heart could desire.

Impossible of course because he is long dead and the boat sold.

 

 

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H800: 32 Wk5 Activity 1 Metaphor and Symbols in Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 8 Mar 2011, 20:15

My first take on Saloman (1997) 'Of mind and media', ran to 3,800 words, my second take is still 2,800 ... (See below, it's my previous blog entry).

Now that I've devoured the text I'll consider the questions.

Do you prefer certain forms of representation to a greater extent than others?

1. The only kind of learning that matters is learning that works. This will vary by context, content and desired outcomes. A piece of chalk on a blackboard is learning, as is Avatar. The first might cost $1, the latter $200m.

If so, why do you think that is the case?

2. We cannot always indulge our differences. I dare say the best education might be privileged and historically at home with a governess then a tutor. Personalisation by yourself, aided by parents/siblings peer pressure and your school/institution is what e-learning offers via social networking, forums, YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook, Wikipedia, Google and all the rest of them.

Does this preference apply to everything you attempt to learn?

3. If I am motivated to do so I will do more than watch the TV programme or catch the radio show ... I will do more than buy the book (or books), I will do a course, join a group, get a qualification. It is progressive, exploratory and stepped; it ends in your head, and may begin on your own but is often best developed with others. Though ask a successful author how they developed their craft skills or how they now work and I doubt they say they do it as a group/collective in a writer's group.

Or does it vary from one type of learning task to another?

4. Whilst certain approaches, if there is a choice, do lend themselves better to certain ways of doing it, any learning is defined by the candidate's motivation to learn and what is available, let alone their individual circumstances. I do think that challenging someone to learn might deliver a better outcome than spoon-feeding or mollycoddling. I learnt to deliver a baby when I had to, I had about five minutes to read a very short chapter on 'home delivery'. I learn to sail when it went wrong and we escaped drowning. I learnt to make training films by making mistakes (and putting them right). I once saw a production of Sleuth that was performed in front of the curtains with none of the pyrotechnics or gadgets ... in this simple form it was more engaging. i.e. I am going back to the story told around a campfire, perhaps with a song. This is how to enjoy Beowulf rather than as a movie.

Does the article make you think differently about what you do?

5. The article irritated me. It is 4, 800 words long. The first half could be removed entirely. Editorially I would have put a line through the waffle and a red line over disagreements. I have a paragraph of what I'd fix that I'll post in my blog. It should have been edited to improve what is poor writing. However, it is this disagreement and the 'mistakes' that have rattled me and so got my attention. How therefore to create a tussle with the text or concepts? They do it at Oxford, it's called a debate.

To what extent do the technologies available limit the learning and teaching possibilities in terms of forms of representation?

6. The technologies are not the limiting factor, they are only possibilities. The limiting factor is the author of the learning - bells and whistles do not improve a lesson if the teacher hasn't a) got an idea b) prepared a 'script' that has some chance of success.

Can you describe any specific examples of how different forms of representation are an important influence on teaching and learning situations with which you are familiar?

7. In H808 we did a group task that had to end with a presentation/representation of some kind. We had powerpoint presentations, and videos but to my surprise as I had doubted it would work one group did a poster that was rich, comprehensive, inventive, memorable and in one shot said it all - indeed with the flows and movement of information about the page I'd even described it as interactive. i.e. Keep It Simple, Student. I've been using a Kindle poolside to show swimmers pages from the 'Swim Drill Book'. It has proved extraordinarily effective.

To what extent do assessment methods constrain or privilege certain forms of representation (for example, how much does a written examination reveal about a learner’s competence in communicating effectively in a second language?).

8. Testing is more vital for the learning process than as a test to achieve a grade, pass or mark. But of course assessment is crucial for the sake of credibility and to have something to open a door to work. A written test tests someone's comprehension of the language and confidence/ability with this language first. Interesting for the last year I've been feeding my learning back to a national sports organisation. I have been fairly critical of a written test for sports coaches as it is at odds with the way they learn and what they do ... it was dropped from the curriculum last week. I had read during H807 or H808 about how the thing to be taught, the approach to teaching it and the way it is assessed should all marry up. i.e. to teach someone to dive Kate are they ever going to have to go near or in water? Of course they are. At what point does their reading or writing skill hinder their ability to qualify? If you want to learn to sail someone had to give you the helm; my father would never do so! I went off and did a course without telling him so that should he fall over board I'd know how to get back to shore. The ultimate tests I have windsurfing and skiing have been where errors would be fatal ... though I'm not suggesting a test should be a life or death matter, though it wouldn't half concentrate your mind.

Finally, I spent this morning with a colleague/friend who did an e-learning diploma with Sussex University.

We shared favourite e-learning websites and the ones we hated the most. I came away rather depressed by the awfulness of many, their formulaic approach and dreadful written and spoken English - there is a lack of craft skills. I think these things have been designed and created with the context in which the learning will take place in mind or the multiple opportunities people can and will find to engage with a task or topic. Personally, I like to hear and see it from several sources, good and bad, then give it a go several times ... and in time form an opinion having done what I'm doing here and did this morning over coffee - batting it about.

We liked Spaced-ed and can see what they are doing with Qstream ... though our own e-learning will naturally engage even more than these!

I came away with key ideas such as: metaphor, variety, mistakes, context, relevance and participation.

REFERENCE

Salomon, G 1997, 'Of mind and media', Phi Delta Kappan, 78, 5, p. 375, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 8 March 2011.

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