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H800:9 The script, the script and the script.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 28 May 2012, 17:46

'To make a great film you need three things - the script, the script and the script.' Said Alfred Hitchcock.

If I've written below about the demise of the written word, then I take it back.

OK, love letters have had their day. I don't even suppose that boarding Prep School Boys are writing home religiously every Sunday either; though we did.

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My mother's collection of letters written by my brother and I from aqe eight years make quixotic reading.

Avatar started with a script.

The three CD edition is worth it for the documentary on the creation of the film. It started with an idea expressed as a 'scriptment' (sic) i.e. not even a script, but words on sheets of paper nonetheless.

A Learning Designer starts with a script, as does an Account Manager.

A client wants to see it in writing. You can edit words. You can share words. You can hold, copy and digest them in written form.

An idea (or problem), a brief, a synopsis and treatment ... that leads to a script. And once this is nailed down the costly business of production begins. Why should e-learning be any different to the production of a mega million Hollywood movie, or the Christmas Pantomime in Ambridge Village Hall.

I get paid to write because I'm able to fill a blank space with bright ideas in a sequence that makes sense (linear) or does not (non-linear).

But ultimately says something.

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The importance of the words

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 08:15

Writing is everything.

I'd master it now. Keeping a blog is a sure darned way to do that. Handwritten is fine; find yourself the perfect pen.

Writing, or rather the ability to write.

It is the key to communication, to learning and to e-learning, and a great deal else besides.

On my passport it says 'writer, director.'

I like that, though I think of my skill as a visualiser and the writing and directing is rarely TV, but corporate and classroom training, desk-top learning, and product launches, change brand and change management.  Still there can be drama in it, and tears, and death, and love, and life, and music and dance. We go underwater and scale mountains, enter shear caves of nuclear power plants and wade through sewers, track super-models along catwalks in Paris and record the last words of a man dying of cancer in Carlisle.

I see things in pictures.

Perhaps the MA in Fine Art IS what I should have started a year ago ... though I fear I may have missed out.

It's easy enough I find to get my 'hand back in' if I want to draw something as it is rather like riding a bike, or skiing in deep powder snow, or racing a Fireball, or pushing off a wall in Breaststroke and emerging from a legal transition half way down a 25m pool ... once you've put in the days, months, years (even decades) learning to do these things, barring ill-health and great age, you ought to be able to do them for some time to come.

Which reminds me, I want to crack written French in 2011.

Clients think of me as something in addition to writing and directing (I produce), but no. that's not it; there are words, voices, images, cut together and linked in various ways that form linear and non-linear assemblages, but to them I am 'a problem solved', a job delivered, with passion, on time, on budget (of course), sometimes as a team of one, but sometimes in a team of a few or many more. I do wonder if sometimes an email with the finally agreed Creative Brief is the end of the process, rather than beginning.

Today, once you've solved that you can invite everyone to come up with their own creative execution.

Now there's a thought I'd not heard coming.

All of this takes words, expressing and solving the problem and sharing this requires words. A fast, reliable typing speed helps too. So perhaps my Mum was right to get me a typewriter when I was 13 when I wanted an electric guitar.

Sometimes I find the problem for the client and share it with them in all its beautiful ghastliness.

This is what good writing means. And experience. And judgment. And belief. And your approach and thoroughness. And the write people around you. And sometimes conviction that £60,000 will deliver the job, but £600 will not.

Good writing is less about the words chosen and put on the page (unless you are a novelist or poet, and I am neither), no, good writing is a good idea, clearly expressed, in as few words as possible. (Which in due course requires editing something like this).

Who is it who said the selling is a good idea?

That all it takes to sell something, is to have a good idea.

Good writing has a purpose and the author knows how to put the words to work by addressing a problem, because you know your audience and whether you or someone else is the subject matter expert, it is your responsibility, even if the words are hidden by a creative brief, a synopsis, treatments and scripts, to get the message across ... like, with some or many images (photos, graphics, cartoons), or with the spoken words and/or similar images that move ...

A swimming club session plan written on a whiteboard to take a squad of swimmers can be beautifully written if it is magically composed, and serves its immediate purpose. The good swimming coach rarely leaves such things in the head. It is thought-out, it is planned, it fits into the scheme of things, it is the right session for that hour or two.

Good writing hits a chord; it too is of the moment.

I conclude that a good teacher, a good tutor, educator, practitioner of e-learning ... all have this ability to write well at the core of their being. They are confident with words, words that are as carefully chosen even if spoken on the fly, as a result of their experience and all the lesson plans or scripts, or class programmes, they have written in the past that bubble up to the surface when faced with a problem - a fresh student.

(My only caveat is the from the podcasts I've heard before an educator is interviewed they should at least have the wisdom to do some media training).

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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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The value of electronic literacy in the Internet Age

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 06:32

Did serendipity bring me to ‘Contemporary Perspectives in E-learning Research.’ Conole and Oliver (2007) or did I notice that H808 students were reading and critting it?

Either way I bought it as I’m yet to get my head around e-Reader.

Can you recommend an e-Reader?

A kindle or the Sony Reader perhaps? I can’t see the point in an iPad for reading academic journals and books. I don’t want to be printing off a forest and filing on shelves I don’t have either.

Chapter 11 of ‘Contemporary Perspectives in E-learning Research’ looks at ‘Academic literacy in the 21st century’

E-literacy is an irresistible term of course.

‘Electronic Literacy’ or ‘E-literacy’

‘Involving the capacity to locate, organise, interpret and use digital information.’ Conole (2007:160)

Martin (2003) appears to get the credit for coining the term.

There are many forms of literacy, all have their place:

  • information literacy
  • digital literacy
  • electronic communication
  • computer literacy
  • transliteracy
  • information/IT skills
  • computer-mediated communications
  • knowledge construction
  • research


Shetzer and Warshauer (2000), McKenna (2002), ‘Writing as a social practice’ (Ivonic et al, 1999)

These literacies are:

  • shaped by disciplinary norms
  • institutional power dynamics
  • impact of audience
  • notions of identity


‘What we choose to read and how we read may lead to fundamental changes in our understanding of authoritative scholarship.’ Conole (2007:160)

It interesting that Google is often the preferred means of locating academic information (Borphy et al, 2004). Does this apply to undergraduates and graduates? At times frustrated with the OU Library Services I ended up in Google Scholastic but no longer had the access privileges so had to back pedal. Too often links given in text, journals and book are out of date. By way of example of the three links I wished to follow up in this chapter I found only one and that was at a different URL I am yet to find the SCONUL or SCORM articles.

SCONUL (1999) ‘information skills in higher education’, SCONUL position paper. Available online at: www.sconul.ac.uk/activities/inf-lit/papers/seven-pillars.html (CAN’T FIND)

SCORM (2004) Shareable content object reference model. http://www.adlnet.org/scorm/history/2004/index.cfm (ERROR PAGE)

Ingraham (2005b) Filmic and even melodramatic narrative ... used purposefully.

Ingraham (2005b) Exploring the Frontiers of E-learning: border, outposts and migration. ALT-j, 2005. 6-8 Sept 2005.

Beyond the ‘essentially medieval apprenticeship system’ (Ingraham and Ingraham, 2006) ‘E-Quality: a dialogue between quality and academia’, E-learning, 31) http://www.wwwords.co.uk/elea/content/pdfs/3/issue3_1.asp

(ACCESSED 16 AUG 2010. But not at this address, but at this onesmile

http://www.wwwords.co.uk/pdf/freetoview.asp?j=elea&vol=3&issue=1&year=2006&article=11_Ingraham_ELEA_3_1_web

I have a problem with some PDF files too, but that’s down to an eight year old iBook not being able to upgrade to the latest ADOBE PDF software. A new iBook beckons.

This theme of literacy given a book in its own right. How though do institutions recognise the many different ways students may wish to pursue and assemble content and information in future?

Literacy and multiple literacies (Kress, 1997)

‘It is a normal and fundamental characteristic of language and literacy to be constantly remade in relation to the needs of the moment.’ Conole (2007:169)

Kress, G (1997) Before writing: rethinking the paths to literacy.

‘The are many ways of making and communicating meaning in the world today.’ Conole (2007:169)

The goals of education

The development of ‘concrete-operational skills of technical reason coupled with functional, utilitarian language skill.’ (Jones, 1991)

Two conflicting directions for education

‘The desire to stimulate the growth of autonomous, entrepreneurial, IT-literate, multi-skilled individuals’ or ‘the desire to create a compliant, low-expectation labour force inured to the demands of flexibilisation.’ Conole (2007:171)

Surely this isn’t a case of either or, and surely both ends of the scale can be viewed positively – society needs a community of people working at different jobs to remain viable and coherent. Conole should be quoting Government policy here but prefer to suggest that there is a choice while clearly favouring one over the other.

Prison Officers, we are told, don’t need a university degree; they aren’t the only ones. Unless you want people to endure their necessary jobs like Marvin the Paranoid Android. Adams. (1979)

REF Kress, G (2003) Literacy in the new media age.

REFERENCE

Adams, D (1979) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Conole, G and Oliver, M (eds)  2007. Contemporary perspectives in E-Learning Research. Themes, methods and impact on practice.







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