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Learning from mistakes

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I don't know about you but I learn best by doing and making mistakes. I want to get stuck in, be guided, give it a go and try again and keep trying. These is harder to do in academia than in just about every other walk of life. We should be knocking out short essays every week in preparation for the longer, tutor marked assignments. 

As an OU student on the MAODE I went 'totally digital': no printing off, books on an iPad, type everything off. No more! It made my brain soft and inclined to lazy ineffective learning practices like highlighting passages or cutting and pasting text instead of taking notes the proper way.

I'm now all paper and pen. Handwritten notes in files like it was 1979. Once I've got a draft written THEN I will go the the computer to type it up, add footnotes, correct, share, fix, correct, adjust and eventually submit. 

What works for you?

 

 

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Essay writing style: clay or concrete aggregate?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 1 Oct 2014, 15:10
From River Ouse Low Tide

My tried and tested methodology, beyond the doomed 'winging it' is 'concrete aggregate'. Other weeks or months I accumulate a lot of stuff, much of it in a blog like this; not quite a relational database but the 'stuff' is here, tagged and of reasonable relevance. In a now defunct OU ePortfolio called 'MyStuff' or 'MyOU' - I forget, you could then shuffle and rank your gobbets of nonsense and so, discounting the volume of stuff, potentially, have a treatment that could then be turned into an essay.

Such stuff, if it contains, 10,000 words, often with chunks of verbatim passages, can be a hell of a task to hack into shape. You build in bold forms out of concrete and can only get it to look like a garden, or park sculpture, with a pneumatic drill and chisel. Sometimes it works. You get there. It is dry and workable. You'll more than pass. It depends on the subject, the module and the specific expectations of the assignment. Where you need to tick many boxes this approach may work well.

Clay is the better way forward in most situations. Here you build up your arguments in logical steps then refine them at the end. This, particularly in the social sciences, is where the tutor wants to see how you argue you case, drawing together arguments and facts, mostly those you've been exposed to in the module, though allowing for some reading beyond the module. You have to express your opinion, rather than listing the views of others. Get it right and this is the only way to reach the upper grades? Get it wrong, which is the risk, and you may end up with a hollow or limp structure with grades to match. 

 

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Not recommended

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 3 Oct 2014, 09:09
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Over doing the reading

I'm trying to put to bed what might be my 27th assignment: the last three have been non-OU but the same rules apply: whether tutor marked assignment, end of module assignment or an essay.

Have I ever been cut out for this?

Clearly, getting from TMAs in the 50s and a couple of EMAs in the 40s to TMAs in the 80s (and beyond) and EMAs in the 60s and 70s (though never beyond) indicates that I've learnt how to provide what is required ... and by default, that I have also learnt something (though my brain will complicate, and bury everything that goes in so fast that it's like putting rotten tomatoes onto the compost heap).

This is what I prefer by far: 'writing from the hip' I call it, or 'jazz writing' where a stream of consciousness, or drivel, fills the page.

I am taking a moments break from the nightshift.

This nightshift, awake at 2.00 am and writing by 2.30am has, over several years, become my default position whenever I need a three hour run at something; even the dog is asleep. I have to struggle to hear much more than a buzz in my head and either the tapping on this keyboard or scratching away of pen on paper.

Can I bring to some kind of conclusion this 'learning journal' in relation to writing 'the perfect essay'? 

Despite my best wishes I am NOT a strategic worker or thinker: my curiosity is too much of a pull. I do exactly what I was warned against a year ago - 'vanishing down rabbit holes'. I am the White Rabbit and Alice combined; an intriguing reference enthrals me so off I go. If I can I will source the paper, even get the long out of print book - I may even read the thing, take notes and then pop my head of this hole and wonder what the feck I'm playing at.

An essay needs a copse, not a forest. Imagine what it is like trying to turn an forest into an essay: too much wood (far too much paper). Not simply tough to digest, but any intrinsic pleasure from the act of writing at last is diminished by my knowledge of how much I will have to leave out. 

In the dead of night.

Giving up alcohol and coffee has not helped.

In every respect the alcohol was by far the easiest thing to cut back and cut out - just the conclusion to a ten year minor skirmish that ultimately was or is a medical irritant (allergic to it). Last week I managed 48 hours, or as it 36 hours without coffee. Hardly an achievement given that I was comatose, walking wounded or asleep for the duration. A mug first thing since has found me taking an afternoon siesta and still sleeping for seven + hours. I am sitting with the requisite jug of coffee now. 

I'll get to the end of this and do it justice

'On reflection' the couple of EMAs in the 40s I received was because having done the work, and got reasonable TMAs I blew it with this last struggle and deadlines ending up submitting the latests draft as the seconds disappeared. This time I have had months, really, months and even now I have another three days. I just want to do what I know has to be done: get a good draft finished a few days before, then do the re-read and edit. Nothing less will do and only then can I feel I've done all that I feel I am capable of. The truth is this does not, nor never has come naturally to me. I prefer being up on my feet doing and taking part with a team of people.

Take a nap, then, trusting to my wits and the fresh sea air, I'll be bobbing around offshore by mid-morning taking part in some global sailing charity event. 

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Extensions

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From E-Learning V

In my experience if you ask for an extension for a TMA you will always get one; I've occasionally asked for a couple of days and got a week. With EMAs the deadline is sacrosanct. I've asked on the day and a week back; I guess the earlier you see the problem the better. It depends on the problem. Never really meeting my online tutor it took me too many modules before I'd pick up the phone, yet nothing has ever worked better than a short chat. If your request for an extension is genuine, like the kind made of hair, you'll want and probably need a helping hand so take what is on offer. 

The problem with an extension is that it could simply be delaying the pain ... you continue in the same vein, blocked, muddled, reluctant to start, or finish or submit; or you haven't done the work and know it.

If you've done the work but are having a mental or academic block then ask here, ask in your student forum (too often quiet) and most certainly talk to your tutor. Often some focused advice will say you are on the right track, press on, talk it through, now write it down and send it in, or that you are trying to write a chapter rather than an essay, to narrow it down, to think strategically.

If you haven't done the work then use the extension to figure out how you can put in enough hours, strategically, to cover enough of the ground and do it. If that means a few late nights or early mornings that so be it.

And shit happens - I've lost parents. The worst. And I've been made redundant. In fact both happened together in my first module and I quit ... I sulked instead of talking to someone. The OU would have been understanding. Anyway, you may have to drop everything for a week or more. Everyone will he hugely sympathetic.

Otherwise, like teachers with decades of experience, the tutors will smell a rat if you simply haven't done the work and don't intend to. If this is the case then personally I'd just knock off a submission and send it in. You may still pass. You may be asked to resubmit. The assumption will be that you've done your best even if you haven't. Or perhaps you have? Honesty is always heard with sympathy.

I'm reminding myself that however distant distance learning might be you are always a phone call away from your tutor. I always regret not taking up the offer of talking it through. They won't think you're an idiot; they'll admire you for caring about wanting to try to get it right. In seven modules I think only once did our tutor group have such an active online presence that we could sort out each others' problems, another the tutor didn't just say they were available, but they proved it by being online moderating and 'seeding' conversations rather than waiting in the background (or just absent). And then a time when I kind of buddied up: she was great at one kind of thing, I could help with another - she was an 'adapter' I was the 'innovator' I guess. 

Have I had a reprieve? Not exactly. I have, or thought I had a 10th September deadline - actually thats for resubmissions for April !? So I have until the 24th September. I have worked my way into a corner so will take a day off, then see what I can write in exam conditions, see if a fresh approach can produce something more fluid. It's a relief to be able to step away from a disaster. 

I am so envious of people who turn mountains into molehills. I turn mountains into a range of mountains and usually get lost until someone drags me out. TMAs are foothills, EMAs the one mountain. They all count, so press on.

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Too much coffee? Its a product of too many TMAs

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 6 Sep 2014, 13:45
From E-Learning V

 Fig.1 The effect of drinking too much coffee

With an assignment, TMA or EMA or exam deadline comes the inclination to get up earlier and drink stronger coffee, in larger doses over longer periods. Easing off the caffeine in take comes at a price: headaches. This isn't a drug you can come off in an instant ... or in my case, at all. 

I'm trying to stick to water after breakfast; the problem is that I may have had a jug of expresso by then. If I get a headache later in the day what do I need? Paracetamol and caffeine. 

My symptoms:

  • Ringing in ears
  • Heart palpitations
  • Gut rot
  • Dehydration
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Restlessness

NONE of this is conducive to getting much done. I need to put in a couple of hours a day for the next four days at least. 

Quitting coffee is on the cards. Done with alcohol, meat might be cut back to the weekend or cut out entirely. Quit Facebook. Cut back on Linkedin. Off on retreat in a couple of weeks when I plan to leave all gadgets behind - let's see or prove how productive that can be. Five days with pen and paper.

 

 

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T is for TED lectures

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 30 May 2014, 07:31

 Professor Melissa Terras - Digital Humanities at UCL

Tutorial

Tagging

Technology Transfer

TED Lectures

Tutor Marked Assignment

Tetris

Testing

Timeline Apps

Technorati - E-magazine

Twitter

To mind the best TED lectures I've see that are education, and especially e-learning related, were given by Daphne Koller (on MOOCs), Ken Robinson (on education) and Randy Pausch (on fulfilling your childhood dreams). 

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The right way and wrong way to assess

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:46

Looking back over four years can be revealing. In 2010 I was struggling with my third Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA03)  in the Master of Arts Open and Distance Education (MAODE). I queried the assignment process. In particular I felt as if it was akin to making a tapestry. Three years on I feel my last couple of TMAs and EMAs weren't simply making a tapestry - but doing so wearing roller-skates on a ship in a heavy sea.

Nothing would stitch together. I had far too much wool. 

The criteria, meant to be helpful, detailing paragraph, by paragraph if not sentence by sentence what the examiner is looking for ties my head in knots. 

I contrast this, favourably, with the MA I am doing with the University of Birmingham. Clunky but effective. I have a reading list. We attend lectures and take part in seminars and I write a 4000 word essay drawn from a list of 12 to 16 titles.

This allows me to be fluid, rather than the ground beneath my feet.

Throughout the MAODE I think the only module the regularly had this 'essay writing' approach was H809: Research practices in educational technology. 

I can be accused of over thinking and over preparing a TMA or EMA - yet this, too often, is how the things have been designed. Less would be more. Simpler would not be easier, writing is hard enough without having to second guess what a third party will be thinking as they read while running down a check list to give you a tick and therefore a mark and ultimately a grade.

Reflecting on four years I can see marks in TMAs, and EMAs especially, improve. I think TMAs in 60s, and 70s and the odd EMA in the 40s, then 50s give rise to TMAs of 80s, even in the 90s, though my best EMA was a 76. Of course, in their wisdom, my student grades for each module simply reads 'PASS'. I feel this rather diminishes the effort and evidence. There is certainly a different between a candidate scoring in the 40s and 50s between one scoring in the 60s and 70s and 80s. 

I met an MBA student who had achieved a distinction in every module. I was in awe. Not your usual OU student (are any from the Business School). She had a first in her first degree from Oxford: Classics. Some people have a mind for these things. Perhaps it is my head that sloshes around like the proverbial storm, rather than the system I have been part of?

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New blog post

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For all the gadgets I've gathered around me and despite for 18 months doing everything on a screen through a keyboard or touchpad, I know have a whiteboard and put sheets of paper on the wall. I take notes. And when I need to hunker down I pick one of these and commit.

Green - One Minute

Yellow - Three Minutes

Black - Thirty Minutes

Blue - An hour

I practice I find 3 minutes does the job and I may keep going for several hours. My heart is telling me not to panic then the adrenalin rush kicks in.

An hour is just that. It is a pre-arranged slot and I find I am yawning at 55 minutes, as if I am waiting for the class to end.

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Vehicles for learning or vehicles for assessment?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 13 Dec 2013, 07:44

An essay, and therefore all assignments should be for the purposes of learning. To help the tutor, even your peers, to see where your thinking has reached and add to and correct as necessary. Assessment should be the end of module dissertation or written exam.

What do you think?

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Preparation, preparation, preparation ...

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And breathing space.

How I prepare a TMA or EMA is completely unlike anything I did in the early days, even in the first couple of years or more of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MA ODE). It is far more like designing an Airfix model, making the parts, then constructing the thing. At this stage, having thought about and written up all the component parts I did a rough assembly and came up with 3437 words for a 4000 word assignment.

Actually this is too many words - not a problem as I know where the fat lies, ideas expressed in too large a chunk. After that it's a case of getting the prose to flow.

Prioritise and give it time to breathe. I've pretty much given up on social media too - this is study journal and a moment to reflect. 'Blogging' and writing an academic paper are very different things - even journalism doesn't get close. Blogging is playing in the sand, journalism is a papier-mache self-indulgent sculpture, whereas academic writing is gathering together a complete set of artefacts, carefully arranging them in a cabinet and including all the labels.

 

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Word Count for a TMA

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It is taken me nearly four hours to reduce 1780 words to 1070 words for one part of a 2000 word TMA.

  • It is worth reflecting on this exercise.
  • This is where lasting learning occurs.
  • The intellectual demands and effort means that some of this will stick.
  • I had to prioritise ruthlessly.
  • And then edit like I was writing a Tweet.
  • And as my confidence grew in what I had to say my tone became more precise and decissive.

Now the problem is the other half of the 2000 word TMA.

It now looks, by comparison, somewhat moth-eaten. If I edit with the same approach the word count will come down to 700 or less - so understandably a different kind of effort will be required to identify what I have missed out.

Onwards.

I need it out of the way so that I can get on with my very last EMA.

Which makes this my last TMA.

All the more reason to make it a good one then.

Never understimate how much time should be devoted to 'getting it right' even when you think you've got there with an earlier draft.

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New blog post

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It took me a year ... no longer, 18 months. Even longer than that, two years, to recognise what it took to get consistently high marks.

I couldn't fathom what people were doing.

Is it a formula? Or just application? Is there a method? Whatever it takes until you feel confident you know what is going on ... so read, read again, ask questions. Then going and read something else. Disagree, agree ... sleep on it. Then, ever so slowly it starts to dawn on you. This is what they are on about. I am prone to read well beyond the listed resources though, picking through papers until I find the one that speaks to me - the voice that expresses it in a way that has ressonance. And I am prone, within reason, to get the book that is cited in a paper I like ... so a collection of second handbooks under the table and a larger collection of eBooks. eBooks I read faster, highlight and take notes as I go along, then migrate notes and quotes into a Google Doc. I kid myself when I have a lot to read that it is different on the Kindle, the iPad or on the TV size screen that is ... well the TV (but my computer too).

A couple of weeks ago I took the TV and put it in the shed. One of those things the size of a pedal car.

No one misses it.

Everyone is on a screen elsewhere in the house. We stream movies. We use BBC iPlayer.

I don't miss clicking between channels looking for something to watch, finding nothing much but glued to the thing for a few things all the same.

Movies?

Ironclad

That's the way to do Medieval!

A week away in April and I still haven't recovered my old rhythmn. Nor will I. Instead of bloggin I have every conceivable thing to sort out with the house and garden. Somehow both were abandoned for three years - I wonder why that was?

The lawn was so bad I needed an industrial strimmer. The lawnmower I bought in 2007 is still in its original packaging in the shed.

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Blown away by my LAST TMA Result!!!!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 5 Dec 2012, 06:42

Mowden%2520Swimming%2520Shield.JPG

Fig. 1. Won some team shield - age 12 years and 9 months

Over the last 34 months I have watched as various folk have posted news of a TMA success - the most important lesson and life lesson I have learnt through the OU (this time round) is to stick with it come what may.

This result doesn't win me clients, but as I stop for the day and set out into the night to meet folk who might be part of a team or might even be clients I can so with growing confidence.

'89'

I look at it and want to call my Mum.

We're discussing criticism and feedback in a forum on Linkedin - E-Learning Global Network.

I am inclined simply to shower someone with praise - they can figure out where it isn't up to scratch but the lift will do them wonders.

Stick with it. It takes time.

Somewhere I've posted how I felt going into this. 'In the flow'

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Find the support to get through the stumbles and bad decissions. This either comes from internal strength or external support - this could be the institution, might be your family.

An EMA and the MA is done.

 

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What a noggin ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 9 Oct 2012, 11:56

Bronze%2520SNIP.JPG

Fig. 1. Benzi, after Gianlorenzo Bernini. 'Damned Soul', 1705-07

It has taken me 33 months, my fifth module and x assignments ... 12-16 ? and for the first time three things have happened:

  • The first draft is written with two days to go.
  • The word count is only 100 or so over the limit.
  • I stuck to the treatment.
  • Its a tad journalistic at this stage, but I enjoyed it.

On top of the MA the OU has given me the tools and confidence, and in this case, the knowledge, to write.

Thanks OU!

Off to London for the day.

RA this afternoon for the 'Bronzes' Exhibition, then a presentation in the evening - me talking, 'Use of video in e-learning' at an IVCA meeting.


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How to write the perfect essay every time

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A 30 second video says it tall:

DSC00351.JPG

 

CLICK HERE The perfect essay (or not).

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Resistance and an EMA

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 19 Mar 2012, 08:23

The EMA is due on Monday.

Instead of writing the penultimate draft from the notes, earlier drafts, diagrams and pics I have assembled I am spinning through people's blogs. On the MAODE modules this served a purpose because there are always a handful of people who get into the blog thing on H800, H808, H807 and H809. However I have only ever come across TWO people doing any MBA module here and never anyone who is doing or has done B822 'Creativity, Innovation & Change'. All I need, or benefit from is the knowledge that I am in the same place they are or were ... or are reaching, to help clear the fog so that I can give the thing some certain shape. One trick, I've done this, is to write my TMA into this blog space ... never publish, but somehow I feel, momentarily, I have grabbed my space on the Church Hall platform and I have no choice but to talk through what I've got.

What have I got?

  • Five parts with a very clear sense of how many words per part are permitted and will work for what I think I know.
  • A couple of drafts which very unusually for me gives a total some 1000 words under rather than 10000 words over the required total.
  • A neat collection of course work references, quotes and diagrams.
  • Evidence in the form of photos, more diagrams, and comments on the topic from discussions that I seeded 'businessy' groups in Linkedin.
  • This stuff printed out and in digital form.
  • Two hours before I need to get off to the swimming club where I swim an early morning Masters session then teach for a few hours.

SO

  • Focus on pulling stuff together for two hours.
  • Do the swim.
  • Then look at it afresh this afternoon.
  • This is a REPORT, so keep each part objective, and contained by the word count.
  • Stop fretting! A pass will do, but if I submit nothing a fail is inevitable sad
  • It MUST go on Sunday as I'm in London all day Monday.

(P.S. At some stage I'll be wandering around the Hockney at the RA if anyone wants to meet up)

 

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How to use your blog for Tutor Marked Assignments

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 May 2014, 06:58

This is my approach, it works for me.

Everything goes in here: notes from what I read or come across, sometimes so I didn't lose track of them, course related comments I post on people's blogs too.

A good deal of this remains hidden (private), however I will sometimes 'expose' notes and cryptic thoughts in case someone can make sense of it for me, or chivvy me along to construct some rounded thoughts and sentences with the stuff.

There's some random stuff too.

Tagging matters immensely.

'Search' leaves it to chance, which might help you serendipitously to come across a thought or note you had, but is scrappy and can be time wasting, rather be tag happy and have a system.

Everything gets the module reference, if there is an activity reference this is added as a single word such as 'h807activity3.4' or some such so that it can be searched for and found with ease.

Come TMA time I revisit all the content from that block and start adding the tag, for example, 'h807tma2', or as I'm currently doing 'b822tma3'.

Gathered in one search list I then go through each relevant post refining my thinking.

At some stage I may add further tags to identify arguments or to give it a chronology if that isn't apparent. I then cut and paste to a word document.

I MAY assemble in PowerPoint simply to help shuffle ideas around.

A system?

Hardly. Each to their own. I panic like anyone else over an assignment but know the stuff is here and having done the reading and activities and having shared my thinking and had this coloured and shaped by others that I ought to be able to assemble a cogent case.


Tags are strategic, Search is more random.

I switch between the two when revisiting note

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Further mistakes I have made writing assignments and essays expressed as cartoon daisies

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 19 Apr 2012, 08:24

DSC00352.JPG

I wrote one of these for an end of Module Assignment.

I got carried away with a single thesis. Not only did I stick to the topic, but I illustrated it. It was the image of a thermal on which career development was built. Problem was I hadn't given myself time to qualify my thinking, indeed, despite a heap of work I barely mentioned it (and barely got any marks). DSC00355.JPG

Here the essay has been bought online.

Sometimes it is easy to spot the pot. These days software does it for educational institutions.

 

DSC00358.JPG

To the right or to the left; if the essay shows any political bias it is going to score less well.

DSC00359.JPG

 

The essay that's going nowhere.

No idea, no essay plan, contemplates where it would like to go then reflects on where is would like to have been without saying very much at all.

 

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An abundance of e-learning riches ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 13 Aug 2011, 13:53

Reflecting on H800 Week 27 or something.

I live breathe and certainly dream social media and e-learning. They are my being, for now at least.

About to go on holiday to Cornwall I plan to have a wetsuit, a pad of A3 cartridge paper, a sketch pad, soft pencils and pastels. I may take the guitar (though I may feel I need the indispensable MusicNotes and Guitar APP).

Is it wise to go gadget free?

Change refreshes the mind. A total break, refreshes the mind. I will do more (and it will make more sense in the long term), by doing nothing (for a while).

There is a reason why God made the seventh day day of rest.

We're rubbish at that in 2011. It is relentless, continual, not a landscape but a fluid river of activity. No wonder I am never certain what day of the week it is.

Or is it a case of self-discipline regarding gadgets?

People would say a mobile phone at least is essential to keep in touch with family and friends as they scatter across the beaches. Lack of signal will hopefully be the decided.

Sitting down to study at 06h00 I am yet to engage with the papers I am meant to report on or get beyond bullet points for the 3,000 word essay.

The problem is the blog, the habit of writing it up as I go along.

The problem, or virtue, of playing with Google+ with some fellow MAODERs which has sent my mind into a jitter. It's relevant anyway, I have an ECA that includes the use of forum discussion groups in e-learning.

My interest in the MAODE has gone from all-consuming, to complementing work, so associated with and thought of as work.

Being on holiday I therefore feel I ought to keep away from it.

However, if I think of it as my hobby, an interest, then it is easier to handle. Indeed it may be more conducive to my enjoying the experience.

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How to study - if you haven't yet worked out how!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 27 Feb 2013, 15:09

DSC01354.JPG

I bought this in 2000 when I was thinking about an OU course.

In February 2001 I signed up for the Masters in Open and Distance Learning. We used First Class, it was loaded from a disk I think. Using a Mac might have been a problem, I was rarely online to follow the independent, spasmodic asynchronous threads.

Anyway, a decade later I am heading towards the finish line.

2001 wasn't a good year for many of us ... I did the first TMAs but was made redundant a couple of months before the EMA would have been due and had by then decided that doing less for a couple of years rather than more would be a good idea.

Anyway ... despite having successfully negotiated two modules and six-eight TMAs and a couple of ECAs I find myself turning to Chapter 10 of the above.

'Writing essays and assignments'

I love the way the book is laid out. I reads like is was designed to be web friendly with short sentences and paragraphs and bullet points galore.

We may be floating around in cyberspace 12 years on from the last edition of this book (first edition 1970), but is remains relevant, not just for preparing for an ECA, but for writing at all.

I like lines like this,' After we've read, heard and talked about a topic, our minds are awash with ideas, impressions and chunks of information. But we never really get to grips with this experience until we try to write down our own version of it. Making notes is of some help, of course. But there is nothing like the writing of an essay to make us question our ideas, weigh up our impressions, sort out what information is relevant adn what is not - and, above all, come up with a reasoned viewpoint on the topic that we can feel it our own'. (Rowntree. 1999:170)

  • I will be probing
  • I will develop a critical argument
  • I will start tonight and write 500 words a night over six nights, then revist/redraft and pull it all together.
  • I will have the evidence
  • I will have the references in place
  • I will plan, weigh up and select from the work that I have done (and that has been done in my tutor group)
  • These will back up whatever themes or viewpoints or arguments I am putting forward
  • I WILL write and outline and stick to it
  • I will not become bling to better approaches that suggest themselves (which happened for one ECA and had me heading towards a 40 mark)
  • And I will 'write like I talk' (which is what I've always done)

(62435)

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I've learnt something!

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You'd hope after 19 weeks!

TMA01 the first draft of this 3000 word report was somewhere around 12000 words, too over 20 draft to cut down and looked dreadful in what might have been the final version.

Then I started again, off the top of my head, as if writing under exam conditions.

Success after much pain.

TMA02 the first draft was around 8000 words. Adopting the same process of putting everything in, then precising, prioritising, was still the approach. i.e. why use one quote when six will do sad

Before submitting I felt there was a misalignment between the question and what I had written. Trying to weave a tapestry to someone else's design isn't my style. Six re-writes to the final version. Happy.

TMA03 got me to the stage where I thought I was writing like an academic - I had nailed an 80% score on a thoroughly researched, well researched and justified piece. It needed a day or two to subtle, and someone else's eyes to point out that I had forked away from the question in the second part. Unspotted, the TMA went in. Disaster. From my perspective. And major disillusionment. In the 'real world' this doesn't happen because you are working with colleagues and collectively you are far more likely to stay on brief.

ECA. Still to complete, but the huge suprise was when I broke it into three parts having assembled it over the last month or so ... I came in several hundred words UNDER the required word count. i.e. I am now building something, rather than taking away.

Perhaps I should adopt the Graham Greene approach to writing. 500 carefully chosen words a day, rather than my preferred approach of the last decade, which is, as here, to write a stream of consciousness, at a jog, never looking back, except to spellcheck.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 16 Jun 2010, 07:40

Seventeen weeks into a twenty two week course H807, Innovations in E-learning, I decide that I have to get a desk - flat-pack and cheap, as I can't work effectively with a broken laptop (screen gone) perched on the end of the bed leaning on a toy 'trolley compute console' thingey with printers and files in stacks on the floor. No cupboards, no shelves. The house still has that 'just moved in' feeling ... or rather, just emptied the removal van.

We've been here for nearly 3 years.

Life, eh? I've learnt that if you don't sort a place out in the first few weeks you never do, we never have. Though there is a lovely hedge around the garden. Pity you can't grew furniture too.

So why am I still perched on the end of the bed peering at a screen between a stack of ring-binders?

Lovely desk, but my son has it. He has homework to do too.

Does it matter?

For me, I've always liked a desk, shelves and desk space ... somewhere to spread out. I've always liked a 'room of my own,' as Virginia Woolf put it and was ok until the assemblages of family pressed in and the need to relocate out of the country and into a town for schools and easier commutability to London led to a series of compacting exercises.

Excuses?

I think I'll take the dog for a walk on the South Downs.

As Nietzsche said, 'how can anyone become a thinker, if he does not spend at least a third of the day without passions, people and books?'

Or is the dog a passion?

And the South Downs?

Try High Barn to Hope Gap and the River Cuckmere with the chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head in the distance and the English Channel Horizon 15 miles or so away.

Where I think.

(I think !?)

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A necessary first

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 17 Jun 2012, 09:16

I've just printed something off for this H807 Course on 'Innovations in e.learning.'

I've printed of the Assignment Guide ahead of putting TMA 1 togethe

Until now I've baulked at the cost of printer ink ... indeed I 've only had ink for the last week anyway.

It wasn't just that, with no shelves up and stacks of files I have been finding that anything that does get printed off gets lost.

So it gets filed offline & backed up.

In the last 24 hours I have been telescoped back to 1982 and my many adventures at university. I had a video production 'business' called Last Stand Video. I have a dozen Betamax tapes from this period which I have been meaning to transfer for decades. I will now see if I can view & log them, then transfer (i.e digitise) the juiciest bits.

There's a copy of  production of Romeo & Juliet in which I played Mercutio. During this particular fight with Tibalt the nappy-pin holding up my pantaloons broke so I cutched them as well as my 'wound' as I died to hysterical laughter on the marble floor of Magdalen Chapel.

 

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